Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Miss Representation: Taking on Objectification of Women in Media

The film Miss Representation (currently being screened at Sundance) addresses the sexualization and objectification of women in media and how this relates to the oppression of women in general.

I am personally really excited about seeing the film but Jezebel commentator Irin
is wary of the trailer as it

paints a rather broad brush (and yes, trailers are wont to do this — we'll reserve final judgment til we see the actual movie), seemingly uncritically describing all public displays of sexuality as inherently demeaning. It's not that Britney Spears has nothing to do with how female politicians are treated on cable news, but conflating voluntary displays of sexiness in entertainment with demeaning sexualization of public figures, played over ominous music no less, is unnuanced. So are the vague references to the "media" and "Hollywood" as faceless, catchall entities.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Santorum: Obama's Race Should Shape Abortion View

This is fucking infuriating.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum says it is surprising that the nation's first black president is willing to deny civil rights to fetuses.

Santorum, who is a potential Republican presidential challenger to President Barack Obama in 2012, linked civil rights with abortion during an interview posted Thursday with the Christian Broadcasting Network. Santorum, who lost his 2006 Senate re-election bid in Pennsylvania, is an outspoken critic of abortion rights.

Santorum notes that for decades, slavery allowed African-Americans to be treated like property. And he says fetuses are denied the right to life because they are considered property.

Santorum says he is disappointed that Obama, a former law professor, refuses to treat fetuses as humans under the Constitution.

The White House declined to comment on Santorum's criticism.

The comparison between the Civil Rights movement (which was about gaining rights) and the anti-choice movement (which is about stripping away the right women have to their own bodies) is ridiculous and upsetting.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Gay Parenting Most Common in South

This article is very interesting and enlightening on a number of levels.

In addition, the data show, child rearing among same-sex couples is more common in the South than in any other region of the country, according to Gary Gates, a demographer at the University of California, Los Angeles. Gay couples in Southern states like Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas are more likely to be raising children than their counterparts on the West Coast, in New York and in New England.

The pattern, identified by Mr. Gates, is also notable because the families in this region defy the stereotype of a mainstream gay America that is white, affluent, urban and living in the Northeast or on the West Coast.

“We’re starting to see that the gay community is very diverse,” said Bob Witeck, chief executive of Witeck-Combs Communications, which helped market the census to gay people. “We’re not all rich white guys.”

My first reaction is to hope that the fact that the South is home to the most gay parents will serve as a wake up call to residents of other states that consider themselves progressive but aren't forcing their state legislatures to make a real push for gay rights (I am looking at you, New York). What are your reactions? What stood out to you about these findings?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

U.S. Racial Disparities in Health

File this under unsurprising, but nonetheless upsetting, news: a recent federal report found that the poor and racial and ethnic minorities are less healthy than their more affluent, white counterparts.

The agency did not delve into why suffering is so disproportionate, other than to note the obvious: that the poor, the uninsured and the less educated tend to live shorter, sicker lives...

“Some of the figures, like the suicide rate for young American Indians, are just heartbreaking,” said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the C.D.C. director, who ordered the report compiled.

He ordered it, he said, after promising at his agency’s African American History Month celebration last February that he would do so.

“We wanted to shine a spotlight on the problem and some potential solutions,” he said.

Many of the differences are large and striking

To find out more detailed information on the report's findings, click here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bad News from Somalia

A Somali town has banned women from working.

On Tuesday, the Al shabaab administration in southern Somalia's Kismayo town banned women from working — despite the imperative of providing for their families. Al shabab, the islamist insurgent group, has imposed a strict form of Sharia law over much of southern Somalia.

This is bad news not just for the women who are being oppressed by this, but for the Somalia economy in general. Giving women economic power is proven smart economics yet sexism has overridden both good ethics and good business strategy here. Here's hoping the town reverses this ridiculous ban soon.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Guy Talk

I will be up front. I’m upset. If you disagree with me or feel I jumped to conclusions, feel free to comment. Maybe we can make something constructive of this.

I suppose most people in America are familiar with the term “girl talk”. This term is generally associated with women who get together to talk, most often to complain about men.

Well, a week ago I got a peek at what one young man called “guy talk.” Here is a rough transcription of the entire exchange between two men who are in committed, monogamous relationships:
Man 1: So how’s your woman? You haven’t told me much about her.
Man 2: She’s great. She’s thin, blond, and loves sex.
Man 1: Sounds like you should keep her around.
Man 2: Yeah, I will. She takes care of me, too. How’s your woman?
Man 1: We’ve been fighting a lot but I don’t want to get rid of her.
Man 2: Man, don’t you hate that?
Man 1: Yeah, and the sex is great. Makes it even harder to get rid of her.
People will ask me what’s so bad about this. Why am I making such a big deal about this? This is normal, it’s…guy talk. And that is the problem. I called Man 2 out about this behavior and he said just that, “What? It’s guy talk.” I know that people like to talk about sex. Besides the fact that I live in a society where productive, meaningful discussions about sex are practically nonexistent, the above conversation bothers me because it reminds me that certain men only know how to talk about women with other men in terms that verbally turn women into objects. Why stay with her? Well, the sex is great. Never mind anything else. Her sex is what she’s good for, otherwise she's disposable.

If men are taught that it is acceptable to speak about women as if they are nothing but their bodies, their looks, the sex they can give to men, if they are taught that this kind of dialog is normal and should be expected among men, then we are living in a world where many forms of oppression of women are possible.

This small exchange, this seemingly insignificant act puts a mask of normacly over the idea, whether consciously agreed with or not, that women are objects, not humans, good only for things like sex and pleasing men, and they can be gotten rid of if the getting isn't good enough.

It doesn’t matter if you’re like Man 2 and you “bought roses for her because she had a bad day” and you “hold doors open for her”. If you think talking about women in this way is acceptable you are helping to uphold a society where women are still, in many ways, treated like they are inferior. Talk opens doors. What doors are we holding open if we think it’s acceptable for our male friends to talk about their girlfriends like this?