Thursday, June 24, 2010

Female journalist struck by Algerian player after World Cup loss

As you may have noticed from my string of recent posts about the World Cup, soccer has been on my mind lately.

Yesterday morning I watched the USA's rather dramatic 1-0 defeat of Algeria, a win that came in stoppage time and was a necessary outcome if the USA was to advance to the next round of play.

Today I read that after the game,
Algerian player Rafik Saifi slapped a female Algerian journalist, Asma Halimi, without provocation. Halimi struck him back.

I understand that losing a World Cup game must be an emotional experience, but that is no excuse for striking a woman, or anyone else. Sadly,
violence against women on soccer game days is not unheard of.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Women's bodies, commercials, and the men's World Cup (part 3)

One thing about World Cup season is that it means I end up watching a lot more TV than I'm used to. The commercials tend not to be a good thing for my feminist conscience. Women's bodies are used to sell all sorts of things, such as Budweiser beer in the following commercial that was prepared to be played during the World Cup.

While a woman's body is not the main focus of this commercial, the female form is still objectified and portrayed as nothing but a distraction to the men playing soccer. I find it interesting how the beer is portrayed in a similar way: as a distraction to the men on the field. However, the difference lies in the fact that beer is not representative of human beings, and when you're comparing women to beer, what is that saying about women?

A close up of a soccer ball on a field where one field player faces off with a goal keeper for a penalty kick that will determine the outcome of the game in question. The goal keeper and the player preparing to take the kick exchange looks. Over the shoulder of the field player, fans cheering against the goal keeper hold up individual signs that together create an image of a hula girl, which distracts the goal keeper. The field player smirks and winds up to take the kick. Just then, fans sitting behind the goal also hold up individual signs that create the image of a Budweiser beer can and glass filled with beer. The field player is so distracted by this image that his kick goes wide to the right of the goal, losing the game.

Part one and two in my World Cup series.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Women's bodies and the men's World Cup - Pretty women help lose games

I was watching ESPN 2 this morning, waiting for the next match in the World Cup (France v. Mexico) to start, when I heard commentators briefly discussing how Spain's shocking defeat by Switzerland was being blamed by some on a female journalist for a Spanish TV station.

Isn't that nice.

Apparently, Sara Carbonero is dating the Spanish goalkeeper, Iker Casillas, who gave up the match's only goal in the game against Switzerland. The win by Switzerland was a huge upset, and Casillas' mistake is being blamed, by some fans, on Carbonero whose presence was known to her boyfriend and may have potentially been a distraction.

This kind of reaction is ridiculous. Making a conventionally attractive woman a scapegoat for the loss of a game that was played by men not only provides reason for undue scorn against a woman who was doing her job, but it also perpetuates the stereotype that when men see a pretty woman, they lose all self-control and can't help but, you know, lose a World Cup match.

I would also like to add that if you watch the replay of the goal scored by Switzerland, it is clear (to me at least) that it was not a matter of Casillas being distracted by his girlfriend, during which time a goal slipped by. He made a bad decision which had bad consequences.

Part one in my World Cup series.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My efforts at greater accessibility

I have been working on a post about a Budweiser commercial that has been shown during the World Cup. It's been sitting as a draft on Blogger for a few days now because I am in the process of writing a transcript of the commercial to provide more access to this multi-media post.

I have only recently started my own serious attempt to work on the accessibility issues on Female Impersonator. My attempt is far from perfect or all inclusive at this point, but it is a step toward making this blog more accessible to more people more often. That is something I take seriously, despite my access failures in past posts.

My timing seems to be in line with some other progressive bloggers such as S. E. Smith and Chally at Feministe who have described accessibility issues in general and those particular to Feministe.

However, my personal venture into greater accessibility on this blog was inspired by another blog, Deeply Problematic, whose authors do a great job of making the blog accessible. Their efforts were most notable to me as a person who does not need to worry about accessibility through the captioning all their images.

So expect to see greater attempts on this blog to make all kinds of content accessible, including making links more descriptive, and providing image captions and video transcripts. If you have more questions about accessibility, Chally (linked to above) has a great overview of why accessibility matters. You may also try Googling "web accessibility" as Chally suggests.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Living by Seventeen Magazine's rules for young women

I'm a big fan of young women doing amazing things, and today Amanda ReCupido introduced me to Jamie Keiles, a high school senior from Pennsylvania.

