Sunday, May 31, 2009
Kansas abortion doctor shot dead at church: report
Saturday, May 30, 2009
I want to get to know our readers, all of you, even if you don't normally comment on this blog. Stop by the comments (make sure to attach some sort of name to your comment so I can tell people apart), and drop me a line.
You can just say hello, or tell me a little about yourself (how you found this blog, how often you read it, etc.).
I'll even start us off with a little bit about me.
I'm Amelia. I'm 20 years old, and I started the Female Impersonator blog last year after I took my first Gender and Women's Studies class at Knox College. That was when I first began to identify as a feminist, and since then I have spent a lot of time reading news stories and thinking critically about my actions and my life, which I feel has helped me grow as a person.
So, readers, what about you?
Friday, May 29, 2009
Right now, in Geneva, at the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization, history is being made. For the first time in WIPO history, the body that creates the world's copyright treaties is attempting to write a copyright treaty dedicated to protecting the interests of copyright users, not just copyright owners.
At issue is a treaty to protect the rights of blind people and people with other disabilities that affect reading (people with dyslexia, people who are paralyzed or lack arms or hands for turning pages), introduced by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay. This should be a slam dunk: who wouldn't want a harmonized system of copyright exceptions that ensure that it's possible for disabled people to get access to the written word?
The USA, that's who. The Obama administration's negotiators have joined with a rogue's gallery of rich country trade representatives to oppose protection for blind people. Other nations and regions opposing the rights of blind people include Canada and the EU [also including Australia, New Zealand, the Vatican and Norway].
Contact your Senators and Representatives and ask them to urge the White House to change its position (if you're a reader in America).
Found at Shakesville.
It was definitely the title of this New York Times article that caught my attention at first. Sixteen-year-old Portuguese qualifier Michelle Larcher de Brito recently lost a third-round match against Aravane Rezai in the French Open.
Two hours later, tennis’s latest precocious teen walked off the Philippe Chatrier court a loser amid a disapproving chorus of boos and whistles. She was soon in tears in the players lounge.It was a poignant, unsettling and thoroughly predictable finish to a French Open match in which Larcher de Brito’s competitive fire, scrappy defense and remarkable ball-striking were overshadowed by her shrieks and bellicose body language.
After reading that, I was expecting her hear of some very poor sportsmanship on the part of Larcher de Brito. All that the article mentioned was a "cursory handshake afterward in which De Brito tapped Rezai’s extended palm rather than shake it," which, granted, is poor sportsmanship, but not what I was expecting to "overshadow" her skills for an athlete of her age. I thought the description was unfair, especially after reading the entire article.
The piece then goes into Rezai complaining to the chair umpire at the match about the noise that Larcher de Brito was making. The article goes on to describe Larcher de Brito's noise:
Grunting is an inadequate term to describe the extended, high-pitched wails that the Portuguese teen produces during and after most strokes. But they have been a feature of her game since she was a junior and a frequent talking point among players and spectators who have crossed De Brito’s career path.About Rezai's complaints about the noise:
“I guess that was a bit of her tactic to throw me off a little bit,” Larcher de Brito said of Rezai.
But Rezai said that other players had expressed their support for her taking a stand after Friday’s match. “I reacted the way I did, because I felt it was bothering me,” Rezai said. “Perhaps in the next matches she’ll play, other players will do the same. I perhaps started something.”
I learned that in tennis there is the "hindrance rule", which allows the chair umpire to give a point to a player if they are "hindered in playing the point by a deliberate act of the opponent". Apparently grunting while striking the ball is considered a deliberate act. In Larcher de Brito’s case, was not the volume of the noise but the length that posed the problem.
The rule, to me, sounds like something that would be difficult (in some cases) for both umpires and players to make sense of. Maybe Larcher de Brito needs to work on this aspect of her game, but is that really something to base an entire article on?
Oh wait, apparently it is.
Any tennis players or tennis fans out there? What do you think?
Thursday, May 28, 2009
My sister sent me the link and added, "They don't even mention the word 'boy' in this article. Apparently girls are having sex with themselves." Yet another example of how people commenting on "hookup culture" only focus on girls and the idea of damage to a young woman's purity.
Double standard much?
For other people, though, listening seems to be a very large, nearly insurmountable challenge. Especially when they know they are talking to an outspoken feminist. This has happened both in my real life and my time spent as a feminist blogger. I didn't really realize how readily people will tune you out and try to shut you up, though, until last night.
I wasn't prepared for what happened to me. A young woman I am very close to hurt me, using the same tactics that anonymous trolls have used on this blog. It started with me stating my opinion on a tattoo that she wanted to get. Swiftly, her boyfriend swooped in and (to give a very much abbreviated version of what happened), told me I was wrong and that she could do whatever she wanted. He said several times that I supposedly think I am better than people because I think I'm smarter than everyone. He finished with a hearty, shut the fuck up no one gives a shit what you think about this, or anything else.
He wasn't listening to me as I tried to explain why I felt the way I did about things. Instead, he swore at me, changed the topic to something completely unrelated to try to discredit my character, and tried to silence me by telling me that no one cared about my opinion. The young woman saw this happen, and when I got a moment alone with her, I told her that what her boyfriend had done was not right and that it hurt me deeply. I told her that silencing me and insulting me was not acceptable on his part. She didn't acknowledge my feelings and justified his actions by saying, "He was standing up for me!" I tried once more to get her to acknowledge that the way her boyfriend had behaved was wrong. I had handled myself civilly. It's possible to steer clear of personal attacks and silencing techniques, but he had chosen to use them. She still refused to acknowledge my feelings or that he was wrong, and told me that my opinion means nothing to anyone other than myself, implying that I should just keep my thoughts and ideas to myself.
