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

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dr. George Tiller


As of this moment, when you Google "Dr. George Tiller", you are directed to his clinic's website, as well as a barrage of anti-choice hate sites calling him "Tiller the Baby Killer"

When you Google him later today or tomorrow morning, the first hits will likely relay the tragic news that he was shot and killed this morning in his own church in Wichita, Kansas.

All I can do to stay sane right now in the face of this anti-choice terrorism is keep my thoughts with his family and friends and to recommend Susan Wicklund's amazing book This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor. We can't dismiss the frightening reality of the threat of violence against brave medical professionals protecting our right to reproductive choice.

(Via abortionclinicdays)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

This Week in Feminist Music:

In response to the anti-woman treatment of stars like Lindsay Lohan, Juliana Hatfield responds to double standards in the entertainment industry in her new song There's Always Another Girl (For Lindsay Lohan). Here's a taste of the lyrics:
Oh people love it when a beautiful woman self destructs
Like a bird in a cage or a bug under glass people point but don’t touch
But beautiful boys get away with so much, they get away with murder
They can be wasted and dirty and cruel because they know there’s always another girl

Click to have a listen.

(Hat tip to Erin, via Google Reader)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Call me a humorless feminist, but

I. HATE. Family Guy.

It's not that I don't enjoy pop-culture-related jokes or slapstickiness, but I just happen to have higher expectations and believe they can be done without the overt misogyny, homophobia, racism, ableism, and fat-hate. (And this recent development sure doesn't improve my opinion of the show, either.) I had pretty much given up on this show a long time ago, but I caught an episode while I was at the gym last night, and this is just a taste of what I saw:

How this show stays on network television without being complained off ther air is beyond me. Actually, maybe the gym is the best place for a show like Family Guy. My rage gave me the incentive to work out longer and harder than I would have otherwise.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

More Evidence of Bill Maher's Douchebaggery

From What Tami Said.

Go read it. Tami is brilliant.

My Antifeminist Childhood: Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure Edition

"It's a history report, not a babe report."


I loved this movie as a kid. My brother and I rented it over and over and cracked up at Bill and Ted's lovable dopiness and the of notion historical figures having a blast at a modern shopping mall.

When I watch it now, though, I notice other things. Like the fact that the only female historical figure important enough for them to include in their report was Joan of Arc, who Ted and Bill initially thought was "Noah's wife". Or the giggling and helpless damsel-in-distress princesses in need of rescue from their arranged marriages, and how they show up later in modern clothing beaming over having been introduced to malls and credit cards.

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure came out in 1989, but we can't delude ourselves into thinking that comedies about historical figures have moved beyond female tokenism in the last twenty years. Night at the Museum features only Sacajawea, and its current sequel Battle of the Smithsonian makes due with Amelia Earhart. So much for progress.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Breaking the Beatboxing Glass Ceiling?

A friend of mine shared just shared this on Google Reader, and it blew my mind:

"My name is Julia Dales and I want to win the Beatbox Battle Wildcard." And guess what. She did. More on the Beatbox Battle World Championship in this NPR post.

(Via Boing Boing)

Monday, May 18, 2009

More on The Blob

In my recent post about the movie Wolverine, I mention that the movie has a scene steeped in fat-hate. Today, Marianne Kirby shares her take on that aspect of the film at her blog The Rotund:

The Blob: Comics Have Never Been Kind to Fat Folks

Check it out.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Video Game Glass Ceiling

First, there was Cooking Mama: Majesco Entertainment's video game full of mini-games allowing the player complete the steps of recipes with the help of a cartoon lady.


Now, meet Science Papa: Activision's soon-to-be-released video game full of mini-games allowing the player to complete the steps of scientific experiments with the help of a cartoon dude.


The fact that these games are made by two different companies doesn't do much to soften the blow of yet another societal message that men are good at science while women belong in the kitchen.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

In Hollywood, Good = White

I've been hearing for a while now about how the makers of the upcoming Avatar movie have cast a number of white actors to play characters who are not so white in the animated series. But this image posted on Racialicious today is pretty telling:


My Antifmeinist Childhood: "Sex Type Thing" Edition

Stone Temple Pilots released their album "Core" in 1992, when I was in the sixth grade and just discovering and beginning to love rock music. Its singles were overplayed on every hard rock radio station. There was "Creep" and "Plush"... and then there was the song "Sex Type Thing". Does anyone else remember this song? I think I had heard it a few times without noticing the lyrics until one day when I was riding in the car somewhere with my older brother, and I remember feeling so stunned by its rape-themed lyrics:
I am, I am, I am
I said I wanna get next to you
I said I gonna get close to you
You wouldn't want me have to hurt you too, hurt you too?

I ain't, I ain't, I ain't
A buyin' into your apathy
I'm gonna learn ya my philosophy
You wanna know about atrocity, atrocity?

I know you want what's on my mind
I know you like what's on my mind
I know it eats you up inside
I know, you know, you know, you know

I am a man, a man
I'll give ya somethin' that ya won't forget
I said ya shouldn't have worn that dress
I said ya shouldn't have worn that dress

I know you want what's on my mind
I know you like what's on my mind
I know it eats you up inside
I know, you know, you know, you know

Here I come, I come, I come

I am, I am, I am
I said I wanna get next to you
I said I gonna get close to you
You wouldn't want me have to hurt you too, hurt you too?

I know you want what's on my mind
I know you like what's on my mind
I know it eats you up inside
I know, you know, you know, you know
I know you want what's on my mind
I know you like what's on my mind
I know it eats you up inside
I know, you know, you know, you know

Here I come, I come, I come
Here I come, I come, I come
Here I come, I come, I come
Here I come, I come, I come

Charming, huh?

I would later (much later) read that singer Scott Weiland claimed to write this song as an anti-rape statement, saying, “This song is really not about sex at all. It’s about control, violence and abuse of power.” Which sounds feminist-friendly and all, only I, as a young female listener, didn't interpret this song as an anti-violence statement at all. Because it's sung in such a creepy ominous way, and in first person from the point of view of the rapist, I interpreted this song as a frightening lesson in women's inherent vulnerability to male violence. And the repeated line, "you shouldn't have worn that dress"? An early lesson in victim-blaming.

The song is still played on rock radio stations everywhere, and I whenever I hear it, I cringe. If Weiland was trying to make some sort of positive political statement about rape with this song, I think he failed miserably.

Monday, May 11, 2009

My Antifeminist Childhood: "Girl Push-ups" Edition


It's common knowledge that push-ups can be made a bit more manageable by assuming the position pictured above and resting your weight on your knees instead of up on your toes. The term "modified push-ups" is used by many workout websites, shows, and videos to describe this exercise, but who hasn't more frequently heard them called, simply, "girl push-ups"?

"Girl push-ups" is what they were called in every single gym class I was in as a kid, anyway. By both the teachers and the students. The teachers let us know that girls were welcome to do our push-ups on our knees, while boys had to do "real" push-ups. I remember looking around and feeling intensely sorry for boys who obviously couldn't keep up with the more athletic guys but weren't given the option to do the exercise that was more manageable and comfortable for them. Meanwhile, there were always a few athletic girls who could have easily done their push-ups while up on their toes.

Designating exercise guidelines by gender rather than by ability promoted the message that ALL girls are weaker than ALL boys. ALL the time. Any exceptions to that rule were just that -- exceptional. Girls who could do "real push-ups" were considered super strong, and therefore not girly, while boys who could not were considered super weak, and therefore not manly. (Ever notice how the opposite of "girly" in this scenario is "manly"? "Boyish" doesn't quite work when one is trying terribly hard to prove one's masculine strength.)

