Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mr. Charney...You Can't Fool Me

So, as Feministing just reported, American Apparel has decided to acknowledge that women up to a size 14 exist.

How very progressive of them.

Lori (at Feministing) tries to give a balanced view of this move, but I can't help but be much more cynical. My hatred of American Apparel and its sleazy CEO, Dov Charney, is well documented. All of my chief complaints about the company aren't rectified by them trying to broaden their customer base to include "plus sized" women...(by the by size 12-ers: Did you know you're plus sized!?)

At the end of the day, the man behind it all is still a scum bag, so all this move makes me think is that now their marketing team will have a more diverse pool of women to objectify in their ads.

Cool. Still hate that store.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Symbols Only Take You So Far

This post is a part of my “Out of the Kitchen” weekly column at The Progressive Playbook in which various news and pop culture items will be examined through a feminist lens.

This past Friday was Women’s Equality Day. According to the National Women’s History Project, this day “was selected to commemorate the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. This was the culmination of a massive, peaceful civil rights movement by women that had its formal beginnings in 1848 at the world’s first women’s rights convention, in Seneca Falls, New York.”

Awesome, right? You’d think a feminist would be ecstatic about that! Well, yes and no. Read more...

Monday, August 29, 2011

What Do We Do With Breezy?

OoooooOOooo...Look at him. He's so magical and levitate-y.


Last night, I tuned into the VMAs late. I tuned in just in time to miss Adele, but in the middle of Chris Brown's performance. Which means that I promptly turned the channel and waited it out. I might be one of the few left, but I haven't forgotten what Chris Brown did.

A colleague of mine, Carlos, tweeted me, "Please, please, please tell me you're going to do a piece on the VMAs." and later, "I just think that thousands of teenage girls cheering a domestic abuser is a little creepy."

It's funny, because at the time, I wasn't planning on writing about the VMAs, but Carlos is absolutely right, and it got me to thinking... What place does Chris Brown have in our culture? What place SHOULD he have? At what point do or should we move on from his past transgressions?

I will say that I should clarify. Most people have probably not forgotten what Chris Brown did. I think he's still very much the guy who punched Rihanna, but many young girls (and music fans in general) are overlooking what he did...overlooking it and supporting him--both speaking with their money and tweets in his defense.

It is very, very disturbing to me for someone with a proven track record of anger management issues, violence, and abuse to be so heavily marketing to teen girls. I truly want to believe that people can change, but many abusers are repeat offenders. If the message we are sending teens is that you can brutally beat your girlfriend, lay low for a year or two, and then re-emerge and continue your ridiculously successful music career, how can we expect young people to condemn violence in their own lives? And what does it say about our society when we continue to implicitly reward this type of behavior?

I don't have the answer...but I do have the question that we must examine...What do we do with Chris Brown? Ben Roethlisberger? Mike Tyson? Dov Charney? Terry Richardson? Julian Assange?

In other words, what do we do with misogynists in high places?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stop Hating on Girliness

Just a quick thought: I'm confused by feminists who hate on things stereotypically associated with women.

From where I'm sitting, it doesn't make sense for feminists to be down on femininity. It kind of ends up feeling like girl-on-girl crime, and thereby actually pretty anti-feminist.

What makes a lot more sense is to question the stereotypes. Should all women feel they must wear make up? Should pedicures only be associated with women? Should cooking be seen as a solely female task?

I hope that in each case we should be able to say, "no." But I would also hope that in each case we could follow it up with, but it's ultimately up to the individual.

There are some really great things about the "girly" side of being a woman. I'm going to be honest...there are few things I love more in the world than getting my nails done. That doesn't make me stupid or frivolous. If I felt that this was something I must do in order to please a man, then we have a problem. If I felt that you aren't really a woman unless you have painted nails, then we have a problem. But for me to enjoy this act--or for other women to enjoy high heels, make up, shopping, and other "girly" things--doesn't actually hurt feminism.

It doesn't help it either, but many things we do on a daily basis don't help feminism.

So let's analyze gender. Let's pay attention to our actual motivations for the performance of gender. Let's have nuanced discussions about social constructs. Let's not alienate others by claiming our own personal preferences as universal truths of feminism. You don't like to shave your legs? Cool, don't. But on a wider level, we've got bigger fish to fry! A critical eye on other women's choices is just a distraction.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Food, Fatness, and Feminism

This post is a part of my “Out of the Kitchen” weekly column over at The Progressive Playbook in which various news and pop culture items will be examined through a feminist lens.
Today, when I was browsing the ‘net to see what was going on in my world, I stopped for a moment on the top stories at Yahoo (first mistake). There, I was reminded of one of the biggest mixed messages we receive: eat, eat, eat! But somehow, above all else, stay thin.
As women, we encounter confusing messages almost everywhere we turn. We’re supposed to remain virginal, but we’re also supposed to know how to please a man. We’re supposed to simultaneously be amazing mothers and also now the best in our fields. We’re supposed care about how we look and be attractive, but not dress too sexy (because then we’re sluts.) On top of it all, comes the additional pressure that we are supposed prepare and enjoy food, yet make sure that we work off all of those tricky little calories so that we stay desirable.
The burden to be thin in our society is undeniable. Practically no one is immune to the messages. In fact, “almost nine in 10 American teenage girls say they feel pressured by the fashion and media industries to be skinny and that an unrealistic, unattainable image of beauty has been created.” The results of this pressure are detrimental. “10% of the girls and women in the US have eating disorders. Of those, an estimated 50,000 will die as a result of their disease.” It’s no joke. Read more...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Polygamy: I Just Don't Get It

It seems a lot of my blog posts have been inspired by my in-car radio listening. Today, on my way to work, I was listening to Friday's rebroadcast of Tell Me More. The topic was polygamy. Here's NPR's description of the discussion:

Talk of polygamy has spread nationwide, partly due to TV shows and news coverage of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs' sexual assault conviction. But some see polygamy as a lifestyle rooted in faith. Two open polygamists discuss why they've chosen such lifestyles, what burdens they bear, and how they feel about pop culture's depictions of polygamy.

It's true. There is a cultural focus on polygamy right now. From Warren Jeffs' conviction to shows like Sisterwives and Big Love, people are talking about this. So why not hear about it directly from the people living this life, right? Of course, I come to this discussion with my own set of biases, but I tried to be a good little liberal and reserve judgment. The female polygamist in the segment, Julie Halcomb, had this to say when she was discussing how she came to the practice:

Well, having been in a monogamous marriage, I realized how lonely it was, and how everything always fell on me as far as the housework, the raising of the children - at that time, just one child.

Everything was my responsibility, as my husband was a truck driver and he was always gone, and I hated it. I hated being alone. I had friends. My family was within 20 minutes of me, but there was something missing.

After my ex left, I started researching, and I grew up in a mainstream evangelical church, and I had read the Bible. I went to a Bible college. I studied the stuff, and it always seemed odd to me that, for some reason, it was OK in the Old Testament to have plural wives and to have these large families, but somehow, over time, the practice had stopped. And I wanted to find out more of why it had stopped, because it seemed to make sense. It seemed to be a logical thing, that one woman wasn't having to take care of everything.
Whoa, whoa, HOLD UP! I see a glaring problem in her logic. She's saying that she turned to polygamy because all the household responsibilities fell on her. But what I would say is that this situation could have been easily remedied with a less strict view of gender roles and a more equal balance of power in the existing marriage. In other words, all she really needed was a dose of feminism.

This is so strange to me, because throughout the segment she seems to see polygamy as the only logical solution to sharing responsibilities. She fails to see that her own antiquated notions of what it means to be a wife directly contributed to this problem. Because she is so convinced that all the household and child-rearing responsibilities are a woman's, her next "logical" conclusion is to bring more women into the equation to help out; not to seek a greater balance of power between women and men.

That's the problem I really have with polygamy: it's all too often rooted in misogyny. In my good liberal mind, I can agree that it's fine to let consenting adults do what consenting adults want, but this set up is nevertheless problematic. (And it would be remiss to not note that the most radical of these situations don't even involve adults.)

In reality, we're not talking about various adults choosing various polyamorous situations. No. We are talking about one man taking on multiple wives. And let me make one thing clear...that is not just "polygamy." That is polyGYNY and it's always polygyny. Time after time, the adherents of these practices truly believe in the superiority of men, which dictates that they take multiple wives.

