"There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference." --June Jordan

Monday, December 31, 2007

My New Year's gift to you:

An excellent post on finding your perfect bra size from Shapely Prose.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Frosty's Winter Wonderland


Frosty's Winter Wonderland

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

Mamas, don't let your babies...

Everywhere you look, it always seems that women are getting blamed for something, which is why "victim-blaming" and "slut-shaming" are two subjects that get a lot of analysis and denunciation from feminists. But I want to bring up yet another highly gendered form of criticism: Mother Censure.

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

Brace yourself for the impending slut-shaming media reactions:

I don't mean to be a pessimist.  Maybe we can hope for some great non-misogynist commentary on this.  But I'm not holding my breath for it. 

For those times when your tattoo of a mostly naked woman just isn't enough...

...go the extra mile and add some silicone breast implants to it. That's just what this guy decided to do, and now he's showing it off on his blog with pride.

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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

Keeping the trend going

Jessica at Feministing totally cracked me up last week by showcasing some of her favorite pieces of hilarious hate mail. (Read from her Anti-Feminist Mailbag here, here, and here.) It got me thinking, because it makes total sense. Rather than get upset at all the hatred and biotry we get from our lovely misogynist commenters and e-mailers, why not showcase the absolute ridiculosity of their responses and get a few laughs in the process?

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.

One of these things is not like the other

Near the front entrance of my local library, there's a shelf full of romance novels. I usually pass by it without even noticing it, but today, something caught my eye. Right in the middle, surrounded by paperbacks with corseted women submitting to Fabio-like men on their covers, was Marilyn French's The Women's Room.

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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

A return to blogging and a story

When I started this little blog last winter, it didn't occur to me that there might come a time when my life would be too crazy to post on it. These last three months or so were definitely one of those times. Between the theft of my computer and taking the hardest, most work-intensive class of my life, blogging really got put on the backburner. Do you ever have one of those times when you constantly have so much work to do that you feel totally guilty for spending time on anything else? I guess that's how I felt about blogging this quarter. As long as there were assignments to read and research paper deadlines, I couldn't justify doing anything else.

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?"

His response:

"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.