Thursday, October 28, 2010

Obama on Gay Rights

Given my recent post on President Obama's It Gets Better video and the thoughtful opinions voiced in the comments section, I have started thinking more about Obama on gay rights. He made a lot of promises that convinced a lot of the gay community and straight allies to vote his way in 2008 that he has yet to follow through on. The most obvious example of this is, of course, Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT). Obama promised to do away with this outdated and homophobic military policy. However, in 2010 he is still dragging his feet about it despite a federal judge's order to stop enforcing DADT and the fact that 78% of Americans are actually in favor of repealing it.

But recently Obama has
implied that he might be adopting more gay-friendly policies:

"I have been to this point unwilling to sign on to same-sex marriage primarily because of my understandings of the traditional definitions of marriage. But I also think you’re right that attitudes evolve, including mine," Obama said in response to a question from Joe Subday of Americablog.

"I think that it is an issue that I wrestle with and think about because I have a whole host of friends who are in gay partnerships. I have staff members who are in committed, monogamous relationships, who are raising children, who are wonderful parents. And I care about them deeply," Obama continued. "And so while I’m not prepared to reverse myself here, sitting in the Roosevelt Room at 3:30 in the afternoon, I think it’s fair to say that it’s something that I think a lot about. That’s probably the best you’ll do out of me today."

Later, Obama seemed to suggest that legalization of gay marriage is inevitable. "The one thing I will say today is I think it’s pretty clear where the trend lines are going," he added.

My first reaction is to be hopeful that Obama is becoming the stand-up guy I always wished he would be. On the other hand, the cynical side of me is thinking that midterm elections are coming up and he might just be trying to tease the gay community into voting his way on November 2nd.

What do you think? Do Obama's recent comments reveal a change for the better for gay community or a just more false promises?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Obama Makes "It Gets Better" Video

I have been compulsively watching "It Gets Better" videos, and am super excited that President Obama made one.

Thoughts on what Obama says or doesn't say here? Do you have a favorite "It Gets Better" video?

My personal favorite is Tim Gunn's (and not just because I watch too much Project Runway).

To learn more about the It Gets Better Project and watch some videos click

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dan Savage advice: "total shit"

**Trigger warning: sexual assault and victim-blaming **

Dan Savage, who writes a nationally syndicated advice column on sexuality and sex, makes me wonder, what the hell was he thinking?

A woman in an open marriage wrote in to Savage explaining that five months ago a former partner had sexually assaulted her and since then she has found herself unable to be intimate with her husband, saying that his attempts to initiate sex made her "skin crawl". At the same time, however, she has not been having any trouble being intimate with her boyfriend, and even said that sex with him "is amazing and leaves [her] feeling loved and whole and wonderful."

The woman said that this situation left her husband feeling "depressed" and "angry" and that he told her to stop sleeping with her boyfriend until their marriage was "back to normal." This woman expressed hesitation about leaving her boyfriend, saying it pained her "to think about cutting out the one positive relationship remaining."

Savage responded, among other things:

"You're being a total shit."

That is a direct quote.

via Deeky at Shakesville, whose post I suggest everyone read as well.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gloria Steinem Defends Young Feminists

Despite the fact that the interviewer was obviously trying to make Gloria say a disparaging remark about young feminism, in this interview she says she respects young feminists and that we are not all apathetic "bimbos."

It feels so good to get recognition from such an iconic 2nd wave feminist, particularly when I constantly see the media saying people my age don't care about women's rights.

My favorite Steinem quote from the interview: "I am something of a hopeaholic." So great.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Victim-Blaming Travesty of the Day

**Trigger warning for description of sexual assault**

As we have written before, victim-blaming in cases of sexual assault is an all too common practice. And this bullshit is even worse than usual.

High school football star Rakheem Bolton and two others were indicted for sexual assault of a child–identified only as H.S.–at a post-game party in 2008. According to H.S.–a fellow student and cheerleader at Silsbee High–Bolton, football player Christian Rountree and another juvenile male forced her into a room, locked the door, held her down and sexually assaulted her. When other party-goers tried to get into the room, two of the men fled through an open window, including Bolton, who left clothing behind. Bolton allegedly threatened to shoot the occupants of the house when the homeowner refused to return his clothes.

In September 2010, Bolton pled guilty to a lesser charge of Class A Assault and was sentenced to one year in prison, a sentence that was suspended by the judge in lieu of two years probation, a $2,500 fine, community service and an anger management course.

Silsbee school officials had two responses to the incident. First, they urged H.S. to keep a low profile, such as avoiding the school cafeteria and not taking part in homecoming activities. With the support of her family, she refused to do so, rejecting the notion that she had anything to be ashamed of. Secondly, school officials kicked her off the cheerleading squad for refusing to cheer for Bolton. No kidding.

Bolton had been allowed back on campus during a brief period when one grand jury withdrew the charges before another grand jury reinstated them. During a basketball game, H.S. cheered for the entire team but refused to cheer “Rakheem” during his free-throws, so she was off the squad.

H.S.’s parents sued the school for violating her right to free speech, but an appeals court dismissed her case earlier this month.

Please get angry about this and contact the school superintendent and principle.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Top Ten Bestselling Books by Men (Again)

From a feminist perspective, there are very few good things to say about the Twilight series. However, one of them is that Stephanie Meyer was a rare female presence on the bestseller lists. Now, the top ten books are once again all written by men.

So let's take this opportunity to promote some contemporary female authors we like. My personal favorite?
Sarah Dessen.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Kick Ass Woman of the Day

This article about Ingrid Bengis-Palei is worth reading all the way through.  In the 1970's she wrote a book called Combat in the Erogenous Zone which "detail[ed] her efforts to come to grips with feminism and the sexual revolution, exploring “man hating,” lesbianism and love."  Now she is the owner of Ingrid Bengis Seafood.   

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Study: No Mental Health Problems in Teens who Terminate Pregnancy

Contrary to what the anti-choicers want you to think, a recent study shows that teens who decide to terminate their pregnancy are no more likely to have mental health problems than teens who do not choose abortion.

In a study conducted by Jocelyn T. Warren of Oregon State University et al., young women who have abortions are no more likely than teenagers who do not end their pregnancies to have low self-esteem or become depressed during their pregnancy or five years later. This study is available online (PDF) and will also be in the December issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. This nationwide study is the first to examine the potential outcome of depression and low self-esteem in a representative sample of teens who have induced abortions.


Currently, 34 states (PDF) require women receive counseling before an abortion is performed. Seven states require women be warned of the possible negative psychological consequences resulting from induced abortions. The authors of the study suggest possible harm resulting from a counseling requirement:

Paradoxically laws mandating that women considering abortion be advised of its psychological risks may jeopardize women’s health by adding unnecessary anxiety and undermining women’s right to informed consent.

Now that the supposed mental health risks of having an abortion have been debunked for women and teenagers, states should act to lift any requirements of sharing inaccurate information before obtaining abortion care.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Who is Responsible for Preventing Assault?

On Wednesday a young woman from Austin, Texas was standing at a bus stop.  While she waited for the school bus a man approached her from behind and grabbed her.  When the young woman screamed the man ran away.  The young woman's school then sent a letter home to parents encouraging them to speak to their children about safe practices including walking in groups, not speaking to strangers and informing adults if a stranger approaches. 

Now I am all for telling young people to be aware of their surroundings and encouraging them to be safe.  What bothers me about the advice in the school's letter is that it implies the young woman was somehow to blame for the man assaulting her.  If only she hadn't been standing at that bus stop alone.  If only she had done this, if only she had done that, this would never have happened to her.  

We need to stop blaming women for what men choose to do.  The conversation really needs to be about how we can teach men to respect women and their bodily autonomy.  We need to be encouraging men to take responsibility for their actions rather than blaming women for standing at a bus stop alone.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Feminist Crush of the Day

This woman is everything I want to be.

Robinson and her family were riding back from Cardiff when a group of drunk football fans started yelling "sexist chants" at another woman. When Robinson complained, she says, "their chanting became directly to me and it became sexist and quite obscene." She asked the train's driver to call the police, but he refused, so she got off the train and onto the track, where she remained until the police were called and train service was terminated. Robinson says, "This is my community, this is my village. We're not going to be bullied and certainly for women and families, they should be able to travel on the train in peace and quiet and go about their business without being bullied like that."

The British Transport Police they are investigating the incident and may punish the football fans. And, says MP Wayne David, "No member of the public should be subject to abuse of this kind and it must never happen again."

Monday, October 4, 2010

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Cancer is the second most common cause of death for women in the U.S. October has been designated as a month to raise awareness about a particularly deadly form of cancer that is overwhelmingly seen in women- breast cancer.

You can learn more about breast cancer, including common myths about it and how to detect it early, here.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Awesome Poet to Know

So I was youtubing slam poetry and found this amazing work. Please watch it and fall in love with Katie Makkai like I did.