Julie Bindel, writing for guardian.co.uk, has a great feminist story online, "Iceland: the world’s most feminist country," which I came cross via Twitter, where I come across so many other interesting items.

A sample:

Iceland is fast becoming a world-leader in feminism. A country with a tiny population of 320,000, it is on the brink of achieving what many considered to be impossible: closing down its sex industry.

While activists in Britain battle on in an attempt to regulate lapdance clubs – the number of which has been growing at an alarming rate during the last decade – Iceland has passed a law that will result in every strip club in the country being shut down. And forget hiring a topless waitress in an attempt to get around the bar: the law, which was passed with no votes against and only two abstentions, will make it illegal for any business to profit from the nudity of its employees.

Even more impressive: the Nordic state is the first country in the world to ban stripping and lapdancing for feminist, rather than religious, reasons. Kolbrún Halldórsdóttir, the politician who first proposed the ban, firmly told the national press on Wednesday: "It is not acceptable that women or people in general are a product to be sold." When I asked her if she thinks Iceland has become the greatest feminist country in the world, she replied: "It is certainly up there. Mainly as a result of the feminist groups putting pressure on parliamentarians. These women work 24 hours a day, seven days a week with their campaigns and it eventually filters down to all of society."


So how has Iceland managed it? To start with, it has a strong women’s movement and a high number of female politicans. Almost half the parliamentarians are female and it was ranked fourth out of 130 countries on the international gender gap index (behind Norway, Finland and Sweden). All four of these Scandinavian countries have, to some degree, criminalised the purchase of sex (legislation that the UK will adopt on 1 April). "Once you break past the glass ceiling and have more than one third of female politicians," says Halldórsdóttir, "something changes. Feminist energy seems to permeate everything." [emphases added]

Clearly, if we want to live in a more progressive country, we should be electing more and more women. Granted, some one would probably be Republicans. Yet, I believe Halldórsdóttir when she says that having one third or more of female politicians changes things… and feminist energy begins to take over. Given a critical mass of women in both chambers of congress, would women from either party feel much need for approval from the men in their respective parties? I doubt it. It might take a generation or two, but I think they would be more likely to find some common ground. Women in the GOP mostly do not want to be baby factories, either. Nor, I suspect do GOP women approve of the sex trade in this country… especially considering how many of their husbands make use of it, to such a politically embarrassing effect. Just imagine the relief of so many GOP-influenced women, if they were given a respite from male dominance in nearly every area of their lives.

And now… contrast that fascinating story with the corruption-winning story of the day, via Jason Linkins at HuffPost: Michael Steele and the way he spends the RNC’s money. This is not just an exploitative, gossipy story. It contains real reporting, by The Daily Caller’s Jonathan Strong, and is drawn from FEC filings. In other words, due diligence… a phrase we so seldom hear or read these days.

HuffPost’s Ryan Grim weighs in, too:

"I don’t know if the bondage club is exactly the way that most political committees like to spend money," Grim said. "All these other extreme expenses undermine any effort that the Republicans are making to say that Democrats are fiscally irresponsible because it just reminds the voters that the main reason that we have this huge deficit is eight years of spending under the Bush administration."

In other news, the RNC’s Michael Steele will not be signing a joint "civility" statement suggested by the DNC.

And now let us return to the story in Iceland for the penultimate word:

Jónsdóttir [of Stígamót, an organisation based in Reykjavik that campaigns against sexual violence] is confident that the law will create a change in attitudes towards women. "I guess the men of Iceland will just have to get used to the idea that women are not for sale." [emphasis added]

Just to be clear, I’m not really suggesting much difference these days between our two parties, except in style. Republicans feel no need even to apologize for behavior like Steele’s. Perhaps his internal approval ratings will improve now? Rather, male politicians from both parties often cheat on their wives, harass their female staffers, and make overall nuisances of themselves, and yet seem to consider women as little more than chattel, to which they feel entitled because they have an organ that women don’t. In general, Democrats are just a wee bit more subtle and evasive about it all… until it is time to pass health care legislation.

Coming soon! Legislative reformatting of both social security and medicare, both of which will affect more women than men.