Jamie is working on the Seventeen Magazine Project during which she attempts to spend one month applying the advice from Seventeen Magazine to her daily life and blogging about the results.

I think this is a great idea, and really admire Jamie for coming up with it. Magazines feed young women all kinds of rules for making themselves more attractive, more successful, and other "desirable" traits. Jamie's venture is not only interesting but important because until someone tries to live by these rules, who can do more than speculate about the impact they may have on young women?

Not that this would provide definitive answers, but I think it's a step in a very interesting direction.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Women's bodies and the men's World Cup

The World Cup games start tomorrow (Friday, June 11), and I'll be watching as many of the games as possible. I was on Facebook earlier this week, reading some of my friends' discussions about the World Cup, when I found the "FIFA 2010 World Cup - United States Fan Page" and was not pleased with the picture on the page*.

Image: A screen shot of part of the Facebook fan page mentions above, with an profile image on the left featuring the torso and arm of a dirt-splattered woman in a sports bra who is bending backward and balancing a soccer ball on her chest.

Objectifying women to advertise and sell everything from hamburgers to cars is commonplace. However, this particular image bothers me because of the numerous barriers women face when it comes to being accepted as true athletes. This sort of image, which associates women with the sport not as competitors but as objects for consumption of real people (read men) who can enjoy and even participate in the sport, is troublesome because it relegates women's bodies to the realm of fantasy and may help keep them off the field.

UPDATE: Reader rwatuny alerted me to the fact that the picture in question on this Facebook page is a modified one that is part of a larger photoshoot, apparently for the Chinese version of GQ magazine.

*This image is no longer the profile image on the fan page but can still be found in the page's photo collection. I was unable to determine if this was a picture that had been created specifically by the page's administrator(s) or if it had been taken from another source.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Chris Brown denied visa to enter UK for scheduled shows

Chris Brown had to cancel several shows that were scheduled to be performed in the UK after being denied a visa to enter the country. He was refused admission because he had been found "guilty of a serious criminal offence." Last year, Brown pleaded guilty to assaulting his ex-girlfriend Rihanna.
In a statement, the Home Office said: "We reserve the right to refuse entry to the UK to anyone guilty of a serious criminal offence. Public safety is one of our primary concerns."
My first thought after reading this was to be glad that officials in the UK Home Office were taking violence against women so seriously.

What do you think?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Violent mating habits of certain invertebrates

Two days ago I was watching a show on Animal Planet called "Monsters Inside Me" and one of the cases on the show was of a woman who was being infected with bed bugs. That's when I first heard of "traumatic insemination."

Traumatic insemination is a mating practice that takes place among some species of invertebrates (including bed bugs and even some spiders). The process apparently differs slightly depending on the species, but generally involves the male piercing the female's back and injecting sperm into the abdomen.

Of course I had to do more research on this topic and came across this piece (including pictures that may be NSFW) about male seed beetles whose penises are covered with spikes that injure the females. It also discussed the violent sexual practices of some other species which made me cringe while reading.

Despite explaining how the female seed beetle has developed some defenses "so that the damage inflicted by the males doesn't affect her too badly," my new knowledge of the violent mating practices of some species was rather disturbing because it seems that females of many species are no strangers to sexual violence.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

FIFA to keep condoms out of World Cup games in South Africa

Soccer is the only sport that I watch with any regularity, so I am very excited about the FIFA World Cup games that will be taking place in South Africa from June 11 - July 11 2010.

However, I was disappointed when I heard about groups expressing concern about not being able to distribute condoms during the upcoming games.

South Africa has the world's largest number of HIV carriers, with an estimated 5.7 million people infected – about one in every five adults. There are around 1,400 new HIV infections every day and nearly 1,000 AIDS deaths.

FIFA has strict regulations that only allow official sponsors into venues, which means that fans will not be able to gain access to condoms or health information that non-sponsors are looking to provide. This is a huge problem, because the World Cup is a huge opportunity to distribute important information and condoms to a large audience in a country with such a high number of people impacted by HIV and AIDS.

If you want to voice your opinion about this situation, contact FIFA.

h/t to CaitieCat at Shakesville.