Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"You will need a man!"

My pleasure reading this week is Have a Nice Doomsday: Why Millions of Americans Are Looking Forward to the End of the World, by Nicholas Guyatt. Guyatt examines the apocalyptic movement in America and the popularity of the Left Behind series, intersecting it with politics and the popular culture surrounding belief in an impending apocalypse. It's a fairly unbiased look, introducing people who know very little about apocalyptic belief with some of the major movers and shakers in the field. So far, I think it's a good book and pretty even-handed. He's not mocking people who believe in an impending Rapture and apocalypse or anything.

Anyway, he mentions Left Behind: Eternal Forces at one point - this is the video game where believers run around NYC and try to convert people to fight against the Antichrist. When it came out in 2006, I heard rumblings about how some of the fundamentalist Christians didn't like the game because of it's violence - you have to build a Christian army to fight against the Antichrist and the Global Community forces. However, I hadn't heard anything about this:
"The apparently unintentional messages in Eternal Forces seem more troubling. When you move through the tutorial, you learn how to convert passersby and then how to train them to be soldiers, builders or disciples. When you convert men, they transform into identical preppy kids wearing V-necks. Women suddenly sport an orange jumper, like Velma from Scooby Doo. If you only convert men, you can do everything you need to do in the game. But if you bring women to Christ, the game starts giving you polite reminders that your options are limited. 'For the next operation,' says the cheerful voice in the tutorial, 'you will need a man. Take a moment to recruit a man before continuing!'

Girls can't do very much in Eternal Forces. Men can become disciples, builders or soldiers. Women can't. You can train them to become medics, but that's about it. Even then, they're not indispensable: men can do this, too, along with their many other talents. Helpfully, random men keep sidling up to you and your female converts if you ignore the injunctions to convert them, though this seems quite seedy if you haven't understood the game's regressive sexual politics." (199-200)
Kinda interesting, and a critique I hadn't heard from the various outlets that reviewed the game. I'd suggest checking out the book if you're interested in the apocalyptic culture but don't want to pick up something that'll try converting you. It's an attempt at an unbiased assessment, in my opinion.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

New Impersonator

The Female Impersonator has a new contributor and our first male voice. Ryan will be posting here semi-regularly, focusing mostly on issues in the entertainment industry.

He went to Rhode Island College and Columbia College in Chicago, focusing on screenwriting. He has written several screenplays and is currently trying to find a way to live in New York City. Ryan is excited to have an outlet for his feminist thoughts, and I know I'm interested to read them.

Please welcome a new perspective. His first post will be appearing tonight or tomorrow!

Daddy's Little Girl

On her show yesterday, Tyra Banks talked with women who wanted to be legal prostitutes in Nevada. One particular woman is Summer, an 18 year old wannabe porn star, and her father, who also happens to be her manager. Not only is her father her manager, he helps pick out her clothes, does her hair and gives her bikini waxes, all shown for Tyra's cameras.

He tells her, "Always make sure your make-up is right as you have to be every man's fantasy." Doesn't that imply that she has to be his fantasy as well?

The kicker is at the end of the clip, the father is dropping the daughter off at the brothel. She's crying and unsure of if she wants go and he's telling her, "The decision is made, this is what you want to do. I don’t want to sound unsympathetic but go in there and think happy thoughts." It's hard to not see the situation as coercive... I wonder growing up how much he pushed the idea on her growing up. Talk about the sexualization of children.

I'm so appalled at his behavior and I feel bad for the girl. I wonder if she wouldn't want to be a prostitute had he been a better influence in her life. Someone's going to have a lot of therapy bills, that's for sure.

And by the way, Tyra needs to get more upset about the fact that the father is practically forcing her to be a prostitute than that he's giving her bikini waxes (although that, too, is upsetting. Just focusing on what's a bigger violation).

Video at Jezebel and h/t to the F-Word.

On the Ivy League, academia and sexism

At the beginning of the semester, there was an incident here at Yale involving a "fraternity prank" and the Women's Center where 12 members of the Zeta Psi frat stood in front of the Women's Center chanting "dick dick dick dick" while holding a sign saying "We Love Yale Sluts." Quite the incident.

On Monday, the Executive Committee of Yale College found the members of this group not guilty of intimdiation and harassment charges. No charges of sexual harassment were ever filed, even though complaints were issued with the Sexual Harassment Grievance Board.

It seems we are no farther from the Old Boys Club than we were in 1969 when the College first admitted female students.

The female student who encountered the Zeta Psi that night in January wrote an op-ed for the Yale Daily. Here is some of what she had to say:

Perhaps the brothers of Zeta Psi were unaware of the symbolic role of the Women’s Center: It is the only place on this campus designated a safe space for women; it is the only place dedicated to gender equity. Perhaps they did not to intend to “harm anyone socially or psychologically,” as their public apology attests; rather, their behavior was a mere “lapse of judgment.” But, consciously or unconsciously, they were aware of how demeaning it would be to shout “dick” in front of a women’s space, how degrading it is to call a person a “slut,” how their fraternity culture forced them to participate in acts of misogyny.

Only as the victim in this case am I permitted to speak; all other parties involved are bound by confidentiality. Students are prohibited from speaking to other students, professors or friends about any detail of the case. In ExComm’s summaries of disciplinary action, there is only a record of the trial and the judgment, nothing more. There is no written record of the deliberations. Consequently, there is no transparency or system of accountability. Students have no knowledge of how other students have been hurt, intimidated, harassed or assaulted.
Despite my involvement, I cannot appeal its judgment or even question how it was ultimately determined. I cannot appeal the fact that all 12 brothers of Zeta Psi were allowed to read my written affidavit before they wrote their own — 12 iterations of the same collective story.

Decided in secrecy, no chance for an appeal. It seems the "boys will be boys" mentality has pervaded the Yale "justice" system. The layer of tolerance that has been laid out over fundamental sexism has been broken and we can see the ugly underside - that this school has merely covered up the intolerance, while still allowing it to grow. When that intolerance comes out in ugly ways, the layer is just restitched, weaker and thinner than before.

I am a student at the Divinity School, one could argue a completely different world than the undergraduate college downtown. Over half of the students here want to be ministers; perhaps their love of God makes them more tolerant - YDS is a fairly liberal and inclusive school. Compared to the other professional and graduate schools, the Divinity School is rumored to have some of the nicest students on campus (we're in the running with the Forestry school).

Although our chapel services use inclusive language and we are generally a loving group, at times, as a woman I can't help but feel somewhat out of place.

Whether it be sitting with a group of all-male friends over lunch or realizing that I'm the only woman in the room (also the only person without a beard), I have noticed my gender here in ways I haven't anywhere else. I have become aware of the fact that I am a woman first and a person second.

YDS gives out two main degrees - the MDiv and the MAR; the MDiv is for people wishing to be ordained while the MAR is a shorter degree with an academic focus. There are more females than males in the MDiv program and more males than females in the MAR program - of my friends, I am a female MAR students out of many male MAR students. To be sure, I also have male MDiv friends, as the world isn't as clear-cut as some make it out to be. My male MAR friends are in fields religious studies academics considered more worthy of study, as opposed to my film and visual art concentration. So, while I sit with my male friends and we discuss our academic interests, often I feel out of place because my field of study rarely comes up in conversation.

Biblical studies tends to focus mostly on historical criticism, but recently other criticisms have begun to be used - feminist, queer, post-colonial, etc. While the opportunity is great to reclaim texts that have previously been destructive for individuals, these readings are still passed over for more historical readings. I took a class on Gender, Sex and Power in Ruth and Esther last semester, and not surprisingly, it was a class of mostly women (13 women to 1 man, who actually was transgendered, female-to-male). The professor has made it explict that alternative readings are welcomed in her class; she is committed to bringing voice to those who are and have been voiceless. However, what good is alternative voices if we are the only ones to hear them?

Other times, it's not an academic or systematic feeling of exclusion, but sometimes people make off-hand statements they don't intend as sexist, but are anyway. I originally came to the school in the Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies department before switching to a visual art concentration. When I informed my friend of the switch, he replied, "I didn't think you were angry enough for that anyway." One minute I am an angry feminist and the next, someone who likes paintings. I went as Rosie the Riveter to our Halloween party and someone praised my gender bending skills.

To be clear, I love YDS and the community and my friends. They have made me happy and enriched my life in countless ways. But I feel as if there is still a residual feeling that this is not a woman's place - or at least academia isn't. Especially downtown, how dare women expect a place of their own. If men want to stand in front the Women's Center and chant "dick," they should be able to... After all, those men gave us the women's center in the first place.

Such a blantant display of sexism would never happen at the Divinity school, that I'm sure of. My friends are lovely people and I want to make clear this is a critique not of individuals, but of the larger system we function in. What I'm not sure of, however, is the little bits of sexism that creep in on a day-to-day basis... That subtle, uncomfortable feeling that my work and the work of all people using feminist, queer or post-colonial readings don't match up to the strict socio-historical way of reading religious texts. That although we are here, we are ignored.

Grand Theft Auto 4 wants you to kill hookers to get your money back

I play video games obsessively. I was probably one of the first people in my area to own a Play Station 3. I have played Rock Band with friends until three in the morning many times. If you have no idea what I am talking about, you should get the game.

However, despite its popularity, I have never really liked the Grand Theft Auto series. I thought it was pretty boring, simply because I wasn't very good at the missions and shooting up cops and jumping off buildings eventually got old, although it was funny the first several times. My male gamer friends love the series, however. They like to claim that I am just being overly sensitive because all the main characters in Grand Theft Auto are male. Although, I loved Assassin's Creed, which was extremely violent and dominated by male characters. If I held my breath waiting for video games that feature women as something other than eye candy or damsels in distress I would have to throw out most of my game collection. At the end of the day, I just got to suck it up and ignore the sexism if I want to have any fun playing video games.

Nevertheless, I simply cannot condone the sexualized violence in Grand Theft Auto 4. One of my friends went to a preview party hosted by Rockstar Games. As is typical for the gaming world, the entire party was a big sausage fest with no women in sight other than the models hired to promote the game. He reported back to say that the highlight of GTA4 was the strip clubs and buying sex. Kind of gross, but that wouldn't make me outright dislike the game. What really stuck out was that you can kill the prostitutes to get your money back. According to that friend, he said what most guys that got to play the preview set up found most enthralling was paying for demeaning sex and then shooting the prostitutes and running them over with their car. "Because it's funny," he said, "and you can also get your money back."

Very classy. I especially like how the game tries to be political by developing these elaborate back stories for fast food workers and victims of the drug war to highlight those issues. However, no word on sexualized violence and the huge problem of violence against sex workers. You can just run them over afterwards to get your money back, it's not like they have a name or purpose other than sex and then dying. From the previews I have seen around the internet, it seems like Rockstar's newest contribution has no other purpose for the women in "Liberty City" other than sex and death. I really like that underlying message.

I'll go on the record saying that I like violent videogames. When most people moan and groan about how video games are corrupting the youth, I think they sound a bit dull. However, I really have to go with the fundies on this one. Sexualized violence and killing hookers is not cool. Thanks for enabling the elaborate joke socialization thinks violence against women is, Rockstar. I just don't think it's at all funny.

Props to Feministing and Samhita for pointing this out.

Two Months is....

If a one year anniversary is paper, what is a two month anniversary?
That's right. We've made it to two months and while that may not seem like much, we've outlasted the length of these celebrity marriages:

Cher and Gregg Allman
Drew Barrymore and Jeremy Thomas
and Britney Spears and Jason Alexandar

I know, quite an accomplishment.
But, really, thank you to all our readers, both regular and sporadic, for helping to sustain a blog that has gone from one writer to four and from posts with two comments to over one hundred in just two months. We truly appreciate the effort you guys put into responding to our writing. And congrats to my co-bloggers! We're still here.

I find it funny that Kate remembered the two month anniversary of the blog that I started, and I completely forgot. Anyway, I would also like to say thank you to all of our readers who have made positive contributions to the discussions on this blog. You guys are really the reason I started Female Impersonator, and you are awesome, especially the bloggers who started blogging after reading this one.

Thank you readers, and co-bloggers. You are all lovely people.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Child Commodity

Miley Cyrus is a commodity, a brand name, a Barbie doll, and a fifteen year old girl.

She is a fifteen year old girl lastly because she will be worth 1 billion dollars by the time she is eighteen, because she has broken movie and music records, and because she has been idolized into something more than human by millions of little girls.

So, there was something very sad about the Vanity Fair pictures mostly because a fifteen year old girl should be beginning to discover her sexuality. She should understand how her body works and why. She should appreciate her body's feelings and responses, but she should not be doing it in front of the world. To sell magazine covers.

Shame on Vanity Fair, her father and mother, the buyers of the magazines, and us for allowing this perversion.

Write to Congress about BC prices

Planned Parenthood has an action alert to write your congress members about the price of birth control here. There are a couple of bills coming up in the next few weeks that will fix the unintended price hike, so now's the time to write.

Here's an excerpt from the letter:

The Prevention Through Affordable Access Act (H.R. 4054 / S. 2347) -- legislation that would make a no-cost, technical fix to the DRA and restore safety-net and university clinics' ability to access low-cost contraceptives -- has 170 cosponsors in the House, and 35 in the Senate. This legislation would not cost either the federal government or state Medicaid agencies anything. It would merely allow drug manufacturers to offer deeply discounted prices to safety-net health care providers. If you have not done so already, please co-sponsor the Prevention Through Affordable Access Act and tell congressional leadership that this problem must be resolved immediately.
And the link to PP again, just in case you didn't click on it the first time.

Feminist of the Week - Letty Russell

As a student at Yale Divinity School, I've heard a lot about Letty Russell, leading feminist theologian and one of the first women to attend Harvard Divinity School. She died this past summer, so unfortuantely I never had the opportunity to meet her, but students who have taken classes with her speak highly of her, both personally and academically.

"Women in patriarchal culture are surrounded by messages that negate or trivialize their existence. Their bodily sexual presence is regarded as a dangerous threat to male purity and, at the same time, as a justification for constant verbal and physical abuse. They experience their bodies as constantly vulnerable to assault and are told, at the same time, that they deserve such assault because they "cause" it by their sexual presence. Similarly, women find their own viewpoints and judgments of events trivialized, and this trivialization is justified on the grounds that women are inherently stupid, uninformed, lacking in authority, and incapable of forming significant understandings. Thus they are alienated from their own minds, from being able to trust their own perceptions. These judgments upon the woman's body and mind are, in turn, used to justify women's exclusion from cultural opportunities and leadership. Women are asked to accept this, too, as normal, natural, divinely sanctioned. "

"The critique of sexism implies a fundamental principle of judgment. This critical principle of feminist theology is the affirmation of and promotion of the full humanity of women. Whatever denies, diminishes, or distorts the full humanity of women is, therefore, to be appraised as not redemptive. Theologically speaking, this means that whatever diminishes or denies the full humanity of women must be presumed not to reflect the divine or authentic relation to the divine, or to reflect the authentic nature of things, or to be the message or work of an authentic redeemer or a community of redemption. "

"Frequently, women with strong religious backgrounds have the most difficulty in accepting that the violence against them is wrong. They believe what they have been taught, that resistance to this injustice is unbiblical and unchristian. Christian women are supposed to be meek, and claiming rights for oneself is committing the sin of pride. But as soon as battered women who hold rigidly traditional religious beliefs begin to develop an ideological suspicion that this violence against them is wrong, they react against it. "

As a leading feminist theologian, she worked to bring about liberation for not just women, but liberation for all, tieing together strands of poverty, racism, and sexism to create a better future.

She said this at one of her last public speeches: "Our struggle is to overcome the fear of difference and to break the bars that keep us apart. [Others] want what we want. They want to work, they want to change the social structure. They want hospitality with justice."

Letty truly was an amazing woman. At her memorial service last October at YDS, her portrait was hung on the walls of the Common Room, becoming the second woman to have her portrait hung at YDS. It's an amazing portrait of a smiling woman - one that reflected her positive nature. Right next to her portrait is that of H. Richard Neibuhr, another YDS emeritus professor and one of the leading theologians of the 20th century. The contrast between these two is immeasurable - Letty's portrait positively glows while Neibuhr's casts a shadow, showing a white man dressed in black against a black background standing imposingly in front of a Bible. It's no wonder that Letty's theology worked to support the fullness of humanity.

You can find the wide array of her books here.

By the way, if anyone has any suggestions for feminist of the week, leave it in the comments.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Menstrual blood is the new black

Daaaaamn, I knew my menstrual blood was magical, but I didn't realize just how much:

Scientists say menstrual blood can repair hearts

Scientists obtained menstrual blood from nine women and cultivated it for about a month, focusing on a kind of cell that can act like stem cells.

Some 20 percent of the cells began beating spontaneously about three days after being put together in vitro with cells from the hearts of rats. The cells from menstrual blood eventually formed sheet-like heart-muscle tissue.

Take that, period-haters. I can repair a human heart with my blood. What can you do?

HT: Feministing

Another Secret

-----Email Message-----

Sent: Sunday, April 20, 2008 10:10 PM

Subject: Life is easier

I am a medical student who recently heard a doctor who works with people who are going through gender reassignments. The (male) doctor said that as part of the pre-surgery counseling, he always asks the male-to-female patients if they are ready to give up their privileged-male status in society. He said the patients often come back to him after they have completed their transition into a female. They tell him that they didn’t realize how significant the privileged-male status is.

I love Postsecret.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Oklahoma <3 Unnecessary Medical Procedures

Thanks to Senate Bill 1878, women in Oklahoma who want to get an abortion, first have to have a medically unnecessary ultrasound. Even in cases of rape or incest, these women will be forced to have an instrument placed in their vagina and view the fetus. And why? What will this accomplish other than increased anxiety (especially in cases of rape and incest), cost, and embarassment?

"Sen. Jim Wilson (D) said the state could reduce abortions by eliminating poverty and providing better education. "We see these bills every year, and we don't make any progress," Wilson said, adding, 'All we do is demean women and beat people up, and we think somehow we can stop abortions from happening.'"

Exactly. Exactly. Exactly.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Cross-posted at XXBlaze

A huge topic in Feminism is the claim that minorities and women are invisible in our society. The default "human position" is male. When reading something in which the author is not specified, the average American assumes that the author is male. If the author is female, of color, or homosexual, we praise it as a "fine piece of work by X minority". In short, a white man can publish a book and be praised for his contribution to academia, while a woman, person of color, or any other minority is primarily identified by that minority specification, not their accomplishments. Their contribution is something that belongs to a collective, whereas a white male's work is attributed solely to him, not to his unstated group membership.

Being a Feminist, I abhor when the majority subconsciously classify the words of a "minority" as representative of that minority group. It creates this sort of "otherness" in which we are all hyper-aware of race, gender, and sexual orientation because it seems to be known as the most important facet of one's identity.

However, when this identity is not stated, we simply assume that someone is a straight white male. Perhaps we might think the tone is sufficiently feminine, and then we consider that the author is a woman. Unless a piece of literature specifically alludes to homosexuality, race, or religion, we assume that the author is heterosexual, Christian/Atheist, white, and usually male.

I, just as much as the rest of you, am equally guilty. I subconsciously make distinctions of "otherness" when reading something by a woman, a homosexual, or, for instance, a Muslim. I make insensitive comments even about my own gender unknowingly because I grew up in a society that counts privelege and many different bigotries as a standard part of socialization.

What I really do not like about the mainstream Feminist movement is that it ignores a lot of these intersections of privelege. We do discuss issues that affect all women, but I have noticed that when we discuss relationships we always seem to discuss them in the context of heterosexuality. Among other things, we generally do not touch issues facing South American women or Middle Eastern women, or concentrate on the inequities facing a "stay at home Mom" or a particularly poor woman.

More than anything, however, I notice the assumption of heterosexuality. As a bisexual female, many of the discussions in the context of heterosexuality do not apply to me at all. A huge portion of my identity is not covered by mainstream Feminism, although I do not think it is by design. The pursuit of a feminist relationship between two women is not absent of its pitfalls. Absent, however, from the usual columns on how to craft a feminist relationship is any mention of homosexuality, polyamory, or transgenderism.

I only thought of this recently because of the discussions surrounding Amanda Marcotte's racially offensive illustrations in It's a Jungle Out There. Privilege very often results in a subconscious prioritization of issues. I see that many feminists place women's issues above racial issues and gay rights frequently. It is not appropriate to demonize the privileged, because we all are in our own way, but it is useful to point it out.

I suppose then that this is my two-bits. I would like to see a lot more about gay issues under the Feminist umbrella, not only because both are important to me, but I think that it is instrumentally important that Feminists remain cognizant of all types of priviledge, especially those types we might unknowingly further.

For what it counts, I suppose this is a bizarre sort of post that I write more as a minority than a majority. Considering my educated whiteness, this is a rare state for me. The fact still remains that when I write, I do so knowing that all of my readers assume that I am heterosexual. This is both a blessing and a curse. One day, I hope that my invisibility as someone who is not heterosexual will be obsolete.

Quick Post: Privilege and Feminists of Color

I am a white feminist, white because of my appearance, anyway, and some of the recent debates going on in the feminist blogosphere between white feminists and feminists of color have been upsetting. I will admit that I did not understand my privilege until I became a feminist, and now it is something that I am struggling to better understand and do something with. I believe that I can be useful in my privileged position, somehow, and I am going to start by listening even more carefully to all feminists who are less privileged than I am (thanks to Outcrazyophelia for the advice). If more white feminists did this, think of the progress we could make for all women.

I may have a harder time understanding the full extent of the intersectionality between gender and race, but that doesn't mean I'm blind to it. I may not always personally feel its effects, but I am aware of it, and being aware of it allows me to listen.

Refusal to hear the voices of feminists who don't look like you will accomplish very little. I want that to end.

We can be united under feminism without having to be the same people. Differences in lived experience did not create this split, its the valuing of the white, able bodied, heterosexual experience over others that brought us to this point. - Outcrazyophelia

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Jessica Rabbit 2.0

Remember Jessica Rabbit, the unrealistic cartoon woman from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Yeah, well someone is "untooning" her, aka taking her cartoon picture and making it as realistic as possible.

Because what this world needs is another picture of an unrealistic "living" woman, touched up by computers. As if the first Jessica Rabbit didn't make it hard enough.

Pictures at the link.

19 year old woman becomes youngest college professor EVER

Wow. Wow. Wow.

19-year-old Alia Sabur from Northport, New York, has become the world's youngest college professor.

She started talking and reading when she was just 8 months old. She had elementary school finished at age 5.

She made the jump to college at age 10. And by age 14, Sabur was earning a bachelor’s of science degree in applied mathematics summa cum laude from Stony Brook University — the youngest female in U.S. history to do so.

Her education continued at Drexel University, where she earned an M.S. and a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering.

She was hired in February to become a professor at Konkuk University in Seoul, Korea, three days before her nineteenth birthday. This effectively made her the youngest college professor in history, beating the previous record set by Colin Maclaurin back in 1717, who was nineteen at the time.

...Although she doesn’t start until next month, Sabur has taken up teaching math and physics courses at Southern University in New Orleans, which is still struggling from the devastation left in Hurricane Katrina’s wake in 2005.

“I really enjoy teaching,” said Sabur. “It’s something where you can make a difference. It’s not just what you can do, but you can enable a lot of other people to make their changes.”

How awesome! I was so excited to hear of this fantastic woman (she's the same age as me!) who seems to have great motivation.

Via Feministing.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Republicans make trouble for unequal pay act

Today Senate Republicans successfully blocked a bill which had the potential to make it easier for people to sue when faced with discriminatory pay. This bill, called the Fair Pay Restoration Act (but also known as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act), came as a response to a decision that the Supreme Court made in 2007 which stated that any person who claims pay discrimination must have their complaint filed within 180 days of that discrimination beginning. This six-month limit is troublesome due to the many difficulties that can arise when trying to prove pay discrimination.

Republicans complained that the bill would produce a flood of lawsuits and criticized the chamber's Democratic leaders for putting off the vote until the party's two presidential candidates, Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, returned from the campaign trail.

Reading that made me wonder, why do the Republicans believe there will be a "flood of lawsuits?" Seems to me that they are acknowledging the fact that pay discrimination exists (why else would there be lawsuits?) but they would rather just sweep it under the rug.

That deadline is specified in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines, and it "protects employers from the burden of defending claims arising from employment decisions long past," Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority in the 5-4 decision.

The bill that stalled Wednesday would have reset the clock with every paycheck, with supporters arguing that each paycheck was a discriminatory act. But Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican, said the bill would allow retirees drawing pensions to sue their old companies over allegations of discrimination that happened decades ago...

...The case was brought by an Alabama woman, Lilly Ledbetter, who claimed that her employer, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., paid men doing similar work 15 to 40 percent more. Ledbetter said she discovered the discrepancy late in her career -- too late, the court ruled, to go to court.


The Modesty Survey... Go ahead. Tell me I'm not modest.

It's the end of the semester and I've got a paper to finish before tomorrow, so this is an old post from my personal blog. Still fucking pisses me off.

The Modesty Survey

Does that piss anyone else off too? I'm glad to know they're taking the time to tell me what THEY'VE decided is immodest. Let me run out and change my wardrobe now.

47.5% of their all-male respondents chose agree or strongly agree to "A purse with the strap diagonally across the chest draws too much attention to the bust." How about 100% of me, myself and I say that a purse with the strap diagonally across the chest means I've never forgotten or lost my purse in the entirety of owning one, I don't have to worry about it being stolen, and it's more comfortable.

71% agree/strongly agree with "The lines of undergarments, visible under clothing, cause guys to stumble." You know what causes me to stumble? Teenage boys thinking it's their place to tell me what they have issues with in the way women dress.

63% agree/strongly agree that it's immodest for girls to reach into their shirts to adjust bra straps. Let's see you wear one and then complain about it being immodest to fix it.

I think the thing that pisses me off the most is the fucking presumption and audacity to do a whole survey of what specifically males think is immodest. Where's the partner survey on what girls think is immodest? I think being a prick is immodest, but no one's asking me to rate it on a 5 point scale. Other gems of this survey - conceived by two teenage guys (big suprise). The logo alone is infuriating. It's a white woman covering her the lower half of her face, suggesting that guys can go ahead and tell us what's not modest and we'll comply, but they sexualize and whitewash the image nonetheless. Go on head, fill out the survey and we'll hop right to, fixing our immodest lifestyles so you won't "stumble" anymore. Let's just cover ourselves right up so YOU don't have to worry about being tempted into sin. We can't have you wear a burqua, though, 'cause that's what the terrorists make their females wear.

I'm adequately pissed off now, thanksverymuch. I don't let teenage boys dictate my wardrobe anymore than I let George W. Bush dictate my politics.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Traitor who Wrote the Patriot Act

Earlier tonight, Amelia and I attended a speech at our school, Knox College, by John Ashcroft, former Attorney General of the United States and the man responsible for the Patriot Act. He also has the honor of being the only man to lose a Senate seat to an opponent who died prior to the election, the governor of Missouri who oversaw a 72% increase in incarceration rates in only seven years, the instigator of legislation that would have banned abortion, even in cases or rape and incest, and a leading perpetrator of waterboarding as an acceptable torture practice.

Ashcroft gave a fairly unremarkable speech, citing new technology as both an asset and a disservice to leadership, leaving many of his controversies unspoken. He did address the Patriot Act, attempting to explain its conception in the terrifying days following September 11th. Ashcroft is not a dumb man, he spoke about the Act in this context to play on the patriotism in the audience, and he recieved his most rousing applause during this portion of the speech. Unshockingly, he didn't mention how the Patriot Act weakens civil liberties in innumerable ways. Maybe he couldn't count the ways?

During his speech, many Knox students protested, covering their hands in red paint to symbolize the blood on Ashcroft and the Bush adminstration's hands, standing with their heads covered in black bags while wearing orange shirts, obvisously in refrence to torture victims, and even laying outside the speech in a way that directly reflected how waterboarding is used.

Many of the questions posed during the Q and A portion of the evening had to do with Ashcroft's involvement with the approval and use of waterboarding. What is waterboarding? It is a torture technique used by US officals that consists of strapping the victim down, wrapping plastic over the victims' face, tiltling his or her head back to simulate a gag reflex, and pouring water into the victim's mouth and lungs. It is drowning and causes all the damage drowning does: lung damage, brain damage, and extreme psychological damage.

Ashcroft skillfully avoided directly answering questions about the legality of waterboarding, but he was obvisously uncomfortable throughout, coming close to yelling at students and making jokes. I think it was these jokes which angered me most. When confronted about his own definition of torture, Ashcroft said his list of what consitituted cruel would be different than most; he would include attending a high school dance. Hardy Har Har. I love when powerful men compare drowning suspects to high school memories. Fucking hilarious, Johnny.

