Sexism: Olympics style.

(cross posted at kickin it with cg)

Since we are now full on in the Summer Olympic games in Bejing, now is the perfect time to discuss a hot issue here in Canada.  Namely Women's Ski Jumping in the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

In November 2006, the International Olympic Committee rejected the inclusion of women's ski jumping for the Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010. IOC President Jacques Rogge stated that only 80 women were competing in the sport and including it in the 2010 Games would dilute the value of medals won in other events.

Nearly all Olympic sports have both a men's and women's event, but the International Olympic Committee always has exempted ski jumping to let it be a male-only competition.  The IOC says its decision not to include women's ski jumping at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games is based on technical merit and isn't discriminatory.

However a coalition of international women ski jumpers filed a lawsuit against the Vancouver Organizing Committee in May challenging this decision. They argue that the women have been discriminated against because the Games allow only men's ski jumping. "The failure to include women's ski jumping events in the Games violates every woman's right to equal benefit under the law," according to the lawsuit filed in British Columbia Supreme Court in Vancouver.

In order to be considered for inclusion in the Olympic Games, a sport must have held at least two world championships. The first women's ski jumping world championships will be held this year in Liberec, Czech Republic.  

But some say the IOC is using the technical merit justification as an excuse.  Supporters of women's ski jumpers argue there are 135 women ski jumpers in 16 countries. This compares to other sports already in the Games like snowboard cross, which has 34 women from 10 countries, skier cross, which has 30 women from 11 nations, and bobsled, which has 26 women from 13 nations.  They also argue that women's marathon was added to the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles after a single world championship in 1983.  

Of note, is that the Canadian Government is fully supportive of the lawsuit and "would try to convince the IOC to include women's ski jumping at the Vancouver Games." David Emerson, Canada's federal minister responsible for the 2010 Games, said it's "extremely disappointing" women are not being allowed to ski jump at the Olympics.

"Ski jumping is an important sport and we're investing a lot in jumping and training facilities in Canada and to not have women able to participate on the same basis as men, to me, I just don't think it's right."

Deedee Corradini, who was the mayor of Salt Lake City when that city won the right to host the 2002 Winter Games, noted $580 million of Canadian taxpayers money has helped the Vancouver Olympic Games Organizing Committee (VANOC) build Olympic facilities.

"My understanding is it's against federal and provincial law in Canada to spend government money on facilities that discriminate," Corradini told a news conference Saturday at the Canadian ski jumping championships.

"To have a men's only sign on these ski jumps seems to be discriminatory and contrary to Canada's own human rights act."

Additionally a group of Canadian women ski jumpers have filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Right Commission, arguing the Olympic movement is discriminating against them.

While Corradini and members of the Canadian ski team are vocal in their dissent, the United States Ski and Snowboard Association is taking a more diplomatic tact.

The association is the governing body for ski sports in the U.S., including jumping. Tom Kelly, vice-president of communication, refused to say if he thought women were being discriminated against.

"We have great respect for the process the IOC has for bringing the sport into the Olympics.  We were disappointed when the IOC made it's decision (on 2010.)  We are very optimistic for 2014. The first world championships will be held next year and that is a critical event in the growth of the sport. When we get to the world championships, and the world sees what these women can do, that is a great message to send to the IOC."

As 16 year-old ski jumper Zora Lynch says"It's not about the competition between the sports. It's about gender equality and that kind of stuff."

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Stopping Rape in Indian Country

This post adapted from my personal blog, The Wayward Episcopalian, and personal correspondence.

Last Sunday's New York Times included an important OpEd about a little known and gravely overlooked subject that affects millions of Americans. One of my favorite Dartmouth professors, Bruce Duthu, penned an article about the astronomical rate of rape in Indian country, and proposed some solid solutions. One in three Indian women will be raped at some point in their lifetime, and the fault is partially that of the United States Supreme Court for denying Indians criminal jurisdiction over all persons traveling or living in Indian Country (the legally and culturally accepted term, so no PC worries). And unfortunately, those who do have jurisdiction - the feds - don't act.

I am planning on doing an independent study with Prof. Duthu next year about this very topic, making it one of the two largest projects I've ever tackled. Duthu's Native Americans and the Law class is one of the best courses I've had yet; he is one of the best professors at Dartmouth (he also teaches at Vermont Law), and his word on these issues is gold. Here is an excerpt from the OpEd, with background information below:

One in three American Indian women will be raped in their lifetimes, statistics gathered by the United States Department of Justice show. But the odds of the crimes against them ever being prosecuted are low, largely because of the complex jurisdictional rules that operate on Indian lands. Approximately 275 Indian tribes have their own court systems, but federal law forbids them to prosecute non-Indians. Cases involving non-Indian offenders must be referred to federal or state prosecutors, who often lack the time and resources to pursue them.

The situation is unfair to Indian victims of all crimes -- burglary, arson, assault, etc. But the problem is greatest in the realm of sexual violence because rapes and other sexual assaults on American Indian women are overwhelmingly interracial. More than 80 percent of Indian victims identify their attacker as non-Indian. (Sexual violence against white and African-American women, in contrast, is primarily intraracial.) And American Indian women who live on tribal lands are more than twice as likely to be raped or sexually assaulted as other women in the United States, Justice Department statistics show...

Even if outside prosecutors had the time and resources to handle crimes on Indian land more efficiently, it would make better sense for tribal governments to have jurisdiction over all reservation-based crimes. Given their familiarity with the community, cultural norms and, in many cases, understanding of distinct tribal languages, tribal governments are in the best position to create appropriate law enforcement and health care responses -- and to assure crime victims, especially victims of sexual violence, that a reported crime will be taken seriously and handled expeditiously.

But Prof. Duthu isn't one to just list problems and spread doom and gloom. Please, read the whole thing.

I forwarded this information out to several dozen people. To give you some background information on the issue, here is the response of a beloved and wonderful HS teacher of mine up in Idaho, and my reply to him:

This is really interesting and disturbing.  It appears to be a by-product of the Indians' long-established self-jurisdiction.  It's the same thing that allows you to buy "real" fireworks on the reservation, but not five miles away on non-Indian land.  It's probably too easy and obvious to ever be considered, but it seems that the Indian gov't and the feds simply have to agree that certain crimes will be prosecuted by the feds, regardless the race of victims and perpetrators.  That line about lacking time and resources bothers and confuses me.  Do they lack time and resources to investigate and prosecute the same offenses when they don't involve Indians? A related question... is whether the Indian officials (or the culture, in an informal way) choose to ignore/allow this crime.

Me:

I'm a Native American Studies (double with Government) major, and did a bit of study with Prof. Duthu on this subject last summer. The problem comes from a 1978 Supreme Court decision [Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe] that denied Indians criminal jurisdiction over non-Natives on Native land. I read the decision, and it makes no legal sense. If a Montanan commits a crime in Idaho, Idaho arrests him. If an American commits a crime in France, France arrests him. Since the Indians are sovereign over their reservations (per the Constitution, treaty agreements, prior Court decisions, and basic legal logic), you would think they'd have that same jurisdiction. Though most scholars agree, the Court didn't.

As a result, jurisdiction over non-Natives was turned over to the feds. When an Indian rapes someone on a reservation, the Indian cops can bust him, but not when the rapist is white or Latino or black or whatever. No, Indian officials certainly don't ignore these crimes, but the Supreme Court stripped them of the authority to do anything about it. Only the feds have jurisdiction, yet the Justice Dept. rarely gets involved if there's no confession. They follow through on BIA claims at a lower rate than any other agency. It's no secret, then, that anyone not enrolled in a tribe can literally get away with murder in Indian Country, which is why, unlike the nation at large, the majority of rapes of Indian women are by strangers rather than acquaintances, and by men of different races.

Why are the feds so indifferent? Part of it is the FBI's narrow focus on corruption, immigration, and terrorism, giving other issues the short end of the stick. I doubt racism is a big issue here; that comes more into play at the local level. The only realistic solution is for Congress, which through legal quirks does have the ability to overturn this SC opinion, to give Indians the same jurisdiction over their sovereign territory that counties have over theirs, and to help tribal police the same way COPS helps city police.

And as far as the sale of fireworks goes, the same thing happens with some state boundaries. You can't buy "real" fireworks in Massachusetts, but drive five miles to New Hampshire, and there you are. That's just the reality of states' rights and federalism, which is actually a three-tiered system that includes the tribes, not just state and federal.

*

On a related note, you may have heard about legislation recently introduced by Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, aimed at increasing law and order in Indian Country. Duthu wrote his OpEd several months ago and the Times only just published it, so it doesn't mention the bill, which was introduced a week or three ago. I haven't read the text of Dorgan's legislation yet, but from what I've heard, it would give the feds a mandate and the resources to fill that mandate, which is better than the status quo but doesn't do anything about jurisdiction or sovereignty. In other words, it doesn't do nearly enough, and I am worried that it might make passage of further legislation more difficult. Normally I don't take the purist side in arguments of purism vs. pragmatism, but the small political power of the American Indian lobby makes this a special case, I think.

Update, August 18, 10:00AM: Trond Jacobson made an insightful and informative comment below that I hope you will all read. I am sticking its full text after the jump; here is the original link. I don't agree with every little nuance, but that's not what's important; I thank Trond for providing a wonderful historic understanding for this issue. I wasn't sure I could boil down history's complexities so didn't try; he tried and won.

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I don't get to tell you what rape is...

You don't get to tell a Negro what racist is.

Are we clear?

I'm trying to take that perspective close to heart, myself, so y'all let me know if I am strayin'. Taking that principle -- it pretty much tells you straight. The Clinton campaign was Racist, and the Obama campaign was sexist. You want to whitewash that, tone it down? Be my guest.

But please, people, remember the rules. If you step on someone, by saying that they don't know what something offensive is, and you ain't even in their fucking in-group -- that's you, Mr. WASP-on-the-outside. Yer damn fucking right people gonna be pissed.

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John McCain and topless women

Just read this story on the Huffington Post.  John McCain will be speaking at an event which will also include women wet-wrestling each other and a beauty pageant described as essentially a topless beauty pageant.

On Sunday, the McCain campaign announced that the Senator will participate in the Sturgis Rally 2008 at Buffalo Chip in South Dakota, an annual tribute to American veterans. The event is up the Arizona Republican's wheelhouse, attracting thousands of active duty and former servicemen, many who have a natural affinity towards the Senator. But it is hard not to notice the evocative, non-political sideshows that will literally surround McCain's speech. As the presumptive nominee takes the stage, the "Ringin' Wet & Wild" women's wrestling event will be taking place on the main amphitheater. Two hours before then , the "Miss Buffalo Chip Beauty Pageant - Bikinis on the Beach" will be staged on at a different venue. That affair is described by ESPN's Jim Caple as "essentially a topless beauty pageant. And occasionally bottomless, too."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/08/03 /topless-women-kid-rock-bi_n_116632.html

He's really endearing himself to democrats, feminists, and Hillary Clinton supporters, isn't he?  

But, this can't be all too surprising from a guy who has called his wife a trollop and ** and has publicly made jokes about rape, bestiality, the ugliness of Chelsea Clinton, and killing Iranians with cigarettes.

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Honey

(cross-posted at Clintonistas for Obama and Obama--Criticism and Support)

That's what I call my paternal grandmother. Before I was born, my grandparents each chose what they wanted me to call them. My dad's mom picked "Honey" because she said she'd never been called anything sweet before. That wasn't strictly true, but she did have a difficult upbringing and an overbearing husband. She grew up as "poor white trash," and why my grandfather married her, I'll never know. Honey taught me a lot of things, as a kid and as an adult, but I don't know that any of the lessons were good.

Sheltered though I was, I learned about sexism when I was a child, and my first experience with it was probably the most hurtful - though not the most damaging in terms of academic or professional advancement - because it was the most personal. When I was a young girl, I slowly began noticing that my paternal grandparents treated me rather differently than they treated my brother. He was cooed over and treasured in a way I hadn't been, he was given attention and praise in a way I wasn't. The differences seemed stark. At first, I couldn't figure out why it should be so - why would I be treated differently when I was so pretty, so intelligent, far kinder, and more polite? What had I done wrong? Hurt and uncomprehending, I finally thought to ask my mother, who I could always trust to answer my naïve, innocent questions in the same way: Truthfully. Gently but bluntly, she explained that my father's parents were children of the Depression and had been raised with an old Southern mentality that men were more valuable. My brother was more cherished, more loved, and more important in the eyes of my grandparents because he was the male heir, and because he would carry on the family name, whereas I, as a woman, would lose it when I married (in the old South, marriage was a question of when, not if). This was a difficult truth for a young overachiever to understand because it was something which had to be accepted rather than overcome; no amount of success on my part would ever make me equal.

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