Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Celebrating Women's History Month

I know this is a bit late, but I wanted to acknowledge that March is Women's History Month and International Women's Day was March 8th. This is a blog that a lot of people will mostly associate with the "law school scam movement", but I think Angel and I as well as our wonderful readership have brought to the table, our wonderful blog community, so much more to discuss and ponder than just the injustice of our current law school system and the superficiality of the legal world.

We have discussed economic inequality, access to good education, politics, student loan reform, access to affordable child care, and most recently women's right to have or not have children and still be successful in the workplace. Some of our readers such as Jadz have shared their stories and the challenges they have faced in BigLaw and other aspects of their lives as working mothers. All of these issues are intertwined so I don't think we can address one issue without discussing a whole host of other inequalities that come into play in order to explain why we and the nation as a whole are in the current state we're in. And I think that is why our blog has become such a diverse bouquet of topics that we can discuss almost anything in our lives and have it relate in some way or another to the disaster the ABA and other greedy people in the law, business, and politics have created.

I came across an article at Law.com in January that pretty much sums up in a few paragraphs the gender inequality that still exists in the legal profession. The N.Y. State Bar planned to have a panel on women in the law except that the panel was initially to be made up of all men giving women lawyers "tips" on their strengths and weaknesses. I think the portion I've pasted below says it all so I'll leave it up to you to express your thoughts on this incident in the comments:

Faced with a call for a boycott of a discussion at its annual meeting next week, the New York State Bar Association has revised its plans to have a panel of "distinguished gentlemen" expound on the "strengths and weaknesses" of women in the legal profession.

Bridget J. Crawford, a Pace Law School professor, had urged state bar members to boycott the Committee on Women in the Law's Jan. 26 panel discussion entitled "Their Point of View: Tips From the Other Side," calling it an "insult to all women in the legal profession."

Crawford said Wednesday she called off her proposed boycott after the state bar changed the makeup of the panel to include both men and women, and altered the description of what the panel would discuss to "challenges faced by women in the workplace in the areas of communication, negotiation, mediation, arbitration, organization and management of work, as well as the role of mentoring."

As originally posted in state bar promotional materials, the event was described by the committee as a "distinguished panel of gentlemen from the legal field" who would "discuss the strengths and weaknesses of women in the areas of communication, negotiation, medication, arbitration, organization and women's overall management of their legal work."

Despite the challenges we as American women still face both in the workplace and others who deal with domestic violence and rape hidden behind the veil of a perfect home, there are still so much more atrocious human rights violations against women and children in other countries that need to be remembered, even if they are only brought to light a few times each year. One of the few men in the mainstream media who regularly covers these crimes against women and girls, Peter Daou has written extensively and passionately about women's rights and victims of stoning, rape, and other forms of torture against women in the Middle East and Africa. You can find his articles at The Huffington Post but I'd like to end with one of his articles in particular that gets to the heart of the problem, "Male Monsters -- Girl Buried Alive for Being a Girl and the World Shrugs". The world shrugs.

***Trigger Warning***


Turkish police have recovered the body of a 16-year-old girl they say was buried alive by relatives in an "honor" killing carried out as punishment for talking to boys. The girl, who has been identified only by the initials MM, was found in a sitting position with her hands tied, in a two-meter hole dug under a chicken pen outside her home in Kahta, in the south-eastern province of Adiyaman. ... Media reports said the father had told relatives he was unhappy that his daughter - one of nine children - had male friends. The grandfather is said to have beaten her for having relations with the opposite sex. A postmortem examination revealed large amounts of soil in her lungs and stomach, indicating that she had been alive and conscious while being buried. Her body showed no signs of bruising.

First, let me say this: the brutalization of women and girls cuts across all religious and cultural boundaries, so this isn't just about dis-'honor' killings, though few things are more heinous than a father murdering his daughter (after dispassionately discussing it with other family members). It's about the things males do to females and will continue to do unless the outcry is loud enough that the world begins to take notice.

In a December post, I made a painfully easy prediction: women would have another horrible decade. I gave a few examples.

Like this:

Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist, cannot bear to listen to the stories his patients tell him anymore. Every day, 10 new women and girls who have been raped show up at his hospital. Many have been so sadistically attacked from the inside out, butchered by bayonets and assaulted with chunks of wood, that their reproductive and digestive systems are beyond repair. "We don't know why these rapes are happening, but one thing is clear," said Dr. Mukwege, who works in South Kivu Province, the epicenter of Congo's rape epidemic. "They are done to destroy women."

And this:

13-year old Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was stoned to death in Somalia by insurgents because she was raped. Reports indicate that she was raped by three men while traveling by foot to visit her grandmother in Mogadishu. When she went to the authorities to report the crime, they accused her of adultery and sentenced her to death. Aisha was forced into a hole in a stadium of 1,000 onlookers as 50 men buried her up to the neck and cast stones at her until she died. A witness who spoke to the BBC's Today programme said she had been crying and had to be forced into a hole before the stoning, reported to have taken place in a football stadium. ... She said: 'I'm not going, I'm not going. Don't kill me, don't kill me.' "A few minutes later more than 50 men tried to stone her." The witness said people crowding round to see the execution said it was "awful".