So what does this have to do with feminism? Maybe nothing, espically because his extreme stance abortion was not mentioned during his speech. But, because the mainstream newsmedia has ignored US torture techniques, it is the responsibility of the alternative press, such as blogs like this, to present the information. So we are.


Kate did a pretty good job covering the speech. I did find it rather unsettling how much he focused on new technology and its relation to weaponry, especially considering this was supposed to be a speech about leadership. He also did a pretty good job hyping up the United States, discussing about its multiple superiorities, be they political or religious (yes, he did throw that in there, indirectly).

But what upset me the most was his performance during the question and answer section. I realize that he must have been aware of the rather hostile environment he had stepped into - many people in the audience were visually protesting him during his speech - but he did not do very much to change my opinion of him or his policies by outright refusing to answer several questions and skirting the rest. He also responded to some of them in ways that I found very inappropriate. He challenged the validity of questions, for example, by calling out one asker who could not cite the exact date of an interaction the Ashcroft had recently had in Washington (I think it may have been this one, but I'm not sure because Ashcroft didn't really let the person ask their question without interruption). He also managed to dodge questions by twisting the background information provided by one student so that she contradicted herself.

I admit that some of the audience members were disrespectful at times (but only a handful of times), but I believe that Ashcroft, an experienced politician, should have known better than to react equally as disrespectfully. He made himself look bad by refusing to answer questions posed by college students who only wanted their voices to be heard.

And with regard to how this is related to feminism, check out this neat little list of Ashcroft's views on abortion. He also seems very heteronormative in his views, as he completely disregarded a question about the effects of his actions on the LGBTQ community.

Also, if you want to see some pictures I took of the people who protested his speech, you can view them here.


A local paper carried this article today; I felt that it was very anti-protesters, and it did not accurately portray Ashcroft's reaction (and dismissal) of many of the questions that students asked, even the ones that were not directly accusatory. And as for the article's last line, “The difference between you (the audience) and them is they don’t want to see. There are none so blind as those who don’t want to see," (about some protesting students with blood on their hands and hoods over their heads), someone else yelled out after that, "But they can still hear!"

Einstein Who?

So, I'm taking an astronomy class this term and was just doing some reading for tomorrow when I discovered this:
"Our current system of stellar classification began at Harvard College Observatory." The observatory director had numerous assistants, whom he called "computers." Most of these "computers" were women....No one at the time knew why spectra followed the sequence. The correct answer - that all stars are made primarily of hydrogen and helium - was discovered by Cecilia Payne-Gaposchken...She published her discoveries in her doctoral thesis, which was later called "the most brilliant PhD thesis ever written."
Fucking Rad.

Feminism shall smite thee, Mother Earth!

Oh, Jack Cashill. Oh, WorldNetDaily. This is just great. I don't think I've heard the claim that feminists are bad for the environment before (although young feminists as "wild" and "pole dancers" is an idea that seems to be going around).

I know that there are at least some occasional readers of this blog who identify as both feminist and some sort of environmentalist. Well, Jack Cashill has found you guys out: He knows you really just want to destroy the environment by not relying on men for your livelihood. You can stop pretending now.

"Equal pay for equal work also means equal commutes. In California, it is not at all unusual in two-income families for the two jobs to be an hour or more apart.

With only one parent in the workforce, the family has the ability to live closer to the breadwinner's place of employment, and most do.

Indeed, stay-at-homes moms save the state's highway infrastructure from meltdown, especially since a "nanny" often drives to the working mom's house, putting three cars on the road where otherwise one would do.

Homeschooling moms further ease the strain on the ecosystem by keeping their kids off the road."

Mr. Jack Cashill, I think, deserves some sort of acknowledgment for this absurd attempt at discrediting feminism without really addressing, you know, any of the true aims of the movement (which has nothing to do with environmental degradation). And I'm not talking about giving him positive reinforcement.

P.S. Happy Earth Day!

Via Feministing.

Pedophila is Sexy

With the recent uproar surrounding the bust of the polygamous compound down in Texas, I took the time to do a little theorizing why pedophilia seems to persist, contrary to opinions that state that only "backassward third world countries" do that. I started with examining the American perception of "sexy", although I am fairly certain that this social feminine norm holds constant for most modern cultures. Then, I looked at the tendency of college males to "date down". I finally try to make sense of this all in a larger scheme of what our society thinks is "sexy", and how that might fuel pedophilia.

I feel that it should go without saying that I am firmly anti-sexy. I really dislike the constant barrage of female sexuality to sell products. Considering that the mainstream definition of "sexy" is submissive or only sexual in the context of pleasing men, I have no desire to be sexy, nor do I have any desire to see "sexy" images day in and day out.

Probably the thing that bothers me the most about "sexy" is this infantilization of women. If you do not possess a Y chromosome then age, maturity, and ambition are not tolerated. You are to be stupider than your man, lest you intimidate him. If you are smarter, do not tell him so. The Cloud-Father hath gifted man with a penis, making his opinions more important than yours. This is especially apparent when a stronger female, denying the power of socialization, dares to be particularly outspoken or "shrewish". Inquires are made to her mental state. Her voice is "shrill" and her displays of any emotion are weepy. Perhaps her anger is "hot" or "sexy". She is urged to stop fighting and start fucking. "You quarrel like a married couple," they say. "You would have hot hate-sex together."

The message is clear: women are babies, mentally ill, PMSing, or need a good dose of masculine throbbing superiority. They are not entitled to an opinion, unless it is demonstrably flawed or analogous with your own. Like I said earlier, a woman's place is making babies and boners, not instigating meaningful conversation.

What is the consequence of this infantilization? I would not be incorrect to say that I am fairly certain that men are attracted to younger women for precisely this reason: the fetishization of youth, stupidity, and weakness. In circles of my friends, my male friends will openly discuss how they prey on high school girls. My female friends will then confess that they dated college boys in high school, and usually lost their virginity to them. This trend rarely goes the opposite way.

The popular sentiment is that men date younger women because women mature faster than men. I say that is bullshit. Regardless of the growth of breasts, hormones are not responsible for my twenty-two year old male friend dating a sixteen year old girl. What he likes about her is her innocence and her gullibility. She probably has never had a serious relationship; she wants desperately to please him. If he was to stop calling her, she would have no way to contact him. In short, she is malleable. A female university student would not sleep with him for his approval. She also would not be impressed with his age and his car. In short, he would put himself in a position where he is as vulnerable to rejection as his paramore by dating his equal.

This is simply not done. Why would a man want a wise college woman when he could have a younger high school teenager desperate to sleep with him to explore her sexuality or to please an older man? Why would a man place himself in a position where he is equal, god forbid, to a woman if he can maintain superiority with his age and her idealism?

The very things that draw men to younger women are the same things that draw pedophiles to children: malleability, gullibility, innocence, virginity, and youth. On the long spectrum of sexual encounters beginning in rape and pedophilia and ending in genuine consensual sex, men dating women much younger than themselves for those reasons is closer to the morally wrong end of the spectrum then the consensual one.

