Life, Love, and Dirty Diapers

An Opportunity to Help Out With Domestic Violence

A while back my sister introduced me to this really cool company called Sevenly. Basically what Sevenly does is design t-shirts. But these aren’t just any shirts. These are shirts that seek to raise awareness and funds for different charities around the world. Each week they produce a shirt for a charity. These shirts are only available for 7 days. And for every shirt sold, $7 goes to the charity.

I picked this week to bring Sevenly to your attention because these week’s shirt is bringing in proceeds for Sheltering Wings, which is an organization that helps women and children involved in domestic violence. So I thought that it tied into my purpose with this blog quite nicely.

You can watch their video below:

So far this week they’ve raised over $7,000 and it’s only Wednesday. If you want to help out, you can find them here. If you sign up for their e-mails, you’ll be notified what the new shirt is every week. They are doing really great things. A few weeks ago, they raised over $20,000 for Autism Speaks.

Disclosure: Sevenly did not ask me to write this post, I did it because I wanted to. I am affiliated with Sevenly as an ambassador, but that is a volunteer program that I signed up for because I think Sevenly is a great company and I want to help get the word out.

Advertisements
1 Comment »

History: Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

This was a tragic event in our history and I think it’s often overlooked or just gets a passing mention, so I thought we’d look at it more in depth here.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

  • happened in New York City.
  • happened on March 25th, 1911.
  • is the fourth deadliest industrial accident in the US.
  • caused the death of 146 people by smoke inhalation, fire, or just falling/jumping to their deaths – most of whom were women between 16 and 23 (final count was 129 women/17 men – almost all of whom were the main supporter in their family).
  • is still officially without a cause, but they suspect there was a match or cigarette tossed in a scrap bin still burning (this is the most popular and likely theory).

This video explains about it and also how a very similar situation happened in Thailand in the last five years:

Conditions and how people died

  • People jumped to their deaths because the doors to the stairwells and exits were locked, essentially trapping these women inside.
  • The few doors that were unlocked opened inward and with so many people trying to get out were held shut.
  • No fire alarms to warn these women until it was already too late. Someone on the 8th floor called up to the 10th floor to say something on a phone, but the 9th floor was completely in the dark.
  • The fire department lacked ladders tall enough to get to those floors.
  • The fire houses on each floor that the women tried to use lacked water.
  • Because of the bodies on the ground from people jumping, the fire department had a hard time getting close enough.
  • All the attempts to catch the jumpers failed because too many people jumped too quickly.
  • Some brave men who were working there formed a bridge from the 8th floor to a nearby window and a few more escaped that way, but those men eventually fell to their deaths as well.
  • The water from the hoses of the fire department only reached to the 7th floor.
  • People were so desperate they jumped down the shaft on top of the descending elevator – they died as well.

This is a video of a former New York State Senator discussing his grandmother and two aunts who were killed in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire:

Because of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

  • laws were passed that improved labor conditions.
  • the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union grew.
  • the owners of the company were indicted of first and second degree manslaughter but they were never convicted. However, in a later civil suit, they were required to pay compensation of 75 dollars per victim.
  • the New York City Fire Department created a division of Fire Prevention.
  • New York City created the The Factory Commission of 1911.


Statements about the fire (warning, a few are graphic)

One Saturday afternoon in March of that year — March 25, to be precise — I was sitting at one of the reading tables in the old Astor Library… It was a raw, unpleasant day and the comfortable reading room seemed a delightful place to spend the remaining few hours until the library closed. I was deeply engrossed in my book when I became aware of fire engines racing past the building. By this time I was sufficiently Americanized to be fascinated by the sound of fire engines. Along with several others in the library, I ran out to see what was happening, and followed crowds of people to the scene of the fire.

A few blocks away, the Asch Building at the corner of Washington Place and Greene Street was ablaze. When we arrived at the scene, the police had thrown up a cordon around the area and the firemen were helplessly fighting the blaze. The eighth, ninth, and tenth stories of the building were now an enormous roaring cornice of flames.

Word had spread through the East Side, by some magic of terror, that the plant of the Triangle Waist Company was on fire and that several hundred workers were trapped. Horrified and helpless, the crowds — I among them — looked up at the burning building, saw girl after girl appear at the reddened windows, pause for a terrified moment, and then leap to the pavement below, to land as mangled, bloody pulp. This went on for what seemed a ghastly eternity. Occasionally a girl who had hesitated too long was licked by pursuing flames and, screaming with clothing and hair ablaze, plunged like a living torch to the street. Life nets held by the firemen were torn by the impact of the falling bodies.

