Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Vagina Tally pt. 2

Vagina Tally for Female Impersonators Radio Hour: 5

Today on the radio show, Kate and I discussed multiple reasons why we cannot support Sarah Palin's run for Vice-President, despite the fact that she has a vagina. We talked about this for a while, and then went to a song. During the song, we had two people call in. This is what the second person [a male, sounded to be older, perhaps middle-aged] said to me:

"You girls sound so cute going back and forth about Sarah Palin."

Yes. Some man called in during a feminist radio show to tell two feminists that we sounded "cute" when we were discussing some real issues that are important to know for the election that is coming up in November.

The word "cute" in this situation was especially bothersome because the way he said it seemed to belittle our concerns about Palin and the arguments we made against her. Being "cute" is for five-year-olds. We are college students, trying to inform people about Sarah Palin's anti-woman record. We deserve to be taken seriously and should not have to deal with creepy-sounding guys calling in and making inappropriate comments.

I wish I had thought to say that to him while he was on the phone, but I really just wanted to get off the line as soon as possible.

Female Impersonators Radio Hour Today at 1:20 CST.

Today. 1:20pm Central Time.
Female Impersonators Radio Hour feat. Kate and Amelia.

Tune in as we keep up with the Vagina Tally, promote a local women's event and discuss Banned Books Week.

Feminism. Talk. Music. Yay.

Monday, September 29, 2008

VP Debate Drinking Game

In preparation for Thursday's debate...

The Biden/Palin Vice-Presidential Debate Drinking Game!

One drink:
Palin calls herself a hockey mom
Biden mentions George Bush
Palin says "thanks but no thanks" in any context
Either candidate says:

Two drinks:
Palin is unable to give specific examples for McCain/Republican policies
Bident insults Obama or the Democratic party
Either candidate references "Wall Street" or "Main Street"
Either candidate mispronounces a foreign leader's name
Either candidate tries to convince people energy dependence is the number 1 foreign policy issue
Either candidate uses proximity to foreign borders as an example of foreign policy experience
Either candidate actually looks at one another

Finish your drink:
Palin mentions George Bush (by name)
Palin tears off her face, revealing her as a Terminator
Palin is actually Tina Fey
Biden's face turns bright red and then explodes
Gwen Ifill, pissed off by both candidates, storms off state while muttering to herself
Biden unhinges his jaw and swallows Palin whole

Leave suggestions in the comments!

CNN on SNL/Palin

Friday, September 26, 2008

Presidential debate

What's your opinion of the first presidential debate?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Little Victories pt 2

I take online surveys for money - not much, but they pay me for my opinion regarding any number of products.

I took one today about a beauty product (I'm not sure how much I can say without breaking the privacy rule) and used the survey as an opportunity to rail against the beauty industry. I believe at one point I wrote something along the lines of "I won't buy your product because I refuse to support a beauty industry that tells women they're incomplete without a specific beauty product."

I sincerely enjoyed it, and will spend that 3 dollars on things unrelated to beauty. Huzzah!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Vagina Tally

Kate and I are pretty lucky to be feminist radio show hosts right now. With such a historic election coming up in November, we have so many things to talk about like health care, the economy, Iraq...and vaginas.

Today, during our first show of the year, I discussed how annoying it is that people (the media, my family, etc.) assume that because Sarah Palin is John McCain's running mate, that I will vote Republican in November. I mean, I'm a feminist, and I should support a woman candidate, right? We have so much in common...like vaginas.

I am sick of people reducing women to their genitals (and other people to their skin color) in this election. I do not vote with my vagina. My brain is not located in my vagina. Just because a VP nominee has a vagina, like I do, does not mean that I will automatically vote for that person.

Being a feminist isn't about agreeing with everyone on the planet who has a vagina. In fact, certain people with vaginas would be bad for this country if elected VP (in my opinion). So from today on, on the Female Impersonators Radio Hour, Kate and I will be discussing reasons why Sarah Palin would be a poor choice for VP, and how even though she has a vagina, we as feminists cannot support her as a politician.

We will also be keeping track of how many times we use the word "vagina" when discussing this upcoming election and Sarah Palin's role in it.

Vagina Tally for Female Impersonators Radio Hour: 2
Vagina Tally for this Post: 12

Consent is not puberty

What's problematic about this pair of statements?

CNN's headline was: "Evangelist: 'Puberty' is age of sexual consent"
In an interview on Saturday, [Tony Alamo] had said that for girls having sex, "consent is puberty."

CNN assumes that he means reaching puberty enables girls to make sexual consent decisions. If you look at what that statement actually says - "consent is puberty - then he's implying that the age of puberty is the same thing as consent. Maybe the context of the statement clarifies what Alamo means, but as it stands, the literal meaning of that sentence is that anyone at the age of puberty gives sexual consent. Not that they have the ability to, but that they automatically do.

For someone accused of child abuse and pornography, the semantics make a huge difference.

Female Impersonators Radio Hour, Today!

That's right, folks!

Female Impersonators Radio Hour, the radio show that inspired this blog, will be making its comeback today (Tuesday) at 1:20pm.

Please join us (Kate and Amelia) as we re-introduce our feminist talk/music show featuring the music of:

- Tokyo Police Club
- Yeah Yeah Yeahs
- Tilly and the Wall
- Fiona Apple
- Coldplay
- And more!

And discussion of:

- The answer to the question: "Aren't you so happy about Sarah Palin? You're a feminist, right? So you're going to vote for McCain, then?"

- More about why having a vagina does not guarantee our votes this November.

-The Texas judge who included in the provisions of a woman's probation that she not have more children (h/t The Curvature).

-Anecdotes from my encounter with sexism at the RNC and Kate's trip to Mexico this summer.

We love our listeners, so please tune in!
Feminism. Talk. Music. Yay.

Listen here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Reminder...

I am still accepting submissions for the design of my next [feminist] tattoo! So if you are artistic, design me a little something that portrays feminism in a positive manner, and I just might wear it forever!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Question for Courtney E. Martin at Feministing...

I wandered over to Feministing for a bit and I only got through the latest post before I had to stop and do some thinking.

The poster, Courtney, put up an adorable picture of a sleeping man and a cat. Above it she wrote (emphasis mine):
A little hot cat on boy action for you. The boy is mine. The cat is Kima. Also mine.
I wanted to ask Courtney herself about her choice of this phrase, but I am currently having major issues signing in to comment, so I will ask the question here:

I know that this was a quick post, but the phrase "The boy is mine" was rather offsetting for me. One of the major issues that feminists have worked to correct is the idea of women as the property of either their fathers or their husbands, and that women had no autonomy whatsoever. Your choice of words, to me, reduced this man to some sort of property that you could "own" (making him "yours') and that idea is not one that sits well with me at all. The focus of my feminism lies in trying to correct the wrongs that women have and still do face in our society because of their sex, gender, etc. and it is not about elevating women to the position that men once had over them. I strive for equality. Maybe I'm a little off here, maybe I'm reading too much into this, but I really think that if we want to advance the rights and lives of women, we must understand that even language can have consequences (it promotes ideas and can sometimes shed light on some issues about which we are not duly sensitive), and that we should never revert back to old ideas that were harmful to women, just because the roles may now be reversed. Because wouldn't that just make us the bad guys?

I don't want to sound like I am being all "What about teh MENZ!?" here, but I do think there is something to be said about equality vs. the ere switching of power roles between men and women.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Word to the Wise

Attention: Please refrain from any kind of variation on "I know this may sound sexist, but ... [sexist statement]."

It's not getting anywhere with me. Including the comment "I probably shouldn't say this" doesn't make it any better.

If you feel the need to say it, just stop. Keep it to yourself. Prefacing your sexist comment with something that tries to negate its sexist nature will just make you look ridiculous.

Thank you.

Little Victories

This post at Shakesville reminded me of a coversation I had with my friend the other day.

She just started working at a UCC church as a Minister for Children and Families. The UCC is one of the more liberal Christian denominations and there are several same-sex couples at her church.

She was telling me how on forms that go out to families, there are just two general blanks for filling in parent and guardian names, but on internal church spreadsheets, the categories were "mother" and "father." She felt awesome changing the headings to "parent 1" and "parent 2", even if she was the only one who saw it.

Little victories!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Help save Bitch!

Renee over at Womanist-Musings just wrote a post that brought to my attention the fact that Bitch Magazine needs to raise $40K by October 15 if they want to continue producing their amazing magazine. Bitch is non-profit and represents a valuable form of feminist media that I would hate to see silenced. Any size donation can make a difference. Donate here.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Privilege-Colored Glasses

Most people will acknowledge that sexism exists, even if they claim that it is now just a feminist buzzword of sorts that really doesn't apply to modern women. Often times when I talk to men about my political beliefs and mention the fact that I identify as a feminist, the first thing that will come out of their mouths is something along the lines of, "Oh, well [insert some anecdote here that hopefully convinces me that they are totally not sexist]." They get so defensive, like I might bite their head off if they do not prove that sexism isn't their thing. Interesting, because the same people who do that are the kinds of people who want to convince me that the wage gap is nearly gone and women have so much power! But if sexism wasn't alive and well, and it wasn't so harmful, they'd have no reason to prove that they were somehow on the good side. It gives validity to feminist concerns, even without their knowledge.

It may seem odd that men can both recognize the problem (even unintentionally) posed by sexism and contribute to its survival by refusing to see its full extent or do anything about it. But that is because most of these people have a little something called male privilege.

The concept of privilege has been discussed before, but the fact that many of the people I have been talking to lately seem blinded by their privilege has lead me to write this post. And because I hope that my own privilege is something that I can come to terms with and keep from clouding my understanding of the world's problems, but that sometimes may only be possible with a little help. That's why I want to address a few people here.

To "Ben": I never met you, and I don't even know your name for sure, but the single instant messenger conversation I had with you gave me a decent idea of what you must be like in person. I admit, I was acting silly when I was talking to you. And I know that most of the information you got about me was from Mutual Friend, who introduced us in the first place. I thought it was funny how as soon as Mutual Friend told you that I was a feminist, you went into this story about how you quit going to your church because its unfair pay practices based on gender were affecting your mother. Okay, great. But when I later decided to end the conversation because you were putting words in my mouth, you signed off by saying that you were going to have the girl from down the hall make you a sandwich. That blatantly sexist statement completely wiped out any hope you had for getting me to believe that you weren't into sexism. What kind of person can claim to be against sexism one moment and contribute to it the next without fear of longterm social/economic consequence (I mean, contributing to sexism isn't going to affect your paycheck in anyway, is it?)? Someone with male privilege. Someone like you, "Ben."

To Tyler: Sometimes I don't understand how you can be so well-informed about certain topics, but fail to see the validity in some of my complaints as a feminist. You once tried to convince me (all in the same conversation) that the wage gap was negligible, sexism was a "subcategory" of stupidity, and that your problem with feminists was that we "want more rights than duties." Those quotes are brought to you by the copy of that conversation that I saved to remind myself why feminism still matters. You also told me once that the father of a baby should have to grant permission for a woman to get an abortion...or that men should have control over women's bodies. How can you be so oblivious to the real problems that women face every day? Oh, I think someone's male privilege is showing!

To the National Guard soldier stationed on Kellogg St. during the Republican National Convention: You. Disgust. Me. I was having a pretty good night after seeing Rage Against the Machine. I was in such a good mood, in fact, that as my friend and I walked by the blockade that you and your fellow troops were standing behind, I waved a said "Hello!" to you all, despite the fact that having so many uniformed/armed troops around made me uneasy. You were in uniform, and I didn't see your face, but when you called out, "Hey, baby!" after I waved at you, I wanted to scream. What the hell? You were in uniform. You were supposed to be representing this country, and how do you do that? By cat calling? What is this, the Sexist States of America? Seriously? What makes you feel you can get away with that shit? Your male privilege and a sense of entitlement, because, you know, I was stupid enough to walk home after dark with a friend.

To my father: I really don't understand how you can complain so much when a few expenses come your way. You constantly try to worm your way out of paying for necessities for my sister and myself. Not winning custody of us in your divorce meant that you never had to deal with the pain of the wage gap and work two full time jobs to take care of your daughters, especially when I had just been diagnosed with a chronic illness. Mom did that, and she never complained. So why are you so upset? You have to pay for some books? Some medications? Mom and my step-dad and footing most of my college tuition, and my sister's, too, and other living expenses. If you weren't so blinded by your male privilege, maybe you would realize that my mom had to work much harder than you would have had to if you were in the same situation, just because of her chromosomes. So really, stop complaining.

And finally, to the many heterosexual guys I know who have had multiple sexual partners: Go ahead! Discuss your "conquests!" You male privilege assures that you are much less likely to suffer from the stigma of the label "whore." That term, it seems, is reserved for the ladies that you had sex with.

Sexism is real, and it is harmful. One doesn't have to be affected directly by it on a daily basis to do something about it. It can be as easy as calling people out when they make sexist comments/jokes. All I want is for people to understand why they may not "get" what I am saying as a feminist. There is, most often, a reason for that, like someone's privileged position that leaves them removed from the problems faced by others. Sometimes it just needs to be pointed out.

