Human Rights Badasses











So I completely abandoned the blog during the semester, as anyone who happens by can see. I think there was like one non-spam comment in that time that I didn’t approve for a while, sorry about that.

The obvious badasses that I would’ve mentioned had I been here were Aung San Suu Kyi, who was democratically elected Prime Minister of Burma but was put under house arrest by the military, which is now beating and killing the peaceful pro-democracy protesters; and Benazir Bhutto, who, well, if you’re not living under a rock, you know who she is and why she came to mind. Bhutto may have been corrupt. Not perfect. And not quite as cool as Suu Kyi, who, no joke, won a Nobel Prize while under house arrest. But you have to be a badass to go back into a country where people have already tried to kill you. And it’s pretty cool that she was the first female prime minister of an Islamic country. Hear that, islamophobes? Pakistan beat the US to a female head of state. Somebody wrote into my local paper in response to the assassination and ensuing chaos saying, I kid you not, “What do you expect? It’s Pakistan.” I just bet you that person turned around and said that Hillary Clinton isn’t fit to lead this country because she has cankles or something. I mean, yeah, Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists suck, like all fundamentalists and terrorists – in fact, like Christian fundamentalists and anti-abortion terrorists. But it’s funny how people can ignore their own problems AND ignore Pakistan’s strong points so easily. Anyway. So far all this information is from Wikipedia and my memory of Guardian articles on Bhutto, but I’d like to read up more on Suu Kyi, so maybe I’ll give some real information. It’s definitely time to start focusing on badasses again; I’ve started getting depressed with US politics and I need to force myself to think about some good news.



{August 17, 2007}   Taslima Nasrin

Feministing alerted me to Taslima Nasrin, and I’m so glad, because she’s freaking awesome.

She’s Bangladeshi, but she’s currently living in exile in India. There’s a price on her head and she has received several death threats because of her criticism of Islam. She was raised Muslim but is now an atheist, a secular humanist. About a week ago she was attacked at a book launch for her “anti-Muslim” statements. She has spoken out against the atrocities that Muslims have committed against Hindus, a minority religion there. She wants civil laws that are separate from religion and give women equal rights. For this people want her killed. Few people defended her rights while she was in Bangladesh, even though the majority are not fundamentalists. This is what I mean by badass. If I were her I probably would have just shut up a long time ago.

This is how badass she is, y’all. Her official website has a section for “Banned Books”. You can also check out her poetry there. Not only is she a writer, she’s also a physician. And Feminist of the Year in 2004 for the Feminist Majority Foundation.

Can I just say that I really love how she tackles the issue of religion being used to oppress women? I can name sexist things about all five of the world’s major religions. Hinduism is the hardest because it’s so…decentralized in its authority, from what I gather, but look up “devadasi” if you think there’s nothing anti-woman about it. Not to say that all of religion is horrible and everyone who belongs to a religion is horrible and all the ways people like to exaggerate these statements so they can get mad at me and turn this around into me being the oppressive one, but…I see sexism. And I don’t like it. And I’m glad she’s saying so, so much more eloquently than I could. I also don’t like religious fundamentalism. I think I’m going to stop even differentiating between different types of religious fundamentalists. I think when you go that far you stop worshiping your god and you start worshiping your religion. And at that point, it’s all the same, just with different names and different rules (somewhat), but the hatred, the inflexibility, the disrespect, the irrationality, that’s all the same. Plus I think it’s hilarious to group fundamentalist Christians with fundamentalist Muslims because they hate each other so much. I love seeing hateful people have the basis of their hate undermined.



I’m. So. Jealous.

Because as far as I know, no hateful person has called my state the Land of the Sodomite Damned, which probably means we’re not doing enough right. No, definitely. But Fred Phelps generously bestowed that appellation on the state of Minnesota for its tolerance of homosexuality. His daughter blamed them and their tolerance for the bridge collapse that just happened, which is so sickeningly cruel that I don’t even know what to say. Now I don’t want to generalize and name every single Minnesotan a Badass, but a commenter on http://www.feministing.com who’s from Minnesota wants Land of the Sodomite Damned on their license plates, which sounds pretty badass to me. That’s a cool way to handle an insult from someone grounded in hate. His comments, not to mention his protests at soldiers’ funerals where he blames gay tolerance for 9/11, are hurtful and disgusting, but there’s no reason to lend him any credence.

So let’s laugh instead.

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Not only did good ole MN give homosexuals some protection under the law and then refuse to repeal it (not that there aren’t any gay rights problems there), but they also just made birth control less ridiculously expensive (from feministing). That doesn’t really qualify as badass, it’s more of a straight-forward laudable really, but while we’re on the topic…

Why would it be so important to make birth control inexpensive? I mean it’s not like poor people have lots of unwanted pregnancies and don’t have the means to support large families or anything. And it’s not like women are more likely to be poor and malefit* disproportionately from unwanted pregnancies. And it’s not like having birth control that women use (like the pill instead of the condom) is important because of things like rape and men who refuse to wear condoms. So I really don’t get why it’s such a big deal. I mean if you want to have sex, well, you better be able to afford it, either by paying for full-price birth control or paying for a kid, ok? You have to earn the right to have sex by making money. And that’s fair, because meritocracy is totally real. Bad things never happen to good people and if you work hard you’ll get rich. So if you want sex badly enough, you’ll get off your lazy butt and get lucky in the stock market or get yourself adopted by rich people. Gosh.

So now that we’ve decided that affordable birth control is really not something you want to support, here’s a petition to sign saying that you want the price of birth control to go down. I toggle a lot between sarcasm and sincerity, I know.

*a word I made up meaning the opposite of benefit. From Latin male, badly, contrasted with bene, well. I’m hoping it will catch on, because I find it very useful. I’m a big proponent of generative morphology.

PS – How can anyone who’s read the Bible seriously refer to homosexuals as Sodomites? Read the damn (sodomite damn) story. Ha, I wonder if Fred Phelps thinks butt sex is damnable but offering your two daughters to be gang raped is perfectly acceptable. Yes, Lot did that, yes, Lot, the “righteous man.” Somehow they forget that part when they talk about it in church, it’s just one of those things that slips people’s minds. But one time I talked to someone who did remember it, but acted like it was ok because the daughters later turned out to not be perfect themselves (they committed incest in order to keep their father’s line going – another problem with patriarchy). You see, only perfect people deserve not to be offered for gang rape. You have to earn human rights. And if a woman does something bad, that proves that the Bible isn’t sexist. Case closed!



et cetera