In all honesty, I am not all at shocked when it is revealed that so-and-so is a pedophile. In a world where sexiness is submissiveness, youth, and stupidity, children are not that separate from the collective vision of the ideal woman. I do not think that there is something concretely wrong with pedophiles. Equating the "disease" of pedophilia with sociopathy or real psychological issues conceals the point and fails to hold men responsible for their actions. Pedophilia is the darker cousin to the very real and very prevalent image of "sexiness" that our society holds as the feminine ideal. The only disease pedophiles have is the egocentric view that they are entitled to rape (and sex with children is nothing but rape) children because they have internalized their masculine socialization to a greater extent than other men. Perhaps their self-esteem is especially low, so they feel that they cannot have consensual sex with someone of age because no one would be attracted to them. Perhaps they are married men that molest young girls because they feel that they are entitled to some sex that does not come accompanied with a human being expecting them to be decent to them.

Many men like to fuck dolls. They watch porn in which the actress takes abuse and exists solely for the pleasure of her audience and any man on camera without a care to herself. A sick man will internalize this image, and seek women out that adhere to this porn star image. A particularly immoral man will not only internalize this image, he will purposely groom someone malleable and immature to service his needs like the porn he watches every day, or in the movies he sees in the theaters. These men are pedophiles, and they are criminals responsible for their own actions. They are not insane, nor are they tugged about by a nonexistent brain in their penis that overrules their sense of morality. They are men that think that they are entitled to sex with someone that asks nothing in return.

My point is that the mental states of a man who preys on children or a college-aged man who preys on sixteen year-old girls are not dissimilar. They are both products of our culture and masculine socialization.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Birth Control Costs from a Birth Control User

Birth control prices have been on my mind lately following up this discussion, so it was serendipitous to wander onto a blog post about birth control costs. It's from Stacking Pennies, a personal finances/frugal living blog that I'm definitely adding to my bookmarks, as frugal blogging is of interest to me and my ever-growing student loans and little-by-little decreasing credit card debit - not to mention it's getting harder just to get by day-to-day.

Her post is at Female Finance: Birth Control Costs

She gives a nice look at a bunch of different birth control and its prices/effectiveness and breaks it down like this:

To sum it up, here are the options I’ve come up with so far, all in pre-tax dollars:

  • Condoms: Maybe $150/yr, but not enough protection
  • NuvaRing: $600/yr
  • The Pill: Estimated $300/yr
  • IUD: ??? One time (per 10 yrs) cost of $300+
  • Abstinence: $0, but perhaps my happiness and/or my boyfriend

Gosh we women get ripped off. . . (Although any male paying $50/mo for condoms has my sympathy too.) Also, why aren’t feminine hygiene products eligible for my HSA spending but band-aids are? The sort of do the same thing. Ok, not at all, but still! I consider them a necessary health product but I guess they aren’t.

For the record, I consider birth control a necessary health product. My motto is condoms+ - condoms plus another form. No babies, no babies, no babies.

The entire post is interesting if you want to see how different methods compare, and the comments are another good place to get an idea of how much people are spending on birth control, anywhere from free to $5 to $55.

Feminist of the Week - Alan Alda

Last night while I was reading Alan Alda's _Never Have Your Dog Stuffed_, I came across the chapter where he describes going around working on the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. I didn't know he did that, and I'm guessing lots of other people didn't as well... Thus Feminist of the Week was born.*

"A woman in Illinois told me about an encounter with a legislator who had refused time after time to vote for [the ERA], saying it just didn't matter to his constituents. After she had made every argument she was capable of, he finally said, 'All right. I'll vote for it if you come up to my hotel room this afternoon and give me a hand job.' And he wasn't joking. Something like voting for the 14th Amendment in exchange for a couple of good slaves.

'Why are you working so hard for equality for women?' I was asked a little suspiciously sometimes. In fact, I was asked this so many times, I began to realize I didn't know myself what the answer was. At first, I tried flip answer. 'I come from a long line of women,' I said. Or, 'Well, I'm from a mixed marriage. My father was a man, and my mother was a woman.' But these jokes didn't explain it. Why was I spending so much energy on it, even willing to get some people mad at me?

Partly, it was that I knew it could be helpful if a man spoke out in public about these things, and I kept going out, trying to help. And there's no doubt that I loved getting up in front of audiences and making speeches. There certainly was that. I could hear the nun behind me chuckling again. But mostly, I think, it made me angry that we were refusing to guarantee half our citizens equality under the law.

Finally, though, with all the efforts of hundreds of thousands of people, the amendment lost. These few words never made it into the Constitution: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."

- Alan Alda, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed (177-178)

*I don't want to hear any crap about how I picked a man to be Feminist of the week. Lots of men are feminists and lots of women are feminists. So there.

Rock of Misogyny

Cross-posted from XXBlaze

The greatest way to observe how not to be a feminist is to watch reality television. No show my roommates watched this year fit that horrible stereotype more perfectly than "Rock of Love 2" in which Brett Michaels, the former lead singer of Poison, simultaneously dates/fucks 25 women.

Tonight was the Reunion show, where Brett and his Rock of Love, Ambre, met again while a studio full of slobbering apes, including him and his male co-host, leer at his female cast-mates.

I was roped into watching the show by a product of my weak will and the constraints of living in a patio home with two other people. I suppose I stayed in front of the television simply because it was too bad to believe.

Regardless, the highlight of the night was not the objectification of the French stripper, Angelique. What was perhaps the saddest thing I heard was the irony of a man who simultaneously dated over twenty women and made no secret of his "rock star lifestyle" (read: right to sleep around in a farce of a committed relationship) questioning the character of two women. In particular, runner-up Daisy DeLaHoya, who lived with her ex-boyfriend-turned-friend, and Kristy Joe Muller, who first went on the show while she was separated from her husband, and now claims that she has committed to six months of relationship counseling with him before she makes a final decision.

Oh the horror. You "fake" sluts; how dare you play with the emotions of a man who is sleeping with and dating many women at once while you are close friends with your ex or separated from your husband.

The cherry on top of the shit sundae was when Daisy angrily asked why Brett took advantage of her feelings for him the final night of the show to get some nookie. Admist snickers from the audience (how dare that woman question a man!) Brett replied, "well, I am a man".

Yes, of course you are. Brett Michaels would like you to know that men have no free will outside of the rushing of blood to their penis. The satisfaction of his manly libido is much more important than your feelings. Honestly Daisy, did you think you could possibly be equal to a man?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Feminist Graffiti

I took the picture in the heading of this blog one day after a sign appeared on the door to my dorm suite that said: How would your life be different if gender roles did not exist? These signs had been popping up all over campus, and no one seemed to know who was responsible for them.

Then last week, after I got out of my film class, I noticed a good deal of sidewalk chalking done in the same spirit. Here are the pictures that I took last Thursday with Kate, after our radio show. They aren't the best because they started to rub away, so captions will accompany the pictures.

How would life be different if gender roles did not exist?

Society trains gender roles.

How has your life been influenced?

The unknown gender-chalker (as I refer to them), drew bubbles connecting all the different sayings with "?'s" in them. Someone else wrote in this one, True dat! Start small, which I think is a great acknowledgment of what this artist did: something small that started a lot of conversation. Good for them, whoever they are.

Lithuanian pro-choice protesters

I've been to Lithuania numerous times for mission trips and I consider the place a second home with people who live there who are my friends and family. Needless to say, it was distressing for me to see they are considering banning abortion.

Pro-choice to the rescue!

Awesome protesting and I think each and every one of those protesters is badass. Nice work, feminists!

I hope the right to choose is protected for all of the young girls I know in Lithuania, in case they may need to make that choice one day.

