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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"I'm trying to think of a way for you to be cruder. I just... It's not coming."
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May 19 2007

Let's Watch A Girl Get Beaten To Death. This is not my blog, but I don’t have a blog, or a space, and I’d like to be heard for a bit.

Last month seventeen year old Dua Khalil was pulled into a crowd of young men, some of them (the instigators) family, who then kicked and stoned her to death. This is an example of the breath-taking oxymoron “honor killing”, in which a family member (almost always female) is murdered for some religious or ethical transgression. Dua Khalil, who was of the Yazidi faith, had been seen in the company of a Sunni Muslim, and possibly suspected of having married him or converted. That she was torturously murdered for this is not, in fact, a particularly uncommon story. But now you can watch the action up close on CNN. Because as the girl was on the ground trying to get up, her face nothing but red, the few in the group of more than twenty men who were not busy kicking her and hurling stones at her were filming the event with their camera-phones.

There were security officers standing outside the area doing nothing, but the footage of the murder was taken – by more than one phone – from the front row. Which means whoever shot it did so not to record the horror of the event, but to commemorate it. To share it. Because it was cool.

I could start a rant about the level to which we have become desensitized to violence, about the evils of the voyeuristic digital world in which everything is shown and everything is game, but honestly, it’s been said. And I certainly have no jingoistic cultural agenda. I like to think that in America this would be considered unbearably appalling, that Kitty Genovese is still remembered, that we are more evolved. But coincidentally, right before I stumbled on this vid I watched the trailer for “Captivity”.

A few of you may know that I took public exception to the billboard campaign for this film, which showed a concise narrative of the kidnapping, torture and murder of a sexy young woman. I wanted to see if the film was perhaps more substantial (especially given the fact that it was directed by “The Killing Fields” Roland Joffe) than the exploitive ad campaign had painted it. The trailer resembles nothing so much as the CNN story on Dua Khalil. Pretty much all you learn is that Elisha Cuthbert is beautiful, then kidnapped, inventively, repeatedly and horrifically tortured, and that the first thing she screams is “I’m sorry”.

“I’m sorry.”

What is wrong with women?

I mean wrong. Physically. Spiritually. Something unnatural, something destructive, something that needs to be corrected.

How did more than half the people in the world come out incorrectly? I have spent a good part of my life trying to do that math, and I’m no closer to a viable equation. And I have yet to find a culture that doesn’t buy into it. Women’s inferiority – in fact, their malevolence -- is as ingrained in American popular culture as it is anywhere they’re sporting burkhas. I find it in movies, I hear it in the jokes of colleagues, I see it plastered on billboards, and not just the ones for horror movies. Women are weak. Women are manipulative. Women are somehow morally unfinished. (Objectification: another tangential rant avoided.) And the logical extension of this line of thinking is that women are, at the very least, expendable.

I try to think how we got here. The theory I developed in college (shared by many I’m sure) is one I have yet to beat: Womb Envy. Biology: women are generally smaller and weaker than men. But they’re also much tougher. Put simply, men are strong enough to overpower a woman and propagate. Women are tough enough to have and nurture children, with or without the aid of a man. Oh, and they’ve also got the equipment to do that, to be part of the life cycle, to create and bond in a way no man ever really will. Somewhere a long time ago a bunch of men got together and said, “If all we do is hunt and gather, let’s make hunting and gathering the awesomest achievement, and let’s make childbirth kinda weak and shameful.” It’s a rather silly simplification, but I believe on a mass, unconscious level, it’s entirely true. How else to explain the fact that cultures who would die to eradicate each other have always agreed on one issue? That every popular religion puts restrictions on women’s behavior that are practically untenable? That the act of being a free, attractive, self-assertive woman is punishable by torture and death? In the case of this upcoming torture-porn, fictional. In the case of Dua Khalil, mundanely, unthinkably real. And both available for your viewing pleasure.

It’s safe to say that I’ve snapped. That something broke, like one of those robots you can conquer with a logical conundrum. All my life I’ve looked at this faulty equation, trying to understand, and I’ve shorted out. I don’t pretend to be a great guy; I know really really well about objectification, trust me. And I’m not for a second going down the “women are saints” route – that just leads to more stone-throwing (and occasional Joan-burning). I just think there is the staggering imbalance in the world that we all just take for granted. If we were all told the sky was evil, or at best a little embarrassing, and we ought not look at it, wouldn’t that tradition eventually fall apart? (I was going to use ‘trees’ as my example, but at the rate we’re getting rid of them I’m pretty sure we really do think they’re evil. See how all rants become one?)

Now those of you who frequent this site are, in my wildly biased opinion, fairly evolved. You may hear nothing new here. You may be way ahead of me. But I can’t contain my despair, for Dua Khalil, for humanity, for the world we’re shaping. Those of you who have followed the link I set up know that it doesn’t bring you to a video of a murder. It brings you to a place of sanity, of people who have never stopped asking the question of what is wrong with this world and have set about trying to change the answer. Because it’s no longer enough to be a decent person. It’s no longer enough to shake our heads and make concerned grimaces at the news. True enlightened activism is the only thing that can save humanity from itself. I’ve always had a bent towards apocalyptic fiction, and I’m beginning to understand why. I look and I see the earth in flames. Her face was nothing but red.

All I ask is this: Do something. Try something. Speaking out, showing up, writing a letter, a check, a strongly worded e-mail. Pick a cause – there are few unworthy ones. And nudge yourself past the brink of tacit support to action. Once a month, once a year, or just once. If you can’t think of what to do, there is this handy link. Even just learning enough about a subject so you can speak against an opponent eloquently makes you an unusual personage. Start with that. Any one of you would have cried out, would have intervened, had you been in that crowd in Bashiqa. Well thanks to digital technology, you’re all in it now.

I have never had any faith in humanity. But I will give us props on this: if we can evolve, invent and theorize our way into the technologically magical, culturally diverse and artistically magnificent race we are and still get people to buy the idiotic idea that half of us are inferior, we’re pretty amazing. Let our next sleight of hand be to make that myth disappear.

The sky isn’t evil. Try looking up.

Thanks for posting about this, Joss. It really is a disgrace to see how women are still treated unfairly in today's society, especially when they make up 50% of the population, as you've said.

And I think I speak for all of us when I say you're more than welcome to post like this here whenever you feel the need. If it means bringing attention to an important issue, bring it on.

[ edited by Thomas on 2007-05-20 05:39 ]
Jumping way ahead, I hope/pray/suspect that it is slowly becoming time again for the ascendancy of the feminine, and I suspect that the matriarch will have much more compassion for the opposite gender than has the patriarch.

But we all need to help assist pave the way. Joss' is again inviting some considered discussion - the first stone (so to speak) on a long path.
Oh joss, my heart is hurting right now, my ventricles are about to burst.

Thank you.
Thank you for bring such a sad story to our attention. I know stuff like this happens all the time all around the world and it makes me ashamed that people treat the other half of the species like this. The stories I have read about not just women but people in general doing inhumane things to each other really disgust me, and I feel powerless. There is so much inhuamnity(maybe it is an aspect of humanity itself) that is very easy to go into despair.

But at the same time as you said, there are people working on changing that. For me its not just the women, its injustice in general to each other to the planet that just boils my blood. Once again thank you for this, maybe I can do something. Or rather I can do something and should go and do it.
Thanks, Joss.

I know you're a student of film. I'd like to know what your take of the depiction of honor killings in the John Ford's Monument Valley films, particularly STAGECOACH and THE SEARCHERS. I think Ford reminds us not to think of the behavior as something foreign and external, but a force within us all that we must reconcile.

In other words, misogyny isn't a genetic default, and it's not the product of a barbarian culture, but something widespread and pernicious, in each of us to an extent.

Thanks for being the voice of reason, seeing as it is in such short supply sometimes.

[ edited by Chirp on 2007-05-20 05:59 ]
Say it again for those not listening.
All I can say is thank you. most of us ('us' being me) are so blind.
Here is a link to the CNN story. A link to the video is in the page. I had to force myself through it.

This is a horror movie. Period.

Too many emotions. I’m sad. And angry. Hulk smash angry.
We ARE out there. I go to a school that believes that women can make a difference and teaches us how to survive in this patriarchal society. I definitely understand the feeling of loneliness when your passions fall on deaf ears, but please know that the world is changing. Genders are blurring, societies are coming together, and women are learning how to take back the power. Information is coming faster, and bloggers are taking back the media. It's not fast but it is there. I believe that I can make a difference in the world and no one, man, woman, transgenered, NO ONE will ever make me feel inferior.

You are not the only one out there who believes that this society is going to pieces, but still has the hope to believe in change. Rest assured that the story WILL be distributed to a very angry population of women who tend to over-analyze things especially during finals.

Sania D.

Ps. Crying relieves the stress, brownies help with the constant need for anything chocolate, hugging someone who loves you makes you feel like you are worth something, and not completely inadequate.
You're right... just saying something isn't enough. But it's sad when people aren't willing or don't think to do even that much. So thank you for always being willing to speak and for pushing others to do that and much more.
It is only natural and human to snap when confronted with this kind of horror, unfortunately it seems to have been going on since history began (and I haven't really felt that humans have 'evolved' all that much over the last 3,000 years).
Your post made me cry, Joss; twice. First because you have the heart and mind to snap at this kind of violence (it is appalling how many people can ignore it), and second because you believe the people here are evolved enough to respond. I hope we don't let you down. You know that everyone here is working to raise money for Equality Now. It is never enough.
When my mother always looks at the news on the "War against Terrorism" and War stories in general she always comments that her theory to save the world would be to drop estrogen bombs we drop instead of nuclear bombs.

I always wonder how much of our War like cultre is created due to the hunting and gathering mentality of man or whether it is the instututions that we have created that are to blame, but I guess those instituions are created by men so the point is rather moot (chicken or egg sort of stuff).

I do wonder though, that even if more women were able to get into the political arena today, whether it would mean real change or if they would be doomed to follow the instututions and rules we have put in place already. I would like to think that real change would be made but I suspect we would see much of the same.

I think this change cannot come from above it has to come from the bottom and grow like a wild fire, it has to come by keeping the issue vocal until enough people scream NO More! Only then can we look to dismantle the institutions of men and create institutions of prople.

Thanks Joss for the thought provoking post I hope it starts something even if it were to change the opinions of a few.
The problem is you can never reach the final few in power over the many. Evil men kill innocent women because it's far more empowering to them than say attacking an animal that can't speak out. Men in such cultures are taught by centuries of religion and politics to repress matriarchy to maintain their power. You can't change the men, you have to change their environment, their core beliefs (good luck with that, they'll never watch Buffy).

The crimes you protest are absolutely horrible and some of worst to bear, but I would point out the far more subtle crimes that breed and enforce this kind of thinking until it spills over into every aspect of a society. There are still many "developed" and "civil" nations where women are not allowed to even vote (hints: Kuwait, Saudia Arabia) Women have even died there not from attacks but from male ambulance crews who refuse or are restrained by family from taking an injured woman to the hospital. It's "easy" to be horrified by men beating a woman to death being permitted. How about instead being horrified by the mentality of a society that doesn't allow women to vote (or drive a car).
Pliny Thank's for the link but do we really need it? I don't like the idea of giving CNN more visits to their page to view something that we should be encouraging people not to view. It just send the wrong message to CNN that people will come to spectate this sort of thing and give them ratings.
This feels too important for me to write something that would be (for me) too hasty, and yet I want to respond right away, to support you, to honor this girl and your outpouring - to say I hear you, I hear this. I must just say for now that I've snapped and shorted over this one, often, and yet something like this, like poor Dua Khalil, can always make me snap again... (while, Tonya, my heart is also breaking, again.)

"I don’t pretend to be a great guy; I know really really well about objectification, trust me."

So does everyone, so do we all, even women themselves, from doing it as well as having it done to them. It may feel horrible to realize it, but it may also be the way in - our shared and secret corruption or something - which means we can somehow understand this inequity inside, (we are the objectifier as well as the objectified) which is also what is needed to move on, to evolve... if we can.

"I have never had any faith in humanity."

Ahh, but to truly not have any, I think, means you wouldn't post this. Not to be all Pollyanna, but it is the saving grace of your darkest work, and part of what draws us to you and your creations.

I'll write more later, but right now I think I have to decide if it's somehow my duty, my responsibility or not, to go looking for and watch this video. I don't want to, but I'm not sure that's enough...

Thank you, Joss.
There is nothing wrong with women. The real problem is any man who thinks he can define them before they can define themselves. I can see why Joss is upset by this "honor killing" story, nd why someone would be cruel enough to tape it and spread it on the internet. It's the type of terrorism President Bush isn't concerned with. I just hope that eventually we, meaning men, can be better than this..and that women make sure of it.
Phew. Now that I'm a bit recovered from reading that incredibly moving piece from Joss, here's what I've done lately. In late 2006, Fox television, headed by that giant intellect known as Rupert Murdoch, was planning to air the O.J. Simpson "Special" interview with Judith Regan (since fired from HarperCollins Publishing) about "his" book, If I Did It, describing how, if he "had" murdered Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman, he would have done it.

All I can tell you is that I saw bloody, rare meat RED. I wrote three e-mails; one to Leslie Oren at Fox, another to Fox at a generic email address to keep my bases covered, one to my local affiliate in San Diego, and a succinct, snail mail letter to Judith Regan in New York. Then I wrote two blogs on MySpace and sent out a bulletin urging people to boycott Fox. In my wildest dreams, I never thought I'd write a letter to another woman as I did to her, or that a woman could participate in such a horrible perpetration of pain on the Brown and Goldman families. But I can't say it pained me much at the time.

Apparently America has woken up to a greater extent than I thought with regard to this kind of shameful display that was going to be put on by a bunch of dirtbags after blood money. The outpouring of criticism leveled at Fox was stunning, stopping this filthy project in its tracks. Most of us seem to be done with ever seeing or hearing from this monumental monster, ever again.

Then when the story about the poster for Captivity was written here and The Huffington Post linked, I immediately went, read, copied Jill's suggested text and sent part of it with some of my own thoughts off to the MPAA.

Other than that, I think about injustice quite a bit and am embarrassed I haven't done yet, what I said I would do in the thread about Captivity, join and in some way, support the work of Equality Now.

Good thing I've got Joss to remind me and all of us how important their work is.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2007-05-20 06:42 ]
Thank you. <3

I watched the footage days ago and have had nightmares since. Something in me broke, too. Something that had lurked in the background as a theoretical horror became so real when I saw it that I can't undo it now. And worse, I can't comprehend it.

Your words keep me company and your plea for activism is echoed here.
I think back to the few brief years when I was particularly stupid and allowed someone who should have loved me treat me like garbage and let myself believe I deserved it. The only difference between me and the women you talked about is I live in a country with laws that protect me, where I am allowed to take a stand and say, "No more."

You're attention to the global situation, no matter who else has stood before you and spoken the same words, is relevant. Each time another person stands and says, "No more," it is relevant. Individually we make a difference, together we are force.
I don't want anything like this to ever happen to my daughter. Ever. It's time to change the world.

I believe men in various societies have tried to subdue women because of a simple sense of envy. Women control everything. They bare children. They control sex in society. Men may be physically "I can kick your ass!" stronger, but it's women who have the real power.

In terms of Captivity, I can't judge because I haven't seen it. I've found it interesting that people attack the "torture porn" sub-genre for its degradation of women when, in my experience, they generally focus on men. The main character of each Saw film is male. Our annoying protagonists in Hostel are men. Etc.

I can only defend fiction as just that -- fiction. If Captivity is truly 90 minutes of kidnapping, maiming, and murdering a defenseless woman, I would like to believe that audiences realize the gap between life and the screen. I was raised on horror; Halloween is the film that made me love film. But I can't watch numerous car crash/disaster videos that my friends point to on YouTube because I can't handle the real thing. It disgusts me.

I would hope others are the same.

[ edited by The Dark Shape on 2007-05-20 06:55 ]
Esprit de corps.

For anyone who has ever been inspired to fight the good fight--this is it.
My thoughts are with Dua Khalil's family and friends; the ones who cared about her anyway.

Sometimes I wonder how the human race has survived for so long...
Joss, thank you for writing so passionately and with such insight.

[ edited by Samantha on 2007-11-06 05:41 ]
I'm not sure how to feel about CNN and other news outlets showing the video. On the one hand, it's unquestionably horrifying and it's not something anyone should ever want to watch. On the other hand, every day more and more people are being killed in Iraq, and we as a society have become fairly numb to it all. When you only see the numbers, it can be hard to wrap your head around all of it. When you see something like this in pictures, or in this case a video, it's like a punch to the gut. The event becomes painfully real and, hopefully, leads to some sort of call to action.

Sadly, given how ratings-driven the cable news networks have become, I doubt CNN was looking for anything more than a ratings bump.
And why shouldn't we be encouraging people to view evidence that humanity has a very long way to go before we can call ourselves 'civilized,' Crypto?

I know my feelings drastically shifted after watching the video, from simple frustration and confusion at how this kind of unconscionable behaviour can keep happening to almost pure and blinding rage at how people can call themselves pious or devout when they violate one of the shared cornerstones of the three biggest monotheistic religions on the face of our planet: THOU...SHALT...NOT...KILL!!! Last time I checked, Yaweh/Jehovah/Allah got into a pow-wow with Moses and gave him 10 key rules of conduct, with the first one clearly stating that killing someone is an sin of the highest rank.

I will admit up front, in front of my peers and anyone else who wishes to read this, that I am not a perfect person and I have had unkind thoughts about the opposite sex when I have been angry or confused or sad. However...never once have I ever lashed out, used my generally greater size and strength or even threatened anyone of the female gender due to negative emotion. To do so would violate one of the deepest covenants I have made with myself and with others: to never use physical violence or let the threat of it ever cross my lips. To violate that covenant would fill me with such shame I don't know how I would properly cope, since I would have thrown away every piece of wisdom my mother has ever given me about how to conduct myself.

Know this, Joss...we stand ready to fight with everything we have against such things. We cannot and will not go quietly into this not-so-shiny night for we will not stomach another example of this kind of horror happening. Every penny raised on the date of your birth through the celebration of how voices united as one can do the supposedly impossible shall be a voice calling out to strike down the oppression of vanquish hatred based on eradicate the ability for a human to even consider for a single moment doing harm to someone else simply because the intended victim is female.
That's really terrible that no one helped that girl.
What agonizes me in situations like this (beyond the agony that such acts exist in the world at all), where video of an unspeakably hideous event or act surfaces, is that I find myself wishing that there was only a finite amount of pain and suffering in the world.

That, somehow, were I to sit down and view it, some degree of the actual pain and suffering would be lessened. Shifted out of the act and broken into thousands or millions of much smaller pieces that everyone else could carry the burden of.

It's a completely nonsensical thing, because obviously the world doesn't function that way. It's a thought arising out of nothing more than the sheer depseration born of horror and powerlessness.

Watching it would not lessen anyone's real and actual pain and suffering. It would just create a different kind of pain and suffering for more people.

Is there a responsibility to do so anyway? I have no earthly idea.
I agree with the Kurdish official interviewed in the CNN report who said part of a solution is recruiting female police and security officers. There must also be enough woman lawyers, judges, and appointed and elected officials to reach a sort of tipping point. That's how, recently and incompletely, women in the West got legal protection against previously sanctioned violence. Misogyny doesn't end, but it gradually loses its coercive power, without which it's nothing.
I am reminded of Joss' speech to Equality Now last year where he eloquently answered the same question over and over again, "Why do you write such strong women characters?"

Particularly the part where he talks about his father and grandfather being two reasons for it - because they prized the wit and strength of the women in their lives. And as Joss says, they realised that recognising someone elses power does not diminish your own.

Thank you, Joss, for again speaking so eloquently about the issue - people's ignorance of what happens across the world sometimes continues to astound me, so every time and every place these issues are raised is a great thing.

Not sure I agree with the term "womb envy", though I see what you are getting at. Surely it's simply bad enough that men decided that their physical strength should be prized over everything a woman has to offer, simply because of her gender.
Joss, thanks for posting. This story hurts. I feel the need to go give my daughter a hug and a kiss and tell her that I love her and believe in her ability to help change the world. Unfortunately it's the middle of the night in my timezone so that will have to wait for morning. We're already going to your birthday bash in Denver next month and included an Equality Now donation when we bought tickets. For some strange reason, I feel the need to donate again, and again, and again. That won't make the tears stop flowing, but it might help change the world at little bit...

ETA: Just rewatched Joss' Equality Now speech. Made me feel better. Less tears, but still hurts...

[ edited by dcubed on 2007-05-20 08:08 ]
Preach it, brother Joss man. And keep preaching it. You express my feelings so very well. Keep preaching it until no one is asking the question any more. Men like you give me hope for good relations between our genders.
Joss...if ever you're on the streets of Los Angeles, and a random teenage blonde girl with green eye shadow wanders up to you and gives you a big hug...this is why.

Thank you. You're making this world a better place for me, my sister, and my whole generation. You're swell!
...and here in the US, we do it as well, albeit in more "polite" fashion. silly woman, you can not have autonomy over your body. why? because, first of all, we just like to keep you down, but also because WE know when life begins because we are oh so very religious and our FAITH is powerful. silly gender-different people, you are Less Than Us and do not deserve the rights that are naturally ours, given to us by Our Father. plus it just feels fun to say "faggot".

there seems to be a commonality underlying much of this hatred of The Other, be she a woman, a queer, a person of color, or--confusing and ironic--a person of another religion. and we better start figuring out how to evolve past it.
I'm sorry, but I just can't bring myself to watch this.
I'm not an ostrich, but there is so much pain and anger in the world at the moment, that I prefer to seek out acts of beauty and kindness instead.

Like your post, Joss.

The fact that this footage HAS caused such an uproar is itself a reason for hope. Let's not allow the horrible, ignorant and cruel actions of a small number of men destroy our faith and belief in the essential goodness of all mankind.

Let's teach our children to be kind to ALL others, regardless of sex, race or religion. (As a teacher, I am ever aware of the power that I hold over the young minds entrusted to me, even if only for a year of their lives. Not to go all Whitney on you.)

We need to be wise in electing leaders who will implement policies that don't allow or encourage such acts of hatred in the future.

And we can all encourage beauty and equality to spread via the arts, through film, and yes, television.

And Joss, I hope that you take some comfort in the fact that your own works have spread positive messages that have changed so many lives for the better.

And thank you for your eloquent, thought provoking and incredibly moving post.
I would say it's our responsibility as citizens of more enlightened nations to engage these people and force them to stop these dark age tactics. Write your statesmen and tell them what you think.

Individuals alone cannot stop this, we can't donate to charities and expect something to come of it. We must remove this aspect of their culture, and only a united group of nations can do that. We may not have evolved to a Vulcan level when it comes to gender equality, but we should not let our own insecurities on the matter prevent us from taking a stand on what is clearly a practice rooted in religious dogma.

In the past we have taken the responsibility to stop atrocities against people for no reason other than their skin color, sexual orientation, gender, and other factors. The Holocaust, and slavery in the southern states were things we fought against to make people more equal. It doesn't matter if we or our fellow countrymen are not the ones being tortured and killed, it is our responsibility to make cultures that are more backward than our own evolve at least to our level (again, we're not perfect, but stoning people is clearly evil).

Thank you Joss, for writing such a powerful post here in the Black, I'll make sure to link this to all my friends.

PS. all these mixed up feelings about how people are treated in places not here (in my safe neighborhood), brings me back to all the protesting I did in the early 90s against the child labor used to make our cheap products.... unfortunately that situation has only gotten worse as now nearly all of our products are manufactured in 3rd world countries, abusing the poverty of the area for slave labor, but we will speak no more of that.
Joss, that broke my heart to read. I've always highly respected you, and this post of yours cements that opinion.
There's nothing I love more than a call to action...

I just hope all the energy, enthusiasm, and willingness to fight to the bitter end I saw from Whedonites when it came to getting from Firefly to Serenity can be thrown at causes like these.

I was so thankful for all the Browncoats that pushed and shoved until someone let Joss do his thing and give us the BDM. But to be honest, sometimes, I see the amount of energy people put into getting the "signal out" for an awesome but finished TV show and think that these people are capable of so much more - I'd like to see all that energy directed to other places.

Stories are key to humanity, they pull us together, make us question ourselves, make us realise things about ourselves we couldn't just be told up front, and I really do think stories can help save the world. But sometimes we need to be shoved out the door of our story universes to affect the real one, directly. While we all fought for the Firefly cause for a while, stories aren't meant to be causes unto themselves, they're there to point us at the real causes we need to be fighting for.

And I love storytellers who have the guts to not just lead us there with their stories but also turn up and rant until we get of our collective arses and do something. Cos a collective arse is a powerful force.

BTW Joss I looked up at the sky and I saw a cloud shaped like a demonic octopus. So I'm not convinced.

[ edited by Swil on 2007-05-20 08:44 ]
I took a Women's Studies class this past semester because of you. I was one of two male students in there, and the other one was only there because his girlfriend made him take the class. It's so sad that more guys don't take Women's Studies. It impacts everyone, not just women.

Thanks for the inspiration. Thanks for making me see the world in a different light. Your shows have helped me to accept myself for who I am, to overcome my social problems, and to realize how the culture locks us into gender roles, and that this needs to change.

You've given me something to fight for. I want to do what you did: make brilliant television. I want to use the medium to try and change things for the better.

What an amazing post. I have such admiration for you, and I hope to see more of your thoughts in the future.
Let's teach our children to be kind to ALL others, regardless of sex, race or religion. (As a teacher, I am ever aware of the power that I hold over the young minds entrusted to me, even if only for a year of their lives. Not to go all Whitney on you.)

This isn't targeted to you, even though I'm quoting you. This is my reaction to teachers that I knew.

I went through a school system that was made up of people who thought that it was their responsibility to teach the horrors of racism and sexism to their students. When a teacher forced me to read books and write papers on important topics, I didn't reflect on the material so much as loathe being made to do work. I ended up associating the two in my mind. The school was so bad that I begged my parents to send me to a Jesuit high school where, surprisingly, politics and religion(!) were not pushed on the students.

The result was that I was completely indifferent to sexism until Joss showed me the softer side of feminism. When I read and watched Joss talk about gender equality, I finally felt like someone wasn't preaching to me. I know that he's not a fulltime activist, being that he's a movie maker/author by day, but I think that those are the kinds of messages that the majority, sideline-sitting population needs.

kevingann: Good for you, and that other guy? It's the same as I mentioned above, there's no better way to make people appreciate something than to make them do something they don't want to do.

[ edited by Caleb on 2007-05-20 09:12 ]

[ edited by Caleb on 2007-05-20 09:14 ]

[ edited by Caleb on 2007-05-20 09:17 ]

... how many edits can this board take?

[ edited by Caleb on 2007-05-20 09:18 ]
Thank you, Joss.
It hurts inside, reading this. Thank you Joss, for being a strong and eloquent voice of reason here. It is horrifying that these things happen in this world, and that it is even accepted in parts of it.
Right then, trying to express my thoughts with my own ineloquency(A word? Perhaps not.):

Thank you Joss. Thank you for sharing your wisdom; thank you for using your voice to speak out. Thank you for reminding each and every one of us through your work what it means, for both men and women, to be empowered and strong: to accept and embrace the strength of others. Thank you for being angry about this; thank you for packaging into simple words what so many of us struggle to say, words that we can then in turn repeat to others. Thank you for demanding that the world be better. And most of all, thank you to everyone else here who tries to make a difference.
Caleb: You hit the nail on the head. The way Joss discusses these issues is exactly how they need to be discussed. You never feel like Joss is preaching; you just feel like he is saying what needs to be said.
Like a few of the other people, I cannot watch the clip that Joss referred to above. That's not because I am weak-stomached. It's because I need to retain faith that people can and will change.

Caleb, you said, "I would say it's our responsibility as citizens of more enlightened nations to engage these people and force them to stop these dark age tactics."

I may be mis-reading that, but it comes across as being horribly patronising to me. I grew up in an Asian nation. The terms "enlightened nations" and "dark age tactics" quite frankly piss me off. I agree with what Joss says, but I don't think that you can force beliefs on to people of other nations. Look at what happened when G W Bush tried to force democratic beliefs on to Iraq. Contrary to what you believe, there are many women from my home who would be disgusted with your attitude. They would not view such people as "rescuers" but as decadent destroyers of their secure world.

You also said, "Individuals alone cannot stop this, we can't donate to charities and expect something to come of it. We must remove this aspect of their culture, and only a united group of nations can do that. We may not have evolved to a Vulcan level when it comes to gender equality, but we should not let our own insecurities on the matter prevent us from taking a stand on what is clearly a practice rooted in religious dogma."

It is clearly not something that is rooted in religious dogma. Look at the way that the Chinese and the North Koreans treat their women. They are communist (and by extension, mostly atheist). What about in Africa? It is not that simple.

I would say that donating to charities that help to empower women is as much a part of this process as getting the UN and international organisations to campaign for gender equality. High-minded ideals mean nothing to women unless there is a visible effect on the ground. For that to take place, both a grassroots and top-down approach must be simultaneously employed. It would be useless to get rights for women if they didn't know what it entitled them to, and how it would affect them. In fact, I would argue that grassroots charity work is far more important than writing to your local councilman about international affairs. If there is one thing that I learnt in Angel, misogyny and hatred will always exist, whether they are in institutionalised forms or not. Getting women to recognise their own power and individuality will combat internalised hatred, prejudice and discrimination simultaneously.

Thanks for writing that blog post, Joss. It means a lot to me as a Chinese woman trying to get her peers to see themselves as more than an extension of their man. It is a fight that I have taken up personally. I can frankly say that you helped through the work that you produced - the Buffy-watching girls of my generation are generally not as scared, as subservient as those of my mother's, and my grandmother's. Even if there is prejudice and institutionalised misogyny, we are making progress. This from a culture that not very long ago, had women bind their feet for aesthetic reasons.

So don't give up hope, or faith. There will always be horrors and misogyny in existence. We learn from Angel that we will keep fighting, simply because it's the right thing to do. I will keep doing what I can, and Joss, I'm sure that you'll keep doing what you can too. Because that's all that there is, and every little step of progress makes a whole lot of difference to the individual lives of girls.

/done with the pep-talky and preachifying
Caleb: You hit the nail on the head. The way Joss discusses these issues is exactly how they need to be discussed. You never feel like Joss is preaching; you just feel like he is saying what needs to be said.

Rule #3: You don't talk about Fight Club. ;-)
kevingann: Yeah, it's the same tactic I used to promote Serenity to my friends. They would ask about it, or I would bring it up, and instead of going all fan boy, I told them that it was a solid sci-fi movie with good action and comedy. I refrained from telling them that it is amazingly awesome and the best movie they'll ever see, and I didn't mention that Joss is bigger than the Beatles.

Edited: Beetles => Beatles, I've been calling them the Beetles this whole time and nobody corrected me :)

[ edited by Caleb on 2007-05-20 11:55 ]
I, like most people here, have been a big fan of Joss' since the early days of Buffy. I don't post here nearly enough, and to be honest I was first drawn to Whedonesque because I loved reading Joss' posts. Let's face it... the man creates amazing characters and has some of the best writing ever.

A big thank you to Joss for reminding me that he is , after all, still human *gasp* . Even though I can't bring myself to watch that video, I needed to read this. I was lucky enough to grow up with a strong mother who always taught me to respect all people equally. I forget sometimes that not everybody was lucky enough to have someone around who was that amazing.

I teach martial arts here in central Florida and I've been toying with the idea of getting some of the local schools together for some kind of big show, but couldn't really come up with a reason for it. Other than the fun of it. I feel like this is the perfect reason to bring all these schools and people together now. A fundraiser for Equality Now would go a long way towards getting the message out there that there really is a need for change in our world. I'm going to make a big push to pull this one together. I'll get in touch with the people from the org and see about getting flyers, posters.. anything they have available to help promote the group.

I know the other instructors share my feelings about teaching every female student how to take care of themselves if they ever need to fight. But I also know we all teach our students that woman always have the right to say no. It doesn't matter what the situation is, a woman should always be in control of their own lives.

Again, I wanted to send a public thank you to Joss for more than just giving me many years of great entertainment. I find I have a renewed enthusiasm for teaching Martial arts.
Oh and Caleb... it's "Beatles". Time for another edit? =)
Insane, illogical, misguided violence is growing in all areas of our lives. Women are hated for being women, religious people hated for being religious, cats hated for being cats. Violent acts carried out on all groups that don't conform to the wishes of those carrying out the violence. Either do as we do or you are meat for the floor.

I'm not one of those who is absolutely against violence in movies or on television. I've seen the Die Hard movies more often than I can count. Hell, if I was so against violence then both Buffy and Angel would be off my viewing list. Violence is a part of us and it has a place in the world whether we like it or not.

What has no place in the world is the pleasure of violence for the sake of violence, which is what we are discussing here. Whether that be in watching a movie that has no point other than to be as sick as it possibly can be, movies such as Captivity and Hostel where the violence is the only point, or in the use of violence against somebody who has simply chosen to live differently to you.

I have had to step into many a fight outside a rock club where a kid is getting beaten up just for daring to wear "emo" clothing and be seen by a bunch of brainless chavs who aren't happy to let him walk on by. In fact there are actually groups of them that choose to wait on street corners where they know young rockers will be leaving gigs just in the hope of catching one alone. Because they like to dress differently. It's a known fact that there are organized groups of football hooligans that go to the matches with the sole intent of starting trouble. No thought of watching the game.

If we can't control ourselves when it comes to differences in musical taste and football teams then what hope is there for us in matters of race, religion and gender? Do women ever stand a chance of being treated with respect when there are men out there that will kill you for wearing a Manchester United shirt?

By the way, thanks for posting this, Joss. Whilst I would hope that many of us here at Whedonesque are already intelligent and enlightened enough to know cultural sickness when we see it, hopefully your words just might open a few eyes to some ugly truths.
Excellent post, Joss. This world needs to wake up and realize both sexes should be treated with respect and dignity.

Unfortunately, honor killings in the Middle East are being replaced by a new horror: honor suicides. This seems to have a huge popularity in Turkey, where women who have "brought shame" to their families are actually given the unbelievable choice of killing themselves or their families will kill them. Imagine being handed a gun by a family member and being told, "Kill yourself or we'll do it for you." See, this way, it looks to the Western world as if Turkey's honor killings have declined, when in reality, women are still dying for the same reasons. It just appears as though they committed suicide, and therefore died of their own choice.

The current issue of Marie Claire (with Rebecca Romijn on the cover) has an excellent article on the whole honor suicide thing, for those interested in reading further.

I've actually lost some travel writing jobs because I've told the mags that I won't do puff travel pieces to countries where women are not treated as equals. I just can't in my right mind promote a country that treats women as though they have no rights.

SenseiJJ - I'm a journalist in Orlando. If you put together an EN charity event, drop me info on it and I'll help get the word out. :)
I'm not sure if it's womb envy though. The same people who victumise women are often those who victumise those, say, more intelligent than they are, those more stupid, those who are richer, poorer, hairy backed - or not, or just different in some way. Nevertheless it seems that paradox lurks for the civil minded, one must be intollerant of intollerance.
What is wrong with women?

God, thank you for simply. asking. this. question. I've wondered about this question too: why? Why is there such hate in our culture against women? Where does it come from and for what purpose?

Literally hours ago, I was thinking about porn (as you do) and how I personally, as a woman and a feminist, couldn't hate it even though sometimes it embodied things that are so terribly misogynistic and depressing. As a feminist, it's not the erotic I object to: it's the way the culture shapes eroticism into something ugly, something that feels (to me, a woman, at least) assaultive.

I don't know about the theory of men's jealousy of the female biological "superiority" -- frankly, I think it all devolves into a question of sex. Something in the male sex drive responds to violence. I'm not saying all men, or even most men, but the parts of men that are dangerous to women are sexual.

What do women fear: the rapist knocking you down in the street -- the boyfriend who smacks you -- the authority figure (boss, dad, teacher) who won't take no for an answer. Every women has had a moment in their life, probably several, where they felt in fear for their lives from a man, felt in danger, and there has been a tinge of the sexual; from serial killers to the guy on the group of men who feel entirely justified in beating a woman to death for being sexually impure, it's all about sex and death. Somehow they are linked in the male psyche, and some cultures mine it more than others. Those horror slasher movies are as much about sex as they are about the grotesque.

Of course, I could be talking so much shit. It's so strange to think -- sorry -- that a man gets it. Because really, mostly men don't. A great book I read on the subject is "The Gift of Fear" (Gavin de Becker) and there's a line that says it all: most men fear getting laughed at or humiliated by a romantic prospect while most women fear rape and death. That's the gap we're talking about.

[ edited by dottikin on 2007-05-20 10:14 ]
Quick pop back in to say that I don't think anyone has to watch the clip and b!x, I really wish sharing the pain did lighten the load. I sat with myself for a while, and then I watched it... because as much as I am familiar with a certain kind or level of violence against women, I am also a white, privileged American WASP woman protected from much of the raw evil that the world manifests - including that which we perpetrate on other nations.

I don't wish to have those images in my heart-and-mind's library - but somehow I, who live in my books and movies and made-up world a great deal of the time - need to see and feel those things in a way that makes them real to me. Whatever the reasons they were originally taken and posted - which are varied and complex - they also served as a terrible reporting, much like the compulsive, thorough and boastful documentation of the Nazis has given us lasting and unforgettable images of the Holocaust.

For who I am, it was right for me to see this. Not sure I have any opinion on what anyone else should do - it seems such a personal decision.

I have re-posted Joss' post on my MySpace blog - I thought perhaps he would want as many people as possible to see it.

As always, I have turned to my beloved books when in need of solace and understanding:

"Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people." - Carl Jung

"We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses." - Carl Jung

"Understanding does not cure evil, but it is a definite help, inasmuch as one can cope with a comprehensible darkness." - Carl Jung

Just -- unbelievable, in so many ways. Joss, just when the world continues to shock and hurt me, you continue to amaze and move me. And, dude, gorramit, if anyplace in the world IS your blog, this is certainly it. *going to Equality Now website*

Also, ShadyLane -- the most frightening and sickening part is that this WAS her family who did this. There is no "family who cared for her" to have in your thoughts. Here's something to have in your thoughts instead, IMO -- this girl was my age, just about. Just a teenager, still in high school (of course, in her country -- possibly/probably not so much was she allowed to go to school). What would my life be like if I was living in that culture? I pray I would have had the heart and the mind and the guts to try to stop this insane torture if I had seen it. I pray I have the heart and mind and guts to do whatever I can to help others in my own life here in the States, every day.
I can't decide which direction to go. I am wholly against honor killings, and am saddened that these things come out of my culture. Thank you, Joss, for bringing this type of horrific event to our attention.

I was going to post about how the American News Media villifies Arabs by broadcasting this, but I'm not going to. What I read above my post, (with a couple exceptions) was not filled with hate toward the part of the world I call my home land, but of sympathy toward the young woman who died, and the others who share stories similar to hers, and activity that should be stopped once and for all.

I was going to tell the story of my cousin getting engaged while following old Muslim traditions, and how hearing about it made me cringe, but having seen it, well it turned out to be pretty cute. This was going to serve the purpose of describing how and why tradition stays alive. But its not needed.

I could tell you about my female cousin in Saudi Arabia that is a practicing Psychologist in a hospital and has both male and female patients, or my aunt who owns her own boutique in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. I could tell you about another female cousin who is a Dentist in Jordan to show to you that not all women give in to submission. The women of my generation, even in that part of the world, hold the majority of seats in universities and have professions. I am on my path to go to Medical School, and even though my aunts try to talk me into doing something easier, I won't give up just yet. This summer, I'll be going to Palestine with a volunteering team of Physicians to try and treat some diabetes, fix a handful of cleft palates, and maybe save the world.

There. I think I've said everything I meant to not say. Good night.
Wow. Just wow. I love you, Joss. I just fucking love you. You keep to amaze me with so much love and compassion and a mind wildly set on not accepting the unacceptable.

The main problem I see is that we women often enough buy into that hateful attitude and accept it as a fact - that something is indeed wrong with us. We can be so mysogynist against women who choose to give birth and raise children, because we find that life uncool.
I'm in the middle of recovering from that nonsense and what you wrote, Joss, jump-started another effort.

We can beat this. We really can. Just be yourself, you are one of the good guys out there. In the meantime, we try to be ourselves too. Girls. Women. Crones. Whatever it takes.
Arabchick, thank you so much for saying what you said. I didn't mean to be negative about all people in Muslim cultures, just those who think that honor killings are the way to go, or who think that women should not go to school and make choices about whether to have a career or not. Hell, I'm negative against people in American culture, or European culture, or Asian or African or Antarctican, who think it's OK to hate just because someone is different -- a different gender, a different sexual orientation, a different color, a different ability (or disability). Your Saudi cousins sound like they are great people who happen to be women, and I hope those women have great lives and careers helping others. I wish you every kind of success in medical school (and, are you still acting? acting success to you, too!), and you TOTALLY ROCK for your volunteering in Palestine! I hope that goes great, too, and I hope that you DO save the world! :-)
I had a little conversation with my doctor the other day about young women in the professions who are averse to identifying themselves as feminists. She is about the same age as I am, and works in a teaching hospital with lots of young women interns and residents, and did a little informal survey. She said a serious majority of them had no interest in women's issues at all. She got the same result talking to her 11 year old daughter's girl scout troop.

The blindness and,hell, ingratitude to those who went before them, making it possible for them to do what they do, is amazing to me. How can we make them realize that Dua Khalil is our sister, and we are not safe while she is not safe? It is heartening to read both your post, Joss, and the realize that there are people all over who really feel this, know that it's not over, and are willing to keep fighting.

[ edited by toast on 2007-05-20 11:34 ]
I may be mis-reading that, but it comes across as being horribly patronising to me. I grew up in an Asian nation. The terms "enlightened nations" and "dark age tactics" quite frankly piss me off.

Stoning someone to death is barbaric, and a practice I would expect from someone raised in a culture that isn't developed. That's why I used the term "Dark Ages." If someone thinks it's offensive to call the people in the video barbaric, or to suggest that those who are disgusted by it are (relatively) enlightened, I would say that they should be offended.

Now, if someone is offended because they are of the same race, they shouldn't be. I specifically did not bring race into this discussion because I am not linking race to culture. I also do not link country to culture. If you look at the United States, say 100 years ago, there were many distinct cultures, and some of those cultures took a more active role in lynch mobs, for example, than others.

It is clearly not something that is rooted in religious dogma. Look at the way that the Chinese and the North Koreans treat their women. They are communist (and by extension, mostly atheist). What about in Africa? It is not that simple.

You are correct. Religion often perpetuates ideas like these, but the religions themselves have to be born from somewhere, and I would say they come from man. While religion isn't the root cause, it is clear that it doesn't help. People have often used religion to give legitimacy to misogyny, and that is what has to be stopped.

Arabchick: it's interesting to read someone who is closer to it than New York. Being so far removed from foreign cultures that aren't Canadian or European, it's hard for me to put my mind there in order to make more founded opinions. I am glad that women are treated better where your family lives, and that the culture doesn't support heavily misogynistic practices. If my comments came off as being hate-filled, I want to assure you that that was not my intention, and neither was making a blanket statement about a group of people other than the group of people who thinks killing a woman is okay.
The blindness and,hell, ingratitude to those who went before them, making it possible for them to do what they do, is amazing to me. How can we make them realize that Dua Khalil is their sister, and they are not safe while she is not safe?

I actually find it quite positive that those women can go into those professions without being actively feminist. They can go on like it's NORMAL for a woman to study in those fields without having to point out that they are women and that those fields were once closed to women.

Dua Khalil is not their sister; they can live perfectly normal lives and not care about what happens to people in other countries. As we learned from "Earshot", people have enough of there own stuff going on. With so many issues available to care about, and so little time to actually do anything about any one of them, it's hard to blame people for apathy on issues which are so far removed from their lives.

Also, to suggest that they are ingrates for not caring about women's history is unfair to them. Remember, as time goes on, if things get better, you will need less and less feminists, and that's a good thing. I doubt we'd ever be able to completely get rid of the movement, but as women become more and more equal, there will be fewer battles to fight.

... wow, I think that's the most I've typed on a thread here, ever.
How dare you link this to race.

This is the media's idea that honour killings don't happen in western countries ALL THE TIME, in christian households, in middle class households who have internet access, inside toilets and every advantage poor uneducated people in the middle of nowhere dont' have. That MOST domestic violence is about honour in some form, whether religious or cultural, and that mostly it is covered up for that same honour by men and women for the same reasons the woman in the video died.

You want religious encouragement of violence against women? check your bible. ANY bible. The vast majority of christians will choose not to use it, just like the vast majority of Muslims CHOOSE NOT TO. But it's there if you need it, if you're insane, if you live in an area that encourages fundamentalism as a way of life. If you're a woman there's no answer to it and if you're a man there's a nice excuse for you.

The problem with videos like this is that people watch them and have an excuse to hate entire cultures, vast portions of a map.

I'm also very very tired of people who need visual evidence shoved in their faces of human rights issues in order to feel something. You got so desensitised to violence that you need video footage of the starving, the downtrodden and the dead before you'll give money to a cause? screw you. There is *no such thing* as compassion fatigue. It's an infinite resource, like love. And if you're truly too stupid to realise that death and destruction are BAD THINGS that need to be stopped *without the video*, screw you twice. And I guess that screws over every poor country that can't afford the mobile phones to tape it.

Secret Message to Joss: it took THIS to break you? You weren't paying attention.
support bacteria - it's the only culture some people have.
Caleb-Women's issues are absolutely not removed from any woman's life, and only someone who is not a woman could truly believe that. Everyone of those women has experienced some mysogyny in her life, and has been able to ignore it so far, because of good luck, location, money, or social status. It ain't gone, it stems from the same source, and you know what they say about those who forget history. Plus, they are now privileged and I think those of us who are privileged, owe.

[ edited by toast on 2007-05-20 12:23 ]
Thank you Joss, for those wonderfull words.

I share your despair.
I live in Israel, a country basically founded on bias. The hate of my people towards arabs is practicaly ingrained - and to top it off it's a mostly Chauvinist society. Just talking to people can make the top of my head burst.
I don't know how to battle racism, misogony, etc. I try to do is through my art, but it all seems so weak against the wall of hate. But these words are truly inspiring, and I'm gonna do my best to circulate this wonderful essay.

Again, thank you. You are a brother in the pacifist-arms in the good fight.
Thanks, Joss!

It's refreshing to know there are still people in this world who give a damn. You're inspirational.
I teach children, a lot of them don't have a good homelife, I hope that my words have the same power over them, can inspire them and show them that the world doesn't have to be a bad place.
Hey sansmercy, I realize this is a very emotional topic, but let's refrain from finger pointing and yelling quite so loudly. I won't ask a second time.
sansmercy, a large problem is that these types of murders are apparently legal or semi-legal in some areas.

Also, as you say, some people are very human-like (bastards!) and are affected by visuals more than other forms of media, so I can't decide whether you're saying this video is ultimately bad because it promotes racism, or if it's good since it gets the message through to thick headed people like Joss.

You got so desensitised to violence that you need video footage of the starving, the downtrodden and the dead before you'll give money to a cause?

Meh, the video didn't help on that front. I like my money the way it is, mine, and then some porn store owners.
edited to say Joss linked to EN.

[ edited by sansmercy on 2007-05-20 13:00 ]
toast: I'll take your word for it, and, in hopes to understand it, from now on, you can call me Loretta.
There is nothing wrong with women.

There is however a great deal wrong with certain aspects of many societies .

It's not an East/ West thing either . American gun culture sickens me just as much as any so called " honour killing" If videos had been around in the days of the lynch mobs that footage would doubtless have been on youTube . Recently there has been footage of a young gay male couple hanged for their " crime". And remember the Rodney King beating?

The upside is that crimes get recorded and exposed

The downside is that we become a society of bystanders and voyeurs waving our video phones when we could be doing something to help . And watching the footage on the TV or the internet with a decreasing sense of the real impact of what we are seeing.

We live in a world increasingly inured to violence and it's not just men oppressing women, how many times has footage from Northern Ireland shown us the results of "punishment beatings" based on religion? How many incidences of football violence, school shootings, queer bashing?

Violent death is always an outrage and it seems to me disingenuous to be more outraged if the victim is a woman . After all superior male body strength is hardly defence against an angry mob, or, indeed a bullet,

And by the way apologising in the face of unmerited violence is not a purely feminine trait . It's a hard wired survival instinct . Hell you'll even see it on the old Western films where the tough guy falls to his knees in the street and begs for mercy .

I have not seen nor shall I see this video

Yes something needs to be done but it needs to be done at all levels and starting out with the assumption that the violence and horror is a product of misogyny or womb envy isn't necessarily the best place to start.

Yes there is imbalance but it's not just gender based

And , believe it or not ,most people do not take it for granted or accept it.

Sorry if I sound ranty but women are not frail creatures to be protected . To imply this is in some way to diminish women , A woman beaten to death is a terrible thing , a man beaten to death is equally terrible and happens as frequently ,albeit with different " justification"

And boy do we need to sort our own societies out before we start pointing fingers at other cultures!

We need to be outraged but not because the victim in this case was a woman but because she was a human being . It's the same argument as was used before women gained the franchise . Some ( mostly male) campaigners wanted female suffrage on the grounds that women with the vote would be a civilising influence in politics . In fact women deserved the vote not because they were women but because they were an equal part of the society under governance

Sod feminism ... it's about humanism and the rights of every member of every society regardless of race gender, class, orientation, ability ,religious belief or the lack of such belief.

End of rant .

[ edited by debw on 2007-05-20 12:39 ]
Sansmercy, look before you rant. Joss linked to Equality Now.
I mean this totally for information and not to be snarky, sansmercy -- Joss did NOT link to the video. He linked to Equality Now.

ETA: Heh, if I am going to have the exact same thoughts as someone else, I am pleased to see it is Caroline. Sorry about the duplicate information.

[ edited by billz on 2007-05-20 13:18 ]
Hey Loretta, cute name, kind of old fashioned, but nice.
debw: Of course it is ultimately about humanism, but we have to understand, and fight the forces against it, and these include racism and sexism, among other things, including economic forces IMO. Yes, it is most important that we are all human, and it would be badder than bad to forget that...but you have to fight the fight on all fronts, and this is a biggie...involving as it does, an evil directed against a little over half of us humans.

[ edited by toast on 2007-05-20 12:58 ]
Bless me, I apologise wholeheartedly to poor Joss. I didn't click the link because it looks like it links to it - entirely my fault. :-D

I know most men are too busy being upset that they can't bear children and then beating their wives in frustration and jealousy to pay too much attention to where they link. Joss is clearly a highly evolved being.

Womb envy is such a burden on poor men. I blame women, for flaunting their tampon ads and suchlike in the face of mens terrible loss.

Really, womb envy. Brilliant deduction. Not economics or education or lack of power or cultural fear or any number of other possible reasons. No, in the end it all comes down to the fact that nice sensitive men want to make babies and have periods and people who can do that scare them. Okay.
I suggest you take your sarcasm somewhere not here.
It's things like this that make me think of the phrase

"Stop the world, I want to get off"
Joss Whedon, you may not be "a great guy", but you are a great man.

You do your gender proud.
This is the first thing I've read today, Joss, and it inspired, motivated and strengthened me to prepare for my next bout of (totally non-violent) hate-fighting. Thank you. Also: awesome essay-man-ship.
"SenseiJJ - I'm a journalist in Orlando. If you put together an EN charity event, drop me info on it and I'll help get the word out. :) "

zengrrl If I can get this off the ground, I promise I will let you know ! My school is in the Melbourne area , but I know a woman in Orlando who runs her own school and would jump at the chance to join an event like this. So at least we will have an Orlando angle to promoting it . heh
Thanks for not linking to the video; I won't look at it anyway. I refuse to watch horror movies like "Captivity." Hell, I can't watch "Law and Order" or "CSI." Or the news. Not only am I a woman, I am a mother to two girls, and my heart can't take it.

I'm not politically minded. I hate that crap. I see these guys (mostly guys) spouting off all sorts of stuff they'll contradict an hour later if someone contributes enough to their power fund. I'm sickened by it. I vote hopelessly, because it's always a lesser of two evils, and I hate that. I feel like I can't change anything, and that pisses me off.

A while back, though, I learned that you don't have to be politically minded, and you don't have to watch these videos. All you have to do, woman or man, is live a life you can respect, and teach your children, boys and girls, to do the same. As a matter of fact, I don't believe there's anything you can do that trumps that. Please, do that.

But beyond that, whether it's giving time or money to a cause, blogging it, or just respecting yourself and the women in your life, if you live to the cure, you are the cure. And, as I look back at times of humans being brought across oceans in boats like chattel and women being treated as procreational property and the vile heartbreak of the Holocaust, I do feel hopeful, because as tragic as this is, and as heartsick as I am for Dua and those who loved her, I feel very strongly that this is one of the last pathetic cries of a dying demon. All we can do is keep sticking our swords in it, where ever we get the opportunity, and for everyone whose power has been stripped by evil. Not just women.

Oh, and as a side note: Sex was associated with shame to do exactly what it did - take power away from women - so don't worry your pretty little selves about objectifying, boys. Sex is natural, and god-given, and sometimes, you get your groove on, and that's okay. We do it, too. If you do it without disrespecting or hurting anyone else, then you're doing it right. There's no more shame in sex than in video phones; it's all in how you use it.
There's a lot I could say on this subject, but won't, because hey: information overload.

But I can say this -- next month, Serenity goes back into cinemas again worldwide as a benefit for Equality Now and other charities. The lasting legacy of that film, in my humble opinion, is those screenings. It's screening at Glastonbury Festival this year, for those who haven't heard. Obviously, screening a movie for Equality Now isn't going to change the world, but it's something which has happened without Joss having to do or say anything 'bout it. Art can help save the world -- or at the very least shape the world. In good ways and bad. The reason I'm here is some little show called Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and the international success of that show heartens me.
Lani-I feel pretty much as you do about electoral politics, especially at higher levels of government, but as you can see here, there are other ways of acting politically. I wish I felt this was the "last pathetic cry of a dying demon"; I don't. But, besides living the cure in your personal life, there are plenty of other ways to "stick your sword" in it, if you want to get involved. (I'm talking to myself here, too, and I'm going to get busy.)
I don't have any answers; only questions.

Can we really do something about this? Not just supporting charitable causes, but truly effecting a change in our species?

Can we let go of all the petty little mental constructs that serve to divide ourselves from our neighbours.

Can we observe the violence in ourselves, and if so can it be ended, not by following the words of some saint, guru, politician but by truly seeing what we are.
commandlinegamer : Needless to say, I don't have answers to these questions either. But I think this is where Art comes in, re: saving the world, if such a thing is possible. Because it can really make you kick out the bottom of the way you look at things. And there is absolutely nothing harder than changing our own or someone else's mind about anything truly important.

[ edited by toast on 2007-05-20 15:43 ]
Last night I was surrounded by Whedon fans who all went to dinner after seeing Waitress. The age ran from 19 to 52 or so. I was really tired but wanted to attend because I knew I could sell more tickets to our Can't Stop the Serenity screening.
And this is why.
It is good to be reminded why we do what little we can to make a difference. We do try. Clearly, we should try harder.
This gave me chills.
Not wanting to distract from Joss' message which is very powerful and impassioned, but I would be interested to see him make a documentary on this subject.
Recently I took a class in Women in American History. This is America right, it couldn’t be that bad. All they teach you really in regular history classes; from elementary through high school is when women got the right to vote. And even that barely warrants a whole chapter. This 8 week class taught me more about what women in my own country have struggled for than I have learned my entire life…which is good for me and sad for anyone who HASN’T taken a class like that. Looking through history, we see the stories of people who risked everything to take a stand, and we are awed by them. Well now it’s own turn to stand up. We cannot take what freedom we have lightly, we have a responsibility to those who came before us to stand up for those who can’t, to speak for those with no voice, to finally say enough.

Thank you Joss for being a voice, and for inspiring others to speak.

P.S. I second Simon's documentary idea!
"I have never had any faith in humanity. "

Sorry for the contradiction, but I think you just may have a spark in there after all. I think that if you didn't, you wouldn't bother getting angry. This may have "broken" you, but often broken bones heal and become stronger at the breaking point. Maybe what's true for the physical can be true for the spiritual. Just maybe.

It's easier to roll over and accept that things as they are is the way they should be - that way, you abdicate any responsibility for changing things. It's Monday-morning quarterbacking for the entirety of human society - "If only Delhomme had stayed in the pocket" differs only in scale from "If only I'd been there when they dragged this poor girl outside."

Well, Mr. Whedon, you've made it clear that I WAS there. So now what do I do? Rolling over and going back to sleep isn't an option. And the would-be "coolboys" who recorded this may well have awoken a sleeping giant. Because now Dua Khalil isn't just some girl half a world away who was barbarically killed in some twisted satisfaction of family honor - she's got a name. Dua Khalil. And she's got a voice.

Let's make it heard - even if it's a scream.
I'm a woman in her 30s. I'm numb. I'm jaded. I'm frustrated and overwhelmed. I'm a lot of other similar adjectives.

I'm also ashamed.

I grew up in an area of the U.S. where misogyny was the norm. I have vivid memories of seeing two movies at the theater one summer. In both of these movies a woman was struck by a man. After both of these scenes people in the audience clapped.

I also have memories of what my mom had to put up with. A workman refusing to do his work based on my mom's say so. She had to get her husband's consent. The principal of my grade school caving in on some issue, not because I was right, but because he didn't want to deal with my mom. I still remember the attitude in his voice at the time.

Fortunately for me we were outsiders to this way of life. My mom told the workman he could either do his job based on her OK or we'd find someone else to do it. I knew the principal of my school was a jerk, not because of anything my mom ever said, but because I just knew he was wrong. I had seen life in other parts of the country. I'd seen the way my parents treated each other. The way it could be. The way it should be.

So I know wrong when I see it, but I've seen so much wrong over the years I almost don't react anymore.

Joss, you have made me ashamed of myself. You have made me want to be a better person, to try harder.

Thank you.
I would like to quote from a very wise man -

"Carefully watch your thoughts, for they become your words. Manage and watch your words, for they will become your actions. Consider and judge your actions, for they have become your habits. Acknowledge and watch your habits, for they shall become your values. Understand and embrace your values, for they become your destiny." - Mahatma Ghandi

It all begins with one human being and if another begins and another, then real change in the world will occur.

Thank you Joss
I can understand sansmercy's frustration at all the posts which seem to think that mysogenistic violence only happens in other countries. It happens everywhere, all the time. It always has. I don't think that it is because it is natural to our species, I refuse to believe that, but it is definitely not restricted to just one religion or georgraphic region.

However no one who knew Joss or his work would imagine he would be even indirectly promoting this RL violence by linking to it. Naturally he was seeking to link to a cure (in some small measure) for the violence.

I couldn't watch the CNN tape, but then I can't even watch 'Law & Order: SVU' because in that show all the violence is against women and children, and I really don't get the entertainment value.
You may of lost faith in humanity Joss, but for people like me you've restored mine again and again.

Humanity may be f-d up, but there's good people out there trying to make a difference.
Me, I think it’s fear. Too many men are afraid they are not strong so they bolster themselves by punishing the weak, just because they can. Too many men are afraid of how lust takes over their thoughts and makes them lose control so they subjegate what they see as the origin of that lust, either by punishing women for being attractive or by just raping them to get what they want. Too many men are afraid of how their friends and family will regard them if the women under their control try to defy orders and live for themselves. Too many men are afraid of life in general, and they banish the fear by becoming an object of fear themselves. And too many women agree with this and stand by as it happens.

I don’t think womb-envy answers it. I suspect Joss personally envies the womb but lacks even the slightest fear of women that would help him recognize it in others. This is a Good Thing, and should be spread around.
Sansmercy. Thank you for your bile. It's always fun to read a post that contains a line about compassion being an infinite resource AND the phrase 'screw you twice'.

But it highlights a point I think bears making. One of the things that keeps people from doing anything constructive is the overwhelming feeling that it simply isn't enough. And the withering disdain of people like Sansmercy has a similar effect. It freezes people, makes speaking out or lifting a finger awkward and problematic. I can only assume that Sansmercy has spent a lifetime addressing the problems the rest of us are only just now waking up to. But the fact is, whenever a person decides to do something useful -- no matter how late or how little -- that's something useful.

I freely admit that seeing that vid affected me in a way I haven't been in a long while. And I think what sent it over the edge was the idea of the person recording it. Because murderous rage, while inexcusable, is understandable. Casual recording of murderous rage is much more chilling.

There are so many ramifications of this act, and many of them will be polarizing. Race. Religion. Politics. All the non-gender based violence that needs to be addressed. It's all part of the same quagmire. Can't solve it all. Just stake out your piece. My piece will always begin with that simple question: how did women become so universally undervalued and abused? How was it pulled off, and how exactly was it useful?

Thank you guys for letting me vent, and for your responses. Let the debate continue. Maybe with a little less screwing.
Thank you, Joss, for causing everyone to consider this issue -- and its broader ramifications -- for at least a few minutes. If it causes people to take action because you are, well, You, then the world will undoubtedly be a better place, at least in those local areas where we as individuals have some impact. As you say, stake out your piece. Every little bit helps.
By the way: four arrested in Iraq "honour" killing
Doesn't begin to solve this but it's a start.
I love my wife. She has weaknesses, I have weaknesses. We know each other's weaknesses. She has strengths, I have strengths. We know each other's strengths. At no time will I use my strengths to take advantage of her weaknesses. I use my strengths only to help her. She reciprocates fairly. I hope you do, and I hope your wife does.

All I can ever hope is that more married couples start to behave this way, that more societies start to behave this way, that more countries start to behave this way.

[ edited by Flyvote on 2007-05-20 16:48 ]
I totally agree with Joss. What chills me more is that this is not a sole case of people videoing things like this. In Australia recently there have been several incidents of teenage boys raping teenage girls and taping it on their mobile phones and then puting the video on Youtube. What has the world come to where teenage boys think this is acceptable, even funny behavior? it makes me sick. Which is why I am against linking to the video, (thank you Joss for not doing so) becuase I believe these videos affect you much more deeply than we imagine. But it's your own choice whether you want to see it or not personally I prefer not to watch it.
Thanks for posting this, Joss. I've already read about it at different political blogs and saw the story on CNN but I appreciate your bringing it to this site.

And please everyone do whatever you can to try and get Dr Haleh Esfandiari released from her Iranian jail cell.
Earlier, my only response to this post/blog/whatever was “thank you” and yet I feel compelled to say more after perusing through the hundred or so comments that have followed. While it’s unlikely that anyone else will take the time to venture all the way down here in the black, my piece needs to be said just as Joss voiced his own.

We’re so willing to forget. To hide the horror that goes on every single day around the world, constantly. It’s only natural; of course, if we mediated on such pain constantly I’m sure we would go mad. The negative outcome of this, as Joss mentioned in his latest comment, is inaction. The horror of it all freezes us up. Overwhelms us. Convinces us that doing something is no better than doing nothing at all. I think we’re all very aware of the atrocities that take place in every suburb of every city in any country but it does take something as callous and in-your-face as this to really stop us in our tracks. Naivety? Cowardice? Maybe. But instead of calling people out on finally opening their eyes to what’s really taking place behind closed doors or in the middle of the street, congratulate them for taking that first step of awareness. It’s a first step many people will never take, be it through unwillingness or lack of education on the issue.

We, as a people, are suffering. And the worst thing that we can do now is throw up our arms in dismay and try to get on with our lives. If this post persuades just one more person to get out there and help in the push for gender equality, education about domestic violence, etc then it has achieved a great feat. Joss may have lost all faith in humanity, but he’s restored a bit of it in me.

So, thank you once again, Joss. Thank you.
Crypto, the recording of violence on mobile phones is happening here in the UK all the time now. There was one incident quite recently of a bunch of kids beating another boy to the floor whilst being filmed on their mobiles. When a man passing by tried to stop it happening he was the next to be beaten to the floor. All of this became the must-see film at the local school the next day. I believe "happy slapping" is the term used for this kind of thing.

Happy? I think the word may have become a little misunderstood.
While I would never be able to watch this video, and I abhor the torture porn kind of horror movies that are made, I am glad that someone taped this incident if for no other reason that without it, I don't believe any arrests would have been made.
Maybe the next group will think twice about doing something like this.
Like the horrific Rodney King beating, it was appalling to see but without that tape I doubt if any of us would know about it at all.
Xane, that is an excellent point. For many peoople seeing is believing.

If the horrific photos of the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib had not been posted at web sites, printed in newspapers and shown on television, I'm sure many people would have refused to believe American soldiers could behave that way.
Joss said (and it can't be said enough, because I have fallen into this category off and on):

... But it highlights a point I think bears making. One of the things that keeps people from doing anything constructive is the overwhelming feeling that it simply isn't enough.

When things like this happen in another country, I can become as enraged as the Hulk and still feel powerless because what could I do? Get on a plane and go kick some ass? No. I have given money to relief organizations over the years, supported children through those agencies you see on TV, while all the time Equality Now was around, and I could have been doing some good there. I was physically abused and mentally tortured as a child, as was my brother, by our own father, so you'd think I'd turn into an activist the moment I left home.

No, it doesn't happen that way for everyone. It's taken me decades and decades out in the world to finally become so disgusted by man's inhumanity to man that I've started to rail against some things I can rail against in my purview. Did dear old dad hate me, did he think there was something inherently wrong with me? I'll never know. He certainly made me feel that was the case, and all my life I have been shy of any praise, compliment or good thing that's come my way. Mindset seems to be everything and even though I've done a little piddling amount of stuff, I know I can do more.
I read this a few hours ago. Still, I don't know what to say right now other than I'm emotional and Joss has once again eloquently gotten me there.

And this, on the FOUR year anniversary of "Are you ready to be strong?"
We, as men, should not knock women down to unrealistic depths, nor should we build them up to unrealistic heights. We should walk beside them, sharing their nobility and strength, combining it with ours, so that we both might stand tall and truly free.

Thank you, Joss, for your courage and your conviction. We're with you, 100%.
And this, on the FOUR year anniversary of "Are you ready to be strong?"

Oh, wow, you're right.
I agree with the Kurdish official interviewed in the CNN report who said part of a solution is recruiting female police and security officers. There must also be enough woman lawyers, judges, and appointed and elected officials to reach a sort of tipping point.

All well and good, that. But I think the solution is for men to be taught FROM BIRTH that women are not to be treated this way.
They should be taught FROM BIRTH that, birqua or no, women should be respected.
They should be taught FROM BIRTH that there is nothing "wrong" with being a woman.
The problem is that FROM BIRTH they are taught the opposite.
But the thing is, that it is so even here in our so-called "civilized" society.

In our society, there is a sometimes not-so-subtle sexism that is instilled in men...from birth.
It starts with "Hey, you're not goint to put that colour on him are you?" and continues through "Honey, that's a doll. Put it down. It's not for you. Here. Have this toy truck instead." on to "Why are you hanging around with girls...are you gay?" And then it ends with the report I once read where someone aked a sampling of boys what would they'd rather be: a girl...or dead. The results of that sampling almost made me cry.

If you're a boy, you learn that anything that has to do with women or girls is to be avoided at all costs lest you be tarred with the "feminine" brush. That's the last thing you ever want to be: A Girl. (And if you commit the transgretion of really wanting to be a girl or actually being gay, you face the possibility of ending up like Gwen Arujo or Matthew Sheppard. Or Brandon Tina.)

And yes, in our society, we do glamourize brutalizing women. Well, brutalizing anyone, but particularly women in particular ways. In entertainment we've always have had The Damsel In Distress, but now it's ramped up to unbelievable levels and always somehow very much eroticized. A girl stripped to her undies and tied up is somehow titilating. A guy done that to? Humiliating. And you won't see a movie poster of a guy in his tighty-whites all bound and gagged and terrorized. A woman? Hell, yeah. Sell those tickets, baby!

When I came over to Whedonesque it took me a few tries to even get in, which is usually a sign that maybe Joss has stopped by and posted something, so I was all kinds of thrilled.
Then I read his post...and I sit here stunned, angry, sad and heart-sick. I've been sitting here for an hour writing, re-writing and editing this so I don't babble so much. If I've failed, please forgive me, but I had to get some of this out of my brain after reading his post.

Me? I won't watch the video. I don't need to see it, but some people really do. And wait a minute. Aren't the Kurds the people we killed Saddam Hussein over? And this is the kind of shite they do? WTF!?! Please don't get me started on this.

And maybe we don't need to go around telling other people how to be as far as their societies are concerned...whatever...but some things just shouldn't be tolerated: female genital mutilation, child sex trade/slavery, "honor" killing, genocide...these are the ones that came to my mind.

Lastly: Yes, men are brutilized as well...but a lot of these things happen to women because they are women. Not because of their religion. (Sometimes their religion condones these abuses.) Not because of their skin colour/race. (No. Wait. Sometimes it's because of that, too.)
But simply because they are women.
And that's what makes it simply WRONG.

Not wanting to distract from Joss' message which is very powerful and impassioned, but I would be interested to see him make a documentary on this subject.

Simon | May 20, 15:03 CET

I'd like to see this as well. Actually, I'd like to see him do a documentary about his mother, her background, her influence on him, how Equality Now came to be and the work they do.
Joss? What do you say?
Man isn't happy with man, so he takes it out on woman to feel better about himself.
Most of us get so lost in our own lives that what is going on in the rest of the world might as well be happening in another universe. But every once in a while someone comes along and wakes us up. Thank you, Joss, for doing that. When I read the Da Vinci Code I really started to think about how men decided that women were evil and they had to be put in their place. It is unbeleiveable that centuries later it is still the acceptable rule. I know personally how women are made to feel powerless. While I was growing up I was abused regularly by men who were supposed to be my protectors and most of the time I was led to beleive it was my own fault, after all wasn't Eve the cause of all the trouble in the Garden of Eden? Who was I to have a say in anything. Now that I am older I can look back and say no, it was rape. But I still feel powerless. The most important thing I can do is instill a feeling of power in my daughter and make sure she never feels powerless. This is what we have to really thank you for Joss, strong female role models, we need them. I don't know how much I can do to help this cause, but I am giving $25 in the hopes that everyone else will and then maybe we can make a differnce, even if it's just a little.
Giving money to Equality Now. And here's my individual practice of feminism -- I'm a woman -- every time somebody tells me, "Well, as a woman, I'm sure you feel X or you want X," whether it's a man or another woman, I will think about what they're saying. A lot of times, I will truthfully say, "No, I actually don't want X. Just because you are whatever you are, do you want Y?" Everyone is an individual. No one deserves to be beaten to death so that the people doing the beating can feel a little less powerful/embarrassed that the only damn thing they can do that has impact in the universe is injure/kill someone else. Those of us who recognize that this is a bad thing should do whatever we can, even when we feel it's not enough -- it's better than doing nothing. There's a quote I heard from (alert -- on-topic for board!) that I thought was wonderfully, universally applicable, from Nicholas Brendon on the subject of singing and dancing in "Once More, With Feeling": "Anything I do is better than anything I don't do." Same with trying to make the world a little less horrendous for its inhabitants. Some days it takes a post from the Joss to remind us to do something, so right there, Joss has done something. Let's go forth and do likewise. And Joss, for whatever it's worth, I think you're a good person. Whole great hordes of individuals agree on that point :)
Most men (and women) lead lives of quiet desperation, and don't really care. That is why nothing gets done. Work to make it better for all genders at the bottom and eventually it will nonfear will raise through society. But it won't be in your lifetime.
Before I discovered Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Joss' work, I was blind to the violence against women in America and all over the world. The only thing I was completely convinced of at the age of 14 was that I hated myself because I was a woman. I hated everything about it. As a result of the media-influenced culture I grew up in, I was ashamed of my own sex and desperately wished for a hero to come and save me.

And then I found Buffy.
And then I found Joss Whedon.
And then I found Equality Now.
And then I found myself. And I never turned back.

For years I've been trying to convince people that Buffy is real, that the strong, driven and articulate feminist I watched on tv was not a fictional character. When I read the line from Joss' post "Somewhere a long time ago a bunch of men got together", I was brought back to her speech in Chosen and I was reminded that those words were Joss' just as much as they were Buffys'. So for all disbelievers, I am here to say that Buffy is Joss.

I desperately wish I could say that I am shocked and surprised that Dua Khalil's murder has found it's way on to the internet--but I am not. I feel both blessed and cursed to be as jaded as I am at the age of 18. I said before that I was not surprised by what's going on in the world. But it breaks my heart nevertheless. Yet every time I cry for these children and women I am left with an even greater determination to set the world right.

You are not alone Joss. You spoke up when so many people didn't and have forced us to open our eyes to the world around us. I know how it feels to be alone, and knowing that you have the power to affect so many people with your writing gives me hope to do the same.

The sky isn't evil. It's a gift. And no one can take that away from me. So thanks for the reminder.
"But it won't be in your lifetime."

There's a wonderful proverb that goes something along the lines of, "It matters not that we will not live to eat the fruit. Still we must plant the trees."

I like that. Let's dig.
I'm not terribly eloquent so I'll just say that I agree totally with debw and sansmercy.

Joss Unfortunately sansmercy has been banned and SHE is not now permitted to respond to your post. I'm sure the irony will not be lost on you. Although I believe the point of her post was. Take a deep cleansing breath and re-read it, if you'd be so kind.

As debw said there is nothing wrong with women and to suggest that there is is patronising.

I grew up with great role models of both genders who loved and cared and more importantly respected each other. Each and every day I am a reflection of them and each and every day I challenge sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, you name it. I don't need to watch a human being's death to inspire me to try and change how things are and I'm suprised Joss that you would. Very suprised.

And saddened. "I have never had any faith in humanity." Very saddened. Humanity might be pretty crap on occasion. On lots of occassions, but we're all we've got and if we don't heal ourselves no-one else will. It wont be done in a year, 10 years, 100 years. There is no quick fix, no "War on...." to help. You can only fight ignorance with education.
I don't need to watch a human being's death to inspire me to try and change how things are and I'm suprised Joss that you would.

This, of course, is not what happened here. If it were, then the run of Joss' work up to this point would not exist at all.
The impression his post gave to me is that that was the case. YMMV.
Relevant here perhaps is this article on an art exhibit in Washington State. It came up on the PDX Browncoats boards a few days ago.
I have great faith in humanity.

I'm 47 and grew up in south Mississippi. When I began elementary school, desegregation was still a very new thing. Tensions were very high. There is still racism in my home state but things are much, much better.

And here's a personal story I'll share about things changing for the good. My great-grandmother's second husband was half-Black. She was 100% white. He was light-skinned enough to pass and after they married they left the place where they met and fell in love and moved to the Gulf Coast. The entire time they were married they were breaking the law and risking everything. He helped raise my great-granny's children from her first marriage. They didn't dare have children of their own, in case the child was darker than he was.

Now when my niece brings her own daughter, who is half African-American, to visit Mississippi from Tennessee where she lives, no one thinks a thing about it. My grandniece is totally accepted.

So, despite the darkness that is around us, despite the atrocities that fill the news, I still have hope for a better world.

My wine glass is always half full.
Joss never posted a link to the video, it's for Equality Now.
And although I don't agree with some of the more controversial posters in this thread, I do not feel it is appropriate to ban them from posting again. Obviously, I don't run the site, but I am a part of this community. Shutting down other peoples' voices just seems counter to what we're about here.
Hi, escapist_dream and all. I just wanted to say, yes, we are still reading, please keep posting.

I appreciate all the thoughtful comments and commentary (and then there are the not-so-thoughtful ones). They've afforded me an opportunity to think and learn a lot about the issues being discussed. It all leaves me with little to say that hasn't already been said better.

CapB, people don't get banned for their opinions here. They get banned for violating posting rules, such as about insulting/disrespecting people.
CaptainB I don't know if you were referencing me, but I know Joss didn't post the video. Just wanted to clarify that. And I want to thank you for your comments. This is an emotive subject and to dismiss people's opinions is ultimately counter-productive. {{{hugs}}}

Reddygirl Thanks for your story. It's terrible that your great-grandparents had to endure that. But it's great that things have changed for the better.
We're having a discussion about all of this over in Browncoats chat, and have gotten to that point where the ludicrous hypocrisy of it sets in. Some cultures make women cover up, and why? Because women are sinful and their sin might overpower the men and ruin them.

No one ever asks, "Doesn't that make the MEN weak dumbasses?"

Mythologically, we blame Eve for taking the apple, but Adam gets away with being able to just blame Eve for MAKING him take the apple. He has no responsibility for his own lack of control.

Not to go all Buffy Season 7 again, but it's about power. And, typically, when one group of people takes power for themselves at the expense of other people, it's usually because that group of people can't figure out how to not be weak all by themselves.

In an odd way, such systems degrade both women AND men. While the pain, suffering, and violence gets directed at the women, it inherently states (although perhaps never quite out loud) that men are too weak to control themselves.

These systems aren't just anti-women, they are anti-human.
And this, on the FOUR year anniversary of "Are you ready to be strong?"

I bolded that, as -- well -- I doubt it's intentional.

"I have never had any faith in humanity."

This comment has caused a lot of debate, mostly elsewhere. I don't know what Joss' intentions are with that one, but I can say mine: I don't, either. I have faith in people I know. We live in a world where something like 70% of the world's population doesn't have any sort of money, economy, basic services etc. Where there's genocide going on in Sudan on a massive scale, and as been for years. And where most people do... nothing. The world has simply ignored Sudan. 400,000 people have been killed in Sudan. Right here, right now, planet earth. It's hard for me to have faith in humanity when Sanja's a bigger story.
Sansmercy didn't get banned for having a different opinion. She got a time out for being rude and aggressive about it, having already been warned once. That's not the way we talk to each other here, as most people who stick around this place know. They also know we do not discuss moderating policies on site.
"Are you ready to be strong?"

Little side issue of mine here, but. The potentials in the room were given the choice. The ones around the world were not. So much for women's rights, huh.

Sadly gossi if Sudan had oil we'd have been in there exploiting....sorry....helping them establish democracy years ago.

Just cos I have faith in humanity doesn't mean I'm not cynical. ;0)
I'm a bit too stunned to make any sensible, muchless eloquent comment. But I do want to say that while I'm sure all of us abhor discrimination, senseless violence, and many of the various "ism"'s, we DO need reminding once in awhile. Not because we don't care, but because we are all plodding along mired in our own issues, overwhelmed with our own lives sometimes. Statements like the one Joss just made need to be made again and again to rip us from our own blighted individual universes to call us to action. And after the dust has settled and we return to our routines, we will need another reminder.

So, thank you, Joss for the reminder, the call to action, and for providing practical and simple ways that we can all do something meaningful. And thank you for choosing women as your cause. Your passion on this subject is truly inspirational.

And MySerenity, your post really touched my heart.
re: faith in humanity. I recently witnessed a sad dispute at a family event (nothing tragic). It made me think about how selfish, petty and weak people can be. There are times that bring out the best in people. I think of 9/11, when New Yorkers showed their true colors, all coming to each other's aid. People all over the country and world were astounded that they (we) had it in them (us). It was a moment that gave us an insight into the greatest strengths of humanity. But at this family event, I saw in a flash that the polar opposite exists in us as well. Even people I love showed their basest weaknesses in a stark, undeniable way.

We have both sides in us. I'm not sure what dictates which prevails at any given time. I'm not sure if that should engender faith, but I suppose the evidence of our potential for good should at least allow for hope.
I wasn't going to post in this thread. Everything that needed to be said I think has been. Except for one obvious point.

We are not all like that. Men I mean. Yes there are some horrible men out there, but there are also horrible women. There are just a lot of horrible people out there. Doesn't mean we are all like that.

I've seen a lot of posts along the lines of 'Men do x y and z to women, and are all horrible because of it'. And yes horrible things do happen - I really wish they didnt , but they do. But all men are not like that. Of all my male friends, I can honestly say there is not one that would hurt a women, never mind another human being. We all have our offdays where we may feel hate - sure, but I think the majority of the human race are not that extreme.

It is horrible what happened to that girl and it sickens me. But please please do not paint all men with the same brush.