And this all ties into blogging because the theme of me being overly opinionated ran throughout the whole awful ordeal. The young woman asked me, as soon as I stated my displeasure with her idea, why I have to be so opinionated all the time. She soon showed that she associates me having opinions and being unafraid of telling and standing behind them with me acting like I'm better than people. She made it clear that she feels that because I have a blog, I must think I'm smarter than most people.
This blew my mind. Because I don't always agree with people, and because I will not tolerate being called names and being silenced merely for disagreeing, somehow that makes me the one with the superiority complex? Because I take the time to make sure my discussions are as civil as possible, I am the one with the problem?
I get accused of this a lot in comments on this blog, too. When someone leaves a comment that insults someone and it doesn't make it through moderation, a wave of comments comes in from the same reader saying things along the lines of, "Oh you think you're so smart, so much better than everyone. That's why you won't post my comment! You obviously think that you're never wrong!" But trust me, hearing those sentiments hurts a lot more when it comes from someone you're close to.
And even while I was being told that by blogging and having opinions, I am acting like I am better than other people, I was thinking. The idea of women's voices can be so very troubling to people, especially when those voices are challenging or critical of, well, anything. It's much easier to tell women who are criticizing gender roles, tattoo ideas, or the Patriarchy to shut the fuck up than to acknowledge that their opinions are valid. The picture on the left is me speaking at my second open mic at Take Back The Night at Knox College. I was discussing some unpublished blog comments that had attempted to get me to stop talking because what I was saying just wasn't important.
I will not shut up. I will not accept that my opinions only matter to myself. My power comes from my voice, and my unwavering committment to use it. If what I say doesn't please you, I don't care. You can disagree with me without silencing me. And I will not be silenced.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Since my freshman year in high school, I have really been into rock music of all kinds, and have been to nearly thirty concerts since I was fourteen years old. I have seen bands like System of a Down, Korn, Rage Against the Machine, Alice in Chains, and Sevendust.
Each show seems to bring a unique crowd. Some create a sense of united purpose, usually fueled by a shared passion for the music. At these kinds of shows, I have been able to get to know the people around me, talk to them, share a good time with them. But other shows have tended toward the opposite.
At these other shows, I have felt very much like an outsider as a woman in a mostly-male space. That's the thing about rock music: liking it as a woman is inherently challenging to the feminine/masculine dichotomy we are taught to abide by. Rock music, with its hard-hitting guitar riffs, the sharp drum beat, and the powerful vocals, is not associated with being a female. The overwhelming power (and often brutality) of this kind of music is something that women are not supposed to possess or utilize. That means that when women do show up at these kinds of concerts, where this power and brutality reign above all else, they are often treated as outsiders and are reduced to objects (typically breasts) for the pleasure of the men in the crowd. I have heard "Show your titties!" enough at the concerts I've been to to last me a lifetime.
At Wing Ding last Sunday, I saw Powerman 5000 perform, and at one point during their set, the vocalist said that he was going to dedicate a song to all the "dirty, filthy, rotten girls" in the audience. With those words, he effectively turned the women in the crowd into fetishized "naughty girls." As I stood in the crowd, I could feel the implied sexuality dripping from his words, and I didn't feel at all like they were aimed at women, but were aimed instead at the men listening. They made me cringe, but still I stayed there for the remainder of the set.
Without going into many more examples, I will say that I'm still trying to get my head around this. I have taken part of rock show culture that doesn't treat women as full human beings. I still like bands that make these sorts of attitudes possible. It took me too long to realize that I was part of the problem, and I still can't say I want to give it all up. The brutality inherent in most rock music, especially metal, is something I can relate to and can easily connect with. There's a lot to be pissed off about in this world, and sometimes it feels good to be able to connect with music and other listeners who are tapped into that same sentiment. But the fact that most of the music I seem to be interested in attending concerts for comes with this troubling atmosphere makes me feel uncomfortable.
How can I be a good feminist while I'm cheering for a band that attracts the kind of crowd that yells, "Show your tits!" and cheers when women pull up their shirts? It wasn't until last Sunday that I really starting thinking about these things, despite the several shows I have been to since I started identifying as a feminist. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what it is about hearing this kind of music live that I can't seem to give up. If it's the atmosphere, how can I justify it when often times its so blatantly sexist? I'm not quite sure.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
Second of all, the school year is finally winding down here at Knox, so I can't say for sure how much blogging I'll be doing. I have a lot to say about a rock concert I went to yesterday and my feelings on that, but it might not be up until tomorrow. In the mean time, I will leave you with some random links to stories I have been reading. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.
Unsung heroes of World War II finally get their due
Dear Donna: A Pinup So Swell She Kept G.I. Mail
Deal in Brazil fashion race row
82 y.o. graduate: Wisdom comes with age
What have you been reading/writing?
Sunday, May 24, 2009
I'm a huge fan and I'm so excited to be at the same ceremony as our Secretary of State, who just recently, approved benefits for same-sex partners of diplomats.
Here's a video of our kick ass Secretary of State:
excerpt: We happen to think that family planning is an important part of women's health—and reproductive health includes access to abortion, that I believe should be safe, legal, and rare. I spent a lot of my time trying to bring down the rate of abortions, and it has been my experience that good family planning and good medical care brings down the rate of abortion. Keeping women and men in ignorance and denied the access to services actually increases the rate of abortion.
Secretary Clinton, congratulations and keep up the good feminist work!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Some quotes from when Mohr discusses Michelle (with some help from the post at TransGriot):
"...I'd like to talk about Kevin Garnett. This guy's the Michelle Obama of the Celtics. He doesn't really do anything, but damn he looks good, doesn't he Jim?
Michelle Obama - that is a big dude. When Barack plays pick up games at the White House, you know he picks Michelle as at least his forward, maybe his [center] depending on who’s in Congress that day.
That has to be like being married to Elton Brand. She is a big dude. I like when she put her arm around the Queen of England and she put her in a headlock and told her, "I’ve been waiting 200 years to put my arms around you lady."
I like how she shaved off all her eyebrows, and then drew them back way too high and into an arch, and then way back down, so she always looks super surprised. Michelle Obama kind of looks like the Count on Sesame Street. That's great. One - ah ah ah - One Black President - ah ah ah."
So after reading and watching this video at TransGriot, I tried to do a little background research about what this Smack-Off is, and what I found wasn't surprising.
I am not a fan of insult-based "comedy," especially because it tends to fall back on sexist/racist/and other -ist stereotypes in a way that makes them easily accessible to a larger audience. Making stereotypes for easy consumption, I feel, only helps to perpetuate the problems caused by such generalizations.
And what exactly does Michelle Obama have to do with basketball? Nothing, except that she is tall, and apparently being tall is for men. And men play basketball. How dare her not fit into the little box that the Patriarchy expects all women to fit into.
Good job, Jim Rome, for allowing this kind of decidedly un-funny garbage to air on your show.
Also, back in January Matthew Derosia crashed his SUV into the front of the clinic, saying Jesus told him to do so. He plead guilty and sentenced to 111 days in jail last week, but the state is now looking to have him committed for mental illness.
Derosia's mother, Georjean Derosia, and the radical Army of God group have rallied to his cause, sending out fundraising emails. In an email explaining her actions to the Minnesota Independant, Georjean wrote, "[It is] the state of Minnesota’s intention to LOCK UP my son for a non-violent protest against Planned Parenthood for THE REST OF HIS LIFE!!!"
I don't know about you, but RAMMING A SUV INTO A BUILDING IS NOT NON-VIOLENT. It is violent at its very core, done with an intent of inflicting destruction. If you hit a person with a car, it is a violent act. Just because he didn't physically injure anyone doesn't mean it's not violence. I'd be willing to bet that the women and men who work in and go to that clinic have experienced emotional violence as a result of his actions.
While I hope Derosia gets the mental help he may need, his actions were certainly not non-violent. I hope Georjean and the Army of God recognize this, because it's certainly not helping their case at all.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Well, apparently Chinese officials decided to demolish the park before it was even open to the public.
I never really got to see exactly what Love Land was supposed to look like, but the builders' ideas about making China more open to talking about sex (and safe sex) seemed helpful to me.
Developers billed the attraction in Chongqing as tasteful and socially beneficial. But senior officials conducted an emergency tour of Love Land last weekend after it attracted worldwide publicity, state media reported today.
"The investigation determined the park's content was vulgar and that it was neither healthy nor educational. It had had an evil influence on society and had to be torn down immediately," a municipal publicity official told the Global Times newspaper.
Is talking about sex through a theme park really "evil"?
Thanks to Faith for the heads up!
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Thinking up questions about your own life to ask the dead is hard! Sometimes you're at a slumber party, and someone brings out a Ouija board, and the only question you can think of is "Slom?" which isn't even a word or anything, and would probably just make the princess ghosts who float around waiting for someone to use a pink Ouija very, very angry if you asked it. And you don't want to get those princess ghosts angry, because when they're angry they just go around and punch sleeping girls right in the fallopian tubes, which, everybody knows, is how you get your first period. Yuck.
For realz!!!! The whole article is hilarious. Check it out.
A few pieces from Racialicious:
Seal and Heidi Klum have a vow renewal ceremony. The theme? White trash. Is it racist?
Confession: I watched all of the first season of the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. Now Paramount Pictures and director M. Night Shyamalan are working on movie based on the series, and they don't seem to like the idea of having Asian leading characters (more from Racialicious and Racebending).
The Princess and the Frog and the Critical Gaze [Essay]: Great gathering of thoughts about Disney's upcoming film featuring the first (and possibly only) black princess.
From elle, phd:
Nativism 2.0: A woman on a student visa is accused trying to cheat the system so she can have her baby in America.
Possibly the oldest known sculpture of the human form is that of a full-figured female, carved from 35,000-year-old mammorth ivory. BBC headline called it a "grotesque vision of the female form" until they later changed the heading.
From Oddee (via Feministing):
Sexist vintage advertisements. This is a new fascination of mine. I am starting a collection to show how advertising has evolved (or not) over the years.
How about you, readers? Been writing anything interesting?
While both men and women are featured in this ad, it reinforces a single standard of beauty - skinny, athletic and most often white.
New Zealand Air is trying to promote the fact that they don't have any hidden fees, which is a good thing to promote, but there's lots of other ways they could have done this.
