SHE SAID IT
"Nothing does change, unless its form, its structure, its language also changes. To work magic, we begin by making new metaphors. Without negating the light, we reclaim the dark: the fertile earth where the hidden seed lies unfolding." - Starhawk

September 1999
Vol. 1 - #7


Said It: Feminist News, Culture & Politics  

in this issue:

WTO: Confronting a Menace of a Millennium

We All Belong, Stop Harassment!

A Subtle Erasure

The Dailies: WTO Play by Play


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Heard This

French "Guard Bitches" Fight Back

Prominent women in France have increasingly been the targets of sexist abuse from men, and they have organized to fight back. They formed a group called the "guard bitches," made up of 627 members (including 48 men), most of them well-known in the world of politics, writing, and academia.

France has long kept women from reaching the top in French business and public life. In recent years, however, women have reached top level positions, and the overt sexist attacks from men on both the left and the right have followed.

The environmental minister and Green leader, Dominique Voynet, is a frequent target for this abuse. When she visited the annual farm show in Paris, she was booed and whistled at by farmers, and called a "whore" and a "bitch." Laure Adler, head of France Culture, who recently cut back on certain radio programs, was vilified by trade unionists who used sexist stereotypes.

"Any woman who puts herself forward, who speaks out, who becomes well-known, risks being called a whore. If she succeeds, she is suspected of having slept around. Any visible woman is judged on her appearance," reads the manifesto of the newly formed 'guard bitches.' "That's enough! We, the guard bitches, are baring our fangs."

(info from The Independent, 9/9/99)


"Welfare Reform" Fails and Politicians Brag

The public has been hearing constantly from the mainstream media, Gary Locke, and Bill Clinton that welfare reform has been a success. All the while, poor families, particularly those headed by single mothers, have been getting significantly poorer, and large numbers of them are being forced to drop out from education and training for jobs that pay livable wages.

A new study released by the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that between 1993 - 1995, just before welfare reform, the average earnings and overall income of single mother families rose substantially, along with the general economy. But from 1995 - 1997, despite continued economic growth, the average incomes of the poorest 20 percent of single mother families fell an average of $580 per family. Taking into account all forms of income, including food stamps, housing subsidies, and the Earned Income Tax Credit, these families had incomes below three-quarters of the poverty line.

Governor Locke, in an op-ed article printed in the August 13 Seattle PI, claimed that "welfare reform" is "one of the greatest success stories in our state's history," and he calls on us to "celebrate" with him. Why is he celebrating? Because welfare rolls are down from 97,000 to 60,000. Never mind where these people are--on streetcorners with signs, in batterers' homes, in pimps' bedrooms. The important thing is that some former recipients now have sub-poverty wage jobs and are separated from their children for 10 hours a day. "The average earnings for these families is $540 per month," he assures us. Break out the champagne!

But Locke has even more to celebrate than he is letting us know. His beloved program WorkFirst is forcing poor single mothers to forego training for higher-waged jobs. Apprenticeship for Nontraditional Employment (ANEW), a nationally recognized program at Renton Technical College that trains poor women for nontraditional, blue-collar jobs, has reported a severe drop in enrollment. When "welfare reform" went into effect in 1997, the Department of Social and Health Services stopped providing referrals to ANEW and other such programs. In addition, WorkFirst rules require that recipients make immediate employment a priority. The rules make it difficult to work, go to school, and care for their children. Since the inception of Locke's welfare-to-work program, the number of welfare recipients enrolled in the program has fallen from 35 to 17 percent--the lowest in the program's history.

(info from Washington Post, 8/22/99; Seattle Times, 9/6/99)


Pakistani Women Murdered by Own Families

Trial By Fire, a study which documented 2,500 burnings of women of Pakistan, was released in late August by the Progressive Women's Association, a human rights group. The study shows that many of these burnings of women are deliberate.

The association announced that each year in Pakistan, as many as 300 young brides a year are deliberately burned by their husband's families as an alternative to divorce. Less than 2 percent of the victims have survived.

The burnings, which are done as a cheap and easy alternative to divorce, are commonly reported as accidents involving cooking stoves. The husbands and their families attempting to murder the young women "can be pretty sure that they will never be prosecuted. They can blame faulty cooking stoves, and they won't get caught," the association said. Very few of the cases are investigated by police.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's tolerance for "honor killings," the murders of girls and young women by male family members, continues. "The government's claim in condemning honor killing is a total farce, as no action has been taken in seven such cases," said lawyer and activist Asma Jehangir.

(info from UN Wire, August 27; BBC News, August 27)


Nerine Shatner's Death Ruled an Accident

Nerine Shatner, wife of actor William Shatner, was found dead in the couple's swimming pool in Los Angeles. The authorities are treating the drowning as an accident before the autopsy, without further investigation..

According to the report filed by police, the actor William Shatner, who is famous for his role as Captain Kirk in the original "Star Trek," came home at 10:15 pm and found his wife's body at the bottom of the pool. Police Lt. Adam Bercovici announced that foul play was not involved. "She was home alone for a short period of time and accidentally drowned while swimming in the pool," he said.

The media provided scant information and left many questions unanswered. For instance, how does an adult who knows how to swim "accidentally" drown in a swimming pool? It's possible that she could have taken an overdose of drugs, and then gone into the pool. She could have tripped while walking at the side of the pool, hit her head, and fallen into the pool, unconscious. She could have had a heart attack or a stroke (though she was only 40) while swimming. But her death was declared an accident even before an autopsy was performed. If famous actor William had been found dead at the bottom of a pool, wouldn't they be asking more questions?

(info from AP via Seattle Times, 9/10/99)



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