Monday, March 31, 2008
Dannenfelser seems very adamant about trying to come off as being pro-woman, but in some large ways, I would have to say that she falls short because she is missing some things in her evaluation of Women's History Month.
"Of course there are accomplished women who came before and are all around us. Do we have to keep bragging about it? The proof of our accomplishments is in the pudding, and when we succeed, it isn’t solely a 'woman’s success,' it’s a human one. Are women so weak and fearful that they need constant reassurance, like a first grader struggling to read? It should be assumed that women have unique talents and are capable of greatness. Why do feminists think we don’t know that?
Sometime after its beginnings in the organized suffrage movement, the American women’s movement lost its way. Somewhere along the path to Roe v. Wade, The Vagina Monologues, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, the hierarchy of values inverted: The anatomy of the person serving the cause became more important than the cause itself." (emphasis mine)
There is an inherent problem in believing that women's accomplishments are the same as "human ones" because to believe that means that one must also believe that gender is an inconsequential aspect of life since being human does not specify a gender. That is not true.
Women in America do enjoy more rights than many women in the world, but that does not automatically translate to "women have the same opportunities as men," and it is in this difference that make the idea of "women's accomplishments" and "Women's History Month" seem reasonable to me.
If women had the same chance for promotion as men, were not limited in their career choices by the burden of parenthood (which still largely falls on women), and had equal representation in the highest levels of the government that rules this country, maybe I could sympathize with the idea that a Women's History Month was condescending to women. But that is not the present state of American society.
If Dannenfelser was really as pro-woman as she claims to be, she would be better able to understand women's experiences, and how they are still sometimes adversely effected by American society.
I also feel that Dannenfelser is wrong in her presumption that "The anatomy of the person serving the cause became more important than the cause itself." The causes undertaken by more modern feminists have retained their importance, and feminists have struggled for them with enduring vigor. Reminding people that women who have accomplished something in a society that still does not afford women the same opportunities as men is not something to shy away from, because gender still matters in American life.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
These were two of the eggs that I picked up.
The egg on the left has a purse on it. The egg on the right has lipstick.
Who are these eggs being marketed to? Which children are parents going to purchase these eggs for?
Gender-specific marketing bothers me. It encourages the idea that gender is binary (simply male or female), and recent posts on this blog illustrate that gender is NOT that simple. You never see products marketed toward transsexuals, for example. As these eggs also show, gendered products and marketing have a way of reinforcing gender norms (i.e. girls carry purses and wear lipstick) that are a) antiquated and b) just not right the majority of the time.
Think about what it must be like to be a little girl who is given products that are constantly telling her that she should wear lipstick, carry a purse, be pretty, etc.. If she does not feel that she lives up to the standards set up by the products in her life, she could easy grow up with identity and/or other issues.
Seriously, why is that necessary? No child cares if their plastic candy-filled egg has little lipsticks on it. They want the candy. This display of a gendered product is, in addition to unhealthy, also unnecessary.
Just a note (thanks to Geoff for spotting this): Kids don't have to actively participate in their indoctrination into a society that tries to fix gender as binary and things along those lines. They still internalize messages that are sent to them through products, the media, their peers, their family, and the likes, even if they don't realize that they are doing so. This will happen as long as the messages are repeated enough. With things like insignificant plastic eggs giving this message, I think it is happening much too often.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Jennifer Finney Boylan is a novelist and English professor at Colby College who has written two memoirs about her life with a conflicted sexuality and adapting to womanhood she underwent surgery to become a woman after years of feeling misplaced within her own body.
"'Activism for me takes the form of living a normal life and doing so very publicly,' she said."
Jennifer, who was born James, had to hide her true feelings of sexual identity for years.
"James Boylan had met Deedie while in college and only told her of his secret about a decade ago, well after they were married. Boylan had hoped that their love would be enough to keep the gender demons at bay. They remain legally married."
Today, Jennifer lives with her spouse Deedie, their two boys and two Labrador retrievers.
"'A lot of good is done simply by being public, by being visible and by telling stories so people can see that a life like mine, a family like mine is familiar and it's normal, and that it's a lot less extraordinary than it seems,' she said."
I feel that this is a very important role that Jennifer is playing for the transgendered community. I think there are many misconceptions about transgendered people, and it is wonderful to see Jennifer living a normal, productive life. I think that in order for some people who are made uncomfortable with the idea of transgendered people to be able to work out their insecurities, they must be shown that being transgendered does not make a person less human, strange, or any of the like. Jennifer does this well.
I have never been raped; however, I have grown up as a woman and experienced all that this entails: catcalls, sexual harassment, inappropriate gestures and innuendos from a very young age. I have had unpleasant encounters with men three times my age and felt violated more than once. And I am only eighteen.
It has been widely reported that nearly 1 in 4 women are raped during their lifetimes. And most rapes don’t occur in an empty alley, committed by a gun-wielding stranger. The vast majority of rapes are acquaintance rapes, and it is these occurrences where women are left with the most of the blame. Look at how she was dressed, she obviously wanted it. We slept together before. If she got that drunk, it was for a reason. But she was flirting with me at the bar; why else would she have talked to me?
Many of the posters have emphasized that most men don’t rape, and that is obviously and thankfully true. However, the existence of rape cannot be ignored; it is real, and the danger to women is everywhere. It is hard for a man to realize the powerful, semi-unconscious fear that pervades most women’s lives. Women can’t comfortably study at the library after dark. Women are warned to avoid parking cars at the far end of the lot. Women shouldn’t run in parks alone. Women are even warned against pulling over in a secluded area if a cop is flashing his lights, for fear he is an imposter. To follow all the restrictions, warnings, advice, and guidelines is to limit the living of one’s life.
While I am not advocating going to a bar alone, dressed provocatively, chatting with strangers, and downing a few shots, I am also not saying any woman who does should be blamed for the actions of the men who surround her. These men are autonomous human beings who have control over their biology. They are not sex-crazed animals, insatiable in their lust for women. They have the ability to ignore the woman or put her in a cab. If they choose to do otherwise, it is solely their decision and solely their responsibility.
Please read here to see where this discussion started.
Also, please visit Men Can Stop Rape.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Sex, an always controversial practice, is the topic, as the author highlights the growing number of abstinence clubs on elite college campuses. Harvard has its own, secular club, "True Love Revolution," led by Janie Fredell; the club's goal is to spread the message of abstinence and convince students' to opt out of the "hookup culture."
Now, from a feminist perspective, I have no qualms against saying no to sex. Pressure, whether individual or societal, is damaging. Women (and men) should have total autonomy in their sexual decisions.
However, I take issue with the implications of the message, and the way it has been presented to Harvard students.
Firstly, the club promotes abstinence until marriage. Yet, many lifestyles do not have the option of marriage, marriage, itself, is a flawed institution, and is not the only way to declare love for a partner. However, it is the life goal of most members of the organization: "Finding true love for me is the point of life,” said Fredell.
I agree that finding someone you are compatible with, care for, and want to spend time with is an important aspect of life. I disagree that it should be the point of one's life. Marriages end in divorce, more often than they don't, and when life has become simply a search for that "true love" which has gone awry, pain is more acute and, often, women how have not had steady careers due to raising children and caring for their partner are left in financial ruin. One of the reasons that many members promote abstinence is based on the hormone Oxycontin, which heightens a sense of connection to one's sexual partner, and if the relationship is not stable, one will feel that instability more acutely and feel much more pain upon its end. However, I believe that to experience the break-up of a marriage, without having had relationships with any other partner would lead to an even more acute sense of loss and perhaps fear to now be living in a world where one knows so little.
My bigger issue with this club is the way it frames masculinity. The clubs other leader, Leo Keliher, said that masculinity was “being able to deny yourself for the sake of the woman.” “To have that kind of self-control is really what it means to be a man."
To define masculinity in direct opposition to femininity is troublesome. It reinforces stereotypical gender roles and norms. By framing masculinity as denial for the sake of women, is to basically claim that women must be protected by men, that women are weaker, more innocent and pure, and that men must deny their urges in order to keep women pure. It is to deny that women also enjoy engaging in sex, and it equates virginity with innocence, both very outdated and disproved concepts.
Again, I truly support people's decisions to abstain from sex. However, I believe that the approach taken by groups like True Love Revolution is faulty. It reverts back to gender roles and traditional marriages and calls for ignorance of one's own body.
Also, what's with the rose? Does it remind anyone else of Georgia O'Keffe's paintings, which were definately NOT flowers? Just wondering. Ha.
"'When I came to Tibet I heard of so many tragic stories of women dying -- no access to care in remote areas, no history of trained birth attendants, and no knowledge about pregnancy and childbirth,' Samen recalls.
It is a problem that stretches well beyond Tibet's borders. According to the World Health Organization, more than 500,000 women worldwide die each year as a result of complications during pregnancy and childbirth, and nearly 7 million babies are either born dead or die within 28 days of their life. Almost all these deaths occur in the developing world.
Since 1998, One H.E.A.R.T has worked to set up centers that teach and educate local nurse practitioners, villagers and expectant mothers on how to deliver and care for newborn babies. A huge part of the organization's instruction includes hands-on birthing demonstration and distribution of community-tailored birth kits."
Thanks, Arlene Samen, for helping provide women with information that keeps them, and their children, alive and safe.
It was reported that such an incident of mob justice was not isolated. Several men were also beaten, one to death, in 2007.
Violence is nothing new. Violence against women is (sadly) not unheard of. But how could this journalist watch this woman be beaten and not do anything until after he had gotten his film footage? The fact that this journalist eventually did call the police shows that they were not completely unaffected by the situation. Why, then, did they not try to get the police involved sooner?
Thursday, March 27, 2008
- One in four people believe women who have been raped are partly to blame for the crime because of how they dressed, their sexual history or how much they had to drink.
- More than 30% think a victim is some way responsible if she flirts with a man or fails to say no clearly.
- 10% of people think the victim is entirely at fault if she has had a number of sexual partners.
- 37% think a woman who flirts extensively is at least complicit, if not completely in the wrong, if she is the victim of a sex crime.
- One in three think a woman is either partly or fully to blame if she wears revealing clothes.
- 38% believe a woman must share some of the blame if she walks through a deserted area.
This is blatant victim blaming. Period. Stop. I'm going to refer to an old comparison: If a man is walking through a deserted area at night and is mugged, he is not blamed. If a man's wallet can be seen though his back pocket and he is robbed, he is not blamed. If a man pulls out his wallet with cash visible and he is robbed, he is not blamed. If a man has been robbed in the past, he is not blamed.
We had a similar discussion on our radio show before break, regarding the way women dress and subsequent expectations of behavior. One of the main points we tried to convey is that men are not mindless sex maniacs. They have the ability to stop, to resist the oh-so-enticing women in the miniskirt. A poster on Feministing.com put it best:
"I'm a guy and I am appalled by the thought that so many people still believe that we are just animals who aren't able to control our actions once they see a nice pair of legs or breasts. Arousal may be unconscious, whatever follows isn't."
But if a man makes that conscious decision to continue when his partner's consent is not given, he is solely to blame and nothing a women is wearing, has worn, has said in the past, or has done can exempt him from that blame.
"How does it feel to be a pregnant man? Incredible. Despite the fact that my belly is growing with a new life inside me, I am stable and confident being the man that I am," he writes. "To Nancy, I am her husband carrying our child - I am so lucky to have such a loving, supportive wife. I will be my daughter's father, and Nancy will be her mother."
Believe it or not, but people have a hard time being supportive of the idea of a pregnant man, even other female-to-male transsexuals.
"The fact that even other transsexuals react with hostility reveals the levels of unease and prejudice a pregnant man can face. A common reaction is to wonder how someone can identify themselves as male and yet embrace pregnancy. 'That's like saying you can't be a woman and have a career,' says Christine Burns, a trans woman and equality and diversity specialist. 'The irony is we've had a debate in feminism about the idea that if men were able to have children we would be in a very different position and yet when it happens there is enormous fear.'"
"Elsewhere, there is professional concern about the confusion the child may later experience. 'There is going to be an extra degree of complication or confusion about 'where am I from?'' says Robert Withers, a psychoanalyst who has treated transgender patients.
Kerrick Lucker, a gay activist at the University of California, Berkeley, has met two children with trans man birth mothers. 'In my experience, they were extremely well-parented and well-adjusted. The only unusual challenges these kids face come from members of the public who see gender ambiguity as a great wrong,' he says."What do you guys see in store for Thomas Beatie's child? I find it wonderful that people who identify in so many ways can have such options for having their own children.
A group of ten-year old girls, some with scientist mothers, had a "party" consisting of learning about the ingredients in various make-up products and making their own lipsticks.
While, I was hesitant at first about this article, thinking it was a little bit of gendered thinking to let girls learn about science through make-up, I am very glad to hear about young girls getting involved in science in anyway, and, if they are additionally learning about the various skeezy products we put on our faces all the better.
Best quote of the article: “O.K., so there’s no pig fat in lipstick, but people are still spending hundreds of dollars on a tube of fatty goop." - One of the ten-year old participants
Her parents opted to pray instead of seeking medical assistance for their child, even though "the family does not attend an organized church or participate in an organized religion" and despite desperate pleas from other family members in California.
Apparently, the girl had not been to a doctor since she was three years old when she received vaccinations.
According to Nancy Grace's show, Leilani Neumann (the girl's mother) gave this statement: "We are just a normal family. We are non-denominational. We do not consider ourselves religious. When we are sick, we just lay our hands on the sick to heal them. We believe in the power of prayer."
This may not be a strictly feminist issue, but it is personal to me. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes three days after my 12th birthday. I was only a little older than Madeline.
According to the American Diabetes Association, "In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar (glucose), starches and other food into energy needed for daily life."
Symptoms may include vomiting, excessive thirst and urination, loss of appetite and weakness. I personally experienced all of these in the month before I was finally diagnosed with the disease, and it was an awful experience. I also lost a lot of weight, and looking back at some of the pictures of me at that time, I looked obviously sick and very thin.
From personal experience, I know that Madeline's death had to be painful. Before my diagnosis, my worst problems, at the beginning, were the extreme thirst and the nearly-constant urination. I could not sit through a 40 minute class period without needing to be excused. I was able to largely hide these symptoms from my parents, making excuses, or just plain stories to hide these embarrassing symptoms. But some of the other signs I could not hide. My mother finally took me to the doctor after I had vomited several times, as my body tried to rid itself of the undigested sugars in my system, and had excessive trouble sleeping.
That said, I cannot imagine how her parents could sit there and watch her condition slowly deteriorate and eventually die. The worst part is that Type 1 Diabetes is easily treatable...when you get the proper diagnosis and treatment. I have been living with the disease for over seven years now.
It angers me to know that I could have been put in a similar situation, but my mother took action and got treatment for me, and I have had the opportunity to live a fulfilling life, an opportunity that Madeline will never have.
Why? I have trouble understanding her parents' reasoning. Her mother claims that they don't consider themselves religious, and they do not affiliate with any organized church or religion. Why did they let their daughter die?
This was all preventable. How do you feel about parents being able to choose the treatment their child receives?
1) I, Amelia, did create this blog, but I am not the only person who posts on it. I invited Kate to post here as well, so be sure to check at the bottom of every post to see who wrote it. (I mention this because I had a reader start attacking me over posts that I did not write). However, I do have complete editorial power. I can edit posts, and delete ones that I find unsatisfactory. That has not happened yet, but if something is posted here, I feel that it has merit, and should be respected.
2) I am looking for more contributors. If feminism matters to you, you have a blogger account, and you would like to help with my blog, please e-mail me, Amelia, (see my profile for that information) and I will see what I can do.
3) Kate and I will be continuing with our feminist radio show this term, the one that inspired this blog. We have not been given an official time slot yet, but we will be heading up to the radio station today at 4pm CT, and if no one is up there, we will be doing a show. If you're interested, please listen here.
That's it for now. Thanks!
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
This condition can result from any surgery requiring anesthesia, but the fact that Stephanie's purely cosmetic surgery led to her death is saddening.
"The death has focused attention on elective breast augmentation surgery, a procedure that 347,500 women of all ages chose to have in 2007 alone. That number is 6 percent higher than in 2006 and 64 percent higher than in 2000.
Although the FDA recommends that only women 18 or older get breast implants, the number of girls under that age submitting themselves to the surgery continues to grow. In 2005, the last year for which full statistics are available, more than 3,500 girls had breast implants."What kind of society teaches young girls to be so dissatisfied with their bodies at such young ages that they opt to go under the knife, even when that could cause death? Does anyone have any ideas about how to address this issue, and possibly change it?
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Some of the goals for players of this game, as found on the website (emphasis mine):
- Become a socialite and skyrocket to the top of fame and popularity.
- Date that famous hottie you've had your eye on and show the Bimbo world the social starlet you are !
- Even resort to meds or plastic surgery. Stop at nothing to become the reigning bimbo !
"Nicolas Jacquart, the 23-year-old Web designer from Tooting, south London, who created it was quoted in the Daily Mail as saying: 'It is not a bad influence for young children. They learn to take care of their bimbos. The missions and goals are morally sound and teach children about the real world.'He added: 'The breast operations are just one part of the game and we are not encouraging young girls to have them, just reflecting real life.'"
I don't care what the creator says about this site. Young girls are playing (there is no age limit as to who is allowed to join), and young people are easily impressionable. They often cannot decipher that the game is simply a game, and could easily see their virtual characters as role models.
There is no excuse for sending out a message that the "Bimbo" lifestyle is one that girls should aspire to. Diet pills, plastic surgery, and sugar daddies, are not the way to a fulfilling life for girls, and that seems to be a major message sent by this website.
It really seems to me that there is very little merit to this game, and its message is destructive. The fact that Mr. Jacquart chose a derogative term for a female as the website's title, and went about designing it to be a game that is empty and counterproductive to healthy female mentality is inexcusable to me.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
“Investigators put much of the blame on Michelle Riley, 35, who they said befriended Dixon but pocketed monthly Social Security checks she got because of her developmental delays.
Dixon saw little, if any, of the money, Hayes said. For months she weathered the torment to keep a roof over her head and that of her year-old son, who weighed just 15 pounds when taken into state custody after his mom's death.”
Dixon met one of her abusers (Riley) at a center that helps the developmentally disabled find housing and other such services, and ended up moving in with Riley. This is a deeply disturbing thought. If this woman went to a place where she should have been able to find good, honest help and ended up dead, it scares me. I hope that this is an isolated incident, but honestly, I don't know for sure. Her story is devestating.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
More and more women are entering women's colleges and leaving transmen. In that fantastic article in the New York Times, a trans-student at women's only Barnard in New York City explains both the positives and negatives of this complicated situation. Further into the article, the lines get even more blurry as gender is presented as a scale. This idea is very controversial, but if sexuality is a scale, why isn't gender thought of this way?
