Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I Love Angelina Jolie

I love Angelina Jolie.

Truth be known, I've had an epic crush on her ever since I saw her in the cult-hit Hackers when I was but a prepubescent teen. Here's another little secret. I've never stopped crushing on her.

But here's the thing. All the recent anti-Jolie hate which has arisen due to her bold choice to have a radical mastectomy has not sit well with me. In fact, quite frankly, it has pissed me off to the nth degree.

Most the people hating on her are completely uniformed. Those few who are informed usually neglect to acknowledge that at the end of the day, it's none of their concern. It's her body. Her right. She is allowed to do what she thinks is best for her. The rest can butt out. 

But that doesn't stop insensitive comments like this one from being made:

"A woman’s breast is the most eloquently powerful and universal symbol of the continuity of Life, and Woman as revered life-giver and nurturer. To convince a woman of Jolie’s status to publicly commit to such a vicious and unwarranted attack on her own body is a misogynisitic master-stroke of epic proportions."

Because, you know, women couldn't possibly be anything but a symbol for child rearing life-givers and nurturers, right?

Women couldn't possibly have minds of their own and, *gasp*, make them up without the influence of men who would seek to tell them what to do with their own bodies.

Sounds exactly like something a misogynist would say, if you ask me.

And maybe some of the criticisms raise valid concerns. But even the best of them come off sounding like Angelina Jolie made a rash decision that's likely to backfire. And that's simply not the case.

What she did was probably more difficult than any of the naysayers can imagine. In fact, I guarantee it. Unless they have had their own mastectomies, I highly doubt they could sympathize to the full extent with what she endured or the reasons why. 

It seems most people are just shocked at the fact that she would cut off her breasts without having cancer. But let's not forget, she based her choice off of hard science. And the science said she had over an 80% chance of developing cancer before her fifty-sixth birthday (she's thirty-eight now). 

Sure, the science could be off, give or take a small margin of error, but this is cutting edge genetics we're talking about. It's highly accurate because the amount of information involved in decoding the genes yields highly accurate results. It seems, given the information Jolie had, she made the right decision.

I commend her on her courage. It couldn't have been easy. 

I see women as people--as equals. It's how I can empathize with Angelina Jolie while her detractors attempt to trivialize what she did--and make it into some kind of controversy when it's clearly not.

In my mind Angelina Jolie is good people. Talented. Smart. Beautiful. Always. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Legalized Adolescent Marriage: A Form of Violence Against Women

Legalized Adolescent Marriage: A Form of Violence Against Women

Let's face it, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to realize that in nearly every society where religion has prospered, it has done so at the sake of women's liberties. Whereas the power has traditionally gone towards the male, and the patriarch, who are the gatekeepers not only to a life of stability (based on man-made economical schemes which value the woman only as chattel or breeding stock) but have also traditionally been the spiritual gatekeepers as well.

And, well, where has this gotten us as a society? Nowhere fast, that's for sure. Every society which oppresses its women by restricting them equal rights, such as the right to education, the right to vote, the basic right to live a life without having to rely on a man or be in fear of what will happen if she voices her female opinion in opposition to a man, creates an imbalance which ultimately degenerates society into a medieval anti-women mentality.

Religion maintains its power by suppressing and oppressing women. One of the ways religion does this is by physically and mentally oppressing women by marrying them off at shockingly young ages, before they have matured, where religious standards of marriage are imposed which contradict common sense. 

One of the worst forms of abuse against women, and one of the most violent forms of abuse, is legalized marriage.

Countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Yemen (highly religious Muslim countries) allow child marriages. Many religious countries do not discriminate between "age of consent" and "legalized marriage" as they have strict religious laws which would implicate the woman, and punish her, for having sex out of wedlock. This forces the woman to be a "slave" to her husband, and as such, marriage becomes a form of slavery.

There are over 64 million child marriages currently reported, all of them predominantly young girls being married off to older men, and the majority of them happening in highly religious societies.

The Islamic Republic in Iran recently issued a statement saying they will lower the legal age of marriage for girls down to 9 years old. This is on top of nearly 50,000 reported child marriage and almost 500 child marriages to girl under 10 since 2009.

All this is appalling to anyone who values the safety of children, but this is just the start of a bigger epidemic of child-rape culture and, in many cases, violent rape ending in death.

Consider this, the largest killer among girls 15-19 years old (globally) is adolescent child birth. How did these adolescent births come about? Mainly through child marriages. 

Some areas, like the Tambacounda region of Senegal, have child marriage rates as high as 75%. It should be no surprise to us then that the main religion of Senegal is Islam.

Although Islam is the worst offender of child-marriage-rape in the world today, it's only a small part of the problem. There is a lot of cultural accomodationalism going on too. In a recent discussion on this topic I saw on Facebook, one of the commenters made this statement:

This is, of course, accomodationalism masquerading as multiculturalism. We're supposed to respect other cultures and peoples, so who are we to say their practices are wrong, harmful, or damaging?

Well, there is a reason most civilized societies create laws protecting children. If history gives any indicator, children are always the victims. Children are defenseless in almost every conceivable way. As such, we as a society have erected child labor laws and set the age of consent to after sexual maturity where mental maturity is that of an adult. These laws are there to protect those who would otherwise be victimized. 

Anyone who disregards these basic, humane, rules for "cultural acomodationalism" are simply part of the problem. Like the person above, whether they realize it or not, they have agreed that child-rape (a synonym for adolescent child marriage) in Islamic countries is perfectly okay, because, after all, that's what they do.

But their comment reveals a dangerous form of ignorance. They have not, for example, taken the time to consider the damaging effects of adolescent child marriage--which is the largest killer of girls ages 15 to 19 in the world. Think about this. Men are raping girls as young as 13 and 14 in these countries that allow child marriages, and these children are DYING!!!

That's a huge problem. And if you think it's alright because this is simply what these countries do, then you're a fucking moron. Period.

Child rape is never alright. Adolescent child marriage is simply a form of rape, because let's face it, a girl who is 9 or 10 years old simply could not have given her full consent--mainly because she doesn't even know what saying "yes" entails. Do you honestly think that they sit the girl down and inform her that part of the marriage deal is that the 40 old man is going to tear into her with his penis, which will physically traumatize her for life if not cause some serious physical damage, and that she'll get pregnant and probably die of complications in child birth? But not to worry, she still has a few years until her 13th birthday before this heinous crime of child rape goes down, so until then, just enjoy life! Do you really think that's what they tell these little girls?


In fact. According to most statistics, keeping girls pregnant from early on not only creates a substantial health risk for her and her children, but it worsens the economic conditions of society as a whole when women are abandoned, divorced, neglected, and frequently left to poverty without a means for support, health care, or better opportunities since, in most cases, they were denied a proper education from as early as 9 and 10 years old since because were chosen to be child brides, aka breeders, all in the name of religious tradition.

The bottom line is this, legalized adolescent marriage is a form of violence against women. It needs to stop. And the only way it's ever going to stop is if we star spreading awareness about it.

If you want to help little girls and stop the terrifying reality of adolescent child marriage, please head over to The Girl Effect.org to learn more on what you can do to help.

Don't leave the future of these girls up to the men (and the cultures dominated by them) who would seek to exploit them and ruin them. Act now, and work toward making the world a better place, not just for girls, children, and women--but for all of us. 

Click to Enlarge

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Quote of the Day: Robert G. Ingersoll

"It is hard to overestimate the influence of early training in the direction of superstition. You first teach children that a certain book is true--that it was written by God himself--that to question its truth is a sin, that to deny it is a crime, and that should they die without believing that book they will be forever damned without benefit of clergy. The consequence is, that long before they read that book, they believe it to be true. When they do read it their minds are wholly unfitted to investigate its claims. They accept it as a matter of course....

"In this way  the brain of man has become a kind of palimpsest upon which, and over the writings of nature, superstition has scrawled her countless lies." 

--Robert G. Ingersoll 

You can find this quote in my republication of Ingersoll's key works in the collection Reason Against Blasphemy.  

Advocatus Atheist

Advocatus Atheist