In fact, let's get back to Halcomb's discussion about her own living situation:

We actually will sit down - just like, actually, it shows on the "Big Love" series. We will sit down, the three of us wives, and talk through things. And how do we do this? How do we balance this? What needs to be done? And just talk about it...

But we don't ever do anything without his permission, nor do we do anything above his head. If he tells us, no, out of respect and under the religious principles as far as he is the head of the household and we are to submit to his authority, it's not the authority of, yes, sir, I'm going to do whatever you say, sir. But when he makes that final decision, OK. I'll go with it.

(Emphasis mine.)

Well, there you have it. Even someone who has the specific agenda of trying to show that polygyny is "normal" (her word, not mine) admits that when push comes to shove, their husband has the final say. I guess what ticks me off most about that is that you would think in a pluralistic relationship, there would at least be some degree of democracy, majority rules kind of stuff. You know, four adults in the family, and if three of them feel one way, the fourth one is out of luck.

But no, the husband makes the final call.

So I could sit over here in "reserving judgment" land and continue to pretend not to have a problem with any choice that any consenting adult makes, but that would be a lie. When a relationship is inherently rooted in rigidly traditional gender roles and a little bit of misogyny, I just can't get behind it. It's the same problem I have with Michele Bachmann's submission. Yes, all adults have the right to live their lives and arrange their relationships in any way that they see fit, but that doesn't mean that I have to agree with those choices.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Oh Lil Wayne...You Still Suck

Today on my drive home, I got a little sick of NPR, so I switched over to the top 20 station. I don't do this as often now as I used to, and I'm thinking this might be why.

Wheezy has a new song out, How to Love...I've heard it once or twice before. In general it's super cheesy and not at all catchy or fun. This time I heard it, I actually listened to a bit of the lyrics more closely.

So fly its like a blessing but you can’t have a man look at you for 5 seconds
Without you being insecure
You never credit yourself so when you got older
It’s seems like you came back 10 times over
Now you’re sitting here in this damn corner
Looking through all your thoughts and looking over your shoulder

Hmm...let me get to this in a second. But first, some context. It's no great surprise that many feminists aren't generally fond of Lil Wayne. His songs are known for being outwardly misogynist. One of his biggest hits reduces women to their body parts and ability to preform oral sex on him, which he "lets" them do, because he is, ya know, a nice rapper like that. And even when he attempts to celebrate women, his lyrics are often objectifying and dehumanizing. He routinely uses "hoes" to replace the word woman and is almost always looking for a way to put something about his penis in the lyrics with said "hoes." Also, in his beautifully articulate and intelligently named song Ask Dem Hoes he rambles about women, painting a one dimensional view of them. Basically, they just want him for sex and money.

So back to this new(er) song. When I hear How to Love and these lyrics in particular, I can't help but laugh. In his face. He posits that women are gold digging hoes, only good for a lay, and then in How to Love he wonders why the woman he is looking at seems insecure?

Really? There's no possible way that she's afraid you're about to put her in that same ho-box?There's no way that she has a hard time loving you because you're constantly spouting off misogynistic bullshit? There's no way that she has a hard time "crediting herself" because you have put it in her head that she's just an object?

Nope. In Wheezy's world she's insecure because she needs to learn how to love. And that's the fault of some other guys, or "crooks" as it were.

It's honestly laughable. As I often say, you just gotta laugh so you don't cry. In that spirit, I give you...
(Apologies for the horrible quality-it's all I could find on YouTube.)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What. Is. Happening?

Trigger warning for violence and abuse.
I feel like I'm just posting a lot of outrage lately. But there are no words for this shit.

The reasoning here is totally illogical. Watch the video at the link above. Listen to the author of the book To Train Up A Child. The parents in question appeared to receive their parenting advice from him, as a copy of the book was found in their home. (If you want to read it in all its horror, the full book is available online.) He says that if a child hits another child you punish her/him with hitting them. You tell them that their behavior was violent, which is unacceptable, and then proceed to give them 10 "licks" to teach them that hitting is wrong.

Let that sink in.

My heart breaks for all these kids, murdered, critically injured, abused, and left in foster care. I hope they find homes that grant them love, peace, and safety.

Update: So I've been reading this book online and it's making my skin crawl. I just wanted to note some of the "highlights" from just chapter 1:
  • Continuous comparisons to the parent-child relationship as battle and war. (Can't you just feel the love!?)
  • Comparisons to children as terrorists, racketeers, the devil, mob bosses, rats, horses, and dogs (so far.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dude, You're a Feminist

This post is a part of my “Out of the Kitchen” weekly column at The Progressive Playbook in which various news and pop culture items will be examined through a feminist lens.
I recently saw this amusing video on Feministing.
While it’s a hilarious watch for those of us generally familiar with feminism, the video reminded me of one key misconception that I keep seeing: that feminism is just for women.
The stereotype of the man hating feminist really is just that (a stereotype). Men can be and are feminists. For some reason, this concept is very foreign to many (if not most) people. Although, as I’ve discussed before, there seems to be a mental block toward calling anyone a feminist, the reluctance to accept male feminists is overwhelmingly strong. So much so, that there are entire new words and phrases, including “feminist ally,” created in an attempt to hide the fact that a man is free to identify as feminist.

Fact of the matter is that men experience the pressures of a sexist society. For example, the very prevalent idea that “boys don’t cry” or that emotions are just for women can lead many men to experience frustrations associated with repressed emotions and limited self-expression. The constant message that child care is women’s work can mean that men who wish to be primary caregivers are seen as lesser. Sexism also creates an unhealthy hyper-masculine perspective of manhood which promotes the acceptance of violence against one another. The affects of sexism on men have even created the myth that men can’t be raped.

Men who identify as feminists are aware of the affects of sexism on their lives, not only because they have examined feminist theory, but also because they have most likely had their intentions questioned. The assumption is that men would only care about feminism because they want to get in a woman’s pants, not because they have a genuine interest in the topic. (And I’m not talking about that one guy in your Women’s Studies 101 class who was there scoping out his classmates and continuously arguing with the professor…I’m talking about men who really pay attention to and care about gender in the world around them.) The stereotype of the pseudo-feminist man who wants a date is promoted frequently, for example, in this misguided breakdown of feminist types.

Unfortunately, even feminism itself can be exclusive to men. I remember in my first women’s studies class, my professor mentioned that she thought there was some validity to the claim that, “Feminism is the theory, lesbianism is the practice.” As a wee-young-feminist-in-training who was partnered with a man, I found it to be fairly insulting. But when you consider the implications of this statement for men, it’s even more discouraging. However, as I grew into my feminism, I understood that the movements and its principals are actually much more inclusive than this pithy phrase indicates. As I’ve referenced before, I adhere to bell hooks’ definition of feminism in that, it is simply to end sexist oppression. (Nearly everything beyond that is up for debate.)

I guess my overall point is that there is no reason why men who reject sexism cannot participate in the feminist movement and identify in any way they please. Sure, it’s possible that a few men will misappropriate the term, but they wouldn’t be the first, and they won’t be the last. So dudes, if you’re feeling it; own it. You can be a feminist too.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I'll Let This Misogynist Speak for Himself

This has got to be a joke. I was listening to Out Q on my lovely XM Radio today, and I heard an excerpt of Bryan Fischer's show in which he claims:

If you look at the Scriptures, I believe it's clear that God has designed men to exercise authority in the home, in the church, in society, and in government. So let me repeat that - that is my personal take on what the Scriptures indicate about the way God has designed man and woman to work: God has designed men to exercise leadership and authority and headship in the home, in the church, in society, and in government.

Now then the question becomes what if God can't find any men with the spine and with the testicular fortitude to provide the kind of leadership? Well, what he'll do is He'll send a woman to do a man's job.

I'm speechless. I've never heard of Bryan Fischer and I genuinely feel like my life was better off about an hour ago when I didn't know he exists. I'm not going to discuss this quote. I'm just going to let it sit there as I soak in the reality that people still (ever?) feel (felt?) this way.

To clarify this is how people who are so conservative that they don't believe a woman should be a politician justify backing someone like Michele Bachmann.

What the fuck?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

In Defense of Owning Your Attitude

Maybe it's because I'm currently watching Legally Blonde and I can't help but cringe at much of Elle Woods' bubbly behavior but...I'd like to take a second to talk about one of the ways I think that we, as women, judge one another (besides ever-present body snarking...). Specifically, I'm talking about the difference of attitude, as in optimism vs. pessimism. And while this relies on overly broad generalizations, I can't help but reflect upon the experiences I've had as of late.