The View and John McCain

Why is it that The View is asking John McCain great, substantive, issue-based questions and actually holding him accountable for his recent (misleading, even straight out lying, in my opinion) ads on Obama, court appointees, and Palin's questionable stance on her role as a reformer while no other media source is?

Apparently they've done it before in April, asking McCain about Iraq.

It's a sad day when we have to rely on The View to actually get answers out of a politician.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

John McCain: Doesn't have half a clue what life is like for average Americans

Mayors have the toughest job, I think, in America. It's easy for me to go to Washington and, frankly, be somewhat divorced from the day-to-day challenges people have.


Saturday music: Nostalgia 77

Nostalgia 77's cover of the White Stripe's Seven Nation Army

Friday, September 12, 2008

"my cause is to take responsibility for every different place i wake up in and to not keep love like a secret"

I feel like I've got to choose whose side I'm on
and the police made it easier when they surrounded me in full riot gear
while I was riding my pink bicycle
First, they called me a liar
then they ran my I.D
looking me up and down like I'm some threat to national security
while they were the ones hiding in the bushes

No justice
No peace
whose streets...?

I wondered standing on the curb with a cigarette
watching yesterdays crowd become surrounded
while so many voices point out that this doesn't look like America
say they didn't think they'd ever see this our city
and the real cynics reply
get used it

An excerpt from a poem written by Ruth Kohtz, a girl I went college with. She's fantastic and I loved loved loved her one woman show at my undergrad. I'm so eager to hear people's experiences from the RNC, so if anyone wants to share on the blog, just drop me a line.

Check out the whole thing here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

McCain: An f---ing hypocrite

As a Minnesotan, I've been particularly irked time to time when the 35W bridge collapse last summer was exploited for political gain. I'm sure other citizens of other cities feel the same way about their tragedies get politicized and debated over with little regard to the lives affected.

However, this one gets me:
“The bridge in Minneapolis didn’t collapse because there wasn’t enough money. The bridge in Minneapolis collapsed because so much money was spent on wasteful, unnecessary pork-barrel projects…. I think there is a long, long list of earmarks which went to unnecessary and unwanted projects that I think should have gone to the bridge in Minnesota. I don’t know whether it would have gone or not, but if you’re spending $223 million on a bridge in Alaska to an island with 50 people on it. …”

–John McCain in Allentown, Pennsylvania on April 30, 2008.

It was a month later that Palin changed her position on the Bridge to Nowhere but kept the $223 million for Alaska, spending it elsewhere.

So, John McCain, you really want to call Palin a reformer still? Praise her for cutting down on pork barrel spending?

Funny, when you were in St. Paul this past week, you forgot to mention how the money given for the Alaskan bridge would have been better spent on the 35W bridge. Huh.

I don't think McCain's solution of cutting special earmark spending would have solved the problems with the 35W bridge. I do find it incredibly ironic that he uses the Bridge to Nowhere as an example of unecessary pork barrel spending, yet praises Palin for reforming the system while she endless repeats her "thanks but no thanks" crap without mentioning that she never gave back the $223 million of federal money meant for the bridge.

Please, please, please, mainstream media. Pick up the story - it's all there in the Minnesota Independent.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sometimes, I really hate music

Probably the worst thing about being a very musically-inclined person is that most music sucks. Not only that, the people who are into music, maybe even the same music as you, are probably assholes.

There is some law of the universe that the intellectualism or popularity of an activity increases the assholes attracted to doing that activity. Music is both something that is very popular and something that requires a bit of technical knowledge and practice to perform (or interpret, if you're a dancer). Thus, the amount of assholes interested in music, performing music, and dancing to music is truly astronomical. I reference radio DJs and the Body Police dancers for all the evidence I need.

Regardless, I just used to skip from station to station when the commercials were over and the DJs started talking to avoid hearing the stupid racist, classist, homophobic, sexist shit they'd inevitably spew.

Now I have to switch stations because of the actual music lyrics, and I don't even listen to rap or hip-hop. These are the song that I encountered just in my commute this week:

Girls are gold-diggers:

The girls with the bodies like boys with Ferrari's
Girls don't like boys,
Girls like cars and money

-Good Charlotte, "Boys & Girls"

Women with their deviant sexuality are dangerous:

'High-maintenance' means
You're a gluttonous queen: narcissistic and mean.
Kill me romantically, fill my soul with vomit
Then ask me for a piece of gum.
Bitter and dumb, you're my sugarplum.
You're awful, I love you!

