Saturday, November 27, 2010

Dr. Vandana Shiva Has Filed Suit Against BP for Crimes Against Nature!

photograph of Vandana Shiva is from here

This is the most awesome legal news I've heard in a while. I found this notice *here* at The news is also posted on her organisation's website, Navdanya, *here*.

Wish her well, please. And send her money too or support the effort in any ways you can.

Dr. Vandana Shiva

Just filed a case in constitutional court of ecuadar on rights of nature and BPs crime against nature
November 26, 2010 9:59 am 

The Politics and Price of Water, and Human Life: Which do you think governments and corporations value more?

katine borehole pumping
A woman pumps water from a borehole in Katine, in north-east Uganda. Photograph: Martin Godwin/Guardian

Water is a radical profeminist issue because it is women of color, poor women, and other women are responsible for making sure they and their loved ones stay alive by getting it from a preferably unpolluted source to the mouths of the thirsty--which often requires journeying for many miles.

The politics and corporate control of water is terribly serious feminist issue and I wish more men who claim to be feminists would take up this issue, as such.

The image and caption above and all that follows is cross-posted from the PovertyMattersBlog at The Guardian. Please click on the title below to link back.

Is the stage being set for new water wars in Africa?

The African Development Bank insists that the only way to tackle the water and sanitation crisis on the continent is through privatisation and making people pay. But putting a price on water has a contentious history in Africa


With diarrhoea the biggest killer of children in Africa, the urgency of the water and sanitation crisis on the continent is hard to question. But while some NGOs are calling on African governments to make water and sanitation integral parts of their national public health strategies, and fund them accordingly, the African Development Bank (AfDB) announced this week that closing the continent's multi-billion dollar infrastructure gap requires new investors and paying customers.

Leading a special session on "financing instruments in water for growth and development" at this year's Africa Water Week summit, the bank said that an estimated annual $45bn-$60bn (£28bn-38bn) is needed to improve Africa's water infrastructure – of which $11bn (£7bn) is flagged for the continent's drinking-water supply and sanitation needs.

"Financing from official development assistance [ODA] and national budgets is clearly not sufficient to close the financing gap in the water and sanitation sector," said the bank, which is urging governments and water sector professionals to make their countries and their programmes more attractive to other investors.

In the run up to the UN summit on the millennium development goals in New York in September, the UN estimated that the total amount of overseas aid to developing countries will fall by around $108bn (£68.5bn) in 2010.

What's more, the optimism that once accompanied ODA (the official term for aid) has faded fast in the years since the 2005 Gleneagles summit, when G8 members projected that aid to Africa would double by 2010.

"Africa will receive only about $11bn out of the $25bn increase envisaged at Gleneagles," said the UN.

To fill the shortfall, the AfDB believes money can be tapped from greater user contributions, savings from utility reforms, private sector investments and contributions from private foundations.

They also point to micro-finance as a possible mechanism for funding water services at a local level, along with climate adaptation funds.

Commercial finance, says the bank, can help to fill the gap between demand and the resources available from government budgets and aid, and is "perhaps the largest untapped source of finance for water".

Meeting with African governments, civil society organisations and representatives from the private sector in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this week, the bank released two new reports on water and sanitation on the continent.

The first – a hefty, two-volume, 178-page report on "Water sector governance in Africa" – signals weak governance as a main reason for poor water and sanitation services on the continent.

Its second report focuses on how to finance the water sector in both urban and rural areas, promoting user fees as the primary mechanism for recovering costs.

"Over 25 years have passed since the water decade and the truth remains that adequate cost recovery is still one of the major obstacles to maintenance and expansion of drinking water supply in developing countries," says the bank, adding that charging for water was the only way to make infrastructure and services financially sustainable.

Human right issue

In July this year, the UN general assembly declared that access to clean water and sanitation is a human right.

But the bank argues that it is a "misconception that rights entitle people to free water; instead, water and sanitation should be clean, accessible and affordable for all. People are expected to contribute financially or otherwise to the extent that they can do so".

The issue is getting the prices right, not about whether or not a price should be charged, it seems. Instead of subsidising water for the poor, service providers should offer cheaper options, such as public toilets and bathing houses.

The bank states that subsidising water supplies and services distorts a customer's understanding of the value of water and leads to waste.

But placing a price on water has a contentious history in Africa, as it has across the developing world.