Child Brides in Yemen

In Yemen an 8-year old girl is filing for divorce from her 50 year old "husband."

"Whenever I wanted to play in the yard he beat me and asked me to go to the bedroom with him."

Nujood Ali is a child in a very adult world. Nujood's father forced her to marry
Faez Ali Thamer two months ago and since then she has suffered daily rape and beatings at her "husband's" hands. And she is refusing to take it anymore; after pleading with her reluctant mother, father, and extended family to help her leave the marriage, she filed for divorce, alone, from Thamer.

However, under Sharia law, which governs most Muslim nations, women can only divorce their husbands if he is, "i
nfertile at the time of marriage; insane; or has leprosy or another contagious skin disease." Because of this, Nujood has no legal standing in Yemen courts. She will most likely lose her case.

I could not find any information on a minimum age for marriage in Yemen; there probably isn't one.

Nujood Ali is so incredibly brave. She has my greatest admiration and hopes. How can we, those so far from her world, help her and other child brides? Does anyone have any ideas?

New Contributor Introduction

Hey all! Amelia is letting me contribute to this lovely Feminist blog, so you'll be seeing more of my posts in the future. Just as an introduction, I am a young Philosophy/French major at my local university, and I do activism for our university Feminist organization frequently. I will be looking to complete my undergraduate thesis on domestic violence someone in the next year or so.

I have self-identified as a Feminist for only two years. My "conversion" was fueled mostly by the welcoming and awesome Women's Studies 101 class I took my Freshman year. I place myself on the radical side of feminism, à la Dworkin. I am anti-pornography, pro-choice, and generally just the kind of liberal that makes liberals look conservative.

I am really looking forward to contributing as much as a I can, and as constructively as possible. I am more interested in the theory side of Feminism, so you will probably see a lot of commentary in that vein. I am really honored to have the chance to contribute here!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Another Post for Fair Pay!

So, on our radio show yesterday, Amelia and I talked a little bit about fair pay, and we started getting into the repercussions for women when they make so much less than men. These repercussions are as varied having to support oneself through prostitution to begin forced to give up a career to raise children at the home.

However these have been discussed in previous posts on this blog. Lindsay mentioned earlier that for every dollar a white man earns, I will earn 77 cents. My Mexican roommate will earn 52 cents and my black friends will earn 62 cents. The Fair Pay Movement really isn't all about the "white man dollar," but about the monetary inequities between white women and women of color. It really speaks to a larger problem within the feminist movement.

As a white feminist and new feminist, I don't feel "qualified" to write about the racial factions of the feminist movement, but I want to dedicate my post, this post for fair pay not only for my missing 23 cents, but for the missing 48 cents of one of my best friends and for the 25 cents that separates us.

We demand fair pay now!

Fair Pay and the Equal Rights Amendment

On behalf of Blog for Fair Pay Day, I reflected on the considerable resistance to legally prohibiting sexism in the work place. There are several acts and amendments being considered by our legislators, one of which is the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act briefly covered in Lindsay's post.

However, when I was first informed of this "Blog for Fair Pay" event, I did not think of the Fair Pay Act; I did not even know it existed. What immediately came to mind is the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which has been introduced in every session of Congress since 1923. If passed, our 28th Amendment would read:

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification

Our 110th Congress (2007-2008) has introduced the amendment as S.J. Res. 10 and H.J. Res. 40. Both bills do not include the historical third section.

This amendment, over eighty years in the making, would finally grant women equal rights in all legal matters as guaranteed by the federal government. Currently, various states do grant various legal protections by law, but the fact remains that not only is there no federal amendment barring discrimination by sex and not since 1972 has the amendment passed both houses of Congress.

The federal ERA would prohibit states from restricting state-funded abortions differently from other "medically necessary" procedures sought by men. This interpretation of the ERA was upheld in 1998 when the New Mexico Supreme Court found that the state's ERA required that Medicaid pay for abortions. Justice Minzer ruled:

New Mexico's Equal Rights Amendment requires a searching judicial inquiry to determine whether the Department's rule prohibiting state funding for certain medically necessary abortions denies Medicaid-eligible women equality of rights under law. We conclude from this inquiry that the Department's rule violates New Mexico's Equal Rights Amendment because it results in a program that does not apply the same standard of medical necessity to both men and women, and there is no compelling justification for treating men and women differently with respect to their medical needs in this instance.

Furthermore, opponents have argued that an ERA would require the legal recognition of same-sex marriages because the amendment would prohibit any legislation that bars participation from a legal contract on the basis of gender. Other considerations that have defeated the bill are claims that an ERA would draft women, prohibit same-sex schools, and require that women serve on the front lines of the armed forces.

It is instrumentally important that we urge our legislators to pass the federal ERA, especially if the amendment could finally guarentee women's right to contraceptives and abortion once and for all. Luckily, twenty-one states already have an ERA on the books: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virgina, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Unfortunately, twenty-nine states, despite attempts, do not have an ERA, including my home-state of lovely Arizona (one of the few states that did not ratify the federal ERA when it passed both houses in 1972).

Today, as we reflect on the necessity of Fair Pay, and our outrage that income is still so variable upon gender and race, we should remember that not only have some legislators curtailed our right to object to unequal pay, they have defeated the ratification of an amendment that would grant us equality under law repeatedly for over six centuries.

Cross-posted at XXBlaze

Muslimahs Speak Up! Carnival

There's a Muslimahs Speak Up! Carnival with lots of good links and lots of female Muslim voices.


From Muslimah Media Watch: Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Triple Threats and Double Trouble for Muslim Women

Izzy Mo: Muslim Women Writers Need Not Apply

Snowy Heights: Hijabibabe

Musings of a Mademoiselle: The Neuroses of a Confused Girlie

Just a bit from the Neuroses of a Confused Girlie (which I think is awwwwesome):

It’s harder as a Muslim when die-hard fanatics tell you that a woman being out and about in public is wrong. That shaking hands with the opposite sex is haram. That I should be at home bearing babies and coddling a husband. It’s harder as an Egyptian when people tell me not to pursue an MBA because I’ll intimidate any potential spouses. That speaking out against sexual harassment is somehow shameful. That my femininity is somehow compromised if I insist on talking books and politics. And my all time favorite: I should hurry up and get married before all the good guys are gone. 1,2,3.

But you know what? I’m still proud to be Muslim. Proud to be Egyptian. Proud to be a woman.

I’ll continue learning about my religion, and debating to my dying breath with those who try and convince me that my religion wants to treat me like a second class citizen. (Or other aspects of Islam that are misconstrued, but that’s another story).

I love the fact that my Egyptian family will always be there for me, My-Big-Fat-Greek Wedding-Style, and I’ll strive to balance between what I want and what they want.

And as a woman? Well, since I’m obviously never going to go for a man that is going to try and cut me down to size, it seems I’m sadly going to end up a sad old spinster with cats, ranting bitterly to my equally sad and pathetic friends. Sorry, Grandma!


Props to Muslimah Media Watch for the link to the carnival.

Yale miscarriage art update

Ok, so here's an update on the Yale College student who supposedly impregnanted herself and then induced miscarraiges.

Last night Yale University released a press statement saying she never did any of those things and that "the entire project is an art piece, a creative fiction designed to draw attention to the ambiguity surrounding form and function of a woman’s body."

Then today, the Yale Daily News published an article saying that she DID impregnant and induce miscarriages.

But in an interview later Thursday afternoon, Shvarts defended her work and
called the University’s statement “ultimately inaccurate.” She reiterated that
she engaged in the nine-month process she publicized on Wednesday in a press
release that was first reported in the News: repeatedly using a needleless
syringe to insert semen into herself, then taking abortifacient herbs at the end
of her menstrual cycle to induce bleeding. Thursday evening, in a tour of her
art studio, she shared with the News video footage she claimed depicted her
attempts at self-induced miscarriages.


As more news outlets posted their stories online early Friday morning, Shvarts responded to the University’s second statement, asserting that her project was, in her words, “University-sanctioned.”

“I’m not going to absolve them by saying it was some sort of hoax when it wasn’t,” she said. “I started out with the University on board with what I was doing, and because of the media frenzy they’ve been trying to dissociate with me. Ultimately I want to get back to a point where they renew their support because ultimately this was something they supported.”

She did, she didn't... This is all confusing. Right now it's hard to separate the art from the controversy. Or maybe the controversy is the art itself.

Blog for Fair Pay Day!

White Men - $1.00/1.00


White Women - $.77/1.00


African-American Women - $.63/.100


Latinas - $.52/1.00


Still think we live in an equal society, one governed entirely by our own actions?

Our society dictates that it's impolite to talk about each other's salaries, so often this gap goes by unnoticed. The Supreme Court limited the amount of passed time one was able to sue about their salary to the first experience of discrimination. So if you're being payed unfairly and you don't realize it within 180 days, you're screwed. (And as is becoming increasingly familiar - Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg writes a dissent saying "WTF.") Write to your senator here to support the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that reverses the previous decision.

And just a reminder - The Equal Pay Act says this:

(d) (1) No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this
section shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are
employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in
such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to
employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs the
performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which
are performed under similar working conditions.

**I don't have the statistics in front of me, but if I remember correctly, Asian women are either slightly higher than white women or slightly lower. If anyone has solid data, post it in the comments.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Radio Show

Radio Show in 1 hour and 20 minutes!
Oh, and I promise it will be better than last week because there won't be DJ training in the middle of it, and I won't be twenty minutes late (grrrr to the person who works after me!)!
Yay. Any requests for music or topics?

*This is Amelia, and I just wanted to let Lindsay know that I am going to dedicate a song by Tilly and the Wall to her on the air today, even though she won't be able to listen.

Misogynist Movie Alert: 88 Minutes

Thanks to the Village Voice for warning everyone to avoid 88 Minutes, the new Al Pacino "thriller." I generally avoid critiquing movies before I see them (since that really takes out the whole point of critiquing it), but I'm not planning on seeing this EVER. It really just sounds like a vehicle that allows Al Pacino to run around with young women and avoid explosions.

Ella Taylor has this to say:
There is one way, however, in which, all unawares, the movie works like a charm—as a twisted, self-torturing essay on the aging man's fear of and desire for the young female body. We may have to sit through worse films to come this year, but with any luck, there'll be none as guilelessly, idiotically misogynist as this one.
If anyone has the stomach muscles to watch it and make it through without throwing up, let me know if it lives up to its misogynistic claims.

Props to Shakesville on this one.

Abortion a medium for art, political discourse

From the Yale Daily News: For senior, abortion a medium for art, political discourse

Art major Aliza Shvarts '08 wants to make a statement.

Beginning next Tuesday, Shvarts will be displaying her senior art project, a documentation of a nine-month process during which she artificially inseminated herself "as often as possible" while periodically taking abortifacient drugs to induce miscarriages. Her exhibition will feature video recordings of these forced miscarriages as well as preserved collections of the blood from the process.

The goal in creating the art exhibition, Shvarts said, was to spark conversation and debate on the relationship between art and the human body. But her project has already provoked more than just debate, inciting, for instance, outcry at a forum for fellow senior art majors held last week. And when told about Shvarts' project, students on both ends of the abortion debate have expressed shock — saying the project does everything from violate moral code to trivialize abortion.

But Shvarts insists her concept was not designed for "shock value."

"I hope it inspires some sort of discourse," Shvarts said. "Sure, some people will be upset with the message and will not agree with it, but it's not the intention of the piece to scandalize anyone."


The display of Schvarts' project will feature a large cube suspended from the ceiling of a room in the gallery of Green Hall. Schvarts will wrap hundreds of feet of plastic sheeting around this cube; lined between layers of the sheeting will be the blood from Schvarts' self-induced miscarriages mixed with Vaseline in order to prevent the blood from drying and to extend the blood throughout the plastic sheeting.

Schvarts will then project recorded videos onto the four sides of the cube. These videos, captured on a VHS camcorder, will show her experiencing miscarriages in her bathrooom tub, she said. Similar videos will be projected onto the walls of the room.

I'm not sure how I feel about the project yet but it's an interesting idea. The mixing of the sheets with the video is really unique - a demonstration of the tangible and intangible, the stillness of the sheets and the vividness of the film while both have the potential to evoke very emotional responses.

I want to see the actual installation before I make any sort of opinion on the work itself. If anyone's in the New Haven area and wants to check it out, the exhibit is in Holcombe Hall on Chapel Street, open from April 22 to May 1.

What do other people think about it?


Yale released this press statement today:

Ms. Shvarts is engaged in performance art. Her art project includes visual representations, a press release and other narrative materials. She stated to three senior Yale University officials today, including two deans, that she did not impregnate herself and that she did not induce any miscarriages. The entire project is an art piece, a creative fiction designed to draw attention to the ambiguity surrounding form and function of a woman’s body.

She is an artist and has the right to express herself through performance art.

Had these acts been real, they would have violated basic ethical standards and raised serious mental and physical health concerns.

Change anyone's opinion?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Little Rant

So, basically, I'm pissed.

My roommate was flipping channels earlier, and she landed on the show Reaper, which is basically about a guy who sold his soul to the devil and has to do errands for him. So, on the episode today, there was this gem of a quote:

On seeing a supermodel, dead, because someone had thrown acid on her:
"Why would a woman do that to another woman?"
"Why else would a woman be this angry, the angriest? Jealousy."

Hardy Har Har.
Yeah, Reaper, because women don't get angry over politics, the environment, racism, abuse, religion, or, you know, sexism.

Aw, shit, I just did.

Amazing Feminism is Happening

A little feminist sunshine for your evening!

Girls Write Now is a mentoring program in New York City for low-income, first generation, and immigrant young women who are paired up with women writers in the city. They work together on writing and editing, but they also talk about education, goals, and family.

This is a wonderful program, and it brings to light an important feminist concern: mentoring. Women have been graduating from college at a higher rate than men for several years now, but men still hold nearly all of the high positions within most companies. One reason for this seems to be mentoring, or The Old Boys Club.

Women are less openly discriminated in the workplace and often even invited to after-work "bonding," such as drinks, but sexism is still present. The conversations during these "bonding" events often steers away from topics women can relate to; just because these drinks are not taking place in a strip club, does not mean sexism is not there. Older men often feel closer to younger men and, whether consciously or not, the older men will pass on advice or give recommendations for these younger men.

Older women are not exempt from this sexism. Older women may choose not to recognize the merit of younger women's work because of competition. Many women feel that there are only so many places for women are these companies, and for their own sake, choose to mentor young men.

Which is why Girls Write Now is such a great program and a reason why I am SO excited about it!