Dr Hawa Abdi

Doctor Hawa Abdi is nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize according to her foundation’s website. According to a commenter below this must be a mistake – but she’s well worth knowing about just the same.

For more than two decades, Mama Hawa has poured her blood, sweat and tears into her humanitarian work, asking for no reward as she sought to provide aid to the most vulnerable victims of the civil war. She has saved tens of thousands of lives in her hospital, while simultaneously providing an education to hundreds of displaced children at the Waqaf-Dhiblawe school.

Mama Hawa’s focus is on creating an independent Somali community, shielded from the conflict that exists outside her camp, and we hope her work will inspire those who fear they can do nothing to improve the circumstances of those around them.

In spite of all the trials that Somalia has been put through over the last twenty years, Mama Hawa has sought to provide a place of refuge for ninety thousand people, ignoring the clan lines that have often served to divide the country. Working under the principle that women are the corner stone of society and that they can be the agents of change in Somalia, Mama Hawa has tried to bring hope to a nation that so many have for too long dismissed as hopeless. Doctor Hawa Abdi can be an inspiration for us, for Somalia, and the entire global community.

Photo Dr Hawa Abdi Foundation

Column A and column B

Foster Disbelief is pleased to see the new trend.

After watching certain atheists say hurtful, hateful, idiotic, misogynistic things directed atRebecca Watson, the whole Skepchick crew (especially Surly Amy recently), other women in skepticism who dared to speak out, and the men who understand that there is a problem and want to do something to fix it, it is refreshing to see this quote from President of the American Atheists, Dave Silverman:

[you know the quote]

The minute I saw this quote at Butterflies and Wheels I decided to join American Atheists.  I’ll be proud to be a member of an organization that gets it, and that stands by its members even in the face of the inevitable backlash they are sure to receive.

Martin Pribble is also paying attention. [Read more…]

Ron Lindsay speaks out

The third in Amy’s series.

Hate-filled invective has been directed at many different people, male and female, but of late women have been disproportionately targeted. What is especially sad and disgusting about this trend is that some religious skeptics seem to be mimicking religious fundamentalists: they want to intimidate women into silence and submission. What’s the point of discarding the Bible or the Koran if you retain the misogyny sanctified therein?

Members of the secular and skeptical communities should be distinguished by their respect for others, including those with whom they may disagree. Those who are incapable of treating others with decency and respect do not belong in our communities. To such individuals we should say with one voice: take your hate elsewhere.

To 4chan for instance.

Meeting Vyckie

I just spent a couple of hours talking to Vyckie Garrison of No Longer Quivering, who is in town on a visit. It was a great conversation.

We talked about her transition from the Quiverfull life to freedom, and the worries about putting her children in school for the first time. Were they too sheltered, were they too angry? But they flourished. Her third-grader Andy had an especially good teacher, Mrs Bloom, who showed Vyckie a paper he’d written; the assignment was to write about “changes.” One classmate wrote about how life changed when the family got a kitten. Andy had rather more profound changes to write about.

Everything she said amounted to an endorsement of secular life as opposed to theocratic (meaning, here, pervading every aspect of existence) life. Before she left her children were neither happy nor compliant – it’s not as if they exchanged freedom and joy for harmony and order. Before she left she didn’t know her children as people, or individuals; now she knows how very different and interesting they all are.

She’s a lifeline for women who want to escape. She is one impressive woman.

It sounds very beautiful and appealing

More on top-down authority versus everyone else.

On obedience. Last week Sister Pat Farrell said what she thinks obedience is.

But the word obedience comes from the Latin root meaning to hear, to listen. And so as I have come to understand that vow, what it means to me is that we listen to what God is calling us to in the signs of our times.

This week the bishop said what he thinks of that. [Read more…]

The church’s authentic interpretation

The authentic interpretation that tells them they’re allowed to protect child-raping priests at the expense of the children they rape.

On Saturday night Tracey Pirona hugged her husband as she has done many times before, and reassured him: “We’ll get through this.” On Sunday morning she found the letter she had feared for years, and rang police.

John Pirona, 45, of Belmont North, a victim of one of the Hunter’s most notorious paedophile priests, has not been seen or heard from since then. “The longer this goes on the worse I feel about what the outcome’s going to be,” Mrs Pirona said.

Mr Pirona’s letter, with the final words “Too much pain”, leaves no doubt the pain is the sexual abuse he suffered at a Catholic high school and the ugly secrets the church knew, but did nothing to stop.

Mr Pirona, a NSW Fire Brigades officer, was sexually assaulted by the priest, who cannot be named for legal reasons, in 1979. He was 13. In a statement to police in 2008 he described the school as brutal, where he feared being bashed if people knew he had been abused.

“Every day to me was just survival,” Mr Pirona said. A court case confirmed he was sexually assaulted several years after the school principal, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and the late Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Leo Clarke, knew the priest sexually assaulted young boys.

In other words the bishop and the principal just left the students hanging there like so many carcasses, for the priest to select at his leisure.

Yet the priesthood continues to think it has the authority to tell nuns what to do.


A Call to Arms for Decent Men

by Ernest W. Adams

This piece was originally written as part of the Designer’s Notebook series on the game developers’ web site Gamasutra. However, they declined to publish it in its current form, and I refused to rewrite it. My thanks for permission to reprint it here. Please feel free to share or republish it with attribution. Contains strong language. 

Normally I write for everybody, but this month’s column is a call to arms, addressed to the reasonable, decent, but much too silent majority of male gamers and developers.

Guys, we have a problem. We are letting way too many boys get into adulthood without actually becoming men. We’re seeing more and more adult males around who are not men. They’re as old as men, but they have the mentality of nine-year-old boys. They’re causing a lot of trouble, both in general and for the game industry specifically. We need to deal with this.

Why us? Because it’s our job to see to it that a boy becomes a man, and we are failing.

When we were little boys we all went through a stage when we said we hated girls. Girls had “cooties.” They were silly and frilly and everything that a boy isn’t supposed to be. We got into this stage at about age seven, and we left it again at maybe 10 or 11.

Then puberty hit and, if we were straight, we actively wanted the company of girls. We wanted to “go with” them, date them, and eventually we wanted to fall in love and live with one, maybe for the rest of our lives. That’s the way heterosexual boys are supposed to mature, unless they become monks.

My point is, you’re supposed to leave that phase of hating girls behind. Straight or gay, you’re supposed to grow the hell up. [Read more…]

It will be dialogue, but not dialogue

Yesterday it was the Vatican’s turn to explain the Deep Rifts between the priests and the sisters. Terry Gross talked to the bishop of Toledo (Ohio, not Spain), Leonard Blair, who is the one who assessed the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and found them very very wanting.

Along with Archbishop Peter Sartain and Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, he will be working with the nuns of the LCRW to make sure the group is aligned with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. [Read more…]

Therefore, the objectification of women is now fine

More from Enlightened Sexism.

Because women are now “equal” and the battle is over and won, we are now free to embrace things we used to see as sexist, including hypergirliness. In fact, this is supposed to be a relief. Thank God girls and women can turn their backs on stick-in-the-mud, curdled feminism and now act dumb in string bikinis to attract guys….According to enlightened sexism, women today have a choice between feminism and antifeminism, and they just naturally and happily choose the latter because, well, antifeminism has become cool, even hip. Rejecting feminism and buying into enlightened sexism allows young women in particular to be “one of the guys.” [p 12]

So enlightened sexism also includes in-your-face sexism, in which the attitudes about women that infuriated feminists in the 1960s and ’70s are pushed to new, even more degrading levels, except that it’s all done with a wink…

As the British feminist scholar Angela McRobbie has brilliantly argued, it is essential that feminism be repudiated as something young women should shun as old-fashioned, withered, humorless, repulsive. To do this, the media must explicitly acknowledge feminism, point to it, and “take it into account” in order to argue that it is no longer needed, a “spent force.” … Therefore, the objectification of women is now fine; why, it’s actually a joke on the guys. It’s silly to be sexist; therefore, it’s funny to be sexist…Indeed, as the feminist scholar Rosalind Gill puts it, “The extremeness of the sexism is evidence that there’s no sexism!” If there is no more sexism, then there is no longer a need for sexual politics, and sexual politics can be mocked and attacked. [p 13]

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand welcome to our world!



Dale McGowan speaks out

Amy has the second in the series. Read the whole thing.


For the past year I’ve been shaking my head in sick disbelief at the abuse many women in the freethought movement are getting, but I’ve stayed silent. I’m not talking about the discussion of gender and privilege itself, which (to my surprise) still needs to happen in some depth, but at the insane, hateful attacks, including literal threats of rape and murder, that are raining down on the Skepchicks and others taking part in that important discussion.

Silently shaking my head does nothing. The women under this kind of attack can’t hear my head rattling, so they can only assume I don’t care, when I actually care deeply. I think it’s the difficulty of putting this massive, deranged genie back in the bottle that keeps so many of us quiet. But that’s a poor excuse that only keeps the victims feeling isolated and besieged.

Fortunately I don’t have to deal with the whole genie to do something useful. I don’t have to go back to the elevator and work my way forward, defending and countering and challenging and apologizing and repairing my way down to the present. I can start right here and now by saying out loud that violence and threats of violence – physical, verbal, emotional – are completely out of bounds, no matter what the topic, no matter what your opinion. They don’t speak for me, not one tiny bit, and they don’t belong anywhere near the rational community we imagine ourselves to be. Once we establish that, we can begin to pull the lessons of the late 20th century forward – none of this is new ground, after all – and have this important discussion.

Finally, we HAVE to begin calling people on their anonymity. If it’s protecting someone from harm or exposure, fine. If it only gives them the freedom to harm others, we have to go after it as a huge part of the problem. As long as our community lives and connects primarily online, the problems of the medium are going to continue getting in the way of sane, civil, productive discourse.