And there's so much more.

Here's a BBC story from this morning:

A wealthy British landowner has been found guilty of murdering his estranged wife. Prout's wife asked him for a divorce before she went missing...

Or this, from 2005, that uses a perfect word to describe the men who do these things:

When Amy Rezos went to meet her estranged husband to talk about a divorce, she never imagined what would happen next. When the couple separated, Chris got a hotel room. On July 2, 2004, Amy thought she was meeting him in the hotel to finalize the details of the divorce. Instead, she was walking into a carefully planned trap. As the couple argued over the custody of their two boys, Chris snapped. "I just remember seeing a look on him that I had never ever seen before in my life. It was a look ... like a monster," she said. Amy was savagely beaten. Someone in a nearby room heard the commotion and called the police. When officer Paul Lovett arrived, Chris Rezos tried to convince him that they were victims of a robbery. But Lovett didn't buy it. "I could see a woman on the floor covered in blood. The bathroom was covered in blood. I was certain she was dying. I asked her to blink once for no, twice for yes," Lovett said. As the 35-year-old woman lay near death, Lovett tried to speak to her, "I asked if your husband did this to you and blink once for no, twice for yes, and she blinked twice," he said.

I could post thousands of these and it wouldn't capture the depth and breadth of the problem. It comes down to this: there simply isn't sufficient public outrage about gender-based violence to spur political action.

In the aftermath of Haiti, I asked a simple question: "If the World Can Mobilize Like This for Haiti, Why Not for Sexual Violence in Congo?"

The world's response to Haiti is fully warranted - anything less would be reprehensible. But one thing about it frustrates me: why can't we muster the same sense of urgency, the same focus, the same acceptance that other lesser activities must be temporarily set aside; why can't we mobilize as quickly and react as fiercely and forcefully when it comes to similar calamities across the globe? Say, for instance, the monstrous sexual violence in Congo? When young girls are being gang-raped with bayonets and chunks of wood, their insides ripped apart, how can the world take it in stride? There's simply no excuse for a muted response, let alone indifference. None.

Some readers said the global inaction with respect to Congo boils down to Coltan, and to some extent that's true. But the bigger problem is apathy. Nick Kristof articulates it well:

Sometimes I wish eastern Congo could suffer an earthquake or a tsunami, so that it might finally get the attention it needs. The barbaric civil war being waged here is the most lethal conflict since World War II and has claimed at least 30 times as many lives as the Haiti earthquake. Yet no humanitarian crisis generates so little attention per million corpses, or such a pathetic international response.

'Pathetic' is an understatement.

Sometimes I feel like we were all born into an alternate universe, a psychotic, twisted, perverted version of what life should be. Our existence is marked by unimaginable violence, hideous acts of evil against the most innocent among us. It's like living in a perpetual horror movie.

Setting aside the existential conundrum, one thing I know for certain: we can't stop jumping up and down, screaming at the top of our lungs, donating money to organizations that help women, telling our friends and families, doing everything in our power to stop these male monsters from continuing their savagery against women and girls.

I hope as lawyers and as human beings that we can begin to see individual acts of rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, discrimination in the workplace, and the lack of concern for the care of women and children as all intertwined due to the misogyny and hatred of women which exists the world over. As we remember how far we've come in dealing with these issues, also remember how far we have yet to come in our struggles to fully eradicate the human rights violations against women all over the world.


  1. Don't forget. Obama just celebrated Women's History Month with a very special antichoice Executive Order. NOW is getting ready to give him an award.

  2. Daou's piece is incredibly powerful. I hadn't read it and appreciate the heads up.

  3. NOW's statement in response to Obama's antichoice health insurance bill:
    I haven't heard about NOW giving him an award.

  4. First of all, you know you sound like a Fox News pundit when you rephrase the term "honor killing" to "dis-honor killing." Whatever you think of them, they are called honor killings. Insisting on calling them something else makes you seem like either 1) a propagandist or 2) some sort of brain-dead neo-ditto head.

    Anyway, honor-killings are part of their culture, and unless you've lived in that society and know to a certainty it doesn't serve a legitimate function FOR THEM, it's arrogant and naive to condemn them outright. We make choices everyday about who lives and dies in the United States, the fact that those choices are more subtle doesn't make the people they affect less dead.

    As for violence against women in general in the US, there are three things that would reduce it to almost nothing:

    First, remove any social stigma attached to prostitution. Second, do away with the pretense that life-partner is supposed to equal monogamy. It's an artificial religious and economic construction that is unnatural.

    Finally, fundamentally restructure the way society deals with "bastard" children. How much violence against women is the result of men feeling powerless over how they are treated with respect to their "bastard" children?

    Does anyone disagree these changes would lessen the violence? Of course not. The real question is, is it worth it?

  5. anon @ 9:29pm, I'm only allowing your comment to stay to show our other readers how completely delusional and ignorant you really are. You're an idiot.

  6. HA HA HA... that was a good one. I actually don't erase comments for this reason. It makes me laugh to leave them up.



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