Posts Tagged “women”

Basilica of St. Louis, King of France (color) / St Louis, MOEvery once in a while, it seems, one or another of the Catholic hierarchs decides to go after some charitable target. They do this for two reasons: First, for the attention; and second, as a way of bewailing Catholicism’s lack of influence over society.

A year and a half ago, the archdiocese of Cincinnati condemned the “Ice Bucket Challenge” which raised boatloads of cash for ALS research. Their complaint was that the ALS Association used embryonic stem cells in its research, and the Catholic Church has taught that this is an unholy abomination which can’t be permitted. Yes, they would actually prefer that people live with the horror of ALS, rather than use embryonic stem cells to treat and/or cure it (maybe, someday, hopefully). This is, of course, fully consistent with their doctrine that pregnant women’s lives are by definition forfeit.

The latest example of this “getting attention by targeting something everyone likes which actually has nothing to do with Catholicism or Christianity” trope comes from the archbishop of St Louis. As the St Louis Post-Dispatch explains, he’s come out against — of all things! — Girl Scout Cookies (WebCite cached article):

St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson has issued a letter calling on parishes to seek alternatives to Girl Scouts, arguing that the program and related organizations conflict with Roman Catholic teaching.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis isn’t directly kicking Girl Scout troops and activities off church properties, but is suggesting they and their cookies may no longer be welcome in the fold.

“Girl Scouts is exhibiting a troubling pattern of behavior and it is clear to me that as they move in the ways of the world it is becoming increasingly incompatible with our Catholic values,” Carlson wrote in a letter dated Thursday. “We must stop and ask ourselves — is Girl Scouts concerned with the total well-being of our young women? Does it do a good job forming the spiritual, emotional, and personal well-being of Catholic girls?”

The letter said issues such as reproductive rights and abortion separate the church from Girl Scouts and related organizations.

The archdiocese tried to guilt its parishioners into not buying the cookies:

A question-and-answer page [cached] on an Archdiocesan website also asks parents to question whether they should condone a child joining the Girl Scouts as it conflicts with Catholic teaching.

“Can I still buy Girl Scout Cookies?” is also among the questions posted on the Archdiocesan website.

“Each person must act in accord with their conscience,” is the response. “It is also our duty to form our consciences and learn the issues.”

You can read the Archbishop’s letter for yourself (cached). Aw, the poor little thing! How dare groups like the Girl Scouts actually look out for girls’ health, and teach them anything other than that they should grow up to be perpetually barefoot and pregnant! Boo hoo hoo. Note, this is not the first time an American Catholic hierarch has pitched a fit over the Girl Scouts.

Clearly these young ladies annoy the bishops. I urge everyone to tell Archbishop Carlson what he can do with his anti-Girl Scout sanctimonious outrage, and buy lots of Girl Scout Cookies. I plan to get plenty of them!

Hat tip: Wikimedia Commons.

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PZI 02In a bit of news I don’t find surprising coming out of Pakistan — teeming as it is with sanctimoniously-enraged Islamofascist idiots — the head of one of that country’s political parties called on his country’s military to attack a class of people he views as terrible enemies. As the New Indian Express reports, the enemy he wants wiped out, are — rather unbelievably — women wearing jeans (WebCite cached article):

During a press conference at a local hotel in Islamabad, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islami Fazl (JUI-F) Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman asked the Pakistani armed forces to launch a military operation against women wearing jeans all over Pakistan.

According to him, the immodesty of women is the cause behind earthquakes, inflation and other kinds of disasters.

Fazlur Rehman went on to say that a woman who is not covered like a ‘sack of flour’ is a mobile weapon of mass destruction for her state and that Pakistan has multitude of such nuclear missiles in all its major cities.

Rehman then blamed ‘immodest women’ for the Baluchistan crisis, lack of energy supply and the deteriorating security situation in Pakistan.

Rehman’s misogyny here is just another example of what I call “disaster theology,” which here in the ‘States is a pastime of the Religious Right, as I’ve blogged any number of times. It’s really a childish way of making a point.

Photo credit: Jason Staten, via Flickr.

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Marte Deborah Dalelv (24) ble kastet i fengsel i Dubai etter å ha anmeldt en voldtekt. Privat / NRKNote: There’s a “good news” update to this entry; please see below.

This story is, understandably, big news in Norway. Even so, it’s not entirely surprising, given how vehemently the Islamic world despises women. A Norwegian woman who worked in Qatar, was raped during a business trip to Dubai … and as CNN reports, ended up being arrested and convicted of crimes there, because she dared report the rape (WebCite cached article):

Norwegian interior designer Marte Deborah Dalelv has spoken out after being handed a 16-month prison sentence in Dubai — after she went to police to report she had been raped by a colleague.

The 24-year-old was convicted and sentenced on charges of having unlawful sex, making a false statement and illegal consumption of alcohol.…

She said she had been out at a bar with her colleagues and friends, and asked a male colleague to walk her to her room when they returned at 3 a.m. to the hotel. She’d asked him to escort her because the hotel was large and confusing, and she didn’t want to be wandering on her own, knowing she’d been drinking, she said.

When they reached a room, she realized it wasn’t hers — but the man then pulled her inside despite her vocal objections, according to Dalelv.

“He dragged me by my purse in, so I thought, ‘OK, I just need to calm the situation down. I will finish my bottle of water, I will sit here and then I will excuse myself and say I feel fine,'” she said.

That was pretty much the last thing she said she remembers before the alleged sexual assault. “I woke up with my clothes off, sleeping on my belly, and he was raping me. I tried to get off, I tried to get him off, but he pushed me back down.”

After someone knocked — the hotel wake-up call — she managed to get dressed and make it downstairs to the hotel reception, Dalelv said. “I called the police. That is what you do. We are trained on that from when we are very young,” she said.

Some 10 or 12 male police officers arrived, but no female police officers were present, she said. Statements were taken from both Dalelv and the alleged rapist.

She was then taken to Bur Dubai police station, she said.

And that’s when the real nightmare began for Ms Dalelv. She ended up being convicted of drinking alcohol and of lying to police. The former charge is clearly bogus, because Dubai is known for having a lot of bars, yet their patrons are rarely, if ever, arrested. The latter charge is more debatable; it happened because — like a lot of folks in situations like hers, and at her employer’s suggestion — Ms Dalelv changed her story believing the whole thing would go away. But it didn’t. Even so, she was held for several days in prison before having changed her story … so that charge doesn’t explain why she was treated so terribly in the first place by the United Arab Emirates.

CNN’s video story is available right here:

I get that Muslims really don’t think very much of women, and they’ve codified their misogyny into law. That said, let’s not fool ourselves into thinking the occidental world is all that much better. Christianity has its own misognyistic streak, as I’ve blogged any number of times before. And Orthodox Jews aren’t friends of women, either. Tons of American Christians have truly hateful ideas about women and about rape, themselves, so as far as I’m concerned, they’re not ones to point the finger of self-righteousness at the UAE and condemn them for this.

The main lesson here is not that Islam is an “evil religion” (as, for instance, the Neocrusaders would claim). It is that thralldom to any fierce religionistic ideas that half of humanity somehow has less metaphysical value than the other half, is quite simply not acceptable, and it must end. I get that many Muslims … as well as lots of Christians, and lots of Jews, and more … won’t like that message. But too fucking bad for them. This isn’t something that can be opened for discussion. They need to grow up for once and get over their hangups, fercryinoutloud.

Update: Good news! Ms Dalalv has been pardoned and is free to leave the UAE (cached)! Of course, this is likely the result of international pressure that was applied by the government of Norway, not due to some spontaneous change of heart by UAE authorities.

Photo credit: NRK.

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Susan Silverman, center, a reform rabbi, sits on the ground and prays with her daughter, left, after being asked by Israeli police to remove their prayer shawls at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City February 11, 2013. (STRINGER, REUTERS / February 11, 2013)I’ve blogged a number of times about ultra-conservative Jews in Israel targeting women as sub-human. They appear to believe — as do a lot of conservative Muslims, and Christians — that women are to be neither seen nor heard, and are not to be treated as human beings.

What’s remarkable is that ultra-conservatives have commandeered the government of Israel to do their bidding in order to keep “the Weaker Sex” in its place. The Hartford Courant reports on some arrests of women who insolently dared to thwart ultra-conservative sensibilities (WebCite cached article):

Israeli police detained 10 women, including a rabbi from Bloomfield, at one of Judaism’s most sacred sites on Monday for wearing prayer shawls, which Orthodox tradition sees as solely for men, a spokesman said.

The incident at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City highlighted the divisions between the more liberal streams of Judaism and politically powerful Orthodox groups that traditionally limit the role of women in prayer.

The Western Wall is administered under strict Orthodox ritual law, which bars women from wearing prayer shawls or publicly reading from the holy scriptures.

Among those held was Debra Cantor, rabbi of B’nai Tikvoh-Sholom in Bloomfield, and Susan Silverman, a reform rabbi who is a sister of American comedian Sarah Silverman.

