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WASHINGTON — Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter Mary delivered an 8-pound, 6-ounce baby boy on Wednesday, the first child for her and her female partner of 15 years, Heather Poe.

Samuel David Cheney was born at 9:46 a.m. at Sibley Hospital in Washington, the vice president's office announced. Vice President Cheney and his wife, Lynne, paid a visit to their new — and sixth — grandchild a few hours later.

Gay Patriot bloggers weigh in:

I'm not going to get political here, just wishing all the best to Mary, Heather, and Samuel David. And let's keep working together for equality and fairness for all families.

PS - And the first person who makes a wisecrack about the previous post is gonna get banned in about a half a heartbeat!
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Freedom For Egyptians:
I do not know why Global Voices is insisting on referring to me as "He writes" here and here. I am a very proud "She":) I resent the treatment of being reduced to a "He" with all due respect to all the "He"s ..... Just a remark, because every time I read "He writes", I laugh......

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Zilla Huma Usman, the minister for social welfare in Punjab province and an ally of President Pervez Musharraf, was killed as she was about to deliver a speech to dozens of party activists, by a “fanatic”, who believed that she was dressed inappropriately and that women should not be involved in politics, officials said.

“He is basically a fanatic,” Raja Basharat, the Punjab Law Minister, said. “He is against the involvement of women in politics and government affairs.” A police statement added: “He considers it contrary to the teachings of Allah for a woman to become a minister or a ruler. That’s why he committed this action.”

HT: [ profile] kc_anathema.
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Even more astonishing, Iran's new Islamic-guided government has established a system of legalized prostitution, through the practice of "sigheh" or "temporary marriages," by which a Mullah arranges a "legal union" between a man and a girl (some as young as 9 years old) for a fee. The so called "marriage" can last anywhere from one hour to 99 years. Under this system, the men are free to enter into as many temporary marriages as they so desire, without having ANY legal obligation or responsibility towards the women and children that they "marry" only to use as sexual objects and slaves.

Not surprisingly, this legalized system of slavery and oppression has led to a growing sex-trafficking industry that is partially operated by government officials and Mullahs themselves. ...
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Via Big Pharaoh, at MEMRI-TV. Big Pharaoh says -
American-Israeli Friendship Association — very possible. Egyptian-Israeli Friendship Association —- hard but not impossible Sudanese-Israeli Friendship Association — Now that's impossible, but it happened.
Here's a snippet of the interview transcript:
Interviewer: Do you have any popular or official mandate to establish the Sudanese-Israeli Friendship Association, or is this your own personal initiative?

Taraji Mustafa: First of all, I do not need a mandate to talk about my personal beliefs, or those of some of the Sudanese people. None of the Sudanese friendship associations, like the Sudanese-Indian or the Sudanese-Swedish associations, and many others, needed a popular mandate. Why do I need a mandate to establish a friendship [association] with that part of the Israeli people that believes in friendship?

Interviewer: Would you agree that your comparison with the Sudanese-Indian friendship association and others is not appropriate in the case of Israel, in light of the Israeli-Arab conflict?

Taraji Mustafa: This question takes us back to another issue: Are the Sudanese Arab or not? Does membership in the Arab League mean Arab identity? In my opinion, despite all the years that have passed since we joined the Arab League and since we gained independence, we have failed, or rather, the Arab brothers have failed in making us feel we are Arab brothers. There has always been a stereotypical view of the Sudanese people... yes?

Interviewer: Did you examine the Sudanese public opinion before initiating this idea, this association, for you to be so confident in what you are saying?

Taraji Mustafa: I am talking about a very large sector of the Sudanese people. I am talking about awareness among the Sudanese intellectuals. I am talking about those Sudanese who had the opportunity to encounter the outside world, and I am talking about studies conducted among students. I did not have to feel the pulse of the Sudanese people. There are studies conducted at universities regarding the Sudanese people's readiness to establish relations with the Israeli people.

Interviewer: You founded this association in Canada. Would you agree with those who say that this diminishes its credibility, because such a step should have been carried out in Sudan, in order to have any credibility?

Taraji Mustafa: Not at all, because Sudan is currently ruled by an oppressive government. We Sudanese are prevented from even talking about our dreams, so how do you expect any association to be registered in Sudan today?

You are more familiar than me with the regime...

Whooooooo! One of many reasons I want to learn Arabic. This woman is another.
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Via Pooja at The Muslim Woman:
The all time controversial Women Protection Bill, which was signed into law last month under the regime of Musharraf has not been welcomed by thousands of Islamic people. They came out with a rally in Karachi to show their objection towards the bill. Nearly, 10,000 supporters of the Islamist parties, chanted slogans of ‘Down with Musharraf’ and ‘Down with the Women Protection Law’ at the rally and demanded the government scrap the law. The law takes the crime of rape out of the sphere of the religious laws, known as the Hudood Ordinances, and puts it under the penal code. Under the Hudood Ordinances, a raped victim was only offered justice if she would be able to produce four male witness otherwise she would have to face the charges of treachery.
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The Muslim Woman:
Even today, Iranian women are not allowed to enter the stadiums like the male counterparts.

Though President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad announced formally that the ban on women watching soccer has been lifted, he immediately had to take back his words because some of the leading clerics resented his decision, thereby pouring water on the beaming hope of thousands of female fans.

However, one thing is worth mentioning here that the taboo that had been in vogue since time immemorial regarding the non-existence of women soccer players is at last broken.

The Iran women’s football team has taken the first step towards glory by playing their first open-air football game against a foreign team.
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SF writer and astrophysicist Jeanne Cavelos writes:
Against a background of stars and X-wing fighters, Luke holds his
lightsaber aloft while Leia crouches below him, brandishing a gun: two
tough heroes ready to fight the evil Empire. In my love of Star Wars, I
spent endless hours longing for 'a galaxy far, far away,' replaying the
movie in my head, studying every detail of the poster on my wall. It seemed
to embody the excitement of the movie and its strong heroes, Luke and Leia.
But as the Star Wars saga unfolded, I became troubled. While George Lucas
brilliantly combined diverse ideas and influences to create something
startling and inspiring, one aspect of the movies didn't live up to the
rest. I began to notice something new about the poster on my wall. Luke
above, superior; Leia below, inferior. It seemed to reflect the treatment
of the characters in the movies. The problem is not that the women are
supporting characters, though they are. Even a supporting character can be
striking and compelling. Han Solo is such a powerful, heroic figure, he
nearly eclipses Luke. But the women in Star Wars are not the memorable
figures they could be. Compared to their male counterparts, they are
inconsistent and underdeveloped. There is a clear lack of focus on these
characters on the part of George Lucas and the other writers, a tendency to
sacrifice the female characters to make the males look better, and a decided
inclination to reduce initially powerful women to inaction and irrelevance.
Leia and Amidala, as the two most prominent female figures in the films,
exemplify these weaknesses.

- "Stop Her, She's Got a Gun! How the Rebel Princess and the Virgin Queen
Became Marginalized and Powerless in George Lucas' Fairy Tale"
essay in STAR WARS ON TRIAL edited by David Brin and Matthew Woodring Stover
BenBella Books--FORTHCOMING June 2006
US $17.95/Canada $24.95
ISBN 1-932100-89-X

Jeanne Cavelos is the author of (inter alia) the Techno-Mage books, based on the Babylon 5 TV series. These are among my favorite works of recent science fiction: dramatically and morally complex, and very disturbing, but ultimately hopeful. I'll be looking forward to reading Cavelos' essay in the book when it comes out.
  • Jeanne Cavelos homepage

  • Cross-posted at
  • Dreams Into Lightning
  • .
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    A friend's fascination with the character of River in the movie "Serenity" got me thinking. Because River isn't really a hero through most of the movie, or a warrior; she's controlled by forces outside of herself. She spends the first part of the movie hiding from her warrior side, and in fear of it. It's only at the end - when she can confront that side of herself - that she can use her abilities to fight evil and protect the rest of the crew of Serenity.

    This internal transformation is mirrored on a macroscopic scale by the movie's premise. It was the quest for a utopia - specifically, a world free of violence and aggression - that led to the invention of the aptly-named drug Pax. The drug caused most people to lose the will to live - while in a small minority, it had an opposite, and even worse, effect. Mal must force his crew, in the most horrifying way imaginable, to mingle with that banished, evil side.

    And come to think of it, isn't it strange how River's name sounds so much like the word "Reaver"?

    Aggression and conflict are part of our reality. There is conflict in our world, there is aggression in our nature. We don't get a choice in this. What we do get to choose is how to handle these things. We can run from them and drive them underground; or we can acknowledge them and work with them responsibly.

    If we refuse to acknowledge the dark side of ourselves, we are only inviting it to do us harm. To embrace it is to learn true power, and humility, and wholeness.
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    Ginmar posts on a girl in Beaverton who had the temerity to report a rape:
    After a day-and-a-half trial, Municipal Judge Peter A. Ackerman on Friday convicted the woman of filing a false police report, a class-C misdemeanor. Ackerman explained his decision, saying there were many inconsistencies in the stories of the four, but that he found the young men to be more credible. He also said he relied on the testimony of a Beaverton police detective and the woman's friends who said she did not act traumatized in the days following the incident.

    What inconsistencies? Trauma makes people remember things strangely. It’s a little known fact that someone who’s survived a ghastly experience may not remember everything about it till days later, when their brain starts to recover. Someone who’s lying, of course, will have inconsistencies in their story because they want to avoid getting arrested for it.

    The judge found the young men to be more credible. Why?

    What police detective? Did this guy have any experience as a sex crimes investigator? Cops are just as likely---and might be more likely---to be sexist as is the general population.

    And of course we all know that if a woman doesn’t act traumatized and horrified it’s not because she’s in denial or trying to forget it, it’s because she’s a lying whore who’s trying to put innocent guys in jail. ...

    Read the rest at Ginmar's post, along with her thoughts on the experience of watching "Cops" after reading about this. You can also visit my main blog at my Website link.
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    In the August 2003 issue of Curve Magazine, an actress is photographed wearing a T-shirt depicting a woman holding an M-16. As a combat veteran, my gut reaction was: “If you’re ready to accept the moral and psychological consequences of using that thing ... then you go, girl!”

    This year’s feminist We’moon Calendar – a visually stunning work, available for the first time in full color – is dedicated to the theme of “Power”. (The women of the We’moon Collective decided a few years back to choose a theme for each year’s calendar suggested by the cards of the Major Arcana. Last year was represented by the High Priestess and was titled “Priestessing the Planet”; this year’s card was the Emperor – re-named “the Empowerer” – to be followed by the Hierophant.) The texts included in this calendar are particularly interesting: they shed light on the struggles of a community of feminist, separatist, and mostly lesbian women to come to terms with the meaning of power in a changing world.

    “In the middle of putting together this We’moon,” the editors note, “we participated in a Peace March in Portland, Oregon, with 25,000 people of all ages and stripes. Although we had no illusions that our protest would reach the inner chambers of the war councils of this nation, we came away from it feeling empowered.” The introduction goes on to explain that “Our work ... is not driven by the impulse to ascend to the throne; reversing roles would just perpetuate the same old disempowering pattern. We would rather overturn the patriarchal paradigm of power itself, reaching for empowerment that connects people with one another ...” (We’moon 2004 calendar, pp. 33-34.)

    So when Celestina Pearl writes on p. 70, “I go out into the world as a Woman Warrior”, we must assume that this is a metaphor. Like the M-16 on the T-shirt.

    What is the proper role for women in a world full of conflict?

    I served with the Marines in Operation Desert Storm in 1990-91. I shared in the pride of liberating Kuwait from a brutal Iraqi occupation; but I also shared in the shame of our nation’s cruel betrayal of the Iraqi uprising against Saddam Hussein, and I lived with this burden for twelve years until Saddam’s overthrow. Even now it haunts me. A bitter irony: the great crime of that war was not what we did, but what we did not do.

    Now the evil Ba’athist regime is gone, and there exists the possibility -- only the possibility -- of something better.

    According to Iraqi women like Zainab al-Suwaij and Rania Kashi, the Iraqis were eager to be rid of Saddam, and their chief concern was (and still is) a better future for their country. And it is here that the efforts of feminist activists and other progressives might best be focused.

    But many in the feminist and lesbian communities opposed the war, invoking platitudes about “women and peace” and vaguely suggesting that women possess some special insight into “other ways” of resolving conflicts – without ever specifying what “other solutions” might have rid Iraq and the world of Saddam Hussein. They missed the opportunity to inform themselves about the atrocities committed against women and children (to say nothing of men) in Ba’athist Iraq, and thus relinquished a potentially valuable voice on behalf of Iraqi and Middle Eastern women.

    The removal of an oppressive regime is a step towards freedom, but it is only the first step. In Kuwait, the Iraqi tanks are gone but women still do not have the right to vote. Iraq is no longer a giant concentration camp (no thanks to the peace movement), but a nation of 24 million traumatized people will not get back on its feet overnight; the Iraqi people will need our help as they find their own way. Iraqi women, originally promised 40% of the seats in the new Parliament, had to settle for 25%. If all the women who marched under such banners as “Code Pink” had instead raised their voices on behalf of their Iraqi sisters, might it have made a difference? If instead of choosing to “feel empowered”, they had accepted the burden of real power – and responsiblity – could they have helped? We’ll never know.

    Those who truly care about the well-being of the Iraqi people will continue to pressure Washington to follow through on its commitments for humanitarian aid, security, and ultimately democratic autonomy for Iraq. We must continue to fight for the rights of Iraqi women and minorities. And Western feminists must begin to look past the “women = peace” cliche. They must realize that, with all due respect to Audre Lorde, sometimes “the master’s tools” are the only way to dismantle the master’s house.

    Ever since I was a kid I knew I was supposed to be a girl. I was very effeminate acting as a child; in the first grade two of my classmates cornered me in the boys' room and demanded to see my "c**t". Throughout public school I was harassed for being a "faggot" even though I was never attracted to boys. Eventually I learned to act more "masculine", a process I perfected in Marine boot camp.

    Coming out as transgendered in mid-life forced me to confront my experience of growing up as a girl in a boy’s body. I realized that I had learned a lot about misogyny – and that what I’d experienced as a gender-variant “boy” was nothing compared to the sexism that women-born-women experience throughout their lives. But I also learned many lessons from the world of men – and some of these lessons have proved valuable.

    Power means many things. As feminist thinkers have rightly pointed out, power does not reside only, or even primarily, in the force of arms. Power can belong to individuals or to a group; and it can be material or spiritual, as Starhawk has comprehensively explained in her activism manual Truth or Dare. In the 1970s, in the early days of the Women’s Land movement (which was especially prominent here in Oregon), women sought to create egalitarian utopias in the countryside; they learned that treating power as taboo only leads to chaos.

    But whatever else power may be, it is also, in its most raw and elemental form, the mechanism by which evil men gain the ability to oppress others – and the means by which they can be defeated.

    If you were raised as a girl, you learned that “to be a girl is to be weak”; if you were raised as a boy, you learned that “to be weak is to be a girl.” It is understandable that women and gays, traditionally excluded from the patriarchal power structure and more often its victims than its beneficiaries, will be tempted make a virtue of necessity and condemn all forms of force and power. This is a mistake. To eschew participation in the power process because of a misplaced fear of “the master’s tools” is an abdication of the very power women rightfully seek to claim. As the pioneers of the Women’s Land movement discovered, power and conflict ignored are simply driven underground.

    Lesbian iconography often depicts women wielding swords and labryses (and now, it would seem, assault rifles). A better index of women’s progress might be the willingness to take responsibility for difficult decisons in a violent world. As women gain access to the tools of power, they must be prepared to deal with the consequences of using that power--and of not using it.

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