Also re:faith in humanity. I find it interesting that Joss said that, considering what many of Angels central themes were. Yes there are time I think humanity is horrible. But then I just think of what Angel said in Epiphany:

" If...nothing we do matters...then all that matters is what we do"
As I read it, Joss's anger is in particular against those subhumans who film violence and share it as a form of pornography. What happened to the girl was beyond ghastly, but what is also atrocious is that people will choose to film such things and to watch them as entertainment. The presentation of fictional versions of similar violence is equally repugnant, and that is a feature of the so-called civilised Western media. Nobody, anywhere, has any right to criticise other cultures as "lesser" as long as this is the case.

I'm a woman, and I don't feel patronised by Joss's posts; nor do I for one moment feel this is all news to him. He saw this foulness and felt impelled by it to point out that we can make a difference, each in our way. That's the message of Buffy, Angel and Firefly isn't it?

Keep fighting the fight, Boss. You are a good person.
JuliaL wrote:

As debw said there is nothing wrong with women and to suggest that there is is patronising.

I don't think Joss was saying that there was indeed something wrong with women. In the way I read that passage, he was saying there was nothing wrong with women. He was just getting at that point through what I like to call "the back door." Also, just because someone has little or no faith in humanity, it doesn't mean they can't expect better or be shocked from time to time.
Did I say Joss?

I'm not going to keep coming back to defend myself. I don't think Joss needs the help either.

I'll sign off this thread now with......

" If...nothing we do matters...then all that matters is what we do"
angeliclestat | May 20, 19:05 CET

I've often wonder why these things happen. I just don't understand it, and I honestly don't know if I ever will. MySerenity, I echo Salty...wonderful post.

Today is my 7 year anniversary to my dear husband. It makes me happy to be with such a wonderful man who supports me, is behind all my efforts for Equality Now, would do anthing for me and our son....if only all men all around the world could appreciate women. Like I said, I don't understand it. I have no words of wisdon other than I just don't get it. I guess that is why Equality Now is so important. They make small steps so often that will become huge achievments (working with the UN, getting bill passed in Congress, spreading the word).

Xane and Reddygirl...I completely agree. I could never watch this, but I'm glad someone is. Unfortunately seeing is believing. Visuals of a horrific event like this is what is shown on TV, and it does get people talking.

Thank you, Joss, for getting us talking. I try and watch the news and be in tuned with the world, but this was last month and both hubby and I didn't know anything about it. We get so wrapped up with our lives...but it is extremely important that we are aware of these injustices.
A few hours ago, I told myself I wasn't about to step foot in here. Too many emotions and thoughts. Then, I started reading the comments...whoa! Excellent! Everyone.

So, what now? Should we take this knowledge and put it to purpose or sit on our thumbs?
Well Madhatter - I might sound pretty sad for saying this but I dont care. I actually learned a lot from 'Angel' and I try to put it into action every day of my life. Somepeople take their moral lessons from the Bible. I take it from Angel lol.

I do try to do the small things that make a difference. Sometimes I fail, but all I do then is think of the central message of Angel - and I get up and I try again. And isnt that the point of being alive. We fail - we see horrible things being done and we stand by and do nothing. But then every so often we try our best to make a difference. Whether its on a huge global scale, or if it is just helping a neighbour or simply beiong frickin nice to people on a daily basis.

I kinda have faith in humanity. And I get that from Angel too...
I read about this a couple of days ago. I know it happens all the time (albeit without camera phones), but I'm speechless. Which I shouldn't be. I should speak. I should scream. But when I open my mouth, all that comes out is cursewords.
Thank you for speaking, for saying the things that need to be said.
I don't know what else to say. F¤&£ing s#!t.

I'm gonna do some writing now.
JuliaL, I didn't write my comment with any malicious intent. I refrain from being rude or sarcastic online just because it's so often misunderstood. I really am sorry if you feel like you have to defend yourself on this board. I actually agreed with debw's comments, where they came from because I'm coming from a similar place (i.e. this being an issue of humanism, not wholly feminism). Considering this is a post written by Joss, I read most of the comments as being directly addressed to him and his ideas (unless they are addressed to a specific poster like this one). I was just sharing my interpretation of a section that I felt could be easily glanced over and misunderstood.

Okay, now back to the real issue.
I had a whole lot to say. Considering the amount of words exchanged here today, I'll delete the monstrous post and just say the one thing my parents made sure I knew: The only pointless thing we do is nothing. Anything, no matter how small, is better than nothing.
What is wrong with women?

I mean wrong. Physically. Spiritually. Something unnatural, something destructive, something that needs to be corrected.

How did more than half the people in the world come out incorrectly?

That bit of Joss' post made me see red!

I'm editing this to make it clear that I did not miss the context or the tome in which Joss made this remark but to me it came over as patronising.

The assumption that women need special protection still strikes me as archaic

An equal society protects everyone equally .

I've been thinking about it on and off all day and getting crosser and crosser

It seems to insult and belittle my gender under the guise of being supportive.

And I will not be apologizing for that.

I repeat what I said earlier

There is nothing wrong with women

we need no man to speak for us, to correct us

We have voices of our own.

We are equal.

Not goddesses, not the weaker sex in need of male protection, not keepers of some mythical sacred womb but ordinary, fallible human beings.

Check out Netflix if you want documentaries made by women from areas where free speech is an issue.

Check your library for books

read the news

Women's voices are out there, they are loud, they are changing things.

They are strong enough to be heard without the need for male Western filters or male film makers .

They just need people to check them out and pay attention to their message.

Women are are not physically, spiritually or morally incorrect or self destructive

We are people, different but equal

Many societies have many evils . And that includes our own countries .

We live in flawed societies and that is where we need to start

When our own backyards are clear of racism, sexism , homophobia and intolerance and of casual violence we can point the finger at other cultures.

Until then the hypocrisy should shame us!

It's far too easy for casual racism to creep into these discussions and for us to say " oh our society wouldn't behave like that!

Take a look at your prison populations and your poverty and deprivation indices and your gun crime and murder rates and then see if you still feel more civilised than the rest of the world.

And then do as a certain poster who has now been given time out does every day of her life

Get out there and challenge injustice in whatever way you can

I'm not a fan of Chris Rea but when it comes to filming atrocities he had the right idea " You can tell us, we don't need to see, we don't need your cheap effects"

Insist that your news channels give you more than trite soundbites and cheap thrills.

Buy papers that give you the news from around the world and not just from the perspective of your nation.

I'm frankly amazed that intelligent people can not have realised that horrible things go on all over the world every day

But I agree totally that at whatever point your eyes get opened that's a good thing and you should act on it.

Think globally

act locally

Compassion is indeed an infinate resource and it can change things.

And open debate is a great place to start

and yes I know this comes over as polemic and as a rant but it's how I feel.

[ edited by debw on 2007-05-20 20:18 ]
I may be wrong but I think that the whole 'What is wrong with women' thing was written in irony. In the sense of 'Of course there is nothing wrong with women - but how did it happen over a millennia or two that such a thing has come to be believed and supported'

That is the way I took it anyway.
debw, I believe you missed the point by a country mile. Joss wasn't asking that of us, he was asking that of the people who believe it such an insane thing. Joss himself does not believe it, nor does he expect civilized people believe it.

That was kinda the point of the whole thing.
Madhatter said:
So, what now? Should we take this knowledge and put it to purpose or sit on our thumbs?

I've been thinking about the "what now?" since I read this post earlier today. My first impulse is to educate myself on this issue. I've heard of honor killings before. I've heard about many of the horrific things that happen around the world and in this country, but I usually stop at the "what now?" Lately, and maybe having a lot of activist-y friends and adding Women's Studies as a second major has something to do with it, I don't want to stop at that question and go about my daily routine. On the small scale, I'm planning to read and educate myself on this topic and I'll probably make a zine. Would it be okay if I include Joss's words on this topic in my zine? Anyway that's my first impulse, and it's a small one that probably won't extend very far beyond my circle of zine-trading buddies. My second impulse is to write letters. That's all I've got for now.
Yeah debw, you missed the point there entirely.

And as for this:

we need no man to speak for us

What we need is for everyone, man or woman, to help speak for anyone who isn't being heard, or to help them have access to the ways for them to be heard themselves.

On that count, it isn't about whether the speaker is man or woman, or who is being spoken about is man or woman. It's about the speaking when there's isn't enough of it.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2007-05-20 20:09 ]
Joss and all you people are all so smart. and also depressing. but you kinda make me hopeful too, so I'm gonna go look at the sky, and think real deep, and to do some thing constructive with all this.
debw, thanks for your thoughts. I will think on and learn from them as I have from others. But I hope after a little extra time you'll read Joss' statement differently. He would never say something is wrong with women. His education and career show that over and over.
Joss and all you people are all so smart. and also depressing. but you kinda make me hopeful too, so I'm gonna go look at the sky, and think real deep, and to do some thing constructive with all this.
I just edited my last post to make it clearer ( I hope) that I did indeed understand the ironic context in which Joss was using his words about women but that nevertheless I found his reasoning flawed.

Apologies for not being clear in the first place
Oh, my god, Joss. This post moved me to tears.

I'm a seventeen year old girl who will be attending your alma mater next year (go Wes!). Point being, as a seventeen year old girl, sometimes I am unspeakably frustrated at how miniscule a ripple I make in this world with my futile livejournal-based outbursts about the way society ought to be and the horrific inequities that exist among human beings. I want more than anything else in the world to be able to make a difference. I will take your advice. I am going to do something. I don't have money but I have time and a mind and I will put it to use as much as I can and I will not stop.

I admire you probably more than most people alive today. You inspire and strengthen me so much.. I hardly have words that adequately ellicit these sentiments. So.. thank you. Just.. thank you so much. Thank you for asking this of us and for using every means you can to do what matters. So few people use all of the resources at hand. So few people in positions to make real change using whatever medium they happen to exert influence over ever do. Not enough, at least. And you.. you always do. You have never disappointed me in your unending efforts to raise awareness.

Your endeavor is heroic and on behalf of the world, thanks. I hope to one day be able to do as much as you do to promote equality.

It just makes me so unhappy that posts like this are so few and far between outside of feminist media outlets (which carry their own unfortunate stigma that hinders their influence). I dream of a world where you don't have to look so hard to find opinions like this being voiced. It ISN'T understood, like so many people think.. ahh, I'm going to ramble off so I'll stop now before I begin to be incoherent. But, yeah, thank you again, Joss. Really. You are a hero to me.

[ edited by starbursting on 2007-05-28 23:24 ]
angeliclestat, no you are not wrong. I read it the same way and even attempted to say so in my first post, but you said it much better. That being said, even though there's a misinterpretation of the "what's wrong with women?" question, I think debw's post has a lot to offer in the suggestions of how to act and educate ourselves and others. I never thought that women weren't doing important things in the world. Women have always done important things for issues that are near and dear to my heart (and so have men...I don't want to slight the men because that would be an insult to all the men I saw at the last women's rights march), and just because they don't say so it doesn't mean that Joss or anyone else on this board was entirely clueless and in the dark about the atrocities of the world before Joss became inspired enough to post a little rant about something that got under his skin and made him snap. Someone posted earlier that they've had many snaps, and so have I. There's always an event, a documentary, video footage recorded on someone's cellphone to remind me. I don't know why I forget, but I know I'm sick of remembering and the only thing I can think of to do is to get involved and do something more than what I've done in the past.
Callin'it a night. Need beddybye. Night all!
To paraphrase one on my all-time heroes, Betty Friedan, men are not the enemy, they are our fellow victims.

I'll admit sometimes I to think Joss doesn't always get feminism, that sometimes he puts women on a pedastal, which is just as bad as holding us down. That his defense of women veers into malebashing territory occasionally.

The genocide going on in Darfur. The child armies of Uganda. The American gun culture that glorifies violence. These are all issues that need to be constantly thrust in the faces of the world's citizens.

As does the stoning the stoning of Dua Khalil.
How can anyone ever think something like killing somebody would be sanctioned by whatever version of God they believe in? I feel sick.

I teach college. My students are sometimes amazingly compassionate human beings, and many of them really do give me some hope for the future. Others, though... let's just say I've had a wide cross-section of students from a variety of places, economic levels, races, religions, and ideologies who have scared me terribly, including one who wrote a terrifying little essay for a creative writing assignment involving a student who looked a lot like himself graphically torturing and then burning alive a young woman who looked a lot like me, who, as usual, died screaming, "I'm sorry." (For the record, I reported him to the proper campus authorities... who did almost nothing.)

Mysogyny is still very present. Thanks for reminding us of this.
But Joss! The screwing is the FUN part of gender-differences (and gender sameness)!! ;-)

What?!?! I'd rather lighten the mood than burden the room with my musings on the subject. Many of you have said, one hundred times more eloquently, what I would have. But I have to add that...

A little more screwing and a little less killing and the world would be a happier place. :-)
I find Equality Now to be slightly ironic. By singling out women, instead of using a unifying word such as ‘human,’ they instantly distinguish women as something special and different. That’s not exactly demonstrating equality. Comments like “Women are tougher” and “Men have womb envy” imply that we are not equal after all. I don’t really like the phrase, “Stop violence against women” because it implies that violence against men is okay.

debw said:

We need to be outraged but not because the victim in this case was a woman but because she was a human being.

I agree.
As a general principle that's true, Succatash. But the point is that if violence against women is endemic, somewhat unique, and perhaps out of proportion, some of the responses need to be specific to that.

Much of the violence directed against women is directed at them BECAUSE THEY ARE WOMEN.

And so it's not out of line for responses to that particular kind of violence to call attention to that fact. It's not just the violence itself that's at issue, it's the motivation for it.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2007-05-20 21:21 ]
You have evolved far beyond most, Mr. Joss.
I definitely agree there is violence against women specifically because of their gender.

But there is violence against all humanity at the moment due to the color of their skin, their sexual orientation or their religious sect.

Gay men have been publicly executed in some countries. Their deaths are no less deplorable and shocking than the ritual stoning of women.

I'm not saying anyone here believes that what happens to women is more important than all the other violence being directed towards humanity. But, I do see Deb's point.

And despite everything I read and hear on a daily basis, I still remain an optomist about the future of the human race.
I have read both of Joss's posts and each and every comment in this thread and through my tears have been thankful for many things: that there as so many thoughtful and caring people in this world as shown in this community, many of whom are already doing their part, and many for which this incident is a call to arms; that for the second year, I am organising the "Serenity Now/Equality Now" charity screening in my city - and this is one of the main reasons why; that we are fortunate to be living in a time where the world is changing rapidly and we can effect change. Sometimes it just takes one person to galvanize a whole movement - and if, for some of us, that is Joss, more power to him.

Based on his work and his words, I don't for one moment think that this horrendous action was the first time Joss was aware of violence against women. Joss has been talking (and I'm sure doing more than talking) about women's issues - and Equality Now - for many years. If the discussion here today has opened someone's eyes or spurred them to action, then I say good and am not going to critise anyone because they haven't done so before. Not only would it be judgemental of me, but I know that I haven't done as much as I could have - or as much as my (very strong) mother brought me up to have done.

Acts of violence against women, against gays, against people of race, against children, against anyone who is different or perceived to be weaker, are all too frequent in all parts of the world. I live in the third largest city in Canada and we have had several so-called 'honour' killings take place here. The ones that have occurred in another culture have been identified as such, but a lot of domestic violence is done in the name of 'honour', as someone said above.

We all need to do our part to end the violence and discrimination against all people in the world. Whether you choose to do that by contributing money or time to Equality Now or a local charity, by your work or by your art, or by raising your children in such a way that they will not be part of the violence doesn't matter. It's that we do something that does.
samawitch, great post.

Recently we learned that women in the US doing the same jobs as men, having attended the same colleges as men, often earn less money. Of course this fact dwindles in importance next to the horrors of what women (and men)suffer because of their gender/sexuality/etc in many places, but I think part of sansmercy's anger at Joss was he/she perceived Joss was ignoring what goes on in his own backyard. And of course the easy availability of guns and the worship of violence in the US means women here are more at risk than females in other Western countries. I don't think Joss is ignoring these realities and shutting his eyes to what goes on in the US, it's just that Dua's death moved him to post the account of her murder and how it was captured for posterity and plastered all over the web.
Thank you, samawitch. You took the words right out of my mouth.
Thanks Joss, for showing me news I would've otherwise missed.

I can't help but think you've been inspired in some new way.

Thank you, thank you, Joss, for being you.
I wasn't going to post on this thread, nor was I going to view the report linked but reading the comments compelled me to.

I was appalled and sickened in so many ways, and I don't even have the words to express myself. I don't know what was worse, the men beating her or the ones shouting, filming it or just standing around and letting it happen.

I'm the first to admit I'm an opptimist, but watching that makes me understand why Joss said he didn't have much faith in humanity.
With so many issues available to care about, and so little time to actually do anything about any one of them, it's hard to blame people for apathy on issues which are so far removed from their lives.

All due respect, but that is such a dangerous attitude, and it's exactly the reason that change is so slow coming. As a woman who has had it pretty easy in life, I feel that it is my responsibility to try and make things better for those who haven't. If this life is all we have, then we're all in it together, whether or not we ever stand face to face.

I also think that a lot of people are missing the point of "womb envy" because they're getting stuck on the term itself. I'm not a fan of the term either, and I don't think it really illustrates what Joss is getting at. The point is, on a very primitive level, that women's bodies, be it in strength, size, intelligence, ability, biological function or sexuality, are not respected. Maybe it's because men are in general bigger and stronger and didn't have to waste their time in the cave tending to the kids, so they puffed up their chests and beat things over the head to drag home for dinner, and decided they were superior for it. Add thousands of years, complicate matters with economics, religion and education, and we haven't come that far. Sure, we defend ourselves now and demand change, but on that very primitive level, people are still asking Joss why he writes strong women and yelling "nice tits" or "suck this, baby" at me from their car windows.
I doubt we'd ever be able to completely get rid of the movement, but as women become more and more equal, there will be fewer battles to fight.

Why talk in terms of feminism as something that we need to "get rid of?" Clearly it is something that is needed, and will be as long as human beings are determined to degrade and defile (and sacrifice, and beat to death) women because they are women.

We see mysogyny proudly paraded around on television in all sorts of ways. The CW (Castrates Women) has eliminated all shows that portray women as intelligent, strong, independent people, in favor of shows such as that Pussycat Doll crap and America's Next Top Anorectic. Maybe it's nothing compared to what happened to Dua Khalil, but it's part of a continuum of mistreatment and degradation of women.
Wasn't going to post this, because I didn't want to turn this thread into a soap box, but what the heck, this seems as good as a soap box as any.

Joss brings up some very powerful imagery and issues. But I don't think it is as simple as womb envy or the size discrepancy between men and women. It's about power, education, and right to self-autonomy to name a few of the many factors. And it happens every day in this country just as it does in the third world.

Nearly one third of US women will report being physically or sexually abused by their domestic partner during some point in their lives. Four women die each day in the US at the hands of an intimate partner. We've done such a wonderful job eradicating infection and disease that homicide now ranks as the number one cause of death of pregnant and postparturm women in the United States. In fact, a woman is at greatest risk of murder while she is pregnant.

Violence against women is not considered a federally recognized hate crime (though there have been recent attempts to put forth a bill in the House of Representatives to label it so--and that has been threatened to be vetoed, go figure.) But there is plenty of legislation to limit a woman's access to reproductive health. So that womb that some envy, there's plenty of law in place to make sure a woman doesn't have sovereignty over it.

It's about basic human rights that should be afforded to all people regardless or race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation and gender. There's nothing wrong with one half of humanity. But what is wrong is how this stereotype is perpetuated and, as in the case of YouTube or the CNN clip, minimized and labeled "entertainment." We live in a society where women are minimized as "bitches" and "hos" quite frequently in the media.

Perhaps it is time to move beyond the "fourth anniversary" of a quotation and put that energy into action. Nostalgia only goes so far. Take Joss' challenge seriously. There is a lot each of us could do on a local level. Write members of Congress urging them to support legislation that protects - not restricts - women's rights, volunteer or donate to a local women's shelter, mentor a child to help end the cycle of violence. There is nothing wrong with half of humanity, but what is wrong is the indifference society seems have adopted on this not-so secret underbelly of the human experience.

[ edited by kellyhk on 2007-05-20 22:38 ]
This post was incredibly thought provoking for me.
Having Turkish origins, I am aware that this stuff happens in Turkey too, luckily not to anyone I know. It's disgusting and it's incredibly ludicrous that killing your own sister or daughter would clear your family of shame. So no shame in murder? Where's the logic. Where's the compassion?
I understand that a lot of people posting have commented that violence against anyone is wrong and we shouldn't be focussing on women. That is very true. Of course, it's true.
But come on, after witnessing video footage of a young girl getting beaten to death by her family (which I can't bring myself to watch), you can understand why Joss focused on women for this post.

I read through this post quite a few times, getting more and more angry that people in the world (men and women) think it makes sense to do this. Then my heart breaks when I think of the mothers who don't get to have a say. Who can't speak out to save their daughter. But then I get angry and think if they think it's wrong they should risk their own lives to save their flesh and blood. But the sad thing is, maybe they don't think it's wrong. In Turkey, they call these rules "töre" which translates to "accepted practice" - WHY?

After reading the post a few times, I felt inspired to translate it to Turkish (which took me, like, 2 hours - my Turkish isn't amazing so I used a dictionary) and printed it out to give to my family. Especially to my cousin's wife. Married just 2 years ago, originally from a more religious part of Istanbul. It was arranged and it's obvious why she was selected. They picked a girl from Turkey rather than here in the UK because they know that they can't control girls here. They picked one of the nicest, most patient people I have ever met and they are slowly beating her down emotionally. She confides in me and I wish I could do more to help her out but she has resigned to the fact that she will always be treated like a maid. Don't get me wrong, they aren't evil. I would not stand for that. It's subtle heartbreaking things they say or do or don't do that wears her down.
After translating it and reading it back, I felt really passionately about what was written. And maybe my cousin's wife is not in such a dangerous extreme as Dua Khalil (who my prayers are with) but she deserves to feel equal and I'm going to help her in any way I can. I've been lucky enough to be born and raised somewhere where no one has made me feel like I was less of a person.

Thank you, Joss, for your amazing post.
Joss, thank you so much.

I have no smart analysis to type here, because I've always felt overwhelmed and powerless against this. By talking about it this way, you do restore some kind of faith in me.
Great post, Kelly.

It's very angering that often the same politicians who want to impose a waiting period before a woman has an abortion violently oppose a waiting period for buying a gun.
Joss, thank you for your post. I don’t think there will be any quibbling over your using this blog as your own.

It has been mentioned in this discussion that “womb-envy” is not the real problem.

It is.

It is the essence of the Selfish Gene being selfish. Women have control of their partner and the choice of producing progeny. Men have to hope someone will want to carry their child and then trust that the resulting child is truly their own and not the offspring of a rival. In the crudest most animalistic sense, rape and violence assures this as do patriarchal societies that oppress women and condone murdering them if they “dishonor” the family.

That’s the underlying mechanism to all this, I believe. This doesn’t make it excusable under any circumstances and makes it even more intolerable given our supposedly enlightened civilization.

And religion is a huge part of this. How can males raised with doctrines subjugating women be expected to do anything else but think of women as inferiors?

Right thinking men (I do mean the male gender) need to act with intolerance to any such acts against woman. Women are responded to with the simple epithet “bitch” and disregarded by those buttheads so other males need to take these bastards to task just to get them to listen.

I <3 Joss...

[ edited by madmutts on 2007-05-23 07:39 ]
Well, samatwitch, I was gonna say a whole long thing - which you just said, and said very well. And then I was gonna tell a story of my own familiarity with male violence - from my father's beatings as a child to my rape in a bar bathroom in my twenties.

All of that would be to say - what? That I understand something about male violence? Well, maybe - but you can be hurt and have no understanding of why. To say that my culture contains the misogyny and violence that other cultures do? Well, yes - does anyone doubt it? There are degrees, and my streets are not in flames or roiled by war, but sometimes I think that is as much a result of accident as anything else.

Do I think violence against women is somehow a worse crime of humanity than that perpetrated against someone else? No, no, of course not. But it is almost wilfully blind not to recognize who is in power, who perpetrates the most violence against whom, who it is directed against, and to try and understand why that is.

For I'm certain sure of this as I am of nothing else - we haven't a prayer of stopping it or evolving beyound it if we don't somehow learn to see it and get it, recognize it within ourselves, forgive it - yes, forgive it - all the while doing our best not to manifest it ourselves and to stop it anywhere we can.

I have never given up on humanity - and granted, my own experience notwithstanding, I still have lived a very privileged, protected life, compared to most of the world - but sometimes I have gotten very... tired. Nevermoreso as when I have to hear things like "sod feminism" or "get a sense of humour" or "feminism is so over". It's not over 'til it's over, and it's clearly not - we have the painful evidence digitally recorded - if we needed that. Sometimes it's important to be reminded...

I will be a feminist until the day I die - which is not to say that I'm not a humanist, a respecter of all life, including animals - a fiercely protective person to anyone and anything abused by power. But surely one must understand that this gender inequity persists in humanity, and that it expresses itself from the subtlest joke to Dua Khalil's murder.

Not coincidentally, one of the things that has given me the greatest hope has been the creation and popularity of Buffy. I know it's fiction - which is, by the way, part of our crucial and defining mythologies - and I know it was limited in its reach - but it was popular culture and it has clearly had an important impact.

Nothing has ever hit me quite like the way "Are you ready to be strong?" and the young girl raised her hand to stop her father hitting her - that was me, thirty-five years ago, actually raising my hand against my own father, and that was the first time I had seen my face on TV.
QuoterGal, my girlfriend picked that moment out of Chosen, as it happens. As I've said before -- and yes, I'm aware this makes me sad -- I grew up with Buffy. Those characters were my weekly BBC friends, and very much helped shape my view of the world, going through being a teenager.

Also, I've registered Not figured out what to do with it yet. I was thinking of pointing it at the Captivity website.
I had a notion. Then a thought, followed by an opinion and now, a conviction: Mrs. Pointy, who spent her too-brief adult life as a human rights worker, would love this as the best Joss-post ever. Thus, I am "awesomed."

Even people who care about every kind of human rights abuse in every country of the world are moved by what they learn about a particular person's suffering. If we weren't moved by individual stories, we wouldn't be human. And we probably wouldn't hang out here. just raised $332 with a signed comic book.
The eBay auction of the Kaylee print, signed by artist Jo Chen, Jewel Staite and Joss Whedon raised $332 for Equality Now.

And it also say attendees at the Glastonbury Festival Serenity screening will be able to donate to Equality Now if they choose.

The goal the June 2007 Serenity Charity Screenings is to raise $100,000 for Equality Now.
All due respect, but that is such a dangerous attitude, and it's exactly the reason that change is so slow coming. As a woman who has had it pretty easy in life, I feel that it is my responsibility to try and make things better for those who haven't. If this life is all we have, then we're all in it together, whether or not we ever stand face to face.

It's the truth, I don't have the money to donate, or the time to do anything actually worthwhile, I have my own issues, and I have to take care of myself at this moment. These doctors are probably the same. It's much easier to be active in non-essential groups when you have a stable income, etc. Like I've said above, I participated heavily in movements against child/slave labor in the past, and it's a lot of work, some people really don't have the time or want to spend their time off work dealing with those issues. And to say that they have a personal responsibility that they're neglecting accuses them of being lazy. Besides, who will give me my next iPod? We need people dedicated to developing portable music players as well.

I think as a civilized group of people there is a responsibility to help others, but that doesn't mean that everyone is personally responsible, especially since it ignores what's really important to them, themselves. The better thing to say is that while they don't have the resources, or even care at the moment, they should think about these issues, and think about contributing in the future.

I used to think everyone who didn't care about my issues were ignoring an obvious injustice to people, but then I came to the conclusion that everything we do is for ourselves. Even when we help other people, we do so to feel good about ourselves, or to alleviate a sense of guilt, to make us feel less-bad. Once I understood this, I realized that it's hard to make someone truly feel badly about an issue that doesn't directly, personally affect them. I don't know how to artificially implant those feelings so the best I can do is give them information in a non-confronting way, and wait for it to happen, if it ever does. I stopped blaming them. Show them the same photos, tell them the same stories a year from now, and you might get a different response, and you may not.

Some people will always reject what you say, and that's okay. It won't help any to yell how ignorant some people are, let those people go, and focus on those that might listen.

Why talk in terms of feminism as something that we need to "get rid of?" Clearly it is something that is needed, and will be as long as human beings are determined to degrade and defile (and sacrifice, and beat to death) women because they are women.

I love to approach issues from a different angle and think about them. It's the logical conclusion that feminist groups will be less required when there's less sexism. True equality means never having to say that you're equal, and that's my personal utopia.

Look at labor unions. There was a time when they were extremely necessary as the treatment of workers in industrial countries was atrocious. As we've evolved, we no longer need these groups as much as we once did. Often times, workers resent the unions because they take dues, and provide only political propaganda in return (I have experience with the UAW, united auto workers).
I am completely overwhelmed by all of this. I first read Joss' post 6 hours ago curled up on the couch watching my two daughters 4 and 6 playing camp out on the living room floor. I thought how on earth could I even start to explain to them how grossly cruel and irrationaly judgmental the human race chooses to be. I imagine the world will only seem smaller than is it now by the time they are old enough to digest even a part of this issue; how will we be able to stare their generation in the eye and explain what we did to stop the violence and degradation of women, in particular and humanity in general.

Discussing these issues is critical and I couldn't be more universally impressed by the level of intelligence and humanity that the majority of the people here have been able to articulate. If ever a group had the means to make a difference we can. If you aren't already involved in your local Can't Stop the Serenity, please get involved! We already have an avenue to bring more attention to the huge gap in human rights and provide people with access to an organization that is already set up to help those women most in need. We don't need to create a movement - we just need to back a quality organization that already puts their values into action. I know I am minutes away from ordering multiple t-shirts, posters and whatever other promo material from Equality Now so that I can promote this issue in the high school I work in. By this time next week, what will we be able to say we've done about this?
Joss should contact Yahoo! and do one of those features where they have a celebrity ask a question.
I'd like to thank everyone who's been contributing to this discussion. I've spent most of my time since last night and this morning reading and thinking. QG, anyone else, would you like to venture a supposition where girl-on-girl violence comes from? This is something that absolutely horrifies, stymies, and mystifies me. It's not bad enough we have violence against the GLBT community, men-on-women, men-on-men, kids-on-helpless adult violence, but you would think, you would wring your hands hoping that this shit would never go on. I'm not talking being mean in the hallways of high schools, it's not even bullying. It's a pack of girls singling one out, giving her a beating (punching, kicking, hair pulling) using a videotape device then putting it up on YouTube (seen it). And I'm betting it goes on far more often than that case I stumbled across. I've read other accounts in newspapers, seen it on television. From what powerless, hopeless place does a group of girls gang up on one lone girl?
...where girl-on-girl violence comes from? This is something that absolutely horrifies, stymies, and mystifies me.

Why should that be treated as more horrible than when men beat up a man?

[ edited by Succatash on 2007-05-20 23:15 ]
While I agree with the intent of what Sansmercy said (I don't believe it is all about womb envy), the tone, as Caroline said above, is why he/she got a time-out, and I think thats important part. I was in a debate on TWOP a while back that involved Xander and Anya where some posters claimed that Xander was condescending to Anya, and what I found interesting were the gender politics that reared themselves as the debate moved along. When another poster wondered whether this was a gender issue, he was summarily attacked by the other posters as someone who dismissed the views of others because they had a uterus, and the debate lost all momentum and interest because it became about whether certain posters had a penis or vagina, and whether that was the *sole* reason behind the posts that we saw in the thread. When I tried to get people past that into a useful discussion about gender roles (which may have been incredibly conceited or useful--the difference isn't something easily sussed out either--just saying), I was attacked in the same manner, and thats when I realized something. My absolute indifference to the tone and manner in which someone presents their ideas was incorrect, mainly because of where we are as a culture and as human beings. And thats where I disagree with Joss...

Joss once said: "[E]very time somebody opens their mouth they have an opportunity to do one of two things-connect or divide. Some people inherently divide, and some people inherently connect. Connecting is the most important thing, and actually an easy thing to do." There has never been a more true statement, something that has been said many times before, and yet, there is something interesting going on here. But first, a few statistics born from an article about "honor killings" in Pakistan:

"Karo-Kari is a compound word literally meaning "black male" and "black female," metaphoric terms for adulterer and adulteress."

"Of the victims almost 2,774 were women and 1.226 were men which means twice as many women lose their lives to this ugly social custom."

Not only is this not "only" about women (though it is horrible that more than double the number of women are killed by this brutal practice), its a social concern for morality that is part of a few extreme sects of religions across the world (it is not just Muslim sects that practice this social disease, it is part of both Hindu and Buddhist culture as well--and in many ways, we see these things in America too, we see people publicly branded and ostrascized, and though they aren't murdered literally, they are metaphorically--so its not just a Middle East or Islamic problem, its a world problem), and in that sense, I think its more a problem with culture, society, religion, and morality that is not confined to women's rights or the very justified battle for equality amongst the sexes. It is a full spectrum problem born of religious intolerance (and mostly has little to do with gender inequality), insipid motives, lack of knowledge, and the inability of people to recognize that no matter the case, murder in the name of honor achieves only dishonor.

Of course, there is a paradox that arises here, a paradox that makes our world stage much more complex than we believe, and it speaks both to the nature of Joss's intent and the manner in which we can solve the problem. I think there is something subversive (with all due respect) about the thread we create here (and I do mean with all due respect--as I have said, I have learned that that matters) because the while the ends that we speak and fight for are worthy and noble goals, the manner in which we fight that battle matters just as much. It's the same reason that torture does matter even if it helps us to win the war on terror, the ends do not justify the means, even when that goal is something worthy and noble. There is no doubt in my mind that the end game here is something worthy and noble, I have no doubt that the cause of women's rights around the world is something easily worth fighting for, but it does matter how we fight that fight.

You see, I think there is an extremism in this very thread, an elitism born of perceived righteousness and fighting the good fight. However, here is the paradox: for we want people to be moral, to treat women the way they deserve, and yet, that is the exact reason they fight us everyday. Because of threads like this, and whether we like to admit it or not, my liberal brothers and I are in the greatest of catch-22's. We want to spread our "enlightened" notions of peace and equality across the world, we want to see our vision of a world at peace and equal come to pass, and we want to be righteous while we do it. You guys remember when I said that the difference between conceit or arrogance and usefulness is very difficult to understand? Now you know how *they* feel, now you know how they could see us as conceited or arrogant instead of useful, and the insidious part is that this is a form of extremism that divides people. Thats all anyone sees anymore, a division between conceit and usefulness, and thats what I was incredibly wrong about. I thought it didn't matter how we did it, as long as we *did* it, but I was incredibly wrong because the ends never justify the means.

In the end, I guess I am Socrates to your Nietzsche Joss, a Nietzsche who said this:

"Socrates is the prototype of the theoretical optimist who, with his faith that the nature of things can be fathomed, ascribes to knowledge and insight the power of the panacea, while understanding error as the evil par excellence." Nietzsche in "The Birth of Tragedy"

Nietzsche would deride Socrates for failing to recognize the truth of existence, the truth of a life devoid of any meaning beyond what we ourselves ascribe to it, and while Nietzsche is one of my favorite philosophers, he was incorrect about that. Socrates held a faith in knowledge and humanity, one that drove him to invent the Socratic method, one that drove him to drink Hemloch, and one that caused his inevitable death. As do I. My faith in humanity knows that we can better, that the paradox why they fight us and our end goal can be one in the same, if we only recognize that humanity doesn't need the extreme, it doesn't need to be divided (as I believe this thread would), we need to connect. "Only Connect", as if I were Forster pleading with humanity and my faith to overcome the challenges we face, and in that sense, I applaud the goal. But I question the means...

As I, myself, should have done a long time ago...
Nothing has ever hit me quite like the way "Are you ready to be strong?" and the young girl raised her hand to stop her father hitting her - that was me, thirty-five years ago, actually raising my hand against my own father, and that was the first time I had seen my face on TV.

I always thought that scene was a bit blunt, but you comment has changed my view of it. Not being able to relate to, and not knowing anybody who can relate to it, I could never connect with that scene, but I will appreciate it much more now.

How or why should that be treated differently than when men beat up a man?

It shouldn't, but if you look where people come from, it's more "understandable" for men to commit violence. Cultural bias tells us that women are not natrually physically violent, so it surprises us more.
Why does girl-on-girl violence shock you any more than men-on-men violence? Despite what some might like to believe women are not all innately non-violent.
The representation of females in the entertainment media probably has something to do with it, helcat. Every time a female character has to deal with somebody in their homes, don't worry, they'll head to the kitchen and get a cooking instrument. Every TV show. Every movie. Pretty much. It's so standard people just don't notice.

That said, there is a subculture of people who enjoy "bitch fights" -- school fights filmed on mobile phones. Check out the 6500 of them on Youtube here.
Besides, who will give me my next iPod? We need people dedicated to developing portable music players as well.

Maybe it's because I just woke up from a nap but I have to ask: Is this some sort of irony that I'm too sleepy to catch right now, or just a stupid remark?
Why does it shock me? Because I've grown up in a society that told me women are nurturers. On the other hand, every artistic bent that I've gotten the most out of, books, films, theatre, has told me women are strong, capable, and survivors. Also, that women champion the cause of other women. I think the better question is, how endemic is violence in every avenue of our lives that it translates to kids beating each other up for entertainment.
Lots of interesting posts. I won't be watching the video, never had much trouble believing the worst that we're capable of as a species, quite the reverse in fact (from personal experience). Must confess though, I do have trouble believing 2/3 of women have been raped, in fact I have trouble believing 1/4. Most inequality is a product of fear and ignorance IMO and the best defence against both is truth not figures that may well be the result of poorly designed or politically motivated 'surveys'.

(and horrific and all too widespread as violence against women is it's perhaps worth remembering that at almost all times of life it's much more dangerous to be a man where violent attacks are concerned - I mention that principally because i've seen too many women turned into fearful wrecks by media portrayals and claims about how incredibly dangerous the world is for women. Awareness is good, hyper-awareness and assumed 'victimhood', not so much)

I find Equality Now to be slightly ironic.

Possibly you're mixing up 'equality' with 'equality of opportunity' Succatash ? The reason 'Equality Now' draws special attention to women is because they aren't treated equally at the moment i.e. they are already distinguished but negatively.

That said, I do have a fair bit of sympathy for debw's first comment. Violence against anyone is wrong, it's not 'wronger' because it's against a woman (and to some extent that attitude actually perpetuates violence IMO since it justifies it by basically implying "violence is a guy thing" which leads to the whole vicious circle of men assuming violence as part of their gender identity).

Comments like “Women are tougher” and “Men have womb envy” imply that we are not equal after all.

There's some evidence that women have a higher tolerance for pain and possibly better developed immune systems than men, dunno if that counts as 'tougher' (it seems self-evident that men are, on average, stronger than women - that's just biology). In many ways men and women aren't equal (that's the nature of having differences) but both genders should, as far as is possible, have equal opportunities.

And the 'womb envy' thing never really ran for me (listening to friend's tales of giving birth etc. i've always been waaay glad my bits are on the outside. And that's not even considering being able to write your name in the snow ;). I think C A Bridges was closer to the mark talking about fear. Some men fear women's power (both to reproduce and over men, the so-called 'feminine wiles') and fear is anger's engine in many ways.
Tonya J you bring up something that has been a very serious issue at a high school in my town recently. It probably has been much longer, and probably at most schools, but just hushed up. There are girls egging each other on into multiple fights behind school buildings and in the neighborhood, crowding around in a circle, pulling out their camera phones and posting them on youtube, all in the name of "entertainment". There was another incident in which a girl was stabbed by another student with a pair of scissors, all of this happening within a week. It makes one wonder how much is happening that we’re not hearing of. The part that saddened me the most, even beyond the actual violence itself, was reading in our local paper the quotes of several high school girls and boys who thought that this behaviour was "harmless" and that the police and councilors (who have been very responsive- but I’m afraid it won’t change anything) should leave it alone. The thing is, no one tells anyone, every kid is afraid of being the next target. The only way the police found out about this was from another citizen who discovered the video on youtube and contacted them. It scares me that these kids, only a few years younger than myself, are thinking this way. I am every day grateful to live in a country like Canada that has such valuable rights a freedoms, and so many resources for combating violence. But still it’s never enough; it’s here just like everywhere else. Laws and the justice system only go so far, it is people who have to make the difference, and it is people who have to speak out and stop the violence. We have to get into the mentality that no one else is going to do it for us.
I'm glad things are back on topic, and I don't mean to derail the thread once again with this. But, the problem with typing emotions is that others just reading them can often mistake irony, sarcasm, rudeness, etc for something else. For example, Joss asking "what's wrong with women?" or others implying I don't know the rules around here. I'm sure it wasn't meant to be read as an insult, but it was. And that's the last thing anyone at whedonesque needs to be feeling. I understand things can get touchy, but let's not towards each other.
That's just so sad that humans are treated in this way today. It shouldn't be happening. Their laws won't change unless their attitudes change and I don't think that's likely to happen in my lifetime. There is only so much other people and the international community can do to stop this type of violence. But when it's actually "the law" rooted in religious belief, trying to change people's minds and encouraging democratic beliefs is considered an invasion and an assault on religion. What other solution do we have? What could "we" as people do to stop it? I'm at a loss for words. It's just so sad.
You know what really hurt and it's really sad, the fact that there are still cultures out there where women are taught that being punished is right and that they're not equal than men as natural law. It pains me that they're taught not to retaliate, not stand up for themselves, not to be strong, because those cultures claim that they're weak and are supposed to be weak. And it ends up not being just men telling them that they're less than nothing, but also women telling other women that they're really nothing.

And let us not try to see far away. These atrocities are like extremes in cultures, something that is part of their education and beliefs for eons, where those disparities are too clear to ignore. Injustices like those still happen in what some people call "higher cultures". Don't preach, saying that a culture is better or more developed than another is just simply wrong, cause you'll be just giving the same speech a lot of wrong minded leaders gave as some stupid excuse to start a war. Different cultures are not better or worse, they're simply different. What we should be fighting against is any injustice, no matter where.

We should not ignore the minor injustices that can be happening in front of us. Don't say that it's not the same, just because the results are not the same, it's the same injustice nevertheless. Like Women, in the workplace, in which they still make less than men in the same job position.

I'm surrounded by strong women in my daily circles, and it never tires me to say how great they are and to support them whenever I can, and it pains me to see that they're still looked down, by people, mostly men, who think they know better.

It is not about feminism, misogyny or racism, this is simply about equality, the need for equality.
The only way to change everyone's view of women is to also change everyone's view of men. It's got to be both or it won't work.

[ edited by Succatash on 2007-05-21 00:10 ]
Besides, who will give me my next iPod? We need people dedicated to developing portable music players as well.

Maybe it's because I just woke up from a nap but I have to ask: Is this some sort of irony that I'm too sleepy to catch right now, or just a stupid remark?

It's kinda both. It's ironic to think that amidst all this discussion of grand matters of human equality and fair treatment there is a group of people for whom developing the next generation music player is more important to them than gender equality. But irony is often silly, if that's what you mean by stupid remark.

My point was that it is not productive to blame those people who don't care, it's a road that's not worth going down.

Here's another place that I ran into this: I used to write accounting software for small businesses, and most of our customers really didn't care about truly accurate accounting, and I never could understand why until I helped start a small business in which I had a lot of real work do.

Basically our priorities are driven by our experiences, and since we all don't have the same experiences we should try to understand those who are different from us. Only in rare cases should we just forget other people's perspectives and rip them a new one.

On the topic of uterus envy, I don't think Joss was trying to sum up all of our misogyny with a very simple explanation. It sounded to me that he was trying to rationalize abstract feelings that are difficult to express that men can have towards women. Trying to understand an issue doesn't mean that you believe the answer lies in your often simplified conclusion. I doubt Joss was suggesting the answer is a Womb for Every Child program in school, but that maybe "womb envy" is a part of what makes us do the things we do.

The answers given above by some posters: economics, religion, etc are all things that we use to act on those feelings, but I don't believe that they are the cause.
Oh, God. As I tend to avoid the news media in general, I was not aware of this video until this post.

Thank you, Joss, for being a voice...and for reminding us not to lose our own voices.
I think it may take the detachment of a filmmaker to appreciate and relate that cold calculation required for filming such horrifying events. I would not have thought of it.

But there is not now nor has there ever been something wrong with women, or even something wrong with men. It is simply the victimization by the stronger of the weaker and in most cases (and particularly when pregnancy is involved) it is the woman who is weaker. In those cases where the woman remains in the victimized situation, she has accepted a mantle that only true progressive education can overcome, because all of history teaches that might makes right.

There have been matriarchal societies, some of the greatest and most civil, but also some of the most brutal, as only the fierceness of a woman whose children are threatened can be.

Misogyny is a product of guilt, nurtured by frustration, assuaged by development of a social acceptance. To give it any more power than that of a natural reaction to unfortunate circumstance just empowers it. To cure the mindset the frustration and anger of the perpetrator must be redirected and diffused, dampened by the truth, that what they are doing is cruel and inhuman.

Only when the specific texts of the various religions of male dominance and privilege are totally refuted as uncivilized will those who have now codified it accept that this animalistic response to "womb envy" (to give it a label) no longer qualifies as acceptable behavior.

But the guy holding the camera? That is consumate evil. That is the devils handiwork. There is a little demon in his soul.
Succatash: "The only way to change everyone's view of women is to also change everyone's view of man. It's got to be both or it won't work.

Well, yeah. I think so. I think my male partner was as affected by the gender limitations they tried to impose on him as I was by the ones imposed on me. Absolutely. Luckily, he can now cry, and I can intervene in a fight - and fix the apartment's wiring - without getting killed... so far.

And Saje, I don't think we really know accurate figures on rape - either that of females or males. Under-reporting is a big issue, due to the shame and depression and feelings of helplessness that usually follow - as well as other institutional and political reasons, cutting both ways...

Suffice to say that whenever I am in a group of women, and the topic of discussion turns to rape, I am always surprised by how many of us have been raped or had an attempted assault by a stranger, an acquaintance or a relative. Couldn't tell ya numbers...
I can't buy Womb Envy because I tend to think gender inequality (like other behaviors common in human cultures) has a biological/sociological/economic explanation, but I do appreciate the call to action, and am so happy when someone in Joss' position (with the ability to influence a lot of people) cares about the right things.
Succatash - Changing a goodly chunk of the world's attitude towards women is already a huge, multi-generation job. I don't think Joss believes that violence against women is somehow worse than violence against men, or against children.

But you have to pick your battles, and this is a good place to start. You may feel that other issues are more important and there are plenty of organizations to look into. Amnesty International, The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. The National Alliance to End Homelessness, Action Against Hunger, the ACLU, etc, all of them have their own particular focus, even though each and every one of them boils down to the larger issue: man's inhumanity to man (and woman).

But where change happens, it happens because enough people got passionate about a specific topic that struck home to them. I can't fault anyone for focusing on what motivates to actually get up and speak out and do something. This is Joss' issue, and I honor him for it.

And if enough of the individual issues begin to fade, maybe the larger issue will follow.

[ edited by C. A. Bridges on 2007-05-21 00:32 ]
It's taken me a good long while to respond to Joss' post, as like most of you, a story like this brings me to tears.
and that, in itself is numbing. the fact that we know this goes on, hear or see it, and I go to sadness instead of anger or outrage just shows that I am , in a sense, becoming numb.

I am eighteen and a woman. Dua Khalil could have been me, or any of us for that matter.
I have thought at times that this is a gender issue or even a geographical issue, but i seem to come to the conclusion that this is, like many things, part of a larger religious issue.
The reason I am an athiest is because , growing up in a super religious family, has tought me, that religion becomes an excuse for people to play out their hatred and prejudices. It is not the theory of religion that bothers me, yet the excuses it gives some people, to commit acts of hatred and violence. SOme of it is even in our own backyards. not too long ago, Matthew Shepard. Some ignorant people still believe that homosexuality is a sin, and even that gay killings are honourable because 'the bible says that homosexuality is wrong'. When people do unspeakable things, and then follow it with 'this was in the name of (insert god here)', that is what truly sickens me

But i have come to realise that it is so much more than this. this is a human issue on all levels. we are all human beings, it doesn't matter what colour, religion or gender we are.
After the holocaust, we said that something like that would never happen again, and it's happening right now. the thing that saddens me the most is that this is certainly not an isolated incident. this one just happened to be filmed.

Dua Khalil can't help to stop this, but in her name, we can. while we may not think it sometimes, we are the powerful men and women of this world, and we are the ones that can stand up and say; no more. we live in a democratic society, and the great thing abou that is we can bring to light important issues, and issues that matter to us. if one person makes a stand, they can change things. but if many people stand, they can change the world, and I learned that from Joss. So write to your political representitive, donate to equality now, or anything else you can think of.

When acts of violence like this are committed, it may feel like there is no hope for this world, and one begins to lose their faith in humanity, but reading all the posts here, and seeing Joss' devotion to this cause, shows me that I'm not stupid for believing that this world can become a better place, for all people.
Warning: Playing devil's advocate for a second

What if, just if, the person filming this atrocity wanted to document the horor so that people like us can see it and get upset? I have not actually watched the video (couldn't stomache it) so I don't know if the person filming is cheering on the whole thing or not. Can you imagine all the people in that crowd that don't agree with what is happening and have to live with the real and iminent threat that speaking out could simply result in their death? It is those people that statistically have to exist that we need to empower.

That being said, I don't have enough faith in humanity to not consider that there were a significant number of people enjoying every minute of the torture and would love the opportunity to document it for posterity's sake.
And just in case anybody missed the Mary Jane thing...

[ edited by gossi on 2007-05-21 01:00 ]
Man, gossi, I'd trade twenty of those sad little laundry-doing, thong-exposing Mary Jane statues for just one of our River and the Reavers.

I posted a comment there, but it is "awaiting moderation." I read the comments while visiting, and again felt grateful for whedonesque and the general quality of the discourse.

*has to go take a shower after reading comments on sideshowtoy...*
At what point does sexiness become exploitation? Honestly, a man can get confused between the two.
10%ofnothin: Could be. But in the footage I saw, there were a handful of *other* men holding up cell phones to take pictures, too. You could see their faces and their body language and they were clearly taking pleasure in it all.
I think people neglect to participate in activism because they feel, like I have so often, that their participation won't make a difference.

I'm beginning to see where that kind of mentality can lead. And it's scary as hell.
I enjoy science-fiction, fantasy, and various kinds of supernatural media as an escape. Buffy and Angel always prompted the hard to answer moral questions, the kinds of "what ifs?" we may one day face. As shows, they give us hope.

But I saw this video over a month ago, and this is hardly the worst of it. Even more wretched things happen to children. The world is an absolutely horrible place, and I don't see it getting better. Sometimes I admire people who think it might, sometimes I don't. I'm not religious, but I have often wondered if this world isn't really Hell, or something much like it, anyway. The universe doesn't seem to have justice built into it, the way conservation of charge is.

I suppose what I'm getting at is, on seeing this, I'm reminded that if someone really did want to annihilate the universe with an old stone demon and a sword, I would like a forewarning of five or six seconds, just so I might have a little sigh of relief before the lights went out.
Succatash: "At what point does sexiness become exploitation? Honestly, a man can get confused between the two."

There's an lengthy discussion of that very question here on whedonesque but I don't think there's one answer to that question, Succatash. Just some ways of considering the question...
I have to agree with QuoterGal on the statistics of sexual assault, Sage. I think that 2/3 women being raped may be high, but 2/3 women being sexually assaulted in their life makes sense to me based on my experience.

There was a recent survey done in Canada that I heard on the news but couldn't find online that said 1 out of every 5 people surveyed said they knew someone who had been sexually or physically abused. I was astounded by the low percentage until I realised that a lot of people don't go around discussing their abuse, so I thought I'd try a quick test. After a meeting at work, when there were four of us women chatting, I mentioned the survey and my reaction to it. My direct supervisor said the number made sense to her because she didn't know anyone who had been sexually or physically abused. One of the other women and I looked at each other and then both said to her, "Yes, you do. There's two of us right here." She actually thought of a couple of other people later.

I think if anyone asks around their circle of female friends, acquaintances - even family - you might be surprised at how high the number is. And whatever we can do to make that abuse end, for girls and boys, women and men, is what counts.
gossi, were we discussing the MJ statuette someplace else before? Because I love looking at the Sideshow items once in a while, usually for their BUffy and Marvel things. And while the Emma Frost one is cool, I thought "wow, I can't believe Joss writes this character, who's just used here as boobs." And then insane cleavage and thong action MJ comes along doing her proper wife duties (that's the sarcasm I was talking about earlier) and I just thought "wow, that's hideously wrong on every level."
I'm a lifelong feminist who canvassed my neighborhood as a young teenager passing out ERA literature. I think I can pinpoint the birth of my passion for women's rights: watching Mclintock!, a John Wayne movie, that had a scene where Wayne threw Maureen O'Hara over his knee and publicly spanked her, a horrible travesty of The Taming of the Shrew. Though quite young, probably only 9, I was furious after watching that movie and it literally changed my life, so I do believe popular culture can have a huge affect on shaping our views.

I was already very sensitive to racism and the impact it had on people's lives, and eventually in college I became very involved in Amnesty International.

What I'm leading up to is how upset I was after watching Never Leave Me and Bring on the Night, where Anya and Dawn slapped Andrew, and this was written as being "cute" and funny. If Andrew had slapped Dawn while she was tied up would this moment be presented as a humerous? I doubt it.

We liberals are very sensitive to how women and minorities are betrayed, and that's a very good thing. But, I do fear that sometimes feminism gets distorted into some kind of tit-for-tat situation, where women's empowerment is equated with women being violent. That's simply not what the movement was/is about.

Maybe the scene where Dawn takes pleasure in slapping Andrew isn't offensive to most of you. But for me, it was the lowest point of a wonderful series that almost always dealt with violence in a respectful, thoughtful way.

[ edited by Reddygirl on 2007-05-21 03:03 ]
Interestingly and coincidentally, I was flipping through the channels today and came across a show on VH1 about beauty pageants for little girls. It was horrifying, not just because these six-year-olds were being objectified, but because their mothers were doing it to them. I mean, clearly there were some vicarious-life-fulfilment issues going on there, but these girls were being told in no uncertain terms that the only way to succeed was to be the most sexually appealing.

I only caught the last couple of minutes of it, but the narrator said something about one of the runners-up having to be satisfied with her BEST SWIMSUIT award.

[ edited by lexigeek on 2007-05-21 03:07 ]
It hurts me more than words can express that things like this still happen in this world. It makes me speechless just trying to think about how insane it is. I can't think of any bigger bad than this one, and I couldn't help but shed a tear just reading the story.

If it matters at all to anyone, at least it inspired me to do something. I'm taking the money that I had budgeted this month to go to the movies and I'm going to donate it and watch Buffy instead.

At least in the Whedonverse all you see are monsters. In the real world, you have to see things like this.
Caleb said:
Look at labor unions. There was a time when they were extremely necessary as the treatment of workers in industrial countries was atrocious. As we've evolved, we no longer need these groups as much as we once did. Often times, workers resent the unions because they take dues, and provide only political propaganda in return (I have experience with the UAW, united auto workers).

I would disagree with you on this one, too, Caleb. One of the consequences of having a weak labor movement is that working people have no real political representation in the US. We get Republicrats representing big business and wealthy people - representing maybe the wealthiest 5% of the population. Throughout Europe workers have strong/stronger unions and political representation in their parliaments.

Workers in the US work longer hours, have less time off, and generally are paid less than they need to live. Health care is not a right here. Women who give birth can't afford to leave their jobs without pay, and end up going to work very quickly after giving birth (in my case, three days after giving birth). We live in the wealthiest country in the world, yet we have millions of homeless, and 46 million without health care coverage. We need unions that represent our interests, just as we need feminism to drive home the need to continually work for change and equality.

Why unions in the US have not cohered as they have in other countries is a subject too complex and inappropriate to discuss here; but anyone in a position of powerlessness in a society needs to organize with others who are in positions of powerlessness and work to change the system.

My master's thesis, BTW, was on the role of women in the international labor movement. My doctoral dissertation was to be on women who helped organize the CIO in the 1930's and 40's. (Then I gave birth to twins, so that was postponed for a while.)

[ edited by Nebula1400 on 2007-05-21 03:56 ]
If it matters at all to anyone, at least it inspired me to do something. I'm taking the money that I had budgeted this month to go to the movies and I'm going to donate it and watch Buffy instead.

I think that's a fantastic idea. And, as others have said, encourage everyone you know to go to a Can't Stop the Serenity screening and help them reach their goal of raising $100,000 for Equality Now.
Nebula1400, great post.
I have to agree with QuoterGal on the statistics of sexual assault, Sage. I think that 2/3 women being raped may be high, but 2/3 women being sexually assaulted in their life makes sense to me based on my experience.

The most conservative estimates are that 1 in 3 women has been or will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. It happened to me when I was 13. Same thing happened to my oldest daughter when she was about the same age. In her case, she was roofied at a party. She didn't tell me until almost 10 years later. I never told anyone what happened to me. It's such a common occurrence that it tells you something about the status of women.

ETA: Yours too, Reddygirl!

[ edited by Nebula1400 on 2007-05-21 03:54 ]
This type of awareness, this conviction for the things you believe in...
this is why you're a *great* filmmaker, and it is why you have to keep coming out with new material.
Reddygirl wrote: Maybe the scene where Dawn takes pleasure in slapping Andrew isn't offensive to most of you. But for me, it was the lowest point of a wonderful series that almost always dealt with violence in a respectful, thoughtful way.

To be fair to the narrative, Andrew conspired with the same jerk who tried to kill Dawn's sister, and indeed killed one of her surrogate mothers (i.e. Tara). I don't blame Dawnie one bit for taking out a little frustration on Andrew. He deserved at least a slap for all the bad things he did.

Andrew hurt people. He needed to understand what that felt like. Later on in Season 7, he achieved a minor level of redemption, but I still think he has a long way to go (and maybe that will happen in Season 8 comics).
Joss all this reminds me of Angel in the 2nd season, where he realises everything he does means little in the grand scheme of things after visiting Wolfham and Heart, but still, everything he does is what matters to him, and that is perhaps true for everything you've writ and can be a statement for every human.

What matters to the majority of us? That we live in peace and help each other live in peace and have fun. We fight for this perhaps more then anything else, this way of life.

If everything we believe in has some higher purpose, that doing good gives us a passport to heaven perhaps if we believe in it, or perhaps it just makes us feel good while limiting the suffering of others by trying to help, especially true if we do not believe in the after life and everything is just science.
I got an e-mail about an hour ago with a fantastic suggestion to create a t-shirt that says "I am Dua Khalil." As the person who sent me the suggestion said, "I don't want this event to fade from public memory with a simple "tsk, tsk" as we move on to the sports page." I think it's a great way of standing up an being counted among those who refuse to accept this situation as an acceptable status quo. Dua can not speak for herself, so we who can, must. I may be a man, but I, too, am Dua Khalil.

I've marked up the shirts $5 above cost, and I plan to donate all of the proceeds to Equality Now. If that makes them too expensive, e-mail me and I'll sell one to you at cost or at whatever markup you feel comfortable with.

I also included the Equality Now logo. I'm going out on a limb, because I haven't actually gotten permission for it yet (I e-mailed Mandy Sullivan, but it's close to midnight on the east coast), but I think it's something she'll be ok with.
So folks, having argued over the point ad-nauseum; what now will you do to change the situation?
Joss wrote:It's all part of the same quagmire. Can't solve it all. Just stake out your piece. My piece will always begin with that simple question: how did women become so universally undervalued and abused? How was it pulled off, and how exactly was it useful?

That is indeed a compelling questions. But for me, the more important question is what socio-economic forces are allowing this state of inequality to continue, and what we can do to change the stage.

It seems to me that it is the areas where women have the least economic power where this kind of inequality is the most pronounced. Religion and other societal excuses are used to justify the abuse that is dished out, but it is the lack of economic power (of which legal rights is a subset) among the abused that prevents them from being able to effectively fight back.

How do you solve this? There are two ways. From the top down, and from the bottom up. Equality Now and organizations like it do an excellent job at attacking the problem from the top down, pressuring governments to update their laws to prevent the legal sanctioning of such abuses. And this community has done an amazing job supporting them in their cause with all the fundraisers and publicity we've done for them.

But what about the bottom up approach? How do you break the cycle of poverty and violence at the local level? Thirty years ago, a Bengladeshi economics professor called Muhammad Yunus discovered an amazingly effective way to address this problem through micro-credit, which eventually lead to him winning the Nobel Peace Prize last year.

I would strongly suggest his book Banker to the Poor to anyone who wants to hear the amazing story about how microfinance is allowing women all over the world to break out of the cycle of perpetual debt, support their families, gain economic power within their communities, and consequently make a great deal of progress toward gaining equality in their societies. It is amazingly well written, a fascinating read, and will change your view of economics forever.

In short, micro-finance works by making small loans at fair interest rates to the working poor, so they are no longer beholden to the moneylenders who charge exorbitant rates (as much as 100%/day). With access to affordable capital, these borrowers (mostly women) can run their businesses (from making bamboo baskets to more elaborate endeavors) profitably, have enough money to buy food, shelter and medicine for their families, and gain local economic power by becoming the breadwinners for their families.

In the past 30 years, the micro-finance model has proven itself successful in many countries, not only through Muhammad Yunus's Grameen Bank, but through the dozens of similar organizations that have learned from and even improved upon the Grameen model. Despite the banks who were initially unwilling to loan to the poor for fear they wouldn't repay their debts, micro-finance loans have a better repayment rate than loans in the developed world.

Now that the micro-finance model has proven itself effective, and the network of micro-finance lenders have worked their way into so many needful countries and communities, there is still one part of the equation that has not yet fully evolved: the funding. The network for dispensing the loans is there, as is the demand for the loans, but there isn't enough funding to go around. At least, not yet.

One thing I've been eagerly anticipating is the launch of MicroPlace later this summer. Started by a former Grameen Bank worker, and now owned by eBay, MicroPlace is trying to tackle the micro-finance funding problem by creating an online marketplace where people like you and me can invest our own money in these micro-loans, and directly contribute to the bottom-up solution to the poverty and social inequality issues that we are all discussing.

You won't see any fundraisers for MicroPlace, since they're not a charity. But if you have an income tax return, a quarterly bonus, or any other spare cash that you're planning on putting into a savings account later this year, you might want to consider investing it where it can do some real-world good. Where else can you earn interest for doing the right thing?

Regardless of whether you prefer the top down or bottom up method, though, Joss is right: just do something. If you don't think that one person can make a difference against the Powers That Be, read Muhammad Yunus's book to see real-life evidence to the contrary. It is truly inspiring.

Getting a TV show made into a movie was just practice. Raising a hefty chunk of change for Equality Now was a good start. Now lets bump it up a notch and really see what kind of a difference we can make, on a global scale. All it takes is faith and determination. And between us all, we have plenty of both.
I've only read about two thirds of this thread and will go back and read the rest as soon as I can find time.

Joss, thank you for being who you are.

Some statements with which I take issue and I wont name the posters, merely state my response:

"Sod feminism, it's about humanism".
Dead wrong, this woman was brutally murdered *because she was a woman*. Which makes it about misogyny, which makes it about feminism.

" 'Stop violence against women' implies that violence against men is OK".
That is the oldest stealth anti-feminist argument in the book. No, it does *not* imply that violence against men is OK. It acknowledges that violence against women, by men, is tolerated, at least to some extent, in most societies/cultures and actually encouraged/institutionalized in other societies/cultures, in a way that sets it apart from male violence against other males. When was the last time you heard of a man in a fundamentalist Islamic culture being stoned to death for adultery? Or refused the right to drive a car or own property or leave the country without the permission of a male relative? Which is where the mentality that allows these atrocities to happen, begins.

"We need to be outraged not because the victim in this case was a woman, but because she was a human being".
No, the last thing we should lose sight of is that this is a kind of politically/culturally/religiously sanctioned violence that is sanctioned *against women*, because they are women, but not against men.
Which is *not* the same as saying that violence against men is OK.

"The assumption that women need special protection strikes me as archaic".
As long as things like this occur in this world, we as women *do* need special protection. Not from men per se, but from the social/political/religious and cultural traditions that sanction, or turn a blind eye to, violence against women *because we are women*. We need these protections so we can be free to work toward the kind of equality that will ultimately free us from the need from these "special protections". That day has not yet come.

"When our own backyards are clear of racism, sexism, homophobia and intolerance, we can point the finger at other cultures."
But as flawed as our western culture is, we *are* clear of condoning such acts as stoning to death. So for once, we actually have the moral highground to speak out. And it would be criminal for us to not do so, simply because there is still so much work to be done "in our own backyard".

I understand the contradiction in the "I have no faith in humanity" statement and Joss's well known activism for gender equality. I have no faith in humanity, but "hope against all odds" is a different story. So I donate what little I can to a few select organizations, sign every petition for *all* kinds of progressive causes that show up in my email, write to my congressional representatives and practice compassion in my personal life, to the best of my ability.
Because no matter that I lack faith in humanity, one thing is certain. The more of us who do nothing, who make no effort at all to change the world, the more certain that nothing will ever change.

And in case I didn't make it clear .... I love you Joss, you are part of the solution .... if there is indeed a solution.
edited for double posting

[ edited by Shey on 2007-05-21 05:13 ]
ACK! That's what happens when you copy and paste to make a new HTML page. I accidentally forgot to change the links on the "I am Dua Khalil" page from the page I was copying from. All the links should work properly now.
Giant props to whoever made the suggestion and to lexigeek for carrying it through. XOXOXOXO
Adam, those shirts are awesome! Specifically because most people won't get the reference and will need to ask, thus prompting a conversation on the topic. Brilliant!
Shey - excellent excellent excellent. You took the words right out of my brain and put them here in a much more eloquent style than I could have managed. I had been trying to formulate some sort of response all day and couldn't come up with what you just said. Thanks for posting that.
There is certainly a lot of debate on this topic and Joss is someone who has inspired me in many ways to push myself and create and do things that I can feel proud of. As has been said, there can be times when it feels like a hopeless task to try and make even a small difference, as the weight against you seems to be insurmountable and no one else seems to feel the passion you do to try and change something, or they say there's no point as one person can't make a difference.

Not all men treat or think of women in this negatively objective way, Joss himself proves that. Nor do all women make it easy for others to break that mold, as many times in history some women have been the loudest voices against those who have tried to change things for the better, whether it be the vote or wearing a corset.

People on both sides of the gender divide have worked to create freedom and confinement for each other. No culture is perfect, that is blatantly obvious.

I for one think seeing this video is not promoting the enjoyment of gratuitous violence. It's easy to say it's such a bad thing and to intellectually understand how it's wrong, but without having any kind of real understanding of what is involved it's easy to stay detached and relatively unaffected, except for the moral outrage that gets trotted out at regular intervals by politicians without anything actually being done about it.

We can each make a difference, and that counts for something.
Lexigeek the link worked perfectly and the shirt's message is moving, direct, and should create a dialog. Please thank who ever gave you the idea, and thank you for carrying it out with such elegance and dispatch.
This is my first post, but I feel the need to comment on this thread and I hope Joss is still reading the postings because I think he needs to read what I have to say. There has always been hatred and evil in the world, but there has always been hope, too. And I have a story of hope to share. When my nine-year-old daughter was not quite three I took her to Disneyworld. We were standing in line for the Haunted Mansion when my daughter struck up a conversation with a group of goth girls standing in line in front of us. They were duly impressed with her intelligence and grown-up demeanor and conversation, but they absolutely loved it when my little girl announced in a stage whisper, “I have a secret identity. I'm the slayer!” My daughter is growing into a strong young woman and she is the face of hope. And I am sure she is just one of many. Thank you Joss. You are helping to make this a better world. I hope this helps ease the pain a little.
There are two things I want to respond to:

1. Comments about America's "gun culture." This, specifically:

And of course the easy availability of guns and the worship of violence in the US means women here are more at risk than females in other Western countries

I think gun control is a huge mistake from a feminist view point. Generally speaking, women are physically weaker than men, but if the woman is armed, she can suddenly defend herself. A firearm is a great equalizer. There are plenty of statistics on gun crime, but there are no statistics to measure the occasions when a woman wards off an attacker with a gun because the assault or the rape or whatever never occurred. (Think on this: if a large percentage of women were armed and properly educated on how to handle it, how many would-be attackers would think, "Hmm, maybe not; I could get shot"?)

2. Shey addressed this just above me, but the attitude that we shouldn't critique other countries' misogyny until we have completely eradicated our own seems misguided to me. Perfect equality could take a very long time, and may indeed never happen. In the mean time, how many thousands of women will suffer and die because we are too self-conscious about appearing hypocritical?

I've been reading this thread for three hours now. Time for bed. As always Joss, I love you.
Evil men kill innocent women because it's far more empowering to them than say attacking an animal that can't speak out.

I think this sort of vocabulary and interpretations are a huge part of the problem. On the video you could see at least a hundred men cheering and jostling one another for a better view of her death; are they all evil? The whole family – the whole village? What we have to remember is that it isn't a mental infirmity or spiritual possession that leads to most of these attacks; rather, it's a socially-taught and acceptable belief in the righteousness of the killing.

The only way to attack the root of this issue is to avoid such simple excuses as "evil" and look instead at the atmospheres and traditions that give rise to publicly sanctioned brutality.

[ edited by femfoison on 2007-05-21 08:59 ]
lexigeek, the shirts are awesome. I'm going to link them off our screening site, right under the link I put up to a mirror of Joss' post, and maybe snag a couple to use as less frivolous raffle items at our screenings, since I'm also putting Joss' post in our printed program.
Think women have achieved equality?

Why talking about "male equality" is a straw man argument. Better phrased than I can manage after a week and half of insomnia.
I have yet to find the strength to watch the video. I think I should at some point - to know the enemy is to be one step closer to defeating it, and all of that.

Thank you, Joss, for this post. It has been forwarded along. Some small thing, while I determine what bigger thing I should do.
Joss, that was a beautiful post, and I want you to know that even though you may have no faith in humanity, you and your words and your work restore my own faith in humanity. You do that for me, and you should know that there are good people out there.

I read all of the posts here and then I watched the video, which was truly awful. Just hideous. It broke my heart watching it and to know that this kind of thing happens all the time all over the world. What is wrong with people? I'm not going to ask what's wrong with women or what's wrong with men, what is the fundamental flaw in humans that they feel another is inferior because of any differences they may have? What the hell is that? I want to live a good life and to be happy and to make others happy and to generally share a positive attitude with other words, I just wanna get along, and I don't understand the alternate mentality that suggests differences create rifts. To me, these differences create new opportunities to learn from others. Not to fucking deride them for not being me. I just don't get it. Does. Not. Fucking. Compute.

And at the same time, I would like to thank the (MANY!) of you who have said it's not just about violence against women. Yes, this particular atrocious event took place because this woman was a woman, and that's a maddening concept which needs to be addressed and done away with. I know it won't happen any time soon, but any progress is power.

But back to what I was saying. The conversations in this thread have seemed to move back and forth from Dua Khalil being murdered for being female and from violence against humans in general, so I think it's at least somewhat valid to bring this up here. More often than not, I feel like the media and society in general make me feel bad for being who I am, which is a heinous crime in and of itself, and thankfully I am not a self-destructive person who would take this far and perhaps do something to myself because of it.

And what am I? I am a white Christian male, and apparently this brings along with it the stigma of being the root problem of much of the turmoil in today's woefully Bush-ridden United States of America. I am not saying AT ALL that anyone here has said this, I'm just bringing up what I think is a related point. As others have said, sometimes this kind of thing goes so far as to create a kind of reverse sexism that says that anyone who fits the certain mold of the attackers (in this case, men) is a villain, and it's that kind of thing that the media helps to perpetuate.

I'm not saying this out of self-pity or anything like that, but I've been discriminated against because I'm white, I've been discriminated against because I'm male, and oh have I been discriminated against because I'm Christian. Many times to the extent where I've been made to feel that there is something inherently wrong with me for being these things. I obviously do not know how it feels to be a woman and to be ashamed for being such, but I have more than enough experience in the arena of being made to feel like I was inferior because of who I am or what I supposedly represent.

To me, the root problem of this isn't exclusively making women feel ashamed that they are women, but that we live in a world in which everyone makes everyone else feel ashamed to be what they are if they don't fit that person's ideology. And I just want to say that it pisses me off, I'm tired of it, and I am going to fight for equality--social, economic, and internal--any way that I can.

Humans have been lambasted for being humans for far too long. It needs to end.
I was touched by the post from ghoulie, about her nine-year-old daughter, because my five-year-old twin daughters were the first thing I thought of when I read this.

I was raised in an extremely restrictive and patriarchal religious environment, with a sideline in homophobia and elitism. To the point, yes, that these days it's white, straight males against whom I have to fight my prejudice. Self-loathing, what are you going to do?

I always wanted girls because I always thought to myself that it would be easier to teach girls to be strong than to teach boys to be sensitive - and I had an allergic reaction to the thought of unleashing any more "guys" on the world.

So, now I have two beautiful daughters who aren't afraid of monsters - thanks to Buffy, they too see themselves as slayers, or, in their words, kickers of monster butt - and believe that they can do anything, that they are capable of anything.

My fear as a father is how to arm them against the millions of unreconstructed idiots who still, in 2007, want to tell them differently. They already come home saying that some boy - in the British equivalent of kindergarten - told them they couldn't be a firefighter, cause that was a boy's job. The look of confusion in their eyes at that concept is heartbreaking.

And this is the tiniest tip of the insidious iceberg that leads to the kinds of atrocities and ingrained cultural violence that Joss was talking about.

(Never mind the circular guilt that comes from feeling that you want to help in the struggle for women's equality, and then feeling as though you have somehow been condescending by suggesting that your help is needed.)

I grew up in an environment where women were presumed to be second-class citizens. I then decided that they were far too wonderful for that to be true, (my taught homophobia was, similarly, cured at a very young age by a big old crush on Stephen Fry) before growing into the knowledge that it's not about earned equality, it's about the natural state of equality and the dispute of that by those whose brains have yet to be switched on, by something, anything.

I dispute the fact that cultural heritage is absolution for harmful, erroneous ideas and actions. It takes courage to put it aside, certainly, but that's how progress is made.

I, like many others who have commented, am forever looking for the ways in which I am able to contribute - in whatever small ways I am enabled by my life.

All I know, is that I told my daughters that they would grow up in a world where they could do anything, and I don't intend to have lied to them.

In the meantime, I have to hold their coats while they slay the monsters in their wardrobe.
UnpluggedCrazy, with all due respect, this specific issue *is* about institutionalized misogyny and the politically/religiously sanctioned murder of a woman.
I don't mean to trivialize your point and I do see a connection between this horrific incident and general intolerance. But I don't believe that the "general intolerance" issue is what we need to be addressing, regarding this specific incident. You are never going to be in danger of being stoned to death for being a white Christian male. Not unless you went to a fundamentalist Islamic country and shouted insults to Alla from the rooftops. I have a great deal of respect for you, but I do feel that it's dangerous to dilute this issue, which is about institutionalized misogyny so extreme that such an unthinkable crime could only be committed against a woman.
if a large percentage of women were armed and properly educated on how to handle it, how many would-be attackers would think, "Hmm, maybe not; I could get shot"?

And how many times have guns been used against those people who originally had it? How easy it would be for a bigger man to take the gun away from the woman and use it against her? I will never understand the gun culture. But there are a lot of things I don't understand anyway. The cruelty of humans is indescribable. A lot of it is directed to women: killing of newborn children only because they are girls, female circumcision, rape (and why is it such a normal part of war?), date rape drugs, the "honour" killings (where's the honour?)...

I will never forget the image where the coffin of Fadime Sahindal, one of the many victims of honour killing, was carried out of the church by her female relatives.

Thank you Joss and thank you to everyone else on this long thought-provoking thread. The world is a cruel place but I still have hope.

[ edited by Valerie on 2007-05-21 11:16 ]
Kentonist, that was a very moving post. It restores just a tiny bit of my faith in humanity to hear how you are raising your daughters.

You said: "Never mind the circular guilt that comes from feeling that you want to help in the struggle for women's equality and feeling as though you have somehow been condescending by suggesting that your help is needed."
I can't speak for anyone but myself, but IMO, we need all the help we can get. And by "we", I don't mean just those of us who are women, but every person who is committed to gender equality.
everything we do is for ourselves

I disagree. Sure, it feels good to do something for someone, but if that's the goal... Well, whatever. At least it motivated someone to do something, I guess. But honestly, you really don't believe in sacrifice?

it's hard to make someone truly feel badly about an issue that doesn't directly, personally affect them

That's just never been my experience. Maybe I'm attracted to hypersensitive people, but for every myopic jerk I've ever come across, there have been several kind, giving souls to inspire me, people who feel a social responsibility toward others.

And yes, I do think it's a responsibility. I understand that not everyone has the time or the money to donate to a cause. And of course everyone has their own problems, but at least most of us aren't being stoned to death just because we're a girl who doesn't know her place. And yeah, the endless list of humans, animals and trees that need attention is exhausting, but anyone can do something as simple as passing the story along. Education is the key to everything, and getting the word out is as important as writing a check. Ignoring the issue is, indeed, lazy.

[ edited by Samantha on 2007-11-06 05:46 ]
This discussion heartens me... mind, I'm coming from a fairly disheartened place. Not that long ago, I was working in a hospital where a woman came in, having had her arm broken for her by her husband. I was standing in front of a poster which said in the local language that domestic violence is illegal, yet when I tried to call the police, every single member of staff laughed at me.
Finally, back from the lab and finished reading every post.

Caleb, you said, "Stoning someone to death is barbaric, and a practice I would expect from someone raised in a culture that isn't developed. That's why I used the term "Dark Ages." If someone thinks it's offensive to call the people in the video barbaric, or to suggest that those who are disgusted by it are (relatively) enlightened, I would say that they should be offended."

There aren't cultures that are or are not developed. There are nations that are/aren't economically developed, but to use these terms on cultures is inaccurate. That's the first thing. The second thing is - how is shooting someone to death more "barbaric" than stoning someone to death? Is the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki any more or less barbaric than stoning? Was the USA in the "dark ages" when they did that? Or how about the Holocaust?

All of the above disgust me, yet you do not see me labeling countries as being "from the dark ages". It often annoys me when people from Western nations think that their "culture" is more "developed" than those from other nations.

You also said, "Now, if someone is offended because they are of the same race, they shouldn't be. I specifically did not bring race into this discussion because I am not linking race to culture. I also do not link country to culture. If you look at the United States, say 100 years ago, there were many distinct cultures, and some of those cultures took a more active role in lynch mobs, for example, than others."

Really. So Chinese culture is not linked to the Chinese race? And Chinese people are not linked to China? What about India? Both of those countries together make up a large proportion of the world's population. That is naive thinking. The people from the US tend to see the world with a US-centric view, which is understandable, but often inaccurate on the global scale. Not all nations are immigrant nations, and some countries (like China) have over 5000 years of recorded history - which forms the cultural identity of the nation and of the people. Saying that people "shouldn't be" offended by your assertion that the culture is "not as developed" is again naivety.

You also said, "You are correct. Religion often perpetuates ideas like these, but the religions themselves have to be born from somewhere, and I would say they come from man. While religion isn't the root cause, it is clear that it doesn't help. People have often used religion to give legitimacy to misogyny, and that is what has to be stopped.

People have often used religion to give legitimacy to lots of things, including the core values of the French enlightenment (which in itself was a precursor of feminism). Saying that religion "doesn't help" is ridiculous and a very narrow view of history.

AmazonGirl, you said, "In our society, there is a sometimes not-so-subtle sexism that is instilled in men...from birth.
It starts with "Hey, you're not goint to put that colour on him are you?" and continues through "Honey, that's a doll. Put it down. It's not for you. Here. Have this toy truck instead." on to "Why are you hanging around with girls...are you gay?" And then it ends with the report I once read where someone aked a sampling of boys what would they'd rather be: a girl...or dead. The results of that sampling almost made me cry.

Thank you for posting this. I sympathise with men/boys who face similar issues. I think that this also contributes to misogyny in that these men/boys end up totally unable to relate to girls, making it easier to hate. I think if men knew what it is like to be a girl, this problem would be greatly diminished. Similarly, if girls knew what it was like to be expected to take control of their own lives, perhaps they would do so and be less reliant on men.

Many women whom I know back home are encouraged to defer to male authority. My aunt, for one, was told that she didn't need to be educated beyond the secondary level because "men don't like women to be educated, and this education serves no purpose". Many of my peers are only interested in earning money, finding a husband and settling down to have kids. Few take a wide view of the world, or are interested in anything beyond the social role that they are expected to play, because our culture is predominantly one of conformity and respecting authority.

Sometimes I think that education is the main issue, but I think of my neighbour, a highly respected and very successful lawyer, being beaten to screaming point every night back home by her husband. My mother and my sister refuse to call the police because they say that "it's a domestic issue", and the only one who wants to call the police is my father. This horrifies me, and I had a long conversation with my family about this. I can't do anything beyond that because I'm 5000 miles away in a different country.

So beyond de-institutionalising misogyny and changing the attitudes of men, women's attitudes must obviously change too. What shocked me about the above situation was not that my neighbour was being beaten. It was that my mother (university graduate, high-level management in a MNC) and my sister (Oxford and LSE graduate, the one who turned me on to Buffy) felt that they shouldn't do anything about it because it wasn't their business and because making a police report is "too much trouble". They also felt that it was my neighbour's fault for tolerating the beating, that she could step away at any moment - which, as any therapist will tell you, is just rubbish.

So when Caleb says, "My point was that it is not productive to blame those people who don't care, it's a road that's not worth going down."

I get really upset. It doesn't take much to allow evil to exist, only a group of people willing to leave conscience and justice to the rest of the world. Do I blame my mother and sister for allowing my neighbour (whom I don't know well at all) to continue being abused? Do I blame my father for not acting because he didn't want to offend my mum and sister? Hell yes.
Event's like Dua's being murdered show that feminism is still a very relevant, that it's not just a quaint "I am woman hear me roar" slogan.

I would never suggest we stop criticizing other nation's policies just because we have some of the same problems. I certainly wrote a lot of letters and pressured my representatives on the Apartheid issue in South Africa, among other causes.

But Americans often don't have the will to address our own issues. After the Virginia Tech massacre a lot of pundits insisted now wasn't the time to talk about our gun culture/violence problem. My own political party, the Democrats, completely lack the will to tackle this problem.
So my international students are going to listen to a lecture about feminism today.

I read Joss' post and the 150+ comments yesterday. Then I got to work lesson planning. A few hours later I'd made my plans without directly thinking of Dua Khalil while I made them. Guess it was still on my mind.

After the lecture and activities, we're going to discuss whether feminism and pushes for women's rights are needed around the world. I'm anxious to hear what the Saudi and Egyptian males in my class think.
RayHill, I've bookmarked that site and am going to start putting away whatever I can to donate to MicroPlace. I'm also going to tell my far-wealthier-than-I-will-ever-be parents and sibling about it. Thank you!
Imagine yourself in a public arena, with the press at your feet ready to broadcast your words across the globe. How would one articulate a call for an end to violence against all humanity?

I don't mean to imply the desire to live in a world of peace is wrong (the possibility of that ever happening aside), but I do have a difficult time imagining such a broad message changing such a diverse range of idiologies that perpetuate specific behaviors resulting in the the varying ways humanity commits violence against its own.

Tossing it out there for the discussion.
I just wanted everyone to know there are concrete ways to help women you know who are being abused. I work for the National Domestic Violence Hotline. We are a link to local services such as shelter, counseling and legal assistance. We are open 24/7 and take calls from victims, friends/family and batterers as well. Yes, we even help batterers find appropriate services such as Batterer Intervention. And we also direct people to their local DV agencies when they want to donate or volunteer. Donating clothing or canned goods or some time is a great way to get involved and do something about violence against women. Please give our number out to your friends who need it. It's 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224. The website is We also run the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474 or TTY 1-866-331-8453. Their website is
We hear from victims all the time and it is surprising how even the small things like supportive listening do so much for them.
Unfortunately, I have not had the time to read all these posts! Having three small boys tends to take up a bit of But I wanted to respond to this post as it is a subject matter that pulls at my heart.

Several years ago, I took a cultural anthropology class and a sociology class. What I learned was eye opening. I learned about wife burning, honor killings, female circumcision, female infanticide and other horrific acts. It made me grateful that I live in a land of freedom and opportunity. A land that I have the right to be educated. And that is, in my opinion is where the answer to these situations lies. EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION.
Like her or not - Oprah did a wonderful show on the subject matter. She also on her website links to and a few other sites designed to help women globally.
It's interesting that searching news sites in the UK (bbc, for example), nothing comes up under Dua's name.
Part of what's tragic about this is that such a horrific crime is so much a part of every day goings on that it doesn't warrant making a fuss of. I'm reminded of that awful massacre in the US in an Amish community (sorry I can't remember the area) in which a man picked out girls only to assault and murder, and the fact that he did so raised few eyebrows. In fact, it was barely commented upon.

I work with female victims of domestic abuse, and, like RazorBlade, wanted to point out there is alot that you can do. One of the most simple, but I think effective, is to challenge these attitudes amongst our friends and families. Alot of guys think watching porn is just that, watching porn; that telling sexist jokes is part of a guys night out. Alot of women think controlling behaviour and jealousy is a mark of passion and love. We can challenge those beliefs and double standards. We can raise our children to challenge them in school.

In the UK, the number for the National DV helpline is 0808 2000 247. Small things make a big difference. You can sign a petition to challenge the god-awful rape conviction rates (in the UK, 5.6% of reported rapes result in a conviction. So 95% don't. And that's just the ones that are reported).

To me this video defnies the saying 'All that is needed for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing'.
Do something.

[ edited by lone fashionable wolf on 2007-06-07 17:22 ]
There's nothing I can say that hasn't been said on this thread. Thank you to Joss for opening this discussion. And thank you to everyone who's posted their thoughts and ideas on how to make the world a little less awful.
To everyone who's interested in the idea of microcredit, here's an artcle about microlenders that cater to individuals who want to give but don't know where or how to start.
The article ranked the highest which I was pleased with because I'd been thinking of loaning through them but wasn't sure about their track record, was the money going where it should, etc., so I'd held off. In March, I made a loan thru Kiva to a female entrepreneur in Mozambique. When the loan comes back in, I'll put it right back into another entrepreneur's account.
For $25, you can make a loan that helps to change a life.
Thanks, RayHill, for bringing this idea into the thread and for the link to Microplace; I'll be checking that out when it launches.
I donate my time and money to a variety of causes, and while they are all worthwhile and they all matter, there's something about this small loan that feels like it's making a real difference.
One more thing--I'm proud to be a part, even a mostly lurky part, of such a passionate, caring, intelligent community, so to all of you who post here--regularly, semi-regularly, rarely, whatever--you're a part of my day every day and I just wanted to say thanks.
This ends the Hallmark moment. : )

[ edited by Syren on 2007-05-21 15:34 ]

[ edited by Syren on 2007-05-21 15:39 ]
I've marked up the shirts $5 above cost, and I plan to donate all of the proceeds to Equality Now. If that makes them too expensive, e-mail me and I'll sell one to you at cost or at whatever markup you feel comfortable with.

Thank you lexigeek. The shirts are beautiful. I just purchased one and will be providing a link for the tee-shirts on my blogger and myspace pages.

Also, thank you, Joss, for taking the time to talk about this. I do get to do something about the pervasive attitude toward women. I'm actually fortunate enough to be an ensemble member of a theatre group which donates 100% of all show profits to various charitible organizations in our area. Right now we're focused on Juarez and the femicide happening there--we've been visiting Juarez about once a month gathering stories and we're creating our show from those interviews. I can't say I would have thought of doing something like this myself, but I'm lucky to know fabulous women who set the best example possible. I've learned a lot from them. So thank you for the link to equality now. Rant any time.
I just heard back from Mandy Sullivan, and she has given Equality Now's official blessing on the shirt. (Whew!) Also, I got permission from Dale Koontz, the person who inspired the idea, to use her name, so big props to her for the fantastic suggestion!
Numfar PTB said: Different cultures are not better or worse, they're simply different. What we should be fighting against is any injustice, no matter where.

This is sort of what jerryst3161 touched on above i.e. at what point should even the most liberal of us stop tolerating "differences" and decide those "differences" are just wrong ? To which i'd add that if right and wrong are to have any meaning at all, if we can say that anything is right or wrong then a line has to be drawn. And if a wrongful practice is an accepted part of a culture then that culture is surely 'worse' than a culture where that practice isn't accepted (an example that springs to mind is Britain during the 18th century when we profited from slavery and generally thought treating foreigners - especially dark skinned ones - as less than human was a jolly old wheeze. We were, as a society, worse then than we are now IMO - which isn't to say we're perfect now of course).

The real test is what we do to try to change other cultures. As it turns out, military invasion may not be the best way to effect social change (huh, who'da thunk it ?) so i'm also tempted to fall back on education and the free spread of information as a good first step (which might allow public opinion to change enough for women's shelters and support organisations to gain a foothold). Not a big fan of organised religion but I think attacking what many people consider to be the bedrock of their society isn't necessarily the best way to get them on-side.

Nebula1400 said: The most conservative estimates are that 1 in 3 women has been or will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.

I'm not in any way reducing the horror of rape or sexual assault but I see figures like '1 in 3' or '1 in 4' quite often and I suspect the figure comes from the since discredited survey by Mary Koss in the 80s. If anyone can point me towards decent evidence for 1/3 of women having been raped then i'll be willing to accept that either 1/3 of men are rapists (and yep, that is one billion people, worldwide i.e. 1/6 of the human race that's just plain horrible enough to commit such a crime) or that there's a small but significant minority of highly mobile men who rape on multiple occasions with impunity. If either turns out to be the case i'll seriously consider just giving up on my entire gender (not to mention the judicial system) and going to live in a frikkin' cave.

(and again, i'll no doubt come across as callous for saying this but isn't it at least possible that 95% of alleged rapists aren't convicted because at least a proportion of them didn't actually do it ? It's an incredibly emotive subject - and rightly so - but with rape as with any other crime we should extend the presumption of innocence to the accused)
This is my first post. Just couldn't ignore such an interesting and moving thread.

I have been thinking about the questions Joss posed. I hope I don't undervalue women and I'm sure I don't abuse them. Would I behave differently if I lived in a society where this was accepted and encouraged? Well I'm glad I don't, but I suspect it would be difficult to resist.

Most of the negative behaviours described have arisen from attitudes towards difference and a desire to exert power over others. If we looked at ourselves as human first then we might find it easier to enjoy the diversity beyond that starting point. I try to judge people by their actions rather than their physical attributes.

I doubt that attitudes will change if we just condemn them. This tends to lead to resistance and extremism. We should start by personal example and be prepared to stand up to injustice whenever we see it. I feel empowered by the passion contained in so many of the posts even though I am a man; guilty in my genes / jeans.
Passing this along from Mandy Sullivan, who would like me to encourage folks to support Equality Now's anti-stoning campaign in Iran.

This is not the same country where Dua was killed, but it is very closeby. And Iran still has stoning on the legal books as a legitimate punishment for adultery...for both men and women (how nice of them not to discriminate) but women are disproportionately targeted by the justice the way, one of our partners in Iran has told us that our campaign has been heard by officials and the woman who's case is highlighted is going to have her case heard in 2-3 weeks. More letters can only help her!!

A Kurdish human rights organization has issued a statement condeming the stoning of Dua Khalil and we can only hope that whoever is in charge will take this in hand and deal with the policemen who stood there and the perpetrators of the attack. I will keep you posted as I hear more.

Recommended Actions

Please write to the Iranian officials below, calling for the immediate commutation of all sentences of death by stoning and the prohibition by law of all cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments, such as stoning and flogging, in accordance with Iran’s obligations under the ICCPR. Urge them to promote compliance with Article 17 of the ICCPR, which protects individuals from unreasonable interference with their privacy. Urge the officials also to initiate a comprehensive review of the Civil and Penal Codes of Iran to remove all provisions that discriminate and perpetuate discrimination against women, including those regarding adultery and fornication, in accordance with Iran’s own constitutional provision for equality before the law. Encourage them to ratify international human rights instruments such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Letters should be addressed to:

His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Head of the Judiciary
c/o Ministry of Justice
Park-e Shahr
Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 3311 6567

His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Presidency Office
Pasteur Avenue, Postal Box 1423-13185
Teheran 13168-43311
Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 6646 2774

Please keep Equality Now updated on your efforts and send copies of any replies you receive to:
Equality Now P.O. Box 20646, Columbus Circle Station, New York NY 10023, USA
Equality Now Africa Regional Office, P.O. Box 2018, KNH 00202, Nairobi, KENYA
Equality Now P.O. Box 48822, London WC2N 6ZW, UNITED KINGDOM

I'm proud to be a part, even a mostly lurky part, of such a passionate, caring, intelligent community, so to all of you who post here--regularly, semi-regularly, rarely, whatever--you're a part of my day every day and I just wanted to say thanks.

Ditto, Syren. I've spent the last 90 minutes of my Monday morning reading these amazing posts instead of pushing the load for my capitalist overseers. Even though it would appear that blogs like these are utterly trivial, they are not. We are connecting. Every day. Sure, it would SEEM that all we care about is escapist TV. But our interests belie our deep, passionate concern for a humanity worth saving, for a life worth living. I think most of us understand that it is not absurd to hold the view that Buffy--a mere commercial entertainment--has made the world a better place. Art can't save a life. It can't protect anyone from injustice or violence or death. It only reminds us that we can be better, that we are capable of bringing healing and laughter and wisdom through the creations that we share. I'm not sure that's enough to renew anyone's faith in humanity. But with so few alternatives, I'll take it.
Not wanting to distract from Joss' message which is very powerful and impassioned, but I would be interested to see him make a documentary on this subject.

Just so long as Joss doesn't become the next Theo Van Gogh, I think it's brilliant. I would say, "That wouldn't happen in the US," but then my husband previously thought "That wouldn't happen in Holland." Goddess bless the men who stand up for the women who can't stand up for themselves. It's not entirely without risk.

(Van Gogh was a Dutch filmmaker who, in 2004, made a film about how Muslim women are mistreated in their culture and families. He was subsequently shot, stabbed, and nearly decapitated in broad daylight by someone who...disagreed with his views and didn't like him telling other people his opinions.)

anti-stoning campaign

That I live in a world where this is a necessary phrase makes me ill.
I just wanted to quickly respond to Kentonist on one issue. Raising a son who is sensitive and empathic toward women's issues is not that difficult. Joss Whedon's parents clearly did it and I did it with my 34 year-old-son. (I'm a little older than one might expect of a woman with a nine-year-old) It's the values you teach them at home and I have a feeling you'd do well with that. We just need more of us to teach those values to our sons. And we need more of us to teach our daughters to be tough. We still have a very long way to go, but at least some of us are on the right road.

And now I need to dust off my practice sword and start teaching my little girl how to use it.

And in case anyone is wondering about the ghoulie tag - I am the creative genius (ego speaking) behind our local haunted house for charity. The haunts are called "Ghoulies House of Horrors." We stick to the classic themes without all the guts and gore. We do not encourage or condone physical violence between humans as entertainment. Demons on the other hand ... look out for my little slayer.
Saje, from an informal survey of my women friends in my middle-class American life -- not in a war zone -- I'd say one in three women being subjected to rape/assault (I'm one of the one in three) seems a reasonable statistic, and that's the ones who are willing to discuss it. It doesn't follow that one in three men is a rapist, as one rapist can attack any number of persons.

As to the meaning of the men who filmed the murder with their cell phones -- I'm not going to watch the footage because, apart from my crappy Internet connection, I feel that I don't need to see a real murder and, quite honestly, I don't know how Dua herself would feel about *more* people viewing this. If it happened to me, if I was murdered in public, would I want more or less witnesses? I'd certainly want people to know about it and take some sort of action on my behalf, but would I want people, even sympathetic people, to *see* it? I'd want a reliable witness who was sympathetic to me, I think, but overall, I am wondering if watching it just adds (admittedly in a minor way compared to the murder) to the violation. The men with cell phones probably did think, "Oh, this is cool! And we can spread more fear by showing this!" Of course, one of the cell-phone videographers could have thought, "If I show this, maybe somebody outside of here will do something about it, because I can see that nobody around me is doing anything, except of course for the active participants." Whatever the motive, as Mother Jones said, "Pray for the dead, fight like hell for the living." Do what you can.
This is not going to be a popular opinion but here goes....

I have a hard time caring about someone who has little interest in preserving thier own life. I have a female friend from India. She says things like this are common there too. She has also said most time the girls go into this willing. She said that if it were her, and something she had done damaged (in any way) her family name and this was the way to get her familys honor back, she'd do it in a heartbeat and wouldnt want ANYONE to interfere. Thats shocking to here from anyone, especially one of your best friends. I watched the Dua Khalil video and from what i saw in the video i watched, she put up no real resistance to what was happening. No, that doesnt justify dropping a cynder block on someones head, but i cant really feel that bad for someone who has no interest in saving thier own life. While i strongly disagree with the customs, there are too many problems with our own culture for us to go critiqueing everyone elses, especially when those people dont really care about changing it. I felt the same way about the Iraqi War. Why should we help "liberate" a country who shows no interest in helping themselves. What happened to Dua Khalil was terrible, but im not going to lose sleep over something she didnt even try to prevent. She was going to die anyways, she knew that, at least TRY to save your life. SHOW ME YOU VALUE YOU LIFE, then i can be concerened with protecting it. Luckily my friend is from a wealthy more liberal area of india and what happened to Dua Khalil wouldnt happen to her, but if it did, as much as i love the girl, if she wanted to die, i'd have to let her. Cause i have no right to interfere with her culture, even though i disagree with it, if she supports it. However if at some point she tried to fight off her attackers, i'd die trying to help her.

"It's better to die standing, than to live on your knees"
Hello all,

I just received a SoCalBrowncoats Digest by email and in it, there are two very thoughtful links I would like to share with you.

I just signed this Petition, made possible by the International Campaign against killings and stoning of women in Kurdistan.

You can also go to this Website,, sign up and help out.

And thank you for all the links and addresses upthread.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2007-05-21 19:11 ]
Can I say bollocks on this blog. If not edit the word by all means, but I stand by the sentiment. pongluver, you're right I don't think your opinion will be popular at all.

I cannot believe anyone from anywhere would stand by and watch and/or video a murder. Any murder. But your words make me feel that you would stand by and watch. That you would not raise a finger to help someone because by your standards they aren't helping themselves enough.

"It's better to die standing, than to live on your knees" Yeah, bit hard to do that if you've had your legs knocked out from under you.

As to the "liberating" of Iraq. I think you'll find governments are more interesting in "liberating" their oil than helping the people.

I hope my post isn't deleted and that I'm not banned or given a "time out", which I understand from a friend who was timed out is pretty much the same thing as she still can't post months later. But my words are in response to the opinion and not an attack on the poster. Obviously it's hard to seperate the two. But if you make a post like that people will have strong opinions about it.
pongluver - I don't even know if what you said warrants too much response but I feel compelled to address what you said. I don't want to attack you personally but I did find your words really insensitive to this whole issue. There IS a bit of a larger world going on outside of the insulated one you seem to live in. And in that larger world - there is a great deal of violence that occurs that doesn't really take into account what one individuals 'will to live' is. Just open ANY newspaper on any day and read about the wars/atrocities that are going on - should we not help them because they don't seem to be 'helping themselves' enough? I think I should stop before this does get personal.
On another note - JuliaL - I really liked everything you posted so far. It kept me thinking for quite awhile last night. Good stuff.
JuliaL, i wouldnt watch, but if someone didnt try to save thier own life, i'd walk away. Getting knocked on your butt doesnt mean you cant TRY to fight for your life.

I don't see why your post would be deleted and i hope its not, and in no way have i taken your post as an attack twords me, so nobody else should. ALso i understand why you'd disagree with me. However, i still feel the same way. If someone doesnt care enough about thier own life to fight for it, then i dont care either.

and ruthless, my post illustrated an understanding of how widespread problems like that are. However until those people get sick of it happening, then no i dont care about it. We have enough domestic violence here to worry about.

[ edited by pongluver on 2007-05-21 19:54 ]
I started a long post (3 pages and counting) and then abandoned it. Most of the ideas have been covered, and I seriously doubt anyone’s going to find my additional $.02 worth a damn or life changing.

I appreciate Joss bringing this to our attention. I’ve read the accumulated posts and seen what a can of worms this has opened. Healthy thing, that. Whether to be appalled because this happened because she was a woman, or to be appalled because it happened that she was a religious minority transgressing the taboos of her culture, or to be appalled because some idiot stood their and filmed it, well take your pick. We’re all appalled.

I have to admit, Joss’ strong feminist slant has never been one of the things that has drawn me to him as an artist. It’s one of his defining issues, I understand, and I applaud his tenacity at seeing his cause as one worth fighting for. But I didn’t get into Buffy until fairly late in the game, largely because the token males in the Scooby Gang were so unmanly as to put the show firmly in the “chick flick” category. Loved them as characters – but all of the “strong men” were vampires, repentant or not, and I hate to see my gender put in such a light where they can exist only as sexually unthreatening, incompetent milquetoast subservients (Giles and Zander) or “reformed” monsters (Spike, Angel, and Oz) who only use their violent male powers for “good” (which is whatever the lead woman wants it to be.)

Things got better when Buffy got a Real Live Boy (Riley) for a boyfriend, but then they decided he couldn’t be strong on his own with Buffy and so felt compelled to get a greater advantage through superpowers. Because the male ego, apparently, cannot stand to be overshadowed. Ever. Because we are all so personally insecure about such things. In Angel things got somewhat better, but notice how no one thought Wes was cute until he went all dark and violent.

Things were much better in Firefly. Jayne was unapologetically sexual, unapologetically violent. And yet he followed another alpha male of his own free will. Wash wasn’t violent, but he was highly competent (compared to Zander) and he was willing to get his ass kicked if it meant protecting his wife. Mal was both violent and sexual, but had a moral code and internal compass that established his chivalrous boundaries. And Simon, well, he was competent, willing but uneager to fight, and he was being aggressively pursued by a highly sexual woman.

What bothered me about Joss’ writing is not the fact that he writes strong female characters and complex gender issues. What initially bothered me about Joss was that (at least in the early Buffy) he left no room for a strong, competent man who didn’t feel the need to oppress anyone. His male characters always seemed purposeless and misguided about their lives until a strong woman came along and set them straight. That bothered me.

Because the simple fact is, the issue of violence against women isn’t going to be settled unless male sexuality is respectfully included in the equation. Denigrating it out of hand, condemning it outright, using it as a tool of shame and disgrace, that isn’t going to work. I’ve read an awful lot from hurt women on this board, and my heart goes out to all of you. There is no doubt that you have to put up with a lot of crap, just for being women. And you don’t want to hear about the crap that men put up with, because in many cases you a) don’t think it’s valid, considering we’re the ones doing all of the oppressing and b) why should we complain because we’re at the top of the social and cultural heap. The fact that we have our own issues, values, concerns and desires is inconsequential to your equation, so I’ll avoid the inevitable (and supremely tiring) discussion that would follow and skip straight to the point.

I’m a middle-aged, white male voter with a beautiful wife, three kids (including a beautiful 5 year old daughter) and a house in the suburbs. According to all the proper polls, I’m the guy with the most power in the world, no matter how personally ineffectual and inconsequential I feel. I safely own guns for a variety of reasons, I play violent video games upon occasion, I like pornography, and I love sex in all of its manifestations. Doubtlessly, by now you have written me off as an “oppressor” based on my vital statistics. My point: Any solution of violence against women is going to have to have the support of me and my white male suburban peers, however distasteful you find me and my lifestyle. And despite my personal animosity towards anyone who would do that to a little girl – much less their own little girl – if you want to engage me, then find some way to do it without trashing my gender, denigrating my sexuality, and blaming me for all of the world’s ills. Otherwise I’ll just go back to playing videogames instead of trying to be part of the solution.

You’ll call me a misogynist (unfairly), a sexist (because you haven’t tried to listen), an apologist (because you think me and my life are indefensible) and worse. Go ahead. I’m used to it. I’ve been called all of those things since I was 7 years old, before I even knew what a penis was for. By the time I was 12, I knew for a fact that, despite my inability to have any kind of control over my own life, I was single-handedly responsible for all of the worlds ills from slavery to the Holocaust, and that I was incapable of doing anything else unless I was willing to surrender my testicles first – and even then, I still couldn’t ever really understand. By the time I was 18, being the “sensitive guy” I was told every woman wanted my entire life hadn’t panned out because despite the rhetoric, on a personal level those same “feminists” were passing up sensitive guys like spoiled meat in favor of the very macho idiots they claimed to despise.

So I packed up the last vestiges of “feminism”, married a fat nerdy chick, and withdrew politically in favor of cable TV and videogames. You want me to be part of the solution? Convince me. With reason, grace, and eloquence. But do it in a way that doesn’t insult me, berate my gender, or denigrate my sexuality. Or don’t bother.

I probably just blew all of my Whedon street cred here, but it needed to be said, on top of everything else that’s been said. I like Joss. He’s a brilliant storyteller, an outstanding concept guy, pretty quick with the witty dialog, and he writes like a wet dream. And what he said at the top of the page, well, it needed to be said, and it needed to be discussed. I love him for his willingness to tackle such big issues when, as a celebrity, he could just as easily throw his weight behind a children’s hospital or a cancer cure and get along just fine. But I think that some of the rhetoric in response, with social, cultural, religious, biological, and other commentary, tries to take the most complex issue in the world (inter-gender relations) and try to simplify it unjustly. I’m not going to apologize for my gender, or my sexuality. Nor should I. But until someone comes out with a realistic way to contend with the fact that young men run around with five times the legal testosterone limit in their blood, and that the urges and desires forged at that time linger with all men throughout their lives, well, it’s going to remain a pretty academic argument.
I am sure Joss has moved on but I wanted to commend him for giving some of us a wakeup call. However, I can't stand some of the judgment that I have read in terms some people suggesting that as human beings we are just ignoring the things around us.

I think that as human beings we naturally want to feel safe, feel loved and hold on to the idea that life can be great. I think that most of us to live our lives in a day to day capacity with these sort of self defense blinders on about life.

It sort of reminds me of the covers that some horses have on their eyes that prevent them from looking in any direction but forward. What I mean by that is, that same horse knows that there are things there but it just can't see them. It gives that horse sort of a false sense of comfort.

I think we are much the same. We know horrific things happen around us every single day. We know there are bad things that happen but we choose not to focus on them. It's a catch 22. If we didn't have these human blinders on could we really go on living day to day life? Could you really push forward, stay sane and concentrate on the good things if you used all your energy on the negative?

I don't think people ignore these horrific things per say. However, every once in while something happens that pushes us to the point where we have to remove the blinders. I don't think these blinders for most of us are out there out of malice or because we simply don't care. I think these blinders are their to keep us sane and hold on to a sense of hope in this crazy thing we call life. They are more a defense mechanism to allow us to continue and push on.

I would never in a million years suggest that any of these events should happen. Unfortunately, the reality is as humans we seem to need them to happen to move forward and to push for change. 911 was a perfect example. We got complacent. We believed that nothing to the Pearl Harbor type scale was possible anymore. We were reminded how fragile we really are. We were reminded how fleeting our level of comfort really is. We needed that kick in the butt to remind us that we don't live in this little bubble and that world events impact us all.

Through history we know that out of tragedy comes a renewed sense of purpose and a new meaning of life. We are living in insane times right now and if every once in a while we need to have these blinders on to stay sane then who are we to judge? Staying sane allows us to pick and choose our battles. To stay in the "good fight" another day.

I hate to sound too Yin Yang but maybe just maybe it's just the universe's twisted way of bringing balance and reminding us what it really is to be human. To take it one step further it's our reaction to these events that makes us human.
What happened to Dua Khalil was terrible, but im not going to lose sleep over something she didnt even try to prevent. She was going to die anyways, she knew that, at least TRY to save your life. SHOW ME YOU VALUE YOU LIFE, then i can be concerened with protecting it.


Being attacked by a group including relatives is not a situation in which a person has much ability to defend herself. But even beyond that, feeling powerless can leave a person just as unable to defend herself as if she was physically unable to do so. Psychology is just as dangerous as a physical weapon. More importantly, blaming the victim perpetuates the problem and helps no one. If you want to understand how a person can feel powerless enough to allow violence against herself, I strongly urge you to locate a local shelter for victims of domestic abuse and to volunteer there.

Violence against women is everywhere. If an international effort seems too distant and complex for your individual effort to have a real impact (I'll agree to disagree here), then make good on the key point of your own criticism, and make a local impact. The victim in the video probably needed to know that someone else felt her life was worth defending just as desperately as she needed someone to physically defend her from her attackers. There are women wherever you live who have the same need. Help them stand up for themselves.
ScrewtheAlliance, that was a great post.
Sunfire, agree to disagree indeed. I get your point, but still feel the same way. Be it a woman or not, i feel the same way about anyone.
Thank you Joss for starting this thread and this passionate discussion.

What keeps running through my head is: "It's about power. Who has it, who knows how to use it."

How do we subvert the power structures once we see them? How do we create change to stop the cycles of violence and abuse? How do we promote stronger represenations of women in the arts and media?
It’s safe to say that I’ve snapped. That something broke, like one of those robots you can conquer with a logical conundrum. All my life I’ve looked at this faulty equation, trying to understand, and I’ve shorted out. I don’t pretend to be a great guy; I know really really well about objectification, trust me. And I’m not for a second going down the “women are saints” route – that just leads to more stone-throwing (and occasional Joan-burning). I just think there is the staggering imbalance in the world that we all just take for granted. If we were all told the sky was evil, or at best a little embarrassing, and we ought not look at it, wouldn’t that tradition eventually fall apart? (I was going to use ‘trees’ as my example, but at the rate we’re getting rid of them I’m pretty sure we really do think they’re evil. See how all rants become one?)

I've been thinking about my own male aggression today. What if there would be small societys within small societies where equality is de facto? We're not there yet, but I feel that I live in a society that is bit more equal in gender roles than I can deduce U.S. are. Our advertisements aren't so blatant: when they are, someone raises a voice and that voice is heard. That torture-ad wouldn't fly here. Most of the government are women. Etc. Things are statistically bit better. And inside there are subcultures: best comparison would be 'our Hollywood liberals'. University people, intelligenzia, who take pride to be more progressive than people around them. This is the context where I've been living. I don't know much people outside these circles and likeminded people.

In my life there is currently no place for aggression. There could be discharge: I could do some more aggressive sports. I don't. There haven't been any functional role, any use, for aggression in my life for last 15 years (after middle school). It still won't go away. Beneath mild manners, a part of me still wants to hit people with fists, many times during the day. This varies between people. Some are like me, some are more easy going.

I'm perfectly happy to live in a society where expression of that emotion in that way is practically banned. It is a very rare thing in human history when violence has such disapproval: there are so many factors working against it. We get angry, it is only natural to hit. But limitations on that natural impulse is what society is all about. Bit by bit, we're having that under control, but violence against women, behind closed doors, that is one of the last refugees.

This aggression and urge to hit works in a very primal ways. It makes calculations that conscious mind won't recognize. It targets those that won't probably hit back. Even if women would be 5% weaker in physical strength on average, this fact would allow societies to eventually slide to institutionalized misogyny. Being a woman is a trusted signifier for easier prey, and after that comes the justification for act of violence. So there will be rationalizations and acceptance, because there is that only natural-part. That we are not allowed to hit elder leader or royalty, or rich person, these are the laws that we grudgingly accept, but there has to be someone we are permitted to use force on? Societies tend to look alike in this respect.

Bit by bit, good old enlightenment-style rationalization of 'what we should be' has won over opportunistic rationalizations of 'what we just did' dressed in fancy godwords. I see Joss doing that, continuing the enlightenment tradition. It will win. I will be raging daily for next decades, but I won't attack people, physically or sexually. Anyone should be able to do that. No excuses. And in the end, it is all that is needed. And support those who have made the choice.
Pongluver: so when 100 men come, attack you and knock you unconscious, you want us all to walk away because you weren't strong enough to stay on your knees? Never mind, I hope nothing like that ever happens to you. I wish it never happens to anyone.

ScrewtheAlliance: I really enjoyed your post, but I'm sorry you see Giles and Xander as weak men, I don't believe they were ever meant to be. I saw Xander as a lot like Wash, who was not a fighter but was ready to die to save Mal in 'Warstories', and I saw Giles as a strong intelligent man who was more than capable of holding his own in a fight. But of course I always thought Wesley was cute, admittedly even cuter when he got all bad-ass James Bond w/the hidden stakes up his sleeves. It is true that on Buffy the star/hero of the show was Buffy (so none of the other characters were going to become stronger than her, not for long anyway).
embers, i never said anything about you all walking away. I said i would. I'm not saying nobody should help other people, i said i cant see a point in it if those people show no interest in self preservation. I'm not trying to convert anyone to my way of thinking, im saying its MY opinion.
On the other hand, I didn't enjoy either pongluver's or ScrewtheAlliance's posts one bloody iota.

But since I have to actually get some work done today, measured response - which would be more suitable than what I would post now anyway, in immediate reaction - will have to wait.
ScrewtheAlliance, thanks for your thoughtful post. However, I do take issue with a few things that you said.

Buffy was specifically written to oppose the "female is a screaming victim" cliche within the action/horror genres. It was also written to portray different, non-stereotypical males. It succeeded on both counts; it can even be said that Buffy set a precedent with the number of strong female characters who made up the show. I believe that Joss once said that Buffy was written to be an icon for feminism. That she undoubtedly is. Firefly and Angel had very different mission statements. It is unfair to compare all three shows based on the premise of representation of stereotypically strong males when the purpose of one show was specifically to represent the strong female and non-stereotypical males (whom many people, including myself, identify with and feel are strong too).

I also have a few comments to make about hurtful comments.

Who hasn't been labeled things or called names that are inaccurate, hurtful and wrong? Being labeled a "militant feminist/feminazi lesbian who can't get a man" countless times (I'm not actually, and I would gladly admit to being gay if I actually were) hasn't stopped me from campaigning for gay or women's or human rights. It is easier to convince people to fight for something if there is a central, stereotypical symbol to be attacked. e.g. in the War on Terror, Islamic extremists = Al Qaeda/All Terrorists = WMD = Iraq = Saddam Hussein.

It's untrue, obviously (the parallel here is the female oppressor = WASP = sexual male). But people keep repeating it because it's easy to sell. I personally feel that everyone has a role to play, and I hope that you will keep fighting the good fight (against misogyny in general) and not be put off by this.
I only saw them as "weak" in the sense that a) they had to be led and couldn't come up with anything on their own (because men are stupid and need a woman to tell them what to do) or if they did, it went hopelessly wrong and they needed Buff to save them and b) they were, personally, incapable of pursuing a woman in a romantic (read "sexual") context. In essence, I felt that they needed permission before they were allowed by the group to express their sexuality. They were reactionary, without true initiative of their own, and, ultimately, "unmanly". Not the same as "weak". A subtle distinction, I admit . . .
Ugh, double-post.

[ edited by non sequitur on 2007-05-21 20:57 ]
ScrewtheAlliance: On the other side of the fence, I've had female friends who joked (I hope) about raping and battering men and who insulted women who made the decision to have children or be homemakers instead of having a "real" career, among other things. That isn't equality to me; it's just perpetuating bad behavior. Women taking on the most offensive and hurtful traits traditionally thought of as male in the name of leveling the playing field isn't a solution, and neither is blaming men for being born male. Fighting fire with fire just leads to an overcrowded burn ward and all that.

[ edited by Lady Brick on 2007-05-21 21:03 ]
Buffy succeeded, then, in becoming an icon to feminism. Which is, perhaps, why I never clicked with that show the way I did Firefly. I've been on the wrong side of "feminist activism" for no better reason than I was a white male in the room once too many times. Calm, well-reasoned discussions are always welcome, but when the level of debate descends to the "if you don't agree with me, you're part of the problem!" level, I lose interest. I have enough active causes that take up my energy. To indulge in one where I seem to be consistantly demeaned and demonized seems an indulgence in masochism I just don't need.

I try to fight the good fight. I even consider myself a "Camille Paglia Feminist", for what it is worth. But the solution here is not to drag men down, or to push women up, but to renegotiate the entire reproductive contract without recourse to coercion and violence. And that won't happen until everyone is ready to lay their guns on the table and talk in an honest and forthright manner. IMO modern feminism has lost its way, and while I am encouraged by the cultural changes I have seen, I am profoundly discouraged anytime I see male-bashing. I have a daughter who I want to have every opportunity in life to become whatever she wants to be. I also have two sons that I'm desperately afraid will grow up with the same "It's all YOUR fault" ideology that took me so long to overcome.
Giles and Xander (that's with an X, by the way) were incapable of pursuing a woman? Like Giles visiting woman friend in, say, Hush? Or his cut-short through no fault of his own involvement with Jenny Calendar? Or Xander's long-standing albeit complicated relationship with Anya?
ScrewtheAlliance, you said, "I only saw them as "weak" in the sense that a) they had to be led and couldn't come up with anything on their own (because men are stupid and need a woman to tell them what to do) or if they did, it went hopelessly wrong and they needed Buff to save them and b) they were, personally, incapable of pursuing a woman in a romantic (read "sexual") context. In essence, I felt that they needed permission before they were allowed by the group to express their sexuality. They were reactionary, without true initiative of their own, and, ultimately, "unmanly". Not the same as "weak". A subtle distinction, I admit . . ."

I disagree, and can raise quite a few examples to prove my point. For a):
- When Buffy got injected with something by Giles in the test where she got locked in a house with a vampire as a slayer's test. Later on, he showed up to "rescue her" on his on conscience.
- Solving the Dark Willow problem with the earth magic thingy in S6, together with Xander.
- Xander talking to the potentials and Dawn in S7 on his own accord, being the "unspoken leader" behind the scenes while Buffy moped away.
- Giles trying to attack Angelus to take revenge for Jenny Calendar's death (and being stopped by Buffy).

I think these are all acts that show a great degree of initiative.

b) Also untrue, examples as follows:
- Xander and Cordelia.
- Giles and Jenny Calendar.
- Angel and Buffy.

All of the above pairings hardly got any supposed "permission" from the group to act on their attraction.

I personally do not think that the men on Buffy are unmanly. They are simply more empathetic than the typical male.

Edited because good grammar is attractive...

[ edited by non sequitur on 2007-05-21 21:20 ]

Actually, in each case you prove my point. If Giles had actually thought that the test was unfair and that Buff needed his assistance, he should have resisted more profoundly as a matter of conscience. Or he should have let her deal with the matter on her own, no hope of rescue. But the vascillation shows a lack of deciciveness that is usually not seen as "manly".

As far as Dark Willow goes, it was Xander's appeal to the touchy-feely crayon-breaking kindergartener that did the trick. Every time he tried to do anything macho and manly, he got his ass handed to him and had to be bailed out. Ineffectual and incompetent. Comic relief.

Giles trying to get revenge on Angelus (and, later, his killing of Glory's host) was perhaps the closest the Giles character ever got to "manliness". But they were abberations, considering the totality of his character. Indeed, these instances were powerful, from a storytelling point of view, precisely because they were departures from his expected character.

While Giles' involvement with the lady who visited him in Hush was, for reasons of the story, largely unexplained, note that both Giles and Xander (thanks for the correction) were indeed pursued by their women. While this makes lovely feminist storytelling, it is also a great rarity and a switch on the culturally ingrained man-as-pursuer. I don't take issue with it as a plot device -- as was previously stated, Buffy was designed as a feminist icon. But some change-up every now and then would have been nice. Y'know, a strong male character who made a conscious decision not to use his strength and/or powers for oppression and/or eating people. One who could face a strong woman on her own terms and not suffer from such debilitating insecurity about it that he ultimately failed? I had such great hopes for Riley . . .

Also note that both Jenny and Anya were super-powered, whereas Xander and Giles (despite his great knowlege of magick) were "merely male". They were given little choice in the matter. The women decided, and the men went along with it because . . . well, because they were pretty and would condescend to be with them. Woman pretty, man want, ug! Hardly the complex interplay of emotions that one would expect from a real relationship. And while Xander's relationship with Cordelia could be construed as a more traditional pairing, she, too, pursued him, and then berated him throughout the entire relationship. And he put up with it, pretty much. And in each case, the female chorus cheered.

Because she was pretty and if he actually stood up for himself against her abuse, she'd dump him. Great writing. Poor male role model.
Giles unmanly? I always found him to be quite a hunk, myself...
ScrewtheAlliance For what it's worth I agree with your take on the male characters on the show. And I'm a woman. I believe that on occassion the treatment of the men felt like misandry.

And while I note you comments on Xander and Cordy, I do feel that Xander was quite cruel to Anya on occasion. And this is from a Xander fan.

Xander and Giles had their moments. But they were only moments. If the female characters were written so strongly why should anyone feel the need to not write the male characters the same way. The conclusion would be to suggest that Buffy could only be strong because the men followed her, instead of walking beside her as equals, which actually undercuts her strength. I best not even mention he who should not be named, but I found that the assaults on him by a female character being played for laughs was disgraceful.
ScrewtheAlliance: It sounds like you're talking to yourself and all your personal demons instead of responding to any real assaults made on your white maleness here. The defensiveness was breathtaking. And even more, it's entirely unproductive -- to you, to white men, to women, to anyone.

You're obviously a thoughtful guy, but making (volatile) generalizations about modern feminists (air quotes and all) is the same mistake you accuse other people of making about you.

[ edited by orphea on 2007-05-21 22:01 ]
Hmm . . . to post to Whedonesque about another post to Whedonesque that bugged me, or to write to a government official about aspects of the Iranian criminal code that bug me . . .
ScrewtheAlliance, my perspectives of Buffy are very different.

Giles thought that the test was unfair but what he was giving in to was his responsibilities as a Watcher under the power of the Watcher's Council (all men). He specifically decided to disobey them because of his love and feelings of protectiveness for Buffy and as a result, got fired from the council (and Buffy quit). I think that it is important to recognise that he had 2 conflicting responsibilities here, and (like many men) tended to side with his professional responsibility first. I personally do not think that "decisiveness" is a property of "manliness".

As far as Dark Willow goes, it was because she sucked the earth magic from Giles (who had planned this long ago), imbuing her with the ability to feel Xander's love that the apocalypse was averted. When was it said that men can't be touchy-feely? I think that Xander is powerful precisely because of his love and empathy (yes, this subverts gender stereotypes, but hardly emasculates him!). Never was much for his comic relief, though - his sense of humour is not really my cup of tea.

I don't think that Giles' attempted revenge was "the closest" that he got to "manliness". I think that he is very much a man with many different facets. Look at the hints of his past as Ripper in many different episodes, including Band Candy. The way that he deals with Ethan Rayne also provides clues to the other side of Giles beyond being a protective father figure. What I love about Buffy is that characters are never one-note, including Giles. I am not surprised that his "Ripper" personality wasn't explored in great detail in Buffy, because it is primarily a show about Buffy. But I would have been very interested to see more.

I think we probably have very different definitions of "strong male characters", and this is what is causing the difference of opinion. You see a strong male character as someone who is in line with the socially-prescribed gender norms. I see a strong male character as a man who can be secure enough in himself that he can accept all aspects of himself, and feels comfortable living in his own skin and not need to "prove" himself to be the strongest, or the fastest, etc.

Actually, Jenny and Anya were not super-powered. Anya was a vengeance demon for all of 1 episodes in S3 (The Wish) and a few episodes in S6-7 (Hell's Bells to Selfless). The rest of the time, she spent as a human wishing that she was a demon. Jenny was a techno-pagan and had no superpowers either.

As for Xander/Cordelia, Xander broke Cordelia's heart when she saw him kissing Willow. Cordelia was bitchy to everyone, not just Xander, so obviously it was just a character trait and not one that defined the relationship. Xander also broke Willow's heart when he got together with Cordelia. I'm honestly not sure how you could read their relationships with such a tone when I read them so differently.
Dear Joss,
As I write this, 288 people have left comments for you. If we all reach out to just one person, and they each reach out to another person, and it continues, you will have helped create what we all hope will be a flood of protests, contributions, and just plain outrage. Your painful message may ignite the passion necessary to fight this horror. It seems a rational request for justice does not guarantee anything will happen. Passionate emotions must be involved to overcome the inertia to act, to become involved.

You've done something to prove you care, Joss Whedon. It's up to each of us to prove we care as well.

ScrewtheAlliance: I don't think that positive 'manly' character traits are as universal or ahistorical as you assume. Pretty much gone or subverted in a generation here. And the strong male character you're looking for is a dead end for character development perspective. Xander achieved that through years, his journey lasted to the last episode, but if he'd been there earlier, where could the character then go? Riley started at that point and then got troubled and angsty; again not male-thing, but because characters have to change. Stoic, decisive, steadfast people do not fit well into series format. (Watching Oz [HBO, not stoic werewolf] while writing this. Those guys are very male, but also very fickle.)

[ edited by futile on 2007-05-21 22:32 ]
Pointy: Hmm . . . to post to Whedonesque about another post to Whedonesque that bugged me, or to write to a government official about aspects of the Iranian criminal code that bug me . . .

You make a very good point as usual, Pointy-the-Well-Named-Indeed. I'm going to do the latter now, and maybe the former later.
My piece will always begin with that simple question: how did women become so universally undervalued and abused? How was it pulled off, and how exactly was it useful?

To answer Joss' question: when societies became settled and developed agriculture, the family became the unit of labour. A woman's position as one of the heads of the family was indisputable, whereas men became dispensible. If relationships continued to be as easily terminated as they were in hunter-gather societies, then every time one ended, the man would find himself not only without a partner, but without livelihood. Unless men were able to claim ownership and control over the land, the means of production, the family, and over women's sexuality. Laws and traditions arose to ensure this. Patriarchy ensued.

Since then, patriarchy has become ingrained in the way society operates, and in ideas about masculinity and femininity

That's my sociology prof's theory anyways, and I find myself in agreement. It's broad enough to apply across cultural lines, without falling back on biological determinism.

There's no way I'll be able to read this entire thread, but I'd like to comment on ScrewtheAlliance's comments about Joss' male characters being "unmanly."

What does it mean precisely to be unmanly? Do men really have characteristics that separate them from women (besides the physical)? Why are such characteristics desireable? If one is "unmanly" does that mean that one is "womanly"? Why is that considered a bad thing? You see, inherent in the concept of "manliness" is the idea that men are stronger, better, more worthy than women. It also limits men to a range of approved "manly" emotions and behaviours, instead of allowing them to develop fully as human beings. Ideas of masculinity and femininity, of what is "manly" and "unmanly" are all socially constructed and socially specific; they set up false dichotomies between men and women and preserve inequitable balances of power; they ought to be questioned, challenged, and torn apart. That is what Joss' work excels in.
Thank you so much for writing this piece. I've wondered many of the same things, but have never been able to verbalize them with quite the panache you do.

(And for the record, I checked where that link was taking me before I actually opened it. I'm okay NOT watching a girl get beaten to death, thankyouverymuch.)
blueanddollsome - well said!
First class postage to Teheran is 90 cents. Hope the ayatollah likes DC superhero stamps. (Superman, Green Lantern, and a close up of Wonder Woman's face, head covered with a modest tiara. Should woman superheroes cover their heads to show respect for local cultural and religious norms? Discuss, when you have nothing better to.)

[ edited by Pointy on 2007-05-21 22:52 ]
Thank you, Joss, for writing such an eloquent post and for igniting so much passionate discussion, here and elsewhere. It is so vital that we understand what is happening in the world and what we can do to create change in our own communities as well as others.

To that end, I propose a personal challenge to each of you who have been reading this thread. We all have something valuable to contribute, be it our time, our money, or our awareness and continuing discussion of these issues.

I've seen many thoughtful posts here, and I know there are many more of us, myself included, who have been lurking quietly. We have strength, especially in numbers. Let's do something with it. Imagine what we could accomplish if we spent as much time

Here are just a few things you can do to help:

1. Go to the Equality Now website and donate $1.00. I just did it; it takes less than five minutes. Fill out the form and where it asks how you found out about Equality Now, write Joss Whedon's name.

2. Buy an "I am Dua Khalil" shirt. Better yet, buy two, and send one to a friend or family member.

3. Attend your local Can't Stop the Serenity event.

4. As RayHill suggested much earlier, check out this micro-lender. Tell people you know that they can help.

5. Blog about this. Post a link on your website. Print out Joss' post and put it on a community bulletin board. Call a local reporter and ask them to cover this story.

6. Call your Mom and tell her that she is/was a strong female role model for you, and that you're grateful to her.

7. Tell a child you know that she or he can be whatever she wants when she grows up.

8. Go watch Joss' speech again.

9. Keep talking about this, and any issue that you feel passionately about.

10. Come back to this thread in a week, or less, and tell us all what you did/are going to do to help.

These are only a tiny percentage of the ways you can help. Let's see what we can do with our combined energy and hope.

Since it's my challenge, it's only fair that I start. I went to the Equality Now website and donated $50.00. I watched Joss' speech again, and I'm going to Can't Stop the Serenity here in Seattle.

Who's next? Let's give Joss some faith in humanity.
Interestingly after reading this thread I also read this post by Henry Jenkins about the recent Harry Potter conference in New Orleans. At the end he notes:

"Many fans just wanted to have a good time this weekend but others were arguing that they should exploit their skills as media producers and distributors and take advantage of their massive numbers to make a difference in society. One could argue that this vision of fandom as a political movement might reflect the ideological construction of the books themselves, which encourage us to stand up for what we believe in, to question authority, and to take strength in our own communities. It would be interesting, indeed, if the Harry Potter books turned out to have shaped the political beliefs of the next generation, much as they have shaped their cultural imaginations. I told the reporter that it was no accident that the success of the Harry Potter books has occurred primarily in a Post-9/11 world and that it has paralleled the success of Rick Warren's The Purpose-Driven Life. Both books encourage us to see our lives in a larger context, to seek out and pursue a larger purpose than our own self interests."
Well as some one once said and it may have been me, sitting around on your arse complaining is all very nice but if you want to get something done do it yourself.

A couple of things I've noticed here.

Joss certainly has raised a fair bit of awareness here and more importantly in the blogosphere. Do a search for "Whedon" on Technorati or Google Blog Search and you'll see what I mean. Raising awareness is great. And indeed it has sparked a fair bit of passion, anger and other stuff.

Now here's a thing. In human years I am 33. In fandom years, I feel like I am 124. I've observed too many situations where people get massively worked about something and then it all fizzles out sometime later. The nature of online commenting is that we eventually talk ourselves to death or boredom (what ever comes first) and nothing ever gets done. People get sidetracked, pointless issues come up, there's sniping, wangst and it all goes out the window. And how did we manage to get sidetracked into talking about fictional characters on a tv show? We can talk about about Buffy anytime here. Let's get our priorities right. For once, just once let's focus on the really important stuff. A young woman got beaten to death and people stood around and watched. And that is abhorrent in my book.

Moving on. I am thrilled to see that posters are doing something active about the issues Joss has brought. I see LadyGrey (to name but one poster) has made some very worthwhile suggestions.

If I'm going to suggest anything, I'm going to suggest this. This entry by Joss will eventually disappear off the front page and people will no longer comment here. So you need a focal point. Perhaps a blog dedicated to the points Joss raised. Use what Joss wrote as your mission statement. Have information about the issues. Links to charities, pressure groups etc. Expand upon that and hopefully a difference can be made.

It's just a thought.
Hear, hear, Simon.

I'm too overwhelmed project-wise to take this on by myself, but if there are others willing to pitch in (bix? Gossi? cbridges?), I'll help put a blog together.
Well, gossi registered "" yesterday and said he "hadn't figured out what to do with it yet."

Maybe that address? Need a host for that, and a free blog would have no need for that...

I can work on this project to some small extent - though very busy and crap at web design... but I'm happy to talk with others interested...
Scattered Comments:

1-Using a term too broadly causes serious problems in discussions. Execution for adultery, however medieval an idea it is, is the carrying out of a sentence for specific infraction under local laws. Honor killings arise from the same3 cultural values are in and of themselves a different matter. They are assertions of a form of private authority. And they are known in many ethnic cultures, not just Muslim people of the Middle East and South Asia, but also among native Christians of the areas and among Sikhs. It's off-target to blame kurds, especially since Yezidees are a smalll minority of them.
And the Sunnite mob who stopped a bus and killed any Yezidee male apssenegrs also doesn't make it a "Kurdish thing." It's no idfferent froma girl in Philadelphia claiming rape (in the case I'm thinking of, it didn't happen) and a bunch of guys from her neighborhood going to the neighborhood where the "rape" occurred and killing a random male passer-by. It's group-think, a universal form of human stupidity which soem people are still convinced accomplishes soemthing.

2-Like any word, "feminism" has acquired a varying set of meta-meanings;women who dislike the word are often just reacting to what they "think it means" and not to the historical realities.

3-And as for making this an Iraq War issue, arrests have been made. Which is more than occurs in many countries.

4-The fact is some cultures are in younger phases of their mental lives than others; that's not prejudice. (and Hiroshima-Nagasaki occurred in the context of a declared and defnesive war and the details of what it would be like by definition couldn't be known until afterwards.

5-And I am very glad a fnasite like this can generate positive networking like our sisters in Florida are doing.

6-The murders of the AMish girls in West Nickel Mines Were extensively covered around here which is quite close by. All news is fundamentally for a local audience.
This may not seem on topic, but I think it sort of is. Earlier today, I was reading a review of a movie I had not heard of, out of book I had just bought called DVD Delerium. The book reviews many cult kinds of films, some quite good (ie, Criterion Collection) and many more grindcore and the like. And I read this review of a movie called Cannibal Holocaust. And for the life of me, I could not understand why the movie was made, why people lauded it as the best of its kind, why anyone would ever want to watch it. And then I realized, well, Hostel 2 is coming out, and Quentin Tarantino is helping to advertise it. And my point, obvious as it is, is that we are becoming inured to the all of this suffering. It pervades our lives, and so it is not real, because it never affects us- except, as all too many posts here have noted- it does. But in this sense, I have to look at our own culture as part of the problem, wherein the very idea of strong women is something that scares all too many men, and then gets depicted in "socially acceptable" ways through our media. Now, believe me, I am hard left in my politics, fwiw, so I am not saying censorship is the answer. To me, it is education; it is getting word out, it is doing exactly what we see being done here. People taking an idea, whether offered by Joss through his cultural cache, or by any one of us, and making it happen, hard as it is. The answer is not to apologize for whatever your accident of birth is- if you are white, male, gay or straight or whatever, it is to DO something to help others. Most people live in the real world, where patriarchy isn't a concept talked about in an academic setting, it is simple reality. And it is not going to change, not quickly. Not until enough people act, and get past the fear our government uses to maintain the status quo. This started out about an issue concerning honor killings, which is something that needs to be addressed- as does female genital mutilation, rape durng war, etc. Does nto matter which one you attend to- just attend to it. One person can make a difference.

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2007-05-22 01:15 ]
One small thing I've done in the meantime is to create a page on my site with one picture of the "I am Dua Khalil" t-shirt for each person who has purchased one, along with their names (as I get permission). It's a powerful image of solidarity, I think, and will be more so as more people get them. (If you've bought one and are ok with your name being listed, please let me know offline.)

Also, to anyone out there who has a t-shirt shop, please feel free to take the image and put it on your own shirts. E-mail me if you want a clean copy. I only ask that you use the design as a fund- and consciousness-raiser, and not for profit. And please do let me know when you sell them, so I can update the list/graphic.
Codicil here, folks, I was merely attempting to try to keep some points clearer,it wasn't meant as negative feedback as such. There is very, very, very little that I can disagree with in the vast, vast, vast majority of the posts here.

And if anyone needs proof that this can't be a partisan issue (at least not to any political faction with a soul) is that Dana and I are both posting positive reactions to joss's statement and the general tone of this thread and that's about as broad-spectrum as it's possible to get. If I had my own talk-radio show I'd be mentioning it there too.

[ edited by DaddyCatALSO on 2007-05-22 01:26 ]
Because I have written volumes in the past few days about this post and comments, only to realize that words always fail me and so I delete them and receive a bit of satifaction from that. I am going to fall back on quoting {sorry for taking some of your thunder QuoterGal :)} from one of my favorites who sums it up so much better than I can.

Some Nietzsche quotes;
"In the consciousness of the truth he has perceived, man now sees everywhere only the awfulness or the absurdity of existence and loathing seizes him."

"Insanity is the exception in individuals. In groups, parties, peoples, and times it is the rule."

"One should die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly."

"A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything."

"The Earth has a skin and that skin has diseases, one of those diseases is man."

"Let'" doesn't sound like a good name for a forward-thinking website to me. I feel it would generate a lot of hits by freaks and wackos that would really want to see something like that. The irony would be totally lost on them. Lets think of a better name.

All the words that I want to say have been written by others here. I'm so angered by this. Anything like this. It makes me furious and makes me hate.

I've written a letter to Barack Obama (my choice for President - can I get a HELL YEAH?), another to my Congressman, and one to my Senator. Arizona isn't a huge power, but it's something, a measure of awareness. I have NO money to donate or buy a shirt, but I certainly would if I could.

From personal experience, I know that abuse happens everywhere, all the time. But Joss is right. Education is the answer. Change is the final answer. Enlighten everyone you can. I'm so flattened by the stupefying brutality of this murder. Flattened.

What. The. Fuck.
Simon's right. And I too would really like to do more than talk about this in a thread. A blog might be a good place to start.

Fandoms do have a special kind of energy as a group that can be used for positive change. As two examples of fan power from blogs I read, there's Child's Play (gamers who donate games to children's hospitals ) and Dulaan (knitters who knit clothing for people in Mongolia). In each case there's some face-to-face contact within the groups (PAX and knitting meet-ups respectively), but it seems like most communication is over the internet. And more importantly I think, there is a real tangible connection even for people who can't come to in-person meetings: sending a meaningful physical object to an address, and seeing photos/videos of the results. The blogs are a main form of communication in all this, and rather interesting in and of themselves, but they're not the mission itself. A larger problem's been identified, and a small group has committed to a specific mission.

I think what we have is a very real problem to address, but not a specific mission (yet!). And I think this requires some thought. What specifically can Whedon fans do to fight violence and discrimination against women and girls? The specific mission could continue to be supporting Serenity Now, or it could be a specific mission in support of Serenity Now's larger mission. A specific mission could focus and energize things we already do as a fandom, in the same vein as Can't Stop the Serenity. Are there other things that can complement it? Something less reliant on people's ability to travel to certain cities? Serenity Now has some interesting ideas about creative ways to support their efforts. A blog could serve as a place to share ideas and find focus, as a start. There's definitely interest here.

Your post makes me want to do a lot of things, the one of which is raise more money for Equality Now. Because that piece of footage is exactly what they want to stop.

One of the other things it makes me want to do is get a button made that says: "Real Men believe in Equality".
I want to let my half of the race know that that is a standard I expect from all of them.
The answer is not to apologize for whatever your accident of birth is- if you are white, male, gay or straight or whatever, it is to DO something to help others. Most people live in the real world, where patriarchy isn't a concept talked about in an academic setting, it is simple reality. And it is not going to change, not quickly. Not until enough people act, and get past the fear our government uses to maintain the status quo. This started out about an issue concerning honor killings, which is something that needs to be addressed- as does female genital mutilation, rape durng war, etc. Does nto matter which one you attend to- just attend to it. One person can make a difference.

Here, here, Dana5140. I'd like to add domestic violence to your list of problems. And, to add to ladygrey's list:
11) Support your local women's shelter.
Oh, and from one of DaddyCatALSO's points:
12) Be proud to be a feminist
Great Idea, LadyGrey
Like many, I have been following this thread since it first started. I suspect too, that like many, it brought up some really strong feelings for me, feelings I didn't express, as I watched others post reactions similar to mine, in better language than I could hope to muster.

I was glued to the board all day yesterday. Finally, breaking off to go to bed, I lay there, my thoughts spinning, feeling overwhelmed. What could I possibly do about weighty capital letter subjects like Murder, War, Violence, Gender, Religion, Culture?

Thank you LadyGrey, for your post. Thanks for helping me take this out of the philosophical and into the practical. Thanks for giving me an outlet for taking all of these feelings and doing something with them.

I read your list and thought "Yeah, I can do that." And then I did it. Then I thought, "Heck, I can do that one, too."

This is not to say that these actions are all I'm going to do. "Hey, I gave my lunch money for the week to EN. That should fix everything, right?"

But it's a start. And with those first steps, I now find that other, larger ones don't feel so daunting.

I also liked Lady Grey's idea of checking back to let people know what we did in response to Joss's post (and the incredible, insightful posts that it inspired.)

I don't care where it happens (there are so many places where we can share our thoughts - here, the boards, others I don't know about) but the idea of sharing what actions we've taken, however small, feels like a great way to help someone (like me, and perhaps others) follow through, to make sure that the expression of passion here online translates to real action in the real world. It would also be incredibly inspiring to see what other people have done and are doing. (I mean, my mind boggles, really frakking boggles that this board, these posts, this community helped give rise to those hauntingly powerful "I am Dua Khalil" shirts.) I mean, I know that in the grand scheme of things my lunch money is not a big deal (to anyone but the bagel guy anyway) but I did it because LadyGrey said she gave a buck to EN. Maybe something you did or are doing might inspire someone else to make a difference.
Willowy made an excellent suggestion about contacting your congressional representatives.
Joss, and all...

To this outpouring, fomenting, mentating and Womb-Theory I offer the following (forgive the turf incursion QuoterGal) from A History of Pagan Europe:

" Why has Paganism arisen again in modern Europe and America ? ... the underlying impetus seems to have been first, the search for a religion which venerated the Goddess and so gave women as well as men the dignity of beings who bear the 'lineaments of divinity'. This has been thought necessary by women whose political emancipation has not been paralleled by an equivalent development in their religious status."
My little suggestion... eBay Giving Works allows you to list auctions where a portion (or all) of the final bid is automatically donated to a charity of your choice. Equality Now is one of the many available charities. Great for people (like myself) who have more "stuff" than they do cash to donate. I've run some Giving Works auctions myself, and they are just as easy as the regular ones. And I think it's time to list some more...
Willowy- hear, hear. And here, in Davenport, just over the river from IL, we have seen Senator Obama several times, one of which was at the elementary school just a block from where I live. My wife and I, and all of my kids, will be working on his behalf this fall. My son was originally scheduled to work for Obama over the summer, but Obama's campaign schedule altered that, so my son, who is 27, will work for Danny Davis. This is our small part to play.

I wanted so much to say so much more about all the issues that people have been discussing, but so much has been said and for once I am honestly at a loss for words.
Well said. I'm a bit speechless at the moment, but your message is one that needs to be heard.
I'm sure you can guess where this quote comes from. I've been using it as my "tagline" someplace for some time now. Particularly relevant to this topic, I think:

"But that's why there's us. Champions. It doesn't matter where we come from, what we've done or suffered, or even if we make a difference. We live as though the world was what it should be, to show it what it can be."

In this case though, it does matter if we make a difference. Let's do just that.
I was pretty glued to this thread yesterday, but I've been away most of today. In catching up, I am proud to see the many declarations to take action -- and all the wonderful suggestions. For myself, I've had the advantage of teaching courses for more than 15 years where women and their accomplishments have been prominently included in course content. I've been active both locally and nationally for women's causes. The door to my office is covered with adages concerning women's strength and courage, and I'm constantly coming around the corner to discover students reading everything there. I had never heard of Equality Now until I became a member of this community, and I have sent checks to them and proudly wear one of their T-shirts.

It saddens me when I see some of my brightest women students drop out of school (particularly graduate school) because their boyfriends or husbands don't want them to continue. I made a different choice when faced with the same ultimatum when I was their age, so it distresses me that they give up because their going to school is too much of an inconvenience to their partners. (I have, though, seen many, many examples of the opposite, where partners have done everything they could to support such decisions, so I'm not trying to paint with a broad brush here.)

But, as many have said here, the solution has to do with education, education, education -- with showing other possibilities, other possible outcomes. The tragedy that was the catalyst for this thread may help inspire us all to do more, because that is the only good that can come of such a waste of this young woman's life -- and those of her sisters and brothers everywhere who die needless deaths because of injustice or intolerance.

Joss's post is on my office door now, and I hope those students who pause to read it will be inspired to do something, as well, to work toward something better. And it has re-energized me to do more.
Willowy: " 'Let'' doesn't sound like a good name for a forward-thinking website to me. I feel it would generate a lot of hits by freaks and wackos that would really want to see something like that. The irony would be totally lost on them. Lets think of a better name..."

I do strongly agree, actually. I'm ruminating... any suggestions for the blog's name would be good... I'm thinking about just a blog that would continue this thread... where people can note what actions they've taken...

Meanwhile, Tina, a Browncoat from MySpace, posted a comment on my MySpace blog today, and asked me to pass this info along to whedonesque, as she is not a member. I have edited it slightly just so it reads as directly written to you'all, and not to me:

"Since a few people on Wedonesque have mentioned writing letters I would like to encourage them to write to members of their Congressional delegation. I would like to post some information about the increase of “honor killings” in Iraq because it’s very much a product of American policy in Iraq. October 2004, Iraq’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs reported over half of the 400 rapes reported since the US invasion resulted in the murder of rape survivors by their families and we know that the situation in Iraq has grown much worse since 2004.

What we may not know is that while the US violated international law by eradicating most of Iraq’s legal system, the Bush administration maintained Article 130 of the penal code, which now provides vastly reduced sentences for 'honor killings'. According to Yifat Susskind, MADRE’s (an international women’s human rights organization) communications director that means, 'as little as six months, as opposed to life imprisonment, which is the minimum sentence for murder.' (

With so much of our tax dollars going to Iraq I feel our representatives should be writing in conditions to funding at the very least and should be lobbing their Iraq counterparts to change that law. Yifat Susskind also points out 'Although the US is obligated, as the occupying power, to protect Iraqis’ human rights, including the prevention and prosecution of “honor killing,” it has not done so. Official negligence promotes “honor killing” because perpetrators are confident that they will not be prosecuted.”

Here is also an opportunity to wear the I am Du’a Aswad tee-shirt that lexigeek proposed and go make an office visit and talk to Congressional/Senatorial staff (if you can not get to the actual elected official) about what our obligations are to the women of Iraq. I would be willing to bet that they have not heard, “My name is ______ and I am a member of the Browncoat group in________and there are One Hundred members from your district and we recently read (and maybe viewed) about the murder of Du’a Aswad and we want the US to step up to its obligations as the occupying power to protect Iraqis human rights."

Just about everything posted to this thread would be an appropriate thing to tell your elected Representatives."

(Tina has also included a link to this article: k

Thanks from Tina"

You can locate your Senators here, and your Representatives here.

ETA: Forgot to say: Thanks all for sayin', but quotes only make a QuoterGal happy, not infringed upon, and anyway, if I own the rights to quoting, I'm sure as hell not receiving my royalty checks...

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2007-05-22 06:36 ]
Blog name suggestion: ?

In fairness to the "Hostel" franchise, I saw the first "Hostel," and the violence was overwhelmingly directed against men -- young men were the primary victims of torture -- same as "Saw 1." While there's discussion to be had about whether torture in itself is the point of either film (as opposed to some other end result for which torture is the narrative means), and what exactly people derive from watching this, I don't think either could be called misogynist. In "Hostel 2," the victims appear to be primarily young women.
doesn't sound like a good name for a forward-thinking website to me. I feel it would generate a lot of hits by freaks and wackos that would really want to see something like that. The irony would be totally lost on them.

But those people are, in essence, unreachable anyway. And I think the name is meant to be blunt and shocking and, unfortunately, truthful. Much like it was when Joss used it here in the first place.

ETA: And from the standpoint of getting attention (the requisite for raising awareness), something like the just-mentioned will not strike a chord that makes people go, "Wait... what now?"

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2007-05-22 07:20 ]
how about " (or, etc.)
Keep in mind, also, that it's not like this entire thread needs to agree on a single website.
QuoterGal also suggested IAmDuaKhalil, and said she'd get the ball rolling on it.

Also, if the expense has kept anyone from getting a shirt, I've made the design available to download on the site for both light-colored and dark-colored shirts so you can print it at home. All I ask is that you let me know if you use it so I can add you to the list. And, of course, I hope you would consider still making the $5 donation to EN.
Ya know, ladygrey, I think I am gonna start a blog and call it "I am Dua Khalil" - that did occur to me some time ago, and I just wanted to contact lexi for his permission to use his title-idea - which he has now given... and yeah, b!x, it's true - people can and should start as many or as few related sites/blogs as they wish and call 'em what they want - there is no need, as you say, for One True Site.

When I get it set up, I'll come back and post that info here on the thread - so keep an eye out for "Recent Comments" or check this thread if you're interested, 'cause as Simon reminded us, it will roll off the front page soon...

You know, I was struck by something on this thread, and I don't want to drag too much attention away from Dua Khalil, but I want to mention it, and it's related.

It's astounding to me that at least eight women - and I include myself - have come out and said on this thread that they've been sexually abused, or raped, or otherwise physically abused. I dunno about you others, but my experiences - mentioned somewhere above - are not something I talk about readily or easily - and I have never mentioned them anywhere online before. I am not that free with them in RL - I never told my late parents about being raped, and one of my sisters still does not know.

I don't know what it says about this site and its community, or our respect and care for Joss Whedon and his big heart, or about feeling so moved by Dua Khalil's death and Joss' post that we spoke about it - and I can only speak for myself - but I don't know what other situation and group would have brought this out of me in quite this way.

It's been cathartic. It's raised some demons as well, but on the whole, a good thing. I realize that that's not the point of this thread, but I thought you might wanna know...

And I'd also note that for every one that mentioned her experiences, there's probably another one that hasn't...

(Thanks, shapenew, for your suggestion - I think I'm not buying a domain or hosting - just go with the old freebie blog...)

“The beauty of the world has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder." - Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own, 1929

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2007-05-22 08:27 ]

"Let'" doesn't sound like a good name for a forward-thinking website to me. I feel it would generate a lot of hits by freaks and wackos that would really want to see something like that. The irony would be totally lost on them. Lets think of a better name.

Of course, we're posting in the most active Whedonesque topic ever, called "Let's Watch A Girl Get Beaten To Death", is another way of looking at it.

I'm cool either way - I'm kicking about the idea of using that site as a blog on torture porn. One of the thing I do think activism should be, though, is visible. I actually debated about using that address as a fake, highly sarcastic viral marketing campaign for Captivity. Yeah. That's pretty extreme. And I know I'd get sued. So haven't. Anything that makes a society think about these issues, though, is good to me -- because society clearly isn't.

[ edited by gossi on 2007-05-22 10:56 ]
My prayers are with Khalil.

Joss, thank you for writing such an eloquent and passionate letter.
This year I decided to get involved with several worthy causes to do what I could on my end to stop the madness and save humanity from itself.

This is one more cause to add to the list.
Lets think of a better name or ?
I just want to say how proud I feel to be a relatively new member of this community. I want very much to stay with the positive here, but I'm very angry about a certain post and quite surprised that the poster has been let off so lightly.

I feel personally insulted by most of the assumptions about feminists in the post by *Screwthealliance*, which can pretty much be summed up by this quote:
"The fact that we [men] have our own issues, values, concerns and desires is inconsequential to your equation".
And "So I packed up the last vestiges of feminism [and] married a fat nerdy chick."

But rather than vent my anger in a rant, i'll content myself with this:

*Mycroft* .... about those buttons you want to have made, that say "Real Men Believe In Equality" .... please do that, and send the first one to the above mentioned poster.
And for an entirely different reason, send one to each of the strong, eloquent, brave and compassionate men who regularly post here, with a special purple one for Joss.
You, sir, are a "real man".
Guys, just do what I do and keep it simple. Go about your day to day life with the simple intention of treating everyone you meet with exactly the same level of respect and decency. Forget gender, forget religion, forget colour of skin or place of birth. It really doesn't need to be a complicated 330 plus comment debate with countless opinions on what ranks as equality. People are people and should be judged solely on their actions towards others. Just respect that and the world automatically gets better.

It really can be that simple if you want it to be.
You, sir, are a "real man".

Why yes he is.

I knew that feminism lecture I chose Sunday for my international students was a good idea when one of my very young, very bright, yet very sheltered and naive male (adult) students commented that this was a "controversial" topic.

"Controversial?" I replied. "We just looked at the definition. Is the idea of equality really controversial?" We had an interesting discussion after class when he asked me why I chose the topic.

We'll visit the Amnesty International site before continuing today, and the activity will continue through Friday. I'm pleased so far. Only 2 of 13 students are female. Misconceptions about feminists will start tomorrow's activities.

Thanks Joss, for helping me select an activity already in their text to zero in on.
There is something to be said for rockmaniac's post. When I moved from the Chicago area to Davenport, I was struck by one thing- everyone here is friendly. No joke. When I walk the local path, everyone you pass says hello; when you call for service personnel, they show up on time, get the job done and chat friendly. People just don't seem to care what color you are, what your sexuality is, etc. It's nice.

Having siad that, let me comment on a different issue. I had mentioned the movie Hostel, to which someone noted that in Hostel the first, most of the torture was directed at men. This is true. But my point was that we just get inured to the torture, because we see it on screen, we know it is not real, and we become deadened to it, whether against men or women. So that later when we hear about it, directed at women for real, it sort of does not register. I like the term "torture porn," because that is what it is. And, just to make the point, Hostel 2 involves torture of women (Heather Matarazzo, for example). At the same time we have a government that will simply not completely and utterly disavow the use of torture; we have a republican debate where candidates are asked about the use of torture, and only one- John McCain-completely disavows it. And he was an actual victim of torture. We live in a 24 world- whatever gets the job done. I teach bioethics in my real life, so all of this just hurts my brain.

In the end, be brave and do what you can to make change. Every little bit helps.
a fair amount of the credit goes to the women in my life that taught me that their strength does not diminish mine and mine does not diminish theirs.

I do intend to get those buttons made.
Your idea for the purple one for Joss is excellent.
I plan to bring them with me whenever I may meet other fans of Joss and would be proud to give them to many of the regular posting men here.
I worked on a really long post yesterday with a lot of personal stuff in it, and eventually realized that it was all so beside the point and not hardly helpful. Others have made it to the heart of what I was after, without the melodrama and more succinctly/convincingly, at that. Instead I'll just say that these are powerful words from Joss and from so many friends here, and I'm grateful to have access to them as I consider my place in the world and how I want to react to what I'm seeing. As Simon says, let us all try not to let the outrage and the energy fizzle after this thread moves from the front page.

Your impassioned arguments feel so timely for me, as I begin the process of a career right-turn from doing a job that is lucrative but sucks my soul, and finding a life's work that matters. So many of you are already doing really meaningful work, it seems-- whether it's in your career, in your families, or in your art. And others seem to feel that for now, despite their hearts being in it, real action is simply not in the cards. I'd like to add something to LadyGrey's wonderful list that is simple, free and effective:

#11. Register with Once you do, the site will automatically direct a small percentage of what you spend on online purchases from a massive list of big & small name stores to the organization of your choice. Choose Equality Now.

Back when the first round of screenings were underway, I contacted Equality Now and asked them to register themselves as a charitable recipient on iGive; since then, my regular online purchases of clothing, work supplies, pet stuff, holiday gifts, subscriptions etc. have resulted in nearly $100 sent directly to Equality Now. To sweeten the pot, it's even tax-deductible. Couldn't be easier.
As Simon says, let us all try not to let the outrage and the energy fizzle after this thread moves from the front page.

I do agree on that point. Simon is wise (or jaded, depending on how you look at it) - this one will go nowhere unless people take it and run with it somewhere.

This topic is so large it's difficult to address all the personal stuff in it. So I won't. It's great to see a bunch of people actually care, though.
This is a global issue as well. Here in Sweden we've had quite a lot of "honour" killings too. I will do what I can to spread the word.

Very good post Joss, this really needs to be brought up into the public eye.
I've not wrote a reply to this subject thus far. I dont feel anything I could say would be anywhere near as eloquent or well-written as what has been said above by the posters of this site, or by Joss himself. However on the basis of something occuring to me that really should have before, I've decided that I should say something. If this has been posted before, then I apoligise

A few days ago, when this was at the top of the main page, some stories down was IGN's most wanted spin-off, which as you will know if you read it, "Ripper" and "Faith" came top of. And it just occured to me so suddenely a few minutes ago, "Faith" is the show we need back on television. It embodies so much of what Joss was talking about. Faith may be flawed, of course theres no doubt of that, but shes strong, she's powerful, she's sexy, she's smart, she's powerful, she's beautiful. If Faith found herself in the same position as Elisha Cuthburt in "Captivity", slayer strength aside, the first thing she would say wouldnt be "I'm sorry". I think something along the lines of "I'm going to kick your ass and then some" would be something more along the lines of what we would expect to come out of her mouth. And bless her for it.

Obviously I'm not saying that making a television show about an empowered female character is going to solve all the worlds problems. Its simply not going to work, and so much more has to be done. But so many people will just sit back, and those people need to be reached, and perhaps this is a way to do it. Buffy was empowered, and God did she influence me, while growing up. She showed me how women could be strong and stand up for what they believed in, and the lasting effect of that show will always be with me. In fact my lecturer has asked me if one day I could stop ranting on about female liberation and perhaps delve into something a little different! But the point is, television works. And if it worked for me, then it can work for all the other Average Joe's, the people who NEED to be reached and NEED to be told.

So I know my reply might not be as deep and thoughtful as others, but its about time that television had a new kickass female, one who was more than just big breasts and a smile. Someone to fight back, somebody to speak for the thousands of woman who are opressed every day, who are hit, beaten and spat on because of their gender, killed because they were born as one sex. As a friend of mine said when I linked her to this site, "gender equality hasnt even begun" and Jesus is she right. Its time film and television got somebody to show people just what women can do. And as he's just proven by his post above we know theres nobody better than Joss to do that.
This is now linked to on the sidebar on the right hand side of the front page so it will be easily accessible for the time being.
Everyone here has probably already moved on, but something has just come to my attention today that I think has bearing on this disscusion. First I would like to say that not only am I a Whedon fan, but I'm also a comics fan and I loved the X-Men and Runaways long before Joss started writing them, and I was more than delighted that he would be taking over writing duties. But a cover for an upcoming Marvel comic has just been released that deals with the idea Joss was pointing out about the depiction of women in mass media.
That link leads to a live journal account that decribes the Marvel rating system and the cover in question. A lot of people lately have been taking notice of the sexism in comics and been trying to do something about it. But this, I think for me, may be the straw that broke the camel's back. I don't think I can support Marvel comics anymore, and unfortunately this includes Runaways and Astonishing X-Men. I know Joss would be appalled that this cover is being marketed to children as young as nine, or to people, at all.
Ciella... Wow. It's torture porn in comics as the sales pitch. Blergh.
Simon, thank you for linking to this topic. Hopefully a blog will go up soon so we can continue this discussion there.
Wow, I followed that Marvel link and...gross. Just....gross. I have no problem with tentacle porn per se, but...infantilized women in bondage surrounded by glistening tentacles? marketed to NINE YEAR OLDS? Gah.

Excuse me while I go wash my brain out with bleach.
I have started a related blog, but as it's CSS and my learning curve is steep, and I've a couple of graphics deadlines in my face, I won't prolly be able to have it ready 'til I work on it this evening, PST. I have to edit the template a bit - but I may post it before I do that, nonetheless. Anyway, deadlines...

I've gone with "I Am Dua Khalil" to keep it related to lexi's Equality Now-connected shirts, which is already close to Joss's heart and gets our support, and to keep it semi-linked to the upcoming Serenity charity screenings - though I may subtitle it something like "Try looking up"...

Any one who has any suggestions they would like to send to me - especially links they would like me to post - should find my e-address in my profile and send 'em to me - and a pertinent subject line never hurts.

Thanks to Simon and ladygrey and of course Joss, who have re-activated my efforts in this direction.

And btw, I took all the energy from being really annoyed and very deeply offended by a very few posts on this thread and turned it into action... sometimes - but not always - that's a better way to fight the good fight...
Ack. That image is very disturbing, Ciella. I'm not arguing against your choice, but I personally want to keep buying Astonishing as long as the female characters continue to be a counter-example to this. I want Marvel to know that this kind of cover isn't necessary to sell comics (at least I really hope it isn't). But I am very troubled that Marvel has approved of this cover, and especially that their website indicates that they consider it to be appropriate for children 9+ years old. I'm in my 20s and it weirds me out.
An idea I've been kicking around is trying to track down some people in areas that practice 'honour killings', and see if they would be willing to write something about the subject. Combined with some essays about the whole subject of women in the media and entertainment industry, and parcel it into a book. Called 'Let's Watch A Girl Get Beaten To Death'. And direct the profits elsewhere. I think it could be pretty compelling if done right, and I think it'd capture an audience, too.
Doubley posty.

[ edited by gossi on 2007-05-22 17:59 ]
Gossi, I have a friend who lives in Saudi Arabia. He is a great writer (and Browncoat!) who might be interested in tackling that topic.
Posted on behalf of Clarry (originally posted on who doesn't have a login here:
"I can't comment on Whedonesque as I'm not registered (or I did it years back and I've forgotten). But if someone wishes to post this response, they may.

I just read the thread from Joss and some of the comments. Quite wide ranging stuff, but a refreshing lack of "vengeance" messages, as in, "catch the killers and do as bad to them".

Because it isn't about that. I've been reading a lot of those comments lately on other messageboards concerning what to do to child kidnappers etc. after recent events, a lot from people who should know better. You don't need a cycle of violence. You need punishment, yes, but not to descend to the same barbarism. Locking someone up for a long, long, time is plenty. People under-rate the punishment of a lack of freedom, even if prisons, according to the right-wing press are hotels nowadays. Imagine having your TV, music, DS etc. but not having your freedom for 20+ years.

Back on subject. It's an important thing Equality Now because its global. It's an ideal. It's not shaking buckets for a medical condition, library, old ship, etc. Which are things that are tangible and worthy of course. It's about changing our own minds and actions as well as others.

I got whacked in the face once with a fist clutching a mobile phone because I asked politely that a man would stop hitting the woman he was with. This didn't shock me. The yong men ignoring the situation didn't shock me. The five or six young women cackling hysterically at the girl getting beaten did shock me immensely. All got a mouthful from me, and it was the men who were most shame-faced. The women just abused me because apparently "the bitch deserved it". Those women are probably pretty much lost to the civilised world now. It's about ten years on and I suspect, but hope not, that they are passing the cycle on with abusive partners to their sons and daughters.

Anyhow, as I said, Equality Now strikes me as an ideal, rather than a "cough up your dough" charity.

But it would be good if people not going to the screenings did "cough up" a bit of dough."
ladygrey, could you forward me his email address? (Or him mine)?

Same goes to anybody else who know people who might be able to help. I'm particularly interested in finding blogs (and so contacts) of people who write about this kind of thing. There's gotta be an ignored blogger out there who lives in the middle of this.
I like the book idea, gossi.
gossi, i will forward you his email address.

he also blogs about living abroad (he works as an ESL teacher around the world) and his recent move to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia:

(his blog also links to other bloggers in that area.)
I just wanted to comment again in this thread... I haven't been able to read through this thread completely since there is so much, biut I am pleased thatit has garnered discussion and awareness. I jst want to say honour killing is not just a problem of arabs and muslims but of other communities from hindus and sikhs(and even local christians from that part of the world, as one psoter mentioned).

In Canada, there was an honour killing that was featured in the national news and even a movie was produced for the CBC about the hinour killing. It involved a skih family that had their daughter killed because she married someone they didn't approve of. It happens all over the world, irregardless of religion and culture. There is something to be said of that the denigration and subjugation of women is practically a universal problem.

Oh and while there was no mention on the bbc website( I don't know why not) of the Dua Khalil honour killing, there was a poll confuced of British Asians(muslims hindus etc) where a surprising number of them(1 in 10) support honour killings.

I jsut want to make note I am not targetting just non westerners here and speaking froma purely suburban"western" point of view. As a male of South Asian descent I am quite well aware of the misogyny that exists in the various sub communities of the South Asian community, and it really makes me angry and ashamed. But at the same time I read abouta nd proud f South Asian women who are able to stand up and fight for their rights across South Asia. It gives me some hope.

[ edited by kurya on 2007-05-22 22:41 ]
There's an ad/group for Hostel II on a certain social networking site today. Um... from what I remember about posting specifically about other sites/forums here, I won't name it. Anyway normally such movie groups are entirely off my radar, but this is displayed upon login. A central blog-type place would be lovely for dropping a simple link into the comments on these kinds of promotions on social networking sites. And other blogs too that are mentioned in this thread. I might be able to contribute some sort of blog-space for that purpose this weekend.

The commentary from users of both genders on the site makes the torture/porn connection quite bluntly and happily. The image plus commentary are really disturbing.
3+ hours of reading and I made it to the bottom. In between I experienced the emotions of shock, horror, grief, anger, disgust, apathy, more anger, hope, gratitude, excitement and a strong desire to DO something!
My deep thanks to Joss and all who posted here. Whether I agree with your opinions or not, you have given me motivation to get back on my feet and be an active participant in the world.
Nice to see the discussion still continuing even though it's slipped off the front page. Thanks for linking it in the sidebar, Simon.

DaddycatALSO, you said, "4-The fact is some cultures are in younger phases of their mental lives than others; that's not prejudice. (and Hiroshima-Nagasaki occurred in the context of a declared and defnesive war and the details of what it would be like by definition couldn't be known until afterwards."

That is something that I firmly disagree with. There is no such "fact", it is the opinion of people from Western nations. My friends from China, for example, would take offense at the idea that our collective 10,000 years of Chinese history is considered to be in a "younger phase of mental life" than Western culture. I would personally say that it's rubbish. The misogynistic attitude that makes Chinese people kill female babies just because they are female is no different from the misogynistic attitude that is the basis for honour killings, or for abuse in America.

My point, which Joss has spoken about already, is that this misogynistic attitude is in every culture. There are more protections under the law in Western nations because of the values of the French Enlightenment - but laws are hardly culture, or a reflection of the vast majority of attitudes in society.

What we are fighting is not just institutionalised misogyny but the underlying attitudes that makes it okay to attack a woman, or to make her subservient. There is a Chinese saying that goes, "the guys who retreated fifty steps laughed at those who retreated a hundred steps, but it's still a retreat" which I think reflects this "our culture is better than yours" attitude. Holding a divisive attitude will not encourage progress or change, and will only piss off the people whom you're trying to win over.

As for the Hiroshima/Nagasaki example that I raised, it was to prove my point that barbaric acts (even in the context of war, a "defensive" act that was conducted thousands of miles away from American soil that cannot be labeled anything but that) are not a link to or reflection of general culture. Your defence of the bombings does not take away my point.

I'm glad to have been part of this discussion, and thanks for the suggestions about what we can do. I have taken up some of them, but it (as usual) feels like we can never do enough.
Although I see gossi has touched on the idea of a book, I figure I might as well mention an idea that's been circulating my brain for the past few hours...

I had been thinking of writing an essay or something inspired by Joss's above post, and distributing it as a little chapbook with proceeds going to charity...but I know a couple of other writers who would probably be interested in doing something similar, SO I was thinking an anthology of "responses" (be it to the tragedy itself, or to Joss's post), in the form of short stories, personal essays, poetry, and visual art. Working title: "Nothing But Red."

It would be simple enough to produce a paperback through (and it's free to set up), and the creators would have control over the mark-up (I figure all proceeds could go to Equality Now). I'd be more than happy to take care of setting everything up and organizing it, as well as taking over editorial duties, if people are interested.

Please, anyone, do contact me offlist if you like ( and I can give you more details about what I was thinking, or you can let me know your ideas. Thanks.
By the way, since gossi mentioned the Mary Jane statue thing earlier, Sideshow and Adam Hughes now have their explanation out.

Short version of what they say: It's not Mary Jane doing Spider-Man's laundry, it's Mary Jane discovering Peter's superhero costume in the laundry basket.
Short version of what they say: It's not Mary Jane doing Spider-Man's laundry, it's Mary Jane discovering Peter's superhero costume in the laundry basket.

Ugh, for some reason the halfhearted "explanation" is much worse than the original statue was. Adam claim that it should be obvious that she's finding his laundry, not doing his laundry - but the widespread attention proves that it was not obvious!

Many people (myself included) felt it was demeaning to MJ (who, while not a superhero, has always been a cool character). For the artist to just say "well, that's not what we meant" seems like a cop-out to me. When somebody offends me or hurts my feelings, I want them to apologize, not just spout out some lame version of "I didn't mean it, so I don't have to say I'm sorry."

Also I take extreme exception to Adam's statement that MJ has always been "... a bit of a bimbo. She’s been a supermodel and a dancer, an actress and a model…" Yeah, 'cuz I've never known a smart actress or model! Okay! Plus, MJ has always been a relatively interesting character. Just because she is sexy and charming doesn't make her a bimbo.

Finally, (end of rant almost over), it really bugs me that Adam said "...if it was Mary Jane doing the laundry, there would’ve been suds everywhere, and I would’ve done a better job of doing it." Um, defensive much?

Argh! What a jerky interview!

ETA more ranting.
Adam says:
This is probably going to open up a whole other can of worms, but it’s something like using the “n-word.” Even when I’m sitting and having a discussion about how horrible that word is, I can’t even use that word in a clinical discussion about how horrible it is. I have to say, “n-word” instead. But Dave Chappelle can use it all day long, and nobody gets offended. So – is it actually an offensive word, or is the context offensive? Is it offensive when it’s used by a racist individual as a slur?

I'm not even going to GET into this whole debate, but even superficially, Adam is way off base here. For one thing, the reason some people aren't offended by Dave Chapelle's use of the "n-word" is because he is African-American and is "reclaiming" the word. (I'm not saying that I agree or disagree with this, btw, just stating a relatively common idea.) But Adam is not a woman, and apparently not a feminist. He doesn't get a free pass to use whatever offensive language he wants, just because he personally is not offended by it.

I'm done now -- no, really!

[ edited by ladygrey on 2007-05-23 20:59 ]

[ edited by ladygrey on 2007-05-23 21:00 ]
Great post Joss , controversial topic.

I live in a Western country where more and more women each year walk with a veil (burka) in public. An expression of faith they say or is it a sign of repression ?

Unfortunately these fanatics not only want to dominate the women , they also want to dominate other cultures.

Anyone remember the recent debacle with the Danish cartoons ?
Yes freedom of speech is also a target for these people.

In France there was a trial where they tried to ban the public press from using the name of "the" prophet.

There's a lot going on people and we have to be vigilant and vocal.

I foresee a lot of problems for Europe if the current "threat" is not recognised by its leaders. The fear everyone has is to be stigmatised as Nazis although one thing has nothing to do with the other. But this fear prevents the leaders from correctly assessing the situation.

Anyway that's my take on it. I close my little rant and apologize if it doesn't fit here.
I foresee a lot of problems for Europe if the current "threat" is not recognised by its leaders. The fear everyone has is to be stigmatised as Nazis although one thing has nothing to do with the other. But this fear prevents the leaders from correctly assessing the situation.

You sound like my hubby and his family who are from Holland. They are very afraid that a certain intolerant group of people will slowly take over their very tolerant, liberal country; complete with full suppression of women. But yes, they say the officials are terrified of being labeled as Nazis.....and in the meantime, this 'group' is taking full advantage of the fear.
ack, double post

[ edited by Rogue Slayer on 2007-05-23 22:49 ]
That was a beautifully written essay/thought.

I've picked my cause. I'm trying my best to end purposeless wars. Racist and greedy wars based on the belief that sacrificing Arab lives is worth the continuation of the accumulation of petroleum. It's sick.
Just when I thought this couldn't get more heartbreaking, poignant and calculated to get anybody with a four-chambered heart pissed off - I just looked up the meaning of "Dua."

According to two separate sources, the name means "prayer" in Arabic.
I may be the 368th to chime in, but I wanted to be part of that select fairly evolved demographic.

My country, Canada, —made up of weirdos who dig cowboys in space(cf. Joss' Spacey Award speech)— is not used to go to war, our engagement being almost exclusively with UN peacekeeping efforts.

When our government decided to send troops to Afghanistan, most of the people, including my friends, were outraged. I saw the good, even if it's not the main reason why they are sent there, this can bring to civil liberties and especially to women's rights which were at a total low over there. When I first shared my —cautious— excitement with them on the opportunity this can give the women of that country, they told me we didn't have a right to intervene in someone else's culture. Whoa-what?

At that moment, I shared Joss' lack of faith in humanity.

Hopefully, I've been able to reason a bit with them (they are not on this list, but are somewhat evolved also). My final geeky argument to my point was "Stop thinking Star Trek for a second and switch to Firefly. There are times like these when aiming to misbehave is the right thing to do"

I guess people need some reality check sometimes by switching Sci-Fi mentality.

Merci Joss for this post. I will point to it on my various instant-messengers' custom message for a long while.
Hang on. So doing your sweetie's laundry is demeaning? Wow. I should probably inform my husband how unimpowered he is -- he almost always does the laundry 'round here. What does it mean that I clean the toilet? But then he takes out the trash. Though I do wash the dishes...

See where I'm going here? With all there is out there to demonstrate how one group is held down by another... are we really going to get worked up over the division of household chores?

, You sound like my hubby and his family who are from Holland. They are very afraid that a certain intolerant group of people will slowly take over their very tolerant, liberal country; complete with full suppression of women. But yes, they say the officials are terrified of being labeled as Nazis.....and in the meantime, this 'group' is taking full advantage of the fear. Rogue slayer,

Hello Rogue slayer , I am from Belgium where the situation is actually the same. As you say the Dutch are a very liberal people , in Holland they even have official schools for this culture and with the recent murders of politicians in Holland one can see that with todays problems it's not a good idea anymore.

While I've never been a fan of religions, freedom of religion should be everyone's right (without government funding which at the moment they all get).
I'd say the current integration is seriously flawed , with this I mean people wanting to speak the language , get their kids to school and generally adapt to a Western society and also believing in this society.

The people I have in mind don't believe in a Western society and Western values instead they want US to adapt.

I notice it is especially a lack of education that makes these people so fundamental. We notice that lower educated Belgian women are easily persuaded to join their religion and with it comes wearing the burka.
It's never the other way around , funny isn't it.

Going back to the Nazi fear , every political party that wants to bring this program into the spotlight is deemed a rascist party party and can lose it's right to come up for election.
Of course seeing that the party I'm talking about has gained quite a foothold in Belgium the other parties are very keen to get them ousted from the elections.
Yes we are only hurting ourselves and not dealing with the problem at hand.

It has nothing to do with rascism , it's a cultural thing and it's important to deal with it quickly.

Welcome to the new Muslim bashing thread! Yeah, I don't think that was the intention here. Not all people take Islam and interpret it to it's extremes. As always, it's a minority element. Christianity has exactly the same problems with fringe elements around the world.
Hey, all, finally got the "I am Dua Khalil" blog up and running for us:

It's at

It's fairly rudimentary at the moment - Joss's post, a little descriptive copy, some links, and lexi's (thanks, lexi) artwork. Not much else, yet. Pictures seemed a little inappropriate - or something like that - just now.

You can post as comments any actions you've taken, or suggestions for action - although if you've got great links, you can email 'em to me either at the email address in my whedonesque profile, or through the blog/site. Suggestions are good - do let me know if I've left something obvious out - and action is best. No action is too "small" to post - really. If you've already mentioned something in the thread(s), do post it again on the blog - it'd be altogether nifty to get the ball rollin' on there and keep the momentum going....

Thanks, everyone, for your help in getting me to set this up, and the help I know you'all will be in the future.

(And, yeah, gossi, I agree - I for one do not want to go gallivanting down this particular old polarizing, unfruitful road. It's the, um... exact opposite of helpful...)

"Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil set off a Tornado in Texas?" - Edward Lorenz

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2007-05-24 19:25 ]
I just wanted to salute QuoterGal and echo Gossi. Joss was writing not about a problem with a certain group, but with humanity. At least I don't think "Captivity" is about burkas.
That's marvellous QuoterGal, I'm so impressed with what Joss has kick started.

Just one small thing that I discovered when I blogged about Joss's post and that is that Edmund Burke did not write "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

He did write the more wordy: "When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle." (Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents (1770))
After reading your post Joss, I had to sort out my thoughts, because I was confused and a little pissed - and I didn't know why. And I think I got it, and I'll try to share my piece, although it might not be relevant, sharing it won't hurt anybody either.

I read your message and the props you got for it, which made me mad (a little bit). Not because you have to watch a video to get upset, but because you were listened to. Nobody listened to Dua Khalil (at least while she was alive), but *you* did find people to praise you for snapping at a snap-worthy cause. You are a wealthy, white man who can choose to to act against misogynistic crap, to put up a fight and earn the praise, you can be the white knight. Women don't have the luxury, don't get the props, they might survive or might not.

In your message you assume, without intention, that there are decent people who don't act out (enough), and conveniently forget that your work touched women who are working on the topic for years.

I'm a women rights activist for a much longer time than I'm your fan, and the thing that bothered me, was that I'm already doing what's in my capability to do for women rights; it's not that much, but I'm running a weekly feminist program at a local radio station, I'm marching on 8th of March with 30 other women, and try to do everything I do, in a gender-, class- and race-aware perspective (writing papers, articles and whatnot) And I'm known for that in my hometown, everybody who knows me knows me as "The Feminist". Which means, that I'm unable to target a misogynistic issue without getting marked as over-sensitive, paranoid and god, what else. Being feminist at times means having to confront more crap than women, who are "in the closet" or men at any time, ranging from "you aren't even fat, and you shave your legs" to being mocked for the feminist content of the supporting program of the can't-stop-the-serenity-event your putting together by a fellow Browncoat.

I got jealous for the praise men are getting for the work women are doing, and the things they're putting up with. Does that make sense?

Secondly I wanted to expand on the fairly wide-shared womb-envy theory. As you said, women aren't as strong as men, but tough enough to bear children. But the jinx is, they aren't always able to do that (being too young or being too old), and even more important, not all women are able to do that.

And that's a great thing to divide half of humanity, there are the ones who are too young or too old, and there are the ones with whom apparently nothing is wrong, but with whom you can have as much intercourse as you want, they won't get pregnant (and maybe it's the man's fault, but, blame it on her!), and that's important part by dividing them by their ability, they only seem to be useful for, you can gain power over them.

That's my piece. Hope you liked it ;)
Brownish - coat

By your logic all Christians will be Ku Klux Klan Members who, when they're not out picketting gay funerals, or bombing abortion clinics in defence of the right to life, find a bit of time to decry the theory of evolution sack a few teachers and burn a few books whilst passing the odd sentence of death on rather more black people than white people with rather less due process of law.

I respectfully sugest that we sort our own cultures and societies out and make sure that we have no murders, rapes, beatings, racism and general ignorance or judicial murder before we start believing that we have the right to impose our " more evolved" culture on other nations.

And no I am not saying that we should not be outraged or should not take action when we see atrocities

Just that we should be very wary of taking that step from outrage to casual racism

And that we should be perhaps be a little more aware of the sodding great beam in our own eye before pointing out the speck of dust in our neighbour's

Every religion , every culture, has extremists and in every religion and every culture the vast majority of people are neither amongst them nor support their actions.

Islam is a religion which preaches peace in the same way as Christianity preaches peace .

In fact the two religions have many similarities

And it's sort of important when generalising wildly to note that neither Dua nor her killers were Muslim. Her faith was Yazidi her " crime" was to be suspected of meeting a young Muslim man

Not too different in may ways from the lynchings once practised in "more civilised America" of young black men seen with white women.

And any society which retains the death penalty in any form is not really in a position to point the finger at another society which does likewise.

Brownish -coat wrote

The people I have in mind don't believe in a Western society and Western values instead they want US to adapt.

A little adaptation is a good thing you know

cos some of our Western values pretty much stink and we could learn a thing or two from other cultures !

Wanna know something which outraged me a while back? (still does in fact)

Hardly " more evolved" after all

That's one of the reasons I support Amesty International

Regardless of which culture or society an injustice occured , they fight injustice because it IS injustice

Oh and if you're still wondering what you can do to help why not go to the Amnesty International Webpage, click on a link to a report about one of the many issues they campaign on

(how about " Stop Violence Against Women" ?)

Click the " Act Now!" button and choose how you will support the cause.

[ edited by debw on 2007-05-24 16:04 ]

[ edited by debw on 2007-05-24 16:06 ]
Wow, I just noticed that if you're on, and you do a Web search for Dua Khalil, the first page that comes up is the "I am Dua Khalil" t-shirt page. We have the opportunity to do something really powerful here, I think.
The people I have in mind don't believe in a Western society and Western values instead they want US to adapt.

I hear ya, Brownishcoat. Apparently in Holland, there are actually groups trying to make the native Dutch folks have to learn the culture and ways of the immigrants, instead of the other way around! Living in LA, and having immigration issues shoved in my face everyday, I'm particularly sensitive to this. I mean, my hubby is a legal immigrant to the US, and he certainly doesn't expect anyone to speak Dutch to him or allow him to marry a man(if he were gay) just because that is okay in Holland. And I don't think it's unrealistic to have whatever kind of immigrants come into the European countries to have to bow to the dominant culture in terms of...treatment of women, for instance! It may be okay to beat your women, marry them off young, etc in another culture, but why on earth would someone think it should be okay anywhere just because your previous country allowed it? I don't think they would want Dutch gay men going to...Morrocco or Turkey, for instance, and trying to get married. The double standard is a bit crazy! And if you ask me, stopping the spread of such ideology is as important as trying to snub it out at its root, which may prove to be more difficult, though a worthy venture.

Welcome to the new Muslim bashing thread! Yeah, I don't think that was the intention here. Not all people take Islam and interpret it to it's extremes. As always, it's a minority element. Christianity has exactly the same problems with fringe elements around the world.

I was actually more speaking of the culture that the 'religious' people come from. Obviously not all Muslims think it's okay to beat your women, just as not all Christians think it's okay to do any number of ugly things that the Bible says are kewl. (I suppose in today's society, we do need to make a disclaimer for every discussion on religion, race, or culture so's no one get's offended.)

I'm not sure if I agree with the 'fringe' comment though. I certainly can't speak to the number of fundy Muslims vs fundy Christians in the world, and any way it's hard for *me* to compare the two since my idea of a fundy Christian is still far from that of a fundy Muslim. To me, fundy Christians are like...Phelps...Falwell...Pat Robertson, etc. And while they, in ideology, may be just as ugly as some Imam who advocates beheadings, stonings, honor killings, etc; they just have a less voracious base, I think. (Which is hard for me to even type, having lived(living?) in the day of the 'Religious Right' of America.)
Anyway, back to whatever point I was making about fringe...By fringe, I assume you're implyling a minority...and I can probably agree with that to a certain extent. However, I think the perception problem comes when the 'sane' Muslims who speak out against the fringe appear to be in the minority. Then THEY seem like the fringe.

I will add that, ever since I left Christianity, I have a major distrust of anyone who can throw themselves into any organized religion, so my views are admittedly skewed. I will say, it sucks to the nth degree that peaceful Muslims and sane Christians get painted with the same brush as the fundys much of the time.

Ah...losing my train...Anyway, as I understand it, Dua was not Muslim, she followed a religion that pre-dated Islam? And though I'm sure Islam and Yazidi share some tenants, the issue here was probably more of culture. But in a region where culture and religion are very closely tied, I think the religious discussion will sort of naturally flow out of that. And I promise that most of the most vehement radical Muslims will say that the aspects we think are ugly ARE from and condoned by the religion. So the fact that we take such strides to dance around that is kind of funny to me. I guess everyone interprets their religion differently. No, being a former Christian, I KNOW that much.

As for bashing religions or it okay to bash one over the other? It's hard to separate them sometimes, seeing as religions flow out of cultures, and cultures continually influence religion. Do we have to respect a culture/religion that promotes violence toward women? How do we know which one to blame? Or do we just blame the person, and disregard the environment and values he grew up with? Doesn't seem fair. If you ask me, it's a slippery slope in terms of who/what to blame. And we can say 'hate the act and not the person' but I'm sure we can all agree that's REALLY hard to do. Just as it's hard to separate the act from the person, since our actions tend to show who we are and what we believe.
LOL Debw , you have a problem if you read into my sentences that I'm a Nazi or a KKK-er.

I'm purely talking about cultural differences here not racial ones. I'm an atheist so I don't care much for any religion , I don't mind gays and I love lesbians ;)

Adaption is a good thing and I fully support that but then the immigrants must make an effort. The problem in Belgium is that even third generation immigrants don't master our language although we have the best schools in the world. You must agree that in the long run this produces friction with the local population. Low or no education can lead to crime. There are enough statistics to prove this.

The whole solution to the problem is good education.

By the way we don't have a death penalty here and we have always been neutral during both world wars yet we got invaded during both of those wars. So much for keeping an open mind ey ;)

Rogue slayer , you speak my language. I was just typing my post while you posted yours and we say similar things ;)

[ edited by brownish coat on 2007-05-24 18:31 ]
I'm a little disturbed by the sudden turn of this thread. What is happening in Holland or in Belgium has very little to do with what Joss wrote. Laat je onderbuikgevoelens even bij de deur staan voor je hier binnenkomt, ok?
Is goed, Caroline. Consider them left.

Um, do we get this kewl new fonty thing because we've passed 380 comments or something?....Wuzn't me.

[ edited by Rogue Slayer on 2007-05-24 19:06 ]
And I'll be deleting off topic stuff, brownish coat, just so you know. This thread's by and large been very positive. Let's keep it that way.
With everything else going on in life, it has taken me all week to read through this thread. At times have have wanted to write a long posts about the murder itself, Joss's post or various comments, but there was always more to read first. In the end most people have already posted my thoughts in one way or another. I will just comment on a few items.

1. Wonderful post, Joss. I also have no faith in humanity except that as a whole it will do horrible things and as individuals it is capable of wonderful things. The horrible is widespread, but not as accepted as it once was, mainly because of the individuals banning together. The culturally ingrained abuse of women is not taken for granted in as many places as it once was. We have so far to go, but we are slogging along. You know that, or you would not have written such a call to arms. I hope you have been reading this thread to the end so that you see what your call to arms has inspired people to start doing.

2. Lexigeek, thank you. I am thinking that the I am DK shirts or EN shirts would make good birthday gifts for my feminist friends and relatives.

3. Like barest_smidgenThis thread just reinforced my determination to change careers to one that is worthwhile. The fact that my job hunt was one of the main things that kept me from posting to this thread until today is just...ironic.

4. Count me as another woman who has always been surprised by the fact that in my experience everytime the subject of sexual assault has been brought up in a group of women, almost all of them have identified themselves as having been sexually assaulted. As far as these things being reported, I was assaulted twice. Neither was reported to the police. Neither my father nor my brother were ever told about the first one for fear that they would attack the man who had assaulted me and that they would end up in jail.

Blast. I wanted to make a short post but I didn't...and I am not really done. But the dentist waits for no child, so I will have to finish another time.
For anyone still following this thread, I've received some really great responses for the idea of having an antho, and I'm hopeful we'll be able to move forward with it. If you'd like to be involved, please contact me and let me know. Our temporary site is set up at and has all the what's and why's of the project.
Just to further underline the technological... challenges I've had in setting up this blog, I managed to delete my first post - with Joss' post contained therein - and consequently the comments went poof, as well. I've managed to retrieve three of 'em while re-posting - but Skyla Dawn's, and one other unknown comment are gone for good-and-all...

Feel free to re-post them to the blog And hoping for folks action-comments and hopeful links, as well...

C'mon, scoobs, let's do a thing...
It isn't patriarchal versus matriarchal, it is physical violence versus intellect as the basis of power... the video of Daniel Pearl's beheading is every bit as horrific and it is also a symptom of the backlash against intellect and reason. The prevalence of women as the victims of this violence is dictated by the simple physics of woman's lesser ability to do violence and their equal ability to think.

Through millions of years of evolution the primary avenue to power and the reproductive advantage it concurs has been physical strength and the ability to apply it violently offensively and defensively. It isn't something that we decided on, it is a simple emergent property of the universe. From fists to the point of a stick to the edge of a sword, violence works. The male is emphatically superior to women in the application of violence so where that is the paramount source of power the male has a near complete advantage. Intellectually there is far less differences between the sexes. As far as studies can show, the average intelligence of women is higher while there are more males in the extremes... more geniuses and more morons. This means that when intellect is the paramount source of power, say with capitalism, then the exaggerated outcome would be a predominance of males in the billionaire and the homeless classes with an ascendancy of women in the millionaire class.

It has only been over the last couple centuries that physical prowess has been giving way to intellect as the primary source of power with capitalism rapidly becoming the most effective avenue to power on earth. When it is divorced from the archaic laws and regulations instilled by the old rules of physical primacy, doesn't care if the CEO has a uterus or testicles.

Millions of years of physical evolution and thousands of years of social evolution isn't going to give way quickly enough for a rational person's desire and the tighter a culture holds on to the past, the more dangerous it is for women. It will not be a gentle or safe transitioning phase between the two sources of power and unfortunately those who's power is based on physical primacy will use extreme violence to protect their hold on power.

We can only try our hardest to create and enforce laws against the initiation of violence by one person or group against others, condemn it where it is accepted and support the intellectual basis of power wherever we can. Seeing as how the entire basis of power for the state is the threat of, or application of, a horribly lopsided ability to do violence- it is something that needs to be reined in as much as possible throughout the world. I always shocks me when so many people that abhor violence are willing to turn to that bloody iron hand in a velvet glove to “solve” problems. I guess it comes back to our accepting violence when it is in support of our own agenda. We need to understand violence and how to apply it but it needs to be seen as a last resort and an admittance of failure.

It doesn't have anything to do with “womb envy”- natural childbirth is a painful and life threatening experience that objectively is nothing to envy. The concept of “womb envy” was artificially created in a simplistic attempt to find something that women can do that men can't and then instill it with mystic properties in an attempt to give women an area of superiority to offset the males superior ability to do violence. Evolution has instilled in most women a drive towards sexual intercourse and childbirth through the simple expedient that those who didn't have these drives and made the connection between sex and reproduction – didn't reproduce and removed themselves from the gene pool. Excepting the use of physical violence by males to force reproduction on them... reinforcing the evolutionary factors favoring violence yet more. Women can't reproduce asexually and I'm pretty sure that there aren't many who suffer from testicle envy in any real sense.

As much as I love Buffy, it is about taking the violence based path to power and giving the advantage to a woman. It is appealing to have violence applied in a just cause and the world being what it is there is often a need for that... but we have to try and find a way to glorify intellect applied in a just cause and making it as dramatic and engaging as the application of violence. That is a very difficult task.
Something I've been wondering...if these folks believe that death is an appropriate punishment for women who violate a law...why the stoning? Why a slow and painful death? I mean, haven't we kind of moved past the need to torture those we deem worthy of death? Isn't the absence of life enough of a punishment?

I think the sheer brutality is what REALLY shocks us. If Khalil had been put to death via lethal injection, people would no doubt be outraged at such a severe punishment for a seemingly minor 'offense', but I don't think people would be this upset. I mean, I think we all knew this stuff went on routinely in the world, but to see it in black and white and red(which I have not...saw a beheading once and that's all I can take for non-fiction murder) and to see that these men's point is not to just put her to death, but to make it painful and slow...that's where the main shock and outrage comes from, I think.

And I can't honestly say if I think we should be equally outraged at a death sentence vs a brutal death sentence for falling in love. They're both pretty damned despicable.

On the womb-envy debate...really, nothing to envy here! But seriously, I guess I can see the point...women control the continuation of humanity. Yes, we do need a 'piece' of a man, but you need a whole woman. (Until science figures out otherwise.) Women have a whole helluva lot of power in the world. I mean, if you think about it, if we got enough semen, we could do without men altogether! That's probably a frightening and maybe threatening thought to men, at least subconsciously. But then again, the whole 'violence towards women' bit started long before we had in vitro, so who knows....
IMO it is not just that Khalil was murdered in so brutal a way that is shocking to us, but that it was done by family and neighbors. It is shocking and horrifying enough when neighbors turn on each other in civil wars, but families are supposed to be who you turn to for help and protection. To those people who want to turn this topic away from violence against women as though it is not any different than violence toward men I ask, how many men compared to women are publicly murdered by members of their families in honor killings in the world? Some, I'm sure, but I doubt very many.

As far as the womb-envy theory goes, sorry writer but as much as you state that your theory is the one and only fact, it is just an interesting and possibly valid theory much the same as womb-envy...which is an admittedly horrible name.

I tend to think that the widespread animosity towards women and the need to control them stems from a number of factors. What Joss refers to as womb-envy, I interpret as reproductive or relevence insecurity. I don't think the term womb-envy means that men actually want a womb or the unfortunate problems that go with it. It is more the desire to have control of the birth of their children and therefore of life and their own immortality. That combined with the need to be sure that they are necessary to the world mixed with the resentment that is caused when they think the artificial controls that have been imposed to assure those things are breaking down.

As a single mother by choice I have often experienced very mild examples of that insecurity from men. I am not talking about cavemen, I am talking about educated friends and coworkers. With many men there has been an undercurrent of hostility when they find out that I made a choice to have a child by myself. The questions, when they come out, go around the subject but all boil down to men looking for reassurance that they have an important place in life and are needed at a very basic level. Once reassured that I value men and marriage, life between us is good again...especially with those that decide they can provide me with some kind of support or guidance...thereby confirming that they are needed.

Interestingly enough, women's confidential reactions to my choice have also given me a new perspective on that male fear. Some women quietly tell me that they wish they had had the courage to do what I had done, because the only reason they got married was to have children. Being a bit of an already disillusioned romantic (go figure) I have actually been shocked at the number of women who have told me that. ...maybe more shocked than I have been by the number of women who have told me they have been sexually assaulted.

One last thing. I know it is sometimes difficult to see other people "discover" something that you knew was there all along and then get credit for bringing it before the public, but the fact is, no matter how it gets before the public it is good that it got there. Joss is not saying he is discovering this problem for the first time for himself or anyone else. He is just trying to remind people that it is there and that people need to do things to make the world better. People need to be reminded and they need to be reminded by all sorts of different kinds of people. The most effective activists are the ones that can get the right people to speak to the public on their behalf. So let's be happy Joss is speaking out and let's hope that some conservative Republicans and (what the hell) everybody else decides to do the same.
how many men compared to women are publicly murdered by members of their families in honor killings in the world? Some, I'm sure, but I doubt very many.

It's not as many, obviously. There's little in the way of statistics -- the only thing I've seen indicates it's about a third men, 2/3's women.

I'm currently reading the book 'Burned Alive', as suggested by a friend. It's about a female who was burned alive by her brother. More shocking than that, though, is the whole book. It's an insight into society not ours, and folks, if you think you've got problems, you're outright privileged to live the life you do.
I've just started reading Misogyny: The World's Oldest Prejudice. I went to a bookstore looking for something to help me understand all this better, and it seemed remarkably relevant. I thought I would share it here and in Quoter Gal's blog, too.
Thanks for the book title Sunfire.
I don't have much to say and I have to admit I didn't read all of the comments. Sorry people, I had a "fire bad tree pretty" sort of day. Maybe I'll come back to it and read the rest of them later.

But I do want to say thanks to Joss for that post. It was moving.
I think I love you a little.

Also, since I lurk more than post...Hi all, this is my first post. I've been coming here for a few years, but just signed up during the last opening.
Welcome aboard, chikymunkey.
I'll never forget something my father told me and both of my sisters: "You should've been boys. Where'd I go wrong?"

Uhhh, what?

Another thing I'll never forget is standing in a Burger King in Riyad, Saudi Arabia, covered head to toe in black with just my eyes showing (I found it much easier to get around without being harassed if they couldn't see my very white skin and blonde hair... too bad I couldn't do something about my green eyes), trying to get one of the men behind the counter to even take my order. After 20 minutes of frustration, I finally got one of my male companions to go with me to the "family" side and order for me so I could get some food.

Uhhh, what?

Another incident that sticks out in my mind, happening again in Saudi Arabia, is hearing a Saudi gentleman offer my male companions $500,000 US dollars to "buy" me.

Again I say, "uhhhh, what?"

So three things I've learnt in life: 1) I should've been a boy. 2) Some men can't be bothered to speak to me as a human being. 3) I am worth $500,000 US dollars and apparently a piece of property akin to a car.

Uhhhh, what???
Great post, Arista.
I know I'm really lame and always lurk and never post, but I just wanted to say how proud I am that I belong to such an intelligent, intellectual, and just plain caring group of people.
It's clear that we all feel passionately about this, and even where there's disagreement, we're managing to communicate clearly, openly and succinctly. I wish I could say the same for more groups that I belong to!

Thank you, Joss, for reminding us to open our eyes, and to speak out against injustice!
I haven't posted yet because this whole thread makes me want to weep - from horror, from pride, from disgust, and from that feeling of being in a community that cares. Plus, tears make the English fly out of my head.

I have one suggestion: Let's all wear the t-shirt or the buttons to the Serenity screenings this summer. It will be novel enough that perhaps we'll garner extra press for Joss's cause, it will be that much more money in EN's coffers, and it will display our solidarity and determination to act on this terrible issue.

Oh, and QG? Make that 9.
Oh, cabbie, yeah... and good idea for the screenings...

It's heartbreaking to me that I am getting emails off-line from whedonesquer-gals who have been molested or assaulted... still... days later...

I'm glad to see that people are still posting to this thread - some good things have been said, after it fell off the front page.

I especially liked this from newcj, especially after seeing so many objections on the interwebs in which folks are upset that Joss - a man - is being listened to on feminist issues, since they are female and/or they've been working on these issues for years. I agree with her:

I know it is sometimes difficult to see other people "discover" something that you knew was there all along and then get credit for bringing it before the public, but the fact is, no matter how it gets before the public it is good that it got there. Joss is not saying he is discovering this problem for the first time for himself or anyone else. He is just trying to remind people that it is there and that people need to do things to make the world better. People need to be reminded and they need to be reminded by all sorts of different kinds of people. The most effective activists are the ones that can get the right people to speak to the public on their behalf. So let's be happy Joss is speaking out and let's hope that some conservative Republicans and (what the hell) everybody else decides to do the same.

Remember, if you get a chance, go to the "I Am Dua Khalil" blog and post a comment about anything you were motivated to do after reading Joss' post... or a link to an event you think is related, or respond further to Joss' post... There are links to most of the sites mentioned in this thread, and more...
I translated this from an article - This comes out the Koran.

1) A woman may only have sexual intercourse with her husband , a husband can have sexual intercourse with many women.
2) A man can expel his wife when he wants to , a woman cannot expel her husband
3) A woman can only get half of her husbands heritage.
4) The testimony of a woman is only worth half of the testimony of a man.
5) A woman must be obey her husband
6) A man has the right to beat his wife when she doesn't obey him.
7) God has chosen man above woman
brownish coat, surely I don't need to point out that the Bible has some rather misogynous statements in it as well. Like several people have already said, this is a human problem. I'm not suggesting that we should ignore misogyny anywhere, including within Muslim cultures; however, this is a problem that is much larger than a particular group of people. I do not see how pointing a finger at a particular religion progresses the discussion here.
It seems to me that religion IS the problem Sunfire , are you saying that the event described by Joss is a one-off ? I'm sure a lot of such events are not recorded.

It's a problem of interpretation and indoctrination. Thanks to education we can choose what we believe while in other countries which incidentally are the Muslim countries the masses are spoon fed with what the clerics want them to believe.
One of such things being that women mean nothing , are nothing.
Perhaps sexism is the problem, and it finds expression in religion, culture and politics. In politics, it can be fought by appeals to basic principles, such as equal rights under the law. In culture, it can be fought by the power of art to convey the humanity and individuality of "stong women characters." In religion, it can be fought through appeals to the ethic that Joseph Campbell found running through all the world's mythologies: Treat others as you'd want to be treated.

Historically, defining a particular religion as evil has produced horrors, and defining religion in general as evil has led to other horrors. There is good and bad in religion, politics and culture, and the challenge is to nurture the good.
So say we all.
Brownishcoat, you do realise that the people who committed this crime were not muslim don't you?
brownish coat wrote: "It seems to me that religion *is* the problem* ...." A statement with which I completely agree, for the record. And went on to say " ..... while in (other) countries which incidentally are the Muslim countries, the masses are spoon fed with what the clerics want them to believe. One such thing being that women mean nothing, are nothing".

The response by helcat, "..... you do realize that the people who committed this crime were not Muslim, don't you?" led me to Google "Yazidi", the faith of Dua and her family.

Encyclopedia Britannica: "The Yazidi religion is a syncretic combination of Zoroastrian, Manichaen, Jewish, Nestonian Christian and Islamic elements."

This incident, BTW, accounts for the majority of the links on Google's first three pages under "Yazidi".

Under a news article heading, "Yazidi Leaders Voice Concern Over the Repercussions of Dua's Death":
"Yazidi religious authorities have formally and publically condemmed the killing."
Note the concern voiced in the heading, over the "repercussions", not over the girl's death itself.
Further reading reveals that the incident has sparked "reprisal killings of Yazidi's by Sunni Muslims in the area", which I presume to be the "repercussions" in question. The Yazidi's killed in the reprisal killings were men.

Despite the "official condemnation of the act" by local Yazidi religious leaders, here is a different perspective:
According to Howzan Mahmoud, a London based activist with the "Organizations of Women's Freedom in Kurdistan and Iraq", born in Iraqi Kurdistan:
"This girl's crime was to fall in love with an Arab Muslim man. According to the bigoted values of this (Yazidi) religious system, she was not allowed to marry someone from outside her tribe and religious sect. This is a heavily religious and patriarchal society that considers women as private possessions and inferior, sub-humans".

So please, let's not get so caught up in political correctness that we lose sight of the fact that this is about misogyny and specifically, misogyny sanctioned by *the extremes of* a specific cultural/religious tradition, which is Muslim/Islamic. Again, I'm talking about the *Extremists* in Muslim/Islamic culture. But a look at the laws of most Muslim/Islamic countries reveal the unfortunate fact that the majority of these countries' laws are apparently made by the religious extremists.

Part of my reason for this post is in defense of *brownish coat's* posts, voicing fears that gender equality in her country will suffer due to the demands of Islamic immigrants that their cultural and religious traditions be given consideration in their adopted country.
I know that if I lived in a country where immigrants of a certain cultural/religious tradition were demanding the right to continue to treat women as chattel, against the laws of the country where they have chosen to resettle, I would also be up in arms.

I'm all for tolerance of different cultures and religions, but there has to be a limit regarding the *extremists* who would attempt to force acceptance of culturally/religiously condoned misogyny and abuse of women on another country, in violation of that country's laws, in the name of "equal rights" for their cultural/religious traditions.

It simply isn't possible to support the goals of an organization such as Equality Now without acknowledging that the gender discrimination against which the organization is fighting is firmly rooted in patriarchal religion and culture.
And for anyone who still doesn't understand that this is not an "anti-Muslim" rant, let me say this. I don't doubt for a moment that the right-wing Christian *extremists* here in the U.S. would love to have their own misogynistic beliefs codified into law. They are in fact making the effort every day, in hundreds of ways, on both state and federal levels.

So yes, I believe that religion is the problem. And that the only thing that keeps it in check, one country at a time, is maintaining separation of church and state. And globally, organizations such as Equality Now.
One way to lose sight of the fact that this is about mysogyny would be to make the mistake of concluding that it's about the mysogyny of the extremes of a particular cultural/religious tradition. Another way to lose sight of it would be to conclude that it's about religion in general. "Captivity," from what I can tell, is thoroughly secular. It's part of a cultural tradition, although not a religious one. And it's thoroughly mysogynistic.

There is a long, lousy tradition of identifying evil with particular religions. There is a less long but still bad tradition of identifying evil with religion in general.

If you keep your focus on mysogny, you can actually draw on what's good in religion to fight the battle. Religions have anti-mysogynistic elements. For example, they ban the ultimate mysogynistic crime: rape.

If you lose your focus, and define the problem as religion, you alienate allies among two groups (a) everyone who has a religion, and that's most of the planet, and (b) everyone who recognizes that defining a particular religion or religion in general as the problem itself creates new problems, and that's most of the rest of the planet.
My feeling has always been that religion is used to justify the evils that people want to do anyway. If a person wants to hate someone or oppress someone they will find a justification. Take away religion and they will find another reason; economic, political etc.. I am not a big fan of religion, but I am in full agreement with Pointy on this one.
If a person wants to hate someone or oppress someone they will find a justification. Take away religion and they will find another reason; economic, political etc.
I am fortunate enough to have been raised by a strong woman. My mother is a brave, smart, beautiful woman who challenged conventions and taught me to prize a woman who can be my equal, and maybe even in balance, encourage me to be more than I thought I could be.

Early on I found myself disenchanted by the objectification, dismissal and outright devaluation inherent in the locker room talk of the other boys in my school. And I was disappointed and sometimes even horrified by the concession to that value system that nearly all the girls in my school bought in to. And this was just the realm of paltry teenage lust in America. My upbringing never prepared me for the kinds of things this thread has discussed and in the 70's my world view exploded, painfully ripping away my naivety .

Joss' original post and this thread have renewed my interest in doing more toward promoting the beliefs my mother encouraged in me. I don't have anything to say about this particular thread, other than to say, "Thank you, Joss." But I'll say it with actions instead of words - I was not very aware of Equality Now before this, but I am now committed to being an active supporter.

Pointy wrote: "One way to lose sight that this is about misogyny would be to make the mistake of concluding that it's about the misogyny of the extremes of a particular cultural/religious tradition".

But that is *exactly* what this incident is about. You can even drop the "cultural" part and conclude that this is about the extremes of patriarchal religion, period. The facts speak for themselves. Dua belonged to a family who follows the Yazidi religion, which in the words of the London based, (female) activist "born in Iraqi Kurdistan" is a "bigoted religious system" which does not allow marriage "outside the tribe and religious sect" and is a "*religious* patriarchal society that considers women as private possessions and inferior sub-humans".

Someone name me one country/society/cultural tradition on earth that practices institutionalized misogyny that has roots in any tradition other than religion.

So the film "Captivity" is "thoroughly secular", agreed. But the culture that produced it, my own U.S. of A., has experienced, in the last twenty years or so, a brutal backlash against feminist values, the values of gender equality. Led by none other that the extreme right-wing Christian fundamentalists.

I'm well aware that my stand is not a popular one. The voice that speaks out against the world's major religions as basically patriarchal is not only unpopular but in many if not most circles, unacceptable. But I believe that, for that reason specifically, it's a point of view that needs to be heard. And I believe that it is completely OT on this thread.

I'm not saying that all religious people are misogynistic. But the world's major religions .... Christianity, Judaism and Islam .... are inarguably based on patriarchal tradition. These religions, and the "holy" books and texts that support and define them, are products of the ancient patriarchal cultures that produced them.
Enlightened followers of these religions today have dropped or adapted their archaic misogynistic traditions to fit into a more enlightened contemporary model. Unfortunately, the extremists are always the ones who struggle the hardest against letting go of the outmoded traditions that reserves all power, indeed (in fundamentalist Islam) the power of life and death, for an elite few. And in *traditional, fundamentalist* models of religious tradition, the elite few are exclusively male. And those with no power are exclusively female.

It is an unfortunate fact that Christianity and Judaism have come light years farther along the road toward discarding fundamentalist, misogynistic traditions than has Islam. Yet we still see, in the U.S., the country with the most flexible political foundation (the constitution) on earth, being taken over by right-wing Christian extremists.

*Pointy* also said: "Religions have anti-misogynistic elements. For instance, they ban the ultimately misogynistic crime, rape."

Really? Do some research on conditions in refugee camps all over the world and you'll find that the *fundamentalist* interpretation of the ban on rape does not apply to women of religions different from the religion of the parties in power. Rape in refugee camps is universally tolerated. And most refugee camps exist in the first place as a result of wars between groups whose differences are based on religion.

So yes, I believe that it is of utmost importance to keep in mind that the stoning to death of Dua Kahalil was rooted in and allowed by institutionalized, fundamentalist religion.
Not saying I have the solution, but solutions begin by facing the cold, hard facts that are staring the world in the face.
I won't repeat myself, so:

Great post, blanetalk. It's especially heartening to hear from people we've never heard from before (and from some infrequent posters as well). I feel like I'm at a kind of virtual barn-raising. Thnx.
I have read all of the previous posts. I don't want to clutter up the posts here, but I do have my opinions about many things that were expressed. I think my opinions are too extensive to take up that much space here. If you're interested, you can read what I think here-

(cut and paste baby, cut and paste.)

These religions, and the "holy" books and texts that support and define them, are products of the ancient patriarchal cultures that produced them.

Shey By saying that Christianity, Judaism and Islam were reflections of the patriarchal societies that invented them, you are indicating that they are not the cause of the problem but a reflection of it; a way to perpetuate it.

IMO blaming religion for an individual’s or group’s actions, is giving them an out that does not help the situation. By bringing religion into it, the actions and the individual responsibility become secondary. To me, they are not secondary. People decide what is morally acceptable within their religion and their culture. If you object to someone’s actions and then bring anything else into it, you dilute and redefine your own point out of existence.

If someone does something objectionable, I will call them on that action. If I bring their religion, culture, ethnic background, race, sexual orientation or gender into it, it allows them to redefine me as a bigot and redefine the issue from their actions to my prejudices. I do not believe in giving anyone that out.
[deleted for being off topic - Simon]

[ edited by Simon on 2007-05-29 19:30 ]
Please don't do a first post here with the express purpose of plugging your own site.
Well, Joss. I've always respected your willingness to speak out and write for strong women. My problem is that even your strong women are objectified. They can only be strong if they're in their 20's or early 30's and really sexy.

When you can bring yourself to write a main part for a woman in her 40's who is strong and capable (say, like Shepherd Book) then I think you will have really gotten it and my actual respect for your understanding of women will be complete.
There seem to be a bunch of newcomers these past few days, welcome all. It may be wise, however, to acclimatize and do a bit more reading before posting all wild and crazy like.
I think Joyce was strong and capable. And while Gina and Morena are far from being old hags (like me! ;-) ), Zoe and Inara certainly were not spring chickens and were plenty strong and capable.

Edited for typo. And then edited again for a typo in the typo. *rolls eyes*

[ edited by cabri on 2007-06-04 03:43 ]
I've always marveled at Joss's ability to depict extremely attractive women in almost too-sexy attire while doing the opposite of objectifying them--that is, while revealing their characters in ways that lead even the casual viewer to fully appreciate their humanity, and enjoy doing so. Consider his widely beloved creation, the ultimate fantasy/horror icon: Leatherpants. If appearances alone could objectify, then this character would have me objectifying like a low down dirty . . . objectifier. Yet I find myself as a viewer (and now a reader) deeply concerned with her happiness and well-being, respectful of her opinions and talents and appreciative of her character, eager to see that the world she lives in be grateful for her great non-physical gifts, those that come from her heart, and respect her rights and autonomy as an individual human being. I cannot help but resent it when anyone in her adventures treats her in a less than respectful and appreciative manner. It's been nearly eight years, but I still want to beat up Parker. For me, the most terrifying episode of the series was when she was forced to work fast food, work that did not allow her to fully share her gifts, and I still get angry whenever anyone doesn't take her seriously.

I have never taken a single course in women's studies, and the only people who have ever made a serious attempt to raise my consciousness were members of the Catholic clergy. So mine is not an expert feminist view. But I always thought that objectification didn't come from seeing the visible kinds of beauty, but from blinding oneself to the less visible kinds of beauty. And the whole point of Buffy was to let us love a young woman warrior the way we love the many young male warriors of mythology, romance, sci fi, fantasy, comic books and various other genre and media that Saje may be wondering why I don't list. And the fun of these kinds of stories is that the reader gets to imagine having superpowers, being super-good looking, and being thoroughly justified in acting as if one's personal issues are matters of life and death, epic battles between good and evil with the fate of the entire world at stake.

Not everyone in the mood for such a fantasy of ideal beauty, power, stature and grace wants it to include the onset of middle age.

I fully expect in my retirement to be watching in at least 3D the continuing adventures of Buffy the Middle Aged Vampire Slayer, if not Buffy: Golden Girl via a medium that will somehow allow the full acting contribution of Sarah Michelle Gellar without risking any bruising of her at all in the (computer facilitated, yet thoroughly realistic and emotionally resonant) fight scenes. So I don't feel I must wait until "you can bring yourself to write a main part for a woman in her 40s who is strong and capable (say, like Shepherd Book)," since that wait will only end in the far off, distant, wildly futuristic year of 1997 with the introduction of the character of Joyce Summers, who was always a more central character than Shepherd Book, who was in his 40s a good 10-20 years before we ever met him, before you prove that you have "really gotten it."

There are a variety of ways to prove one does not get it, some rich with irony.

You want us to love women, right? You figure if we love your fantasy women, we'll love real women more? Given the way human heart interacts with mythology, I think you're probably right. And awfully good at what you do.

[ edited by Pointy on 2007-05-30 00:24 ]

[ edited by Pointy on 2007-05-30 00:35 ]
newcj .... This is not a matter of me *blaming* religion for the actions of the group that perpetrated this horrific murder. The facts, as stated in every account of the incident (see my quotes from two different news articles), state clearly that this girl was stoned to death by the members of her *religion* (Zazidi) for one reason only: that she was involved with and possibly, secretly married to, a member of a different *religion*, in violation of the rules of her family/tribes *religion*. These are facts, not opinions.

The one and only cause of this incident was the violation of a *religious* prohibition.
Stating these facts does not "allow" anyone to redefine me as a bigot and "redefine the issue from their actions to [my] prejudices." There was a reason for their actions and that reason was religious and not all the convoluted logic in existence can change that fact, or make me a bigot for pointing it out.

You say .... "People decide what is morally acceptable within their religion and their culture". I cannot find any way to read that statement other than 'if a cultural/religious tradition says it's acceptable to stone and beat a girl to death for being romantically involved with a member of a different religion, then we (of other cultures/religions) should not be allowed to condemn the action without ignoring the one and only reason that it happened.

I'm totally confounded by your saying "By bringing religion [or gender] into it .....". I did not *bring religion and gender into it*, this brutal murder was, in *fact*, committed for religious reasons, against a woman, because of her gender. And I am neither prejudiced nor a bigot because I stated those facts in my post.
It is indeed sad a 17 year old girl was stoned to death for the crime of loving someone outside her tribe, but stoning, barbaric as it seems, is one on one and doesn't inflict collateral damage. To those who say we who are civilized must enlighten the heathens, I suggest that bombing people without air defense kills far more 17 year olds than stoning and is of equally questionable morality. To quote the New Testament-Let he who is without sin, you'll pardon the expression, cast the first stone.
I just got the best tee shirt. Blue like my sweetie's eyes, message close to her great big heart, and fits like a dream:

"I Am Dua Khalil"
Glad to see the conversation continuing and hoping the focus stays more on productive dialog and action rather than competitive sniping. For my part, I'm looking to start by getting better read. I'm knee-deep in What is the What? about the Sudan's "Lost Boys," but when I'm done with that, this book and this one look like they might be good places to start...
Speaking of reading, Barest_Smidgen, I accidentally came across something that seems to combine the unfamiliar (to me) concept of womb envy with horror, sci fi and feminism:

"Frankenstein is the story of childbirth as it would be if it had been invented by someone who wanted power more than love. . . . The modern Prometheus steals from nature 'the cause of generation and life'--the secret of biological reproduction by which a new life is brought into being--and uses that secret to create a new species. . . . Victor [Frankenstein] feels no obligation to the being to which he has given life through 'the horrors of my secret toil,' and he sustains himself through this gruesome, pleasureless work with the thought that his creature will owe him more gratitude than any human child ever owed to its father. Frankenstein performs the act of creation alone, by conscious choice rather than through instinct, so that he alone can have total control over its outcome. . . .

"Mary Shelley gave Frankenstein its unique power by portraying its grotesque horrors as the consequence of the most familiar and ordinary causes. The whole moral and emotional content of her book is an extended restatement of a single sentence by her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, in the first feminist manifesto written in English, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792): 'A great proportion of the misery that wanders, in hideous forms, around the world, is allowed to rise from negligence of parents.' In ordinary life, these hideous forms are concealed behind everyday faces. In Frankenstein they appear as they are, in all their horror."

From "The Things That Matter"
by Edward Mendelson
Thanks for the recommendations, barest_smidgen, I have put all three books on hold at the library. People reading this thread may also be interested in an article about the lost girls of Sudan.
This brought me to tears because I thought 'finally, someone sees what is happening to women in this country'. The objectification just continues and no one sees it, or they think it's harmless.

I know I'm jumping in in the middle of a long conversation, but I just wanted to respond.

Thank you Joss.

And I do remember Kitty Genovese, 1964, stabbed while neighbors did nothing. They just thought 'she must be drunk, why else would a young girl be out at 3am, yelling...'

And thank you to blueandollsome, writer, quotergal, ladygrey, pointy, and especially blanetalk - I have two sons, and right now my main mission is to teach them that people are individuals - not defined by male/female, black/white, young/old...we are all just 'slobs on the bus' trying to make our way home.
Date trivia: May 20 (2003) was the last Buffy.
Thank you again Joss. I'm following some of the suggestions in this post, and will continue to do so.
Positive action is a wonderful thing. Denial about the the role of extremist religion in this deplorable incident accomplishes nothing positive, but enables the status quo.
Shey, gotta say, I think you've completely missed the point to most poster's objections to your positing the issue as primarily religious - you miss that they're simply saying that the core issue is misogyny. I haven't seen anyone denying that misogyny is expressed in religions around the world, nor that in this case, the religious convictions of the killers was the ostensible reason for the murder. It's just not enough to say "extremist religions" as that doesn't explain its presence in, say, Captivity, nor for many years in the avowedly atheist Soviet Union. And so on.

It's just that you say, "The one and only cause of this incident was the violation of a *religious* prohibition." Don't agree, and I think that other folks haven't agreed with you, but not because they're in "denial" of the religious aspect of the killing, nor because they think that most institutionalized religions don't or can't contain misogyny.

It's just that your stated belief that religious disagreements were the only cause of this incident misses what many people - myself included - believe is the underlying yet inexplicable deeper cause - common to cultures with strong leading religions and to people without strong religious convictions - a profound and pervasive misogyny. The focus on religion doesn't go deep enough. As Joss put it:

"How else to explain the fact that cultures who would die to eradicate each other have always agreed on one issue? That every popular religion puts restrictions on women’s behavior that are practically untenable? That the act of being a free, attractive, self-assertive woman is punishable by torture and death? In the case of this upcoming torture-porn, fictional. In the case of Dua Khalil, mundanely, unthinkably real."

As an atheist myself, I have no stake whatsoever in trying to whitewash the evil that humans are capable of in the name of their religions, nor in maintaining what you seem to think is a denial of the role that fundamentalist religion played in this and other atrocities worldwide.

It's just that most religions can play, "What evil you the other religion did in the name of your cruel and evil and ignorant religious belief" tit for tat and it gets us nowhere, except more back-and-forth between religions, or between those who practice religion and those who don't. It also ignores the positive role that caring religion has played in trying to prevent and right this and other kinds of evil.

Yes, deplore the misogyny in religious fundamentalism, and point it out whenever you see it - but it musn't be attributed to religion itself, or the waters get muddied beyond recognition. It is expressed in many religions, and cultures, and mythologies and governments throughout history and the world, and it is the glaring inequity of thinking that one half of humankind is inferior to the other.

I think that if we don't understand and deal with misogyny as the underlying cause, then we haven't even got a shot at evolving beyond it.
Ed Kunin - be that as it may, please find your way back to the topic. If only he/she/it that were without sin could cast any stones there would be no stones being cast. Everyone would simply ignore the myriad of horrors that people inflict upon one another.

QuoterGal - pardon my cheekiness, but AMEN, sister! ;)
As Joss infers, mysogyny predates organized religion.
What Quotergal said.

Shey, I would say your's was a radical interpretation of my post. In some cases to the point of asserting that it was saying the opposite of its intent.

"You say .... "People decide what is morally acceptable within their religion and their culture". I cannot find any way to read that statement other than 'if a cultural/religious tradition says it's acceptable to stone and beat a girl to death for being romantically involved with a member of a different religion, then we (of other cultures/religions) should not be allowed to condemn the action without ignoring the one and only reason that it happened."

How about "If a religion or culture says it is acceptable to beat a woman to death for not doing what her family wants her to do, and they beat her to death, they are responsible for having done the horrific act. The fact that their religion or culture says it is ok, does not absolve them of the responsibility for their actions. Religions say all kinds of things. People choose what actions they will take and what they will use to try to justify those actions."

I find it interesting that by trying to make this about religion, quite a few people who don't particularly like organized religion have been put in a position of seeming to defend organized religion. That is the danger of trying to take a bigger issue and make it about something smaller. Misogyny is deeper and larger than religion.

IMO she was killed simply because she dared to disobey.
newcj .... I definitely agree that Dua was killed simply because she dared to disobey. But *what* she dared to disobey was a fundamentalist religious restriction. I see no way around that fact.
And it certainly isn't my intention to absolve the people who actually committed this act, including Dua's family, from personal responsibility for their actions. My point is that the misogynist mindset that *allowed* (not *caused*) these people to perpetrate this horror against a women is firmly rooted in, sanctioned and approved by a fundamentalist, extremist religious society.
So I believe that both the individuals who committed the act *and* the social structure that allows and condones this kind of barbarism are to blame. And in this case, that social structure is based entirely on an extremist interpretation of religion.

*QuoterGal .... I agree that "the core issue here is misogyny" and that there is indeed a "profound and pervasive misogyny .... common to cultures with strong leading religions and to people without strong religious convictions." But my point here is less general than that, and more focused on this particular incident. And regarding *this* incident, I do believe there has indeed been a lot of denial on this thread that religion had much at all to do with it. And I stand firm in my respectful but total disagreement with that interpretation.
I'm not even an atheist, I believe in a "higher power", in the form of a consciousness that transcends our own, and that we can tap into. But I'm in danger of going too OT here, so I just want to say that I believe that this thread reflects nothing but good intentions, regarding the desire for a more just world, free from all forms of misogyny.
I am obviously in a small minority regarding the *extent* of the role played by institutionalized, extremist religion in this incident, and that continues to puzzle and confound me. But it has never been my intention to place less value on opinions different from my own.
I think the "religion's to blame/not to blame" issue is mainly a matter of proximate vs ultimate causes. The proximate cause of Dua Khalil's death was religion but (no offence to those who believe in divinely inspired texts etc.) to me proscriptive religions are fashioned in our image, we embed (encrust might be a better word) within them a model of the world we want to live in and so misogyny is the ultimate cause (both of some of the worst aspects of religion and, therefore, of Ms Khalil's death).

And, IMO, human biology is the cause of misogyny (very interesting post writer). Doesn't mean we can't overcome it, every time we use a condom we thwart our biology, s'no biggie (if we had to overcome physics we'd be in trouble ;).

That said, extreme interpretations of religion might be a better first target than misogyny itself because we may be stuck in a chicken/egg situation whereby misogyny can now be justified by appeal to divine authority. But a big part of that 'targeting' would be educating people so that they know there's a choice about what they believe and that it's their personal responsibility to make that choice. That approach wouldn't necessarily help in relatively secular (and generally more highly educated) countries where misogyny is still ingrained but I do agree with Shey that, horrible as misogyny is anywhere, it's less horrible (IMO) when the entire culture and all its institutions don't have it written in (in some cases literally) at a fundamental level.

And i'm gonna try to inform myself better about these things (thanks all for the book mentions), pass that information on to others, contribute to relevant charities and international organisations and generally try to let fewer instances of casual sexism go by without comment. And next time I see her i'm gonna hug my sister but i'm not sure that counts (i'd do it anyway ;).
So what exactly does overcome misogyny? My general impression is that the more power women have -- that is, the more equality they have politically, economically, culturally -- the harder a time of it misogyny has victimizing them.

jaynelovesvera posted a CBS News story about radicals targeting girls schools in Pakistan. A lot of power comes with education: "being educated" means possessing some cultural authority, some social status, some economic power and some of the basic tools needed to wield political power.

If "human biology is the cause of misogyny," then it is "written in" humanity "at a fundamental level" deeper than culture, economics and politics. My pet theory (and I reiterate my lack of college-level study of the subject) is that misogyny is rooted in one basic biological fact: Men have more upper body strength in general than women. The first way a human being learns to dominate another is with physical strength. For most of human history, physical strength dominated both economics (since agriculture was the economic activity that most people engaged in (even in the most industrially advanced nation, the United States (even into the 19th century))) and politics (since nations' status depended on the ability to make war, which for most of human history has depended greatly on upper body strength). Misogyny was like war, a way that those with the greater power to inflict damage dominated those with less. It comes down to one kind of power--the power to hurt. As long as women were shut out--or at least suffered an enormous disadvantage-- regarding the central economic and political activities of the societies in which they lived, equality was out of reach.

Industrialization decreased the importance of upper body strength to economic success, and the information age has kicked it firmly in the ass. The most economically advanced societies are the ones with the most and the best information-based jobs, and these are the societies where women enjoy the most power, and misogyny has the hardest time of it.

The information age economy values us by our brains, not by our brawn. If upper body strength is the prime economic value, equality is impossible. If intellect is the prime economic value, then equality becomes the default setting. Politically, liberal democracy, by reducing the importance of physical force in the distribution of power within democratic nations, likewise promotes the equality of women.

All of which is meant to convey my general impression that when it comes to fighting misogyny, steps that empower women culturally, economically and politically -- for example, promoting the education of girls -- are the most likely to produce results. The haters are bombing the girls schools because the schools are doing something right.

I have now produced a post that is longer than the ones I tend to read, so I'll stop.

[ edited by Pointy on 2007-06-04 00:06 ]
I agree that education is incredibly important. The importance of education is why it has so often been illegal or discouraged for those groups that a society wants to oppress. Some years ago I saw former Vice-President McGovern discussing the initiative that he and Senator Dole were working on. They wanted to try to get at least some education for everyone in the world, most specifically women and children. He pointed out that whenever the women of an area were educated, mortality rates went down, birth rates went down, and health statistics went up. Now all we have to do is convince everyone those are worth the risk of educating women and girls.

I think the "religion's to blame/not to blame" issue is mainly a matter of proximate vs ultimate causes.


newcj .... I definitely agree that Dua was killed simply because she dared to disobey. But *what* she dared to disobey was a fundamentalist religious restriction. I see no way around that fact.

But she would be just as dead if what she dared to disobey was a restriction based on some other belief system that is ultimately set-up to keep her in line. It could have been racial, ideological, economic or simply that whoever she was seen with was not the person the family had decided on for her.

...misogyny is rooted in one basic biological fact: Men have more upper body strength in general than women. The first way a human being learns to dominate another is with physical strength.

Then why would misogyny be needed? IMO misogyny is not about physical abuse, it just presents itself that way occasionally. It is much more often about the attitudes that have been developed about women in general and their place in the social structure. Biology also gives women the desire to protect and care for themselves and their children. Men have more upper body strength and that seems like it would give them a naturally secure place with women. Women would need them to do the things that greater upper body strength is good for. However, IMO misogyny is born out of insecurity. One does not beat down people who one knows are weaker unless one feels insecure about one's own strength. Truly strong men should not feel the need to subdue women...unless they are afraid the women will reject them. If they are afraid women might reject them or that other men might take or lure away "their" women, or if they think that women do not actually need them at all, then they might find other means to keep "their" women. Means such as convincing the women that they are too weak to do without them or or that going outside their own group hurts the group in some horrible way or that women are bad and will inevitably hurt the people they love if they do not follow the rules set down by the men. The rules that women are constantly told are there to protect them. Upper body strength is one means of control, not a reason.
Quick answer: It's a root, not a reason. Superior upper body strength means higher social status in economies that rely on higher upper body strength (like agriculture through most of human history) and in polities that rely on upper body strength (such as those that advance a nation's interests through war, again through most of human history). A biological fact has a social implication depending on the way a society is organized. Societies organized along lines dependent on upper body strength will produce the false, culture-wide impression that men are superior, women inferior--that is, sexism.

IOW, I'm not arguing that misogyny is about physical abuse.

ETA: That doesn't address all the points you raise, newcj, but I'm working on a theory that involves contrasting the highly egalitarian First Century Christianity with the highly sexist Middle Ages perversion thereof. This could take some time.

[ edited by Pointy on 2007-06-04 12:06 ]
The last two days have brought some really well-thought out and articulated posts... loves me some smart people. And as usual, Saje said what I was thinking better than I would. But I wanted to dip my toe into the religion v. misogyny pool and say that I think history makes it pretty clear that this chicken came before the egg. Or, in this case, before the religion.

The beginnings of so many faiths tread a familiar path. (I mean, early on, but not all the way back to the beginning, when a few rapt followers gazed in awe at a new mind and declared love the word, rather, when people started to organize.) If you study these periods, (or take the word of those who already have) you'll see the faiths inevitably falling from the hands of visionary leaders, into the less capable hands of average, power-hungry folk. (From the 'divine,' to the lame-assed.) And at these moments, you can clearly see the mainly male administrators of these faiths building hierarchies for themselves and interpreting the word of the godhead they followed to suit their already-in-place ideas about the the world -- gender often at the top of the to-do list.

That's a round about way of saying, of course religion has something to do with these grotesque crimes, but thinking it the root-source would miss this very real-fact: organized religions always build their frameworks to reflect, to interpret, and to justify the world as it already exists around them. It's the very nature of the thing. So, if religion is the egg, that big giant chicken we call misogyny definitely came first. Religion is just the tool we use to beat down what we hate or what we fear.
IOW, I'm not arguing that misogyny is about physical abuse.

Okey-dokey. Thinking about it I am sure you made that clear earlier, but I have been very distracted lately.

Superior upper body strength means higher social status in economies that rely on higher upper body strength (like agriculture through most of human history) and in polities that rely on upper body strength (such as those that advance a nation's interests through war, again through most of human history).

But are we so sure that superior upper body strength gave men superior social status throughout early societies in general? If my (lately faulty) memory serves, many tribal societies in the Americas, for instance, recognized the symbiotic relationship between the male and female parts of their societies. Although male and female roles were fairly strictly laid-out and adhered to, each was considered equally important. It was understood that the chance of survival for both male and female was lessened if either was depleted or ignored. In some cases matriarchal and patriarchal structures existed parallel to each other in the same society. Each had their function and was respected by the other as invaluable to the overall survival of the whole group. If either is looked at exclusively without taking the other into account, as someone might who is from a patriarchal society for whom women’s groups are considered ineffectual and therefore ignored, it would look like an unbalanced society. We all bring our own backgrounds and preconceived ideas into our perceptions of other cultures.

I'm working on a theory that involves contrasting the highly egalitarian First Century Christianity with the highly sexist Middle Ages perversion thereof. This could take some time.

Sounds interesting and exhausting. What groups of 1st century Christians ar you starting with? Pre-Christian societies and religions were so varied in their beliefs and traditions that I would think that it would make a huge difference if you were looking at early Christians from a Judaic background or from various of the polytheistic religions...some of whom reportedly had real problems accepting the concept of a single devine being who was represented as strictly masculine.
We don't like the chicken (sorry couldn't resist the in-joke)... Some incredibly insightful and eloquent posts, all of which serve to remind me what a thought-provoking experience it can be to discuss things openly with a wide ranging group of others from around this big blue ball. Not to pat Whedonesquers on the back, but one thing I've learned in my time here is that, by and large, we are some smart, big-hearted people who want to leave the world a better place. In addition to my cheeky Amen to QG above, I would like to second what Saje (my brother from another mother) said, say bravo to Pointy and newcj for a fascinating set of posts which we could probably spend the next decade refining (and for back-and-forth without drama, major kudos), deconstructing and synthesizing, and a hearty nod of agreement to barest.
[Off topic]

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2007-06-04 19:28 ]
Ed Kunin, as mentioned previously you are not on topic, it wasn't QG who said so, it was me. You can discuss whatever you would like to on flickr and the various forums, but your posts here have all been problematic (website self promotion, offtopic, arguing with mods/admins), something you may wish to think about in the next 24 hours while you are not able to post. If you ever have an issue with moderation, please contact a mod or admin offiste via email to discuss.
Ed Kunin: QG I consider myself exactly on topic.

Is this "QG" referring to moi? 'Cause, honestly, Ed Kunin, I've not addressed the issue of whether your posts are on topic or off. I believe that was our delightful Mod zeitgeist.

However, now that you mention it, I do happen to think that that your posts are sorta beside the point...

The Iraq war strikes me as far more horrible than stoning a single individual, horrible as that was.

I'd have to say that I agree - that one particularly brutal and cruel death is not as tragic as thousands and thousands of deaths on all sides in Iraq (though I can't say how many people misogyny itself - the topic at hand - has killed.)

However, that's if comparing the two is pertinent or even possible - I don't think it is. Nor do I think my own opinion about the Iraq war - though I've been against it since before we entered it - particularly relevant to the topic at hand - the beating to death of a 17-y-o girl, and misogyny in general. If Joss had posted about the Iraq war, believe me, plenty of people here would have had plenty to say about it.

We, as US citizens, cannot ignore our responsibility for the horror of our tax dollars at work.

Writing in this particular thread about misogyny, the oppression and exploitation of women, does not preclude accepting responsibility as a U.S. citizen for the war in Iraq, nor do you have any way of knowing what attitudes or actions any whedonesque member has or has taken about the war.

Nor should you. The thread is not about the war in Iraq.

Caring about one thing does not mean not not caring about another, nor should anyone shut up about one because another is heinous. If it were so, we would be such depleted people...

"Comparisons are odious." - Oh, a bunch of literary and biblical-type people, including Joss and his mother.

ETA: Oh, I see that the post I am responding to has been edited for being OT. I guess I'll leave mine until I hear or think otherwise...

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2007-06-04 19:33 ]
The Los Angeles Times cites Joss's post above in an
essay about the "Hostel: Part Two" ad campaign
. And links back to the black.
Thanks for that link Pointy, it's encouraging that Joss's outrage about misogyny in all it's manifestations gets a mention in The L.A. Times.

Edited to say: sorry for the bold-ness. I still can't figure out how to use the tags, putting one word in "bold" made the rest of the post Bold, as well, afraid I don't know how to fix it.
At least it's short. :)

[ edited by Shey on 2007-06-05 11:17 ]

[ edited by Simon on 2007-06-05 11:21 ]

I've never before read a serious essay that you've written. The subject is timely and timeless. I find nothing to disagree with and don't wish to be repetitively redundant by restating your opinions.

I'll simply add this: Having watched and read stories you've created, opinions you expressed above come as no surprise. That is simply one of the reasons I admire your work.

Thank you.

My prayers go out tonight to Kelsey Smith's family in Kansas. Their 18-year-old daughter was kidnapped from a Target Store parking lot in her own car three days ago. She was found dead today, murdered by a human monster. A woman in my local San Diego area was abducted from a Target store right off the sidewalk, shoved into a van (I don't know the outcome). I have to wonder after reading through the new crop of posts above, how much of a role misogyny plays in the serial killer scenario, not only in the U.S. but everywhere (and this is not discounting the Gacy murders of young men and other serial killers I'm not aware of).

newcj said: IMO misogyny is not about physical abuse, it just presents itself that way occasionally. But serial killers thrive on physical violence, emotional torture and pain and it's mostly women who are targeted, and if we are viewed by these monsters as disposable targets, surely that must be a misogynistic viewpoint on their part? Just thinking out loud.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2007-06-07 03:34 ]
Just want you all to know how amazed we all are at the outpouring of support we have received from Whedon fans since Joss' post. Our founder and President will be posting a response to all of you very soon! Thank you for everything you have done and are doing to promote equality and an end to violence and discrimination against women and girls around the world. You are the best!
This world and the people in it can been overwhelmingly frightening.
I always ask, where did we go wrong. You have two paths, why go down the wrong one. Is it so hard to help someone out? Are we so consumed about getting ahead and fulfilling our selfish needs? That we are so blinded by our selfishness that we don't want to see the pain that surrounds us and that is in front of us. Is it so hard to look into someones eyes and see them as an equal? How can we fix all this? It comes down to ourselves and stripping ourselves to the core to reveal the truth in all of us and stick with the goodness. Face the fears...We all have the power to make this world a beautiful place and keep it going and honouring it. We just have to choose that right path that we feel in our gut and go with it. We know how, we just can't be lazy about it. Make a difference!

I mean hey, what are you guys doing? Just a bump to keep it in recent comments, I'm guessing.
Not sure if anyone is still checking this link, much less going clear to the end. If so, please consider donating to this organization CHF International. Your donation will supply stoves to the refugee camps in Sudan. To fuel their cooking fires, women spend as much as 7 hours a day foraging for scarce wood and while they're out searching, they're vulnerable to rape. The men can't go because the Janjaweed (government-supported militiamen) will kill them outright. And the women have become so desperate, they're selling their food rations to buy wood. Christina Galitsky at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, worked with a colleague to develop a simple stove that reduces the amount of fuel consumed in cooking by up to 75%. There are 2.2 million refugees in Darfur who need about 300,000 stoves; for $30 you can donate one to a woman and help keep her and her family safe. (Donation is tax-deductible in the US, I don't know about other countries).
I tried to leave the following at the I am Dua Khalil blog recently, (

I have the IGive banner up on my MySpace profile, and at my little movie forum. The banner can direct people to their site, where you can register, donate, and download a program for your desktop so that when you shop at designated stores online (of which there are many), a percentage of your purchase goes to your favorite charity, and of course, Equality Now is one of them.

Visit them at, if you have a chance.
It's hard to believe it's almost two years since Joss wrote his plea to the Universe, and almost two years since Du'a Khalil was taken from this earth.

Please take the time to read the email and find a way, if you wish, to honor Joss' intent in writing his essay by honoring the memory of someone who cannot speak for herself.

Here is the email I received this evening (4/2/09) from the International Campaign Against Honour Killings. Thank you:


7th April will be the 2nd anniversary of the horrific stoning death of Du'a Khalil Aswad, which we have nominated to be the international day against 'honour' killings.

In remembrance of Du'a, you are invited to:

1. Leave a tribute on this remembrance page
2. Visit a memorial service to be held in Rt.66 Hotel & Conference Center. Springfield, Illinois, April 7th from 6:30pm until 8:00pm
3. Spread the word: Write a letter to your local papers, raising the issue of so-called ’honour’ killing.
4. Blog for Du’a: Write a blog entry for Du’a Khalil on the 7th April, perhaps using one of our graphics available here, or post about her life on your forums
5. Contact the KRG: Email the Kurdistan Regional Government asking what progress there has been in finding and prosecuting Du’a’s killers and what they intend to do to reduce the rate of ’honour’ killings in Kurdistan (there have been at least 300 other victims since Du’a’s death.)
6. Sign the petition: Sign here
7. Put up a poster
Print out and put up a poster in your window to show that Du’a Khalil is not forgotten [Big PDF]
8. Buy Nothing But Red, the anthology written in Du'a Khalil's honour
9. Use this graphic as your Facebook or MySpace profile for the day

Best Regards, International Campaign Against Honour Killings Staff
I came back from lunch at 1:15pm and received the following email from the International Campaign Against Honour Killings:

Hello, The Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation (IKWRO) and Responsible for Equality and Liberty will be holding a public rally on Capitol Reflecting Pool, Washington DC, from 4 pm to 6 pm on April 7 to inform the public about Du'a Khalil Aswad, the victim of “honor killing” on the 2nd anniversary of her horrific death by stoning.
PNN (Persian News Network) will be reporting on the event.

Sorry to all about the short notice: please can everyone do their utmost to spread this information quickly!
So I am writing an essay on the "New Woman' in the Victorian Era and kept trying to remember what article it was I read that got me all fired up on the subject of the horrid female oppression throughout time and eloquently stated all those fine points I could never put into word without tearing my hair out in the process.

It was this article.

I know it's been a while, but this form is one of the most brilliant reasons as to why this community should be secretly running things for a more sane world. Thank you Joss, I heard your message. As always you are an inspiration and my hero.
(and nice side note: my professors favorite show is Angel so I am totally in!)
I have nothing more to say other than thank you, Joss. It means a lot that you speak out.
The cure for this is the empowerment of women. But name me one religion that stands for that. Nothing will change as long as ancient beliefs are given respect and credence. Because reading their texts proves they don't deserve any of it. Religion needs to die for us to eradicate misogyny.
But name me one religion that stands for that.

Unitarianism. Paganism. Buzzfeed did an interesting article about feminism and faith.

Religion needs to die for us to eradicate misogyny.

Plenty of misogyny in atheist circles. That's become a theme of late. It's unpleasant. Might as well say get of rid of that train of thought.

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