The emotions of the crowd were indescribable. Women were hysterical, scores fainted; men wept as, in paroxysms of frenzy, they hurled themselves against the police lines. – Louis Waldman

I would be a traitor to these poor burned bodies if I came here to talk good fellowship. We have tried you good people of the public and we have found you wanting. … We have tried you citizens; we are trying you now, and you have a couple of dollars for the sorrowing mothers, brothers and sisters by way of a charity gift. But every time the workers come out in the only way they know to protest against conditions which are unbearable the strong hand of the law is allowed to press down heavily upon us.

Public officials have only words of warning to us—warning that we must be intensely peaceable, and they have the workhouse just back of all their warnings. The strong hand of the law beats us back, when we rise, into the conditions that make life unbearable.

I can’t talk fellowship to you who are gathered here. Too much blood has been spilled. I know from my experience it is up to the working people to save themselves. The only way they can save themselves is by a strong working-class movement. – Rose Schneiderman

Thud — dead; thud — dead; thud — dead; thud — dead. Sixty-two thud — deads. I call them that, because the sound and the thought of death came to me each time, at the same instant. – William Shephard

It was all nice young Jewish girls who were engaged to be married. You should see the diamonds and everything. Those were the ones who threw themselves from the window. What the hell did they close the door for? What did the think we were going out with? What are we gonna do, steal a shirtwaist? Who the heck wanted a shirtwaist? – Pauline Cuoio Pepe

Girls were burning to death before our eyes. Down came bodies in a shower, burning, smoking, lighted bodies, with the disheveled hair of the girls trailing upward. They had fought each other to die by jumping instead of by fire.

There were 33 in that shower. The flesh of some of them was cooked. The clothes of most of them were burned away. The whole, sound, unharmed girls who jumped on the other side of the street had done their best to fall feet down, but these fire-tortured, suffering ones fell inertly, as if they didn’t care how they fell, just so that death came to them on the sidewalk instead of in the fiery furnace behind them. – Bill Shepard

There are a handful of catalytic, galvanizing moments where history really gets a big push to give us the world that we live in today, and the Triangle fire is one of those. Triangle led to changes that influenced the way every American lives. – David von Drehle

Even a hundred years later, workplace safety concerns are still a problem. You hear about the locked doors at the Triangle factory and it’s shocking. But to this day, we hear about grocery store workers in Brooklyn who are locked in the stores at night and it’s a very common practice in retail and the garment industry to lock the doors — they say it’s to prevent theft, which is what the Triangle factory owners claimed.

In many ways, we haven’t made much progress. The Triangle fire was a mostly immigrant population in a very competitive business. We have that now with janitorial, home health care, security workers, the garment industry — any labor-intensive industry, you have the same pressures. – Catherine Ruckelshaus

It happens all over the place — unsafe construction sites, sweatshops tucked away in all corners of NYC, just blocks from the Triangle factory site. The other part of it is, which is just as shameful, is that 95 percent of garment manufacturing is now offshore. Clothes are being made in Bangladesh, where they have very similar conditions to the Triangle factory, where workers are locked in. – Leigh Benin

Get Involved

Books (Note I haven’t read these, I just found them)*

I write this in memory of these, the victims:

• Adler, Lizzie, 24
• Altman, Anna, 16
• Ardito, Annina, 25
• Bassino, Rose, 31
• Benanti, Vincenza, 22
• Berger, Yetta, 18
• Bernstein, Essie, 19
• Bernstein, Jacob, 38
• Bernstein, Morris, 19
• Bierman, Gussie, 22
• Billota, Vincenza, 16
• Binowitz, Abraham, 30
• Brenman, Rosie, 23
• Brenman, Sarah, 17
• Brodsky, Ida, 15
• Brodsky, Sarah, 21
• Brooks, Ada, 18
• Brunetti, Laura, 17
• Cammarata, Josephine, 17
• Caputo, Francesca, 17
• Carlisi, Josephine, 31
• Caruso, Albina, 20
• Ciminello, Annie, 36
• Cirrito, Rosina, 18
• Cohen, Anna, 25
• Colletti, Annie, 30
• Cooper, Sarah, 16
• Cordiano , Michelina, 25
• Dashefsky, Bessie, 25
• Del Castillo, Josie, 21
• Dockman, Clara, 19
• Donick, Kalman, 24
• Eisenberg, Celia, 17
• Evans, Dora, 18
• Feibisch, Rebecca, 20
• Fichtenholtz, Yetta, 18
• Fitze, Daisy Lopez, 26
• Floresta, Mary, 26
• Florin, Max, 23
• Franco, Jenne, 16
• Friedman, Rose, 18
• Gerjuoy, Diana, 18
• Gerstein, Molly, 17
• Giannattasio, Catherine, 22
• Gitlin, Celia, 17
• Goldstein, Esther, 20
• Goldstein, Lena, 22
• Goldstein, Mary, 18
• Goldstein, Yetta, 20
• Grasso, Rosie, 16
• Greb, Bertha, 25
• Grossman, Rachel, 18
• Herman, Mary, 40
• Hochfeld, Esther, 21
• Hollander, Fannie, 18
• Horowitz, Pauline, 19
• Jukofsky, Ida, 19
• Kanowitz, Ida, 18
• Kaplan, Tessie, 18
• Kessler, Beckie, 19
• Klein, Jacob, 23
• Koppelman, Beckie, 16
• Kula, Bertha, 19
• Kupferschmidt, Tillie, 16
• Kurtz, Benjamin, 19
• L’Abbate, Annie, 16
• Lansner, Fannie, 21
• Lauletti, Maria Giuseppa, 33
• Lederman, Jennie, 21
• Lehrer, Max, 18
• Lehrer, Sam, 19
• Leone, Kate, 14
• Leventhal, Mary, 22
• Levin, Jennie, 19
• Levine, Pauline, 19
• Liebowitz, Nettie, 23
• Liermark, Rose, 19
• Maiale, Bettina, 18
• Maiale, Frances, 21
• Maltese, Catherine, 39
• Maltese, Lucia, 20
• Maltese, Rosaria, 14
• Manaria, Maria, 27
• Mankofsky, Rose, 22
• Mehl, Rose, 15
• Meyers, Yetta, 19
• Midolo, Gaetana, 16
• Miller, Annie, 16
• Neubauer, Beckie, 19
• Nicholas, Annie, 18
• Nicolosi, Michelina, 21
• Nussbaum, Sadie, 18
• Oberstein, Julia, 19
• Oringer, Rose, 19
• Ostrovsky , Beckie, 20
• Pack, Annie, 18
• Panno, Provindenza, 43
• Pasqualicchio, Antonietta, 16
• Pearl, Ida, 20
• Pildescu, Jennie, 18
• Pinelli, Vincenza, 30
• Prato, Emilia, 21
• Prestifilippo, Concetta, 22
• Reines, Beckie, 18
• Rosen (Loeb), Louis, 33
• Rosen, Fannie, 21
• Rosen, Israel, 17
• Rosen, Julia, 35
• Rosenbaum, Yetta, 22
• Rosenberg, Jennie, 21
• Rosenfeld, Gussie, 22
• Rosenthal, Nettie, 21
• Rothstein, Emma, 22
• Rotner, Theodore, 22
• Sabasowitz, Sarah, 17
• Salemi, Santina, 24
• Saracino, Sarafina, 25
• Saracino, Teresina, 20
• Schiffman, Gussie, 18
• Schmidt, Theresa, 32
• Schneider, Ethel, 20
• Schochet, Violet, 21
• Schpunt, Golda, 19
• Schwartz, Margaret, 24
• Seltzer, Jacob, 33
• Shapiro, Rosie, 17
• Sklover, Ben, 25
• Sorkin, Rose, 18
• Starr, Annie, 30
• Stein, Jennie, 18
• Stellino, Jennie, 16
• Stiglitz, Jennie, 22
• Taback, Sam, 20
• Terranova, Clotilde, 22
• Tortorelli, Isabella, 17
• Utal, Meyer, 23
• Uzzo, Catherine, 22
• Velakofsky, Frieda, 20
• Viviano, Bessie, 15
• Weiner, Rosie, 20
• Weintraub, Sarah, 17
• Weisner, Tessie, 21
• Welfowitz, Dora, 21
• Wendorff, Bertha, 18
• Wilson, Joseph, 22
• Wisotsky, Sonia, 17

Sources

*Note: I am now an Amazon Associate which means that if you click on a link to one of the books I promote and then buy it, I get a portion of those proceeds. Thanks for supporting me 🙂

13 Comments »

Why I Support Finding a Cure for Breast Cancer, but Not Susan G. Komen

Susan G. Komen. When most people hear this name, they instantly conjure up images in their head of pink ribbons and breast cancer awareness. And while I think that breast cancer is a huge problem among women, I will not support Susan G. Komen until they clear up their ties with Planned Parenthood. Not only that, but one of their other problems is pink washing, which I’ll talk about a little farther down. And they go after other charities.

Planned Parenthood

Susan G. Komen gives money to Planned Parenthood to provide mammograms.

Why am I so against this? Well, for one, Planned Parenthood performs abortions. And they don’t, on a whole, provide that much for women in the way of breast cancer. First of all, most Planned Parenthoods are only licensed for Level 1 screenings, nothing more advanced than that. Additionally, in 2008 the number of breast cancer related visits to Planned Parenthood went down while the number of abortions went up. And yet they still received $731,000 from Susan G. Komen for breast cancer screenings, even though they did less that year than in previous years. In fact in total for the 5 year period from 2004-2009, Planned Parenthood received $3.3 million from Susan G. Komen.

Looking at what they provide for breast cancer, I will take a look at Milwaukee and what they offer here, since it is my city. The way Planned Parenthood structures their website, breast health falls under Women’s Health Services. Some clinics do not offer women’s health services at all (Capitol Drive Health Center and Milwaukee- Jackson Center). Still others only are able to provide breast exams (which I was always taught and have several booklets that show me how to do my own at home) and mammogram referrals (which couldn’t any doctor, like your regular doctor, give you? Though I might be mistaken). Those ones are Milwaukee-NorthwestMilwaukee- Wisconsin Avenue, Mitchell Street Health Center, and Milwaukee- Lincoln Plaza Health Center. Technically, the last one is in West Allis, but I included it because it has Milwaukee in it’s name. But not a single one of these six Milwaukee clinics actually does mammograms. You will find Komen’s response to this below.

And, you would think, that Susan G Komen would be aware of the fact that breast cancer has been linked to abortion. I will do my best to explain why this is, but I am not a doctor and I’ll link to all my sources, so you can read where I’m getting my info from. Additionally, I’ve linked to videos directly below this paragraph that are some of the researchers who have researched this talking about it if you want to skip to those and watch them explain it directly in their own words. There are two ways it raises the risk – one has been widely accepted, while the other one is more disputed. The accepted one is an indirect risk – in the fact that when you have a full term pregnancy you develop a majority of Type 4 breast tissue, which is the most cancer resistant. Until you have children, you have Types I and II where most breast cancers are found. Putting off having kids allows you to have cancerous tissue for longer. This is argued as an indirect link to breast cancer, since when you have an abortion, you are putting off having kids. The second risk, the disputed one, is more directly connected. Some researchers have found that you actually have more cancerous breast tissue after an abortion. The argument goes like this. When you get pregnant, your breast tissues grow because of estrogen (this is a fact). When you are pregnant and carry the pregnancy to term, the other hormones balance it out and change it to that cancer resistant type noted above. Of 72 studies conducted, 80 percent found this second risk separate from the first risk. One of these studies found that looking at a group of women who had been pregnant at least one time, that those who had been pregnant and had abortions had a rate of breast cancer that was 50% higher. Experts also estimate that 1 out of 100 women will die of breast cancer connected to a previous abortion. These risks are increased in girls under 18 and women over 29 at the time of the abortion and those women with breast cancer in their family’s background. There are some studies that refute these facts, but as Janet Orient, MD of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons has said, “If you look at the number of studies that show a connection, they vastly outnumber the ones that don’t, and the ones that don’t have been criticized for serious methodological flaws.” In fact, a major scientist from National Cancer Institute who had first tried to deny the link, later published that there was a link, which of course the National Cancer Institute tried to cover up. (National Cancer Institute has also been approached by one scientist and five different doctors at different occasions about the fact that they deny this, but they have never done anything about it.) Some research by pro-choice people has even found the connection, though they try and dispute their own studies. It always makes me wonder, if you are going to tear down your own study, why not do it better? Most of the major cancer bodies deny this connection sadly, I think because of the backlash it would cause them if they said abortion was linked to breast cancer. Indeed, people have refused to speak on it, even though they recognize the connection, because it is considered too political. There are many doctors who feel that women who want to have abortions should be told for this, but yet very few women actually are. I think that they should be told – informed consent is important to me. Even if it is disputed, wouldn’t it be better to know and say there is some evidence, give the woman the full facts so that they’re making an informed decision. I would feel that people for and against abortion should be for this. I’m against abortion, I will be straight in my bias. But even if I was for abortion, I would want women to know because it is a serious thing that should not be taken lightly.

This video might explain it better – this doctor has done research on it. He holds a PhD and taught for over 20 years. He had published well respected research.

There is a drawn nude breast in this for your information.

“I have three sisters with breast cancer, and I resent people messing with scientific data to further their own agenda, be they pro-choice or pro-life. I would have loved to have found no association between breast cancer and abortion, but our resealch is rock solid, and our data is accurate. It’s not a matter of believing; it’s a matter of what is.” — Dr. Janet Daling of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (a pro-choice researcher)

In fact, there are even people who have worked for Susan G. Komen who left after learning of their connections to Planned Parenthood. One was Eve Sanchez-Silver (Susan G. Komen Foundation National Hispanic/Latina Advisory Council member). At that time, she stated, “As a Christian and life affirming citizen I can not reconcile the Foundation’s decision to affirm life with one hand and support its destruction with the other.”

This is Komen’s response:

In addition to education, women served at Planned Parenthood may receive a clinical breast exam, and when further screening is needed, a referral to either a state program or a private mammogram provider. In the latter case, the mammogram may be paid for by the Komen-Planned Parenthood grant. It is important to note that Komen only gives grants to nonprofit organizations, and many mammography providers are for-profit.

Affiliate funding to Planned Parenthood is reviewed twice-yearly to ensure that it is being used only for breast health services. If reviews showed the funds being used for any other purpose, the funds would be withdrawn.

I just have a couple of questions. First of all, why give it to a middle man? I understand that many mammography providers are for-profit so they don’t give to them, but does it really make sense to give it to someone else in the event that it “may be” paid for by the Komen-Planned Parenthood grant? Are you telling me there are no other organizations out there that do this? There must be, since Planned Parenthood is not the only organization receiving their funding. Second of all, what do these reviews look like? How do they show it is only being used for breast health services? I would like to see these reviews and the breakdown of the funding. I would like some transparency here. Additionally, Susan G. Komen lists the birth control pill as increasing the risk of breast cancer on their own website and still gives money to Planned Parenthood. Even if they deny the abortion connection, they admit this connection and yet still give money to an organization that supplies the birth control pill. Additionally the point has been made, what about all of the women who purposefully and specifically will not go into Planned Parenthood’s because of their bad reputation and abortion business. Why not give them to a place where all women feel comfortable going? This is an argument that I completely agree with.

Pinkwashing

Second, they are involved in pink washing. I will point to their campaign “Buckets for the Cure” with KFC. It made a lot of money for Komen, but many say promoting fatty foods it’s unethical. Does Fried Chicken directly cause breast cancer? No but the argument is “There is definitely a link between being overweight and breast cancer and eating fast food typically contributes to being overweight so I would say it’s a mixed message.” – Walter Willett, professor at Harvard School of Public Health They also claim that it helped reach hundreds of thousands of people with breast cancer information. I don’t know what buying a pink bucket teaches you about breast cancer OR how many people in this day and age are honestly not aware of breast cancer. I feel it’s one of the cancers that is most talked about. Certainly more than Pancreatic Cancer and Ovarian Cancer and Oral Cancer are, to name a few others. And the stats are a little less than one in eight, so chances are pretty good that most people even know someone or of someone. I highly doubt this American population is that unaware of breast cancer. I even read a cancer survivor outraged at this. Also, a representative from Komen claimed that people reading the lids would be more aware and motivated to get a mammogram, even though she also said that the lids say nothing about breast cancer and only direct them to a website. It begs the question, a) how many people do you think actually went to the website? and b) what about the people who don’t have internet? Supposedly, the website was also directed more towards fundraising and making money than prevention, though I was not able to verify this as the link no longer works.

In terms of other pink washing things, they also sold a perfume to raise money for their foundation that contained known carcinogens.

“For the Cure” Attacks

Third, they often go after other charities for using the phrase “for the cure” and “for a cure” since they have trademarked these. To be honest, it is such a generic phrase and I’m sure there are many groups working towards a cure for many things. Uniting Against Lung Cancer, for example, got a letter because of their events “Kites for the Cure.” Other events that have come under fire from other charities are things like “Surfing for a Cure,” “Cupcakes for a Cure,” “Par for the Cure,” and “Mush for the Cure.” They have gone after over a hundred charities for this phrase. And it came out that they spend almost a million dollars every year going after groups that use these phrases. I could think of a million things better to do with that million dollars than attacking other charities. Their reasoning behind this is that people will be confused. To me honest, if somebody says “for the cure” do you instantly think Susan G. Komen? I don’t. And I’m sure that people who donate to Susan G. Komen don’t think they are using these funds to go after other charities.

Conclusion

Given all this, I think it’s totally unethical that Susan G. Komen donates to Planned Parenthood, pink washes, and is out to get other charities. And I didn’t even touch on their support of embryonic stem cell research or the fact that they don’t market/promote breastfeeding, something that lowers your breast cancer risk. I would encourage you as well not to support Susan G. Komen.

I know that posting this will not make me popular and may lose me readers and followers, but I am trying to uphold what’s best for women and they deserve better.

More information:

Sources:

3 Comments »

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Do you know what Female Genital Mutilation is? I’m about to tell you and I’m going to tell you right up front, it will probably be graphic and not for the faint of heart, but I think it is very necessary to know what this is all about.

First it’s important that know that you may have heard of it before – it goes by a lot of names. Female Genital Mutilation, Female Genital Cutting, Female Genital Circumcision, Female Genital Alteration, Female Genital Excision, and Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting to name a few. For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to refer to it as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The controversy over what to call it stems from the fact that people who practice FGM feel that mutilation is too strong of a word, but the people against FGM feel that it is mutilation and it brings attention to that. Some prefer circumcision, but many people this is drawing an unfair comparison between this and male circumcision (which I will admit will probably never be talked about on my blog and I am not very knowledgable about it, but it’s done – at the very least – for very different reasons. I feel it is outside of the scope of my blog, but for your awareness, there are people who feel that because there is such an outcry against FGM that there should be equal amounts of outcry against male circumcision). The World Health Organization (WHO) defines this as, “”all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” There are four different types. Warning Graphic descriptions.  “Type 1, excision of the clitoral hood, the skin around the clitoris, with or without partial or complete removal of the clitoris (clitoridectomy); Type 2, excision of the clitoris with partial or complete removal of the labia minora; Type 3 (infibulation), excision of all or part of the labia minora and labia majora, and the stitching of a seal across the vagina, leaving only a small opening for the passage of urine and menstrual blood; and Type 4, miscellaneous acts, including burning or cauterization of the clitoris, scraping and cutting of the vagina (gishiri cutting [where it is cut to make it larger]), and introducing corrosive substances into the vagina to tighten it.” (From Wikipedia)

To me, while they are all horrible, I think type three is definitely the most harmful and painful so I’m going to talk a little more about that one. In this one, sometimes the girl’s legs are even tied together for 2 to 6 weeks so that she can’t move and to basically allow the two cut sides to seal together. These two sides are usually stitched or glued together with things like thorns as stitches or eggs, sugar, and animal waste as a glue. Not only that, but this one is often cut open repeatedly as it is needed, either when she gets married so she can have sex or when she gives birth to children so that there is room for the baby to be born and it is sometimes sealed up again afterwards. Where people have this, the women speak of three feminine sorrows: “the first sorrow is the procedure itself, followed by the wedding night when a woman with Type III FGM has to be cut open, then childbirth when she may have to be cut again.” Type three carries the most risk of complications, which I’ll talk about further down.

“There were two circumcisers – they moved quickly from one girl to the next, cutting their labia. It was horrendous. And none of the girls cried out, because they’d had it drilled into them that they had to bear it without making a sound.” – Cath Holland

It can happen in hospitals under general anesthesia or it can happen by people referred to as “traditional circumcisers” typically with little to no anesthesia using unsterilized things (not even worth calling instruments) like broken glass, tin lids, razor blades, knives, and scissors to name a few examples. It can happen to girls all the way from infants to 15 years old or sometimes women right before they married or give birth to their first child. It happens in 28 countries and also in some immigrant groups in places like America and Europe (though until the 1950s, it was practiced in England and America to “cure” women of “female deviances”). It happens to singular girls and it happens to groups of girls at the same time. There are reports of girls being held down and struggling against the people holding them down so much that their bones are broken. The estimations of women who have been subject to this around the world range from 60 million to 140 million women. (Estimates work this out to about 4 girls a minute). An estimated three million more girls every year face the potential that this will happen to them.

“These families do not do this out of spite or hatred; they believe this will give their daughters the best opportunities in life. We would like a conviction, not against the parents, but against a cutter, someone who makes a living from this.” – Jackie Mathers

Why is this so bad? Besides the obvious, FGM has a lot of risky side effects: often times a lot of pain, shock, hemorrhaging (severe bleeding, sometimes enough that the girls die), infections (including tetanus and UTIs), urine retention (where you can’t pee), ulceration, fever, and septicemia. Long term you can face things like chronic pain, recurring infections, recurring cysts, difficulty giving birth, more likely to have a C-section, anemia, keloid scars (I do not know how to explain this – check the Wikipedia article on it if you’re interested), urinary incontinence, pain having sex, sexual dysfunction, menstrual disorders, fistulae (again, Wikipedia article), infertility, increased risk of HIV infection (though the jury is out on this – there are mixed results), chronic anxiety, depression, other psychiatric problems, kidney stones, other kidney problems, failure to heal, increased risk of hepatitis, pelvic inflammatory disease, bladder stones, increased chance of episiotomy in labor, increased chance of extended hospital stays with labor, psychological effects that are similar to PTSD, Dysmenorrhoea (extremely painful periods), pelvic and back pain, the need for more “surgeries” later, and increased newborn death. The rates on the birth statistics for example are so shockingly high it’s clear to see this has very little benefit. For example, with Type III (which carries the most risks, but certainly not all – the others do too), the infant mortality rate is 55% high and the mother is 70% more likely to suffer dangerous hemorrhaging. I think if we focused on eliminating FGM, we could make huge strides in infant and maternal mortality. FGM is a huge factor in maternal/infant mortality in the areas where it is practiced. This is a real solution to help end the problem.