Parts one, two, three, four, five.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Apparently, the use of sex to sell burgers never gets old. The absurd connection never fails to objectify women. It also never makes sense, and never ceases to make me angry.
Way to go, Arby's.
Other parts in this series: One. Two. Three. Four.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Hi Amelia,I would like to say that I am happy to know that people at L'Oreal are reading blogs and being made aware of the problem that many writers have brought up. I am also relieved that this particular instance does not seem to have been an intentional decision made by L'Oreal.I saw your post on the Impersonator and I hope that you don't mind my reaching out to you -- we're thrilled to have Freida Pinto as a new spokesperson. But the photo that accompanied our announcement is an existing publicity photo of Freida provided to us by her management as we have yet to begin our initial project with her (or commenced any photography to date.)
We are really looking forward to working with Freida on her first L'Oreal campaign, which will take place in the near future. But if you have any questions on this, please don't hesitate to reach out to me at email@example.com.
Thanks so much.
Michael Trese (Ms.)
VP, External AffairsL’Oreal Paris
However, I am still not aware of any statement by L'Oreal about the advertisement featuring Beyonce that started this whole issue of the company "white washing" their spokeswomen. Keeping that in mind, I will have to wait to see how L'Oreal handles their work with Freida Pinto. Now that this problem has been brought to the attention of L'Oreal executives, if there is another instance of intentional whitening in a photograph commissioned by L'Oreal, for me, that will be the end of the line.
Leave your thoughts in comments.
Earlier this year, the feminist group at Knox, Students Against Sexism in Society (SASS) decided to forcibly "gender fuck" two bathrooms in one of the buildings on campus. We did not have permission from any of the administration, and in order to cause the least amount of panic, we decided to set up a table for three days outside of the cafeteria and explain our mission as well as collect signatures of support. We wanted to make the two chosen bathrooms gender neutral, meaning that people of any gender could use them. We explained that this would not effect the other bathrooms on the lower level of the same building, in case this idea made people uncomfortable.
We got over 100 signatures in support of our initiative, and had lots of people ask questions. We explained that the gender dichotomy present in bathrooms was not suitable for a number of transstudents who expressed that they did not feel comfortable in either bathroom. Designating these two bathrooms gender neutral would help make students feel more at ease.
I tabled for a while each day, and one day I was sitting with three SASS members who are trans-identified, when someone came up to talk to us. He approached us and asked us the usual questions, but unlike most of the people we talked to who reacted in one of two ways, "Oh, that's great!" or "Oh...okay..." he started asking more and more questions. He made sure to tell us that he was interested in having a discussion, but at the end, this was what he had to say (in my words): If transpeople feel uncomfortable with dichotomous bathrooms, maybe they should just go to counseling to help them with those feelings of discomfort. It makes more sense than making a larger population of non-transgender people feel uncomfortable having gender neutral bathrooms.
The conversation unraveled from that point. I couldn't believe that this guy, saying he wanted to have a conversation, had us talk with him only to shut us all down by implying that gender neutral bathrooms were unfair to cisgender people. What? It makes no sense to ask transpeople, who are not privileged like cisgender people are in this society, to adapt to a world that was not meant to benefit them at all. All we were asking for were two gender neutral bathrooms in a building with more than two bathrooms, and this guy still couldn't see the point.
It's this kind of attitude, even though it may seem small and unproblematic, that proves how important it is for us to work for transrights not just in our own countries, but around the world. It is this kind of attitude that allows people to feel entitled to murder transpeople, to harass them, to make them feel like an Other.
To read an appeal rejecting transphobia and respecting all gender identities, click here. To sign the appeal, click here. I did!
Saturday, May 16, 2009
The author discussed the huge differences in the amount of money men and women expect and think they deserve to earn five years into their careers. Men believe that they deserve 25% more than women feel they deserve.
I think this illustrates not only the fact that there is a disparity in what we pay men and women, but also that your expectations affect your behaviour and help sustain the status quo.
Actually, I think that expecting women to change their behavior/expectations without looking for ways to change the system is what helps sustain the status quo. "The system" - the way women are not only taught to be quiet and pleasant, but the way that when they do speak up for themselves (like men), they are portrayed as bitches - this is what keeps the status quo intact. Women are taught from a young age that standing up for themselves can have negative consequences, yet that is exactly what this piece seems to think will solve the problem of unequal wages in Britain.
I disagree. This is not a problem of individual women as much as it is a problem about societies that still do not see women as being equal to men.
"Sex is a taboo subject in China but people really need to have more access to information about it," the park's manager, Lu Xiaoqing told the China Daily state newspaper.
I have blogged before about the issues China faces with not being able to discuss sex. Seems like that is still a problem, but I am not sure how I feel about the idea of a sex theme park, especially if the idea for it came from visiting this LoveLand in South Korea.
I have not been to China, and I cannot claim to know what kind of tactics would be effective at getting people to talk about sex in a way that would not only promote pleasurable, but safe sex, but the theme park thing gets to me.
I believe that the intentions behind it are good, especially considering the obstacles that seem to be in the way of talking openly about sex in China. But I wonder if this sort of set up would possibly serve to trivialize sex. The first image I saw of China's Love Land was a dismembered figure of the lower half of a nearly naked woman in the BBC article linked to (top of this post). Coupling things like that with the idea of a theme park, which is supposed to be fun, may make it difficult to have serious discussions on matters like sex. I can see some problems with this design, but it definitely looks like a step in the right direction.
L'Oreal has disturbing issues with white washing beautiful women, like Beyonce (on the top), and Freida Pinto from Slumdog Millionaire (two pictures on the bottom). This is so messed up. I don't know what to say, except that I will not being buying an more L'Oreal products.
Friday, May 15, 2009
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed Thursday to decide whether the state's 2006 ban on gay marriage was properly put to voters.
A ruling striking down the amendment would not legalize same-sex marriage because state law still defines marriage as a union between husband and wife. However, it could pave the way for lawmakers to eventually allow it, or for advocates to file lawsuits seeking that right.
The 2006 referendum asked whether to rewrite the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman and outlaw the state from granting a similar legal status to unmarried individuals.
The justices are expected to decide two issues. The first is whether the two-part question violated the clause in the constitution that limits referendum questions to a single subject.
The second is whether an individual voter such as McConkey, a straight man who has a gay daughter, has the legal standing to sue. Van Hollen argues he does not.
Interesting on the second issue - If an individual voter doesn't have the ability to address state referendums which become policy, then who does?
While this court case wouldn't legalize gay marriage, it would take away significant barriers in the process of legalization.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I was really excited to see Star Trek and I can't quite put my finger on why, but when I saw the movie, I wasn't disappointed. As someone with little knowledge of the series before this, I enjoyed the plot, the introduction of characters, the action, and frankly, I'm finding it harder to turn down shows with my new favorite Zachary Quinto.
However, as is too common, I felt the women characters were lacking in some way.
The main female character in the film is Uhura, played by Zoe Saldana. She's a communications specialist on the bridge on the ship. She is clearly characterized as the brightest in her field, smart, talented and not afraid to speak her mind. Jha'Meia at Rebellious Jezebel Blogging comments that she displays a different kind of power, one not tied up in physical strength but in intellectual, emotional and social strength (see: her first scene in the bar). Additionally, as typical with the main female character, Uhura gets romantically paired with someone. Different from usual action films where the lead man persuades the lead female (note: usually not a lead character but the woman with the most screen time - there's a difference, if subtle), Star Trek pairs Uhura with Spock as opposed to Kirk. I found that move particularly interesting, especially since I personally admire intellectual skills over others.
People have said that Uhura has a lot more to do in the reboot than she did in the TV show, but honestly, she didn't do that much. True, one could argue that this is because of her peripheral role in the plot, perhaps on the same level as Chekov or Sulu. However, that just explains away her lack of action as opposed to addressing the fundamental flaw that women aren't in lead roles in the supposedly egalitarian society of the Enterprise. It critiques the symptoms as opposed to the core problem, a problem that remains rooted in the gender politics of 1960 due to the nature of the film as a reboot.
There's also a lot going on in the movie with women as motivation for a lot of the men's actions - Kirk's father saving his mother and the rest of the ship, Nero driven by his wife's death, Spock by his mother's death. I'm not quite sure what to do with that yet, but other people have addressed it to some extent.
All in all, it could have been a lot worse women-wise. I wasn't a big fan of the mini-skirt uniform. However, in the second-string role Uhura plays, her character does a great job. It's just that by rebooting the original, the film reinforces the structures holding her in that position and not advancing women to other roles of authority.
For more discussion of the women of Star Trek, look to Shakesville, the Hathor Legacy and Racialicious.
EDIT: In looking for pictures for this post, I found this gem from CNN:
Compared to the original on a CBS Consumer site:
Now there's a not-so-subtle way of erasing women and women's experiences. Thanks, CNN.
She concludes with this:
The plaintiff in the recently dismissed case was making a specious case rooted in a frivolous legal argument. His views are repugnant. Yet, in raising the issue once again of what religion is, he served an important role. While frivolous and meanspirited, his spewing reminds us that the contest is not done. We remain a nation where not all are convinced by the simple argument that women, too, are fully human and that we, like men, are the legitimate topic of academic inquiry. We remain a nation where it does matter how we define religion. Critical engagement with the various contexts within which we (especially in Western culture but increasingly globally) have struggled to understand religion, both as phenomenon and as a category, is as crucial to the our world as Women’s Studies (and feminist work more generally).It's an interesting article for anyone concerned about intersections of law and religion or religion and feminism.
...this year Alix Olson will be coming to perform!
Alix Olson is an internationally touring folk poet and progressive queer artist-activist.
And she is awesome. I am so excited.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
This inaugural group, chosen from close to 100 nominations, represents seven countries: United States (13), Canada (2), Australia, The Netherlands, Nigeria, United Kingdom, Ukraine.
Check out the link above for more information about the awesome women's health advocates who were given this award.
Though it was unclear if the recent poisonings were the result of attacks, militants in southern Afghanistan have previously assaulted schoolgirls by spraying acid in their faces and burning down schools. But with no group claiming responsibility, some officials speculated that the illnesses could be the result of group hysteria.
It's also important to note that a similar incident took place last month in which other girls were hospitalized after exposure to fumes, or possibly a poison gas cloud. But I guess it could be hysteria. Or not.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
He wrote the following letter to Congress and President Obama:
As an infantry officer, I am not accustomed to begging. But I beg you today: Do not fire me. Do not fire me because my soldiers are more than a unit or a fighting force – we are a family and we support each other. We should not learn that honesty and courage leads to punishment and insult. Their professionalism should not be rewarded with losing their leader. I understand if you must fire me, but please do not discredit and insult my soldiers for their professionalism.
