Thursday, September 29, 2005

More on "The Life of a Military Wife"

As anyone following the thread on Kyra's letter can see, that post generated by far the most activity on bluechristian we've had to date. I'd never have guessed it would be that letter, rather than some of the (to me) far more inflammatory stuff posted here, to cause such a ruckus.

That said, I would like to ask some of the military wives -- regardless of political frame or opinion about the Iraq war -- to discuss some issues related to military life.

1. How does life in the military help and/or hinder marital stability?

2. How does the issue of spousal abuse get handled in the military? Do you think authorities there are aggressive about addressing abuse of wives (or husbands) married to a soldier serving in the U. S. Armed Forces?

3. For any wives / husbands whose spouses are or have served in combat, has your marriage suffered minor or major trauma as a result of that spouse's experiences in war?

4. Have any of you experienced a divorce while in the military? Did the military try to intervene before, during, or after the divorce in any way? Did being part of the military help lead to divorce, and if so, why?

There are doubtless other questions that I, as a civilian, cannot even articulate. At any rate, I'd like to hear what people have to say. And please do be kind to one another, esp. as there will likely be some serious differences of opinion on some of this.

(And I hope I'm not sorry I asked! [Nervous chuckle....])

Supporting Victims of Sexual Violence with "Threads of Compassion"

This wonderful outreach to victims of rape, incest, and other forms of sexual violence recently was inaugurated by a dear friend. I'm posting her own description of it here, and hope some of bluechristian's readers will get involved.


Threads of Compassion is a loosely connected group of survivors of sexual violence who desire to offer comfort and support to recent victims. The idea is simple. Anyone whose life has been affected by sexual assault or abuse is welcome to knit or crochet a scarf which in turn will be given to a victim of sexual violence when they enter the hospital for emergency treatment.

Having been through similar experiences ourselves, our hope is to offer support at a time when a person is feeling forsaken, fearful, and extremely vulnerable, and in a simple way let them know they are not alone. So many people are lost in how to respond to friends and family members that have been victims of sexual abuse or assault, so they opt to do nothing. Their fear of adding more pain by saying or doing the wrong thing results in silence. This silence is heartbreaking to the victim...a silence that offers no validation to the pain they are going through and that adds to their feeling of isolation.

The silence produces shame.

One of the main goals behind Threads of Compassion is to break through this silence by acknowledging the pain. The gift of a scarf not only shows the knitters/crocheters concern for the victim, but also expresses their sorrow for what has happened. Each scarf is made by someone who wishes to provide a small amount of comfort against the pain being faced, and by doing so, lets the victim know they are not alone. The scarves are tangible objects that can be held, wrapped around the neck or shoulders, with the deeper meaning known only by the wearer. As each victim touches the threads of the scarves they receive, they are connecting with someone who cares about what has happened to them. A huge message given through a few threads of yarn.

The added beauty of the scarves is that the gift is actually two-fold. Through making the scarves, survivors are provided an opportunity to help other victims (in a very non-threatening way). Everyone remains anonymous. Those who knit the scarves never meet the specific people who receive their scarves. That is all handled through the local rape crisis center. Most hospitals now contact victim advocates when sexual violence victims come into the ER, and it is through this staff that the scarves will be presented to the victims. Each scarf will have a small card attached to it that explains the idea behind Threads of Compassion and information on how to contact their local crisis center if they need further help or support.

If you would like to contribute a scarf, please do. We would be honored to receive them. Anyone whose life has been affected by sexual assault or abuse is welcome to make and send a scarf. Whether scarves are done by survivors, or friends and family members of survivors, it does not matter, (scarves can also be made in honor of friends who were raped, family members who suffered sexual abuse, etc.).

The scarves do not have to be any specific length, color, or masterpiece. We do ask that you try to make the scarves out of very soft yarn that can be held close without feeling rough to the skin. There are numerous scarf patterns that are very easy to knit or crochet, and can be made by any beginner. To the left is a list of links to various web sites that offer free scarf patterns, and a one site that offer instructions in how to knit with free on-line knitting videos.

After you have made your scarf feel free to mail it to us.
Send it to Threads of Compassion / 920 W. Wilson Ave. / Chicago, IL 60640.

Another option is for you to set up your own chapter of Threads of Compassion. Simply contact your local rape crisis center and see if they would be willing to be involved in handing out your scarves. The only request we have is that you let us know if you are able to do this, (that way we can refer others in your area to your group).

If you have any questions or comments feel free to email us at:

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

U. S. Soldiers Get Porn in Exchange for Photos of Dead Iraqis

[WARNING! This post contains disturbing content.]

Pornography has always been about violence. This was underscored this week by the revelation that a small number of U. S. Soldiers have apparently been getting free access to a pornography web site in exchange for photos featuring dead and dismembered Iraqis. One photo on the site (which I'm not going to post the URL to since it is an anti-woman, anti-human website) features six U. S. soldiers grinning and standing or kneeling in front of a burned corpse. The photo is subtitled, "Cooked Iraqi." Other photos include an Iraqi sitting in a car minus his head.

Though the BBC, the New York Times, and others have reported on this, it still has not been completely verified that the photos are either real or actually posted by soldiers. The website, dedicated to homemade porn posted by users, claims that one third of its clientele is from the U. S. military. Numerically, that would be 50,000 soldiers, according the East Bay Express.

All I can say is, I wish Andrea Dworkin hadn't died this year. I'd love to hear what she'd have to say about this congruence of pornography, technology, and war, a veritable "perfect storm" of inhumanity.

The war should not have been fought. The young men fighting it are being damaged by what they see, and what they participate in. The American government's attempts at pristine war, that is, a PR campaign designed to hide these bodies (in fact, to hide the American bodies in their flag-draped coffins as well!), may or may not work. But the social consequences both short and long term are unavoidable.

Pornography is war, a war against women and thus against all of us. And war is pornography, a pornography celebrating societal rape every bit as much as pornography celebrates the violent possession of its victim.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The "Life" of an Army Wife

The "Life" of an Army Wife

This post was deleted due to cruel, I would say even vicious, treatment of its original author.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Omar & Pete: A PBS Feature Not to be Missed

Beautifully filmed, profoundly told, Point of View's Omar and Pete is one of those PBS gems not to be missed. The documentary's creators follow two men from prison to the parole process and to the streets, where addiction's pull is the most potent.

The mystery between one man's redemption and the other's continuing cycle of failure is one that is doubly haunting if one has ever worked with addicts, or lived with one. If only there was a magic word, or perfect little sermonette, or experience large and mean and scarey enough to make an addict stop using. But the message of "Omar and Pete" is simply that no guaranteed fix like that exists. What does exist is hope, and an inner switch thrown inside a human heart and mind that -- can I say it? -- appears to be as mysterious as conversion.

Don't be mistaken. This isn't a Christian -- or Islamic (despite Omar's religious leanings) -- tract. Faith is somehow private here, even in the midst of having a camera lens focused upon it, just as with all other aspects of the two men's lives.

The film's images, captured by Slawomir Grunberg, are flawless but never self-indulgent, somehow finding in a prisonscape or an inner-city winter the same tensions, fears, and hopes the two men seem to be experiencing. I can't recommend this film highly enough. Consult P.O.V.'s website or your own PBS station for times it might be airing near you. [Photo Credit: "Omar prays in prison yard" by Slawomir Grunberg]