Tag Archive: Reproductive Rights

Hello and Happy International Women´s Day! To celebrate, this blog will feature various articles and reports about Womens´s struggles for justice and equality, for respect and freedom. Enjoy and become aware!

Firstly, it is time for us as a society to not be friends with rapist.

Buzzfeed has a collection of animated depictions of society´s most beloved couples, where such characters as Marge Simpson and Wonderwoman are vitims of Domestic Abuse. Chilling and powerful. Serious Trigger Warning!

How US Politics contribute to the the epidemic portions of gendered violence in Mexico.

The Aftermatch of the Rwandan genocide, from the Rwandan´s womens perspective.

The horrific situation when millions of women worldwide are denied abortions.

The dangers women face when religious beliefs dominate hospitals.

One brave Afghan woman´s film about rape.

Two takes on Jared Leto´s role in “Dallas Buyers Club”.

What does the recent election in Honduras mean for the countires women?

A factsheet about the almost forgotten Comfort Women.

Amnesty Internationals campaign for Reproductive rights and justice.

Seeking justice for the thousands of murdered Indigenous Canadian women.

A factsheet of Chinese activist Cao Shunli.

Black women and the burden of HIV.

15 facts on sex, pregnancy and violence.

In Nepal, widespread gender discrimination has lead to a crisis in sexual and reproductive rights.

(In Swedish, use google translations). Poor women don´t get access to women´s clinics.

(In Swedish, use google tranlsation). Same situation in Burkina Faso.

(In Finnish, use google translation). Everyone must have the right to decide themselves what their genderidentification is.

Take Action! Sign this petition to prevent a new law in Mocambique which gives rapist the right to marry their victims instead of facing jail.

Take Action! Help a Guatemalan mother find justice for her daughter, who was brutally raped and killed.

In China, single motherhood and having children outside of weddinglock are the final taboo.

A crisis for women´s sexual rights in Poland.

In China, a activist protesting child rape was made homeless by the authorities.

India´s period problem.

How landgrabs in Kenya hurt the Sengwer women (an Indeginous people in Kenya).

There is still hope for Arab feminism!

The scars of the Iraq war lead to depression and drug abuse in Iraqi women.

Breaking the silence of Domestic abuse in the palestian communities.

Israel admitted to forced birth controll and sterilazation of Ethiopian women refugees.

Breaking the silence on violence against Indeginous women, adolescents and children.

Peru will reopen the cause of forced sterilizations, subjected to thousands of Indeginous women.

Top five issues which is killing of Native Americans.

A mother was charged with fellony since she heloed her daughter to get access to an illegal abortion pills online.

19 things women writers are sick of hearing.

Some articles on the Woody Allen controversy: An former lawyer who worked on many child molestian causes explains of how despite not being convicted, it doesn´t mean Allen isn´t guilty. Another piece shows the 1993 papers from the trial, showing he infact wasn´t found completely innocent. Vanity Fair spells out 10 facts about the cause. And finally, a piece on how bizarre it is that Mia Farrow is always accused of brainwashing and Woody Allen isn´t.

One-third of European women suffer from either sexual or physical abuse.

Take Care/ Maaretta

Today is Martin Luther King Day!In honor of this day when we celebrate this great man, it should be reminded that the struggle wasn’t easy for Dr. King. In fact, the FBI tried to blackmail Dr. King into killing himself.

4 ways Martin Luther King was even more radical than one first thought. For instance, he denounced the Vietnam War and supported reproductive rights.

Go read and listen to Dr. Kings’ Nobel Peace Prize speech here.

The Great Angela Davis on Martin Luther King.

Scot Nakagawa over at Colorlines: “My debt to Dr. King”.

Take Care/ Maaretta

Hello everyone!
Today, as the title of this short post states, is PEN’s “Day of the imprisoned writer”. The idea of this day is to bring awareness of some authors and journalist that have been imprisoned due to the context of their essays, poems or prose. It’s also crucial to point out how much work is still unfinished in the battle against political censorship and for everyone’s right to freedom of speech and press. At PEN’s official site, they highlight some interesting journalist and authors in prison because of their work. Go here to read about them.

Best Wishes, Maaretta

a logo used by PEN

The Atlantic wrote about how we’re less likely to recognize depression in men.

A study was made about what happens when women get denied abortions.

“Juno” (2007) is a movie directed by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody, who won an Oscar for “Best Original Screenplay”. Since its release “Juno” has been well loved both by critics as well as by audiences. “Juno” has been seen as a witty comedy with a great female lead. However, despite the universal love this film has received, I didn’t enjoy “Juno” at all while watching it. The movie just seemed repulsive and creepy, instead of being charmingly witty. In this post, I will explain why. As a warning, it should be pointed out that this post will include spoilers.

Director Jason Reitman

The films protagonist is the sixteen year old Juno (Ellen Page), who has become pregnant after having unprotected sex (of course) with her best friend, Paulie. She first decides to abort the child, only to reconsider this option and choose, instead, to give up the baby for adoption. After some searching, she finds the upscale yuppie couple Vanessa (Jennifer Garner) and Mark (Jason Bateman), to whom she decides to give the baby up to when the time comes. The viewers of this film follow of the life of the expecting Juno in High School and at home.

The troubling nature of “Juno” is not the idea and plot point of unplanned pregnancy or adoption, but rather how these subjects are depicted. On top of the problems with the portrayal of the unwanted pregnancy, Juno as a protagonist isn’t a particularly likeable character (or at least to me and my inclinations she is not). Juno’s normal operating social sense seems to hover in the area of the quintessentially arrogant and emotionally distant, and throughout the entirety of the film we witness Juno endlessly looking down upon everyone unlucky enough to find themselves in her proximity, hiding behind an irritating sarcastic attitude, and engaged in a unremitting (and supposedly) hipster banter. Amazingly Paulie, the best friend and coordinated parent, is the main focus of this bad behavior (a verbal abuse which persistently puts him down and always in the midst of the public gaze) and is in generally so poorly treated by Juno that the claim of a strong friendship between these two would seem to be more than highly improbable. A primary example is illustrated in a scene between these two where an argument is taking place and we find the always “funny” Juno loudly yelling out in the public arena of the High School (Gymnasium for the European readers): “I took your virginity!”. If “Juno” would have at any point been realistic, the film would have depicted the awful and large amount of bullying Paulie would have been subjected to after this dreadful and malicious outburst of Juno.

Before the above scene of this public humiliation and question of virginity, we find the socially questionable Juno insisting to the much put upon Paulie that he should begin to hang out with other girls, regardless for his attachment or fondness for them. Yet by the end of the film, we find the subtly (which those who use the verbal) abusive Juno suddenly declaring her love for Paulie and the two end up dating. Considering how Juno, nearly for the entire film, verbally ill-treated Paulie, it’s hard to believe that the two of them could ever become a happy, healthy couple.

Juno as a character is suppose to be comedic and funny, but not once did I laugh at her witticism and verbal play which, instead of enlightening and exploring, wallows in the realm of overt narcissism and oblivious snobbishness. In fact, Juno’s personality cannot help but remind the audience of the persona of the penultimate bully, which makes it impossible to sympathize with her as a leading character.

However, the movies major flaw is the outrageously backwards depiction of the environment and servers working within Women’s Health Care Clinic’s (Translation for the movie is: Abortion clinic). Juno, after learning she’s pregnant, heads off to get an abortion. When arriving at the clinic, she meets a classmate outside of the clinic protesting and chanting: “All babies want to be born!”. One can wonder if the writer purposefully gave the protesting girl a nonsensical slogan, due to the fact that abortions are performed on fetuses that haven’t yet developed self-consciousness and therefore cannot want anything. However the audience is actually expected to sympathize with the protesting girl, as it turns out when she tells Juno that her baby by now has developed “finger nails” in hopes of getting Juno to change her mind, a statement the film regards as words of wisdom. The information of the now existing fingernails does in fact make Juno reconsider her decision.

The way the movie “Juno” deals with anti-abortion protesters is, to say the least, simplistic and simple-minded. Having only one protestor at the clinic having a “peaceful” conversation with Juno is fairly far off of the actual practice of the anti abortion protesters who operate in the horrendous realm of heckling and harassing of the women who find themselves in need of the services of a abortion clinic. If the film would have bothered to be more realistic, Juno’s classmate would have been accompanied by an unseemly horde of hostile campaigners blaring: “Murderer! Murderer! You’re killing your baby!” while using physical proximity to intimidate the already emotionally frail seekers of the service.

When Juno gets into the clinic, she at once is handed papers to fill-out by the clinics clerk. At the same instance Juno is also handed a condom by the clerk, hoping to encourage the use of the condom (Juno is there for an unwanted pregnancy!), notes that the condom leaves a nice smell after sex, something the clerk indicates that she knows from using the same brand herself. On receiving the condom from the clerk Juno dons a look of disgust to her face, indicating that the audience is suppose to view the clerk woman as a bit unseemly, and definitely crossing some line of “good taste”, for handing this young girl, with the unwanted pregnancy, free birth control. While I’ll agree that the clerk perhaps made Juno uncomfortable by telling a little too much about her own intimate life, it’s still hard not to interpret the clerks actions as anything other than extraordinarily reasonable and even pedagogically correct (teaching often uses the personal to create bonds for learning). Since Juno has shown up to abort a child she does not want, the clerk can assume Juno doesn’t feel ready to be a parent yet wants to be sexually active, so she gives her a condom and tries to further encourage Juno to use it remarking on the condoms nice smell. The Clerk is fulfilling the mandate of all Women’s Health Centers and Abortion Clinics by informing women on the importance of Birth control in order to insure that women won’t have to be constantly facing the challenge of unwanted pregnancies. The films decision to depict the Clerk, and therefore everything about the abortion clinic, as out-of bounds, and even a bit disgusting, seem to paint the mandate of sexual education as moderately nasty and even disrespectful. As a result, Juno comes off as infantile while the clerk seems like someone trying to help and professionally working to ensure the moral mandates and proper educational operations of the Clinic.

The scene ends with Juno retreating from the clinic and deciding to give the child away instead of aborting it.

The worst part of this film is not, however, this bizarre depiction of the clinic, but the conversation Juno has with her female friend directly afterwards. Juno informs her friend how the clerk freaked her out by doing the horrible and unforgivable act of trying to inform her of birth control, highlighting how the clerk giving her a condom was too much for her to handle, on top of the whole situation being wholly uncomfortable for the sadly put-upon Juno (at this point of the film, I felt really bad for the unfortunate clerk who had to put up with Juno for a few minutes – truly, the clerk is the tragic heroine of this film!). While the film tries to portray Juno as a smart young woman, the lines that Juno delivers just make her look like the stereotypically naïve and shallow “valley girl-type” going “eew, gross!” at everything around her instead of a smart responsible nerdy girl. Since the audience is supposed to sympathize with Juno, it is clear that the viewer, in some odd and backwards world of sympathy, is actually meant to concur that what happened in the abortion clinic as revolting and vulgar.

“Juno” could have worked as a film if the theme would have been about choice. Instead, the film very strongly demonizes the very idea of abortion and the act of providing young people with birth control and education, through the metaphor of the Clinic, by means of the actions of the films protagonist being fundamentally and childishly squeamish and ignorantly rejecting of information. The thing is that if you ridicule and portray some of the several options regarding an unwanted pregnancy (such as abortion) as perverse, than the film is no longer about choice, but propaganda for the anti-choice movement.

“Planned Parenthood” and abortion clinics provide an important service for women who feel like they aren’t ready to have children. Having abortion as an option for females everywhere is a right and gives women power over their bodies and lives. Since “Juno’s” depiction of the Women’s Health Clinic was so negative, the viewer can only assume that the film wants to send the message that when faced with unwanted pregnancy, one should automatically erase abortion as an option. As an added bonus, Juno’s disgust with getting a condom even makes it seem that the film finds the idea of being responsible with sex as a comical and “yucky” idea.

So how is one to enjoy the film “Juno”? As a movie tract promoting verbal bullying and devaluing sexual education (and control), whilst moving towards the creation of a morality play of anti-choice. And in the end what we are left with here is but a basic anti-feminist stance couched in the refinement of a young and hip female protagonist.

For another negative review of Juno, read Ezra Steads insightful article.

First, some two to three weeks old, but still worth a read, essays and articles:

At Feministing, Chloe Angyal pondered if Facebook is enabling eating disorders.

At the same blog, you can read about Guatemala launching a femicide unit.

The blog Racialicious had a good article on racist fans of “The Hunger Games” series.

Also at Racialicious, Andrea Plaid made a tribute to Nichelle Nichols, who’s most famous for portraying Uhura in the original “Star Trek”- series.

Feminist Blogger Kelsey Wallace wrote a short, but spot-on and brilliant, critique of George Clooney’s film “The Ides Of March”. Like Ms. Wallace, I was also highly disturb by the films nearly anti-abortion message, as well as the way the female main lead was written as well.

Alya Dawn Johnson at The Angry Black Woman talked about the Bechdel Test and race.

At Bitch Media, Caroline Narby wrote an article on girls and Asperger’s.

At Colorlines, Hatty Lee posted some statistics which show that thousands of young black men die in gun crimes every year.

Since March is ending, which means the end of “Women’s History Month” is near, the team at Gender Across Borders recommends us to remember Marie Curie.

Second, the new:

Glenn Greenwald wrote about three congressional challengers worth supporting.

Blogger Arturo R. Garcia, who’s works focus often on race and popular culture, explored how Felicia Day and Chris Hardwick reinforced Geekdom’s whiteness.

Rest In Peace, Adrienne Rich.

Update: As Maya Dusenbery (feminist blogger and activist) noted perfectly, a win for abortion rights has been made in Argentina! (Article written by Edurne Cárdenas)

And lastly, something fun!

The Lonely Island’s songs haven’t often thrilled me much. However, “Like A Boss” is a hilarious song. Watch the video below!

The Welsh artists “Marina And The Diamonds” song “Oh No!” is witty and colorful social commentary, with a great melody. View the video below!

From Left To Right: Constable Crabtree, Dr. Ogden, Murdoch and Inspector Brackenreid

“Murdoch Mysteries” is a Canadian Television show, based on the Detective Murdoch series of novels by Maureen Jennings. Ms. Jennings is also the creator of the TV-series adaption, which centers on William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson), an eccentric, enlightenment inclined detective, who solves murders in the late 19th Century Toronto. This mystery series features detailed portrayals of the ideologies, scientific developments as well as harsh injustices of the time area. The characters are colorful, strongly three-dimensional people in addition of being very likeable. Murdoch himself is a man of science and logic yet still a devoted catholic, with a big heart and passion for justice despite his sometimes rigid opinions. Constable George Crabtree (Jonny Harris) is a faithful, eager helper with a fondness for flights of fancy (which often predict inventions and the nomenclature of our times) and, at times, supernatural explanations. He also tends towards the rambling, sliding from silly to brilliant ideas. Inspector Brackenreid, Murdoch’s superior, is a Yorkshire man who’s a bit rough around the edges while simultaneously being a lover of high culture. Beginning with a bit of skepticism to Murdoch’s methods at first Brackenreid slowly comes to subtly recognize Murdoch’s gift in crime solving. And then there’s Dr. Julia Ogden (Helene Joy), the one responsible for post mortem examination of the dead (coroner and forensic examiner combined) as well as being the shows voice of reason. Dr. Ogden’s character is one of the most extraordinary female characters featured a long time on Television. She’s not only strong, tolerant and smart, but also is one of the few characters who address the subject of Abortion on Television in a remarkable fresh and frank way.

The first episode where Dr. Ogden shows her strong belief in tolerance is in the episode “Till Death Do US Part”, season one of the series. In this episode a murdered man who was about to get married is reveled to be homosexual. Murdoch reacts to this fact in disgust and starts on how immoral and wrong such a personal trait is. Dr. Ogden is quick to scold Murdoch for this un-thought through prejudice and through solid arguments gets Murdoch to reconsider his judgment. Dr. Ogden’s self-sufficiency is made most clear in season two in the episode “Snakes and Ladders” where Dr. Ogden saves herself from a serial killer, showing she doesn’t need a man to rescue her. She is also later in the episode shown to be a little shaken by the incident, giving a great realistic twist to her strong persona: She’s strong, but still human. Being attacked by a murderer does shake her up a little and haunts her thoughts making the heroic also the human. “Murdoch Mysteries” builds Dr. Ogden as a fighter, but not stereotypically the tough, breaking the trope that strong women are emotionless and cold. The subtlety of Dr.Ogden´s shock from the meant-to-be-fatal attack also averts the additional stereotype of a woman who can’t control her emotions properly.

In the episode “Hangman” from season three, Dr. Ogden expresses difficulty to accept the Death Penalty as something good, stating to Murdoch that she finds it difficult to understand why it is a necessary punishment. All of these personality traits in Dr. Ogden are interesting. However the most fascinating aspect of Dr. Ogden’s character is her past, and how she relates to it.

The below discussion (related to the issue of abortion) will follow the episode “Shades Of Grey” from season two, and will contain major spoilers for this episode.

“Shades Of Grey” begins with Murdoch investigating a possible murder prompted by the discovery of young nude woman’s body in a ditch. The Case accumulates in Murdoch discovering that the young victim is a working girl by the name of Lily Dunn, who had been impregnated by her sexually predatory boss and fired for it. Desperate to get rid of her child, she had ingested a poison in hopes it would make her abort. The process instead leads to her death. It is made clear in the episode that Lily died mostly because she couldn’t have a legal abortion. (Abortions were outlawed in Canada in 1869 and would remain completely illegal there until mild legalization in 1973. Fully legalized Abortion did not become law in Canada until the late 80’s.) It is then later revealed that Julia Ogden herself, when younger, had an illegal abortion. She explains to Murdoch, who dislikes the idea of abortion, that she did it in order to continue her studies towards becoming a doctor. Having the baby would have made it difficult, if not impossible, to do so. Murdoch is shocked, and since he has recently started a relationship with Dr. Ogden, he is torn in whether he should stay committed to her or not. He asks then if she regrets her actions. Her answer is a calm “No”.

It is unusual for a fictional television series to feature a female character that has had an abortion and not regret her decision. Even in films the topic is quite taboo, especially in non-European films. That Dr. Ogden states clearly she doesn’t regret her decision, the episode portrays an honest truth about choosing to not keep a child: it is sometimes the right thing for the person making the decision to do. In Dr. Ogden’s case, she knows she couldn’t handle a child right then, nor would the society surrounding her allow this in the context of her medical schooling (to say the least!). So she chooses not to continue the pregnancy, which obviously turns to her favor, since she was then able complete her studies and become a highly competent doctor.

The episode also highlights the dangers of making abortions illegal. Dr. Ogden, who had to make an illegal and therefore an unsafe abortion, nearly died in the process. This was a major problem for the out of wedlock (and especially those who were not part of the upper class) women who found themselves pregnant during the 19th and 20th century in Canada and continued as a horror until the changes within the law occurred.

It is also a problem in today’s world. In 2009, a study done by The Guttmacher Institute calculated that 70, 000 women a year die from illegal abortions. Women who take illegal abortions also face the danger of becoming maimed or sterilized. This is also mentioned in “Murdoch Mysteries”; Dr. Ogden survives her illegal abortion, but becomes sterile from it. The show clearly states that giving women the right to choose is important, and illegalizing abortion is a problem for everyone. This episode of Murdoch Mysteries makes no bones about being on the side of women in this catastrophe.

While watching “Shades of Grey”, I couldn’t help but think of the Pro-life movement in the US (and other countries too). At the moment there seems to be resurgence in a vocal part of the communities of the world for reinstating the illegality of abortion (and maybe even conception!)- entirely and without qualm. In counties such as Nicaragua, this is already the case, putting many women’s lives at risk, from such diverse complications as obstructed labor to cancer. A study done by Amnesty International in 2010 even showed that this complete ban abortion has a harsh and dangerous impact on young girls. “Shades Of Grey” made makes us think of the actual cost that the anti-abortion movements call for – to send us back to days where women die or are put in high risk for their lives? In reality this is merely to control the “species of human” called women and to circumvent them moving freely in society (as Ogden is able to do in becoming a Doctor).

Dr. Julia Ogden as a character is a moral conscience of the show “Murdoch Mysteries”. She is a modern woman, whose ideals make her a good role model for both women and men. But her message of being proud of her decision over her body and standing up for women’s reproductive rights is the most outstanding part of her character. Her character has an important message that one should take seriously.

Maureen Jennings, creator of “Murdoch Mysteries”

For an article on how Abortion is depicted in Hollywood, read Katherine Butler’s excellent column from “ecosalon”.

For a recommendation on a film depicting an illegal abortion, I highly recommend Cristian Mungiu’s superb “4 moths three weeks and 2 days”.

For a few causes of women who died do to illegal and unsafe abortions, go here.

Note: “Murdoch Mysteries” is one of the few Canadian shows with a major international following, with fifth season in production. Alas, the fifth season has been announced to be the last one, which has disappointed many fans.
Update to the note: There has also been a promise of a sixth season, yay! Read about it here and on Maureen Jennings homepage here.