When I was commissioned I was told that I serve at the pleasure of the President. I hope I have not displeased anyone by my honesty. I love my job. I want to deploy and continue to serve with the unit I respect and admire. I want to continue to serve our country because of everything it stands for.
Please do not wait to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Please do not fire me.
Please, urge President Obama to take action on this now. No one should have to beg to keep a job that they did well, just because another aspect of themselves has been realized. This is unacceptable.
Miss California, Carrie Prejean.
Anti-Miss Korea Festival in South Korea. (via Women's Health News.)
Saudi Arabia's Miss Beautiful Morals.
EDIT 5/12/09: Miss Tiffany's Universe Pageant for transwomen in Thailand which is not only a beauty pageant, but seeks to promote human rights and a better image for transwomen around the world. (I missed this one, but Monica Roberts from TransGriot pointed it out in comments.)
What do you think about these different takes on beauty pageants? Leave thoughts in the comments.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Knox College has a unique radio station (WVKC) in that it is completely student run and any student can apply to become a DJ and with some training, put on a show that is broadcast to thousands of listeners. Kate and I thought that this would be a great idea for helping inform people about feminist issues in the news and in our lives.
The Female Impersonators Radio Hour lasted four terms (ten weeks each), and we did not miss a single show. For the first two, we got our top choice of time slot, and once a week we prepared feminist news and music to bring to our listeners. Our third term, we didn't get any of our top six time slots, but we got a spot that (barely) worked for us. Our fourth term, we again did not get any of our top six requested timeslots. It was explained to us that a record number of people had applied for shows, although this shouldn't have effected us as we had several terms under our belts. The real issues began for us when, on the winter 2009 program schedule was sent out. Our listing (here, Mondays at 8:00pm):
Nate Robbins & Amelia Garcia
Issue one: Who's Nate?
Issue two: We had clearly labeled our genre (not an easy thing to do) as "Feminist talk/music" and we somehow ended up with the genre label of comedy.
It should be noted that WVKC has always (in our experience) been horrible with typos in DJ names (and often times show names - note that ours was incomplete). They also seem to assign very random genres, even when they ask DJs to specify their genre. But Kate and I found comedy to be highly offensive and completely inappropriate to our show because we often discussed serious topics ranging from sexual harassment to rape. There was no room to confuse our show with a comedy show, especially since we specified our intended genre. We felt that the comedy label was not only misleading to new listeners, but was also a personal slight because we take our work of informing people about sexism very seriously. It's nothing to laugh about.
Kate and I never contacted the station staff about this, and this is something that I have regretted. We should have held them accountabe immediately, but we did not. We continued with our show throughout the term, and the next term we applied once more for a radio show. This time, after two terms of mislabeling our show and not giving us time slots even remotely near to what we had requested, we did not get a show.
This time we were moved to act. For the spring 2009 term, brand new shows appeared in time slots that Kate and I had requested, which should not have happened since we were closed out and had some seniority. We wrote an e-mail to some of the station staff, outlining the issues summarized here. And we waited.
The first, brief reply we got from WVKC's Online Director who was not responsible for the scheduling. He did, however, take time to point out that the name of our show could easily be interpreted as comedy, and that it was likely that the scheduling staff made an assumption, since it's difficult to know the content of a show from the outset.
This made me mad. There was no excuse for the staff to not know the content of our show if they took the time to read our application. "Feminist talk/music" pretty much sums up our show, and I am still lost as to how that can be confused with comedy.
Also, the idea that "female impersonators" are somehow inherently funny was offensive to me, as someone who sees validity in all gender expressions. I saw this as a show of ignorance that, when used to defend the actions of the station staff, merely made me believe that I was right to be upset with them.
We later got a response from one of the station's general managers, who apologized for us not getting a show and our feelings of being disrespected. These were, according to the e-mail, not intentional doings. The reason we were given for not getting a show? Our application was lost, and apparently we were not the only DJs this happened to. There was more apologizing, more explaining that the job was difficult. I don't doubt the job of running a radio station as a student is difficult. Not at all. But it is a job that is taken on willingly, and when it appears that severe disorganization and major ignorance combine to not only offend DJs, but keep dedicated feminists with a real goal off the airwaves, something needs to be done. Making excuses won't cut it. I want to see real change.
When the general manager offered to try to find a spot that worked for us, Kate and I decided we didn't want to go that route for the time being.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Unfortunately, I can't even take my mom out for brunch! But I want to make sure she knows that I'm thinking of her.
I especially want to thank my mom because she has recently started selling Silpada Jewelry because of the work the company does with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. I was diagnosed with type I (juvenile) diabetes when I was twelve, and my mom has always been a huge supporter of mine when it comes to me living a normal life despite my disease. Choosing to work with a company that is supporting research for diabetes is a small way to show that my mom really cares, and it means a lot to me.
Thanks, Mom, for one of the many ways you support me and show that you care. I hope you have a great Mother's Day.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Well, a Kenyan man, James Kimondo, is suing the organizers of the ban for "general damages". The strike ended on Wednesday.
The ban only lasted a week. Seriously, Kimondo?
James Kimondo told reporters outside the Nairobi High Court his wife had observed the boycott and caused him "anxiety and sleepless nights".
"I have been suffering mental anguish, stress, backaches, lack of concentration," he said.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) and Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-South Dakota) are part of a "new dynamic for women in politics" - both have given birth while serving in Congress.
Herseth Sandlin is only the seventh lawmaker in U.S. history to give birth while serving in Congress. Gillibrand was the sixth.Later this month, Linda Sanchez (D-California) is due to give birth, which will make her the eighth woman to do so while serving.
It's a relatively new dynamic for women in politics, because most used to take the path followed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California -- have children first, then run for office.
But during the past several years, there has been a concerted effort in both parties to recruit younger women.
What do you think?
"To have new moms in the House is really a dream come true," said Pelosi during a recent news conference."It's a real message to working moms and young moms across America that someone who shares their experience and their aspirations for their children is a voice for them in the Congress."
I have a lot of respect for all people who do feminist blogging. The ideas we present and the topics we discuss are challenging to many people, especially those who fit well into, or are benefited by the current societal structure. I have recently made blogging a top priority of mine, despite trying my best to live an active life outside of the internet, and because I have been posting more frequently, I have been getting more comments. Many of them are anonymous, and often times they are not nice.
Here is an example:
Silly feminist. All you have are straw men and man-blaming. No wonder no one takes you seriously.
This is the last line of a comment that was submitted (and rejected) in regard to this post. This person also accused me of not checking my privilege and of "bragging about a college education" after I commented to explain why I would not respond to their comment (I'm currently taking an overload of undergraduate classes).
This comment wasn't even disheartening, because, to steal a phrase from Edward M. Kennedy, relying on personal attacks unrelated to the topic at hand is merely an admission that one's own ideas and goals cannot prevail on their own merits.
I know I will probably get more hate mail in response to this post, but all it will do is prove to me that my work is necessary and good.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Humorously as always, Sarah Haskins takes on the ridiculous news coverage of Michelle Obama's sleeveless outfits.
What's that? Fashion is still not political news? You'd never have guessed.
Parts one, two and three.
Marks & Spencer, a British retail chain, put out this full page advertisement in newspapers today. After a year-long campaign by women in a Facebook group called Busts 4 Justice protested the chain's policy of charging more for larger bras, Marks & Spencer admitted that they were wrong.
The women of Busts 4 Justice pointed out that other retailers didn't charge more for larger bras, and even Marks & Spencer didn't charge more for large clothes.
The ad reads:
"We boobed...It's true that our fantastic quality larger bras cost more money to make, and we felt it was right to reflect this in the prices we charged. Well, we were wrong."The chain is also offering a 25% discount on all their bras through the month of May.
I think it's great that an apology was offered, but the image they used is a little disturbing. I know it's an ad for bras, but the fact that they chose the phrase "We boobed" and focused the words on the woman's breasts, is objectifying in a way that doesn't really seem to say, "We care about women and their comfort, and we're sorry if we offended anyone." Especially considering the woman in the ad would not need the larger bras that were originally being charged more for.
Ah, nothing like this epic FAIL of a picture to remind me that as a woman, I am nothing without a man . And that if I should suffer the misfortune of being "dumpd" by a man, I will become an emotional wreck incapable of doing anything but stuffing my face with ice cream. (I assumed heterosexuality here because of the obvious play on the moping girlfriend image.)
Oh, to be a female-identifying person...
Thursday, May 7, 2009
I saw this article about Kirstie Alley and it just made me sad. The words she chooses to describe herself fat-shame not only her body, but her whole being as a person. The article quotes her as saying, "It [the scale] said 228 lbs., which is my highest weight ever. I was so much more disgusting than I thought!" She directly equates the number of her weight with herself - "I was so much more disgusting..." By seeing how much she weighed, Alley finds her personhood to be disgusting, which is just a really sad link.
People, this shouldn't need to be said, but it has to be said: You are not your weight. That random number on the scale doesn't describe you - it's just a number. You are made up of your personality, your humor, your interests, your laugh and millions of other things. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Alley's interview includes this as well:
Q: What weight do you want to get down to?Cheers ran from '82-'93 and Alley started on the show in 1987 - 22 years ago. So she's decided on trying to look like she did 15+ years ago because someone then told her she should. I'm sorry, but that just breaks my heart. Talk about unattainable.
A: I have to be below 140 to really look good. I have to work my legs like crazy. Actually, do you want my real goal? My real goal's always too low. I love the way I look at, like, 128. One time on Cheers, I weighed about 148 lbs., and they told me to lose, like, 20 lbs. Now, I'm 5'8", so at 148 lbs., I wasn't fat. But they're saying, "You know, you need to lose 20 lbs." So what does that put me at? 128. That's where I keep getting this number.
Of the $110 million that are going to state-based teen pregnancy prevention programs, 75% are going to “evidence-based” programs, while 25% are going “new models” which aren’t explicitly defined. The danger here is that Congress might still try to slip abstinence-only programs into the budget during the appropriations process. David Obey, the Democratic chair of the Appropriations Committee, has tried to increase funding for abstinence-only programs in the past, and we need to make sure that he and his colleagues don’t allow this to happen now.Also, the budget left the Hyde Amendment intact, which means that women on Medicaid or who rely on other federal health services will not be able to get abortions that way.
A step in the right direction, but still not a complete win, and rather disappointing.
Bad News: Franklin County High School assistant principal Karen Buzard allegedly told teachers that gay students should not be allowed to leave class in order to use the restroom. The reason? Two female students had reportedly been seen kissing in a bathroom.
(Thanks to Jenn's blog, XXBlaze for the head's up on this story.)
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Diet commercials. It seems impossible to escape them whenever one ventures into the world of TV land. I saw this one the other day, and only caught the end of it when Hungry, a furry little monster...thing, got its head caught in some sort of glass. Now if women can't understand that they could all lose weight (and therefore be happy) after seeing this obnoxious little gimmick, then is there any hope at all?
Judgesnineteen over at Girly Thoughts wrote a good post about this topic earlier in the year.
Random thought: The choice of using the phrase Stop Dieting. Start Living. in this commercial is interesting to me. It's like Weight Watchers is admitting that dieting is not a way to live. But really, this company is playing to the same insecurities, and uses the same tactics ("conquering" those pesky urges...like eating, etc.) as other "diets." So why the distinction? And if Weight Watchers realizes those things are bad, then why are they in the business of making women feel horrible about themselves?
Also, I just ate a chocolate muffin. Does that mean Hungry was here? Did I miss that little orange thing?
Other parts in this serious: One. Two. Three.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
They said that a black man would be president of the United States whenI didn't find it funny at all, and was disturbed that the person (a white person) who sent it to me had suggested (in the subject line) that I should find it funny.
pigs fly.....well, 100 days into Obama's administration.........
This is the response I wrote to the person who sent me this e-mail:
I went back and forth about sending this e-mail, but I think it needs to be sent.
Please note that I do not want to sound hostile, but the concerns I am going to voice may come off as offensive. So I apologize ahead of time.
I guess first of all I think I should explain that since I have been at college, I have learned to be very aware, not only of sexism, but of racism, ageism, ableism, etc. whenever it is thrown around, be it in jokes (like this e-mail seems to be) or in media (music videos, "reality" TV) or in government (pay practices, etc.).
I have come to realize that humor is often not simply "just a joke." It is very often a means of perpetuating the problems that Americans still have not come to terms with, problems we would like to kid ourselves into thinking are in the past.
For example, this "joke" that you send me via e-mail. It proves very much that America is not as "race-blind" as we would like to think it is. The "humor" in this e-mail is based on a longstanding form of racism in which white people blame all the ills of society on people of color (especially black people, who were and often still are characterized as lazy or vicious or rapists or sexually promiscuous). In this case, the connection between the "humor" and the racism is especially clear because there is no real reason to associate America having a black president with the outbreak of swine flu. The fact that this "joke" chose to frame the problem in this way (and that people find it funny enough to forward it so others can read it) illustrates that America is still not free of racism that uses the color of one's skin as justification for blaming them for all of this country's problems, even the ones that cannot be remotely attributed to people based solely on their skin color.
You have sent me similar e-mails in the past, and I have always wondered about your motive. If you disagree with me politically, that's one thing. But sending me things like this just to get under my skin is not really appropriate because of all the other regrettable implications.
Forwarding an e-mail may not seem like a big deal. It probably doesn't feel like you are contributing to a problem at all. But until we all can call out racism, sexism, ageism, etc. when we see it, even in the little ways like in "jokes," we are all doing our part in maintaining an unequal society.
If you feel I have misunderstood your intentions, please e-mail me back.
I received a quick response to my e-mail, and the person said they appreciated my response and valued my opinion, but they saw the original e-mail differently than I did. They said that they were originally drawn to the pun and they were not thinking in terms of politics of race. They also apologized for offending me.
They didn't acknowledge that my criticism of the e-mail was legitimate, however, which was additionally troubling. I understand that a lot of times, when I am talking to white people about racism, their white privilege gets in the way of them seeing the point I am trying to make. That's not an excuse for their refusal to call out racism, but it's a true problem that needs to be dealt with. Even I only first began to acknowledge my white privilege when I started to study feminism.
Overall, this was really upsetting to me. Racism, even this kind that is meant to be "funny" is really harmful, and is one of the many ways our society is structured to keep certain people down.
Monday, May 4, 2009
"We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage," Miss Prejean said. "And you know what, I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offence to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised."Prejean came in first runner up, and it is believed that her answer may have cost her the title at that pageant.
Well, she couldn't stop there just believing that same-sex couples don't deserve to marry. Now she's in Washington D.C., working to launch a campaign opposing same-sex marriage.
For more on this topic, read here, here.
Carrie Prejean told NBC's "Today" show Thursday that she'll be working with the National Organization for Marriage to "protect traditional marriages."The 21-year-old says that marriage is "something that is very dear to my heart" and she's in Washington to help save it.
Friday, May 1, 2009
Even before I had sons, I worried about having a daughter. I could handle boys, with their cut-and-dried needs, but girls were so much more complicated. Girls have elaborate hairstyling requirements. They whine and mope, manipulate and triangulate. How was I going to deal with that?and
I know not all girls are like this -- sugar and spice and Hannah Montana. My own niece provides a compelling dirt-under-her-fingernails counter example. Plus, I can choose not to expose my daughter to the pink princess world in the first place.via.
But having already had two children, I've learned that you can't control their hardwiring. If she wants to be a princess, that's what she'll be. I don't allow toy weapons in the house -- which just means that my boys blithely improvise sippy-cup shootouts and remote-control duels to the death.