Fomenting A Rebellion

“If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.” ::Abigail Adams

Support Women in Kenya February 27, 2008

Filed under: africa,social issues,women's rights — ldgafford @ 8:01 am

I recently had one of my readers ask me what some good women’s organizations in Africa (specifically Kenya) were to donate money to. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

Women Fighting Aids in Kenya (WOFAK): I have personally worked with this organization in the slums of Nairobi, and they may be one of the most stellar groups of women I’ve ever met. They’re passionate about their work and completely dedicated to the women of Kenya. An organization started by Kenyan women for Kenyan women. Fantastic.

Beacon of Hope: Another organization I have personally worked with in the slums outside of Nairobi. They primarily provide health care and testing for women with HIV/AIDS, though I’m pretty sure they don’t turn anyone away. They also assist women with starting their own businesses (products made by the women are sold on the website, and are wonderful!), run a school for children from the slums, and deliver much-needed foodstuffs to poverty-stricken families once a month. This organization does so many wonderful things, you can’t go wrong supporting them. And the woman who helps run it, Gayle, is a sassy older woman from New York that will tell you anything you want to know, no holds barred.

Amani Ya Juu
: Amani Ya Juu, or “a higher peace,” is a place where marginalized women in Kenya (and other various countries in Africa) are able to come a learn a trade and put it into practice to support their families. I’ve witnessed these women in action, and they are held to the absolute highest standards in their work – which means that what they produce is fantastic (I have a tapestry from Amani hanging in my bedroom, actually). The really cool thing is that once they’ve gone through training, they are given a small loan to buy the materials and tools they need to do their work so they can work from home and be with their families. All in all, an excellent organization to support, through donations or products.

I hope these websites and stories of amazing women encourage your support – they certainly would love it! So thanks to Nancy for the question – it was a good one!


Ah, Master’s Thesis. You Bastard. February 25, 2008

Filed under: random,school,women's rights — ldgafford @ 4:08 pm

I’m having a hard time writing my master’s thesis. A really hard time. And it’s not just because I didn’t get my shit together until late in the game; I’ve been researching for the past year and a half. It’s because of the enormously depressing subject of my thesis.

For those of you who are a little late to the game of my life, my master’s thesis is on the topic of rape as a weapon of war. Specifically, rape as a weapon of war in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Sudan and the church’s response.

In case you were wondering – there is no church response. Only silence. And pieces of my soul are dying.

In times like these I’m thankful for my friends who have constantly done mental-health checks on me and made sure I’m still alive after endless hours in the basement of Moody Library. Remember that scene in Bridget Jones’s Diary when she imagines herself alone being eaten by a pack of rabid dogs? That would be happening to me if it weren’t for people like Suzanne, Joell, Kristen, Kat, and numerous others.

I’m also thankful for the mellowness of Iron & Wine, Joshua Radin, and Ryan Adams which are on repeat as my study music. Sometimes it just helps to hear something pretty.

So, readers, send some positive thoughts in my direction. If you gear them toward Moody Library, chances are they’ll hit me.


Can’t Get Enough February 24, 2008

Filed under: for fun,random — ldgafford @ 8:48 pm

I love the people who make these. Seriously, I want to be their friend.

Married To The Sea


I Love it When You Call Me Big Pop-pa

Filed under: for fun,random — ldgafford @ 11:41 am

If you know me at all, you will know why I love this:
Rap Jinx


For Amanda February 22, 2008

Filed under: social issues,thought of the day,women's rights — ldgafford @ 2:50 pm

I’m writing this on my blog, to the public, because people need to know how incredible this woman is.

Amanda, I know I can never comprehend what you went through that day on the cliffs of Cameron Park. But the more I read about the use of rape as a weapon and the consequences survivors deal with day after day … the more I realize how truly amazing you really are.

Not only have you survived, you have THRIVED. Despite the trauma, pain, and abandonment by so many who claimed to love you, you are using your voice and story to make sure that other survivors know they are not alone. You are speaking for those whose voices cannot and will not be heard. You have forgiven. You have reclaimed your life. You are making a difference. You are LIVING.

I am proud to be your friend.

I hope that the words I write in my thesis will honor survivors like you and help enlighten people who would otherwise choose to ignore such a devasting and widespread issue.

Don’t stop what you’re doing, Amanda. The world needs people like you who are willing to fight injustice to the bitter end. YOU, dearest, are phenomenal.

If you would like more information on the work Amanda is doing and how you can help, check out the Speaking Out About Rape (SOAR) website. I’d also encourage you to find out about the work your local advocacy center is doing and how you can help.


What Needs To Go is the Phallus February 19, 2008

Filed under: feminism,social issues,women's rights — ldgafford @ 10:52 pm

Disclaimer: This post may offend some people, though that is not it’s purpose. If you know me, you’ll understand.

These days, more often than not, I find myself in the darkest depths of my mind, trying to figure out what to do with all the information I’ve accumulated on the use of rape as a weapon of war. However, sometimes in the midst of my research something will catch my eye and make me smile, whether it was intended to work that way or not.

The latest instance of this happening came when I was re-reading through Claudia Card’s article titled “Rape as a Weapon of War.” If I had to guess, I’d say she’s one of those women who has the tendency to be a scary feminist … something I generally try to avoid. However, I couldn’t help but smile to myself when I read her fantasy punishment for men who commit the act of rape – and I’ll admit, there is some appeal to it. It’s just so out there … let me just show you:

My fantasy penalty is what for lack of a better term I will call compulsory transsexual surgery, that is, removal of the penis and testicles and construction of a vagina-like canal, accompanied by whatever hormone treatments may be advisable for the sake only of bodily health. I do not have in mind transgender training, such as sometimes accompanies currently voluntary applications for transsexual surgery. Part of the point is to impact social conceptions of gender. The resulting she-males–as Janice Raymond (1979) has called male-to-female transsexuals–would tend to be recognizable as unnatural females, as male bodies tend to differ from female bodies structurally throughout (consider the bone structures of hands, hips, and jaws, for example), and the surgery would leave most body structures intact. Where recognition was not easy, we might devise ways of distinguishing she-males from natural females in certain contexts.8 There might be reasons to segregate them in prisons, for example, and all-female organizations might have reasons to want to exclude them. No doubt voluntary she-males would also want to distinguish themselves from compulsory she-males, a matter I leave to them.

Castration is an old feminist fantasy penalty for rape. In that fantasy, castration has been thought a more dramatic piece of surgery than it often is (as in Freud’s castration complex fantasies and in the case of the Amazons and their double-axes). Castration for sterilization need remove only the testes. That is not enough for present purposes. It would prevent impregnation but not rape nor the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. The message of domination is communicated not only by the ability to impregnate but by the ability to penetrate forcibly. Penis removal would not, of course, prevent rape with other phallic physical instruments. But it would attack the primary symbol of male dominance (which is what suggests the use of such other weapons) with which a rapist or potential rapist is most likely to identify intimately. What needs to go is the phallus.

Amen, sister.


The War Against Women February 16, 2008

Filed under: africa,social issues,women's rights — ldgafford @ 3:12 pm

60 minutes recently did a segment on the war against women in DR Congo, primarily looking at the aspect of rape being used as a weapon of war. I highly encourage all of my readers to watch this 13-minute video to understand what’s happening not just in Congo, but all over Africa and around the world. I think after you watch this video you’ll understand why I’m so passionate about ending violence against women, even though my research breaks my heart every day.

The War Against Women in the Congo