“Why would anyone want to go and cut up a seven- or eight-year-old child? People need to wake up — you are hurting your child, you are hurting your daughter, you’re not going to have a grandchild, so wake up.” – Miriam, a victim of FGM

Then the question is to ask why? Why would something like this be done? It seems so awful, so unbearable. There are many reasons. Some people think it is just part of how parents raise their child “right.” The women are often seen as “cleaner” after the procedure. It is said to “ensure” that women remain virgins before marriage and during marriage don’t have affairs and is also supposed to help if a much older man marries a younger woman so that she doesn’t have a higher sex drive than him. It is also believed to lower women’s libido (which goes back to making sure that women remain virgins before marriage and don’t have affairs during marriage). Sometimes, they even try to sell it as rape protection (though this is twisted – here, let’s cut you up so that no man tries to rape you). Sometimes the labia and clitoris are viewed as parts of a man, so taking these away makes someone more feminine. Tied up with that is the belief in some places that if a man or a baby touches the clitoris they will die and/or it will make the woman’s breast milk poisonous. Sometimes they think this procedure makes a woman fertile (even though the exact opposite is true) or that it will take away bad odors or that it will prevent vaginal cancer (all fictitious “health” benefits). It is also sometimes believed that if the clitoris isn’t cut off, it will grow so big that it drags on the ground (again, another falsity). Some places think it keeps a woman’s face from turning yellow or makes it more beautiful. It is often viewed as a right of passage – something that turns a girl into a woman and women who are never mutilated are often seen perpetually as a child in their society. In fact, there is a story from Kenya of a woman who chose not to have FGM done to her and then later on when she decided to run office, the people running against her used this as something to attack about her. Often, it is not men pushing and promoting this like one would think, but older women or women themselves wanting it, being taught these things about how it is good for you. Though, the men play into this as well as they will often times not marry a girl unless she has had this done to her. Both men and women play into the idea that it is for the family’s honor and reputation. And even if the parents decide not to have this for their daughters, they still have to be wary of their relatives who believe in FGM, who may kidnap the children and forcibly perform this. There is a lot of back and forth over whether or not it is a cultural practice or if it is a religious practice. I don’t have the answer but I think the answer is that it can be both – it is a cultural practice in some places and some religions include it in their practices in other places. Some Muslims practice it, but they aren’t the only religious group to practice it and not all Muslims do (there is a lot of people who I think associate FGM with Islam, but it definitely should not be the case since many don’t and many communities practice it without religious associations and there have been Christian and Animist groups that practice it as well). In fact, it is believed that FGM was happening before Islam even existed and a lot of Muslims argue that there is no grounds for FGM in Islam.

“Human rights transcend cultural relativism by definition, but the cultural-religious argument has to be taken into consideration for implementation of policy.” – Stephan Isaacs

It’s not hopeless – people are really trying to bring an end to this. February  6th every year is the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. I think also it goes to having a cultural change. I think that those people need to be taught that women can control themselves sexually and just be abstinent before marriage and then during marriage be faithful without someone needing to mutilate them. There is also evidence that this change will come from NGOs helping communities make these cultural changes more than laws, since in many countries, laws by overarching bodies seem to be resisted or not enforced. Indeed, many countries where FGM is practiced has laws making it illegal. Some Western countries help further by granting asylum to women who will have to go through forced FGM (though of course, they must be able to prove this). It is clear that the laws are doing very little, so the change needs to come from other places and there are many NGO’s actively working on it. Holding community meetings is another strategy that is being tried.  Educating people about the harmful effects is also being tried (and what I like about this is they often have respected women already in the community teaching younger women and girls about it – a much more sustainable and viable solution in my opinion). They also are trying to introduce alternative rights of passage and have had some success with replacing FGM with a separate right of passage ceremony. I believe, as do many people, that a harm-elimination strategy is best, as opposed to a harm-reducation strategy (one example would be moving it so it happens in hospitals so it’s “safer” – making the harm less, but not at all reducing it). That means completely eliminating the danger of FGM that women and girls face, not just making it less. Surgeons have also recently developed reversal techniques for this procedure. Of course, it’s not going to be completely like it was, but something is better than nothing for the women who have already gone through this.

This is another youtube video but embedding has been disabled. It is very graphic in nature and there is some nudity, but it does speak to two women who were mutilated at a young age.

Further Reading (Note, I haven’t read them, just found them):

Sources:

2 Comments »

Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011

Safe cosmetics, on the surface, might seem like a green or environmental issue, but really, it’s a woman’s issue. Why? Because companies are continuing to make products that contain chemicals that have been proven unsafe and women in Britain have been shown to spend an average of $164,000 dollars on make-up over their lifetime (and do you really think it’s that different in the US?). So needless to say, if it’s not safe, it’s effecting women in a pretty big way.

That’s why making sure that cosmetics are safe is a big priority, even for someone like me, who hardly wears any make-up. Because I have a lot of friends who do. And I bet, even if you yourself aren’t big on make-up, you probably have friends who wear it as well.

So safe cosmetics are important to women, because of the amount that most women use them. Congress has a Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011, and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has made it easy to contact your representatives. Helping get this passed will do a lot of good for many women, men, and children.

Thanks for reading!

