Feb 26, 2013

an alternative security tactic if you're threatened with rape

warning, this entry may leave you with disturbing mental images!

So the odd alternative security advice I got for a sexual attack, and it would seem this is only useful for women, is to pee on yourself - and TELL your attacker that you just did.  The idea is to gross them out.  

Thankfully I've never had to try this, so I can't say if it works, but these are the sorts of strategies women share with each other, and the sorts of things women accompaniers have to think about. 

Feb 19, 2013

civilian peacekeeping in Burma

The Nonviolent Peaceforce just signed an agreement with the government of Burma (Myanmar) to support initiatives of the official Myanmar Peace Center.  In their announcement they make no mention of the long history of military rule in Burma, or their take on the elections that many question.  Presumably they see the elections as legitimate, even though they were run by the military and the military won 80% of the vote.  I certainly support the moves towards democracy in Burma, but working directly for a government so closely tied to the military seems an odd move to me.  But then the Nonviolent Peaceforce has been very interested in working officially with governments (they serve in an official capacity in Mindanao).  The NP  calls what they do 'civilian peacekeeping' rather than protective accompaniment, and accompaniment seems to be only one small piece of what they do for peace. 

Feb 12, 2013

an anti-empathy campaign?

The video above is part of the "not in her shoes" campaign by Planned Parenthood.  The video ends by calling for conversations based on "mutual respect and empathy".  But I think many viewers will think that the slogan "not in her shoes" is an argument that you can NOT empathize - that there is no way you can understand what a woman who chooses an abortion is going through.  I think what they are trying to go for instead in the video is that you should not make decisions for her, but because the phrase 'in her shoes' has been so closely tied to empathy, it causes confusion and I was surprised when they then ended with a call for empathy.

I've blogged repeatedly before about how this turn of phrase 'in her shoes' is problematic. To play with the metaphor, if you are in someone else's shoes, there is no room for them  - you put your reality on top of theirs, you step on them.  That is to say, you run the risk of thinking you really know what it's like to be them, of engaging in appropriative empathy.  I agree with planned parenthood, you are not in her shoes.  But rather than emphasize that, I continue to think it's more powerful to imagine walking alongside her, in your own shoes - in this case, working together for safe and legal access to all reproductive health services for all. 

Feb 4, 2013

a very different empathy video

Thanks to Craig Jones for pointing me to this video, which is one of those attempts to help you imagine yourself in the shoes of a war victim.  I like it more than most of these because the juxtaposition of the words and the images are such that you are always reminded that you can´t entirely know what it´s like.  The video is also unusual in that after trying to get you identify with the victim, it then turns to listening to the humanity of the victimizer.