Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mazel Tov to Lorca Cohen, Rufus Wainwright, and Deputy Dad Jorn Weisbrodt on the birth of their daughter Viva Katherine Waiwright Cohen!

photograph of Lorca Cohen, new parent, and Martha Wainwright, new aunt, is from here
Who says I'm anti-dad? I'm all for gay men being able to raise children. (And lesbian women too!)

Congratulations to the man I once wanted to marry: Rufus Wainwright. Alas, he's taken--and busier now than ever. I'm only sorry his mum, Kate McGarrigle, didn't live long enough to get to meet the little girl. But, maybe, on some other plane of existence, she has and is getting to know her granddaughter. At least she'll have a wonderful Aunt Martha to know on this plane of existence. Years ago I saw both sibs perform together in Montreal and they were each fantastic.

I once called out Tim Wise for promoting the idea--and reality, no doubt--that his daughters are 'beautiful'. (He got quite pissy about it.) This word 'beautiful' MUST be used to describe girls. It MUST. It's a social law as entrenched and intransigent as any. To NOT call a girl baby 'beautiful' is to insult her and parent(s). This imperative doesn't exist for boy-babies; they can be cute, or "daddy's little bruiser" or whatever. Not 'pretty', maybe. But they can be beautiful too. They just don't HAVE to be. This is not just sexist and heterosexist. It is discriminatory on many levels, often functionally racist and classist, as only people with a collection of privileges tend to be identified as 'beautiful' once grown up. It's most often blond white thin young women who society-at-large assumes are heterosexual.It is part of what instills in girls a sense that their value is their physical appearance--whether or not it is pleasing to others, particularly to men who hold the most power to name beauty and punish those who aren't seen as beautiful. Of course women named beautiful by men are also abused by men. There is no socially safe option for girls and women.

This repetitive, ubiquitous, compulsory calling of girls 'beautiful' is done in a society in which girls, increasingly younger and younger ones, are trafficked and sexualised for men's entertainment and predation. Hopefully Lorca Cohen, Rufus, and Deputy Dad Jorn can keep those predatory het men away from their girl-child. Please note how emphatically the term 'beautiful' makes an appearance in the announcement below.

I pray that Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen, and all newborn girls, and all little girls will a know a life free of het men's intimate abuses. Tragically, no one will be able to avoid the institutional abuses.

On a cheerier note, how wonderful that Viva gets her mother's last name! That's a nice matrilineal touch. Far too little of that going on in my family and life experience. But maybe this'll catch on in the white Christian patriarchal West. This ethnically Jewish child is of Canadian, Lithuanian, and Polish heritage; and, specifically, she is a Cohen/Kohen. For those who don't know what that means, please see *here*.

My blessings and best wishes to the new family. Mazel Tov!!

[Source website for what follows is, *here*.]

Rufus Wainwright Welcomes Daughter Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen

Like Elton John and Neil Patrick Harris before him, Rufus Wainwright managed to sneak his new fatherhood beneath your prying eyes. The singer announced on his website that he and partner Jorn Weisbrodt are the proud new fathers of daughter Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen, born Feb. 2. "The little angel is evidently healthy, presumably happy and certainly very very beautiful," the note reads. "Daddy #1 would like to offer everyone a digital cigar and welcome the little lady in with a French phrase from his favorite folk song, A La Claire Fontaine : 'Il y a longtemps que je t'aime, jamais je ne t'oublierai.'"

A reader relays that Rufus actually dedicated a song to Viva at his sister's concert last Friday while appearing on stage with Martha, who was performing an Edith Piaf collection, though he didn't mention at the time who this Viva person was. And the fourth name Cohen? That would belong to Lorca Cohen, who carried Viva and is the daughter of Leonard.

Feminist Resources: Protective Mothers Alliance: Working to Make Justice Real for Women and Children. Working to Hold Accountable Abuser Husband-Fathers and their Pro-Patriarchal Attorneys

image is from here

We must realise that courts are patriarchal spaces. Juries are people who, often enough, see the world through the lenses of patriarchs. Male supremacy is the law of most lands which means men rule and men are presumed to be truth-tellers unless proven otherwise. Male supremacist rule means women are perpetually seen as wh*res, b*tches, and unrepentant liars, unless or until, as a class, they can prove otherwise, to the satisfaction of men as a class.

In such a world, women who speak out against their husbands' or ex-husbands' abuses of them are targeted by the abusers' attorneys as unfit mothers because they endured abuse and because they are committing abuse--against the patriarchal perp-parent. They are painted in ugly portraits by misogynistic attorneys who make the case that such liars, such anti-man monsters should not be custodial parents. This is accomplished while the husbands, ex-husbands, and their attorneys lie through their terroristic teeth.

The few women who are able to get to a courtroom are encouraged to keep silent about men's private violence, his private predation, his private abuses, because it will reflect badly on HER and make her custody suit less likely to result any mother having sole or primary custody of her children. If courts see the mother as putting down the holy husband he gets full custody, including of children he emotionally, physically, and sexually assaults.

This is so common as to be normal. And it is a normal violation of any understanding of human rights. When men fight for "father's rights" or "men's rights" what they reveal is something they don't intend to reveal: they are not humane and they care not at all about human rights for oppressed people. They only care about preserving the rights patriarchal societies and its institutions give them, unjustly.

"Domestic violence" is not the problem. Patriarchal violence is. The social atrocity is men terrorising and abusing women and children globally. That some women might occasionally "strike back" doesn't mean "domestic violence goes both ways". And if there are women who yell at their husbands and hit them without leaving a bruise, that isn't "both ways" either, because most women learn that raising their voice to their husbands will result in them being beaten, raped, or killed. So the few women who do raise their voices to their terrorist husbands are doing so at great risk. What risk is there to husbands, globally, who raise their voices and their fists to their wives? Usually, none. There is usually no risk because it's a man's world where women have not "come a long way, baby".

image of U.S. 1970s print ad is from here
Ads like this one proliferated in the 1970s in the U.S. as a way of corporately co-opting the Women's Liberation Movement. Suddenly, "liberation" meant having access to "your own cigarette". (Cough.) Anyone who believes feminists of any color control advertising media are delusional. Women aren't in charge and never were. Men have ruled every economic, social, political, legal, medical, educational, and religious institution since those institutions, globally while not universally, since they came into existence. That some men think feminists have "gone too far" only means that for many men, the mere existence of feminist campaigns to end sexism and misogyny equals "going too far".

We must keep in mind that even within the G8 countries, there are some where homosexuality and transsexuality for men is allowed to exist, but lesbianism is not. Not that homosexuals and transsexuals have the same rights to be free of men's exploitation and abuse that heterosexual men have. But, at the very least, they get to exist. Did you know there are countries, industrialised, "developed" countries, where lesbianism isn't allowed and doesn't socially exist? Did you know there are countries which socially, tacitly permit men (who are heterosexually married to women) to have sex with other men on the side? Women who marry men cannot have sex with women at all, unless the husband demands it for his own entertainment. How "equal" does that sound to you? Did you know there are countries--developed, industrialised ones--where men's rape of women, if it happens inside a marriage, is not legally considered to be rape because it is her duty to fulfill his sexual needs, as he and the court and the government defines them?

We must keep in mind the conditions in which most women live: poverty, patriarchy, and predation. Men are at war against women, not with women. Men terrorise women and it is never called Terrorism by governments such as the U.S.'s. Why? What part of terrorism isn't happening to women by men? To those who answer "It isn't organised", I'll remind you that Men's Rights groups and Father's Rights groups are very well-organised indeed, and are usually run by white class-privileged men. They have influence in many countries. They are the gendered equivalent of White Rights and Aryan Rights groups--which are also all run by men, often men with less class privilege than the Men's Rights groups. This means, structurally and politically speaking, Men's Rights groups have more power than White Nationalist groups. Whether in the service of men who are white, or whites who are men, these organisations are well-networked and international. This means women of all colors are not free, baby.

All that follows is from Protective Mothers Alliance.

Please Listen to our latest BLOGTALKRADIO here


Protective Mothers Alliance International (PMA) is an international organization co founded/codirected by Lundy Bancroft and Janice Levinson. The PMA family consists of protective mother-driven advocates working together as a tight team for change.

PMA is working toward bringing about dramatic reform in family court for protective mothers and their children. PMA advocates for change through education, legislation reform, enforcement of current legislation, community and media outreach and other strategies that may be effective and beneficial. PMA supports the efforts of protective mothers in keeping themselves and their children safe from the abuse of a former partner, and in empowering these mothers to become advocates for themselves and others.

Among the many common family law practices we work to stop are:

Custody of children granted to men who abuse women; those who abuse/have abused children; those who are perpetrators of sexual abuse towards children; and the granting of unsupervised contact with children to abusers with no requirement that they overcome their abusiveness.

Other issues include:
Labeling protective mothers as parental alienators and punishing them for their appropriate protective efforts; using biased tests, and misusing psychological tests to support abusers; forcing protective moms to spend excessive amounts of money on prolonged, unnecessary litigation, and much more.

PMA administrators, chapter leaders and members are working together as a tight team to change harmful practices that eliminate, or restrict loving, biological mothers from the lives of their children.

Disclaimer: A note to all protective mothers and advocates who are interested in solidarity, teamwork and joining Protective Mothers Alliance International with the goal of helping us stop family court abuse.

PMA International is an advocacy organization. We do not get involved in personal cases and cannot give out legal advice, as we are not attorneys. However, we may be able to give some referrals and guidance because of our personal experiences with family court.

Due to the sensitive nature of the work that we do, PMA has a professional security team and a small group of attorney's who protect our organization and our protective mothers.

Protective mothers and advocates interested in joining PMA or receiving some referrals and/or guidance from our staff, must undergo a screening process. Anyone who desires to join our many groups on facebook and other venues must also undergo a screening process. This is for the protection of our organization, children, mothers and advocates. For more information on this screening process and how you can help join us in our fight to stop family court abuse, please email us at
Thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation in this matter.

When Men Claim a Special Connection to God, or to Be God: Beware. Notes on Ken Wilber and Neale Donald Walsch

photo of Ken Wilber is from here
It is often said that in today's modern and postmodern world, the forces of darkness are upon us. But I think not; in the Dark and the Deep there are truths that can always heal. It is not the forces of darkness but of shallowness that everywhere threaten the true, and the good, and the beautiful, and that ironically announce themselves as deep and profound. It is an exuberant and fearless shallowness that everywhere is the modern danger, the modern threat, and that everywhere nonetheless calls to us as savior.

We might have lost the Light and the Height; but more frightening, we have lost the Mystery and the Deep, the Emptiness and the Abyss, and lost it in a world dedicated to surfaces and shadows, exteriors and shells, whose prophets lovingly exhort us to dive into the shallow end of the pool head first.
  -- Ken Wilber (Sex, Ecology, Spirituality)
See also:
I used to read the work of men like Ken Wilber and Neale Donald Walsch. Of the two, I prefer Walsch's work, as it is less egocentric. I say this while noting that what brought him fame and fortune is a claim that he's speaking directly with G-d and writing down the conversations. Perhaps he is. But his god is one of his own creation; it is not beyond him. I am intrigued with his work and have benefited by reading it. Ken, on the other hand, seems endlessly confused about whether or not he is G-d.

I've read a lot by a lot of white men, especially by white het-identified men such as Ken and Neale. Credit to both men--they give regard and respect to feminism, as each understands it. But neither man puts women of color in the center of their analysis or offers up a way for men to collectively and radically transform social institutions, such as the one wherein white men are made into gods.

Ken, generally, ignores the philosophies and political analyses of women of color, for example. In his work detailing feminism, dividing it up in ways that make no sense at all, dissing radical feminists of color and radical women of color in the most off-handed stereotypically racist-misogynistic ways, he purports to be an expert on everything under the sun.

Consider his completely inaccurate summary of radical vs. liberal feminism in the U.S.:
"According to most radical feminists, one of the special strengths of women is their ages-old connection with the Earth, with nature, with embodiment (in fact, a good summary of the female value sphere according to radical feminism would be 'embodiment in communion'). The radical feminists maintain that women's special association with embodied nature needs to be honored and cherished and celebrated. The connection of woman and nature is the source of female power and freedom and liberation.

According to most liberal feminists, it is precisely the opposite. The equation of woman and nature, they maintain, is the primary and overwhelming source of female oppression. The woman/nature "identity," they believe, has been the primary identification that men have, throughout the ages (literally from day one), used to keep women locked out of the noosphere (out of the public, productive, legal, cultural, power-wielding sphere). 'Woman = nature' translates directly into "barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen," and the liberal feminists are alarmed that the radical feminists are even thinking such thoughts, let alone championing them." [both paragraphs appear on page 186 of Sex, Ecology, and Spirituality by Wilber.]
He has clearly not studied or learned from the written work of Patricia Hill Collins or Catharine A. MacKinnon.

Wilber repeatedly discusses women as if women of color around the world don't exist. He makes no mention of feminism rising out of the experiences and values of Indigenous and Black women, for example. He assumes any significant thought rose wholesale out of the minds of white people or South or East Asian men.

He also arrogantly promotes as in-valid the phenomena, or, er, atrocities, of the rape and murder of children and woman in ritual abuse cults. His work dovetails with those who cry out that "false memory syndrome" is responsible for all those girls and women calling out their fathers and husbands as predators and perpetrators of sexual assault. Specifically, on pages 161 and 163 of Wilber's supremely egotistical tome, "A Brief History of Everything" (not quite), he decides it is important to note that because the FBI has found no evidence of cult ritual abuse murders, none have occurred. How he knows all of what the FBI has found that has not been reported is beyond me. Why he thinks the Fed. Bur. of Investigation has complete knowledge of things like ritual child sexual abuse in cults has more to do with needing to prove his points than it does with any sincere interest in stopping men (and some women) from molesting, raping, and murdering children inside or outside of cults.

He also promotes to the most privileged white people out there that they are capable of moving toward "Enlightenment" without detailing how structural political positions and social power maintain forms of ignorance that no amount of meditation will remedy.

As a former colleague, Matthew Dallman, aptly notes about Ken and his work [source: here]:

"I realize that I face no small sticky wicket in this critique. Wilber's writings as a spiritual theorist have garnered a rather large following. Included in that following are people of various degrees of seriousness, scholarly experience, exposure to philosophy, sober analytic skills. He draws from both New Age as well as academic crowds. He is smart enough to know the buttons that lure divergent demographics. He is excellent at taking full advantage of the plausible deniability built into every aspect of his work. I might be wrong, but to me he assumes that people won't read the various primary sources he uses to make his assertions. I believe his aims include being a special kind of contemporary guru: all the comforts, none of the responsibility. Many things over the years that he said he was NOT going to do he has done: from creating a Hegel-like system, to becoming a de facto guru, to coordinating an outfit equivalent to EST or Landmark Education Forum. I believe for his next trick, he will for all practical intents and purposes attempt to create a new religion."

I like a lot of what Wilber has written. I found it intellectually stimulating and I appreciate his comprehensive analytic abilities. I don't think he's especially dangerous. There are far more white het male writers who wouldn't even bother to try and summarise what any form of feminism is. Most WHM ignore feminism altogether as completely preposterous, silly, or man-hating. Wilber is smarter and wiser than they are. But, alas, he's not god. And Neale Donald Walsch speaks with a dimension of himself that is wise in many ways, and again, I've benefited from reading some of his books.

I just wonder about white men who have websites that look like those linked to at first mention of their names in my first paragraph of this post.

Putting down people is easy. Too easy. And it is almost always done to aggrandise or uplift oneself. In an effort to keep such impulses of my own in check, I'll add that I don't think either Ken Wilber or Neale Donald Walsch are fools. My point in critiquing them isn't to turn them into charlatans or con-artists. I think each is sincere in the work they do. I do believe each man has genuinely loved specific women in their lives in ways women are not loved often enough. I don't think either man is a virulent misogynist. I just don't think their voices are worthy of all the fame and fortune, of all the attention and readership. I think, for example, that the U.S. would be a better place if all the people who read those two men instead carefully, thoughtfully read the collected works of Andrea Dworkin and Audre Lorde, along with Yurugu, by Marimba Ani and Conquest by Andrea Smith. And it saddens me that this is not likely to occur--that most white men will never pick up a book by any feminist, let alone read it with regard or respect, and care and compassion.

Until the writings of radical women--white and of color, are regarded as just as profound, wise, intelligent, and important as the liberal writings of white men, we are doomed to witness and endure the ravages of white male supremacy. And until whites and men welcome women of color into the centers of white and male social justice movements and their religious institutions, as leaders, we will not see much change, radically.

Who's Your Psychopath? (I mean "Husband", or "Daddy".)

image is from a very chilling blog about a horrid abuser of a woman by her father, here
I'm not sure about using a term like "psychopath aggressors" (see below) when being aggressive is normally encouraged among men, and when being dangerous isn't all that unusual. "Psychopath" generally means someone who significantly deviates from the norm. Given that the norm for men is to be oppressive, controlling, and abusive to women, how can being an abusive husband or father be called "psychopathic"? The terms of mental illness are used in courts and classrooms, in media and by the military, to not name what's really going on. This is to say, the problem, socially, isn't that some men are mentally ill. It's that they've been socialised to be men and feel entitled to exercise power they have structurally, positionally, in many social hierarchies that aren't at all "psychological". And, some men are, clinically speaking, psychopaths. But who gets clinically diagnosed? Very few people. Among the population of people who have access to mental health care, or whatever it's erroneously called, more women than men are likely to seek out support with mental health issues, not getting to speak with anyone who will validate that the personal-social roots of being aggressed against by men, of being terrorised by men, or of having post-traumatic stress due to invasions and violations by men, are normal while atrocious. Which means more women than men will be diagnosed with mental illness. With all that said, please read on. I don't have an online link to it as it is an offline document.

In the twenty years I have been advising parents, children, and their legal advisers in several hundred cases in Family Law matters, I have often been asked, “Why is it that children are so often ordered to have contact with, and even into the custody of, parents who have abused them and have perpetrated violence against their partners.”
The answer to this question is not simple and involves an examination of the requirements of Family Laws which stress the importance of children having both parents in their lives after parental separation, the dynamics of legal processes, and the often very clear gender biases of the principals involved in judicial processes.
But one of the most outstanding and consistent features of proceedings involving the care of children post-separation are the conduct and behaviours which can be identified as clearly fitting the definitions of psychopathy/sociopathy.
The major personality traits of the psychopath are supremacy and narcissism. The afflicted individual must be in complete control of their environment and all persons who are a part of that environment or can serve the psychopaths purposes in maintaining control.
The psychopath is capable of using both physical aggression and passive aggression with cunning and guile, to achieve their goals of exerting control. Examples of such contrary behaviours are the aggressive violence against an intimate partner, with the frequent inherent abuse of children, and to groom friends, relatives, and professionals into believing they are harmless and indeed a very stable and friendly person. If thwarted in attaining these goals however, the passive can quickly turn into the aggressive.
In furtherance of these traits, the major tactics and ploys of the psychopath are:
1. Denial of wrongdoings in the face of clear evidence;
2. Refusal to take responsibility for behaviours and actions;
3. Minimise the incident and consequences;
4. Blame others;
5. Misrepresent, fabricate, embellish, and distort information and evidence;
6. Minimise all information and evidence regarding wrongdoing;
7. Claim victim status alleging the victim was the aggressor;
8. Project their own actions and behaviour onto the victim; e.g. she abuses/neglects the children/ she is an alcoholic or drug abuser. This is based on the belief by the psychopath that attack is the best form of defence.
The `Grooming’ of friends, relatives, and professionals is very clear in many cases and in particular how some psychiatrists, psychologists, Family Evaluators/Reporters have been hoodwinked by such tactics and ploys by the psychopathic individual. Their reports of course favouring the psychopath have very considerable influence on the Courts and their determinations. Very often clear evidence of intimate partner violence such as convictions, Domestic Violence Orders, Apprehended Violence Orders and Restraining orders against the psychopathic aggressor and medical evidence of injuries suffered by the adult and child victims are ignored or dismissed as irrelevant by such professionals.
Such professionals now refer to such cases as `High Conflict’ cases when it is clear that they are situations of a violent Aggressor/Tormentor/Persecutor and their victims. It is easy to see how the cases in Austria and America where young girls were imprisoned for many years by controlling individuals and regularly abused in several ways were undetected, when the aggressors /persecutors / tormentors were able to convince their family members, relatives, and associates that they were reasonable, normal people. The same often occurs in other cases of violence and murder where neighbours report that the accused murderer is a `nice and friendly neighbour’. They do not recognise the Jekyll and Hyde aspects of the psychopath’s ploys and tactics and those they have effectively groomed in their beliefs.
The `High Conflict’ which usually occurs in such cases is most commonly engendered by the respective lawyers, conditioned by operating in an adversarial process and arena, and whose own major goal is to `win’, whatever may be the justness and fairness of the result.
It is not difficult to see therefore how the psychopath is able to readily gain the sympathy and support of some of the professionals engaged in the Family Law system and for them to abandon and forfeit their professional objectivity and impartiality in such circumstances. In `Blaming others’ the psychopath will allege the former partner is mentally ill and in some cases the former partner may be suffering a Complex Post Traumatic Disorder after suffering years of physical, mental, and sexual abuse and violence. This is often misinterpreted and misdiagnoses a Borderline Personality Disorder or similar psychiatric term. In effect it is a classic `Blame the victim’ scenario.
The groomed professionals then enable the psychopath to achieve their primary objective which is to maintain power and control over their victims, their former partner and children. It is an act of vengeance and spite but mostly it is to maintain the power and control and feelings of supremacism and narcissism. “I am faultless and flawless and in control of my whole environment” are the unvoiced cravings of the psychopath, and “I can continue to inflict my tortures on my victims with impunity” are the psychopaths continuing behaviours.
The Family Law and their Shared Parenting provisions and its administration by the Family Courts have become ready enablers for the psychopath.

Charles Pragnell
Independent Advocate for Children and Families