Self-Immolation and Sexism

Hi everyone! Sorry that my first post after a long break is a downer, but I just had to write about this.

Earlier today, this article popped up in my Google Reader. The title is “The Arab World’s Horrific New Trend: Self-immolation.” Apparently, this new trend is men self-immolating in protest of their governments. Six men have lit themselves on fire in recent weeks. This is news-worthy! It’s something important that should be commented on! This is new!

Unfortunately, it’s not. In Afghanistan alone, over 100 women self-immolated in 2010.  Several times the number of results appear when googling “self-immolation Arab” than when googling “self-immolation Arab women.” Even when adding “women” to the search, the first few results are about the “new” trend of men self-immolating. Because these are just women, right? Who cares about them! They’re just hysterical laydeez overreacting to some tiny problems, like women always do. No, until men are doing it, it’s not important!

This issue clearly illustrates that sexism still exists in the media. Self-immolation by women in Arab countries has been a known and studied problem for years, something committed by hundreds of women in response to abuse and a lack of control over their own lives, and yet the media still reports a series of six self-immolations by men as a horrific, serious, new, trend that we should be concerned about.

Just another example of women’s lives and experiences being invisible.

Somehow, this is turning into a Metro blog…

So, probably most of you know about the 9/12 protests that happened in DC last weekend. I went down to check it out for Mom, and to send her a picture. There were a bunch of people, maybe even 70,000. That’s a lot of extra riders on the Metro!

Apparently, the tea partiers aren’t pleased with Metro’s level of service. They complained that it was too crowded, Metro should have prepared better, etc. “They have a point,” I can hear you thinking. “70,000 extra riders on a weekend – Metro should have prepared for that!”

But, you’d be wrong. For one thing, the event organizers only predicted 15-25,000 people, which would not have warranted additional rail service. And in addition, if they wanted early station openings, the organizers would have had to pay for it out of pocket anyway (like the Marine Corps Marathon does, for example).

AND, irony of ironies, what are they protesting? Government spending! What are they cranky about? A government-funded transportation system is inadequate! Would they be in favor of increasing the funding to resolve the inadequacies? No way! Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) wrote a letter to Catoe complaining about the inconvenience. He says that protesters “were frustrated and disappointed that our nation’s capitol” failed to “provide a basic level of transit for them.” Gee, Brady, where was this concern about Metro’s ability to provide a “basic level of transit” when you decided to vote against increasing its federal funding.

The PlumLine sums it up best:

[I]t’s a real head-spinner to bash a government-run system for failing to adequately serve an enormous anti-government protest after opposing government funding for it.

But Prince of Petworth commenter Jimmy D also has a good point:

[This] congressman, from Southwest Texas, unfamiliar with the metro system, and who has no vested interest in how this city works for the people that live and work here, has more say over its policies than the actual DC residents.

That’s why we need actual representation!

P.S. – I don’t know if you can tell by the number of links to different places reporting this story, but it’s kind of a big hit in DC right now. It combines three great loves of DC residents – making fun of tourists, discussing the Metro, and making fun of tourists riding the Metro!

Canada’s going to do WHAT?!

So, Canada wants to put on a really cool event, to show the visitors at a military conference held at their embassy how awesome they are. Obvs, the best way to do this is to set up a pretend Afghan village, right? Definitely! They’re going to have a pretend marketplace with pretend Afghans pretend shopping, and then, when the Canadian soldiers and US Marines come to pretend meet the pretend village leader, there’s going to be super-realistic (but ultimately pretend) IED explosions! Awesome and totally unproblematic, right? I mean, it’s not like having realistic explosion scenes in the middle of a busy city that’s only blocks away from the Capitol is going to cause some distress among the citizens who aren’t cool enough to be invited to the super-sweet pretend village! It’s not like that’s something that might actually happen since we live in a city with a huge concentration of political targets! Ha ha…?

Seriously, on my birthday, too. 😦 I’m really disappointed in how little effort the Canadian embassy has been putting into warning the citizens of DC. I heard about this through a DC blog I read, but they read about it in a Canadian newspaper. That paper says that there will be at least four explosions over two days. The whole thing is an effort to make more Americans aware of “how great the Canadian commitment is,” according to some Col. Martin.

Okay, this keeps getting better. The village is being constructed and run by Lockheed-Martin, and the explosions are being provided by Strategic Operations, Inc, “a California company that claims to bring the ‘magic of Hollywood’ to hyper-realistic training.” Lord knows, training for war needs as much magic as possible!

Also, the highlight is supposedly going to be that one of the pretend Afghans is going to be injured, and then a heroic Canadian medic is going to immediately offer first aid. Way to go Canada! You’re so tough!

Gah, this just seems so incredibly rude to me. The Canadians are angry at us Americans for not realizing how awesome they are, so they’ll show us! They’ll terrify us all by bringing to mind the visceral fear and panic experienced by millions on the day America was attacked by people bent on causing our destruction and bringing it all flooding back, without warning us that it’s not real, that it’s only a pretend, because they want us to know that war is serious and they are serious, too. We deserve it for not recognizing their incredible comittments, or something. Why else do little to nothing to alert citizens of DC, if not to raise the chances that ordinary citizens will think it’s real? This is Not. Cool. Canada.

This is kind of weird…

From the NY Times story about the return of Ingrid Betancourt, a French-Colombian woman who had been held captive by rebel forces in Colombia for six years:

“We were not expecting that particular moment,” said chief presidential aide Claude Guéant declared on France 3…

Mr. Guéant said that the French were informed of Ms. Betancourt’s liberation only shortly before Colombian news reports started to appear.

In contrast, American officials were “engaged in the planning stages,” according to a White House spokesman, Gordon D. Johndroe, and President Bush was kept apprised of the project. In addition, Senator John McCain, the likely Republican presidential nominee who had been visiting Colombia this week, said that President Alvaro Uribe and his defense minister had briefed him on the operation on Tuesday night.

Aside from the poor grammar (Mr. Guéant both said and declared how surprised they were), it’s shocking to me that the Colombian government would keep all of France’s leaders in the dark about their plan to rescue one of their citizens, yet they obviously had help from the United States. Bush knew about it, and not only that, but apparently President Uribe briefed John McCain! They don’t tell the French president, but they tell a U.S. presidential candidate about the rescue op for a French citizen?? So strange!

Unfortunately the article doesn’t talk any more about this weirdness, and there’s just a bunch of quotes from French people about how it’s all because of Sarkozy that she’s been rescued, and so on. I want to know more!!