Tuesday, February 20, 2007

For women's rights in Europe and across the globe...

What are European Values?
2007 marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, the 50th anniversary of the European Union. In light of that the German presidency will organize a meeting in March. All Heads of State and Government of EU member States will assemble and adopt a "Berlin Declaration" about European Values.

Personally I don't believe in "European Values". I don't believe in a "European culture" or "identity". Europe is a group of states that are so culturally different that grouping the values within these cultures together as "one" is simply impossible, it would be ever contradicting. Nevertheless an active lobby of religious leaders wishes to ensure a prominent mentioning of specifically "Christian Values" as an overarching European value.

The rights of social and sexual minorities are often restricted or discarded in name of religion and culture. – Newsflash - the crusades are not something in the past, they’re happening today and they’re as violent and damaging as in the past. Under the banner of morals and values oppression continues. Where in the past there was the inquisition, today there is more subtlety in what religious conservatives propaganda calls for. But an oppressive legislation can be as damaging as an inquisition.

If “Christian Values” are accepted as a so called European Value, what about access safe abortions? The rights of same-sex couples? Access to comprehensive sexual education? What about the right to choose your own religion, and your own religious values…?

I do not oppose Christianity, only the conservatism and its consequences. The Vision for Europe project is a joint venture between the International Humanist and Ethical Union, the European Humanist Federation and Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC). They have come to develop a one-page summary of their common values: the Brussels Declaration. A document that states the liberal values of individual freedom, democracy and the rule of law on which modern European civilisation is based. Values don’t need to be oppressive, they just can be.

But most of all, I would like to see is an assembly of all Heads of State and Government of EU member States that adopts a declaration about "European Rights" instead of "Values". Europe does not need a moral guideline, it doesn't need a declaration trying to tell what's "right" and what's "wrong". What Europe really needs is a strong statement that this Union will forever commit itself to promoting rights, in every sense of that word.

Under their MyBody brand, the World Population Foundation has initiated a petition for the rights of women in Europe. It is meant to draw attention of Heads of State and Government, gathered in Berlin on the 25th of March, to women’s rights and the importance of the neutrality of the State. Sign it!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Will you be my Valentine...

The 7th day from now is Valentine's Day, the holiday of love.

And also the holiday of Hallmark, cheesy advertising and broken hearts... Truly what Saint Valentine originially intended to happen in his name on his day, I'm sure. But what would love be worth anyways if it couldn't be exploited for marketing? In this world not much, right? In any case at least Saint Valentine, if he ever existed, can rest in peace since the Catholic church stripped him of his day back in 1969 and the 14th of february is now officially dedicated to dedicated only to Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius.

Marketing efforts in Japan and Korea have shown even more brilliance. Not only do they capitalise on love for Valentine's Day, they further argue that March 14th should be similary garantee extra profit and there for is presented as "White Day". Whereas concentrated marketing has given rise to the custom of women having to give gifts to men for Valentine, of course men should return the favor and boost sales of cards, chocolate, lingerie, etc. for a second day. After that Koreans thought it be nice to honour those who are single and were left out for two succesive days and on "Black Day", April 14th, those who didn't receive anything for Valentine's or White Day gather to eat Jajangmyeon, noodles in black sauce. Maybe singles are still feeling left out because obviously their Black Day only gives extra profit to Chinese food delivery and thus they cannot share in the feeling of being exploited by capitalism.

Of course, mostly it is those queers that don't fit into the mainstream and heterosexist advertising and marketing for what is commonly mistaken as "love" that are left out. While I feel that queer visibility is important, the more capitalistic and disgustingly cheesy Valentine becomes, the less I mourn about being queer and not seeing my kind of "love" reflexed in this day. In all honestly I have something against Valentine, something that probably started due to the fact that I never seem to get Valentine cards or presents.