Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Odds 'N Ends

1. Writing in Religious Dispatches, Mark Berger writes of the problem of sexual abuse in Orthodox Jewish communities:

There’s nothing to suggest that sexual abuse is any more or less prevalent in the Orthodox community than anywhere else; but there are a number of peculiarities to Orthodox Jewish life that have made the reporting of abuse less common than in society at large.

'I think the subject of abuse is probably the same in any religious community,' says Michael Salomon, a Long Island psychiatrist, who has just finished working on an as-yet-unpublished book about sexual abuse in the Orthodox world.

'Different religions use different justifications for not reporting,' he says. 'But it comes down to the theory that religious issues should be handled within the religious community, even though the powers that be within the community do not have the power to investigate and to prosecute.'”

Berger continues by noting similarities in the way the Catholic Church and the Orthodox community have handled abuse allegations:

"Both are closed, conservative communities. Both have a hierarchy and an infrastructure built around the idea that they are responsible for policing themselves. And both are deeply suspicious of the outside world and its values. Catholic and Orthodox officials even joined forces last year to block a bill in the New York State legislature that would have temporarily lifted the statute of limitations on abuse claims."

Of course, the Catholic Church and Orthodox Judaism have another key similarity, their respective woman problems, not that Berger mentions that. As more abuse is exposed within these and similar patriarchal religious communities, perhaps a national conversation will begun to be had about how, when men make themselves god, they will preserve and prioritize that dominance above all else. Yes, even the children.

2. So "progressive" hero Michael Moore has posted bail for Julian Assange. Like a couple of male commenters who popped up here to tell us wacky feminists that they Just Know Assange's accusers are lying about the sex crime allegations against him as part of a sinister government conspiracy, Michael Moore joins the rape apologist chorus:

"For those of you who think it’s wrong to support Julian Assange because of the sexual assault allegations he’s being held for, all I ask is that you not be naive about how the government works when it decides to go after its prey. Please — never, ever believe the 'official story.' And regardless of Assange’s guilt or innocence (see the strange nature of the allegations here), this man has the right to have bail posted and to defend himself."

Yep, he does have the right to have bail posted and to defend himself. And sure, he admits uncertainty over "Assange's guilt or innocence." But by telling those who are troubled by all of the rape apologist narratives going on right now that we are just naive, he implies that Assange is, actually, innocent and that we just Don't Know How Things Work by, you know, actually believing a woman who says a powerful man might have raped her.

Sady at Tiger Beatdown has started a Twitter campaign to pressure Moore to explain his fauxgressive stance on sexual assault. Consider joining in if you Tweet.

3. 5 gender essentialist myths, busted.

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