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Letters to the Southern Poverty Law Center
Dear Southern Poverty Law Center:
December 6, 2020
I have protested for years the fact that you refuse to keep track of hate crimes against female-born-women. Yet, you carefully track hate crimes against transgenders. Is that because it’s easier to ignore women because of the statistics? Is it because you simply don’t care about women? Or maybe, you want to leap onto the bandwagon of publicity that transgenders attract, and get more recognition for your organization.
I find it difficult to come up with your reasoning. At any rate, I’ve written before about this troubling issue and found no response from you. I feel that as a long time donating member who is vitally interested in the issues you do follow, I deserve an explanation.
The Violence Policy Center, vpc.org, found nearly 2,000 women murdered by men in 2018. These are hate crimes, yet SPLC can’t be bothered to keep track of females.
Your February 20, 2019 Intelligence Report states, “At least 29 transgender people were murdered in 2017, 23 in 2016 and 21 in 2015. Since 2003, 117 transgender people died in violent attacks.”
The SPLC web site reports “SPLC will continue to fight for transgender equality, and we will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our transgender brothers and sisters in our march toward justice for all.”
How about it SPLC? Will you stand shoulder to shoulder with me and my sisters in our march to end violence against girls and women?
Southern Poverty Law Center
403 Washington Ave
Montgomery, AL 36104
December 20, 2020
After receiving your request for money, in a letter headed, “2021 Action Plan, Vision for a Just America,” I began to study your website. One question emerged: Why doesn’t SPLC track sex-based hate crimes? I suggest SPLC’s current policy keeps crimes against women hidden because hate crimes against women are not considered “hate crimes.” Therefore, those crimes against women are not counted. Violence directed at women occurs because of their sex. Period.
Sex is personified in the female body. Sex is the target with which men oppress, attack, brutalize, and murder women. Crimes against women must be counted: domestic violence, sexual assault, rape, trafficking, and murder. Our community standards protecting women and female children are weak; they fail to protect women and girls. And yet, hate crimes against women are not recorded because “sex” is not listed as a target of crime. Unbelievable. Who benefits when these crimes are not noticed by a well-established hate-tracking organization like yours?
Despite some women’s rights legislation, women are, even in 2020, considered property and second-class citizens. Women remain unprotected and invisible—year after painful year. Women are—legally, economically, physically, socially, and sexually—not considered worthy of protection. Unfair institutional policies (public and private) are built into our current capitalist, imperialist system.
Pornography is rampant (40 million American people regularly visit porn sites). Domestic violence is ubiquitous (1 in 3 women). Sex trafficking is a huge, billion-dollar industry (71% are women and girls). Rape statistics in the United States show that in 2019, 406,970 rape victims were women. Marital rape statistics are 10-14% of married couples (unacknowledged until 1993); birth control was inaccessible until the 1970s; and abortion is, once again, on the verge of abolition. Women living in poverty, in 2018, were counted as 56%—or 21.4 million (part of the big picture, one result of sex-based violence); more than half of female homicide victims were killed in connection to intimate partner (male) violence. I object to the current view that Trans people are the most oppressed people as a group. This is not true: Women are.
Women-hating actions from males continue because sex-based crimes are ignored. Sex matters. By not documenting sex-based hate crimes, SPLC contributes to this problem. Don’t be complicit here. Remaining silent on this issue is not helpful to women and girls. Think of how much good SPLC could do if crimes against women were counted. I am sure it is difficult to study violence against women. In our current social system, it is like counting something as common as blades of grass. This is precisely the point. Women and girls need your help. Women would benefit from your organization tracking sex-based hate crimes against them. Women are targets of hate. I am baffled by your lack of involvement in categorizing violence against women as a hate crime because of their sex. I am begging you to change your policy and start immediately to begin tracking and documenting sex-based hate crimes against women.
Letters about the Equality Act
To Jeff Merkley, Senator from Oregon
I find the Equality Act far too broad. This is to convey, most sincerely, that most women and girls do not want just anybody who says they are a woman to be allowed to enter womens spaces, including bathrooms, dressing rooms, women’s prisons, women’s shelters, competing for women’s scholarships athletically etc.
When the rights of one group requires another groups rights to privacy be erased, this is not an ethical solution, nor my idea of progressive.
Women and girls expect inclusion in this conversation.
When “inclusion” means intrusion, euphemism endangers women and girls.
I hope we can do better than this moving forward.
Letters to the Editor
Privilege or Biology?
What is the deal with the new use of the word “privilege”? It seems a person is privileged if they have anything that another person covets.
Webster’s Dictionary defines privilege as “a right, advantage, favor, or immunity specially granted to one; esp. a right held by a certain individual, group, or class, and withheld from certain others or all others.” To me that definitely points out how wrong it was for segregation to ever have been OK, how wrong it was to withhold the right to vote from women, and how wrong it was for marriage to be withheld from gays and lesbians when it was being granted to another group. So privilege is something that is granted by another person or group to a person or group.
So when transgender people call women born women a privileged group, who was it that granted us the right to be women? You see, it is not granted by any person. We are born with a body that can, in most cases give birth to children, bleeds monthly and is anatomically different than a man’s body. That is not a privilege, it is just biology.
I have nothing against the transgender people until they start telling me what I can call parts of my own body and saying women cannot meet together as women unless they include male-to-transgender persons (men who say they are women). I don’t think all transgender people are so adamantly opporsed to women-only spaces, but there is a very vocal group of transgender people who have shut down women-only spaces all over this country, including in Fayetteville at the Goddess Festival this past March.
Written by Linda Barnes
Published July 24, 2017 in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette
Minority View Should Not Define what ‘Woman’ Is
Transgender people should be protected by law against discrimination and should certainly be as free as anyone to serve in the U.S. military. But, some in the transgender movement make demands of society that go well beyond bringing an end to discrimination. Over the past ten to twenty years a small minority of the population has begun to insist that a woman is anyone who claims to be one. The Transgender Law Center in San Francisco says that only 15% of transgender people reported having any kind of surgery, so apparently anatomy is becoming altogether irrelevant to being a woman.
Where is the public discussion over who is a woman? My 1991 dictionary defines woman as “the female human being.” Does the public really want to abandon that definition? Laws that change our understanding about who is a woman are already being considered and passed in some states, but there has been very little free and open public discussion among Americans about this question. I certainly want transgender people to live their lives free from discrimination and free to express their femininity or masculinity. But, I’m not ready to change the definition of who is and isn’t a woman on the say so of this small minority.
What do women want? Can there be a public discussion about who is a woman? Is the public going to allow a minority of transgender people to prevent women from discussing important questions like this one, as happened when transgender activists de-platformed speakers at the Goddess Festival and OMNI Center in Fayetteville last March? This silencing of women is happening all across the U.S.!
Where is the public discussion over who is a woman? Who is a woman? What do you think? What do women want?
Written by Jeanne Neath
Published August 6, 2017 in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette
Silencing of Women
Perhaps you have been hearing the unusual sounds broadcasting from some of Fayetteville’s most valued institutions. First, there were the soft but persistent “RIPs” as event posters were targeted and torn off public bulletin boards. More recently, the noise escalated to more of a “CRASH” as all the bulletin boards were torn down by one community establishment, an establishment that I care deeply about. Until now that organization had provided a central space for community communications for decades. What is causing all the stir?
First, here is a little background information. Since the 1970s feminists have organized and publicized “women only” events in Fayetteville and across the U.S. Like other groups that are discriminated against, women require opportunities to meet just with each other to ensure our safety, the freedom to speak openly with others who share similar experiences of discrimination, to organize to end the discrimination, and just to relax together away from the male gaze. The oppression of women in the U.S. has not gone away. Women still don’t even have equal pay for equal work, despite 50+ years of struggle. The #MeToo campaign is making it quite clear that male violence and sexual harassment of women is epidemic.
But, now when women put up posters for “female only” meetings those posters are ripped down, over and over again, in Fayetteville. What is the political debate that the transgender movement and its supporters are attempting to control by tearing down posters, erasing, and silencing women? The debate is over the question of whether males who become transgender (i.e. “transwomen”) have the right to call themselves women and insert themselves into spaces reserved for women only, such as public restrooms, girls’ locker rooms at schools and feminist meetings.
Do you have an opinion about who is a woman and who should be welcomed into spaces traditionally reserved for women and girls? Have you had the chance to hear and understand the arguments on every side of the debate? Is this debate so settled that feminist voices should be silenced? Should women’s voices, any women’s voices, ever be silenced?
Written by Jeanne Neath
Submitted to Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on December 26, 2017
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette declined to publish this letter
Discussion About Hate
I have a two-part reply to Shirley Roe’s letter to the editor. First, there is a big difference between hating a person, country, etc., and disagreeing with a person, country, etc. The fact that so many countries disagreed with Trump’s statement to recognize Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel and move our embassy there does not mean they hate our country. I think it means what so many have stated, that it puts an end to any peaceful negotiations between Palestine and Israel. But this idea that someone hates you because they disagree with your stance on something is really widespread. That seems to be the ploy of anyone who wants to shut down any reasonable discourse between thinking people. For example, if you believe women should have their own sovereign space, you are called hateful and trans-phobic, but that is for another letter.
Back to the subject, the second part of my reply is why the U.S. continues to send money to countries who “hate us.” I want to say our government do anything that is not in the “national interest” aka “corporate interest.” You can bet if they are giving money to a government than we are getting something back in return. People like to think our government is so kind and generous, but that is very seldom true. It is the people of American who are generally kind and generous, not the government.
I agree with Ms. Roe that we do need to spend our money on the infrastructure of this country more than we need to exert worldwide monetary influence, but until the people can take back this country from the control of the corporations and the super-rich, there isn’t much chance of a change in how things are done in Washington, D.C. We must take the money out of politics or we will always have elected officials who are more beholden to their big-money donors than they are to the people they are supposed to represent.
Written by Linda Barnes
Published January 5, 2018 in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette