Tuesday, October 19, 2004

"W" Wages War Against Women

That may be a little strong, but I always want to find titles that make you want to read more. I'm an unethical, self-centered goddess, after all. So what's Bush's excuse?

Here are some snippets from the unreported invasion of the country sometimes called "women's bodies", and how the administration is faring there:

A recent review of ten state evaluations on the effectiveness of abstinence-only sex education has found that the programs, which forbid discussion of contraception except to highlight failure rates, have shown no long-term success in impacting the sexual behavior of teens. Specifically, the review released by Advocates for Youth (AFY) demonstrated that programs do not have a long-term effect in delaying the initiation of sexual activity among teens or in reducing their risk-taking sexual behavior. Debra Hauser, author of the report, concluded that "Some of the evaluations indicate that abstinence-only programs may have a negative impact on young people's willingness to use contraception or condoms once they do become sexually active."

Did you know that the House has already passed a 49% increase in abstinence-only programs for 2005? But as Suskind said in his recent important article, reality is not a very important concern when your marching orders are directly from God, and Bush appears to believe that this is the case.

How about this interesting fact about the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW):

CEDAW is the most comprehensive and detailed international agreement which seeks the advancement of women. It establishes rights for women in areas not previously subject to international standards. Moreover, the Convention establishes a committee to review periodically the progress being made by its adherents. Currently, 178 countries have ratified the convention. The United States is in the company of only a handful of nations that have not ratified CEDAW, including Iran, Sudan, and Somalia.
(Bolds mine.)

We share the values of Iran, Sudan and Somalia about women's rights! Does that surprise you? Well, strictly speaking, we share the values that women should not have rights over the country called "women's bodies" with those other countries. Whether we share their other anti-women values is not clear. Yet.

And this piece of news just strengthens the feeling I have that we have two invasion forces out there, though only one of them, the one in Iraq, gets much media attention:

10/15/2004 - Over 250 global leaders have endorsed a statement that reaffirms the plan of action created ten years ago at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo. President Bush has refused to join the 250 world leaders including 85 heads of state and governments in signing the statement that ensures the rights of women to education, health care, and to reproductive choice, the Associated Press reports. US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kelly Ryan explained that Bush would not sign the world leaders' statement because it "includes the concept of 'sexual rights,' a term that has no agreed definition in the international community." The ICPD statement was signed by leaders from Mexico, Canada, all member countries of the European Union, China, Japan, Indonesia, Pakistan, Botswana, and over a dozen other African countries, as well as 22 former world leaders including Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton according to Oneworld.net.

The concept of "sexual rights" is the "right to make decisions concerning reproduction, free of discrimination, coercion and violence as expressed in human rights documents." It rules out a lot of very unsavory stuff, such as sexual slavery and forced pregnancies or forced abortions. But we are too concerned with the semantics of the term to agree to support an idea that might include something we don't want to have there. Like what? The right of dominatrices to whip wingnuts tied to the bedposts? The right of women to stuff loofahs down Bill O'Reilly's throat? Nah. The administration is never that funny. No, what they are worried about is that "sexual rights" might include the right for a woman to decide whether to have an abortion or not.