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

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Remember all that debate about marriage going around the feminist blogosphere a few weeks ago? (There's some more great musing going on right now about it at Days in a Wannabe Punk's Life and Persephone's Box, by the way.) Well, there's nothing like reading all sorts of great feminist critique of marriage and then seeing this video clip from the Today Show of the "now world-famous running of the brides":

The Hunt for the Perfect Gown

And by the way...

What was with Barack Obama comparing himself to Ronald Reagan? Twice?

I thought that was only something popular for Republicans to do:

Monday, July 23, 2007

A quick thought about the debate...

I was going to say it, but EGH at Biting Giants already said it for me.   And she put it beautifully.  When I re-watch the thing, I'm sure I'll be able to remember the other complaints I had about John Edwards, because there were some more, but maybe I'm just still bitter about him not showing up for the Planned Parenthood event and sending his wife instead

The Media Loves a Catfight

Talk about stirring up drama where there isn't any. Just because longtime friends Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou have publicly endorsed different democratic candidates for the upcoming presidential primary, the New York Times gets to print the headline, "When It Comes to Politics, Friendship Has Its Limits," and discuss what the disagreement means for their friendship.

"Have the friends discussed their political differences?

A spokeswoman for Ms. Winfreys company, Harpo Productions, could not be reached for comment.

A representative for Ms. Angelou did not respond to a request for comment."
Seriously?  This is news?  So, Oprah says on Larry King Live that she supports Barack Obama and Maya has a video endorsement for Hillary Clinton.  Is this "disagreement" really supposed to mean anything about their friendship?  Because I never would have imagined this as a problem.  It's interesting to know about which candidates these successful women would like to win the democratic nomination, but to frame their differing preferences as a conflict?  Ridiculous.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Last time I checked, humans were not pieces of Scotch Tape

From today's New York Times article Abstinence Education Faces an Uncertain Future:

"You have to look at why sex was created," Eric Love, the director of the East Texas Abstinence Program, which runs Virginity Rules, said one day, the sounds of Christian contemporary music humming faintly in his Longview office. "Sex was designed to bond two people together."

To make the point, Mr. Love grabbed a tape dispenser and snapped off two fresh pieces. He slapped them to his filing cabinet and the floor; they trapped dirt, lint, a small metal bolt. "Now when it comes time for them to get married, the marriage pulls apart so easily," he said, trying to unite the grimy strips. "Why? Because they gave the stickiness away."
(For more kooky sex metaphors from Eric Love, go to the link above and then click on the mp3 feature on the left side of the screen.)


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Trophy Wife or Old Hag?

When I'm not interested in the NPR story during my morning commute, I often switch over to my local conservative talk radio station just to hear what's going on in the fake news. Because, you know, sometimes it's fun to hear all about how global warming isn't real, how all of our problems can be solved with more guns, and about how liberals want your children to have sex. Yesterday morning's discussion was an extra special treat, though. Listeners were calling in to discuss whether or not potential Republican Presidential candidate Fred Thompson's wife Jeri Thompson Kehn gets to qualify as a "trophy wife."

Now, at this point, any feminist in the listening audience is hearing sirens and seeing flashing red lights, knowing full well that there is NO possible way this "discussion" is going to proceed without all sorts of sexism spewing out from all directions. So I prepared myself for the worst, and boy did I get it. In a misguided attempt to be respectful despite the ridiculous topic, the host kept referring to her as a "lovely woman" as he fielded callers. There was, of course, no actual consensus as to whether or not she had earned the title, but those in favor of her trophy wife status noted that her comparative youth (she's 40 and he's 65) and her "hotness level" qualify her as a certified gold-digger, while the naysayers claimed she was far too successful and smart (she's an attorney and political media consultant) and most importantly too old to be considered a trophy wife.

In our dichotomy-obsessed world, it's a lose-lose situation for her. Women have to be pinned down into a nice, neat, offensive stereotype, or our media just doesn't know what to do with them. She's either reduced to brainless blonde bimbo on the arm of a rich and powerful man, or her age and position are used to strip her of her sexuality so that she can fit into the proper mold of "potential first lady". Gross.

Beauty Standards Run Amok

I just saw this post about photoshopping at Pandagon, and it reminded me of this creepy video, "The Evolution of a Model":

(Disclaimer: My posting of this video in is no way meant to endorse Dove and their so-called "Real Beauty" campaign, in which the soap company tries to psychologically manipulate women into believing they actually care about women's self-esteem so that they can sell them anti-aging creams and cellulite-reducing lotions. It's just a good video.)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A Timeline of TV Censorship - Women's Edition

The most recent issue of mental_floss magazine has a top-ten list style article called A Timeline of TV Censorship. Just for fun, I thought I would highlight the female-related television "scandals," to demonstrate the trend of puritanical American discomfort with the female body. (I reprinted the captions right from the article, so you'll have to forgive the inane-ness of such titles as "Nipples by the Number".)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket1952: Lucy Gets Knocked Up
Despite Lucille Ball’s pregnancy during an entire season of I Love Lucy, the actual word "pregnant" isn’t allowed on air. Instead, the show uses phrases that seem equally informative but (somehow) less fraught with sin, such as "with child," "having a baby," and "expecting."

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket1966: Censors Throw Down in Navel Wars
Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island, Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie, and Gidget are all barred from baring their navels. Actress Mariette Hartley receives the same treatment in a 1966 episode of Star Trek, but the show’s director, Gene Roddenberry, gets his revenge in 1973. He recasts Ms. Hartley in the pilot for his new show, Genesis II, and gives her two belly buttons.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket2004: Nipples by the Number
We know it’s a little obvious to mention Janet Jackson’s "wardrobe malfunction" during Super Bowl XXXVIII, but it’s worth recapping a few stats:
» Amount of time the nipple spent on-air: 1.01 seconds (we actually timed it)
» FCC fines levied on CBS: $550,000
» Cost to NFL (in sponsor refunds): $10 million
» Ranking among 2004 Internet searchers: 1
» Ranking in TiVo’s "most rewound moments": 1
» Number of American complaints to the network: more than 500,000
» Number of Canadian complaints: about 50

Waitress is $1 million stock guru

Well, she won!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Feminism Friday: Female Animators

I was disappointed when I saw this sexism-filled letter of rejection to a would-be female Disney animator at Feministing. But my spirits were lifted a little when my boyfriend (an animator himself) sent me this photo gallery link to show me that Disney did, in fact, employ female animators, and so did other companies. It seems like if Disney was regressive and clueless when that letter was written in 1938, at least they were doing slightly better by the 1940s. I find it totally inspiring to see these pictures of talented women at work, so I wanted to re-post them here. With the exception of Tissa David, all of the captions come from the gallery page.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

"Retta Scott, Disney Studio, 1940's . She animated on Bambi, Fantasia, Dumbo, Wind in the Willows , later on did storybook illustrations for Disney's publications. The first woman given screen credit as an animator at Disney's ."

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

"Mary Blair at work at the Disney Studios , c. 1941"

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

"Marilyn and Madilyn Woods, Warner Bros. Animation, 1940's."

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
"Retta Davidson, working on "The Sword & The Stone" at Disney's in the early 60's ... left Disney in the late 60's , but later returned to help train a new generation of animators on "The Black Cauldron" in the late 70's , early 80's era at Disney."

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Tissa David
From animationguild.org: "She was a lead animator on Raggedy Ann in 1977."

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

"Kathy Zielenski, animating Frollo, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Disney's 1996"

Friday, July 6, 2007

Health Care Roundup

This summer, health care is all the rage in the U.S. It's one of the most important issues in the upcoming elections, it's the topic of a new film, and more and more Americans are feeling the crunch of high costs and limited coverage and are ready for a change. Here's a taste of what's been going on lately:
An article in today's New York Times discusses how the 2008 Candidates Vow to Overhaul U.S. Health Care:
"In fact, when Senator Barack Obama of Illinois unveiled a plan intended to cover tens of millions of uninsured Americans, but not requiring coverage for all, some Democrats in rival campaigns argued that he had not gone far enough. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, once vilified as overreaching on health care, is now more often faulted in her party as moving too slowly. Mrs. Clinton's 1994 plan, attacked at the time from the left, right and center, is presented in the new Michael Moore documentary, 'Sicko,' as a tragic missed opportunity."
And speaking of Sicko, here's what some bloggers have been saying about it:
Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon: "The movie is one long, sustained arch sarcastic quip. Most people couldn't pull it off, but since Moore's sarcasm is in service of his fiercely good heart, it somehow works. He runs down each argument against universal health care by sarcastically pretending that he believed it and then showing, surprise! that it was a load of bullshit."

Cara at The Curvature: "Well, it's a Michael Moore film. So it's biased, funny, persuasive and heartbreaking."
Jill at Feministe: I hope that this film will be a wake-up call, but I doubt it. Modern American cultural mythology is deeply wrapped up in both superiority and individualism - American children are raised with the idea that America is great precisely because America is #1."
Jeff Fecke on Blog of the Moderate Left and cross-posted at Shakesville: "Still, if SiCKO occasionally oversteps the bounds of reality, that's no greater sin than what the health care industry has been doing for forty years."
One of the biggest criticims of the movie right now is that many are skeptical about the accuracy of Michael Moore's facts and the level of truth behind the individual horror stories shared in the film, but this CNN article reports on what they found when they decided to look into the matter:
"Moore covers a lot of ground. Our team investigated some of the claims put forth in his film. We found that his numbers were mostly right, but his arguments could use a little more context. As we dug deep to uncover the numbers, we found surprisingly few inaccuracies in the film."
Meanwhile at Shakesville, Melissa McEwan and Paul the Spud have both pointed out how conservatives at Fox News are ridiculously trying to link Britain's universal healthcare system to the recent attempted terrorist attacks there.
It also seems that in spite of the limitations of the nation's lacking health care system, some state and local governments are doing thier own thing. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's home state of Massachusetts developed a plan last year that requires all residents to be insured:
"The Massachusetts legislature approved a bill Tuesday that would require all residents to purchase health insurance or face legal penalties, which would make this the first state to tackle the problem of incomplete medical coverage by treating patients the same way it does cars."
And just this past week, Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Fransisco announced that the California city will be implementing its own system of universal care:
"The political dialogue must change, Newsom insists. 'If it's not going to happen through national leadership or statewide leadership,' he says, 'then it has to happen on a local level."
So what do you think? Which candidate(s), if any, do you agree with? Have you seen the movie? Got another link to a review you want to add to the list? Do you think the Massachusetts and San Fransisco plans are awesome or insane? Are those of us who want universal care being too idealistic?

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Feminist Hollywood

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

It's been out for about five years or so, but I just saw Searching for Debra Winger and wanted to recommend it. In it, Rosana Arquette (who I have loved ever since Desperately Seeking Susan) talks with tons of amazing and talented actresses about the unique challenges they face being aging females in Hollywood. Trying to figure out how they balance their careers with partnerships or motherhood, finding well-written characters to play, and keeping sane in the business are topics that are addressed, but the thing I found most interesting about this documentary film is how much the women really respect and admire each other, finding inspiration and strength in what they see in other actresses. Each woman spoke with such eloquence and wisdom about what it is like to be female in today's movie and television industry, and even though they didn't used the word "feminist" to describe themselves and their attitudes, this whole project was bursting with feminism.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Equal Opportunity Shamers?

With taking classes and working full-time, I don't find nearly as much time as I would like to comment on the blogs I read and engage in some of the great discussions going on out there on all the issues feminists bring to the table. Especially since I spend so much time at a computer with a nasty firewall that blocks me out of most comments sections, anyway, I usually just quickly try to take in as many posts as possible as they roll across my Google reader.

One of the recent stories that has especially caught my attention is the terrible weight-discrimination story of a woman in Australia who has been branded by social service workers as too fat to adopt a child. I got involved in the discussion on this one at Cara's blog The Curvature, and there are some excerpts from the conversation I want to post here, because they beautifully demonstrate the popular rhetoric of bigotry surrounding fat people in our society. Of course, the majority of responses to Cara's post were reactions of horror at the blatant discrimination against this poor woman, but one fat-shaming commenter came out of the woodwork.

Fat-shaming Commenter:

I need to disagree: I believe it is important for parents (mom and dad) to show that they have some knowledge about proper nutrition. If the adoptive parents are obese, it shows that they are less than optimal at feeding themselves properly, so I cannot imagine them feeding a baby! I think the baby's rights also need to be considered; places like England consider morbid obesity in todlers a form of child abuse. It is admirable that this woman is dropping the weight, it shows that she is dedicated; hopefully she will learn a thing or two about proper nutrition. Also, I do not believe that the fact that obese women can generally get pregnant without asking for permission justifies that they should adopt. Women with schizophrenia, women suffering from down syndrome, and highschool girls can also get pregnant. I would not let them adopt my child.

Cara, obviously seething but still maintaining blogular professionalism through her sarcasm:

1. You cannot tell ANYTHING about a person's nutrition by what they weigh. Nothing. Zip. Nada. You can't.
2. Yeah, having a mother who eats too much is WAY worse than living your life in government care. Tell that to all the foster kids out there.
3. The fact that you compare obesity with mental illness says a lot about you and your prejudices.

Fat-shaming Commenter responds by bringing up the tired obesity-as-medical-epidemic argument, (perfect material for a spot on a fat-shaming bingo card) and then she really caught my attention by saying this:

I live in Canada, where we have a universal health care system. That means a good chunk of my salary goes to the government to finance that health care system. About half of it actually. When people make the decision to eat poorly, and let themselves reach 300lb, it costs me a lot of money. That means we need to purchase hospital equipment in which they can fit, including scanners that cost millions of dollars. That money could be used to have a more efficient adoption system that insures each orphan finds a loving, caring home. It makes me bitter to pay for people who make the decision to gamble with their lifes and neglect the way they eat. I believe in prevention.

I can't even begin to tell you how sad it made me to hear this. Living in the United States, where we so desperately need to get with the times and care enough about our citizens to have universal health care, I would be so disappointed if one of the effects of switching to such a system would be an increase in the already terrible amount of prejudice against overweight people in our society. The last thing I want is for us to go from a culture that is teasing and hateful toward fat people to one that is also bitter and resentful for contributing to their medical care. I sincerely hope this commenter is the exception and not the norm. (Anyone from a country with socialized health care want to weigh in?) I also want to know if she and her kind are Equal Opportunity Shamers. Do they similarly resent and advocate for discrimination against other groups of people who may stereotypically take up more than their "share" of the health system? Diabetics? AIDS patients? Smokers? War veterans? Cancer patients? Disabled people? Professional athletes? Pregnant women? The elderly?

On a completely related note, I saw Michael Moore's Sicko over the weekend. And wow. Go see it. Here's a clip for your enjoyment: