Thursday, February 14, 2013

This is My Body

I am a little late on this bandwagon, but I love this video. You can find out more about the movement and read the transcript here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

College Health Plans Respond as Transgender Students Gain Visibility

I love encouraging news
Over the last decade, as activists started pushing colleges to accommodate transgender students, they first raised only basic issues, like recognizing a name change or deciding who could use which bathrooms. But the front lines have shifted fast, particularly at the nation’s elite colleges, and a growing number are now offering students health insurance plans with coverage for gender reassignment surgery.
The idea still seems radical to plenty of people; last year, when Sandra Fluke, a law student, became famous for speaking in favor of an insurance mandate for contraceptive coverage, conservatives painted her as part of a fringe element because she also supported sex-change coverage...Other medical groups, like the American Psychiatric Association, have taken the same position. Several major insurers have taken the stance that the treatment, including surgery, can be considered medically necessary. The Internal Revenue Service considers the expenses tax-deductible.

The issue directly affects only a tiny number of students; no one knows how many. But universities recognize that their insurance plan sends a signal to the much larger number of students for whom the rights of transgender people have taken a place alongside gay rights as a cause that matters.

“Students notice whether the issues that they care about, that make them feel like it’s a more comfortable and welcoming place, are being discussed and addressed,” said Ira Friedman, a doctor who is associate vice provost for student affairs at Stanford and director of the student health center there. Stanford began covering sex-change surgery in 2010.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Compilation of 2012 Lists

Yes, I am just as sick of reading all of those "best of" or "looking back" lists about 2012 too. And yes, I am also just as prone as you to get sucked in to their bullet-pointed seduction techniques. I figured as long as I am reading a ridiculous number of them anyway I might as well compile a list that has to do with women and feminism. 

If you have any others to add, please let me know about them in comments!

Seventeen Magazine Promotes Body Hatred

In unsurprising but nonetheless saddening news, Seventeen Magazine undermined the entire notion of a "Body Peace Project" by partnering with the Biggest Loser in order to encourage girls to learn to love their bodies. Sound contradictory? That's because it is. 

Nina Bahadur calls Seventeen out in her article for Huffington Post. Excerpt below. 

The Seventeen blog features Chandrasekar's "Biggest Loser" audition video, in which the 16-year-old from New York tells viewers: "I want to love myself... which is something I find hard to do at times, at this weight. Secondly, I want to look fabulous for prom." The tape also features Chandrasekar's mother, who states, "It is really my greatest regret in life... that my daughter has gotten into the vicious cycle of weight gain." 

Meanwhile, Seventeen's Body Peace Pledge, signed by almost 90,000 young women to date, invites them to vow to "know that I'm already beautiful just the way I am" and "not let my size define me."

Seventeen introduces the "Biggest Loser" partnership in the wake of other recent body image controversies. In late 2012, the magazine came under fire for featuring a BMI calculator on its website. The aforementioned calculator indicated that a girl with a BMI of 14.8 was "healthy," when, according to the Center for Disease Control, such a BMI renders a person "underweight." Seventeen took down the BMI calculator from their website after 3,000 individuals signed a Proud2BeMe petition demanding its removal.

Humor that's funny

I came across a gif this morning that featured this quote from Ellen DeGeneres, "Most comedy is based on getting a laugh at somebody else's expense. And I find that that's just a form of bullying in a major way. So I want to be an example that you can be funny and kind, and make people laugh without hurting somebody else's feelings." 

I love this quote. I love it because it calls out people who tell jokes that are mean-spirited and perpetuate a culture of bullying marginalized groups but also points to a positive example of humor that doesn't fall into that bullshit. 

As an example I feel the need insert a piece of comedy from Ms. DeGeneres that is subverting, rather than playing into, sexist stereotypes (unfortunately I don't have a transcript for this but if someone else does I will love you eternally if you put it in comments).