-Ludo's "Love Me Dead"

Women are exchangeable blobs of flesh with a mouth to stick your penis in, which you like, which is their fault, because you like it enough to be "addicted":

I'm so addicted to all the things you do
when you're going down on me, in between the sheets.
All the sounds you make, with every breath you take.
It's unlike anything, when you're loving me.
Oooh, girl, let's take it slow.
So as for you - well, you know where to go.
I want to take my love and hate you 'til the end.

-Saving Abel's "Addicted"

In the pursuit of happiness, women are commodities too:

Let's make some music, make some money, find some models for wives.
I'll move to Paris, shoot some heroin, and fuck with the stars.

-MGMT's "Time to Pretend"

Shut up while I sexually assault you in the club:

I'm so bored, oh please, don't talk anymore,
Shut your mouth and get down on the floor,
So cynical, poor baby,
I can dish it, cos I know how to take it.

-Cobra Starship's "Guilty Pleasure"

I'm a good woman, and you're a whore:

Second chances they don't ever matter, people never change.
Once a whore you're nothing more, I'm sorry, that'll never change.
And about forgiveness, we're both supposed to have exchanged.
I'm sorry honey, but I'm passing up, now look this way.
Well there's a million other girls who do it just like you.
Looking as innocent as possible to get to who

-Paramore's "Misery Business"

Thanks for making my dick feel good. P.S - I don't give a shit about you as a person:

I wake up with blood-shot eyes
Struggled to memorize, the way it felt between your thighs
Pleasure that made you cry: feels so good to be bad
Not worth the aftermath, after that
Try to get you back
I still don't have the reason and you don't have the time
And it really makes me wonder, if I ever gave a fuck about you

-Maroon 5's "Makes Me Wonder"

Oh, and vintage hip 80s sexualizing violence:

You let me violate you
You let me desecrate you
You let me penetrate you...
It's your sex I can smell
Help me, you make me perfect
Help me think of somebody else
I want to fuck you like an animal
I want to feel you from the inside

-NIN's "Closer"

And don't forget, we also get a boner from dominating and killing you:

I want to hold you close, skin pressed against me tight
Lie still, and close your eyes girl. So lovely, it feels so right
I want to hold you close; soft breath, beating heart
As I whisper in your ear, I want to fucking tear you apart

-She Wants Revenge's "Tear You Apart"

These are our idols. These are the people that are paid millions of dollars so that us common people can have the priviledge of watching them perform.


I didn't even bother to include the two thousand or so songs that portrayed women as sex objects. When it just comes down to singing about love or the opposite sex, it seems that rock stars fail astronomically. These are the people we are trusting to form our cultural identity.

Well, that explains a lot.

I wonder why I even bother to hope, anymore, that anything good comes out of popular culture. Hell, I wonder why I even listen to music at all, considering that I can't even tune into a female singer without a "whore" quip (see Paramore).

Sounds like the above all took music lessons from this guy:

Cross-posted from XXBlaze

Rachel Maddow love (and a question about advertisement)

Tell me I'm reading something into this: The advertisments during Rachel Maddow's clips on MSNBC are about women's shaving razors and hair care. I'm not sure what other ads are attached to other shows, but I hope it's all hair care and smooth legs over at Olbermann and Matthews.

Even if the advertisements on her show are gendered, it's still a pretty good show. Huzzah for her.

Palin the Riveter - I think not

I love Rosie the Riveter - love her enough to have a Rosie action figure and dress up as Rosie for Halloween last year.

That's why it hurts when I see some people have photoshopped Gov. Sarah Palin's face onto Rosie's for various posters.

Let's get this straight: Palin is not a feminist. She doesn't represent any of the ideals that Rosie stands for.

Palin opposes abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. She cut funding for teen pregnancy programs in Alaska. Under Palin's watch, Wasilla rape victims had to pay for their own rape kits, often ranging between $300 and $1200. She supports abstinance only education.

If she supports the Republican platform and John McCain's platform, then Palin will join him in opposing equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender. She will join McCain in recieving a zero rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America. Palin will join him (and Bush) in being unsure if condoms halt the spread of HIV and if they should be publicly funded. Palin will support McCain's blatant skewing of Obama's voting record on age appropriate sex education, which includes information on appropriate touching and sexual predators.

She's not a feminist anymore than I'm a rocket scientist. Don't believe the bullshit McCain-Palin is spewing and the mainstream media is either eating up or allowing to pass uncritiqued.

Thanks to pow3rful in the Feministing Community for the heads up.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Ix-nay on the va-jay-jay-nay

I just noticed this because Feministe has a post up about the good thing Cosmo does, but I just want to make one request to all people everywhere:

Can we stop using the word "va-jay-jay"? Seriously.

It's a vagina. Not a va-jay-jay. I'm not 5, nor is my vag. Also, I'd prefer it if they used another adjective than "lovely" - maybe something along the lines of "badass" or "f'in awesome." I'm sure my crotch is lovely, but in public, I'd rather my vag was known for badass characterisitics as opposed to loveliness.

I'd be ok to let that adjective slide just as long as we stop using "va-jay-jay."

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Talking to real PETA people

I was in St. Paul during the Republican National Convention, and I got to meet numerous protestors of all different causes. When I happened upon a group of PETA protestors, I stopped and decided to talk to them. I introduced myself as a feminist and asked one of the ladies handing out flyers what she thought about the (what I consider to be horribly) sexist use of the female body in many of PETA's protests (I did not even get into their racist advertising ideas).

She explained to me that she actually participated in many naked protests herself, and that she considered herself to be a feminist. She did admit that the reason behind PETA's shocking ads and protests was to get attention, but she felt that it was empowering, not objectifying, to take her clothes off and speak up for animals that do not have a voice when it comes to how they are treated. She also said that a lot of people who disagree with PETA's tactics are getting a biased opinion of the organization due to unfair coverage by the media. She explained that there are often just as many men participating in protests as women, but the women are typically the ones who end up in the media coverage.

I could not argue with that, as I did not have any facts to go on, so I thanked her for her time and went about my day. But the discussion left me with some questions.

First of all, has anyone ever seen an advertisement (not protest pictures) like the one below featuring men? Every one I have ever seen has featured a naked woman. I know that sex sells, but why is it always the female form that is used to sell items, whether they are being sold to men or to women? Because it makes sense to have a body that is easily objectified (made less than human) to sell an idea/product that is not human. And women in this country are still not equal, so they are most easily turned into objects for selling things.

Second of all, this lady told me that men and women typically participate in similar numbers in the naked protests that have really gotten under a lot of people's skin. I have to assume that she can only speak for the protests that she has participated in, but still. Does that justify the use of the tactic, pictured above? Is it less bad to animalize women if they are also animalizing men? I don't know about that. If men and women were equal to begin with maybe it wouldn't be such a big deal. But that is not the case. And notice who most of the pictures are of: women. So who is really being hurt the most by those kinds of protests?

Third of all, what can we do about a problem like this sort of sexism that women are actively participating in and even find empowering because it is for a cause that they believe in? How effective of an activist can one be if they are participating in a system that is exploiting them?

I was trying to get some input from the otherside of this debate, but really, the discussion I had with this protestor only left me with more questions than answers.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Sam Bee makes me happy on the inside


GOP convention guy: "You know, the left clamors for choice. 'We want to make choice, we want choice.' And Sarah Palin's daughter has made that choice."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Daily Show - Sarah Palin Gender Card

Children of politicans are off limits to opposing parties - but not to their parents

There's a double standard in coverage of Sarah Palin. There's the double standard of asking if a women with young children will have competing interests when running the country and the invariable sexism that comes when a women enters the public sphere, which are complete crap and bullshit.*

However, there's also a double standard when it comes to her children.

Lauredhel at Hoyden About Town points out that she devotes much more time talking about her sons than about her daughters. When introducing them in Dayton after she joined the ticket, she spent 5 seconds introducing her daughters and 105 seconds introducing her sons.

Very uneven and we find out nothing about her daughters.

Since the speech in Dayton, it's been made clear by both campaigns that families and children are off-limits in political discourse. I agree. If we truly want to make this about issues, then it's low to critique these children who just happen to have parents with political ambitions. Growing up and finding out who you are is hard enough; doing it on a national and international stage is just torture.

However, what happens when the parents use the children for political purposes? Last night in her VP acceptance speech, Palin talked about her sons, one who is going to Iraq next week and her newborn, who was born with Down syndrome. She said:

And as the mother of one of those troops, that is exactly the kind of man I want as commander in chief. I'm just one of many moms who'll say an extra prayer each night for our sons and daughters going into harm's way.

Our son Track is 19.

And one week from tomorrow - September 11th - he'll deploy to Iraq with the Army infantry in the service of his country.

My nephew Kasey also enlisted, and serves on a carrier in the Persian Gulf.

My family is proud of both of them and of all the fine men and women serving the country in uniform. Track is the eldest of our five children.

In our family, it's two boys and three girls in between - my strong and kind-hearted daughters Bristol, Willow, and Piper.

And in April, my husband Todd and I welcomed our littlest one into the world, a perfectly beautiful baby boy named Trig. From the inside, no family ever seems typical.

That's how it is with us.

Our family has the same ups and downs as any other ... the same challenges and the same joys.

Sometimes even the greatest joys bring challenge.

And children with special needs inspire a special love.

To the families of special-needs children all across this country, I have a message: For years, you sought to make America a more welcoming place for your sons and daughters.

I pledge to you that if we are elected, you will have a friend and advocate in the White House.
She's politicizing her family, yet expecting others not to do the same. It's quite a double standard to tell the media to back off, yet champion two of her children and various policies that affect their lives. She's only talking about the children (sons) of hers that actively contribute to the campaign positively (although Piper, the littlest girl is suuuuper cute. Last night during the speech, she was holding her baby brother and she licked her palm to smooth down his hair... CUTE). It's the worst kind of hypocrisy because it tells the girls that they're not to be discussed, unless they're going off to war.

Can we look to politician's families as indicators of their various policy stances? I'm not sure. It's tough to say. It's hard to separate using families as unnecessary and unfounded attacks and seeing the ways politics influence and shape every day lives.

And for the record, as governor of Alaska, Palin cut funding to the Special Education program by 62% from 2007 (passed before she entered office) to 2008 and 2009. Additionally, she slashed funding to Covenant House, a program in Alaska that helps youth - including teen mothers.

Just sayin'.

*For those of you confused about why I'm defending Palin from sexist remarks and double standards, it's because she's a woman. Even though I disagree with basically every policy of hers, (including but not limited to her anti-choice, pro-drilling, anti-gay rights, and pro-book banning policies), feminism doesn't mean supporting and defending just the people I agree with - it means everyone. So you can vote for her or not - but don't call her a bitch.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Family relations in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight

Note: There are spoilers in this post. If you don't want The Dark Knight ruined for you, don't read this. But you should have seen the movie by now, it's that good. Stop reading and go to the movie theater right now.

In Christopher Nolan's Batman series (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight), family is incredibly important; the death of his parents is a driving motivation for Bruce Wayne to create Batman. However, Nolan constructs the father-son relationships as pinnacle, placing them as paramount to both Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordan.

Thomas Wayne-Bruce Wayne

In Batman Begins, there's a huge emphasis on the relationship between Thomas and Bruce Wayne. It is his father who rescues him from the cave, Thomas' business that Bruce inherits, and his father who he turns to in fear at the opera.

Martha Wayne is practically non-existent in the film; except for the scenes necessary to build up to her death (train to the opera, opera, in the alley), she's absent. I'm not even sure if they say her first name anywhere in the movie, but you can bet Thomas is mentioned by name.

Throughout the film, Bruce collapses "parents" with "father." Sure, Joe Chill killed both his parents, but the movie only establishes a relationship between Bruce and Thomas. Thomas and Bruce have conversations, while Martha's only line in the film is to scream when her husband is shot.

Indicatively, when someone wants to knowingly antagonize Bruce, they bring up his father. When Bruce confronts Carmine Falcone as a young man, Falcone intentionally demeans Thomas Wayne. Falcone says:
"Yeah, you got spirit, kid. I'll give you that. More than your old man, anyway. In the joint, Chill told me about the night he killed your parents. He said your father begged for mercy. Begged. Like a dog."
Ra's al Ghul follows a similiar pattern, using Thomas Wayne as an access point to Bruce Wayne's anger. During a training exercise, Ra's says:

Your parent's deaths were not your fault. It was your father's. (Bruce attacks Ra's) Anger does not change the fact that your father failed to act.
There's more references to Thomas thoughout the film (i.e. Rachel says Thomas would be disappointed in Bruce, or that Wayne Enterprises is going in a different direction than Thomas would have chosen, etc), but it's notable that while the death of both of Bruce's parents are used as character motivation, it is his father who recieves most of the attention in both Bruce's inner angst and external references.

Jim Gordon - James Gordon (son)

Here's another example of a father-son relationship highlighted while other familial relationships go ignored. In The Dark Knight, whenever we have a scene at Gordon's home, it involves him and his son. After Gordon comes out of hiding, his wife welcomes him home, however, he has a more moving scene with James.

The film establishes the father-son relationship as most important in a more explicit manner, though. When Harvey Dent kidnaps Gordon's family, he threatens to kill the person Gordon loves most, right in front of his eyes. As Dent moves his gun from Gordon's wife to daughter to son, Gordon yells out when Dent points the gun at James, causing Dent to assume Gordon loves his son more than his wife or daughter. Although James is eventually saved, his role at the end of the film re-establishes the prominence of father-son relationships to the Batman franchise.

What about mother-son, mother-daugther, or father-daughter relationships? Well frankly, there aren't very many to choose from.

There isn't much interaction between Martha and Bruce Wayne or Barbara and James Gordon. Until Gordon's whole family is held hostage by Harvey Dent, we don't see Gordon's daughter so there's virtually no father-daughter relationships at all. There are a few examples of mother-daughter relationships, however, they're very minimal and not generally as positive as the father-son connection.

In Batman Begins, Rachel's mother works at Wayne Manor and is present when Bruce falls in the bat cave and breaks his arm. As Thomas carries Bruce inside, she apologizes for any role her daughter may have played in the accident.

As for The Dark Knight, the only mother-daughter relationship exists between Det. Anna Ramirez and her hospitalized mother. In order to pay for hospital bills, Ramirez turns over police information to the mob. It's problematic enough to have one of the only WOC characters be corrupt, but it also casts a shadow over mother-daughter relationships in general because there's no evidence or examples of positive mother-daughter relationships.

So what does this mean? Well, it tells us that this Batman franchise is about men's relationships with other men. Not only are most of the characters in both films men, The Dark Knight is entirely about the trinity of Batman, Gordon and Harvey Dent. Rachel Dawes is an important character, but mostly because of the tensions that arise between her and Bruce and her and Dent. She is essential, but only because her death sent Dent on his crazy killing spree. The father-son relationships act to highlight this theme, underscoring the ways the films characterize masculinity. We are told/shown how to be a man, but not how to be a woman.

It'll be interesting to see how man-to-man relationships will be used in future Batman films, but also how woman-to-woman or woman-to-man relationships are missing, lacking, or purely sexualized.

One Code Pink Protestor at the RNC

My sister, a student at the University of Minnesota, participated in some of the Code Pink protests this weekend at the RNC. She's kindly written up her impressions and thoughts from the day, so I'll just let her speak for herself:

Ever since the Republicans picked St. Paul as their convention site I knew that I wanted to join the protests. I chose to march with CodePink, an anti-war movement organized by women advocating for a peaceful world.

The day arrived and as I sat on the city bus riding toward the capitol I realized just how out of place I looked. Bright pink spandex leggings, jean shorts, and a bright pink shirt--not normal attire for the Twin Cities. Nonetheless, I felt great. I was on my way to stand up for what I believe in.

CodePink organizers were already picking out banners and readying the massive figurines when I arrived. As more and more women and men trickled in we divided ourselves into various groups. There were about 100 of us in all, including a giant Heart of the Beast statue, doves that flew around the statue, a dragon, pink police, crazy pink cheerleaders, banner holders, Heart of the Beast backpack figurines, pink bicyclists, and many more. We were decked out from head to toe in pink. For those in need, CodePink had boxes full of pink paraphernalia that brought back memories of rummaging through the kindergarten costume box.

Before we left for the rally we joined together to stretch and get ourselves pumped up with a few cheers. I spent most of the pre-march rally at our meeting site working on a large banner that said, “$$ For Gulf Coast Not Gulf War.” We finished the banner just in time to join up with our comrades at the start of the parade. Code Pink was second to last in line (I like to think we were the finale) so we were able to see thousands upon thousands of marchers ahead of us streaming down the hill toward the Excel Center.

The march itself was surprisingly fun. We sang songs to familiar tunes and chanted catchy phrases. Throughout the route we saw many other groups representing everyone from students to anarchists to soldiers to pro-war protestors. The police were out in force during the parade. Their presence was immediately noticed (it’s hard to miss black clad officers in riot gear carrying thick wooden sticks). Although the show of police force was incredibly excessive and intimidating, our group had no problems with the police. We marched peacefully and respected of the pro-war activists and the police.

CodePink was a great group to march with. They were positive, welcoming, and respectful of everyone’s abilities during the march. Although more than 280 marchers were arrested during the parade, we remained peaceful and conveyed our message without breaking windows or harassing delegates.


Ed. note: This is just one person's account of the march. It is in no way representative of other people's experiences.