I don't know how push-ups are handled in phys ed classes today, but I can't imagine that push-ups on one's knees have lost their reputation as "girl push-ups". I can only hope that requirements of what exercises are required are no longer explicitly based in gender. Maybe I'm just being optimistic, though.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Wolverine: First the bad news, then the good.


So, I saw X-Men Origins: Wolverine this weekend, and here's what I have to say about it:
-There's only 3 female characters with any lines, and only one with a role of any real significance.
-The aforementioned female character gets to be a classic hero movie murder victim. She is used shamelessly as a plot device to ignite Wolverine's feelings of vengeance. (We could call this antifeminist film cliche "The Braveheart Effect".)
-As seen elsewhere, the female mutants possess powers that are more passive or somehow more feminine than those of their male counterparts (like skin that shields bullets or seductive mind control).
-Apparently, I would have been prepared for this if I had ever read the comics, but there is a scene in the film that is all sorts of problematic from a fat acceptance standpoint. A character named "The Blob" provides, as Underwire puts it in their review of the film, "fat-suit comic relief". Ugh.

Despite all these problems, there was one really good thing about this movie. Liev Schreiber is in it, and while he's supposed to be playing the super scary and villainous part of Wolverine's brother, Victor, I can't watch anything he's in (including the Scream movies) without picturing him as the lovable Chris from the movie Mixed Nuts:


And thinking about that was enough to get me through this silly action movie.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Bits of Wisdom from The Reformed Patriarchy-Whore

If you're into concise posts bursting with insightful comments on the state of our antifeminist world, you should be reading Llencelyn at her blog The Reformed Patriarchy-Whore.

Some of her wisdom from this week:

On problematic arguments about the sanctity of marriage:
Can we please, please stop holding up Britney Spears as the iconic irreverent heterosexual marry-er? As Scott suggested in an IM conversation with me, perhaps men who abuse their wives might be a better example of how "sanctity of marriage" arguments are bullshit.

And on Mother's Day cards:
Can we please knock it off with the Mother's Day cards that make light of the fact that women do essentially all of the emotional and domestic work in our country and get no payment or thanks for it? One day does not make up for it, especially if you get a card that explicitly tells her that you ignored everything she ever said to you or did for you.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Graduate School: "An inclubator for anxiety and depression"

For anyone else who has felt the debilitating effects of grad school anxiety, click over and read this article at The Chronicle of Higher Education:

Graduate school is gaining a reputation as an incubator for anxiety and depression.

Social isolation, financial burdens, lack of structure, and the pressure to produce groundbreaking work can wear heavily on graduate students, especially those already vulnerable to mental-health disorders.

Studies have found that graduate school is not a particularly healthy place. At the University of California at Berkeley, 67 percent of graduate students said they had felt hopeless at least once in the last year; 54 percent felt so depressed they had a hard time functioning; and nearly 10 percent said they had considered suicide, a 2004 survey found. By comparison, an estimated 9.5 percent of American adults suffer from depressive disorders in a given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Meanwhile, nearly a quarter of the graduate students surveyed were not aware of mental-health services on the campus. And another Berkeley study recently found that graduate students were becoming increasingly disillusioned with careers in academe and did not view large research institutions as family-friendly workplaces (The Chronicle, January 23).

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Quote of the Day:

"I think it's probably the best thing I've done so far in the White House."

-Michelle Obama, on getting to appear on Sesame Street

Friday, May 1, 2009

My Antifeminist Childhood: Smurfette Edition

In her famous 1991 essay, "The Smurfette Principle", Katha Pollit calls out the all-too-common phenomenon in cartoons and other kids' shows in which "a group of male buddies will be accented by a lone female, stereotypically defined". Re-reading this article recently, I realized that no account of my antifeminist childhood would be complete without taking a look at the character for whom this principle was named: Smurfette.

For anyone who forgot how our favorite token female smurf came into being, I present the episode depicting her creation in its entirety. Maybe someday, I'll have time to comb through it and analyze the countless antifeminist messages, but it pretty much just speaks for itself: