Wednesday, April 29, 2009

On Torture

It is impossible to mock torture because torture itself is derision. It repudiates our commonly held value of physical sovereignty. Such antics as Limbaugh slapping his face and calling it torture, or Hannity offering to be waterboarded for charity are simply of the ignorance of those who have never felt powerless, hapless and without recourse to any manner of relief from being brutalized.

Torture never takes place in the sanitized atmosphere of the torture memos’ “calibrated waterboarding.” Torture sessions are never clinical. Torture takes place in a climate of lewdness, accompanied by jeers, sniggering, sweat, yelling and small and large acts of verbal and physical humiliation. Torture is of the cesspool of human pleasures; it shares the same fountainhead as slavery, serial killing, pedophilia, rape and battering, as well as the financial indifference that does not spare a second of concern over a widow on a pension whose savings will be dissipated in a ponzi scheme. Torture destroys what is supposed to be the inviolate link of human to human, that which makes us one species.

The perfect illustration for torture is the photo of the female soldier delighted by a wall of naked buttocks at Abu Ghraib. No pain here; just the destruction of the human sense of self-respect – both of the tortured and the torturer.

Torture survivors can tell you how a perfectly calibrated double open-hand slap over the ears can burst eardrums. Torture survivors can tell you how many mild open-hand slaps on the cheeks will ultimately bruise the jawbone, dislocate the jaw or shatter it into 14 small fractures. Torture survivors can tell you of the intense pain caused by irrational act of torturers plucking one’s eyebrows and eyelashes, a hair at a time. Torture survivors can tell you of the incandescent pain of hot candle wax dripped on the fingernails. Torture survivors can tell you of how the whole body convulses, the brain clamps down in panic over 15 seconds of water in the nose and mouth and lungs. No air, no air – your entire body screams. And if the dead can speak, they will tell you how difficult it is to calibrate human pleasure at such sessions of sadism, and of how an un-calibrated half-a-sec can lead to death.

Torture is derision. One cannot scoff at it. -- ##

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Data of Interest

From a GABNet Youth statement on sexual violence among US young people: Over 1 in 5 female students between the 9th and 12th grade reported physical or sexual violence, or both, from a dating partner. Between 30-50% of Latina, South Asian, and Korean immigrant women have been sexually or physically abused by an intimate male partner - a percentage well over that for the general national population of women. Women and girls living in poverty are twice as likely to be raped than those who are not. Despite this, only 2% of rapists are convicted and imprisoned.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Smith Acquitted by Appeals Court

Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith was acquitted by the Philippines Court of Appeals. Are you surprised? The decision was penned by three women judges. Are you surprised? Stand-in women are used throughout the political spectrum. I believe the other term Lerner uses for them is "deputy husbands."

The majority of humanity -- women -- have been trained by various political systems NOT to bond with one another and have thus failed to develop a sense of their collective self. Women have learned that to advance through any system sodden through with patriarchal values, they have to step on women who try to break through the construct (see The Matrix to understand this).

Events like this underscore the national demoralization that feeds the Philippine government's labor export program. Women are leaving by the hundreds of thousands, in the belief that whatever Elsewhere is, it's better than the situation at home.

Having spoken to hundreds of such migrant women, I have come to see how women see themselves faring in the Philippines (the subjective factor)impacts as strongly as the poverty blamed for migration (the material factor). Their constant mantra is simple: there are no possibilities and therefore no hope over there.

There will be virulent reactions to this post, I am sure. Actually, the foul-mouthed vitriol emanating from some males have been quite amazing (see comments on the Nicole post below). In a way, it explains why murder is the #1 occupational hazard for women in the US and why 51% of women killed here by their husbands are foreign-born. The compound of sexism and xenophobia is infinitely murderous. -- #

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Petition for Journalist

Please sign the Women's International Media Foundation petition to free US journalist Roxana Saberi who is imprisoned in Iran. The petition is at Or click on the title of this post to access the website. Thank you.