If any of you have other examples of comedians who are funny without resorting to laughing at other people's expense, let me know! I am always down for a giggle fest.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Feminism and Tattoos

So because I am self absorbed and (as I mentioned in my last post) newly marked my very own feminist tattoo, I feel the need to make a post full of some articles, blogs, etc which I have come across recently that have to do with feminist ink. If you have your own feminist tattoo and something to say about it or have another online resource about feminist tattoos, I would love to hear from you in comments!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

I'm baaaaacccckkkkk

So I am not going to be so presumptuous as to apologize for taking over a year-long hiatus from blogging here. I assume all of our readers have been reading other great feminist blogs and have been carrying on just fine without my witty commentary on topics related to feminism. But I am sorry I have taken such a long break because having the opportunity to be heard in this forum is something I really appreciate and have missed. I hope that you all aren't so annoyed by this blog having been inactive for so long that you won't start reading again.

There are lots of reasons why I took a break from blogging which are fairly uninteresting and typical: I had my senior year of college to contend with, I got lazy, etc.

However, the reasons I want to start blogging again are more interesting (to me, anyway). I want to start blogging again because of the following:

1. I watched this talk by Anita Sarkeesian and was incredibly moved an inspired.

2. I got the woman symbol tattooed on my foot yesterday (I will blog more about my journey to this tattoo at a later date). While I got the tattoo because I was already passionate about feminism, in the 24 hours I have had it on my body it has only served to fuel my feminist fire.

3. I had a really bad experience with a boy one year ago today. Becoming more involved with the feminist community again is my way of saying to him, "FUCK YOU, I WILL NOT BE OPPRESSED! HEAR ME ROAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

The wound is still too fresh to talk about this more now, but I plan to write about it later.

4. It is a unique privilege to be able to think through issues that are important to you, write down your thoughts, and have other people actually bother to read them. I don't think I realized how cool blogging for Female Impersonator is until I spent a year missing it.

5. I want to.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"We Need Fashion to Catch Up To Women of Size"

I love this piece over at Jezebel. In it, Dodai Stewart comments on an interview with Velvet d'Amour, a plus-sized actress, model and photographer. Some of my favorite quotes by d'Amour that are mentioned in the Jezebel piece are:

Fleshy, curvy women have been relegated to men's magazines, whilst edgy
editorial fashion in particular, has been inundating us with imagery glorifying adolescence (sometimes using models even as young as 13); the standard sample size forces the use of more skeletal models; and the opening of the Eastern bloc countries (where women are naturally quite delicately slender) caused an influx of lanky lovelies to grace the pages of our magazines and thus it's really quite normal that the curves here are deemed as more risqué. We have been fed a steady diet of rail thin, white, tall, Youth for the most part. Thus instead of delving further into what Beauty means to us as individuals, the tendency is not to question authority.


Should one go out on a limb and include a genuinely voluptuous model, 9 times out of 10 they will do so by harkening back to the Renaissance. Rubens and the like, are seemingly our only reference point for a larger body […] If we continually marry the fat body with nude classics, then we are hardly creating a revolution.

You can read the entire piece here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Self Esteem and Street Harassment

Mandy van Deven over at the Bitch Magazine blog brought up a problem about the way some self-proclaimed feminists judge people (usually women) who are flattered by street harassment that I have always felt but never articulated. Namely, that sitting in judgement of the victim of street harassment's reaction to their harassment is just as counter-productive as victim-blaming when trying to reduce any other crime.

...The message they [commentators] hold is clear: if you're a girl or woman who likes receiving overt sexual attention from men and boys (in public), it's because you lack the self-respect necessary to throw off the confines of external validation regarding female sexuality and beauty. We hear this self-esteem argument in various places, including conversations about female promiscuity, girls and women who wear revealing clothing, and the reasons women become sex workers. The underlying assumption in this logic is that desiring or expressly seeking out male sexual attention is the result of having low self-esteem.

For starters, comments of this kind set up a false dichotomy of women who have self-confidence and those who lack it (as though we don't all struggle with confidence in various circumstances), which allows the speaker to denigrate and "other" women who engage with men unfamiliar to them in a sexual manner on the street, blame these women (at least in part) for the problem of street harassment, and bolster one's own sense of personal integrity and moral superiority.

I thought Mandy's points in the rest of the article (which I highly suggest you read) were really spot-on and insightful. I especially appreciated that she mentioned how fine but distinct the line between flattery and street harassment is. I thought she put it well when she said, "Who determines the difference between a compliment and street harassment? The simple answer is: you do. The not-so-simple-answer is that we all do... and it depends heavily on context."

I do have one criticism with Mandy's article, however. While she quite rightly states that the distinction between flattery and street harassment is partially defined by what the target of the comment or gesture thinks it is, I think she should have clarified that street harassers aren't people who meant to pay a compliment and were just misunderstood. Street harassment, like sexual assault, is not the result of the perpetrator finding their target so irresistible that they cannot control themselves. It is about the perpetrator trying to exert power over and intimidate the person they are directing their comment or gesture at and it is not okay.

While I don't think Mandy was in any way disagreeing with what I said, I do wish she clarified what she meant. Street harassment is unfortunately so normalized and accepted that many targets of it feel they don't have a right to be upset about it or take action against it. In our current environment, myself and my fellow feminist bloggers out there need to be careful that we do not accidentally reinforce an upsetting misconception by not clarifying our meaning.

All in all though, I thought Mandy made some really great points and I applaud her for taking on this issue and pointing out a common problem in the way people talk about victims of street harassment.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Long time, no blog.

Hey everyone. It's Amelia. It's been a long time since I've been on Blogger. I never really explained my absence, so here goes.

I started my prolonged break from feminist blogging (and reading news, in general) when I was going through my first major depressive episode. I was having a difficult time dealing with my personal issues and was unable to handle the stress of being aware of the large world which is, as we all know, filled with terrible problems alongside some amazing triumphs.

At that same time, I was focusing on finishing my undergraduate studies at Knox College. I graduated cum laude from that school on Saturday.

Basically, my life right now is up in the air. I know I want to get training as a volunteer advocate for sexual assault victims. I know I want to write and perform poetry. But I currently have no job.

We will see where I end up, but for the time being, I can't promise I'll do more blogging. 

I would like to offer a round of applause to Victoria. Without her work, this blog would not exist. Please leave her some love.

Take care, all of you.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What Trans People Want

With all the ignorance and bigotry about trans people out there, the project of achieving equality for all people regardless of their gender can seem overwhelming. Recently, a DC trans coalition delivered a list of the trans community's priorties to the Director of GLBT Affairs. Hopefully this list will give advocates ideas of what issues to start with to work towards a fairer, more welcoming world for trans people.

So what do trans people want? Turns out they would like to safely use bathrooms, not be kicked out of their homes, avoid being sexually assaulted, receive fair treatment in the criminal justice system, and not be completely ignored in the city's educational and social services systems.

You can view the list in its entirety here.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

NY Times Series: Race Remixed

The New York Times has been running the series "Race Remixed," which examines the "growing number of mixed-race Americans." I have found this series really interesting, particularly the below video. I would be really interested in hearing your thoughts on the series in general, the topic, and the video specifically.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Italian Women Protest Sexism, Berlusconi

Italian women are getting fed up with their poor treatment and are starting to take a stand, showing disapproval of their prime minister Berlusconi.

Berlusconi’s approval rating among women has dropped from 48 percent a year ago to 27 percent—an all-time low. True to form, Berlusconi has his own statistics. “Did you hear about the latest poll?” he recently joked. “They asked women between 20 and 30 years old if they want to make love to Berlusconi. Thirty-three percent said yes, and 67 percent said, ‘Again?’”

Arcidonna, a woman’s group, filed a lawsuit against Berlusconi last month for 25 years of abuse against Italian women. “The conduct of the prime minister—now charged with child prostitution—is the final straw,” says Valeria Ajovalasit, the group’s president.

Berlusconi is only part of the problem. According to recent data, Italy is even more sexist than comparable nations.

According to the 2010 Global Gender Gap report by the World Economic Forum, Italy ranks 74th in terms of women’s rights, behind Colombia, Peru, and Romania. Indicators include wage parity, labor-force participation, and domestic violence. Other statistics reveal 95 percent of Italian men have never used a washing machine, and that Italian women spend 21 hours a week on housework while Italian men spend only four.

Luckily, women have started wide-reaching protests across Italy against Berlusconi's sexist speech. Let's hope that this is the start of a larger movement towards equality.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

SaVE Act: A Step in the Right Direction

As we have said before, rape on college campuses is a huge issue that needs to be better addressed. It looks like the proposed SaVE Act may be a step in the right direction.

The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, or SaVE Act, would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 and expand the 1990 Jeanne Clery Act to "improve education and prevention related to campus sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking."

Co-sponsored by Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the SaVE Act (S. 835) would expand the framework of sexual assault education and victims' rights to include domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking, and addresses the issue of how to define consent in sexual relationships. Schools would be required under the act to include sexual violence statistics in their annual crime reports. Colleges and universities would also be required to explain how to obtain protective orders and other victims' rights whenever a student reports being a victim of sexual violence.

Frankly, the fact that colleges are not already required to do such things as inform survivors of sexual violence about how to obtain a protective order should be disturbing and should move senators to vote for this act. However, the senate often does not do what they should. Here's hoping that the senate does the right thing this time.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Kate Middleton & the Trouble with Fairytales

I just finished reading this article, the upshot of which was that

...there are certain undeniable truths about the sacrifices this young woman [Kate Middleton] has already made for her upcoming nuptials in addition to her career in fashion (Kate shortly worked for the British clothing brand, Jigsaw), and her photography (Kate had planned an exhibition she ended up not showing). As Cochrane states, "What's deeply dangerous about Kate for the monarchy, is that she looks as purposeless as the rest of them."

In many ways, Middleton has already failed to use her entry into this family as an opportunity to make them more modern. Instead she has convinced the Queen that she will not been reaping havoc and causing scandals galore like Diana, making herself much easier to "manage" (read: control). Kate is more willing to adjust to the royal family's ways than have them adjust to her, and in the process allowing the monarchy to remain unchanged when what it so desperately needs is to change.

All this being said, Kate clearly loves William and maybe at the end of the day, she is doing all this for love. But something about that doesn't sit too well with me. Perhaps it's the whole fairtytale factor thing.

Or maybe, just maybe, Kate Middleton has bigger plans than any one of us could imagine. I mean, Queen Elizabeth is not getting any younger, and guess who happens to be waiting in the wings to be Queen? Perhaps that was the ambition of "Waity Katey", as the British press famously dubbed Middleton, all along.

Maybe Ms. Middleton will get to have her fairytale, the last laugh, and show us all how it's done- as Queen of England.

Thoughts? Does Kate Middleton represent a new, more feminist version of women in the English royal family? Is it even fair to use her as a starting point from which to discuss the role of fairytale and marriage in modern society given her exceptional circumstances?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Update: Planned Parenthood's Budget

Luckily the Senate voted down the ridiculous bill passed by the House of Representatives that would have cut all federal funding for Planned Parenthood. But women's health advocates can't celebrate just yet.

"As the negotiations for the spending bill continue, it's clear that social conservatives want to ban funding for Planned Parenthood in future spending (negotiations)," said Planned Parenthood Federation of America spokesperson Tait Sye.

The organization also faces a longer-term funding threat in H.R.3, the "Stupak on Steroids" bill, for which congressional subcommittee hearings are set for March 16.

That bill blocks private insurance plans from covering abortion care in the new health care system and imposes tax penalties on small business owners and many other individuals who purchase private insurance plans that cover abortion care. The legislation now has 219 co-sponsors, enough votes to pass the House.