Monday, December 31, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Synopsis: "It’s Christmastime again, and Frosty, the lovable snowman, has come out to play with the children of winter. Of course, no snowman would be complete without a snowwoman, so the children fashion him a bride. Just when it seems that Frosty is on the verge of happiness, the nefarious villain, Jack Frost, becomes jealous of Frosty’s good fortune and threatens to steal his hat--the magical hat that gives Frosty and his newly found bride life."
Have you seen this one? I grew up with the original Frosty the Snowman Christmas special, but unil a couple of days ago, I had no idea that this one existed. And I have to tell you, it totally creeped me out. Frosty is lonely, so the kids decide to build a woman out of snow to be his wife. Assuming she will immediately spring to life as Frosty did, and taking for granted that this newly living being will even want anything to do with him, let alone marry him, Frosty dictates to the children his specifications for the perfect wife. She is given blue eyes and a smile, and she is purposely made a little shorter than Frosty. They name her Crystal. The whole scenario just felt a little dirty to me.
Every man obviously needs a wife, right? And the wife? Well, she wouldn't even exist if it wasn't for his need for her. Apparently, the only reason to build a snowperson with feminine characteristics is so she can serve some purpose for her man.
I entertained a little fantasy in my brain of Frosty balking at the idea of the children building him a bride. Of him being horrified at the idea of forcing some innocent female snowcreature into marrying him. Or of him being offended that they would automatically assume he's straight when he would actually prefer a snowman over a snowwoman.
Yes, friends, in a perfect world, all Christmas specials would be feminist-friendly. In Rudolph, the girl reindeer would get to join in the reindeer games instead of waiting on the sidelines to be wooed by the boys. (They didn't just leave out the red-nosed kid, you know.) Mrs. Claus really would have been able to take her husband's place and save Christmas in The Year Without a Santa Claus.
They aren't all bad. It's just that some of them are just way past due for an update.
Friday, December 21, 2007
I suppose, for many "responsible journalists", it would be too much of a cheap shot to attack the young Jamie Lynn Spears following her recent pregnancy announcement. Spears' mother, however, is apparently fair game. Check out this condescending (and contradictory) article from MSN Entertainment News:
I suppose, in light of the very public (and apparently unending) downfall of her older daughter, Britney, and now, with her youngest pregnant at the age when most of her starlet peers are trying to parlay their TV work into a film career, any advice Lynne Spears might offer on how to raise children seems somewhat suspect. In fact, if the current events are any indication, Momma Spears might benefit from some advice herself.
According to a study done by Lisa Rapport, Ph.D, called "The Relationships Between Professional Experience, Parenting History, and Adult Adjustment," "the environment of the entertainment industry is not necessarily toxic to normal development. Instead, the results support the well-established theory that good parenting serves as a buffer for life stress." Good parenting. It so often comes back to that.
After putting all of the responsibility for her daughters' actions onto Lynne Spears and some huh-LAR-ious specific prescriptions for how to be a better parent to celebrity children, the article goes on to explain that:
Teen moms happen, in famous families, and not-so-famous ones, in lenient households and in strict homes. In fact, teen moms happen a lot. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, there were more than 400,000 births in 2005 to 15- to 19-year-old mothers, or about 10 percent of total live births in the United States in that year. When I was in high school, one of my best friends was a girl from a conservative, religious, staid family. Her father was a minister. And although she wasn't on a TV show and she didn't live with an older boyfriend -- yep, she was pregnant at 16, too. She didn't even have an older sister shaving her head and driving over photographers. Sometimes, even with the best-intentioned parenting, it happens.
So, wait. If it happens all the time and can happen to anyone, why the Mother Censure? Why are we so programmed to blame mothers for everything that happens to their children? In a culture where mothers are still often (or at least thought to be) the primary caregivers to children coupled with a societal expectation that women (and women only) sacrifice absolutely everything in order to "raise them right", it's no wonder that (even after the exhausting pregnancy, labor, feeding, caring, clothing, chasing, nose-wiping, diaper-changing, potty-training, and financial-supporting) women are held responsible for their childrens' actions. Even when they aren't children anymore. Even when they're pop music icons or star in their own TV shows.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
The response of his commenters is overwhelmingly positive, but I have to say that this one's my favorite:
"Looks awesome, but she needs a good waxing."
(via Melissa at Shakesville)
Monday, December 17, 2007
Here's a comment I just got a few days ago on this post about Bill Maher's woman-hating speech against breast-feeding in public from back in September:
"You all are stupid women, he is not as alpha as your making him out to be. Quit twisting his words around to give yourself a cause to complain about. He is just saying that breast feeding, no matter if it is natural or not, shouldn't be done next to my blooming onion. As for his "misogynistic" comments, ladies, get the sand out of your vag and laugh a little. Breast have many functions, tweaking, twiddling, sucking, and a very small amount is for milk production. :)
If it is such a big deal, attach a fucking milk suction device to them and store the rations for bottle feeding. That way I do not get randy while the baby sucks your sweet tit juice."
He's absolutely right! Silly feminist me. I went and forgot that boobs are solely for men's pleasure. Excuse me while I go clean the sand out of my vag.
It was the same size and shape as all of the novels surrounding it, but boy, did it stick out. I picked it up today and, I'm ready to start reading. Anyone out there who's read it before? What did you think? (No spoilers, though!)
Friday, December 14, 2007
But now that the work is done, and now that my insurance company has come through with my replacement computer, I can finally breathe and return to the blog. I hope you haven't deleted me from your blogrolls and feeders!
I thought I would start by sharing this little story of something that happened the other day:
So, the boyfriend and I were amazingly home at the same time on a weekday, and I had the TV tuned to ABC when The View came on at 11. I was working on some stuff and in my own little world when he commented:
"Wow, it's amazing how different the commercials are during 'women's programming" (making air quotes around the last two words).
When I looked up and noticed the Swiffer commerical on the TV, I was pretty sure I knew what he was getting at, but I was curious about what he was thinking, so I asked:
"What do you mean?"
"In this commerical break alone, I've seen three different cleaning product ads, a diaper commercial, and a minivan commercial."
I knodded knowingly.
"Sad, isn't it?" I said.
Knowing that he mostly watches prime time dramas and comedies, X-Play, and shows on Comedy Central, I kept the conversation going by asking,
"What kinds of commercials are you used to seeing?"
"Um, I don't know. Movie trailers. Ads for upcoming programming. Commericals for I-pods and other electronics. Car commercials, but the kind with fast driving and rock music instead of this minivan kind that show how there's room for groceries and kids (gesturing at the screen). I can't even remember the last time I saw a household product commercial before today."
And there you have it. I have to admit it was slightly vindicating to me that he noticed the difference -- how women are still assumed to be solely responsible for keeping houses and caring for children while men are almost never targeted by advertisers as consumers of products associated with homes and babies. I like to think that he has developed a much keener sense of sexism for having been around me.
But after that feeling of satisfaction wore off, I was left to reflect on how much it totally sucks that this is the way it is. This aspect of advertising is just another huge piece of evidence that gender socialization manages to creep its way into every little nook and cranny of our lives. It happens when I don't even notice it. Like when I am sitting at home with the TV on in the background, unaware that constant images of (mostly white middle class) women cleaning houses, grocery shopping, changing diapers, and carting kids to soccer practice are coming into my home and into my subconscious mind. Ugh.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Despite Denials, Gays Insist They Exist, if Quietly, in Iran: For a country that is said to have no homosexuality, Iran goes to great lengths to ban it, but gays and lesbians keep a low profile to avoid government interference.
Friday, September 21, 2007
This documentary ended up not being quite what I expected. Rather than focusing specifically on the content of the "abstinence only" sex education being taught in her Texas high school, it dealt more with a young girl's struggle with reconciling her consevative Christian upbringing with her emerging liberal views. Which I found fascinating, because I can totally relate.
Luckily, I didn't grow up with parents that made me pledge my virginity to them at a formal event, and they never blatantly told me that they thought homosexuality is a sin, but they (along with most of my hometown) were conservative, church-going Republicans, and it felt revolutionary to me when I started to have my own thoughts and realize that I was, in fact, an atheist and a feminist.
The scene where the school board prays together before their meeting hit especially close to home. I can remember accompanying my mom to PTA meetings as a very small child and watching all the parents bow their heads to say the Lord's Prayer before getting down to business. I suppose I shouldn't be at all surprised that this is still going on, even though it's so obviously a violation of the separation of church and state.
I wish that the film would have told more of the facts. That the filmmakers would have made sure to include the real truth after showing footage of the ridiculous pastor/"abstinence educator" spouting lies about condom use and STI prevention.
I also wish that Shelby (and her parents in their process of coming around to her ideas) didn't harp so much on the idea that she was fighting for comprehensive sex ed so that, even though she was still waiting for marriage, all those other kids who don't have her kind of home life and parental support will know how to be safe when they have sex. That bothered me a little, even though I can understand where she is coming from I'm sure she felt (and still feels) plenty of unspoken pressure to make sure that her parents still know that she intends to remain "pure" for them and for God, even while fighting for better sex ed at her school.
But I liked the movie. I liked watching her think for herself and stand up to some pretty powerful religious conservatives, asserting that they have no right to tell her she can't reconcile her liberal views with her faith. I liked that LGBT issues were addressed along with sex ed. I liked that Shelby became an ally in the cause of her fellow students who were fighting for the right to have a Gay/Straight Alliance at their school, despite the wariness of her parents and peers. I like that she didn't compromise.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
Sunday, September 16, 2007
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, but I'm appalled that something this hateful and blatantly degrading was allowed on the air.
(via Feminist Law Professors - with great links to 2 other posts)
Saturday, September 15, 2007
"Central Kings Rural High School students David Shepherd and Travis Price bought 75 pink tank tops and other pink items for students to wear after a new student at the school was bullied for wearing a pink shirt."
Friday, September 14, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
"One of the six suspects arrested in the case, Bobby Brewster, had a previous relationship with the victim, Abraham said. He said Brewster had been charged in July with domestic battery and assault after a domestic dispute involving the same woman.
"She obviously had some sort of social relationship," Abraham said. "That is based on the fact that she was present at his residence on a prior date."
If true, that evidence would undercut the hate crime law, which applies to crimes motivated by racial hatred and not by non-race-related conflicts."
I don't understand why previous relationships would "undercut" hate crime law. Assuming "racial hatred" can't exist if the parties are acquainted? A previous relationship excludes the possibility of "race-related conflicts"? This just doesn't make sense to me.
And if this horrific event and its non-hate-crime status haven't outraged you enough, it also seems that the insidious victim-blaming has already begun.
"But older structures aren't subject to the same requirements. Ms. Davis lives on the Upper East Side, and she said most of the established restaurants she visits in her neighborhood have tiny, inaccessible restrooms.
"I dehydrate before I go out to dinner," she said. "I don't drink anything for an hour and a half.' She also carries around a 12-pound fiberglass ramp that she uses if a restaurant has a step or two up to its entrance, as many do. If a restaurant has a whole flight of stairs, she's out of luck."
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
I would have been fine if I had just done that. If I had just read Zuzu and Jill at Feministe, Amanda at Pandagon, and everything written by Melissa and her crew at Shakesville today, I would not currently be filled with the kind of hopeless feminist rage that makes you wonder in disbelief at how much we still have to fight for equality. Because while the sites I just mentioned (along with all of the other wonderful feminist, anti-racist, and social justice sites I read) talked about 9/11 today in constructive ways that criticize our government for this unnecessary war or draw our attention to other atrocities that are going on right now, the stupid, fucking Mens News Daily decided to wax nostalgic about the tragedy with a repost of a 2001 article that dared to state the "obvious" - that the biggest heroes on that horrific day were not women, but men.
"But you know what?
"Most fire and police departments resolutely remain predominantly male.
"Most of the firefighters and police who were killed were men.
"Most of the most astonishing acts of courage that we know about, from the man who in one of the towers stayed with his wheelchair-bound colleague so he would not die alone to the male passengers who apparently rushed the hijackers on flight 93, were performed by men.
"Most of the people doing the dirtiest work -- day after day driving the big trucks in and out; clearing the site of giant chunks of debris, concrete and metal; moving the earth; picking up tiny pieces of skin and muscle that thus far form the single biggest category of remains and placing them into little envelopes and the little envelopes into zip-up body bags -- were and are men, in the main blue-collar, working-class boys.
"Even most of the wondrous political leadership, from New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani to George W., has come from men."
"As the rhetoric went then, integrating women into these places would be good for the men, would gentle their inherent violence and risk-taking, temper the soaring levels of testosterone, somehow better the culture.
"The truth is, it did nothing of the sort. If anything, the women who became firefighters and police and soldiers took their cues from the men. And in the end, there remains such comfort in this, in knowing that, push come to shove, should you find yourself in crisis, in a burning building or a car crash, the ground treacherous and shifting beneath your sandal-shod feet either literally or metaphorically, a burly figure will be coming for you, and he will be driven enough to find you and strong enough to lift you up and away."
I can't even imagine how offensive these words must be to a female firefighter, EMT, or law enforcement official who works her ass off every day only to be told that she isn't fit to be a leader, or that she isn't tough enough to do her job.
OF COURSE I don't think that it is wrong to honor the efforts and sacrifices of everyone who answered the call to duty on September 11th, 2001 and all of the days and weeks and months following it. But I DO think it is wrong to honor the efforts and sacrifices of only one group to the exclusion of others, especially when that group happens to be the privileged and more powerful majority.
I am genuinely PISSED OFF that Blatchford wrote such horrible, ignorant drivel six years ago, and I am positively FUMING that anyone respected this view enough to republish it. Romanticizing heroic actions is one thing, but unfairly attributing the characteristics related to those actions to one sex and one sex only is completely ludicrous. And I'm sure that Sacks felt more comfrtable posting this "politically incorrect" idiocy simply because it happened to be written by a woman. The whole thing (including the comments section) smacks of a "You see, boys? They're not ALL feminazi bitches!" attitude. Read it all if you can stomach it, but I won't blame you if you'd rather just avoid such nonsense. Especially today of all days.
Friday, September 7, 2007
Thursday, September 6, 2007
What happens in Aurora, happens to me
Read her post and sign the petition. With each signature of support, Planned Parenthood will tie a ribbon outside the threatened clinic in Aurora, Illinois to show how many of us are in support of reproductive rights for women.
And spread the word! Post the link on your own blogs or online communities and take advantage of their e-mail feature to send the message to your friends.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
This video really speaks for itself in showing the HUGE disconnect between the ways of thinking of conservatives and those of liberals/progressives. While, they consider things like medical care and education to be "lavish benefits", we (shockingly) tend to regard them as human rights.
All I can say is that I'm so glad this stupid show was cancelled after only 15 episodes. I understand that conservatives probably feel alienated by liberal comedy shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, but what I don't think they understand is that there's a couple of inherent problems with trying to come up with a comedy news show for the right: 1) They don't have the benefit of being able to hilariously expose constant hypocrisy and bigotry, and 2) they're hopelessly unfunny. I suppose it was worth a try, righties, but good fucking riddance.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Monday, September 3, 2007
Feb 14, 2000: Jerry Lewis proved himself dumbfoundingly politically incorrect on Saturday during an appearance at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, CO. As reported by the Associated Press, Lewis was asked which female comics he admires. "I don't like any female comedians, " he recalled. When Martin Short, who was moderating the panel reminded him of Lucille Ball and remarked, "You must have loved her, " Lewis replied "No, " then added, "A woman doing comedy doesn't offend me but sets me back a bit. ... I think of her as a producing machine that brings babies in the world."
2. Immediately stop using children in fundraising efforts. Parents can no longer consent to their exploitation.
3. Immediately hire an independent auditor to conduct an honest, impartial, objective accounting of the Telethon's costs and revenues.
4. Based on the accounting, develop a timetable for "weaning" the MDA budget away from dependence on the Telethon
Friday, August 31, 2007
Hillary Clinton was her usual poised and articulate self on the Late Show tonight. The best part, though, was when she delivered the Top Ten List:
"Top Ten Hillary Clinton Campaign Promises"
10. "Bring stability and long term security to 'The View.'"
9. "Each year on my birthday, every American gets a cupcake."
8. "You'll have the option of rolling dice against the IRS for double-or-nothing on your taxes."
7. "Having trouble getting a flight and Air Force One is available -- it's yours."
6. "My Vice President will never shoot anybody in the face."
5. "Turn Gitmo into a Dairy Queen as soon as possible."
4. "For over a century there have been only two Dakotas -- I plan to double that."
3. "We will finally have a President who doesn't mind pulling over and asking for directions. Am I right, ladies?"
2. "I will appoint a committee to find out what the heck is happening on 'Lost.'"
1. "One more pantsuit joke and Letterman disappears."
Even though I'm a huge Shirley Chisholm admirer, I didn't even realize this 2004 documentary existed until it was recommended to me on Netflix. I immediately moved it to the top of my queue, it came yesterday, and I watched it last night.
With both a woman and an African American running for the democratic nomination during a time when the nation is divided over a war, this film about Chisholm, the first black woman in Congress and the first woman to make a serious bid for the American presidency, seems incredibly relevant. It was especially so when the film showed footage of Chisholm saying:
"Over 75% of our budget is being spent to continue an immoral war in Vietnam, and yet we have a domestic war here at home in terms of the crises in our cities. There's something wrong with our nation."
It was amazing to watch and think about the ways in which we have progressed in terms of anti-sexism and anti-racism, as well as the ways in which we still have a very long way to go. It was directed by the amazing Shola Lynch (read/watch a fabulous interview with her about the film here) and featured interviews with Susan Brownmiller and Octavia Butler, as well as archive footage of Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and other prominent feminists. Not only that, but we are so fortunate that the film contains interview footage with Chisholm herself, taken before her death on January 1, 2005. She was eighty years old when she died.
It isn't mentioned in the film, but Chisholm is also well-known as a huge proponent of reproductive rights, and I hear she covered this topic in depth in her 1970 autobiography, also called Unbought and Unbossed, (which is sadly out of print, but check your library) if you want to know more.
For more great classic Chisholm, check out her 1970 speech in support of the Equal Rights Amendment:
"This is what it comes down to: artificial distinctions between persons must be wiped out of the law. Legal discrimination between the sexes is, in almost every instance, founded on outmoded views of society and the pre-scientific beliefs about psychology and physiology. It is time to sweep away these relics of the past and set further generations free of them."
Can you imagine how the world might be different today if we had elected her (instead of Richard Nixon) in 1972?
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Why there is a BET and there isn't a WET
"The telethon routinely implies that the source of the problems people with disabilities face is their medical conditions and the answer to their problems is curing them. Millions of viewers tune in every year and come away with the idea that people with disabilities need pity and charity rather than accessible public transportation and housing, employment opportunities and other civil rights that a democratic society should ensure for all its citizens. "
Monday, August 27, 2007
Friday, August 24, 2007
Last night was the first of the series, and I chose The Color
This film is so heartwrenching and beautiful that I seriously cannot watch it without sobbing. Based on the book by Alice Walker and directed by Steven Speilberg, the 1985 film adaptation was Whoopi Goldberg's film debut, and it won several awards. I know that Walker received some criticism for her portrayal of some characters and for a controversial kiss between two female characters (which she responds to in her wonderful essay In the Closet of the Soul*), but I think this book and film are so incredibly important for casting some mainstream light on the intersection of racism and sexism in early twentieth century America.
The book has been on my reading list for years, but I think it's time for me to bump it to the top of the list. I have a renewed desire to read it and catch any parts that got left out of the movie. And since books are almost always better than movies based on them, I need to know what I've been missing.
*This essay can be found in Words of Fire: An Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought, ed. Beverly Guy-Sheftall.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Sunday, August 19, 2007
"...she was appalled by a message she interpreted as, "We, the guys, need to save (breasts) for ourselves, meaning for our own pleasure, rather than we all of us need to address a serious health issue."
To her, Hannibal's comment was only a continuation of what she considers the Blitz's unenlightened attitude toward women-as demonstrated by its attention-getting billboards that show the torso of a busty woman in a tight, white shirt and urge onlookers to "pray for rain."
The DJ who met the most criticism for communicating this message had a totally convincing defense for why he presented breast cancer awareness in this way:
"Consider the mind of the 18- to 34-year-old male that listens to rock and roll."
It's the "we're just giving our [male] listeners what they want [while completely alienating and insulting our female listeners], and besides, only men listen to rock and roll, anyway" argument. Makes perfect sense, gentlemen. Sorry to interrupt your misogyny with my feminist nagging. Allow me to shut up and sign up for your wet t-shirt contest.
(Fuck you, 99.7.)
The New York Times is reporting on problems for workers in the nail salon industry. Problems related to long hours, low wages, and health concerns from exposure to harmful chemicals.
"Owners often force employees to work 60 hours a week while failing to pay overtime or allow lunch breaks. And lower manicure prices mean lower tips for workers who spend their days cutting cuticles and painting on polish."
"In a 2004 survey of salon employees in New York City, 37 percent said they often or sometimes had skin problems, 37 percent said they suffered from eye irritation, 57 percent from allergies, 66 percent from neck or back discomfort and 18 percent from asthma."
Ms. Lee, the salon owner on Long Island, said many Koreans went into the business because entry costs are low, with entrepreneurs able to open salons for $50,000 to $100,000. Asian immigrants, whether Koreans two decades ago or Chinese today, often become manicurists because the job requires little English and only a few weeks of training."
I've never had a manicure in my life and don't really plan to start getting them anytime soon, but I'm still left wondering what consumers could do to help bring about change. Would the industry improve for workers if customers were more aware? If there was a higher demand for salons with manicurists who make a living wage? Or would that only privilege the salons that are able to afford to charge higher prices and hurt the women who work for less pay? I'm also wondering if that many chemicals (or ones that harmful) are really necessary to the grooming of nails. Wouldn't it be better for all involved if the companies that make these products were held to a higher standard of safety and somehow forced to develop safer ones? Thoughts?
If you're like me, you want to put a stop to the ridiculous trend of pharmacists refusing to sell contraceptives to women. If you want to stop feeling so helpless, here's something you can do.
Join the Planned Parenthood Pill Patrol
Planned Parenthood needs our help in keeping pharmacies across the U.S. honest by visiting them and making sure they stock emergency contraception and that they have staff members who will honor customers' requests for it. Just sign up, download their action kit, visit your local pharmacy or pharmacies, and report back to them about what you found.
And while you're at it, send a nasty letter or two to Target and Winn Dixie stores for not having policies that guarantee our right to purchase birth control. (Check here for a list of the top fifty U.S. pharmacy chains and how they measure up.)
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
"ATLANTA - Women who use abortion pills rather than the more common surgical method seem to face no greater risk of tubal pregnancy or miscarriage in later pregnancies, according to a new study."
"Generally, surgical abortions completely remove an embryo or fetus and surrounding uterine tissue, but abortions done with pills may leave bits of placenta or other embryonic material. Some doctors have wondered whether that might interfere with subsequent pregnancies, said Dr. Matthew Reeves, a reproductive medicine expert at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
"This kind of squashes any concerns," said Reeves, who was not involved in the study.
The paper is published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine."
A technician came into my workplace today to fix some equipment, which of course resulted in the type of idle chit chat you make to pass the time with someone you've never met but are forced to be in the same room with for twenty minutes or so. He commented on how he hoped he wouldn't get caught in traffic going home, which led to comparing the length of our daily commutes, which led to naming our cities of residence, which led to him going on and on about how great it is to live by the lake. Upon discovering that I had never spent much time at said lake, his next response was,
"Oh, it's great out there. You should get your husband or boyfriend to take you there sometime."
I acknowledged him with a sort of nod and a look of forced politeness, but inside, I was sort of steaming. I DO happen to be straight, and I DO happen to be in a relationship, but his comment left me with a bad taste in my mouth. This man knew nothing about me and had no business making the kind of assumptions about my sexuality and my relationship status that were required for him to make such a statement. Not to mention the implication that I couldn't take it upon myself to visit a location, but would have to "get my husband or boyfriend" to take me there. It's the type of statement my mom would dismiss instantly as conversational friendliness and tell me I'm overreacting, but It didn't feel friendly to me. It felt patronizing and downright presumptuous.
Friday, August 10, 2007
Kate Harding at Shakesville couldn't bring herself to do her usual ranting on this article, and I'm going to try to not waste too much of my time on it either. But it makes me so mad! It would be one thing if the real point was (as first half of the title suggests) to urge us to be ourselves. But instead, it informs women (or, patronizingly, "girls") that even though it used to be that guys wanted us to be dainty and ladylike on the first date, NOW they really like it if we order steak or burgers. I guess it shows that we're not uptight or something. Apparently, ordering salad or anything healthy or vegetarian sends the message that we have "food issues". And heaven forbid we give the wrong impression to men with our eating habits. Because it's all about developing the right strategy to catch a man. I don't even need to say any more. This speaks for itself:
"But others, especially those who are thin, say ordering a salad displays an unappealing mousiness.
"It seems wimpy, insipid, childish,' said Michelle Heller, 34, a copy editor at TV Guide. 'I don't want to be considered vapid and uninteresting.'
"Ordering meat, on the other hand, is a declarative statement, something along the lines of 'I am woman, hear me chew.'
"In fact, red meat on a date has become such an effective statement of self-acceptance that even a vegetarian like Sloane Crosley, a publicist at Random House, sometimes longs to order a burger.
"Being a vegetarian puts you at a disadvantage,' Ms. Crosley said. 'You're in the most basic category of finicky. Even women who order chicken, it isn't enough.' She said she has thought of ordering shots of Jägermeister, famous for its frat boy associations, to prove that she is 'a guy's girl.'
"Everyone wants to be the girl who drinks the beer and eats the steak and looks like Kate Hudson,' Ms. Crosley, 28, said."
It amazes me that there are still displaced U.S. citizens from hurricane Katrina, and it's even worse that so many of them have nowhere to go but chemical-ridden FEMA trailers that are making them sick.
"Many residents suffering from symptoms, however, are afraid to complain to FEMA, fearing the agency will take away the only housing they can afford. It was complaints of respiratory problems to the Sierra Club that led the organization to test fifty-two FEMA trailers last April, June and July. Some 83 percent of the thirteen different types tested had formaldehyde in the indoor air at levels above the EPA recommended limit."
My heart went out to Riverbend back in April when I read what could be her final blog post on Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq, where she announced that she and her family had finally decided to leave their beloved home in Iraq for safety. I check her site often to see if she has been able to update to let us know they made it somewhere safely, but there has been no word.
"We discuss whether to take photo albums or leave them behind. Can I bring along a stuffed animal I've had since the age of four? Is there room for E.'s guitar? What clothes do we take? Summer clothes? The winter clothes too? What about my books? What about the CDs, the baby pictures?
"The problem is that we don't even know if we'll ever see this stuff again. We don't know if whatever we leave, including the house, will be available when and if we come back. There are moments when the injustice of having to leave your country, simply because an imbecile got it into his head to invade it, is overwhelming. It is unfair that in order to survive and live normally, we have to leave our home and what remains of family and friends. And to what?
"It's difficult to decide which is more frightening- car bombs and militias, or having to leave everything you know and love, to some unspecified place for a future where nothing is certain."
And today, the New York Times has a strory, video, and slide show that scrape the surface of what life is like for some of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have left their home country for safety from the war in nearby Jordan.
"Aseel Qaradaghi, a 25-year-old software engineer, was pregnant when she brought her small daughter here last summer after receiving threats from Islamic extremists. Her husband, a translator for a South African security firm, stayed in Baghdad to earn money. But when he did not call on her birthday, she knew something was wrong, and only after pressing his friends on a crackling phone line did she learn that he had been kidnapped.
"Now, eight months later, she is earning a small wage at a nursery, but without his salary it is not enough, and she has applied for refugee status. If she is rejected, she will have to return to Baghdad. She does not know her husband's fate, but worries that it will be the same as her brother's, killed for working as a translator for the American military."
I feel so helpless. I don't even know what to say.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Friday, August 3, 2007
It's a common sentiment among feminists that it is most certainly NOT our responsibility as women to reach out to our male oppressors to teach and guide them to understand our plight and to divest themselves of their unearned privilege. The idea is that it's THEIR responsibility to do that work for themselves. It's an argument I hear all the time (and one I completely understand) that our commitment to fighting sexism does not mean that it is our duty to break down into simple terms what we want from men. That we, as an oppressed class, should not be expected to have to take on the burden of reaching out to our oppressors to do the work that, ideally, THEY should be doing for themselves. This reluctance to reach out and explain things in simple terms is especially felt in feminist blog spaces, which are often generally reserved for discussion among "seasoned" feminists, who, already fully or mostly understanding the harmful effects of patriarchy, would rather talk amongst themselves about issues and strategies than to have to constantly backtrack and clearly explain to men or antifeminists that sexism DOES, in fact, still exist. This, of course, makes total sense, because no new discourse or activism would ever be accomplished if all feminists were constantly occupied with repetitious explanations of why there is a need for feminism in the first place. This broken-record frustration felt by online feminists is the catalyst for blog disclaimers, insightful conversations with loved ones, and (my favorite) anti-feminist bingo cards.
So, imagine my surprise when I came across this statement in Paulo Freire's classic text Pedagogy of the Oppressed:
"This, then, is the great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed: to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well. The oppressors, who oppress, exploit, and rape by virtue of their power, cannot find in this power the strength to liberate either the oppressed or themselves. Only power that springs from the weakness of the oppressed will be sufficiently strong to free both." (p. 44)
"Who are better prepared than the oppressed to understand the terrible significance of an oppressive society? Who suffer the effects of oppression more than the oppressed? Who can better understand the necessity of liberation? They will not gain this liberation by chance but through the praxis of their quest for it, through their recognition of the necessity to fight for it." (p. 45)
So, wait. This suggests that we SHOULD be reaching out to men. That, in fact, we MUST, because only the oppressed have the power to see and the ability to show others the extent to which they suffer under oppression. We know that privilege has a blinding effect on those who benefit from it, and yet our frustration over this keeps us from doing the hard work necessary to lift that veil of ignorance for those who just don't seem to get it.
This is in no way meant to criticize spaces and discourses that discourage the often redundant re-explaining of feminist goals. As I described above, I completely understand the frustration, especially when the ignorance with which we are frequently confronted by antifeminist trolls is so cloaked in hate. It's incredibly important for feminists to have safe discussion spaces that are free from the kinds of intrusion that hold us back from furthering our own consciousness. But those quotes from Freire really made an impression on me, reminding me of the importance of also remembering to sometimes come down off our high horses and actually break down into simple terms what it is we are fighting for and why.
To highlight a few of my favorite online spaces that do this important work:
Finally, a Feminism 101 Blog - an amazing resource for FAQs about feminism, and a great place to go to find info that simply breaks down the essential bits of knowledge required to move along to more "advanced" feminist blog spaces
Feminist Allies - a discussion group blog of feminist and profeminist men who confront issues of privilege and how to fight sexism and be effective allies to women
Girls Read Comics (And They're Pissed!) - especially this post - whether you're a reader of comics or not, the amazing Karen Healey writes about an art form notorious for its lousy portrayals and objectification of women with such a clear and rational voice, readers have no choice but to finally understand what's so harmful (and annoying) about sexism in art and media
Also, the feminist LiveJournal communities listed in the links at the right of the screen are a great source for reading lots of women and girls' personal stories that directly demonstrate the need for feminism. I especially love the Feminist Rage Page, where posters can rant about the things that frustrate them to no end about being female in a sexist society.
And I also want to mention a source that has been the topic of much controversy, but since I finally got around to reading it and actually really liked it, I'm going to mention Jessica Valenti's book Full Frontal Feminism A feminist primer for young women who may not even realize that sexism is still rampant in today's world, it covers a lot of ground, and in very accessible language. The critics were right in that it's not for everyone, though. And I, too, wish the cover had never been designed that way. My advice? If, when attempting to read it, you find it too simplistic or patronizing, just stop and move on to something else. But I can picture many young women (and men), for whom this book would be an invaluable feminist resource, and I think that kind of influence is something we should welcome.
So, thoughts? Other recommendations for places that make feminism understandable and palatable to neophytes? How about sources that help men realize their privilege?
"Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly." (Freire, p. 47)