April 30, 2007

Liberty, Equality, Maternity

Before I left for that conference last week and dropped of the face of the internet, I waxed pretty furious at DailyKos over reproductive justice for women being painted as a mere single-issue voter heresy that undermined the elect-Democrats-no-matter-what goal of the site at large. The front page response the following day was to rescue that diary. It also appeared that in response to growing sentiment on the site that women's issues have been allowed too often to fall by the wayside, that same day, Meteor Blades wrote about the "partial truth" framing of the abortion debate and Devilstower took issue with the fact that Republican health care policies favoring "post birth abortion," seen in the dramatic increase in infant mortality among U.S. minority populations in the South.

Over this past weekend, Kossacks raised over $12,000 to save the Pretty Bird Woman House shelter. This is the shelter's story:

According to a recent Amnesty International report, more than one in three American Indian and Alaskan Native women will be raped or sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Far too often, perpetrators of these crimes go unpunished. Domestic violence is also a serious problem, inflicting physical and emotional damage on both women and children. Often victims have nowhere to turn due to poverty, remote geography and tangled legal jurisdictions. In these dire situations, local domestic violence advocates and women’s shelters can make dramatic differences in helping women cope with the after-effects of violence, and helping them escape from situations where further violence is likely. However, these shelters are chronically under-funded. One such shelter, Zintkala Waste Win Oti (“Pretty Bird Woman House”), has run out of funding and will be forced to close in May if new resources can’t be found to sustain it.

The shelter was founded by Jackie Brown Otter after the kidnapping, rape and murder of her sister (whose Lakota name means Pretty Bird Woman). It serves the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, which is on the border of North and South Dakota. The reservation covers over 2.3 million acres, and with a per capita income of only $8,615, it's one of the most destitute regions in the United States.

From January 2005 to August 2006, 125 domestic violence cases were filed with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Court-15 cases per month. Pretty Bird Woman House was involved with most of those cases, and without that program's help, many cases would have been ignored or withdrawn. ...

I believe this speaks to the question I raised in my diary, whether or not the Daily Kos community was going to be an ally that had women's backs as we fight against reproductive discrimination or whether the collective of the Great Orange Satan would perpetuate the head-patting paternalism that has too often characterized past debates there. There's at least some headway being made, imo.

Twisty disagrees, and I can see her point:

... Women’s oppression is a global humanitarian crisis. Any so-called political blogger who (a) who does not explicitly, strenuously, and regularly denounce it, and (b) condones an antifeminist commentarian zeitgeist, might as well rename their stupid blog “I Defend the Conviction that Male Abuse of Women Constitutes the Natural Order, Now Where Are the Boobies?” ...

Under that standard, there have been times that this blog might as well have been renamed thusly. It certainly hasn't always been a priority of mine, never so much as after the recent Supreme Court decision scared the bejeesus out of me. But I should have been scared earlier, I guess.

When it was obvious that terrorism against women's clinics was never taken seriously.

When it was obvious that anti-choice is as much about forced sterilization as it is about forced pregnancy, something this country's government and medical establishment doesn't have a clean slate on, either.

When it was obvious that states like South Carolina hate reproductive justice and can effectively deny it without explicitly outlawing it.

When it became apparent that doctors who performed abortions because they remember the bad old days of watching do-it-yourselfers die in their wards were being replaced with up-and-comers who haven't been trained in this basic women's medical procedure and have no particular commitment to reproductive justice.

Or maybe before it became obvious that the refusal to treat sexual abuse of Native American women as a serious crime was by no means a practice lost to history.

Or before a video glamorizing domestic violence won its category in the Country Music Television Awards.

Or before Kansas, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas indicated through legislative proceedings that many in their governments don't believe that women can make their own medical decisions.

Or before it was clear that threats against women that play on their fears of rape aren't a big deal to too many people with big megaphones.

Anyway, it's a shame that it takes Something Bad Happening to wake people up to the consequences of staying silent about injustice. The human race has never been known for its foresight, though given our generation's unprecedented access to sweeping hindsight, a person might have been inclined to hope for better. Alas. What would be more of a shame is if even SBH on the front pages of all the newspapers right here in the US of A wasn't enough.

Posted by natasha at April 30, 2007 11:20 AM | Women | Technorati links |


Posted by: ccoaler at April 30, 2007 01:24 PM