Ten years ago, the World Bank-sponsored privatisation of the municipal water supply in Cochabamba, Bolivia's third largest city, prompted a series of mass demonstrations, later labelled the "Cochabamba water wars". After months of protests, the government declared a "state of siege" before promising the repeal of water privatisation legislation, while the then World Bank president, James Wolfensohn, insisted that the public subsidy of water services only leads to the waste of resources.

In her book, Earth Democracy, Indian environmental activist Vandana Shiva argues that it is a myth that people only value water once it is priced on the market.

"Women who walk 10 miles for water do not waste a drop, even though their water is not provided through market transactions."

Meanwhile, South Africa's experience with the privatisation of water services sparked widespread protests over the human cost of placing a price on clean water.

In 2000, a cholera epidemic broke out in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province, infecting some 120,000 people and claiming the lives of 265. Local authorities in the province had previously set up a system of prepaid water meters to collect user fees. But the institution of the meters and the fees meant that many went elsewhere in search of water, with tragic results.

"Those who cannot afford to pay for water in advance from communal meters or have been cut off from services for not paying rising water bills are forced to seek sources in polluted puddles, rivers and canals that carry disease," reported the New York Times in 2003.

"Privatisation is a new kind of apartheid," added Richard Maholo, leader of the South African Crisis Water Committee.

"Apartheid separated whites from blacks. Privatisation separates the rich from the poor."

According to WaterAid, 80% of African countries are off-track for the MDG target on sanitation. Half of the African continent is set to miss the target on drinking water. And every day 2,000 African children die from diarrhoea. It would be hard to deny that something needs to be done.

However, there will inevitably be concerns that the AfDB is using the urgency of the water and sanitation crisis in Africa to push through an agenda for the commodification of water and the privatisation of services. Is the stage being set for new water wars in Africa?

The Racist, Anti-Semitic, and Misogynist Myth of the "Femi-Fascist"

image of Adolph Hitler and his book, Mein Kampf, is from here

It is sad beyond words that someone who is part of a cultural-political group as socially misunderstood and stigmatised as Joelle Ruby Ryan, a white transgender woman blogger, would make an effort to demonise as "fascist" a Black non-trans woman blogger. It needs to be called out and I'm calling it out on Joelle's blog, if she allows my comment to be published, and also here, where my comment will be published. First, her post.Then, my reply--which has been slightly revised since I posted it to Joelle's blog, Transmediations's Blog. 

This post of Joelle's stems from an incident or series of incidents that I cannot take a position on as I wasn't there. So I'm taking the focus off the incident(s) and putting it on the issues that are beyond it. I'm not saying the incident is unrelated to what Joelle is writing. The incident and the blogging about it and related matters are intricately bound to one another, for Joelle, I imagine.

The point of my reply is to address the politics of a white trans woman calling a Black non-trans woman a "fascist". And about bringing up Mein Kampf and Birth of a Nation as comparably racist/genocidal forms of speech to what Kitty does on her blog, AROOO.

Please click on the title just below to link back to Joelle's full post, excerpted below.

Blog # 28: Taking on the Femi-Fascists

By transmeditations

Feminism is a revolutionary movement dedicated to ending oppression of all sorts, especially sex and gender oppression. It is very sad and pathetic, indeed, that some have twisted this understanding of feminist theory and praxis into an excuse to further oppression against other people, especially the trans community. The trans community is a community under siege. And this is not me trying to play the “victim card.” It is based on an increasing set of empirical evidence. That people who position themselves on the left would devote so much time and energy to hating on and disrespecting such a small, vulnerable group as the trans community is inexcusable.
The work of Sheila Jeffreys and Janice Raymond is not trans-hating or transphobic? Is this even a question that needs to be “debated”? Sending someone to Jan Raymond or Sheila Jeffreys for information about transsexual/transgender identity would be akin to sending someone to Mein Kampf to learn about Jewish identity or cajoling them to watch Birth of a Nation to learn about African Americans. I guess we need to come up with a “Greatest Hits” for these two anti-trans bigots the way we did for that OTHER anti-trans bigot J. Michael Bailey and his ludicrous book The Man Who Would Be Queen. Because even though the trans community has spoken, with an overwhelmingly clear and consistent voice, some still refuse to see the harm done by these ideologues. But it’s kind of like when a woman is sexually harassed, and the guy doing it says it was a joke, or a misunderstanding, or that she took it the wrong way. She, as the aggrieved party, gets to decide if it constitutes an incident of harassment.
You can frame it as a radical feminist or lesbian feminist critique of transgenderism as a political project all you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that these are very real PEOPLE you are talking about, and our lives are much more important than your sacred political theories.

Some may object to my use of the term femi-fascists. I understand this, and would normally agree, except that this bunch seems to be a good fit for the term:

“Fascism is a radical and authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to organize a nation… Fascists believe that a nation is an organic community that requires strong leadership, singular collective identity, and the will and ability to commit violence and wage war in order to keep the nation strong. They claim that culture is created by the collective national society and its state, that cultural ideas are what give individuals identity, and thus they reject individualism. Viewing the nation as an integrated collective community, they see pluralism as a dysfunctional aspect of society, and justify a totalitarian state as a means to represent the nation in its entirety. They advocate the creation of a single-party state. Fascists reject and resist the autonomy of cultural or ethnic groups who are not considered part of the fascists’ nation and who refuse to assimilate or are unable to be assimilated. They consider attempts to create such autonomy as an affront and a threat to the nation. Fascist governments forbid and suppress opposition to the fascist state and the fascist movement.“ (emphasis mine [Joelle's]) - Wikipedia

What I have seen is that the anti-trans argument in “radical” feminism is very similar to an “authoritarian nationalist political ideology.” Certain strands of Lesbian feminism were very big on making a utopian, separatist lesbian nation [epic fail]. The rules and regulations of lesbian feminism were legendary. Any and all interlopers to the Lesbian Nation needed to be vigorously monitored and blocked. This made me think of this comment which I received in response to my last Blog entry:

“Well, I certainly agree with [...] Margaret and others who oppose the invasion of our tiny amount of female-only space by men claiming to be Lesbians. Men have always wanted access to Lesbians and can’t change sex anymore than they can change race. Castrated men and their allies have done their best to destroy Feminism and Lesbian Feminism, but they will never succeed in their effort to get access to Lesbians. Once a ‘Lesbian’ decides to be intimate with such men, she becomes a bisexual and is no longer a Lesbian. What isn’t clear about saying ‘no?’ And what do you call a man who refuses to take ‘no’ from a woman?”

In the above posted response, the author makes it clear that to her transgender women (“castrated men”) are attempting to gain access to lesbian space and lesbian community. In the process, we have been accused of destroying Feminism. (I didn’t know we were so powerful.) In addition, any cis Lesbian who is an ally to us or in a relationship with us, ceases to be a good Lesbian Feminist and may have to give up her Lesbian Nation ID. In the final lines, the poster reveals her deep hate for trans women by basically calling us all a bunch of rapists. She takes a line right out of Jan Raymond’s diatribe The Transsexual Empire:

“All transsexuals rape women’s bodies by reducing the real female form to an artifact, appropriating this body for themselves …. Transsexuals merely cut off the most obvious means of invading women, so that they seem non-invasive.”

Femi-fascists are upholders of biological sex divisions. While trans people and our allies have spent two decades deconstructing gender and proposing paradigms that expose gender’s socially constructed nature through positing gender as a spectrum of multiple possibilities, the femi-fascists are stuck in the late 1970s idea that all men are a class that oppress all women as a class (sophisticated analysis, ain’t it?) Now, those pesky “trannies” throw a monkey wrench in the works, but they are dealt with easily enough. You see, transgender women are really men, and transgender men are really women. Get it??? You are what you’re born as!! Sound familiar? An insidious threat to the Lesbian Feminist Nation, we must be cast out, as MTFs are a bunch of delusional, insane misogynists who are trying to divide the Lesbian Feminist Sisterhood in a brutal attempt to colonize it and take it over. And those FTMs are butch dykes who can’t take the heat as Lesbians or Females and decide to sell out to cash in on hetero-male privilege. Make sense? No, I don’t think so either, but it is the brutal lie they have been telling themselves for three decades now.

Trans people and genderqueer folks are the unassimilable players in the men=bad=oppressor / women=good=oppressed equation of the femi-fascist imagination. Our autonomy as a movement is an affront and therefore we must be swiftly banished. And all means of degrading us, demeaning us and promoting hatred and violence against us is fair game. One of the most hateful things written about me:

“You know what is telling, – the purposeful straddling of two worlds. If tyrannies [conjunction of tyrants and trannies] insist on being called women and insist on saying they should be equally fuckable and/or oppressed as FAB [female at birth] women, they why do they hold on to the “transsexual” title. Why is this guy worrying about tyrannies in porn? If he is a woman, then why isn’t his focus on women. He is holding on to the transsexual title because it still lets everyone know that he is a man. He is not serious about becoming a woman. He wants to have his male entitlement/privilege—be the one listened to, respected, elevated, etc, but have the identity of the one he is supposedly triumphing for, –women. It is just a game among men. What better way for one male to win a pissing contest among other males than to be a spy, sometimes a double spy. Sick bastards need psychiatric help. They are males who prefer stereotypical female dress. They are not women.”

This particular femi-fascist, who goes by the name The Fabulously Mean Mutineer Queen of Power Kitty Glendower, i.e. the Unfabulously Stupid Name of a Rabid Anti-Trans Bigot, is a text book case of somebody who is talking out of their ass. — We are spies. We are men no matter how we identify. We need psychiatric help…blah blah blah… Arguments as ludicrous as these don’t even deserve a response, but they do provide excellent evidence of the how the femi-fascists “forbid and suppress opposition to the fascist state and the fascist movement.” To me it seems clear that any fair-minded person would see the bigotry underlying their philosophy and work with other progressive people to forcefully reject it for the divisive hate-mongering it is.

This entry was posted on October 28, 2010 at 1:40 am.

Julian Real Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation. [Edits/revisions made since posting are noted below by me by putting those changes/additions in bold.]

November 27, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Reply

Hi Joelle,
Sending someone to Jan Raymond or Sheila Jeffreys for information about transsexual/transgender identity would be akin to sending someone to Mein Kampf to learn about Jewish identity or cajoling them to watch Birth of a Nation to learn about African Americans.

This particular femi-fascist, who goes by the name The Fabulously Mean Mutineer Queen of Power Kitty Glendower, i.e. the Unfabulously Stupid Name of a Rabid Anti-Trans Bigot, is a text book case of somebody who is talking out of their ass.

I find that very anti-feminist, racist, and anti-Semitic, at least. Do you really think a white person calling a Black person in the U.S. a “fascist” is politically responsible and accurate? You get which race is in charge here, and which of the two of you–Kitty Glendower and yourself–have access to mass murderous STATE power, right? (It’s not her.)

When you target Kitty as a key enemy figure you ought to lash out at, where’s your white privilege when you do so? Gone? Not to me. She doesn’t hold any institutionalised position of power over white folks like you that she can leverage in socially dangerous ways to destroy a group of people such as white transgender people. Especially profession-privileged white folks with academic cred. The invisibilisation of your own positions of privilege in what you state above concerns me a lot. You’re white, yes? Not Jewish, yes? And you have professional academic privilege? And other privileges too that Kitty doesn’t have, yes? So how does that make her one of a the few most appropriate targets of your anger? Are there really not enough trans-hating white het cisgender men to target? Or does virulent anti-trans sentiment only, or most importantly, live among non-trans radical feminists? Is that your contention?

On to a related point.

As a Jew, I’m truly disturbed at the political ignorance of people who call themselves “radical” holding up Mein Kampf as a representative example of bigoted writing calling for extermination as if all writings which are bigoted, or call for a group to disappear, exist in the same social/historical conditions and therefore have the same power and the same effects–as if they all carry precisely the same threat, the same danger. They don’t.

As you well know, Mein Kampf existed in a context in which its author could be and did become leader of both a country and a movement to destroy Jews, among other people. Are you really wanting to say that Kitty will or could become a leader of the white male supremacist U.S., and that therefore her writings on transgender issues–however hateful they are–are akin to Mein Kampf? That’s some pretty specious comparing going on, in my view. It’s sloppy liberalism, “pure” and oversimplified. And it is racist as hell. The stereotype of ALL Black women in the U.S. (and in other places, globally) is that they possess the power to take over and destroy everyone else. The stigma is that Black women's anger, or disagreements, or contrariness, or non-deferential manner, in any form, is more dangerous and deadly than ANY white person's and ANY man's. Do you mean to say that “the level of hate is comparable” and not Hitler and Glendower’s political potential, aspirations, and accomplishments? Given the specifics in your post, your arguments, clearly state that the lesbian separatist project and Nazi's project are similarly fascistic--in state power, no less, I am calling you out for pretending you can pull apart those aspects of social history--and in the process make it seem as though a Black woman is as dangerous as the white man that was Adolph Hitler.

Do you know how many men cite Solanas’s SCUM Manifesto as the Mein Kampf of feminism? And do you get how completely fucked up that is to do?

Do you see no political differences among “Born in Flames”, “Bandit Queen”, and “Birth of a Nation”?

What real social power in this world do a few non-trans radical feminists have, relative to white non- or anti-radical, non- or anti-feminists? Who’s is charge here in this country? Radical feminists of any color? Black women, feminist or not? I don’t think so. Not any time I’ve checked. A Black man, a Black woman, and a white woman, among a few white men, ran for president in 2008. Note which of those people got air time on national media. (Not the Black woman.)

I think this post, while I understand some of your feelings here, is part of what keeps meaningful–and dare I say it–healing dialogue from happening in our tiny community. Do you want open, respectful dialogue that demonises neither feminist or antifeminist trans folks nor non-trans radical feminists? Or do you want to be part of the group, along with MRAs, neoConservatives, and neoLiberals, who repeatedly target radical feminists as “the problem population” when radical feminists–trans or not–have no legitimate institutionalised political power and influence?

Kitty writes on her blog, right? Where else do you encounter her directly? You get that Jews in WWII couldn’t avoid or escape the incendiary call to genocidal action woven into Mein Kampf, right? Those words weren’t just in a book that very few people read or had access to. Kitty’s words are written by someone who will not likely become a national or political leader. She is part of a group who is targeted for destruction, not liberation, by the powers that be.

Do you really think Kitty is your primary enemy? Has anyone asked her directly how or why she feels threatened by some transgender women or men? Do you think it is important to know the answer to that? I’m not saying it is for you to ask her or that she’d want to engage with you. I’m saying I don’t see folks being willing to find out–without dismissing the speaker before they speak, as transphobic and a trans-hater. Does a woman being a man-hater mean she has nothing of substance to say on the subject of racist patriarchal atrocities against women? Did Valerie Solanas have nothing useful to tell us?

I’ll note for the record, I’m not a fan of Solanas. I personally don’t consider her a white radical feminist. I read her a long time ago and have never read her again, except to reference certain things that MRAs love to dredge up as an example of how allegedly *Hitlerian* she was.

I find Dworkin’s speech to women on the matter of any fanciful ideas of female superiority to be far more important, along with all she had to say about the deadly realities of male supremacy, to be infinitely more useful, emotionally, politically, theoretically, and intellectually.

How is Kitty structured socially to be such a great oppressor to any group at all, except radical feminists who are of color and are located beneath her on other hierarchies? She may say things that hurt you deeply, and leave you feeling dismissed and invisiblised in your full humanity. She may do that. But plenty of folks do that and only some of them have the power to enforce laws, religious institutions, economic and educational systems–to teach college courses, for example, and to generate corporate mass media attention on the views espoused. She’s not among them.

When will a very few people in our two groups–two groups you and I both belong to (trans and radical feminist)–stop pretending the other group is THE enemy? This liberalisation of social man-infestations of “hate”–pretending that any expression of it is equal to any other is, to me, CRAP (part and parcel of corporate racist atrocious patriarchy). Women who hate men is not comparable or equivalent to men who hate women from any class analysis I’ve heard of.

Homosexual folks hating heterosexuals bears no resemblance whatsoever to heterosexuals hating on homosexual folks. This is oppression 101 stuff. Prejudice plus power equals being oppressive. Without the institutional power to back it up, it may be prejudice, but in the case of women hating men–to the extent that even happens, or gay and lesbian people hating hatero/heterosexuals–to whatever extent that happens, is based in a social experience of being hated by the group that does, in fact, have the power to destroy us. Queers have no such structural power against non-queer hatero/heterosexuals. Women have no such structural power with which to oppress men in their own ethnic and cultural group, hatefully or otherwise.

White het men still claim otherwise because they have the privilege and power and media to do so and get heard and believed–their CRAP registers as Absolute and Infallible Truth. My words don’t. Yours don’t either. Kitty’s don’t either. Can we not find resonance and common ground on that point?

And, as a white U.S.-based Jew, I am asking you: please, please don’t compare Mein Kampf again to anything else (including Janice Raymond’s book) unless that other text also was (or is) used as a guidebook to *actually commit genocide* against millions of people. Here’s a clue about the potential impact of Jan Raymond’s book: anti-radical anti-feminists, *who are most people*, haven’t read it–or even heard of it. Not so with Mein Kampf among non-Jewish white Germans during the time Hitler was alive and politically active.

And please stop putting yourself in the same category as MRAs by calling any contemporary feminist a “fascist”. Especially any Black woman.

Thank you.