Posted by: eliseanne | February 26, 2010

I dont want to write this but I have to

I have to tell the truth, and I have to tell the stories and lift tup the voices that are untold and unheard.  Because I have a privileged voice, and because so many of my people are uneducated and miseducated. I can’t ignore that, or just choose to forget and go about my day. I choose to tell the stories and bring out the ignored voices.  It is my responsibility, and my choice; I am compelled to do it.

I don’t even have the words, to express how angry I am feeling…

*Trigger warning (Racism)*

The “Compton Cookout” at UCSD

Perhaps you heard about it already, perhaps you didn’t. I suppose it depends on how much you follow the news, and really, who you get your news from. I heard about this last week, but didn’t write about it. Now I learned more, and I can’t choose to ignore it again (it is privilege that I even think I can have that “choice”…).

Thanks to Resist Racism who provides and connects a lot of the details that “mainstream” media leaves out, especially outside of California.

People from the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and other groups at the University of California San Diego chose to mock Black History Month and what they deemed to be black culture or black people, with a racist and hateful cookout.  They served watermelon, fried chicken, purple “drank” and malt liquor. They told people to come with gold teeth, cheap clothes, tattoos, big Ts, chains, and cheap weave or nappy hair. They are told to use a limited or made-up vocabulary, speak loudly, curse often, and start fights. The party was happening across several houses, so people were supposed to travel between them and experience “life in the ghetto.” So this is who they think black people are, and this is what they think the history is and what they think is worth “celebrating.”

It makes me almost as angry that a lot of my people won’t get why it is so horrific and it will have to be endlessly explained…just for them to get more entrenched in their racist mentalities.

For example: UCSD TV news anchor, who when covering the protests of the people of color and their allies on campus, said, “ungrateful n—–s!” on air. Later a slip of paper was found in the studio that said “Compton Lynchings.”

“How much sense does it make to organize a party others consider to be racist and then defend the decision to have the party by invoking racist slurs? That alone rules out any argument that this is a freedom of speech issue and that black students on campus are simply too sensitive,” writes a blogger at Racialicious.

For example: Mike. Mike took it upon himself to host a second party, “Compton Cookout Part Deux: First Amendment Pride,” as a counter-protest, to the “ignorant” and “horrendously misguided” protests by people of color and their allies. This time the party was open to mocking a variety of groups: Jewish, Irish, Mexican, Arabic, Black, Chinese, Gay, Polish, Russian, Italian people are all listed with crude slurs and hurtful stereotype references (“Crackers” were mentioned in the list as well, but racial slurs don’t have the same weight when they are against the dominant group with all of the social power…).

Mike didn’t stop there. He goes on and on about how there is nothing wrong with mocking other people’s cultures, how it is painless satire that is pure fun and joy, a celebration of diversity, if you will.  He says, in screaming capital letters, that no one at the party was preaching hate, and in fact no specific ideals were being pushed, they just wanted to eat some chicken and liquor.   If people believe in “civil rights” we should be upset that this party was denounced, and our compassion is “misplaced.”  The people were harmless, he says, and it would be a “tragedy” if they were punished at all.

He calls the protestors children and idiots, who are ignorant and stupid.

It’s like he is saying, “Can’t we all just get along while those of us with the power have innocent fun by mocking your culture and making outrageously condescending and crude statements steeped in a history of oppression and genocide, about your entire people group, identity, and race? And can those of us in power stay pridefully ignorant to closed off to the reality of what is going on so that we can be right and keep having fun at your expense for the rest of our lives and for the preservation of our power? You are too stupid to understand our right to do this and your obligation to like it!”

He says he is upholding the rights of all people and respecting differences. But Mike is beyond confused. Now I acknowledge that the vast majority of my people are raised not knowing we are white, not knowing that racism exists (ok, some know that really bad racist things used to happen…), not knowing we have privilege in this USA because of our skin and history, and having no clue what people of color go through or how they experience things we think are “harmless fun.” The average white person comes with this context and baggage, and is sometimes not consciously holding racist thoughts, or not conscious that the thoughts they do hold are racist.

So even if, if if if, Mike is that much a truly ignorant racially-sheltered white guy…he still should have stopped and listened to the voices of the people protesting. When I acknowledge  that I wasn’t born an anti-racist ally, either, I try to stretch my empathy out for my people and understand their ignorance to the greatest degree, not as an excuse for their thoughts but as a context.  But that stops with Mike. There is no ignorance, privileged, or racially-sheltered context to explain such a public and blatant display of disgusting pride and combativeness.

It also stops with the organizers of the cookout. I think my understanding of a racially-sheltered and privileged ignorant context stretches to random comments, or maybe to something like mocking an accent/language.  They are horrific and wrong, though I can understand why some white people dont think about that (but their ignorance or intentions do not matter when discussing the pain they cause or the fact that they are wrong). Perhaps I am stretching that context too far even with that.

But I cannot fathom that going to the lengths of planning and describing this kind of event did not have any racist intentions behind it. The only context for understanding that is a context of racism and ethnocentrism.

For example: A noose was found in the library at UCSD. And the school newspaper received notice that more will be coming.  The noose is about as blatant of an extreme racist symbol as they come.  Add this to the Compton Cookout, and you get a picture of the past where ancestors of me, many of you, Mike, the news anchor, the Pike guys, and the noose people, all gathered to have barbeques and lynch black people.

Racism and white supremacy are alive and well at UCSD and in many, many other parts of this USA. I pray that it stops here, now, and that violence will not be what we hear about next.

Posted by: eliseanne | February 7, 2010

estoy en mexico

Posted by: eliseanne | January 26, 2010

Tidbits from my blogosphere

I am trying to post more than once a month now, but may not have time to actually think out things and write my own stuff. So, in the meantime, check out what I’ve been reading and thinking on through blogs I follow or stumble upon:

  • Interdependency, not Independence, is the goal –
    A wonderful post on the U.S.’ emphasis on independence, and how independce really is a sad and oppressive goal. Instead we should pursue interdependence. (For the Jesus followers out there, I would say that is something Jesus would agree with too). Written from the perspective of a queer person of color who has a disability. Here’s a sample of the powerful writing:
  • The myth of independence being of course, that somehow we can and should be able to do everything on our own with out any help from anyone.  This requires such a high level of privilege and even then, it is still a myth.  Who’s oppression and exploitation must exist for your “independence?” …
  • Interdependency is both “you and I” and “we.”  It is solidarity, in the best sense of the word.  It is inscribing community on our skin over and over and over again.   It is truly moving together in an oppressive world towards liberation and refusing to let the personal be a scapegoat for the political.
  • Women and Raunch Culture
    Female Chauvenistic Pigs, a book by Ariel Levy about how women, in the name of feminism and anti-sexism, have joined raunch culture to be liberated with Girls Gone Wild, pole-dancing classes, and Playboy bunny accessories. The book argues that instead of equality, feminism is taking a step backwards as women internalize misogyny and turn themselves and other women into perpetual sex objects who fight each other for sexual power over men.
  • A New, Whites-Only Basketball League
    Yes, you read it correctly. I wasn’t being sarcastic. If you want to discuss this or need more explaining, just ask, this is a safe place. Some good examples of glossed-over racism from the founder  (Mr. Lewis) are:
  • “There’s nothing hatred about what we’re doing,” he said. “I don’t hate anyone of color… “ [Racially motivated discrimination does not have to mean hate…but it does imply racism!]
  • Lewis said he wants to emphasize fundamental basketball instead of “street-ball” played by “people of color.”
  • “Would you want to go to the game and worry about a player flipping you off or attacking you in the stands or grabbing their crotch?” he said. “That’s the culture today, and in a free country we should have the right to move ourselves in a better direction.” [Read: People of color are uncivilized, violent, poor-mannered, and scary. I want to segregate them away from me.]
  • “…The white game of basketball, which is essentially a fundamental game, works.” [Read: The way people of color play basketball is not fundamental, not about the game or rules, but about being violent, threatening, animalistic, and scary].
  • Addressing the Jokes, etc about Rape in Prisons – 
    Just Detention, an organization that works to end sexual abuse in prisons, has a new awareness campaign that shows pictures of people in “normal” clothes, asks if you would help if that person were raped (woman) or joke around if that person were raped (man), and then shows the same people in orange jumpsuits, and asks the questions again. Powerful imagery, and it caught even me and how I have been programmed to respond to rape.
  •  The US is bad at supporting Working Mothers/Fathers
    A new Center for American Progress report shows that the US is doing poorly in supporting working parents. Other countries give paid time off to working parents when they have a new child (some in Europe give months or even years with a stipend!), as federal laws. We have the FMLA, but that only saves jobs for parents who can afford to be without a paycheck for 3 months. 
  • Second, the report puts it all in our policy context: The authors explains that the lack of progress in the United States is the result of a conscious choice by our political leadership. Understand: the absence of work/family policies is policy.
  •  More Misogyny – Sexual Violence Against Women Scenes on T-Shirts
    Dear God, when will it stop.
  • Annie Hollywood t-shirt features a gagged woman; the text on the gag reads ‘Hollywood’. She looks tired and bleak and defeated.
  • I think about the large number of people who must have had to design and approve these t-shirts. I think about how a marketing team must have seen fit to send them out to the general public, because they knew lots of people would buy them.
  • It’s about the survivors of violence having to endure these t-shirts being thrust in their faces when they walk down the street, at a party, going about their everyday lives. The horror in this is in forcing on these women reminders of their assaults and that their experiences and feelings are just fine to use and make a profit from… 
  •  Filipion Women to Receive 100 Lashes for Being Raped
    A woman from the Phillippines was in Saudi Arabia looking for janitorial work to support her family, and she was raped by a coworker and became pregnant. She did not press charges, because she knew the strict law might result in physical violence to herself. So she returned to the Phillippines, but she was forced to undergo a medical exam before she could re-enter. She was put in prison for having an affair, but the conditions were so bad that she miscarried. It’s against the law to lash a pregnant woman, but now, she is no longer pregnant, so she will receive 100 lashes. [Pray, speak out, and fight back against this atrocity]
Posted by: eliseanne | January 15, 2010


Haiti, we mourn for you, your people, your land. We mourn for your present, and for your past. We pray for your future.


Please read up on the history of Haiti. Wikipedia it or something to learn why Haiti is so poor.  Search until you find the real truth, of the oppression of Haiti’s people for centuries, devastating the land and the freedom of the people Read of the oppression from the Spanish, the French, and the Dominicans. Read anything by Edwidge Danticat about the history, learn about Toussaint L’Ouverture. Research about the U.S.’s role in globalizatoin, trade, politics, etc and how it keeps Haiti in a downward spiral, violence, and its sneaky interventions in the government (look up Baby Doc and the role of the US…The Agronomist is a good documentary for that). Try hard to learn from the Haitian perspectives, not U.S.

Think with me about the U.S., Spain, EU, and France, acting as great saviors, coming to the side of Haiti in this most desperate time of need – when they all helped get Haiti to such a desperate place of abject poverty.

There is also a good conversation going on at Eugene Cho’s blog about God and Haiti; a good place to wrestle with this level of destruction/horror and a loving/creating God and how/if they can coexist.

Here are some words from Jamaican artist/activist Mutabaruka on Haiti. I encourage you to look up his other poems/lyrics to learn from him and his beautiful way with words and the truth he brings to light (especially  Columbus Ghost). If you need assistance with the language, feel comfortable to ask, and I or others can help.

from the album Melanin Man.

haiti yuh goin an’no one seem to
haiti yuh goin neighbours beware
de poverty an’ death that haunts
de boat dat leave to de u.s.a.
yuh payin for de afrikaness yuh
still keep
yuh payin payin boukman is not a
u gave us haiti de strength to fite
black people in de Caribbean i say
brake de chains dat keep us apart
haiti suffers because it made a
haiti haiti yuh’ave de will
haiti haiti afrika calls u still

too black too strong you’ll ‘ave to
blacker than nite never see n de
but too black is always de reason
for your pain
but your fire for freedom will not
be in vain

haiti haiti yuh goin an’ no ore
seem to care
haiti now but neighbours beware
de blood sweat an’ tears del is
shed today
will be a guide for afrika an’
afrikans along de way

cuba beware
jamaika beware
trinidad beware
grenada beware
Caribbean beware beware beware
care no fear care no fear
Caribbean beware beware beware
break de chains del keep us apart
haiti suffers because it made a
but too black is no reason for pain
de blood for freedom will always
haiti haiti yuh’ave de will
haiti haiti afrika calls u still
Caribbean leaders wet are u goin
to do
today its haiti tomorrow is u
today its haiti tomorrow its u

Posted by: eliseanne | December 18, 2009

Does Feminism = Pro Sex Worker?

This is a question that has been mulling in my head off and on for awhile. Mainly because International Day Against Violence Against Women, and International Day Against Violence Against Sex Workers both occurred sometime in the last few weeks. [note: i realize that not all sex workers are women, and that my feminism interacts with notions of male sex workers, too. that sounds complicated so i am going to stick with talking about women. let me know if you think that is an unjust choice and i’ll go from there.]

So obviously I am pro women’s rights and equality, and am anti sexism and oppressive patriarchal systems. I call that feminism. I dont know what you call feminism, or what baggage you bring to that word, so I chose to desribe that instead.

[another note: please do not bring up reproductive rights debates in this thread, i haven’t the energy or synthesized thoughts for that discussion.] 

I get all messed up in the brain, though, when I think about sex workers and the whole industry of sex work, and my feminism. I support the right of women to choose to be sex workers, theoretically. But I also know that in many cases, what looks like a “choice” is really not. Many women are forced into sex work, by kidnapping, manipulation, power/control, or modern-day slavery situations. Others have been traumatized by sexual abuse or rape in the past, and sex work becomes a coping mechanism. Some become sex workers as a way of physical survival, and others have hardly any other options but sex work, or surely feel that way, because of past or other circumstances. In all of these and similar situations, would my support of these sex workers actually look more like providing other options, food/shelter/safety, and healing or support from trauma??

There is a whole lot messed up with pimps and jons and how sex workers are going to jail for prostitution while the menfolk mentioned above often do not. Especially when it is a situation like the ones I just mentioned. Woman goes to jail for prostitution when she is a literal slave who was kidnapped and forced into the work against her will? Like that makes sense. It is also very dangerous work. The threat of violence, STIs, etc etc etc must exist most of the time.

But then there are women who actually choose to do the work, who have other options, who haven’t been forced or who aren’t doing it for coping or survival. And, to be honest, I dont understand this realm yet, but I’m beginning to hear and see its existence more.  Some are wealthy, upscale women who do wealthy, upscale sex work. Some might not be.  And to them, it might be offensive for me to assume all the negative situations mentioned above, about them. Perhaps they see their work as empowering, or as fighting against the sexist notion that only men would want that type of free sexuality. Just hypothesizing outloud.  I am working on this realm.

Regardless of why a woman is a sex worker, I agree with Audacia Ray (cross-posted at Feministing) that

We [sex workers] need the support and participation of a culture that sees us as human beings – we are your mothers, sons, cousins, friends – who are worthy of living lives of dignity that are free of violence.

And Jessica Yee says, cross-posted at Racialicious,

Women forget that while we show up to vigils and talk up a nice speech about some “poor prostitute” who died on the streets, we simultaneously judge, shun, and degrade current sex workers and speak against decriminalization – something that might actually help protect us.

Yes. Every human being is worthy of living a life of dignity free of violence. Dignity and respect means no shunning and degrading. I 100% agree.

…but do I support the legalization or normalization of the work?

I’m figuring out that there are definitely different camps on this issue. Racialicious linked to an article about the prevalence of Native American women in MN who are forced into prostitution, which is then called sex trafficking. But..

Although the legal system treats prostitution and trafficking differently, the report often uses the terms interchangeably, as many advocates believe that prostitution can never be considered fully consensual. The prostituted woman is the true victim of the crime, they argue.

“There’s a general acceptance that prostitution is a lifestyle choice, when it’s actually a federal crime against women,” Koepplinger said.

The article, which is really interesting btw, goes on to say:

Many advocates say that law enforcement needs to address not only the traffickers, but also the individual men who pay for sex. Carter, of Breaking Free, said she believes that the men should receive felony convictions as a deterrent.

“We believe it’s about supply and demand,” she said. “And there’s so much focus on the supply, which is the women. The demand is the men who buy them. That’s what keeps prostitution thriving is the demand.”

It seems like they advocate for sex work like prostitution to continue to be illegal and to have increasing consequences for the clients, as a way of protecting the workers and, I assume, putting the pimps and thus the trafficked workers out of business, and hopefully, out of their oppression or slavery.

The only pattern I can sense is that women of privilege, or who are in sex work by choice, advocate for legalization and support of the industry. But women who did not choose, who are oppressed, do not. Or is it just the people trying to help them that do not?

And does “supporting” or being “pro” sex worker necessitate being pro-legalization/decriminalization of it sex work like prostitution? Or does it also mean being pro health, dignity, respect, and safety for sex workers like all people, regardless of their work or the legalization of their work?

I’m stuck. It seems so multi-faceted. Your thoughts?

Posted by: eliseanne | December 1, 2009

Confronting Oppression In Loved Ones


Some people I love oppress other people I love. 
Some people I love are not safe around other people I love.

I’ve been struggling with this for quite some time now, but it was really clear to me this past week or two, with some concrete examples. I have sought solace in the blogosphere and my husband and a few choice friends, but am left unsatisfied and without answers. This isn’t something with a formula for success. It is life, a journey, a mess. With stories of failure and success. Some blatant and overt, some hidden and covert.

I feel a responsibility to speak up against racism, sexism, heterosexism, ablism, and pretty much any form of oppressive joke.  It is one thing on the blogosphere. With friends, it is hard, because it can alienate myself, and cause isolation. With family, it is even harder, because, well, they’re family. All three areas have been hard lately.

If it is this hard and unsafe for me, simply an ally, what must it be like for the people I love who are the subjects of these cruel jokes/opinions/beliefs/comments?

Have you been in similar stories? What person are you in the story?  How do you respond?

Here are some snippets in the blog world that are floating through my brain. Check out the full posts and their comments with the links.

1. From, “So Now I Know…”:

 It’s the moment that they realize that speaking up about race or racism distances them from other white people. 
Then Me knew that typically nobody would speak up if I didn’t.  And Then Me knew that I couldn’t live a lie.

So what are the risks and rewards of being anti-racist? 

2. From EscapingBabylon.Com, “People She Loved in Several Cases, People She Knew Were Incredibly Racist”:

Do you compartmentalize, and only share with those you love those parts that will not cause conflicts?

Do you limit your activism on this issue to preserve your relationship?

3. From IrenesDaughters.Wordpress.Com, “Taking It Home For The Holidays”:

Because ours is a white family, we are a meeting of “us” that can launch into conversations about “them.”  Do I confront these things?  Make passive-aggressive sarcastic comments (as I’m prone to do)?  Should I make a scene or let these things pass knowing that this will be my children’s only exposure to most of the folks for a whole year, and my husband and I can clean up the mess later?

4. From Womanist-Musings.Com, “A Spark of Wisdom: Why We Can’t Always Have Productive Conversations”:

Yes, it can be productive. Yes it has worked. Yes calmly and reasonably answering all the ignorant questions you’ve answered a thousand times or politely objecting and explaining why something was offensive can and does work.

And sometimes I can’t do it. Sometimes I’m tired, I’m in a bad mood or I’m just sick to the back teeth of the whole damn hetero-normative world, it’s ignorance, it’s insensitivity and it’s endless reminders that I don’t belong.  Sometimes I’m annoyed because it should be damned OBVIOUS why I don’t find that joke funny, or why I get angry at being called “fag.”

5. From StuffWhitePeopleDo.Blogspot.Com, “Assume That Other White People Enjoy Making Fun Of And Trash-Talking Non-White People”:

I, and some other white people, do not think your jokes about POC [people of color] are funny — at all. Most of the time we’re horrified. Contrary to what you believe, we don’t all secretly think POC actually fall into the stereotypes that you think they do. We do not necessarily share some collective consciousness together bound by our whiteness. True, we are all lumped together in the white category, but that doesn’t mean that we’re all as blissfully oblivious as you are about it.

6. From the same blog different writer, “Get Fed Up Sometimes With Their White Liberal Acquaintences”:

That did not feel like a safe social space to me. As I started to disagree, I could feel the undercurrent of uncomfortable hostility begin to grow. When I went quiet, the hostility just grew in me instead.

7. From, “Softening My Skin In A Mud Bath”:

The comment and admonition to get thicker skin is akin to saying “don’t be so sensitive” or “you’re choosing to be offended” – all of the interpretations lend itself to telling the offended person that this is their personal issue they personally have to overcome.

I don’t want thick skin because I do not believe God wants us to create a bigger barrier to feeling and engaging deeply with God and with one another.

 Thick skin means I just “get over it” and move along. But what if God doesn’t want us to move on so quickly all the time? What if our attempts at getting over it just mean “it” never goes away?


May the peace and boldness of Christ, the great reconciler (who also called people out) help you and help me as we walk this path.

Posted by: eliseanne | November 17, 2009

Domestic Abuse Isn’t Funny

I have a black eye. It is not from my husband, or any one else’s fist/foot/whatever, it is from a frisbee disc [thank you, sister’s housemate]. The story can be verified by sister and husband who watched it happen and got me an ice pack and made lots of sympathetic noises and gestures.

Being a woman with a black eye in public is interesting.

I got many, “Oh, I better have a talk with your husband…” joking comments, followed by questions of “No, for real, what really happened?”. Admittedly, I even made a few jokes myself, which I now regret.

Only one or two people asked me a serious question about my black eye (“oh no, what happened to your eye?”). Maybe it is because people think they know me, or think they know my husband, that they don’t give me a concerned look or pull me aside to talk about my home life. Or maybe it’s because I dont display other stereotypical signs of abuse or of being a victim, that they think everything is just fine.

Now, I do have a healthy marriage, and my husband is not abusive.  But let’s say, hypothetically, he was abusive, and he punched me in the eye in anger.

How would I then respond to someone saying, “Uh-oh, I better have a talk with that husband of yours…hahahaha. So what happened, you fall down the stairs? Riiiight…Ok, seriously, how’d you get a black eye?”

Pretty sure I wouldn’t reach out for help from that person.

There are a lot of “characteristcs” or traits of abusive people, as well as people who are being or have been abused, that people rely on. It is good to track and teach those, so that friends, family, mentors, coworkers, etc can have red flags to start asking questions, offering safey and support, etc to someone who is abused, or asking questions and offering help and alternatives to someone who is abusive. But we can’t rely on those alone.

I would wager that the majority of people who abuse others don’t decide one day to be abusive. Similarly, people who are unfaithful to their partners don’t tend to decide one day to be a cheater. Instead these are complex processes, with tons of factors (past abuse, home life, personality, coping/resiliency skills, self esteem, etc etc etc etc etc etc). It starts with one, small, justified step toward being abusive (or similarly, toward having an affair), and the person probably wouldn’t even call that abuse or infidelity. And then baby step 1 leads to baby step 2, and the path continues.

What I mean by all that is (back to the hypothetical situation), just because I dont look like the “typical” victim of abuse, or just because you don’t think my husband looks like the “typical” abusive partner, doesn’t mean you should take things like a black eye lightly and make domestic abuse jokes.  People are really good at hiding secrets, and if I was being abused, I would need you to be safe, approachable, and serious. I would need to know that you would believe me – not excuse my husband because of who you see him as.

So, while I am glad that no one jumped to conclusions and called the police or an abuse hotline on my husband, I think that for the sake of the hidden victims of abuse we need to not respond in assumptions and jokes to things like black eyes on women.

People in my graduate classes, I like you, but you don’t know my husband, and you only kind of know me. Don’t joke like that. People I work with, you do know me, and you kind of know my husband. But don’t joke like that. And to myself – I know me, my husband, and the situation of how I got a black eye. But don’t joke like that. Don’t silence the victims who need a safe person to talk to, who need to see that we don’t treat abuse as a joke, but as a serious issue that must be addressed.

So the next time you or I see someone, especially a woman, with a black eye or unusual bruising, let’s quietly say, “Are you ok? I noticed that bruise. What happened?”

from the email newsletter of The Advocates for Human Rights…


The Advocates for Human Rights  and
the University of Minnesota Human Rights Center  
invite you to commemorate
  International Human Rights Day 2009

Each year people around the world come together to celebrate International Human Rights Day. This year, we ask you to commemorate this day by joining the 16 Days of Activism Campaign, which condemns violence against women as a violation of human rights. The campaign begins on November 25, International Day Against Violence Against Women, and ends on December 10, International Human Rights Day. We invite you to learn more about defending a woman’s right to be free from violence by attending the following events:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 from 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Brown Bag Lunch: Legal Reform on Violence against Women in the Republic of Georgia: Recent Successes and Challenges
Fredrikson & Byron, P.A. Minnetonka/Tamarack Room
200 South Sixth Street, Suite 4000, Minneapolis

 Presenters: Robin Phillips, Executive Director, and Cheryl Thomas, Director of the Women’s Human Rights Program.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.
Arlington Hills Branch Library
1105 Greenbrier St., St. Paul

“Frontrunner” tells the heroic story of Massouda Jalal, a medical doctor and mother of three, who defied the Taliban regime and ran for President of Afghanistan. Discussion hosted by Cheryl Thomas, Director of the Women’s Human Rights Program, to follow.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.
Pray the Devil Back to Hell
University of Minnesota Law School
229 19th Ave S, Minneapolis
Mondale Hall, Room 25
University of Minnesota

 A story of sacrifice, unity, and transcendence, “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” honors the strength and perseverance of the courageous Liberian women who came together to end a bloody civil war and bring peace to their shattered country. Panel discussion to follow.

 Click here for more detailed information about these events. 

Celebrate International Human Rights Day with:
Commit ~ Act ~ Demand: We CAN End Violence Against Women!


16 WAYS in 16 DAYS

Think Globally
Visit and help
UNiTE to End Violence Against Women
Attend an Event
Check out the events listed above.
Watch a Film
See a list of films from Women Make Movies at for ideas.
Write a Letter
Send a letter to your federal representatives to support the International Violence Against Women Act. See our website or visit 
Learn the Facts
Read The Advocates for Human Rights toolkit on the Rights of Women in the U.S. at: 
Get the News
Sign up for the VAW Monitor at: 
Tell co-workers, friends, family, and others about the 16 Days campaign. Encourage them to learn more and take action!
Include Men
Talk to men and boys about the issue of gender violence and invite them to take part in a 16 Days event or activity.
Donate your time and/or services to a non-profit organization fighting gender violence.
Invite a Speaker
Find an advocate for battered women, a female politician, or another woman leader to come and speak about gender violence in your community.
Send an Email
Check out pre-written emails at 
Join a Network
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Posted by: eliseanne | November 6, 2009

Sexism. Reigns.

Lots to say on that topic right now. I dont have all of the words to appropriately convey the things I am feeling and thinking, yet. Because I want you to understand what I am trying to say, not just brush it off or fire back without truly, vulnerably, hearing me.

Something is terribly, terribly wrong with our society. [ok, many many things. but i am staying strictly on topic here]. While there may be outliers to much of what I am about to say, know that there are gynormous, unignorable trends in our society that are very, very very, wrong. And yet, somehow, everyone seems to think they are ok. Or at the least, expected and unavoidable  or natural. That is a lie from the pit of hell.

Women are raped, gang raped, beaten, sexually assaulted, groped, slapped, pinched, controlled, bought and sold every single day. All the time.

Women get sexual flirtations, come ons, hollers, comments, critiques, expectations, requests every single day. All the time.

Women get cat calls, dog whistles, learing eyes, car honks, hand gestures, body gestures, mouth gestures, every single day. All the time.

And women are blamed for these things every single day. All the time.
Their character is blamed, their clothing, their past actions, their jobs, their makeup, their hair, their zip code, their race, their body shapes, all are blamed.
The victim was drinking heavily before…Or, She was wearing those booty shorts, Or, well she learned her lesson.

And men are excused for doing these things every single day. All the time.
Their character is puffed up for an excuse, their clothing, their past actions, their jobs, their hygiene, their hair, their zip code, their race, all are used as excuses.
Their role in society, their supposed role in the Bible, are all excuses. But honey, he’s a man, he has needs. Or Just ignore him, dear, he doesn’t understand. Or, He is a strong citizen and leader in the community, he wouldn’t do that.

Of course he has a right to do/say that to her. Of course he never would do/say that to her.
Of course she deserves what he did/said. Of course she wanted it. And of course she has to take it.
Because there is no other way.

Posted by: eliseanne | October 23, 2009

Open Discussion: God’s gender

This is a topic that has been rolling around in my brain for a few weeks. I’m really curious about the different Christian perspectives on it, how our cultures influence our perspectives, etc. It is kind of blowing my mind.

In true openness and curiousity, I would love to know and understand what you think about this and why. I think it will help me a lot to hear from various perspectives on to observe or participate in a discussion that goes around about it.

Please contribute! The only rule is that you respect and value every person and perspective mentioned, even if you disagree strongly.


Background – In my Christian upbringing, I was taught that God was “above” gender, that as man and woman were both created in the image of God, then God had the stereotypical attributes of both genders (i.e. headship and service, compassion and fierceness). So God wasn’t “male” or “female,” God was the culmination of the two.

But, whenever God is discussed – espeically  in reference to the Father part of the Trinity – God is always discussed with stereotypical male characteristics (beginning first with the title Father, of course). So God is always talked about as if God is male. This leaves us in a paradox (which, I know, God is a lot of those).

From this leads to the idea of gender roles in our Western culture. Because God is seen as male, men are given God-like roles in our culture, with government/leadership, family. etc.

But what if God is referenced as Father/male by Jesus because of the gender culture of Bible times,  not because God wanted to set up a male/female power or role difference, or not because God is more male than female?

Specifically I come with two questions:

1. In Bible times, the father was the person in the family who gave rules, leadership, inheritance, worth, and identity. So the Father entity of the Trinity was readily accepted as it followed the customs of the culture and gives all of those things. Hypothetically, if the culture held that rules, leadership, inheritance, worth, and identity came from the mother in the family, would that entity of the Trinity have been introduced as the Mother? Why or why not? What are the implications if this is true or if it is not true?

2. Hypothetically, if Jesus came in flesh to a culture where women were the leaders, teachers, heads, etc, would Jesus have come in flesh as a woman? Why or why not? What are the implications if this is true or if it is not true?

(P.S. Sorry if “entity” is not the word you would choose for discussing the concept of the Trinity…I don’t have the vocabulary for that right now)

While several different things prompted this movement of thoughts in my head, this article by Mimi Haddad on the God’s Politics blog was a big piece.

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