To put it bluntly, I feel like I'm facing increasing pressure to be more optimistic, from other women.

I've written before about how I view pessimism. As a person, I will always err on the side of honesty over fakeness. I think that pessimism can actually be a good thing. There is some value to pessimism, in that when one is realistic, you are able to see the world as it is, understand its problems, and see these as points for potential improvement. What I mean is that being realistic (and in this case, I'm using pessimistic and realistic as cousins) can actually be a really great thing. It can contribute to continuous improvement.

However, I believe firmly that it is much more culturally acceptable for women to be up-beat, bubbly, perky, and all around Elle Woods-like than it is for them to be brooding or sarcastic. Obviously, this pressure isn't the most oppressive manifestation of sexism facing our society, but it sure can get old for those of us experiencing it. For example, many women have written about the sexism of strange men telling women to "smile" in the street. This case is one way that I can see how men try to police women's attitudes. But more often than not, I actually see women judging other women for being pessimistic. In fact, this has been my recent experience. And I'd guess that because this type of sexism isn't as pressing or in your face, as sexual violence or the pay gap for example, it is often overlooked.

However I have experienced it. When your attitude is questioned, it does call for some self-reflection. It's important to make sure that my realism doesn't turn into downright negativity that is bringing others down or unduly influencing them. There are instances where I can see how my attitude was inappropriate and I need to pull back to respect the space of others. However, there are also cases where I objectively feel I did nothing wrong, and yet I'm asked to change my feelings, words, or demeanor.

That's not ok. And that's what I'm really getting at. All of us need to check ourselves, and remember that the feelings and perspectives of others are valid and don't always need to be pressured or swayed. Sometimes we all need to take a step back and let other's own their attitude. So, I'm going to try to own mine. The key to this whole premise is to be absolutely honest and respectful about where you are coming from. If you do that, then no one can really fault you.

Also, if you are going to own your attitude, then you have to accept that others have the right to own theirs too. That is to say, I must accept that I will be around people who are much more optimistic than me, and that's ok.

I guess all I ask of you optimists is that you don't peg someone who is pessimistic, biting, or sarcastic as a "bad seed" and that you examine your own expectations of other's attitudes. Would you judge a man's attitude in the same way? Is their behavior actually affecting you or does it just get on your nerves? How is it affecting you? What role do you play in allowing their behavior to influence you?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Playboy Club: Probably Not Empowering, Actually

This post is a part of my “Out of the Kitchen” weekly column at The Progressive Playbook in which various news and pop culture items will be examined through a feminist lens.

There is a long raging debate amongst many feminists about the line between expressions of female sexuality as objectification vs. empowerment. At the crux of these discussions is usually sex work. Sex work and pornography are undoubtedly feminist issues, with many layers and questions. For example, what makes pornography feminist instead of objectifying? Can female sexuality be fully realized in our patriarchal society? Are there links between consumption of misogynistic pornography and violence against women?

So of course, the feminist blogosphere is a-twitter about the new show, The Playboy Club. While cocktail waitresses in bunny suits aren’t sex workers, the debate surrounding the show and the Playboy empire, certainly conjures these images. I have been watching the coverage of this show with mild interest and horror.

Set in the early 60’s, “This provocative new series captures a time and place that challenged the social mores, where a visionary created an empire, and an icon changed American culture,” according to the show’s website. Hm. Okay. But what is it really about? Linda Holmes over at NPR saw a screening of the pilot episode and wrote a great piece about the show. Apparently, it is working very hard to appear female empowering. Read more...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Is a Bad Photo Sexism?

As usual, conservatives only pay any attention to an "-ism" when it affects one of their own.

This time, the controversy is over a Newsweek cover of Michele Bachmann. According to the Yahoo News' account of the situation (did my credibility just go down?), conservative pundits and readers are up at arms about the photo.

"Newsweek needs to be ashamed for propagating one of the typical female stereotypes used to denigrate women," a commenter on wrote. "If you don't like Bachmann's positions, say so. But to slot her in the typical witch, bitch, nut, or slut memes hurts all women!"
So what do you think? Take a look at the photo. Is this sexism?

I'm not convinced. I'll agree that it is an unflattering photo, but I think that Sarah Palin's Newsweek cover was much more sexist. She was shown in running shorts from a photo she took for Runner's World, an exercise publication. This picture of Bachmann just seems crappy, if anything. Is that inherently sexist? I mean, how often do we see media of both persuasions using really unflattering pictures of the politicians they don't admire. It's a totally standard media trick. It's not really sexist if we can answer the question, "Would this also happen to a male politician" with a resounding: yes.

If anything about the cover is sexist, it might be the copy which calls her rageful. I can't help but think that male politicians who are just as passionate are called just that--passionate, not rageful. But far be it from me to condone her views, which are dangerous, extreme, and hateful. So perhaps, it's not inaccurate to call her the "Queen of Rage" even if it does hint of sexism.

At the end of the day, I have a really hard time objectively receiving conservative's claims that the Left is being sexist (racist, classist, homophobic, what-have-you) since the Right's actual policies seek to limit the freedoms of these people on a daily basis. I'm always feeling that their intention is to use these claims as a smoke and mirrors trick designed to keep the public from noticing what they're really up to.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Sexuality: the Gray Area

I'm REALLY enjoying Shoshie's stint over at Feministe. This time, she's written about her experience as a bisexual woman who is married to a man she very much loves and the feelings she has about having never fully explored relationships with women. She writes:

I feel like my sexuality is this weird, awkward thing that sits quietly in the corner until someone assumes that everyone there is straight, and then it has a big ol’ awkward party. It’s become a big question for me, whether or not to come out to people that I meet. Because, at this point, what difference does it make? What does it matter who I’m attracted to? Mr. Shoshie and I are monogamous, so I’m with one person for the foreseeable future. But then, sexuality does come up occasionally and then I feel weird because here’s this person that I’m friends with, that I’ve known for a year, who knows so much about me, but doesn’t know that I also like people who aren’t men. And who I find attractive shouldn’t be a big deal, but somehow it is anyways.

I love this. You see, I believe in the spectrum of sexuality. I believe fully in "the gray area." I think very few people actually fit into nice little boxes. However, society tries really, REALLY hard to make us think that there are nice little boxes. And that we do fit in them. And that we should fit in them. And most of us, at some point, believe that.

Girls, however, have a little more flexibility in these boxes, so long as female bisexuality is performed for male purposes. In my experience, this translated into an interesting phenomena I have witnessed and heard much about. Right around high school and into young adulthood, girls start kissing other girls. And it's cool! And it's hot! And it's fun! long as they're not actually queer and they still go home with a guy that night.

Truth is that there's so much more gray than this. Many girls actually do like other girls, even if they also enjoy sex with dudes. And all that kissing, while culturally accepted as a performance for men, might come from a place of actual attraction. It's foolish to deny that. Wouldn't it all be a lot easier if we embraced the gray and the only female sexuality we saw, was authentically owned by the woman displaying it?

Guess I live in a dream world sometimes.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


"I need to find a catchy new word for feminism, right? Like Bootylicious." -Beyonce

THIS kind of crap is the kind of crap I was saying we need LESS of!

Seriously, Beyonce. Just come to terms with it. You ARE a feminist. Duh. Just ask yourself circa 2010:
"I think I am a feminist, in a way. It's not something I consciously decided I was going to be; perhaps it's because I grew up in a singing group with other women, and that was so helpful to me. It kept me out of so much trouble and out of bad relationships. My friendships with my girls are just so much a part of me that there are things I am never going to do that would upset that bond. I never want to betray that friendship, because I love being a woman and I love being a friend to other women."
Now let us never EVER speak of this "bootylicious" bullshit again.

Crisis Pregnancy Centers: Scary Stuff

This post is a part of my “Out of the Kitchen” weekly column at The Progressive Playbook in which various news and pop culture items will be examined through a feminist lens.

News broke yesterday that San Francisco is launching an attack on “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” in the form of proposed legislation and legal action against their false advertising. In case you don’t know; this is really, really, REALLY good stuff for those of us who simply believe that women matter.

I’m going to take this breaking news as an opportunity to remind everyone why “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” (CPCs) are hugely problematic and widely discredited. The truth is that CPCs are biased. They are typically run by vehemently anti-abortion activists who have a singular purpose: prey on women who are scared, pregnant, and alone. They capitalize on this vulnerability for their own agenda and coerce them into delivering a baby, sometimes by any means necessary. They are “anti-choice” in the strictest sense of the word; they literally deprive women of the information needed to make a choice or even understand that there are choices. Read more...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Warren Jeffs: Absolutely Vomit Inducing

Trigger warning for descriptions of sexual assault

If you haven’t already heard of Warren Jeffs and you can’t stomach pedophilia, I suggest you stop reading here. In searching for something news worthy to blog about, I came across the most recent story about Jeffs on chronicaling the case against him. I’ll admit, the name didn’t ring a bell for me. But upon further reading the story, I began to remember the news at the time (2008.) The Texas compound being raided. The child brides. The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The women and girls in garb seemingly from the 1800s.

The headline reads, "...polygamist instructs young teens on sex." The details are just as chilling.
"A good wife is trained for her husband and follows the spirit of peace," Jeffs is heard saying. He also makes reference to "drawing close" or "being close," which is how church members refer to sex. Two female voices are heard saying "OK."
In writing about the session in his journal later, Jeffs said he told his wives they were "honorable vessels, property of your husband's kingdom and the Kingdom of God on Earth."
Jeffs is not unique in that his manipulation and rape of these girls rests on psychological control and is deeply rooted misogyny. These words dehumanize the girls and their roles as wives. He explicitly states their purpose is to be vessels and property. And much like dogs, they require "training." It's hard for me to even ponder this perspective, much less write about it. The fact that this viewpoint is present in our society, no matter by how small of a minority, is extremely troubling to me.

I don't even know what else to say.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Right to Be Seen

I love this post by guest blogger, Shoshie, over at Feministe. She writes about her propensity to wear attention grabbing colors as a means of standing out as a fat person when society tells us to do the opposite:

There’s a lot of pressure, when you’re fat, to make yourself as small and unnoticeable as possible. Wear black! And grey! And navy blue! I have this habit of leaning off the edge of bus seats so as to prevent any possibility of my belligerent thighs coming into any contact with another person. But the more angry I get about the way fat people are treated, the more unapologetic I insist on being. And it’s been incredible. I used to hate fashion, but now I see it as an amazing avenue for self-expression (not that anyone is required to use that particular avenue, any more than anyone is required to play a musical instrument). Giving myself permission to stand out has been so damn freeing.
Admittedly, my most standing out days are behind me. I have had hair every color of the rainbow. I have worn (literally) pounds of jewelry. I've sported cat ears, devil horns, and princess crowns (not on Halloween.) I have worn...on my person...battery powered Christmas lights. However, this type of behavior was a part of mostly my high school persona. As I went through college and into the working world, I became more and more mellow in my clothing choices.

But I still do make "look at me" choices from time to time (current example is dying my hair back to a shockingly bright red.)

As such, I can totally relate to what Shoshie is talking about. I feel pretty strongly that as women we are socialized to take up as little space as possible. (Yes, even taking up space is a feminist issue!) The most obvious example of this is the pressure to lose weight. More implicit messages are how to sit "ladylike" (while dudes can spread out) and the general tendency to equate smallness with femininity. And while all women are reminded, "Hey! Be smaller!" women who are bigger feel this pressure even more.

I mean, think about it. How many products are aimed at minimizing the size of women? Off the top of my head: Spanx, Shape-Ups, "weight loss supplements", exercise programs, "slimming" jeans, diet meal plans and cookbooks, and tips about "what not to wear".

With all of this at play, when I see a larger woman who is unashamed to wear something that she actually likes and that she's actually comfortable in, I can't help but feel that it's a bit of a revolutionary act. I can't help but hear her saying, "I'm here. I deserve to be seen, too. I'm not gross. I'm not shameful." And it's nice, you know? All too often, the bodies, experiences, and lives of people who aren't a size 0 or 2 are erased. How often are fat characters relegated to positions of mockery, tokenism, or shame? This happens regardless of gender but undoubtedly hits women much harder.

So excuse me if I'll be exercising my right to join Shoshie in dying my hair a bright color and dancing around in whatever the hell I'd like--be it black or neon pink.