Saturday, February 12, 2011

Feminist Action Alert: Three Radical Feminist Conferences in a Row! Boston, USA. End of June, 2011. Details here.

image of book cover (used here for its graphic message, not the content) is from here

It is with great pleasure that I get to promote radical feminist theorising and activism. What follows is all from the Stop Porn Culture website. First is an overview of events. Beneath that are details on each. To link back you can click on each of the three events' titles, just below.


Radical Feminist Seminar

Wheelock Media Institute, and 

SPC Slideshow Training

Come to Boston for a week of feminist theory and activism. Stop Porn Culture presents three back-to-back events. Participants can attend one, two, or all three.
June 25-26
Radical Feminist Seminar

Two days of education, organizing, and networking.  Women from all over the world will be exploring classic and contemporary radical feminism as well as developing local and international strategies for building a resistance movement. Presenters include Gail Dines, Sheila Jeffreys, Lierre Keith, Saba Malik, Samantha Berg, and more!
June 27-28
Wheelock Media Institute

The Media Institute explores the role that the media (television, magazines, advertising, pornography, video games, and music videos) plays in shaping our gender identity, our intimate relationships, our children’s lives, and ultimately our culture. Participants also learn how to develop media literacy curriculum for children, youth, and adults, as well as strategies on how to organize locally and nationally.
June 29-30
Stop Porn Culture Slideshow Training

Come and get the experience, knowledge, and confidence to speak publicly against pornography in your community. The training will include special guest appearance by Sheila Jeffreys.



Radical Feminist Seminar

Come to Boston on June 25 - 26, 2011, for two days of radical feminist education, organizing, and networking.  Women from all over the world will be exploring classic and contemporary radical feminism as well as developing local and international strategies for building cultures of resistance.  We will have presentations, workshops, and discussions on:
  • Globalization and the exploitation of women’s labor
  • Fighting the global sex industry
  • Theoretical and activist splits in contemporary feminism
  • International strategies for radical feminist organizing
  • Movement building through social media
  • Radical feminist critiques of Third Wave feminism, Postmodernism, and Queer theory
Presenters include Gail Dines, Sheila Jeffreys, Lierre Keith, Saba Malik, Samantha Berg, and more. Special guest appearances include feminist activists from Norway and other countries to talk about their extraordinary successes in fighting the sex industry.
Cost is $50 registration, $25 low-income. We also have some scholarships available.
For regular ($50) registration, click below.
For low-income ($25), click below.
You can also pay by check/money order.
Stop Porn Culture
PO Box 4634
Arcata, CA 95518
The Wheelock dormitories will be available for our use. Check here for more information.
From June 27-28 there will be a Media Literacy Institute followed by a Stop Porn Culture training, June 29-30. Participants can attend one, two, or all three of these events.
Questions? Email us at
Visit us on Facebook


Saturday, June 25
The Radical-Liberal-Marxist Split in Feminism (Gail Dines)
Critiquing Postmodernism and Queer Theory (Sheila Jeffreys)
Globalization and the Economic Oppression of Women (TBA)
Violence Against Women (Saba Malik)
4:30 – 5:30
Organizing on the Internet (Sam Berg of Genderberg and Jill from One Angry Girl)
Dinner on your own
Dessert Party and Small Group Discussions

Sunday, June 26
Prostitution, Pornography, and Trafficking: Understanding the Economic, Racial, and Global Context (Sheila Jeffreys)
11:15 -1:00
Exploring Third Wave Feminism: A Radical Feminist Perspective ((Lierre Keith, Dana Bialer, and the editors of Rain and Thunder)
Group Panel: International Organizing against the Sex Industry
Building a Resistance Movement (Lierre Keith)


Media Literacy Institute
Wheelock College, Boston
June 27-28, 2011

Gail Dines and Diane Levin
The Media Institute explores the role that the media (television, magazines, advertising, pornography, video games, and music videos) plays in shaping our gender identity, our intimate relationships, our children’s lives, and ultimately our culture. Participants also learn how to develop media literacy curriculum for children, youth, and adults, as well as strategies on how to organize locally and nationally.
The Institute can be taken for college credit. For more information, contact Gail Dines at gdines@wheelock.
Cost is $50 registration, $25 low-income. We also have some scholarships available.
For regular ($50) registration, click below.
For low-income ($25), click below.
You can also pay by check/money order.
Stop Porn Culture
PO Box 4634
Arcata, CA 95518
The Wheelock dormitories will be available for our use.  Check here for more information.
The weekend before the Media Literacy Institute is the Radical Feminist Seminar, June 25-26. The Media Literacy Institute is followed by a Stop Porn Culture training, June 29-30. Participants can sign up for one, two, or all three events.
Questions? Email us:
Visit us on facebook.


Monday, June 27

Media in a Capitalist Society
Media’s impact on Children
Introduction to Media Literacy
Video: Mickey Mouse Monopoly: Disney, Childhood, and Corporate Power

Tuesday, June 28

9:00                 History of the Media: Creation of a Consumer Society
10:20               Break
10:40               Children and Consumerism
12:00               Lunch
1:00                 Children, Sex and Violence in the Media
2:30                 Body Image: Media and the Commodification of Femininity
3:30                 Break
3:45                 The Pornification of the Image
5:00                 End


Stop Porn Culture Slideshow Training

June 29-30, 2011
Wheelock College in Boston, MA
Presented by Gail Dines,  Lierre Keith,
Jennifer Johnson, and Matt Ezzell
with special guest appearance by Sheila Jeffreys
Come and get the experience, knowledge, and confidence to speak publicly against pornography in your community. The training will include in-depth presentations:
-the links between pornography and violence against women
-background on the economic industry that is pornography
-First Amendment and other free speech issues
-women in the industry
-the sexualization of children
-the question of “alternate” images
-how to organize in your community
-practice Q & A session
Cost is $50 registration, $25 low-income. We also have some scholarships available.
For regular ($50) registration, click below.
For low-income ($25), click below.
You can also pay by check/money order.
Stop Porn Culture
PO Box 4634
Arcata, CA 95518
The Wheelock dormitories will be available for our use.  Click here for more info.
SPC is also presenting a Radical Feminist Seminar (June 25-26) and the Wheelock Media Institute (June 27-28) right before the Slideshow Training. Participants are welcome to sign up for one, two, or all three events.
Questions? Email us at
Join us on Facebook.


History of Feminist Activism against Porn (Lierre Keith)
The Economics of the Porn Industry (Jennifer Johnson)
Men, Masculinity, and Media (Matt Ezzell)
Pornography and the Visual Landscape (Gail Dines)
Understanding  Pro-Porn “Feminism” (Sheila Jeffreys)
Open forum
Films :  The Price of Pleasure by Chyng Sun and
The Pornography of Everyday Life
by Jane Caputi

Thursday, June 30
Who Wants to be a Porn Star?
The Stop Porn Culture slideshow
Q & A on the slide show
Mock Q & A Session (Gail, Matt, and Lierre)
Local and Global Activism (international panel of activists)
Small group meetings to plan next steps
Wrap up

Toward An Ethic and Practice of Responsible Trans Identities and Radical Trans Politics. Featuring Dean Spade on Vimeo

Dean Spade: Trickle-Up Social Justice from BCRW Videos on Vimeo.

A lot of us who are trans are feeling and being silenced in trans community and beyond it for our views about what it means to be trans and for proposing political agendas that aren't centered on promoting the rights only of the most privileged members of our communities.