About 1 percent of people identify as transgendered. "The conventional thinking is that trans people feel they are “born in the wrong body.” But today many students who identify as trans are seeking not simply to change their sex but to create an identity outside or between established genders — they may refuse to use any gender pronouns whatsoever or take a gender-neutral name but never modify their bodies chemically or surgically." This fluidity of gender is not new thinking, in fact, many second wave feminists were advocates of these thoughts thirty years ago, which is a reason many transmen are choosing women's colleges.
But they are not always accepted at these colleges either. In a recent letter The Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly, charged "that admitting transmale students was, in effect, a way of “passively going coed” and that the “lifestyle choices” of these students was a bald negation of a women’s college charter. Trans students, they wrote, were simply “men seeking to take advantage of Mount Holyoke’s liberal and accepting atmosphere.”
Is this true?
If so, where else are these transmen to turn? While transgendered people are becoming more accepted, there is still a huge stigma against them in society, even amongst "progressives." Hate crimes are still sickeningly frequent, and there is no doubt transmen will face prejudice at many institutions. But is their presence a detriment to the women at these schools?
Some women feel that it is. The transmale interviewed for the article said he often feels lonely among his classmates, even being forced to move off-campus when his roommates complained of his presence.
And what about "he" and "she"? Many non-transgendered people are beginning to reject pronouns both for identification purposes and grammatically. Conservatives have been angered by early feminists attempts to replace "mankind" with "humankind" and "women" with "womyn." Will the same silly battle ensue? And are pronouns really necessary?
So, where do transmen go after graduating from their safe harbors, these women's (or womyn's) colleges? Because of the stigma against them often, they "disappear into big cities, working as bartenders with advanced degrees because there’s real prejudice against trans workers." Transmen and transwomen face discrimination throughout their lives. But, is discrimination in women's college really discrimination?
Maybe most telling is the interviewee's lighthearted shrug when asked if he will try to "pass" as a man without a history of being a women. "I won’t get a career that I can’t be out and trans in. I’m not planning to go into business."
I can only hope that him, and all other men and women in his position can continue to make such bold statements and live their lives in ways that allow them to.
"In certain cases, a protective court order is not enough and the only viable option is for a woman to either enter a shelter or relocate, experts say."
Women are being forced to completely relocate their lives and even change their names in order to avoid potential violence from their ex-partners. This is unacceptable. If the laws are failing, the laws need to be changed. Period.
However, other than locking up people with the potential to commit these crimes, how can women be protected?
Saturday, March 15, 2008
An 83-year-old lady, Bernie Garcia, refused to give her purse up to a would-be thief, even after she was dragged on the ground.
Looks like people are beginning to realize that women have money. And they buy cars, too. But are the things women want in cars really that different than what men want?
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I remember reading about this I don’t know how long ago.
Ashley, a 10 year old girl with a severe case of cerebral palsy that leaves her completely dependent on caretakers, underwent a hysterectomy and breast surgery in 2004 in order to keep her small. Her parents, who wished to remain anonymous, agreed to the surgeries because they felt that it would provide their daughter with the best possible life. She would remain small, and easier to care for, and she would not have to experience the pains caused by menstruation.
When Ashley’s parents went public with their decision, it caused an uproar.
“When Ashley was 6, her parents approached Children's Hospital and
…In May 2007, Children's Hospital admitted it broke state law by giving Ashley a hysterectomy without a proper court review. To perform any such treatment today would require a court order, as well as review by a panel of experts in medicine and ethics and people with disabilities, says Dr. Douglas Diekema of
Arthur Caplan, the chairman of the Department of Medical Ethics and director of the Center for Bioethics at the
"I think mutilating surgery involving removal of breast buds is indefensible under any circumstances. Growth retardation is not a substitute for adequate home aides and home assistance."
What do you guys think?
The Abercrombie & Fitch Emergency Department and
I see some problems with this, and it all goes back to what seems to be a theme for some of my posts on this blog: sexualizing young people.
“Abercrombie & Fitch, based in the
The hospital is not sure if it will include Abercrombie & Fitch’s names on signs anywhere in the hospital yet, but I hope not. I can’t even walk into one of those stores without cringing at the staggering lack of clothes on their models. I think it would be a highly inappropriate move by the hospital. Especially a hospital for children.
I think it’s great that Abercrombie was so generous, but until they find a way to sell clothes without having their models take them off, and they stop targeting teenagers, I do not want to see their name associated outwardly with the place.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
The University plans to expand its full scholarships to families with an income lower than $60,000 a year and to replace some students existing loans with grants. Considering that it now costs about $34,000 in tuition alone to attend Columbia, this change is simply a good start.
As a lower-income student at a private university, I understand the struggle to pay for school and the detriment of student loans. So, while I applaud Columbia University for a step in the right direction much more needs to be done, both by these institutions and by the government, to allow the youth who wishes to pursue higher education with every opportunity possible.
Why is education a privilege and not a right?
So why is China making it more difficult for foreign couples to adopt?
New restrictions are being mandated:
- The couple must be under the age of fifty.
- The couple may have no more than two divorces between them.
- The couple must have been married for at least five years.
- They must have a net worth of over $80,000.
- The parents must have a BMI below 40.
These children have the potential to contribute so much to the world. If they are not valued in their own countries, why are they not allowed to flourish under parents who will truly care for them?
A new study by Center for Disease Control researcher Dr. Sara Forhan analyzed “nationally representative data on 838 girls who participated in a 2003-04 government health survey.” These girls were tested for four infections: human papillomavirus (HPV), Chlamydia, trichomoniasis, and herpes simplex virus.
The study’s finding? At least one in four teenage American girls has contracted a sexually transmitted disease. This means STDs affect more than 3 million teenage girls.
"High STD rates among young women, particularly African-American young women, are clear signs that we must continue developing ways to reach those most at risk," [Dr. John Douglas, director of the Center for Disease Control's division of STD prevention] said.
I think this says something about American society, where young women are taught, simultaneously, to be ashamed/uneducated when it comes to their bodies AND be sexually accessible. It really doesn’t surprise me, then, that so many girls are affected by these kinds of diseases. If we’re taught that the word vagina is a dirty, shameful word, how could we possibly know how to keep ourselves safe?
Young people in general know little about safe sex, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the statistics for teenage boys are just as high. Starting by teaching young people about their bodies, and the responsibilities that come with them, might be a good place to start.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Wow. This might not be a strictly feminist issue, but the idea of detaining immigrant families who are seeking asylum needs to be discussed. I really don't understand how this is the first time I had heard about this? The T. Don Hutto Residential Center, in
“The detention of immigrants is the fastest-growing form of incarceration in this country, and, with the support of the Bush Administration, it is becoming a lucrative business."
Thanks to Feministe for bringing this to my attention.
Now for some things that have been in the news.
New York Governor, Eliot Spitzer, has been linked to a prostitution ring. The first term Democratic Governor's political future remains unclear.
The Victory Fund posted this video about Oklahoma State Representative, Sally Kerns, who spewed anti-gay hate speech when she thought only 50 people were listening.
The Independent Women's Forum (of which Charlotte Allen had been a part at one time) responds to her awful Washington Post editorial.
Explain this to me. Women in Amsterdam, Netherlands run a race in stilettos for a prize of $15,000. The race's motto? "Shopping is a Sport." A sport the race's sponsorers must think that women are surely experts at. And one that requires stilettos.
Amelia invited me to be a contributor on her blog and I was thrilled to accept!
Quick Intro: I'm Kate, Amelia's radio co-host and companion in feminist awesome-ness. I will, hopefully, be posting here semi-regularly. I'm also a first-year, and I will be majoring in Gender and Women's Studies and either English or Modern Languages (for now, I tend to change my life plan fairly often). I have my own blog, but its mostly about nothing, so I am excited to be blogging about important issues now, and I hope I don't disappoint.
Asserting that one is "the hot friend" comes with some connotations. Being "hot" in America means, more than anything else, being sexually available. When being "hot" (or white, thin, and sexually available) is the ultimate goal for American females (you don't see many t-shirts that say "I'm The Smart Friend"), it's no wonder that so many of us feel inadequate, despite our accomplishments.
Thanks, Dollar General Store, for reminding American females that the content of their character and the depth of their knowledge don't mean anything if they're not "hot."
Sunday, March 9, 2008
And then today I read this article.
"Somali-born supermodel and former James Bond girl, Waris Dirie has apologized for her surprise three-day disappearance, which led to a nationwide police search for her [in Belgium].
Dirie, 43, gained international fame as a model [and James Bond Girl]... before launching her campaign against female genital mutilation in 1996.
She shocked the world with a best selling book "Desert Flower" that described how her genitals were sliced off with a dirty razor blade without anesthesia, and then stitched together.
A U.N. goodwill ambassador, Dirie was due to speak on genital mutilation in Brussels at two conferences on women's rights organized by the European Union, including one Thursday attended by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Concern over her disappearance was heightened because of the discovery last week in Paris of the body of another African-born former model who had campaigned against female genital mutilation."
It worries me that these women, who had been campaigning for such an important cause, have been making news headlines because they have been in danger.
"Dirie's manager, Walter Lutschinger, said [that Dirie] had been involved in an altercation early Wednesday after a taxi driver took her to the wrong branch of the Sofitel hotel chain.
...An Austrian citizen, Dirie was attacked in her Vienna apartment in 2004 by a Portuguese handyman who had stalked her. She received minor injuries and the man, Paulo Augusto, was given a 5-month suspended sentence by an Austrian court." (emphasis added)
I am afraid for women like this. Is it common for all supermodels to be attacked or end up dead? Or just the ones who are championing a controversial cause?
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
But here's a link that shows some questions submitted by readers, and Charlotte Allen's responses to them. In case you're new to the story, read this to see why she made readers of The Washington Post so mad.
"Washington: You write that you doubt women's representation in such fields as law (the Supreme Court) and medicine (brain surgeons) will rise much in the 21st century. However more women than men currently are graduating from law school and medical school. Could you please comment on this apparent contradiction?
Charlotte Allen: That's absolutely true, but the proportion of women at the highest levels of these fields is going to remain relatively small, I predict."
And just so you know, the moderators at washingtonpost had complete editorial power to decide which questions got asked in the first place.
The Republicans see this as an opportunity for President Bush to help McCain unite conservatives.
“Despite overall approval ratings hovering just above 30 percent, Bush receives far higher marks from conservatives, and the McCain campaign thinks the push from Bush will bring the party in line behind their presumptive nominee.”
The Democrats are happy to see the Republican nominee associated with the current President in quite the opposite light: The unpopular president will probably steer people away from McCain.
"[McCain’s] embraced the Bush tax cuts that he voted against. He was against them being temporary; now he wants them being permanent. That's like marrying a girl you didn't want to date. He is rushed to Bush's Social Security plan, even disavowing his own Social Security plan on his own Web site. He has now become Bush's third term," [Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Paul] Begala said.
Why John McCain offends the feminist in me.
On the Facebook group for my feminist radio show, my friend Arianna posted links to some awesome Def Jam poetry.
Rafael Casal's "Barbie and Ken 101."
Sarah Jones's "Your Revolution."
And a side note about how , in 2001, the FCC tried to censor Sarah Jones but later reversed its decision about "Your Revolution" being indecent.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
I wish I could say that that was the worst of it. But it’s not.
What’s even sadder is that this is NOT an isolated incident of discrimination from the airline. In the past, several women have been asked to cover up, or kicked off flights because of the way they were dressed.
I will never fly that airline. I hope you guys won't, either.
Side note: The NYSE symbol for Southwest Airlines Co. is “LUV.” Seriously.
Monday, March 3, 2008
“Following a dismal holiday season, during which sales at stores open at least a year dropped 8%, executives have been doing some soul-searching and preparing to take steps to overhaul the brand's image.”
So I kind of had mixed feelings. Do I really enjoy
We discussed this during a consciousness-raising even that I organized (along with Kate and another classmate) as an action project for my first gender and women’s studies class last Fall. We talked about women’s bodies and their use in advertising.
I know. It’s lingerie. It’s supposed to be sexy. But I’m glad that
EDIT: I agree with Kate: "Now, if Victoria Secret's was going to change their image of what is means to be sexy by introducing more racialy diverse women or women with different body shapes, I would be excited. But, since they are probably going to use the same models wearing a more clothes, I will hold my applause."
There was an article on CNN yesterday about how urban Chinese citizens have been becoming more open about their sexuality.
Although the word sex (or “xing” as the article explains) is still rarely said in public, it was good to hear that people have been gaining more freedom. The only problem is that while sexual experience has been on the rise, Chinese sex education is still severely lacking.
“High school girls make up 80 percent of the patients at
Seems like abortions are easy to come by in
Apparently that Charlotte Allen editorial that I blogged about yesterday provoked a large backlash among readers because The Washington Post changed its headline from the assertive "Women Aren't Very Bright" to the questioning "Why Do Women Act So Dumb?"
Now we only act dumb.
EDIT: On Politico: Washington Post Outlook editor, John Pomfret, said that Allen's article was supposed to be "tongue-in-cheek."
I don't care. What did publishing her editorial accomplish besides pissing off a lot of would-be readers? Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion (and let's face it, Allen's opinion is probably hugely profitable for her), but why publish something that is only going to hurt people? What was the merit in publishing her opinion? It advanced nothing but the ludicrous idea that women are inferior. It made sweeping generalizations, and that is NOT a basis for sound argument, and personally, I believe that ONLY sound arguments should be allowed to be printed. It shouldn't have been published, and The Washington Post should just own up to their grievous error.
AGAIN: In case you missed it, Charlotte Allen annoys me [thanks to Dark Matter for showing me the way to a concise listing of why Charlotte will never be on my good list].
Sunday, March 2, 2008
About women's reactions to some of Sen. Barack Obama's rallies, Allen had this to say (emphasis mine):
"…I can't help it, but reading about such episodes of screaming, gushing and swooning makes me wonder whether women -- I should say, "we women," of course -- aren't the weaker sex after all. Or even the stupid sex, our brains permanently occluded by random emotions, psychosomatic flailings and distraction by the superficial."
Oh, and this on the proper role of women!:
Oh, and this on the proper role of women!:
"…So I don't understand why more women don't relax, enjoy the innate abilities most of us possess (as well as the ones fewer of us possess) and revel in the things most important to life at which nearly all of us excel: tenderness toward children and men and the weak and the ability to make a house a home…Then we could shriek and swoon and gossip and read chick lit to our hearts' content and not mind the fact that way down deep, we are . . . kind of dim."
Yeah…good point. Why am I spending thousands of dollars on a college education when I could take care of people (like babies!) and focus on being a homemaker? That would suit my innate stupidity. Wait, I’m not fond of children, and I can’t even keep my room clean. And I guess graduating as valedictorian was just some kind of fluke, right?
Write a letter to the editor of The Washington Post here.
EDIT: Along those same, stupid lines.
Reminds me of will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas and his "Yes We Can" video for Barack Obama.
I was at the MSN website yesterday, browsing the headlines on the front page, and I came across one that caught my eye. “Is Miley Cyrus the Next Britney Spears?” When I read Martha Brockenbrough's opinion on this teen star, I was rather shocked.
“…Miley Cyrus herself is perfectly adequate… But fascinating? Only insofar as she is the next most likely teen star to go Britney Spears on us. The 15-year-old has even ripped a page from Britney's handbook, publicly proclaiming her virginity while dressing for a hooker convention. At Sunday's Grammy Awards, she wore so much makeup that even the uber-trashy gossip site of Perez Hilton said she looked like a porn star. You don't have to be a church lady to find this a little yucky.”
I had to search for these pictures because I did not watch the Grammys. Although Miley does look much older than her actual 15 years, I think it’s wrong to say that she looks like a “porn star.”
Brockenbrough then went on to say this.
“…The virginity shtick, which is overrated, is also pretty insincere. Either that or it's as confused as a hot dog with frosting. There is one point to dressing sexy: to attract sex partners. Anyone who says otherwise is in a losing argument with Mother Nature."
I would challenge the author on this point. Is “dressing sexy” in
It’s true. The media gives almost undue attention to women who dress scantily or engage in controversy. So a young star like Miley Cyrus would be sure to get her name out there if she sexed up her look a little…or a lot.
There is the possibility that Cyrus simply likes dressing the way she does, and she makes her choices (assuming that she makes her own choices) according to her personal taste. But then the question is, would she make those same choices if neither her father nor she were famous? I think that the entertainment industry, in many ways, shapes the choices that otherwise well-grounded females make, especially after reading this about the In Style and The Recording Academy first ever Grammy 'Salute to Fashion' event on February 7, that proclaimed that Cyrus was “fast getting into the act of becoming [a style icon].” With that kind of encouragement, why would this girl want to look her age?
It makes me sad when a quick internet search of “Miley Cyrus,” a young female with a lot of potential, brings up sexualized pictures that look much too old to be her. Makes me wonder what a less-sexualized entertainment industry would look like.
Saturday, March 1, 2008
There was a follow up post today. Apparently, David and Goliath's web-designers decided to pull the "No Means No" shirt from their website. But that wasn't the end of it. On the page that once contained the information about the rape shirt, there is now a "Miss Bitch" shirt. And not only that. On the right hand side of the page, someone decided to pay tribute to those of us who helped get the rape shirt removed and put the words:
Just enter the discount code NOMEANSNO
This got under my skin because the website removed the rape-as-a-joke shirt, but replaced it with nastiness lodged at the website that started the campaign to get the shirt taken down. Sounds to me like they still find rape funny, and anyone who says otherwise is obviously a bitch.
Rape is never funny. Period. The end.
I will have nothing to do with that company ever again. Unless it's to complain some more.
Here's a link in case you want to do the same: Complain here.
EDIT: Apparently, David and Goliath designer, Todd Goldman, has been accused of a lot of plagiarism. And then he gets his lawyers to try to get people not to talk about it.
I actually took the name for my blog from the name of the radio show that I co-host with Kate. The name comes from a Susan Brownmiller quote. Brownmiller is a feminist who is best known for her pioneering work in the field of the politics of rape, which she wrote about in her book Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape (1975).
The quote of hers was: “Women are all female impersonators to some degree.” I identify with this quote very much, because to me, it speaks of how women often have to act in certain ways to conform to what society deems is appropriate for women. That means that a lot of the time, women are acting when they present themselves to their society, because society often prescribes traits that it thinks women should have, even if many women do not have those traits.
I feel like I am acting when I put on make up and do my hair before I go to work. I know I need to look good in order to succeed, but that doesn’t mean that it comes naturally for me. Those are just some of my thoughts behind my blog name. I know that not all women feel this way, but that’s how I see things.