Eye of the beholder

An interesting view of reporting of the Lara Logan assault in Egypt using a word cloud generator.
How We’re Talking About Lara Logan, by Gender

For my part, I hope this story gets wide play and stays long in the news cycle. Whenever there is some rumor about a Muslim woman having her scarf pulled off on a western country, it receives wide coverage in the Arab press, even if it is later discovered not to be true.

But the frequent sexual assaults (both major and minor) of western women in Arab countries is a taboo subject. And Arab women won’t report sexual assaults at all, for fear of being killed (honor killings still happen.)

via The Crawdad Hole

Burning themselves

A comment Noetica made here some time ago about a family situation reminded me of this photo gallery from National Geographic.

Some of the photos are disturbing, especially two of young girls, aged 11 and 15, who burned themselves in suicide attempts.

The girls are from Afghanistan…

Setting Herself Ablaze

“I took the bottle of petrol and burned myself,” Fariba, who is 11 and lives in Herat, told me. “When I returned to school, the kids made fun of me. They said I was ugly.” She now says, “I regret my mistake.” The reasons for her action are unclear; Fariba claimed a woman came to her in her dreams and told her to burn herself. Many Afghan women burn themselves because they believe suicide is the only escape from an abusive marriage, abusive family members, poverty, or the stress of war. If they do survive, women fear being shamed or punished for what they did and may blame a gas explosion when they were cooking. Doctors know when the burns were intentional from their shape, location, and smell.

To view the entire photograph, see the photo gallery.  (There are some optimistic images as well.)

I originally happened on the photographs by accident, looking for images of the Middle East.  When I went back to look for them, I did a search under “Afghanistan” and found nothing.  Then I went back and searched under “women”.  There they were.

How very odd they do not come up under a search for Afghanistan.  I’m not quite sure how to think about this.  Are Afghanistan’s women not part of the country?  Sort of like how certain American newspapers relegate topics about the home to a “women’s section”, as if women should not be reading the front page–or featured on it?  Or are the Afghan child suicides symbolic of something larger, more global, a fundamental failure to protect the most vulnerable members of our world?

In this country we recently had a series of tragic suicides by young gay men because of taunting and harassment.  I wrote about it here:  “Gay bullying: the dead“.  There were various responses.  Here’s one church’s statement: audio|transcript [“…we must speak words of acceptance . . . at work, in school, at home, on the street corner, on line.  We cannot let the gracelessness of our culture drive more people to their deaths over issues of gender identity…”]. And there was a “wear purple on October 20” Facebook campaign (link inactive) that went viral–several of us changed our icons purple.  It’s unfortunate that sometimes it takes someone’s death to get public recognition that something is wrong.

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Wage Gap

Yesterday was Equal Pay Day, the day designated to illustrate the gap between the wages of men and women by showing how far into the year a woman must work, on average, to earn as much as a man earned the previous year.

  • 70% of women work outside the home.
  • Women earn 78 cents for every dollar a man with the same qualifications makes.
  • For African American women it’s 68 cents; for Hispanic women 58 cents.
  • The Paycheck Fairness Act would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and bar retaliation against workers who disclose their wages. The House of Representatives passed the bill more than a year ago on January 9, 2009. The Senate has not yet passed the bill.

The No Limits Foundation links to a wage gap calculator that will calculate the additional wages you would have earned over 40 years had you been a man (or if you are a man, the wages you would have lost if you had been born female), adjusted for state, occupation, and education. I was surprised to find out Illinois was among the worst in the nation.

I lose $720,000.

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Rumproast: the Eightfold Path

rumproast-blue-rainThis afternoon as I was pondering the eightfold path of Rumproast, I was having a hard time getting up to eight. Then one of the Rumpsters claimed (incorrectly) I had called him an Obot and ran off in a snit. Suddenly I realized I now had all eight parts of the spiritual journey of the Rumpster. Here it is:

1. When in doubt, shout “epic fail”.

2. Pretend to read. It makes you look erudite. Post the name of a book you are reading in the sidebar, something like say, Nixonland by Rick Perlstein, but never change it. No one will notice.

3. Collect grievances. If you can’t find any, make them up. When you complain about something on your grievance list, don’t use specific quotations or link to anything. You don’t want anyone to find out that you made the whole thing up.

4. Post pictures of cute little animals. Include some videos of pets doing tricks with balloons.

5. Swear. If you are posting on a blog with a child-friendly rating, swear anyhow. The F-word is preferred, but talking about genital mutilation works as a standing joke. If you use the genital mutilation one, you have to pretend someone else on a different blog said it. See #3.

6. Ridicule other people. Especially fat people, people with unusual chromosomes, and children who have been sexually assaulted. Also women who have been abused or killed by their husbands and boyfriends. Then maybe the jerks you are so afraid might turn around and ridicule YOU will forget to do it as you egg them on to ridicule someone ELSE. (For some real doozies, see some of the comments Rumproasters left over at KPFT.) When people question you about why you were making fun of them, say you know they were having icky thoughts and they deserved it. Make and wear the special inverse tinfoil hat that amplifies other people’s thoughts so you know what they are thinking.

puma7. Don’t think of anything new of your own. Find a blog or two with creative writers and post long stretches of conversation from their forums. You can probably even create a whole new blog with them as the theme. You might call it something like stupidpumas.wordpress.com.

8. If you can’t think of a good argument against someone, claim they insulted you and go off in a snit.

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Rumpster or Obot?

rumproast-greenbrownHow do you tell Obots from the denizens of Rumproast? The question occurred to me this afternoon as a Rumpster snarked at me that I had called him/her an Obot. Not true. Or is the Obot part of it true? I have always thought of Rumpsters and Obots as distinct critters, but now that it has been brought to my attention, there could very well be a bit of overlap. Here then is the story of how I discovered the  Obots and the eightfold path of Rumproast.

I first became aware of the bots reading straight news. It’s no secret that my first love is the Middle East. I subscribe to several international type feeds as well as the major U.S news feeds, as a feedreader lets you scan a lot of headlines quickly without trying to google all the websites. If you read just one news source, you won’t find out the truth–you have to read several.

obot-nosepickerAnd what I found in scanning the national news stories was literally armies of very obnoxious people posting hate comments at the end of the straight news pieces. The same comments over and over on one news service after another. I was appalled at their hatred towards women and the vulgarness with which they approached sexuality. It was clearly organized. At the same time I discovered a few individuals trying to hold back the tide of misogyny who signed their names with Puma. They had all discovered the Obots individually, but they blogged together collectively at PumaPAC.org. They were the only ones actually trying to do something about the iron-my-shirt kind of ugliness and hatred directed against any and all women in the public sphere regardless of their political affiliation.

Who knows what direction this blog might have taken if I hadn’t seen the Obots.  I might have reread Biden’s plan for dividing Iraq and commented on it.  I might have had time to write about some amazing detail about the Palestinian state I came across in a book about something else.  I might have spent more time polishing my Arabic.  But instead someone named Geeklove left a message asking me to post a video about women.  I did.  Since then I have gotten pulled further and further away from my personal goals.  Here it is again.  Hillary ‘s voice talking about the contributions of women all over the world in her China speech against a backdrop  photo montage of the way women in public service  are treated–by Obots.

Will I ever get back to blogging about the things I love?  Or will I be forever stuck at first base, back at election 2008, defending the right of women–ordinary women like myself and extraordinary women like Hillary — to have lives and to be treated with basic human dignity.

Seeing and rating

A while back on Charlie Rose’s show, someone was talking about tryouts for hiring musicians for some major orchestra.  The tryouts used to be in front of the people who were doing the hiring, but then they decided to do the tryouts with the musician invisible to the listeners.  You’ll never guess what happened.  When they couldn’t see the gender of the musician, they rated women higher.  And they started hiring more women.

The internet makes things interesting in the same way because you can’t see the person writing.

A while back I was amused when someone linked to me and called me a Jordanian.  Hey, maybe it’s true.  The Arabs have a saying, when you live with a people and eat their bread (or is it salt?) for 40 days, you become one of them.  There are worse things that could happen.

Now there are more ways to rate your website.

Blog Personality

Typeanalyser (Via Riverdaughter) will give your blog a personality test. It’s based on the Myers-Briggs personality inventory,  (you can take the test as an individual here) which is based on Jungian psychological theory, and measures personality according to 4 dichotomies: Extraversion/Introversion, Sensing/iNtuition, Thinking/Feeling,  Judging/Perceiving.  Here’s how they envision me:

INTP – The Thinkers

The logical and analytical type. They are especially attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.blog-personality-test3They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.

Blog Gender

Moving onwards and upwards, the GenderAnalyzer tests your blog for gender.

We have strong indicators that https://camelsnose.wordpress.com is written by a man (91%).

Hee, hee.

Should I tell them? They have a little poll set up, and the results reported now are 54% accurate. But in at least one blog thread, the accuracy of the results is running more around 25%.

Browser Gender

So much for your writing habits.  But what about reading?  This Social Analyzer has a Java script that will analyze your gender based on your browser history.

Even better, the author of the script tells how he gets his numbers.  Gender neutral is 1.0. Higher numbers are masculine, lower numbers are feminine.  As far as political candidates’ websites, the male/female ratio for

hillaryclinton.com is 0.6

barackobama.com 0.68

johnmccain.com 1.27

For politics:

realclearpolitics.com 1.82

dailykos.com 1.56

drudgereport.com 2.08

nytimes.com 1.13

politico.com 1.7

huffingtonpost.com 1.35

Shopping is a bit more intuitive:

victoriassecret.com 0.68 (a no-brainer)

circuitcity.com 1.2 (now in bankruptcy)

target.com 0.67

bestbuy.com 1.11

Is a high male score for shopping an predictor of financial difficulty? Hint: keep an eye on Radio Shack.

Technology sites tend to rank more male, except for cellphone corporate websites, which run more towards female.

So, what am I?  On the PC I’m 61% female.  On the laptop, I’m 98% male. Go figure.

UPDATE: 11/30/08 Camel’s Nose is now testing 100% female, but is still INTP Thinker, and the laptop history is still 98% male. That was a pretty quick gender switch for the writing– a 180 degree turn in just ten days–but good to know the thinking and reading are rock solid…I guess.

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Troubled about the status of women in America? Sign the petition.

women-count-logoWomen Count is a non-profit political group committed to giving women a voice in the political process. They have a petition for you to sign. They are calling for the new president to create, within the first 100 days, a presidential commission on women similar to the one President Kennedy commissioned in 1961.



• As the economy became the single most critical issue in the election, the role that women play in our economic structure has never been clearer. Women are the backbone of the nation’s workforce and control 70 percent of its buying power.

• The candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, while inspiring women and girls around the country to imagine what can be, exposed extreme gender bias in the media and throughout our culture.

• Women, who make up 56 percent of the voting population, were targeted as never before as the critical bloc that would determine the outcome of the election.

In 1961, as the nation grappled with the issue of women in the workplace, President John Kennedy convened the first Presidential Commission on the Status of Women and appointed Eleanor Roosevelt as its chair. Kennedy recognized the moment was right.

That was 47 years ago, and it’s time to do it again. As in 1961, women are at the forefront of our political discourse – and we are committed to keeping them there.

A record number of women are seeking ways to participate more fully in all aspects of American life, politics and policymaking. A Presidential Commission on Women is the right vehicle to initiate a national conversation on the future of women. If Not Now, When?