Some trans people are not allowed to have a voice online or offline (well, unless we have our own blogs or forums); or when we speak our voices are silenced or conversation is shut down immediately; or when our voices are not silenced they are simply written off as "transphobic" as if we aren't trans and don't know when we're promoting responsible and ethical behavior in our own community. The charge that too many of the most vocal trans voices and perspectives (which are not necessarily representative of trans people generally) are misogynistic and antifeminist seems to have about as much clout and impact as when feminists tell men they are being sexist.

See, for more:

I'd argue there's a lot of transphobia, racism, and misogyny in the voices and positions promoted by our most elite and privileged trans spokespeople. Far too many trans people who do have a voice online are afraid to call out the privilege and the bigotry for fear of being rejected by the community as transphobes, or whatever other terms are useful in silencing people with radical points of view. What that means, of course, is that those people who are most negatively effected and oppressed by such views--namely, trans people of color across gender, and women across race--are put, yet again, in the position to speak up against this institutionalised oppressive bigotry. The burden for speaking out will usually fall to those who are most harmed and whose energy is often needed to survive day to day, finding ways and means for such survival.

I'd argue one appropriate use of privilege is to speak out in support of and in alliance with the most marginalised, oppressed people in any given community. White conservative to liberal class-privileged, education-privileged, profession-privileged, region-privileged M2F and F2M trans spokespeople are not in any alliance with any radical activists, feminist or otherwise. Nor do they appear to believe in being fully accountable to radical feminists. They appear to hold great disdain for radical feminists, in fact. in this contempt, they are very much like patriarchal men with a glaring exemption: patriarchal het men will beat the shit out of any visibly trans or queer person, and any woman, if they have the opportunity to do so and the reasonable assurance they won't be arrested for it.

I ought not have to warn you to sit down before reading what comes next: het communities, queer communities, and trans communities are usually and generally very racist, misogynistic places. They are not more or less racist and misogynistic than any other community. They also tend to be very conservative to liberal places, politically. Not more or less conservative or liberal than any other places, with the possible exception of places that pride themselves on being ultra-conservative, such as militantly conservative and extremist, terroristic, and fascistic corporate Christian communities.

For the purposes of this post's clarity, and to save my fingers from typing terms like "women raised as girls", I'm going to use the spellings "womyn" and "wimmin" to refer to radical women of color, lesbian women of color, and radical feminist women of any color who are not transgender or transsexual. (Womyn is singular. Wimmin is plural.) These terms are used here also to mean "politically aware women", "women who are conscious of patriarchy and white supremacy as forces of misogynist destruction and oppression"; and women who are not trans. For examples of this usage, please see here (and see the film too, if you haven't yet!! It's awesome):


On this blog, I generally use the term "trans" to mean either someone who is transsexual, transgender, or intergender, and also for anyone who does not identify as a man or as a woman. It ought not be assumed that when I use the term trans it means only the following: F2M post-op transsexuals; M2F post-op transsexuals; or F2M and M2F-identified people. It should go without say, but does not go without saying it over and over again, that most trans people are none of the above. Most of us are not "post-op" for one thing. Most of us are non-op and regardless of what our wishes are for surgeries, and what our values are regarding the medical industrial complex, we do not have access to that particularly racist, misogynistic, and anti-trans institution's practices. An institution which promotes "us" as only M2F and F2M is oppressive to us. A corporate media empire that does the same is also deeply oppressive to us.

Some conservative to liberal trans people and their supporters have tried to make a case that I do not believe trans people are oppressed at all, or that we are not discriminated against. I think we are, but not in the ways spoken of by the most elite and privileged spokespeople in our community. I think, as I've noted elsewhere on this blog, that many trans people are oppressed for the same reasons wimmin are oppressed: because they are not men, and because womanhood is socially despised and denigrated, and also assaulted and dominated by men. As Cerien has made clear in an upcoming post, "cisgender" is a very problematic (erroneous, unethical, and oppressive) term, as it assumes most trans people are identifiable as such, and have chosen to have surgery. Again, most of us have not.

I'll focus on four trans people I know of, for the moment. These people are not all white, are not predominantly middle class or wealthier, and are not F2M or M2F post-op transsexuals. We are, however, all of us, transgender/intergender. We support radical social change, not organised around the viewpoints and perspectives of the most privileged people in any community. We are activists. We do not support conservative and liberal agendas for making room in racist, capitalist patriarchies for "us". We support the dismantling and radical transformation of all institutions and industries that harm people globally, not just "us". We do this with careful attention to the needs of our people. We do this without promoting bigotry against our people. And, we recognise that most of "our people" are completely indistinguishable from "non-trans people".

Most trans people are visually and otherwise indistinguishable from non-trans people. What that means for a term like "cisgender" is that most trans people ARE cisgender. And many "cisgender" people do not have "cisgender privileges". Just ask genderqueer people, butch women, femme men, and many other people who are assumed to be "doing it wrong" when it comes to "being a gendered person".

This is one white elephant in our room that once named, seems to cause the most conservative and liberal trans spokespeople to start running away or verbally throwing stones at those who name it. Speaking now for myself, but with awareness that I am far from alone, I do not support transsexual M2F people publicly and politically identifying as women-with-rights-and-privileges that wimmin don't have. For anyone out there quoting me, make sure you get that sentence exactly right. Because you're likely to assume it is saying a lot that it isn't. If you're not sure what it is and isn't saying, please ask.

As for F2M people, I encourage that population to be fully accountable to all radical wimmin, including, especially, radical lesbian feminist wimmin. That most non-trans men will not accept you doesn't mean that you have a right to expect wimmin to do so.

The call for "acceptance" and "inclusion" and "accommodation" by trans people ought not be aimed disproportionately at wimmin, or be directed at wimmin at all; to place this expectation and demand on wimmin is to practice a very conservative form of patriarchal politics and ethics.

In trans community, offline and online, in the West, I've seen little to no recognition of patriarchy, capitalism, and white supremacy as forces used to destroy women. I've seen little to no recognition of these ideologies-in-practice, in society, posing as "what society naturally is". One exceptional person well worth noting: Dean Space, whose excellent radical analysis is available to be both seen and heard on Vimeo, *here*

Something missing in trans community, as far as I can tell, is an open discussion about our responsibilities to wimmin. Yes, to wimmin. Because our oppression, like gay men's, like lesbian wimmin's, like many people of color across gender, is rooted in patriarchal misogyny. That's not the only root, but it is surely one of the thicker ones. And to advocate for it, acquiesce to it, or pretend it isn't a problem for us, is just plain unethical, wrong, and dangerous.

I'd like to put forth the position that "women" are not an oppressor class vis a vis trans people. Men are. And those few trans activists, mostly M2F people with male privileges--not at all representative of trans community, not *at all* representative of pro-feminist trans activists (see Dean Spade on Vimeo), or, well, my blog--are not speaking for me or any trans people I know, ALL of whom are feminist/profeminist and not insistent or demanding that trans people should ***have the right of access*** to womyn/wimmin-only spaces.

I am calling out the classist, racist, and very patriarchal male privileges of some M2F trans people thinking that those very few privileged trans people's views should trump, be statused and esteemed, above wimmin's views and experiences of womanhood AND trans politics. If wimmin find our political projects to be misogynistic, we owe it to wimmin to listen carefully and respectfully, not jump to some conclusion that their very objection makes them transphobic. This is what is currently done, generally, and it is anti-trans and anti-womyn both. It means we create a very privileged wall around ourselves wherein we decide what Truth is, we decide what is misogyny, we decide what is transphobia, as if we don't, each of us, struggle with all those things quite often, if not all the time. How it is we think a few very privileged people would be the wisest among us to name what is oppressive in our community is a feat of mental magic that is as remarkable as it is disturbing.

A topic for us to discuss is "responsible identity in trans community". I think there are a lot of us who choose, basically, to identify as "transgender" or "intergender" and who leave it at that, never claiming "to be a man" or "to be a woman". That's what Dean Spade does; born female-assigned-at-birth, he presents as trans, dressing in more stereotypically "men's" clothes, for comfort--emotional and otherwise. I find that a far more ethically pro-womyn and pro-feminist position than simply reinforcing the binary/hierarchy with notions that people can ONLY be one or the other, and so, then, it would follow that ALL trans people ARE one or the other. Many trans people I know (for political reasons or for other reasons) reject that imperative from the elitist spokespeople who grapped the mic and won't let us speak about our own experiences and ways of understanding ourselves.

This politic of promoting the existence of only men or women, fitting trans people into one or the other group, is utterly oppressive to intersex people and intergender people. Also oppressive to intersex people is a politic that promotes surgery and body modification as a solution to our structural problems. Eradicating the gender binary/hierarchy ought to be our aim; not simply fitting ourselves into an oppressive gender regime. I accept that almost all people, het or not, queer or not, trans or not, intersex or not, will necessarily accommodate the dominant system in some ways. We have few options for rejecting those values and demands entirely. But that form of survival-accommodation need not comprise the core of our political will and movement.

Trans experience is very diverse. On this blog I have called out some women and men for promoting ideas that being "trans" means being M2F post-op and misogynistic, for example.  But given who controls the stage of trans discourse, who handles the mic, it is no wonder that so many wimmin do come to the conclusion that "trans" means only that. It is also many wimmin's experience that some trans people--the ones identifiable as such--are misogynists and anti-feminist. As are, of course, most people generally. I don't assume that trans people will be or even should be less misogynistic than, say, people who aren't trans. I would like to think that gay and lesbian people are less homophobic and lesbophobic that het people, but that's not an assumption that tends to match up well with reality. So it goes for trans folks. And anyone else who is socially despised or grossly misunderstood.

This is all partly to say that, yes, of course trans people, when socially identifiable as such, are discriminated against and oppressed. But the question is this: what are we oppressed FOR and AS? We are oppressed FOR not being enough of what white het male supremacist people and their values and institutions tell us we should be, and we are discriminated against if and when we appear to be trans, gay, lesbian, or, often enough, too feminine or a womyn. We're not discriminated against or oppressed for other reasons, AS trans people, if we're identifiable socially as trans people. And, another point I've made on this blog is that most trans people who ARE visibly trans, are not read as "trans" as much as we're read as genderqueer or as women, or as men who are trying to pretend to be women. Gay men in drag are beaten not for being gay, exactly, but for being men who are appearing to be a woman. The beating and harassment is directed at men who appear to value looking like what stereotypical "women" look like. Most men's drag (whether the men are het, bi, or gay) is about as accurate a depiction of what wimmin look like a white minstrel show performers' depictions and impersonations of Black people. Drag is a profoundly racist, classist, misogynistic practice.  But don't tell that to gay men who value it or you'll be called homophobic. Never mind that it's grossly racist and misogynistic. White boys will do what white boys want to do, whatever age they are.

So it goes with the white, elitist, privileged, academic pseudo-spokespeople for the trans community. They not only don't give a shit about supporting radical feminism, lesbian feminism, or any other progressive to radical social change movements and practices. They actively oppose feminism, anti-racism, and anti-capitalist efforts and campaigns. They are socially conservative, appearing at times to be liberal. This only demonstrates that the line between patriarchal white conservatism and patriarchal white liberalism is far thinner than either group wants to admit.

Being trans doesn't usually mean we dress in any kind of non-traditional drag. It doesn't usually mean we seek out hormones or surgery. It doesn't have to mean we support the gender hierarchy posing as a binary. It ought not mean we support CRAP. And I welcome effective organisation of our voices of radical dissent, into books, into videos, and into the dominant media and medical establishment, if possible. It's well past time to take the mic out of the hands of the most conservative and liberal members of our community; they do not speak for all of us. And their virulent misogyny and anti-feminism needs to be called out, not from the audience but from the stage.

Peace, Blessings, and Congratulations to the People of Egypt! And Nawal El Saadawi on the Revolution

At Cairo’s Tahrir Square, after President Hosni Mubarak handed over control of the country to the military and left the capital. AP
A 30-second announcement Friday ended the 30-year autocratic rule of President Hosni Mubarak, setting off a wave of celebration at Tahrir Square and all of Egypt, the roar unsettling regimes across the Middle East.

Hours after his defiant speech on state television enraged tens of thousands demanding his ouster, Mubarak finally ceded power to the military and left Cairo with wife Suzanne for his retreat in Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea coast.

Official confirmation of his departure came at 9.30 pm India time when an ashen-faced Omar Suleiman, Vice President and longtime intelligence chief, in a statement on state-run Nile TV, said: “My fellow citizens, in view of these hard circumstances that the country is facing, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down as President of the Republic and has asked the higher council of the armed forces to run the affairs of the country.”
Source for the above, including the photograph, is *here* at Indian Express.

Egypt is free of Hosni Mubarak as their president. I am happy for the Egyptian people who have persevered for thirty years under his rule, and have now accomplished what many said was impossible: revolution. Peace and blessings to the Egyptian people.

الصلاة والسلام

And a thousand congratulations:  

 ألف مبروك

All that follows is from *here* at CounterPunch.
Weekend Edition
February 11 - 13, 2011

A View from Tahrir Square

The Egyptian Revolution Unfolds


I have lived to witness and participate in the Egyptian Revolution from Jan 25, 2011 until the moment of writing this essay in the morning of Sunday, Feb 6, 2011. Millions of Egyptians, men and women, Muslims and Christians, from all doctrines and beliefs, are united against the current oppressive and corrupt regime, against its revered top pharaoh who “still holds on to his throne even if shedding his people’s blood”, against its corrupt government and the ruling party which hire mercenaries to kill the youths, against its cheating and fake parliament whose members represent illegal properties, women, drugs, and bribes, against its elites who are called ‘the educated elites’ who sold their conscience and pens , destroyed education, public and private morals and culture, and misled the public and individual opinion to gain temporary interests and ruling positions, be small or big ones.

Young men and children, men and women have spontaneously gone out of their houses, led and protected by themselves , after the security and policemen have failed and the controlling elites of culture and media have crumpled down. After the collapse of the rich and powerful and the self-interested party leaders who have explicitly and implicitly supported the regimes of corrupt dictatorships for about 50 years, opportunism and double-standard and deceiving moral values have fallen down; such values have corrupted both the family and the individuals, spreading chaos under the name of safety, dictatorship under the name of democracy, poverty and unemployment under the name of improvement and prosperity, prostitution and marriage betrayal under the name of morals and freedom of choice, humiliation by and submission to the American and Israeli colonization under the name of aids, partnership, friendship and peace process…such a regime which has jailed those with sincere and creative pens inside cells to separate them and taint their reputation, or send them in to exile inside or outside the country.

Millions of Egyptian, men and women, went out in the streets in all provinces, cities and villages, in Aswan, Alexandria, Suez, Bour Said, and all parts of the homeland. In Cairo, the capital, we have encamped in Meidan al-Tahrir for 11 days, day and night till now. Meidan al-Tahrir has become our land and our camp. We settle on its asphalt and inside tents as a solid entity of men and women…we will never leave our place even though the police, disguised in civilian clothes, attack us and even if al-Meidan is attacked (like what happened on Feb 2) by mercenaries hired by the regime. Those were given bribes (50 EGP and a chick for a soldier, and the bigger one’s rank the bigger the bribe is).They stormed into al-Meidan riding horses and camels, armed with various weapons (red, yellow, and white ones). One of the horses was about to trample on me while I was standing in al-Meidan with the young men. They carried me away from this primitive attack; I saw them with my own eyes moving around in al-Meidan, shooting everywhere. Amid the dust and smoke which surrounded al-Meidan and its surrounding buildings, I saw firing flames flying in the sky, young men falling, and blood shedding. A semi-military war broke out between the regime’s henchmen and the peaceful Egyptian people who were calling for freedom, dignity and justice. But the defense committee of the revolutionary young men managed to fight back those mercenaries and captured some horses and camels and 100 mercenaries with their IDs, among them were state security officers, central security officers, policemen, and some of them were jobless and criminals who were released from prisons. Some of them confessed that they were bribed with 200 EGP and promised with 5000 EGP if they managed to scatter the youths in al-Meidan by using their swords and sharp weapons. They described the youths who led this revolution as “the kids who made the disturbance” using the language of Mubarak’s big heads who gave orders and money.

The young men built their tents in the square to get some rest. Women with their infants lied down on the ground in the cold and rain. Hundreds of ladies and girls, never harassed by anyone, walked proudly feeling freedom, dignity, and equality among their fellows. Christians are participating in the revolution side by side with Muslims. I was surrounded by some young men from Muslims Brotherhood: they said to me “We disagree with some of your opinions in your writings but we like and respect you because you have not acted hypocritically with any regime or force inside or outside the country.” During my walk in the square, people were coming to me, men and women, from different directions, embracing and hugging me saying “Dr. Nawal, we are the new generations who have read your books and inspired by your creativity, rebellion and revolution” I swallowed my tears and said “This is a happy occasion for all of us, a celebration of freedom, dignity, equality, creativity, rebellion, and revolution.”

A young woman, named Rania, “We ask for a new constitution, a civil one, which does not segregate between races, gender, and religion.” Another young man, a Christian named Butrus Dawood, said “We want a civil personal statute which does not segregate between people in terms of doctrine, gender or religion.” A young man named Tariq al-Dimiri declared, “The young men made the revolution and we have to select our interim government and a national committee to change the constitution.” A young man, Mohamed Amin, said “We want to open the People's Assembly and Shura Council and proceed with honest elections to choose a new president and new popular councils.” A young man named Ahmed Galal said, “We are a popular revolution that puts a new social contract, not just demands, slogan of our revolution.”

Free equality, and social justice, who makes revolution is one who puts the new government rules, chooses the transitional government, selects National Committee which changes the constitution, establishes a committee of governors of the revolution so that opportunists (the owners of wealth and power) are not imposed on us. Committees of governors did not participate with us in the revolution, but comes now to us by plane from Europe or America. Among the Egyptians who lived their lives outside or inside the country now come to become leaders of the revolution. We say: “Who did the revolution are the ones who are leading the revolution. Among us governors from young people of thirty years, forty or fifty years of age. We have competencies in all scientific political and economic fields. We are the ones who form a committee of our governors and our government in transition, and the National Committee to change the constitution and laws. A young Mohamed Said said “I feel proud for the first time in my life because I am Egyptian. Despair and depression were gone and defeat was turned into victory. We paid the price of freedom with the blood of our martyrs. There is no power to bring us back.

Al-Meidan turned to an entire city with its facilities, and in the hospital thereabout sleep injured and wounded, doctors and nurses from the masses of young people volunteered, residents volunteered with blankets, medicines, cotton and gauze, food and water, something like a dream and fantasy, I am living with the young men and women day and night. Committees were formed among these young men and women to handle all chores from sweeping the Meidan to transporting the injured to hospital, providing food and medicines, taking over the defense of the Meidan and responding to the lies of the system in the media to nominate the names of the Transitional Government and the Committee of governors, and others. Walls for the houses, institutions and taboos that distinguish between citizens, women and men, Muslim and Christians or others faded. We become one nation, no divisions on the basis of sex, religion or other, all demanding the departure of Mubarak and his trial and his men in the party and the government, the bloodshed on Wednesday, 2 February and all days since 25 January, corruption and tyranny over thirty years of rule, and the rest of the interview.

Nawal el Saadawi, at age 80, has been in Tahrir Square in solidarity with her countryfolk since the beginning of the revolution that has today ended the 30-year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. Her many books include: 
Women and Sex, Woman at Point Zero, The Fall of the Imam, Memoirs From the Women's Prison and A Daughter of Isis.
Translated By Dr. Rabia Redouane, Dept of Modern Languages, Montclair State University

"High Risk Lifestyles" of the Poor and Ignored. Being a woman--prostitute, wife, mother, or none of the above--means your life can mean nothing to the police and national media.

Outskirts of Albuquerque.
Photo Credit: Mike Pedroncelli
The photo above and everything that follows is from AlterNet. Please click on the title to link back.

Two years ago today, in a story that shook me to my core, a woman walking her dog found a femur in the desert. She alerted the police, who began a three-month dig, covering a vast area of the mesa near my home. The police found the bodies of 11 women, one of whom was four months pregnant. Many of the women were close to my age and grew up here like me. Were brown like me. Had struggled here, like me.

But when these women were found dead, President Obama did not come to town. There was no jam-packed memorial to mourn their lives cut short. What we had instead were devastated families whose greatest fear had been realized when their daughter’s remains were discovered on the mesa.

As the story unfolded, terrible sounds echoed in my ears. Not the sounds of the shovels in the desert, but the sound of these lives being erased. Not only through death, but through the official description of the events. The women were not brave heroes who faced histories of poverty, abuse and trauma with the best tools they could find. They were “addicts.” And because they used drugs, many earned money the best way they could—by selling sex. And so they were “prostitutes.” The authorities thought the story could begin and end there: bodies found, case closed. 11 more prostitutes dead. Done.

The $100,000 reward for information leading to the killers was rarely advertised, and by most accounts from the families of the missing and dead, the police have been less than enthusiastic about pursuing the case. When challenged on their lack of results they said, “The only suspects we have are dead.”

I often found myself wondering if that would fly if these were 11 white college students found buried under a football field.

After the initial news accounts, many of us pounced on the local authorities for the language they were using to describe the women, for the shrug of the shoulders they seemed to use when talking about their “high-risk lifestyles.”

We held monthly vigils to memorialize the women and their lives. Over 400 people came out in force for our April vigil: Latinos, Native Americans, African Americans, immigrants, whites, the young and the old. All held hands, raised our heads, cried and sang.

And I knew we were winning hearts and minds when I received a phone call from the city administration asking me to remove the pink crosses we had left standing in the park because city workers refused take down our memorial, or to disgrace the crosses by putting them in the city dump.

We fanned the flames of something that was already here, in Albuquerque, in our barrios. Compassion, love and heartbreak. Even for women who use drugs, even for women who sell sex to buy them.

And we saw a change. After we called attention to the language the officials were using in the case, we saw a powerful shift in their words. Instead of prostitutes and addicts, they became women, mothers and daughters. The investigation remains open, if slow. The families have been connected, and can draw on each other for support.

There are many fronts on which we continue to fight this battle. There are three bills moving through the New Mexico legislature right now that would help. Together, they would work increase access for substance abuse and mental health treatment for young women and pregnant women. YWU and many other organizations, law-makers, health-care providers and families are working together to create an effective web of services.

These women are national heroes to us. If Obama had come to our stadium to help us mourn, remember, and make sense of these lives and deaths, he might have said this:

I want America to be as good as these women needed it to be. Let’s live up to their dreams, that this could be a country where you can be born without much, but live a life that is safe, and full of promise. Where you can get a good education, a job, a home. Where if you stray from the path, there are nets to catch you. Where you are never found dead, dismembered, and alone on a mesa.
Adriann Barboa is the Director of Young Women United in Albuquerque, where she was born and raised and lives with her two children.