I’m curious as to precisely what awful thing the ultra-conservative Jews think will befall their country, if some people with two “X” chromosomes stand before the Western Wall. I really don’t get it. It’d be nice if someone could explain it to me — but somehow I doubt it will ever happen. Seriously, what is the problem with women wearing prayer shawls, and praying, on that spot? Anyone?

This just goes to show that it’s not just Christians or Muslims who think poorly of women and want to repress them. Most religions, in fact, don’t seem to want women around — in spite of the fact that they’re 50% of the population.

Photo credit: Reuters, via the Hartford Courant.

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Savita Halappanavar, who was found to be miscarrying when admitted, died of septicaemia at University Hospital Galway, via the Irish TimesAs if anyone needed further proof how reprehensible the Roman Catholic Church’s dogmatic approach toward women is, here’s one more sterling example. The Irish Times reports on a woman who died because a hospital’s allegiance to the R.C. Church was stronger than its desire to keep her alive (WebCite cached article):

Savita Halappanavar (31), a dentist, presented with back pain at the hospital on October 21st, was found to be miscarrying, and died of septicaemia a week later.

Her husband, Praveen Halappanavar (34), an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, says she asked several times over a three-day period that the pregnancy be terminated. He says that, having been told she was miscarrying, and after one day in severe pain, Ms Halappanavar asked for a medical termination.

This was refused, he says, because the foetal heartbeat was still present and they were told, “this is a Catholic country”.

She spent a further 2½ days “in agony” until the foetal heartbeat stopped.

Sadly, this proved to too late for Ms Halappanavar; she died of septicemia a few days later.

I’m not sure, but I don’t think University Hospital Galway is Catholic Church-owned or -operated. So this might not be a case where the Church directly and on its own orders caused Ms Halappanavar’s death. Nevertheless, even if it’s not, Catholicism taught the fiercely dogmatic medical philosophy which was applied here, so Church culpability is unavoidable.

I have to ask all of you supposedly “pro-life” Catholics out there who are proud to trumpet that “all life is sacred” and that’s why you militate against any and all kinds of abortion: Please explain how and why your Church’s policy, in this case, did anything to protect “life”? In the name of protecting a dying fetus — which you claim is a “life” than must be saved — you ended up losing both that fetus and the mother who carried it. So whose “life,” here, was protected? I want to know how that “pro-life” policy works, when by your own definitions of “life,” two lives were lost in this case, one inevitably, the other needlessly.

I dare you to explain this. Really. Honest. If you truly believe your Church’s doctrines have any veracity, and if you’re secure in your “pro-life” beliefs, then you should have no problem doing so. So go ahead. Do it. The comment box below is available for you, so get to work and explain this. If you dare.*

Note that this event puts the lie to (now lame-duck) Rep. Joe Walsh’s claim that medical advances have made it so that it’s never necessary to abort a fetus in order to save a woman’s life. We all knew he was talking out his misogynistic, religiofascist ass when he made that comment, but this example provides verifiable, incontrovertible — and horrific — evidence that he was absolutely wrong.

*Appeals to ignorance … such as the old & tired “it’s a mystery” or “God works in mysterious ways” … will not suffice, so don’t insult me by offering anything like that. Those clichés aren’t explanations of the benefits of Catholic doctrine. They’re just admissions of ignorance, and falling back on them betrays a lack of desire to provide an explanation.

Photo credit: Irish Times.

Hat tip: Unreasonable Faith & Friendly Atheist.

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Better to remain silent, and be thought a fool, than to open one's mouth, and remove all doubt! (proverb)On a few occasions I’ve mentioned that the Religious Right tries to make their irrational, reflexive opposition to abortion appear to have a reasonable, even scientific veneer. Their problem is that it’s a lie; their real motivation is their religionistic hatred of women and a desire to control them. Rep Todd Akin, for example, revealed the disingenuity of this effort back in August, when he claimed that a woman cannot be impregnated during rape. Late last week, as the Los Angeles Times reports, Illinois Rep Joe Walsh stepped into the same trap himself (WebCite cached article):

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), who is facing a tough race to retain his seat in Congress, told reporters Thursday that he was opposed to abortion under any circumstances — and that thanks to medical progress, “you can’t find one instance” when it might be necessary to perform an abortion to protect a woman’s health.

“There’s no such exception as life of the mother,” Walsh said, according to this report from Bloomberg News. “And as far as health of the mother, same thing, with advances in science and technology. Health of the mother has become a tool for abortions any time, under any reason.”

Walsh, you see, is among the most fiercely Puritanical of the anti-abortionists, who refuse to provide any exceptions in their anti-abortion legislation. His problem — aside from the fact that he has no medical training whatsoever and hasn’t the expertise to make this claim — is that this is simply not true:

Within hours, women’s heath advocates — and physicians — attacked his remarks.

“Joe Walsh’s ignorance about women’s health is alarming,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the advocacy arm of Planned Parenthood, in a statement.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) fired its own salvo, calling the congressman’s comments “inaccurate” in a widely distributed response.

“Abortions are necessary in a number of circumstances to save the life of a woman or to preserve her health,” the doctors’ organization said. The group reported that more than 600 women die every year from pregnancy and childbirth-related causes and that “many more would die each year if they did not have access to abortion.”

There are, in fact, any number of problems that might come along, which require an abortion to save a woman’s life. Walsh cannot simply declare they don’t exist. For him to do so, is fucking ridiculous.

I have news for Rep Walsh and others of his ilk: That you have certain metaphysics beliefs — e.g. that abortion is impermissible — does not entitle you to lie in support of that belief. You can’t just make scientific or medical claims that aren’t true, in order to make your beliefs apear valid. That he’d do this, places Rep Walsh in my “lying liars for Jesus” club, where he’s sure to enjoy the company.

Finally, that Rep Walsh thinks women must be allowed to die, merely because of a problem during their pregnancies, is a downright evil proposition. Even so, he’s not the only one who espouses this very philosophy; The Roman Catholic Church teaches it, too.

Photo credit: PsiCop original, based on proverb.

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And Jesus WeptTrouble’s been brewing in Waterbury, CT for some time. Its two hospitals spent more than a year trying to negotiate a merger. The proposed deal would have benefitted the hospitals — because they’ve both been losing money for a while — as well as the people of Waterbury, because they’d get a new, bigger and better hospital once the merger took place. But one of the two hospitals, St Mary’s, is Catholic, which meant the R.C. Church was involved. Finally, as the Hartford Courant reports, the archdiocese of Hartford proved intransigent and saw fit to derail this deal (WebCite cached article):

Waterbury Hospital officials have abandoned their quest to merge with St. Mary’s Hospital, concluding after more than a year of negotiations that it would be impossible to comply with the Catholic hospital’s directives on birth control.

“We confronted numerous challenges and obstacles that made it difficult for both of the hospitals in Waterbury to remain true to their respective missions,” Darlene Stromstad, president and CEO of Waterbury Hospital, said in a statement released Saturday. “The objectives that needed to be satisfied in order to proceed — particularly as they relate to our efforts to comply with the Ethical and Religious Directives of the Catholic Church — were too many and too insurmountable to allow us to realize our goal.

“We’ve come to the conclusion it simply isn’t going to work.”

It’s not as though the management of both hospitals hadn’t been trying, for over a year, to get this deal to work, as the Courant explains:

To resolve the thorny issue of birth control, a proposal was made to build a “hospital within a hospital” — a separate, independently operated facility within the hospital building — that would provide reproductive health services prohibited by Catholic doctrine. But that plan was rejected by Hartford Archbishop Henry Mansell.

The archdiocese went so far as to come up with another scenario, that would have placed women’s lives at risk:

Officials also considered an idea for an ambulatory surgical center near — but not part of — the main hospital campus. But that would have been problematic for some women seeking tubal ligations, a surgical form of birth control that is barred in Catholic hospitals. Tubal ligations are often performed after C-sections, and in those cases, women receiving C-sections in the main hospital would have had to be sewn up and transported to the satellite facility for the second surgery.

Diocesan officials approved the idea of a wholly separate facility, but state officials ultimately rejected the proposal because the facility would not be equipped to serve women who are considered high risk.

Now, the average rational thinker would ask the obvious question of why the R.C. Church would want to endanger women’s lives over its dogmatism. But I know better than to even ask this question. The Church has already gone on record as considering the lives of women of child-bearing age forfeit. Where their dogma and a woman’s life are concerned, they happily choose dogma over life. The Church and its princes are viciously, hatefully misogynistic. There’s no other way to put it, so I won’t even try. I will simply state it clearly and succinctly: The Catholic Church wants women to die unnecessarily.

In any event, the management of Waterbury Hospital clearly deserves kudos for taking a stand against the Church and its effort to destroy the lives of women in the Waterbury area. They refused to knuckle under to Archbishop Mansell, and called off this merger, despite their own institution’s financial peril.

Photo credit: Termin8er, via Flickr.

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