The Senate Judiciary Committee voted, 13 to 6, on Tuesday to endorse the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, easing her path to likely confirmation as the first Hispanic member of the tribunal.More here.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
I saw this around the time it came out in 1996 and it scared the hell out of me. I never, never, never wanted to be in the same situation as Ellen's character. Mr. Wrong also made me hate Bill Pullman, perhaps the most notable, lasting by-product of the movie.
Looking back on it now, I see the little seeds of feminism at work - my utter abhorrence to being stalked, forced into marriage, etc. What I remember hating the most about the movie was that Ellen's character would say something and he would completely disregard what she said. Everyone would take his word over hers, prize his view of things to hers. The thought of saying "I don't want x" and then having everyone around you ignore it because someone else says, "No, she does want x. Let's make x happen." ... Well, it freaked me out.
Now I'm older, but I know that there are women all over the world who are, indeed, stalked, forced into marriage, have their opinions ignored in the face of male persuasion. It's not funny; it's not the makings of a romantic comedy; it's just horrible. And I still really hate Bill Pullman.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Let's hope it's not filled with the same misogynist humor in Judd Apatow's movies. Thankfully he's nowhere to be seen on the IMD page for HTTM. I have low hopes for it passing the Bechdel Test... but the world is far from perfect.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Now I'm a big fan of the Bechdel Test for movies:
1. There at least two named female characters who
2. talk to each other
3. about something besides a man.
It's simple, it's quick, and it's utterly insulting to see how many movies don't have an actual, concrete, non-male-centered conversation between two women. However, instead of talking about how many movies fail, let's talk about how many movies have evidence that their female characters are, indeed, human.
I was going to start a collection of movies that pass the test, but a little Googling revealed there are plenty of sites that do this already, and do it well. So I'm just going to make a collection of links and let you at them.
The Bechdel Test: Movie List (complete with details on movies that don't pass, or only pass a few of the requirements)
Why film schools teach screenwriters not to pass the Bechdel Test from The Hathor Legacy
Is there a Bechdel Test for race? from Racialicious
Kissing In The Rain Is Not Acceptable (an ongoing review of films passing the test)
The 'Bechdel Rule,' Defining Pop-Culture Character from NPR and All Things Considered with followup suggestions on the NPR blog on race from Eric Deggans and Natalie Morales
I know it's supposed to be cute and adorable - mini brides! - but all I see is a symptom of the larger disease of a mindset that views women as men's property. It tells me that women are to be kept in boxes, taken out to "play" with, and then put away again. I see women as toys. I see women as small enough to not have a choice in the matter. And I see clear and definite power imbalances.
Not cute and adorable.
via Tacky Weddings and Rachel
Pack gathers for wolf-whistling firstOn Wednesday, Ireland's first ever wolf-whistling championships were held in Irvinestown, where men dressed up as construction workers and whistled at passing women.
The politically incorrect competition was the work of [Lady of the Lake Festival] organiser, and whistling devotee, Joe Mahon.
"It was all good fun, and we didn't get too many complaints at all - people just enjoyed the day.
Ok. So let me get this straight. Joe Mahon, here, was sitting around a table one day, thinking up events to include as part of this festival, and he gets a brilliant idea. "Gee, I really like to whistle at pretty ladies. That would make a great event! No way this could possibly be considered offensive of just plain fucked up, nope. Not at all. It's golden!"
Thursday, July 23, 2009
me: ugh i got new deodorant the other day and all it does is bunch up in little clumps in my armpit
But I thought making products sparkly would show that they're for women! Can't we have more sparkly things so I know what to buy when I'm in the store? I guess I'm just going to have to rely on the pink products.
Needless to say, I've ended up with a lot of Pepto Bismal.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
If you're on Twitter, when someone harasses you, tweet it to @catcalled. Often she'll retweet it, but it's important to show just how often, how universal and how consistent it is, regardless of woman, city, or outfit.
Street harassment is just one manifestation of the idea that women's bodies are public property. If society starts to take street harassment seriously, we're one step closer to taking other offenses on women's bodies and lives seriously too.
via The Undomestic Goddess and thanks to rude_not_ginger
Netflix, using its magical rating system to suggest movies for me, had a real winner today. In case you can't read the text, here's what it says:
Romantic Movies Featuring a Strong Female Lead
(based on watching Revolutionary Road and Itty Bitty Titty Committee*)
The Edge of Love, Twilight, The Nanny Diaries and 27 Dresses
Really, Netflix? Now I haven't seen The Edge of Love so I can't speak for that - but Twilight? Seriously? Based on my absolute adoration of Revolutionary Road, they suggest a movie with stalking and abstinence overtones**? And The Nanny Diaries and 27 Dresses? You call those strong female leads?
I'm utterly amazed at how Netflix seems to confuse just any lead female character with a strong lead female character. Do they think we're all stupid and will be excited that there's someone with a vagina on screen? They must, otherwise there'd be real suggestions for movies with strong female leads like Maude in Harold and Maude, the Boatswright sisters from The Secret Life of Bees, or Ana from Real Women Have Curves.
*I liked Itty Bitty Titty Committee but (spoiler) I'd have liked to see Anna end up with someone else besides Sadie. She's just flaky, in my opinion.
**The only good thing that came out of seeing Twilight was the jokes about having sex with a cold, sparkly person.
-Tegla Loroupe, Kenya, 1994 New York City Marathon Champion
Loroupe has also founded the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation dedicated to ending conflict in East Africa though friendly sports competitions, educational programs to support children and women (most often victims of civil warfare), and an emphasis on local ownership of the peace process.
Not only is she her own inspiration, but inspiration for us all.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
The best rationale I can offer is that men who can successfully write women are those who don't try to write as women. What I mean is -- they write naturally and rationally rather than with specific and often stereotypical tropes in mind. There might be classically "feminine" elements to the story, but the path and thought behind them is, simply, human.Spot on. I think this is inextricably linked to the idea that women are an Other, that we are indeed Bugs Bunny in drag - women are men dressed up in eyelashes and lipstick.
And, of course, I'm not saying that we should let things lie status quo. Some men can write truly beautiful female characters, but the world still needs more screen words written by a women's pen.
This notion has come up a lot in the Sotomayor nomination, that because she is a woman, a Latina, she can't be a blank slate (ie white, male). Women aren't human, we're something different all together. And to some screenwriters, this idea is just dominates any dialogue, which results in massive, dominating, suffocating stereotypes.
I was watching The Garage last night and turned it off after 30 minutes because the female romantic lead was just ridiculous. Matt, the main character, had some level of nuance, but Bonnie Jean was basically a cardboard cutout that moved. The main scenes I saw her in included her walking up to Matt's car (all legs and breasts, thanks cinematography) where he asked her out after just learning her name, and then their date which included classy shots of her clothes choices, them driving around and then making out. The character had no substance; she wasn't human. She was a teenage boy's fantasy in flesh - a beautiful girl just wanders up to a boy, says yes to a date, and then makes out with him. Very few (if any) girls exist like that in real life.
Once screenwriters, directors, cinematographers, and movie industry folk start thinking of women as human, we'll actually see more realistic female characters - you know, as fellow humans.
The first song I heard by her was "Not Fair," which was recommended to me by a friend. I immediately loved this song, and was surprised by its rather feminist undertones. The song, to me, is about her being unhappy with not being satisfied in bed. The idea that women should (and deserve to) enjoy sex is a very feminist idea, but it isn't something that is discussed often, especially in the music world. Lily Allen calls out her lover for not putting in the effort to satisfy her, saying "all you do is take," and she isn't subtle about this topic. hat's a large part of why I love her music.
Her song "22" is also feminist in its lyrics. It tells the story of a 30-year-old woman whom "society says her life is already over." This touches on a really messed up reality for women in Western society, where they are de-valued as they age, much like the objects they are treated as. Their only hope often seems to lie in the hands of men, who if they choose a woman, can return some of her value to her. I think that Allen captures this idea well in this song, as well as the unhappiness that this problem can inflict.
I don't know much about Lily Allen as a person, but as a musician, I think highly of her. I recommend her music to all our readers who aren't afraid of blatant lyrics about sometimes-challenging topics.
Friday, July 17, 2009
It's no secret - I flippin' love roller girls. LOVE them. My secret desire is to be a roller girl someday - I say someday because I'd have to practice a ton, spend money on equipment and I'm more than a little broke right now, and I know that lots of the roller girls are in their mid-30's. It's not a sport that considers you ineligible to play once you're past your mid-20's. So I've got some time. In Minnesota, we've got two leagues - Minnesota Roller Girls and North Star Roller Girls. If you're in the area and love roller girls as much as I do, be sure to check out a match.
I think this quote from Minneapolis-based City Pages sums up why I love roller girls so much:
These women are hardcore, and not just because they beat each other up on roller skates. From their ramshackle beginning in 2005 to the professional athletes they are today, people have always found the Roller Girls appealing for the same reason: They make no apologies for being themselves.
"If you think about it, all women have a little Roller Girl in them, but oftentimes they aren't allowed to show it," says Kelley. "That's all this is. Roller derby isn't about ink or being tough or whatever, it's about being empowered. Just look at veterans. There are girls with dreads and tattoos, and then there are ones who are in makeup looking absolutely nine-to-five. It just reinforces that this is about you doing what you want to do and being the person you want to be."
Thursday, July 16, 2009
However, apparently challenging yourself like this opens up the door for people to call you fat, sleezy or say you're wearing your clothes too tight. It's sleezy to wear clothes that fit?
People's bodies are different and not uniformly made. Take a skirt and five women will wear it differently in five ways. And you know what? THAT'S OK. We're not Barbies, all cut from the same mold. Why should women wear things that don't fit in an attempt to appease trolls online?
Another thing I love about Michelle is her spirit. She writes, "If spending a year trying to throw together cute outfits that fit my body makes me “sleazy,” well… just call me the Queen of Sleaze." Gotta love it.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
The Feminist Carnival is a place for writers to share the best posts from the feminist blogosphere.
The first carnival edition will be hosted here, at Female Impersonator, on July 29. You can submit posts up through the 29th here at Blog Carnival, the best carnival hosting site out there.
We want to thank Natalie for all her hard work organizing the now defunct Carnival of Feminists and inspiring us to start a carnival up again. Thank you!
If you are interested in hosting an edition, email Amelia or Lindsay at [firstname].impersonator [at] gmail.com. We will be hosting a carnival two Wednesdays every month.
The implicit and explicit logic behind this list is that the show is, indeed, feminist. Mad Men's creator, Matt Weiner, believes his show is feminist "exactly because of its painfully accurate portrayal of the treatment of women in the workplace in the early 1960s."
I'll put this point up for discussion - in a show that frequently depicts vastly unfeminist actions - blatant sexual harassment, patronizing attitudes by male characters towards female characters regardless of relationship (boss/secretary, husband/wife) - can we consider it feminist? Does the stark portrayal of this world expose the sexism of the times and put it in absurd contrast to the inherent sexism of today?
Or does it fail, unable to make that leap and just remains to reinforce patriarchy in a work enviornment?
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Operation Beautiful, which was launched in June of 2009, already has a lot of people talking and taking action.
Check out the website, leave a random note for strangers to find, and help end Fat Talk.
This made me smile so much. I can't wait to be part of it. I am so thrilled to see that people are getting behind this idea because we have to start fighting back against all the harmful images and messages that women are receiving every day about their weight/worth. This is a great place to start.
What an idea.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Let's hear it for another woman in power as Judge Sotomayor sits through her confirmation hearings.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
It made me cry, actually. I'm not quite sure why. I started tearing up right away; Justice Ginsburg never really said anything emotional, but I think the situation of one woman being interviewed about another woman in such an important position really resonated with me.
In one section Justice Ginsburg notes how important it is for more women to be on the court, symbolically. I've never really believed in the importance of symbolism, but as a young woman, working her first real job in politics, hoping to make a career in the field after graduation, and considering law school it is important to me to have women on the Supreme Court.
My mom is a secretary. I love and admire her for her strength, courage, and love, but I also need career role models, and I am so happy to have women in power to guide me in my journey as a woman learning her own power.
A few things that have been coming up in the comments that I want to address:
1. Harassment as compliments
I think a few readers have misunderstood the kind of harassment I'm concerned about. There is no way to mistake a "suck my dick" comment for a compliment. And yelling something from a car, even something meant kindly is not the appropriate way to compliment someone. Ever.
If a guy feels need to tell a girl, who he doesn't know, that she looks nice or that he likes something she is wearing, that is a totally different situation. And one that deserves a separate blog post.
2. Solutions: Silence or The Middle Finger
In the original post, I mentioned that I have a hard time ignoring the situation, so I usually flick the bastards off. I lot of commenters responded that they choose to simply ignore the situation because a reaction is what the guys are looking for. But, I just can't do it that way. I feel a need to respond, and the quickest way in my situation, which is mostly cars driving by and commenting is flicking people off. That's just me though. I do realize that ignoring the situation is probably the best, productive way to handle it, but at this point in my life it just makes me feel powerless, something I don't want to feel.
I've been thinking more about this. I was texting one of my guy friends, while I was walking home the other day. I was complaining about the harassment, and his response:
"Girl, what are you wearing?"
Now, this is a really smart, kind friend and his question didn't bother me too much at the time. But, days later, its irking me. Obviously, this parallels a rape victim being asked what she was wearing. It is a form of victim blaming and nothing new. But, I think it does brooch the importance of talking to people you know about the issue and educating them about what its like to be on the receiving end of such "compliments." A lot of commenters have stressed this, and I think it is so important.
We need to take action. So, let's start an impromptu re-education movement. Seriously, it is a slow start, sporadic, and spontaneous, but it can't hurt. I'm going to start talking to my friends, especially the men in my life, about this issue, and I'm gonna post about when I do. Any reactions or questions or miscommunication will be written about here, so people can refer to them to answer their own questions. And because I'm clearly not an expert, I want you to do the same. You can post here in the comments or email me the story and I'll make a separate blog post for it. I even set up a new gmail account firstname.lastname@example.org Or start your own blog and just link here. There have been lots of awesome hollerback sites started, but this are a documentation of harrassment. I want to start a documentation of avoided harrassment and positive teaching and learning experiences.
We also need a title for this action, I think. In my internship, I'm learning how important clever titles are. Any ideas?
Alright, let's begin! Go talk.
When I read this piece from The New York Times website about a Swedish couple that decided to keep the gender of their toddler a secret, I was really interested.
The toddler's mother is quoted as saying:
“We want Pop to grow up more freely and avoid being forced into a specific gender mould from the outset,” Pop’s mother told the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet last spring. “It’s cruel to bring a child into the world with a blue or pink stamp on their forehead.”
The piece then quotes Anna Nordenström, a pediatric endocrinologist at the Karolinska Institutet, as saying (emphasis added):
“It will affect the child, but it’s hard to say if it will hurt the child,” says Nordenström, who studies hormonal influences on gender development.
“I don’t know what they are trying to achieve. It’s going to make the child different, make them very special.”
She says if Pop is still “genderless’” by the time he or she starts school, Pop will certainly receive a lot of attention from classmates.“We don’t know exactly what determines sexual identity, but it’s not only sexual upbringing,” says Nordenström. “Gender-typical behaviour, sexual preferences and sexual identity usually go together. There are hormonal and other influences that we don’t know that will determine the gender of the child.”
I think that Pop's parents are trying to be proactive about the problem that gender often presents. Granted, I have not studied hormonal influences on gender development (and I'm not even sure I believe there is much of an influence), but I think that these parents should be given a lot of credit for trying to take this matter into their own hands instead of giving their child up to a gendered society that often works to limit the abilities and opportunities of people who are not gendered as male. Even if Pop is biologically male, I can see many benefits for the child not growing up gendered in that way.
What do you think?
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
So, everyday I walk to work. Its about a mile to the office and another mile on the way home. Then after I eat dinner, I usually go for a bike ride down by the lakefront. I like walking to work and usually even turn down ride offers from co-workers unless its raining. The walk gives me time to think, call my mom, or just enjoy the sunshine before I have to sit in a climate controlled office for the next eight hours.
The only thing about this routine that I don't like is the constant cat-calling, wolf whistling, and harassment I have to endure on these walks. I walk on the sidewalk by a pretty busy road and haven't made it through one walk without at least one comment or wolf whistle. It doesn't matter what I'm wearing: a sundress, a skirt, shorts, pants, sweatshirts, or sneakers. The attention is even worse when I'm riding my bike for some reason. I rode about six miles today to a meeting downtown, but I specifically rode out of my way on the bike path to avoid the catcalls I usually get when I ride on the street. But, even on my short street detour to the bikepath, I was harassed.
And yes, I'm calling it harassment. Because it is. It is not a compliment, as my mom tried to get me to believe. It is someone harassing me, propositioning me, and verbally assaulting me for simply being on the sidewalk, on public space. Walking to work on my birthday last week, I had an old man tell me to suck his dick. That is harassment, plain and simple.
So, how do I respond? As long as there is a safe distance between me and my harasser, I just flick them off. I hate doing this at 8:30 in the morning, but how else should I respond? I've usually barely even finished my coffee. I'm not in an understanding mood. And as a feminist, I can't just ignore assaults on my presence in the world, assaults that I endure just because I'm a woman with long hair, who dares to wear a skirt on a warm day.
How do you usually respond? Any suggestions to this far-too common problem? Any male readers want to give their perspective? I've never lived in an environment where I am constantly walking before, so as much as I've read about this problem, this is the first time I'm experiencing it on a consistent basis, and I am angry angry angry.
P.S. Please read my follow up post. Let's take action!
She recently broke the world record by lifting 14 kilograms (31+ lbs) of weights with her vagina. Kozhevnikova does this by (ironically) a set of balls. One is inserted into her vagina with a string hanging out and then she can hook another ball onto the end of it.
Also, not quite sure if that's her in the picture on the link or what, but it's a little random.
Either way, congrats Tatiata!
Because of my demographics as a 20-something woman, I end up taking a lot of surveys about things I'm not really interested in. I answer questions about things like cleaning supplies (am I concerned about the product hurting my family while still cleaning well?), cereal (is this healthy enough for my family?) and make up (how much am I willing to spend on a product nearly identical to 4 others out there?). It's somewhat annoying to answer repetitive questions about products the company feels are "women's products." From time to time, I get fun surveys about alcohol or movies, but mostly it's things traditionally advertised to women.
I've been rewatching Mad Men and this scene stands out even more to me in light of my own surveys: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0Hru4IucB0 (embedding disabled).
In the scene, the all-male advertising staff puts the office secretaries in a testing room and watches as they all try on lipstick. The men say things like "Maybe we should have put a man in there so they'd take it seriously." After Peggy, the main character's secretary, displays some talent in coming up with catchy slogans, one of the men describes it as "like watching a dog playing piano."
Mad Men is a window into the blatant sexism of the early 60's, where men constantly disregard the women or view them as objects, where people of color are completely invisible (except in service jobs), where the queer characters repress their sexuality and hide themselves from the people around them.
But as I watch the show, I'm reminded of how much this hasn't changed. About how when I take surveys, I'm an age and a gender before I'm a person, about how the questions asked of me have as much to do with antiquated notions of gender binaries and what women "should" be concerned about as my own personal interests.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Just wanted to give a heads up that I might not be blogging much for the next few weeks. I am currently working toward the homestretch of a summer research fellowship that is taking up a lot of time and energy, but once I finish with that (in early August) I'll be back here blogging consistently again.
This means a few things besides me not posting much.
1) I often do the majority of comment moderation on this blog because I am on it several times a day, and as a blog administrator, I have access to every comment made on every post (even those not written by me). With me taking a break, individual bloggers will be responsible for moderating the comments on the posts they write. This may mean that your comments may not show up on the blog as quickly as normal. Sending multiple comments regarding this manner isn't necessary. Patience is.
2) I would love to have submissions for guest posts. If you have ever considered writing for a feminist blog and would like your thoughts posted here, e-mail me and let me know.
I will leave you, readers, in the very capable hands of Lindsay, who I adore for doing such a great job updating. Make sure to show her some love!
Monday, July 6, 2009
A couple of weeks ago I realized how much my posture had changed in the past few years. When I was in college, I was often mistaken for a dancer, even at the times that I didn't have a ballerina's leanness. Shoulders back, back stretched long, hips where they wanted to be, strides long. People commented on my posture, and it felt good to move around.
Somewhere in the past few years I started, well, tucking in my rear-end a bit. This made my strides shorter and my shoulders slouched just a little. It also made my back ache just a little after some walks.
I did this because of comments from men about my body, most often about my rear-end.
Women all over the world have to do much more than I've ever done in response to sexual aggression. I know this.
I know my burden is light here, but it's just so clear and pronounced to me by changes in the way I carry myself. I walked to the fruiteria today and received multiple sexually aggressive comments and hisses. Hisses! I know not to respond to them. Sometimes the fact that I should be holding my tongue in such situations is even more maddening. I can't convince those men in that moment about why it's wrong and harmful and degrading.
I don't know what the solution is.
I should be walking in the way that feels natural. I miss that.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have
Been any clearer
If you wanna make the world
A better place
(if you wanna make the
World a better place)
Take a look at yourself, and
Then make a change
(take a look at yourself, and
Then make a change)
(na na na, na na na, na na, na nah)
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
She looks at the top 15 actors and actresses, Oscar nominations and wins, box office grosses and Rotten Tomato rankings and finds that across the board, films with the top 15 actresses have higher critic ratings while grossing $735 million to the men's $746 million. Additionally, the actresses garnered more Oscar nominations and wins than the men, yet were paid collectively less than half of what the men made.
The top earning woman was Angelina Jolie (27 million) and the bottom earning woman was Kate Winslet (2 million). In comparison, the top earning man was Harrison Ford (65 million) and the bottom earning man was Vince Vaughan (14 million).
Stephanie writes, "Will someone please explain to me how this isn't blatant gender-based discrimination?"
While these are some of the highest paid women in the world, they are still victims of the pay discrimination that influences women everywhere. From the waitress working the third shift to Kate Winslet to Lilly Ledbetter, women experience pay discrimination, even the women American media idolizes. Every woman is at risk.
Let this list remind us of how sexism and the notion that women are somehow less than pervades our culture, seeps through its pores and infects everything we touch, even - especially - our paychecks.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
The man in the video has utter composure and reacts in the best, most impossible manner. Also, don't read the comments on the video. It's a combination of racism and heterosexism.
Then some people were kicked out of a taxi by a homophobic driver (after being picked up in front of a gay bar).
And out of Minneapolis, there's this.
How? How in this day and age can people still be like this? How do we as surrounding society allow this to happen? Why do we create these spaces where homophobia thrives and grows?
To the people in these situations, my utter condolences.