February 25, 2009

Quote of the week

Posted in Current events, Government, Politics at 4:23 pm by The Lizard Queen

Jane Hamsher, in the comments of this post:

I love how these fuckers crawl out from under their slimy rocks every time there’s a Democrat in office to preach “fiscal responsibility,” which somehow always has to start with the social safety net but never quite works its way up to the F-22.

Quite.  And by “love,” of course, I mean that I’m developing a dent in my forehead from banging it against the desk.  Metaphorically speaking, of course.

[h/t Crooks & Liars]

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February 19, 2009

More on Aasiya Hassan

Posted in Activism, Current events, Feminism, Religion at 1:31 pm by The Lizard Queen

There has already been good coverage of Aasiya Hassan’s muder at the hands of her husband at various sites, namely Shakesville and Feministing, but I wanted to post a couple of things I was sent today via Facebook.  First, there’s an article up at The Guardian’s Comment is free site that reiterates that this case illustrates not one particular group’s propensity toward violence, but the problem of domestic violence in America as a whole:

The entire world reacted with shock and outrage as Muzzammil Hassan, a Pakistani-American businessman and co-founder of Bridges TV, was arrested for the gruesome murder of his estranged wife. Aasiya Hassan, an architect and MBA student, had recently filed for divorce and received a restraining order against Muzzammil as of 6 February 2009.

Contrary to some spurious reporting, this was not an “honour killing”, a barbaric practice that has its own unique motivations and historical culture, rather it personifies the all too common phenomenon of domestic abuse. Asma Firfirey, the sister of the deceased, stated Aasiya suffered last year from injuries that required nearly $3,000 of medical bills – allegedly the result of spousal abuse. . . .

This horrific tale is one example from the epidemic of violence against women that has been intentionally ignored by all communities – not just Muslim and Pakistani. For example, in the United States, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44.

Sadly, despite the universality of the problem, the antiquated tropes of “the savage Muslim” have emerged to crudely tar all Muslims and South Asians with the same brush.

Kneejerk reactions like this ignore the millions of Muslim, Pakistani and immigrant couples who share the same joys and burdens of marriage like any other, yet never resort to violence, abuse or murder.

The whole piece is well worth reading, and reacting to, and remembering.  Next, here is an excerpt from a press release entitled American Muslims Call for Swift Action Against Domestic ViolenceRead the rest of this entry »

February 11, 2009

The brushfires in Australia: ways you can help

Posted in Activism, Current events at 7:37 pm by The Lizard Queen

From cleverthings (emphasis in the original; h/t Neil Gaiman):

I’m not sure how far the news has travelled, but Australia has been hit with its worst brushfires in history, the toll now at (UPDATED 11/02/09) 173 dead and expected to rise as the areas affected are searched and especially since the fires are still burning. Fires have covered a great deal of southern Australia, affecting states Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales. Some of the fires were deliberately lit. Here is the latest BBC article about it: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7877178.stm (UPDATED 10/02/09) Here is an Australian newspaper summary, including further evidence of arson and a prediction of a death toll higher than 200: http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,25031822-952,00.html (UPDATED 11/02/09) Death toll is now expected to reach 300. 26 fires are still blazing uncontrollably in Victoria. Aside from the death toll, the property damage has left families without homes and they are currently living in tents provided by the State and Federal governments.

At the same time, southern Australia has experienced a heatwave that has had numerous people hospitalised for heatstroke (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7860776.stm) and in far north Queensland, at the very top of Australia, flash flooding has taken at least (UPDATED 11/02/09) 7 lives, including a 5 year old boy who was taken by a crocodile after following his dog into the rising floodwaters (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7868854.stm). The floods have also destroyed property and homes but in a wonderful show of spirit, some of the flood sufferers have donated their disaster payment from the government to the Red Cross appeal for the bushfire victims.

Not to mention the ongoing drought which has affected farmers in central Australia for at least the last 5 years, destroying livelihood.

Native animals and pets are also hard hit. There have been quite adorable pictures circulating the net of the usually reclusive (and aggressive towards humans) koalas and other native wildlife drinking from cups handed to them by humans or from swimming pools or from hoses, but the reality is dire: the poor animals are dying of thirst and that thirst has overcome their natural fear of humans. Really saddening.

The need for immediate support, counselling, blood and financial assistance is enormous. In these harsh economic times, I know it’s hard for people to help, but if you can, Australians and their wildlife and pets need your help!

Click through for the list of ways you (we) can help, if you’re able.  Also, I liked Liss’s idea of donating to pro-choice organizations as a response to Pastor Danny Nallish’s asshaberdashery.  Just something worth considering, again, if you’re able.  🙂

Hump Day Poetry: Audre Lorde

Posted in Poetry at 12:07 pm by The Lizard Queen

Hanging Fire

I am fourteen
and my skin has betrayed me
the boy I cannot live without
still sucks his thumb
in secret
how come my knees are
always so ashy
what if I die
before morning
and momma’s in the bedroom
with the door closed.

I have to learn how to dance
in time for the next party
my room is too small for me
suppose I die before graduation
they will sing sad melodies
but finally
tell the truth about me
There is nothing I want to do
and too much
that has to be done
and momma’s in the bedroom
with the door closed.

Nobody even stops to think
about my side of it
I should have been on Math Team
my marks were better than his
why do I have to be
the one
wearing braces
I have nothing to wear tomorrow
will I live long enough
to grow up
and momma’s in the bedroom
with the door closed.

—Audre Lorde, 1978

February 9, 2009

Defining family

Posted in Civil rights, Family, GLBT issues, Health care at 6:05 pm by The Lizard Queen

Doctor: Is she your sister?
Willow: She’s my everything.
–Buffy the Vampire Slayer 5:19, “Tough Love”

Nearly a year ago now I spent a week in the hospital with my mother as she underwent cancer treatments. Every morning I went downstairs to retrieve a wheelchair with which I would deliver Mom to her appointments. Mom had introduced me as her daughter to just about everyone we encountered upon our arrival and afterward, and our relationship was accepted as a given. No one ever asked me what I was doing pushing an empty wheelchair into an elevator or walking to the food court by myself. I never had to prove my relationship with my mother – which was rather handy, considering that we have different last names and I don’t generally travel with my birth certificate.

I thought of that hospital experience I came across this story over the weekend. It is the sort of story that is becoming terribly, heartbreakingly, familiar:

As her partner of 17 years slipped into a coma, Janice Langbehn pleaded with doctors and anyone who would listen to let her into the woman’s hospital room.

Eight anguishing hours passed before Langbehn would be allowed into Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center. By then, she could only say her final farewell as a priest performed the last rites on 39-year-old Lisa Marie Pond.

Jackson staffers advised Langbehn that she could not see Pond earlier because the hospital’s visitation policy in cases of emergency was limited to immediate family and spouses — not partners. In Florida, same-sex marriages or partnerships are not recognized. On Friday, two years after her partner’s death, Langbehn and her attorneys were in federal court, claiming emotional distress and negligence in a suit they filed last June.

My knee-jerk reaction to this story was: this is why we need same-sex marriage. Upon further reflection, though, it’s clear to me that the situation is far more complex than that. I think the root of the problem really lies with a limited definition of family – generally restricted, as it was at Jackson Memorial Hospital, to “immediate family and spouses.” That definition excludes more than just long-term partners – what about, for example, situations in which a grandparent or aunt or uncle stepped in as a child’s primary caregiver, and that child is now an adult? If the (adult) child is in a car accident, shouldn’t that grandparent or aunt or uncle be allowed to see their loved one? Furthermore, what about step-parents, or people whose family aren’t related to them by blood or romantic relationships?

I also thought about identification in emergency situations. As a general rule, if someone says, “You have to let me see him; he’s my husband/brother/father,” do people at the hospital take them at their word, or do they ask to see some sort of ID? What if, as I alluded to before, the last names are different? If Janice Langbehn had just told the people at the hospital that Lisa Marie Pond was her sister, would that have solved the problem?

I appreciate that hospitals have these policies because they want to protect their patients (at least ostensibly). I don’t have any suggestions as to how hospitals could accommodate expanding definitions of “family” while still keeping patients safe and un-harassed (though that begs further questions: what if the patient is estranged from their immediate family? What if their spouse is abusive?). Still, I can’t help but feel that these policies – or at least their enforcement – have a judgmental feel to them, that hospital officials consider themselves the arbiters of what is and isn’t family. And it seems to me that the only people that ought to be making that decision are the family members themselves.

[h/t to Mustang Bobby at Shakesville]