And also, P.S. I’m thinking about video blogging once a week – what do you think? Just to spice things up. Delivering you the same great information, just in a different format.

2 Comments »

The Obsession with Thinness

I wanted to link to this post, because I think it points to something that is so true. We value thinness, even though thinness doesn’t mean healthiness. Even though thinness can be just as much of a problem as weighing too much can.

While I am just genetically thin and I don’t face a serious life-threatening illness, like the writer of this piece did, I can not tell you how much of this resonated with me. It was very uncomfortable for me to be praised on my thinness, or worse yet, to be accused of having an eating disorder at a time when I was trying so hard to gain weight. I looked in the mirror and hated myself, despite the fact that everyone around me thought I had the ideal body. I just wanted to weigh more.

Being thin isn’t always ideal. And even now, as (while I have not weighed myself) I am pretty sure I have put on weight since getting married, I struggle with the same thing as she did. I am reluctant and almost afraid to put on weight now, that for the first time, I might put on enough weight that people no longer compliment me on being skinny. And as much as I hated that, at the same time, it was mine.

Read one woman’s story of how thinness nearly killed her. As with most links, I do not endorse all the content on the blog, but I thought her story was an important one to be shared.

2 Comments »

The Sexualizing of Little Girls

I don’t usually link solely to other content (or don’t like to) and I wouldn’t usually link to this blog (because I don’t agree with everything they have to say) but awhile back there were a lot of articles out blaming parents for oversexualizing their kids. And to some extent, the blame should fall on parents who buy these (because it’s not like most 8 year olds have a lot of disposable income).

But as this post from Jezebel points out, the issues are deeper than that. Well said (this time).

Leave a comment »

Even Celebrities Get Molested, Date Raped, and Struggle with Infertility

Normally, I don’t pay much attention to celebrities, but I think that they can be useful in that in something can happen to them, it can sometimes lend more credibility to something happening to ordinary people. It’s been this way lately with mental disorders at least, when several celebrities have spoken up about having them.

But I think that this article about Kara DioGuardi talking about being molested, date raped, sexually harassed and now, more recently, struggling with infertility.

I think the most helpful that this could come out of as date rape being more accepted (that it exists, not that it should, but some people refuse to recognize it). I think that, unlike stranger rape, date rape is harder for people to accept. Often times, I think that people think that if you go on a date with someone and sex happens, it’s not a big deal. But it is a big deal. You have a right to say no, no matter if he paid for dinner or if you agreed to make out – you have a right to say no at any point.

I think that date rape is an important subject to talk about because unlike stranger rape, you may have to face that person. They may go to school with you or work with you. And I think you are more likely to think that you asked for it (even though no one asks to be raped, many people argue that you do ask for it).

Date rape is a serious subject and one that should be talked about way more than it is, because if memory serves me correctly, it’s more likely to happen than stranger rape. (Which is also equally as serious, but it’s what people tend to think about and sometimes forget that people do get raped by people that they know).

PS. This has nothing to do with this blog post, but I interviewed another blogger, Sarah, for a school project on Facebook and it’s on her blog. Check it out, Vitality 101 – 90 Days Without Facebook

Leave a comment »

America the Beautiful Review

So, I’ve decided another thing I want to do with this blog is let you know about documentaries that talk about women’s issues. I will only review documentaries I’ve watched so I can give you my first hand account on whether or not the documentary is worth watching and spending some time on.

Today’s documentary is America the Beautiful. Here’s the trailer.

I think 100 percent this movie is worth watching. Everyone needs to see this video. Every woman needs to see this especially. You will learn astounding things and after this, you will never think about beauty in the same way, or at least I don’t think of beauty in the same way since watching this.

It is a worthwhile documentary to say the least. It is rated R because it does get a bit graphic or rather frank really, but it is worth the watch. The beauty industry deserves to be exposed for what it is and how they treat women.

You can find out more here: http://americathebeautifuldoc.com/

3 Comments »

Street Harassment

While I was reading another blog, Stop Street Harassment , they turned me onto quote from Lara Logan, from the New York Times, “When women are harassed … they’re denied an equal place in that society. Public spaces don’t belong to them. Men control it. It reaffirms the oppressive role of men in the society.”

I think what she says has a lot of truth to it. I mean I know that I, as a woman, have feared walking on the streets before. I’ve been made to feel extremely uncomfortable in situations before. And in those situations, it is true, men are controlling it. Because I don’t feel like there’s anything I can do. I try to end the conversation, to walk away, but sometimes you can’t, when you’re waiting for a bus stop or you just don’t want to let them have anymore control than they already have.

Part of lifting up women means making everywhere a safe space for them so they don’t have to fear harassment. No one should have to fear harassment, plain and simple. We need to take back public spaces so that women are able to feel safe in them.

1 Comment »

%d bloggers like this: