Category Archives: Feminism

Australian women could fight in Afghanistan under government plans to scrap gender barriers


Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard Photo: AFP

Women fight for militaries around the world but rarely if ever are allowed to take the jobs most closely associated with soldiering – those focused on ground combat in close quarters and even hand to hand. That may be about to change in Australia.

Telegraph | Jul 4, 2011

A policy overhaul to be decided by Cabinet within weeks would remove all gender barriers from the military next year, arguably making the Australian Defense Force the world’s leader on gender equality.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the first woman to lead Australia, and Defense Minister Stephen Smith are among those calling for the change. Smith has said that “what you do in the forces should be determined by your physical and intellectual capability or capacity, not simply on the basis of sex.”

Questions remain, however, about whether troops and the public are ready for women to serve in combat roles.

If Australia’s Cabinet supports the policy change it would be in place by the end of 2012. That could give Australian women a chance to qualify for infantry roles in Afghanistan before 2014, when the country plans to withdraw its 1,550 troops.

Gender boundaries have been steadily retreating in Australian defence services for years.

The government announced last month that women sailors will be allowed to bunk with men in submarines. Previously women had to sleep in female-only six-berth cabins. The shift will enable more women to fill a shortage of submariners by allowing more flexibility in assigning crews.

Australian women also can pilot attack helicopters and fighter jets. The positions closed off to them are mostly in the army, and include infantry, parachute, commando, special air services, artillery, tank and armoured cavalry.

Australia’s current policy on women in the military is similar to those of other countries in Afghanistan, including the United States, Britain, Canada and New Zealand. None allow women in roles where their primary function is to fight enemies at close range, though women are trained to be combat-ready and can potentially find themselves in such gunfights.

Even Israel, which drafts both men and women and is often cited as an example of gender equality in the military, does not allow women to serve in front line ground units such as infantry, armour or special forces.

The Australian government announced its commitment to removing gender barriers after a sex scandal broke at the officers’ academy in April. A female cadet accused a male cadet of secretly filming the pair having sex and showing it two his friends via the internet. Two male cadets were charged by police over the incident.

Critics say the government overreacted by ordering six inquiries into issues including the scandal, the treatment of women in the academy and career pathways for women in defence.

Australian defence officials are devising a series of tests to determine whether an individual soldier is physically capable of coping with combat conditions regardless of gender.

The current combat fitness test includes climbing a 16-foot (5-metre) rope twice without touching the ground while carrying a rifle and wearing a helmet. A soldier wearing a helmet also must carry a soldier similarly dressed over his shoulder while carrying both their weapons 160 yards (150 meters).

There has been no suggestion that those requirements could be reduced, but Neil James, executive director of the Australian Defense Association, said that overseas experience shows that less than 3 per cent of women soldiers would be able to pass them. Women most often fail on the rope climbing because it requires considerable upper body strength, he said.

The association, a respected security think-tank, said there are biomechanical differences between the sexes – differences in muscle distribution, centres of gravity and rate of recovery from physical exertion – that make even physically strong women more vulnerable in combat.

In peacetime training exercises, Australian women soldiers are at least five times more likely than men to be incapacitated by injuries to backs, knees and ankles because of biomechanical differences in load-bearing abilities, the ADA said, citing Defense Department records.

“For a range of operational, moral and occupational health and safety reasons, it would not be fair to our female soldiers to expect them to fight male soldiers continually in a person-to-person physical sense,” the ADA said in a recent issue paper.

The ADA compared combat roles to the sports world. It said there were no serious calls for women to be included in top-tier football teams, for instance, and noted that battlefields are tougher environments.

Eva Cox, spokeswoman for the feminist lobby group Women’s Electoral Lobby, dismissed the ADA arguments as “a lot of rubbish.”

“To decide that women can’t do something because they’re women and men can’t do something because they’re men is just ridiculous,” Cox said.

“The basis of the decision should be your physical capacity to meet certain criteria, not whether you’ve got particular chromosomes,” she added.

Cox believes that Australian society now supports eliminating gender barriers, even in the army, though media commentators have been split on the subject.

Even without serving in the same intense combat roles, Australian women returning from overseas deployments have been referred for mental health treatment at double the rate of their male comrades, a recent Defense Department study found.

The military has been publicly supportive of the new regime to test combat readiness, but not all soldiers are keen on the idea of women serving in such roles as the infantry.

Army Cpl. Stuart Heeney wrote in a letter to “The Soldiers’ Army” newspaper recently that women should remain barred from infantry units because “it will change the dynamic due to human nature.”

“Blokes will be more interested in impressing women than focusing on their job,” he wrote.

The almost 8,000 women in Australia’s army, navy and air force account for less than 14 per cent of total troop numbers and commanders are keen to recruit more.

Scientists: “Inefficient” sex will no longer be used to make babies in just 10 years, as couples turn to IVF

Life begins: A scientist is pictured screening sperm for use in in vitro fertilisation (IVF), but will take over as the main way for couples to conceive?

Daily Mail | May 17, 2010

By Daniel Martin

Couples will stop having sex to conceive babies within a decade and use IVF instead, scientists said yesterday.

They say 30-somethings will increasingly rely on artificial methods of fertilisation because natural human reproduction is ‘fairly inefficient’.

It means that in future, sex will be nothing more than a leisure activity  –  the latest blow to the Christian idea that the role of sex is to produce children.

If the experts are right, it means the sci-fi world of books such as Brave New World, in which all children are born in ‘hatcheries’, could soon be closer to reality.

And it raises ethical questions over whether greater use of IVF will lead to eugenics, with couples screening out characteristics they regard as undesirable.

The startling vision of the future comes from John Yovich, a veterinary doctor from Murdoch University in Perth, Australia.

He believes IVF can ease the pressure on couples who have delayed having children to pursue a career, because going for the test-tube option will be more effective than trying for a baby naturally.

Even young adults have no more than a one-in-four chance every month of reproducing through sex. Among the over-35s, this falls to one in ten.

This compares to the near 100 per cent success rate that Dr Yovich believes will be possible with IVF within ten years.

Dr Yovich, co-author of a new report in the journal Reproductive BioMedicine, said: ‘Natural human reproduction is at best a fairly inefficient process.

‘Within the next five to ten years, couples approaching 40 will assess the IVF industry first when they want to have a baby.’ He based his hunch on the fact that in cattle, IVF works almost every time. He said there was no reason that success rate could not be replicated in humans.

His co-author, fellow Australian vet Gabor Vajta, said test-tube embryo production in cattle was 100 times more efficient than natural means. He said there was no reason why IVF in humans should not become 100 times more efficient than sex.

At present, IVF has only a 50 per cent success rate  –  among the most healthy couples.

Gedis Grudzinskas, a Harley Street infertility specialist, said: ‘It wouldn’t surprise me if IVF does become significantly more efficient than natural reproduction, but I doubt whether you could ever completely guarantee that it would work.’

In Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel Brave New World, human reproduction has been done away with and is replaced by a hatching process, in which groups of identical children are produced from surgically-removed ovaries and incubated in bottles.

Study: Baby girls and boys instinctively reach for stereotypical toys and colors according to gender

Baby girls make a beeline for dolls as soon as they can crawl – and boys will head for the toy cars, a study has shown

‘Politically correct’ efforts to steer children towards things they wouldn’t normally play with are doomed to failure.

Daily Mail | Apr 16, 2010

Why girls are naturally drawn to dolls as soon as they can crawl

By Jenny Hope

Baby girls make a beeline for dolls as soon as they can crawl – and boys will head for the toy cars, a study has shown.

With no prompting, they will choose the stereotypical toys for their gender.

The findings – the first to show consistent differences in very young babies – suggest there is a biological basis to their preferences.

This indicates that ‘politically correct’ efforts to steer children towards things they wouldn’t normally play with are doomed to failure.

Psychologists Dr Brenda Todd and Sara Amalie O’Toole Thommessen from City University London carried out an experiment involving 90 infants aged nine months to 36 months.

The babies were allowed to choose from seven toys. Some were stereotypically boys’ toys – a car, a digger, a ball and a blue teddy.

The rest were stereotypically girl toys: a pink teddy, a doll and a cooking set.

The infants were placed a metre away from the toys, and could pick which ever they pleased.

Their choice, and the amount of time they spent playing with each toy was recorded.

Of the youngest children (nine to 14 months), girls spent significantly longer playing with the doll than boys, and boys spent much more time with the car and ball than the girls did.

Among the two and three-year-olds, girls spent 50 per cent of the time playing with the doll while only two boys briefly touched it.

The boys spent almost 90 per cent of their time playing with cars, which the girls barely touched.

There was no link between the parents’ views on which toys were more appropriate for boys or girls, and the children’s choices.

The researchers presented their study yesterday at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference in Stratford on Avon.

Dr Brenda Todd said: ‘Children of this age are already subject to a great deal of socialisation. Boys may be given “toys that go” while girls get toys they can nurture which may help shape their preferences.

But these findings are consistent with the idea of an intrinsic bias in children to show interest in particular kinds of toys.

‘There could be a biological basis for their choices. Males through evolution have been adapted to prefer moving objects, probably through hunting instincts, while girls prefer warmer colours such as pink, the colour of a newborn baby.’

Working mums have the unhealthiest children, research finds

The analysis showed that mothers who worked full-time had the unhealthiest children, followed by those who worked part-time.

London Times | Sep 29, 2009

by Sam Lister

Children brought up by mothers who work are less healthy and more likely to have poor dietary habits and a more sedentary lifestyle, research suggests.

Mothers in full-time work, including those who work flexible hours, were found to have children who eat too few portions of fruit and vegetables, watch more television and consume more fizzy drinks than the children of mothers who stay at home.

The research, published today in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, involved more than 12,000 British schoolchildren born between 2000 and 2002 who are part of the Millennium Cohort Study. Trends being explored include the rise in childhood obesity and policies that have encouraged women to return to work.

Researchers questioned mothers about the hours they worked and their children’s diet, exercise and activity levels when the youngsters were aged 5. They also asked how long their childdren spent in front of a TV or computer. About 30 per cent (4,030) of the mothers had not worked since giving birth but the rest (8,546) were employed. On average they worked 21 hours per week and for 45 months.

Catherine Law, of the Centre for Paediatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Institute of Child Health, University College London, told The Times the analysis showed that mothers who worked full-time had the unhealthiest children, followed by those who worked part-time.

Making use of flexible working arrangements while in full-time employment did not appear to improve a child’s habits, she added. “We have seen the rising rates of childhood obesity and the rise in initiatives to get women back to work, and that is what this research explores,” Professor Law said.

The latest research backs findings from 2007 in the Millennium Cohort Study suggesting a possible link between parental working habits and child health — suggesting that children at the age of 3 were more likely to be overweight if their mothers worked. Both studies took into account factors that might influence the results, such as socioeconomic background, single-parent families and household income.

Researchers on the latest paper concluded that with approximately 60 per cent of British women with a child aged 5 or younger in employment, more support was needed. “For many families the only parent or both parents are working. This may limit parents’ capacity to provide their children with healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity,” they said. “Policies and programmes are needed to help support parents.” and create a health-promoting environment.”

Professor Law said that while the work did not prove a causative link between maternal work and child health, it showed a definitive association which needed to be considered by policymakers.

She said that factors requiring further investigation included the quality of childcare, such as agency standards and care provided by grandparents or other relatives.

Other areas for investigation included whether the link was associated with children’s habits while the mother was at work, or whether it might be a consequence of the time pressures on parents’ when back in the home, she added.

She said: “Many working mums will recognise the challenges [identified in the study]. Every mother wants to ensure the best for their children and going to work may help that.

“This is not a single factor, but it does appear to contribute. What policymakers need to understand is that what might be a solution to some issues may create others. There are upsides and downsides.”

Lucy Lloyd, of the Family and Parenting Institute, said the findings should not be used to undermine working mothers, but as a basis for more work on helping them. She said that a better system of health visitors, who could set advice on dietary and lifestyle habits, was in need of funding: “What they [children] are given outside the home will set the standard for what they will expect at other times.”

Abortion Addict Confesses 15 Procedures in 16 Years

Repeat Abortions Baffle Experts, as Author Irene Vilar Explores Her ‘Impossible Motherhood’

ABC | Sep 21, 2009

By SUSAN DONALDSON JAMES

Irene Vilar worries that her self-described “abortion addiction” will be misunderstood, twisted by the pro-life movement to deny women the right to choose.

Her book, “Impossible Motherhood,” which will be released by Other Press on Oct. 6, chronicles her own dark choices: 15 abortions in 16 years, much of it as a married woman.

As press on the book has begun to leak out, Vilar — a literary agent and editor — says she has already sensed “an inkling of hatred.”

Vilar has scheduled only closed-door interviews and will not do a book tour. At the urging of her husband, they have made sure all public property records do not reflect her name, so she cannot be targeted at their home.

“I am worried about my safety and the hate mail,” she told ABCNews.com in a telephone interview as her home-schooled children were at work on a painting project.

“No book like this has ever been written,” she told ABCNews.com. “I just imagine the ‘baby killer’ and I could be a poster child for that kind of fundamentalism. And there are my little kids in all of that.”

Today, at 40, the Latina author has two young children, but her troubled past continues to haunt her well into motherhood.

She grew up in the shadow of her notorious grandmother Puerto Rican nationalist Lolita Lebron, who stormed the Capitol steps with a gun in 1954. Lebron served 25 years in jail for the crime until receiving a pardon from President Carter in 1979.

Her mother committed suicide by throwing herself from a moving car when Vilar was 8 and two of her brothers were heroin addicts.

Mass Sterilization in Puerto Rico

Vilar’s story is set against the backdrop of the American-led mass sterilization program in her native Puerto Rico from 1955 to 1969, a fitting symbol for her struggle with her own reproduction.

By 1974, 37 percent of all Puerto Rican women of childbearing age had been permanently sterilized in that experiment.

“Women tend to repeat behaviors,” Vilar said of herself. Her mother’s forced hysterectomy without hormone treatment at the age of 33, led to depression and a Valium addition.

Vilar attended boarding school in New Hampshire and was just 15 when she left for Syracuse University, where she fell in love and later married her first husband, a tyrannical 50-year-old professor.

With a predilection for young women, he bragged that his relationships had never lasted more than five years and that having children killed sexual desire.

She says their emotionally dependent relationship was riddled with shame, self-mutilation and several suicide attempts.

Full Story

Margaret Sanger: Birth Control Pioneer and Feminist-Fascist

mensnewsdaily.com | Aug 31, 2009

By Carey Roberts

Shell-shocked liberals have taken to dubbing conservatives as “Ku Klux Klan folks” and “neo-fascists” toting swastikas to town hall meetings. But ironically, turns out it’s liberals who have engaged in a century-long pas de deux with fascistic ideology.

sangerTake Margaret Sanger – public health nurse, rabid feminist, and avowed socialist. Doing her rounds in New York City’s immigrant ghettos, she became enamored of the biological and political possibilities of birth control. A prolific writer, she churned out numerous books and articles. In Women and the New Race, Sanger ominously expounded: “no Socialist republic can operate successfully and maintain its ideals unless the practice of birth control is encouraged to a marked and efficient degree.”

Margaret Sanger regarded members of both sexes with a decidedly misanthropic disdain. Of men she wrote, “In all of the animal species below the human, motherhood has a clearly discernible superiority over fatherhood….natural law makes the female the expression and the conveyor of racial efficiency.”

Members of the female sex were equally worthy of contempt: “woman has, through her reproductive ability, founded and perpetuated the tyrannies of the Earth. Had she planned deliberately to achieve this tragic total of human waste and misery, she could hardly have done it more effectively.”

In 1921 Sanger established the American Birth Control League, which later assumed the sanitized moniker Planned Parenthood. The League’s co-founder was the anti-Semite Lothrop Stoddard, who would later aver the “Jew problem [is] already settled in principle and soon to be settled in fact by the physical elimination of the Jews themselves from the Third Reich.”

Two years later Sanger launched her notorious Birth Control Review. The journal would publish propaganda pieces like “Eugenic Sterilization: An Urgent Need” by Ernst Rudin, Hitler’s director of sterilization and a founder of the Nazi Society for Racial Hygiene. The American counterpart to the Nazi group was the American Eugenics Society, of which Sanger was a prominent member.

In 1939 Sanger created the Negro Project with the avowed purpose of reining in the unchecked growth of the Black population. But her true intentions went beyond mere population control: “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,” she cautioned a friend.

At that time Blacks numbered 12 million persons, representing about one-tenth of the U.S. total.

The acme of Sanger’s career came in 1932 when she unveiled her Plan for Peace. The fascistic manifesto urged the U.S. Congress to “apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of populations whose progeny is tainted” and to “give certain dysgenic groups in our population their choice of segregation or sterilization.” Sanger’s wide-ranging hit-list included “morons, mental defectives, epileptics,…illiterates, paupers, unemployables, criminals, prostitutes, [and] dope-fiends.”

Sanger admitted these persons constituted an “enormous part of our population,” upwards of 20 million persons. That represented about 15% of the American population.

A mere year after Sanger expounded on her peace plan, Adolf Hitler signed the infamous Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring. During the ensuing years, the Nazi regime sterilized an estimated 400,000 persons deemed to be racially, physically, or mentally unfit.

At the Nuremberg Trials, Allied prosecutors recited the horrifying litany of Nazi crimes, including the practice of compulsory sterilization. Without mentioning Sanger by name, the German Socialists defended their harsh population control measures by explaining it was the United States from whom they had taken inspiration.

Over the years, Margaret Sanger used her bully pulpit to call for the segregation or sterilization of 15% of the U.S. population, and the extermination of another tenth of the citizenry. Despite those fascistic designs, Margaret Sanger still occupies a revered position in the pantheon of American liberalism.

Every year Planned Parenthood bequeaths its Margaret Sanger Award to recognize “outstanding contributions to the reproductive health and rights movement.” Past recipients include such liberal luminaries as Bella Abzug, Phil Donahue, and Jane Fonda.

Any guesses who carried home the award in 2009? Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

ADHD treatment causes young boys to develop female breasts

3news.co.nz | May 26, 2009

In Janssen's own clinical trials, 43 children developed the abnormal breasts

In Janssen's own clinical trials, 43 children developed the abnormal breasts

A drug used to treat ADHD children is causing concern in the United States.

It is called Risperdal and it is supposed to be used primarily for adults with sever psychological problems.

But last year it was prescribed more than 6.5 million times.

The side effects include young males developing female sex organs.

Nineteen-year-old John was just seven when he began taking Risperdal for ADD.

Even though the FDA approved the drug only for adult patients who were psychotic, John’s doctor and others widely prescribed it to kids for less severe behaviour problems.

Once taking Risperdal, John’s mum says he became aggressive, sleepy, and developed bowel problems. But the biggest shock came when he was 14 and started developing women’s breasts.

“He asked me if he was a girl,” she says.

It turns out Risperdal can increase production of a hormone called prolactin, which stimulates breast growth. It is called gynecomastia – and it is irreversible.

Risperdal and other so-called “atypical anti-psychotics” have exploded in use.

Hundreds of thousands of kids have been prescribed Risperdal in the 14 years it has been on sale – long before the FDA approved it for very limited pediatric use in 2006.

John and most of the other children were not psychotic at all, but were given Risperdal for behaviour disorders including autism and ADD.

Attorney Stephen Sheller is suing Janssen, which makes Risperdal. He claims Janssen marketed Risperdal for unapproved uses in children, downplayed serious risks like diabetes and seizures.

Janssen would not agree to an interview but told us the breast growth risk is “clearly stated in the FDA-approved” labelling, and “we only promote our products for their FDA-approved indications.”

Nobody knows how often it happens. But in Janssen’s own clinical trials with fewer than 2,000 children (1,885), 43 developed the abnormal breasts.

Mr Sheller represents John and nine other boys – one of whom was only four when he developed a breast on one side and began producing milk.

The treatment for the unbridled breast growth is as unthinkable as the disorder: painful removal of the breasts.
Eventually, the boys can appear normal again.

The family’s lawsuit is still in court.

But John’s mother says surgery did not fix all of the problems from the medicine.

When asked if John still thinks he’s a girl his mother wells up and cries before answering, “yes.”

As for Risperdal – it’s still on the market.  And families say putting even more children at risk.