Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I'm Sending You an Eye Roll, Verizon

You know, nothing makes me want to buy a cell phone more than a little gender stereotyping. Around mother's day, Verizon featured this commercial which shows a mom and daughter reduced to blubbering incoherent mess to the point of needing subtitles, at the prospect of living 4.2 miles apart.

It got on my last nerve. But now we have a nice "dads and grads" follow up which depicts a father and son who have such an emotionally stunted relationship that they're incapable of actually expressing how they feel, so we, again, require subtitles.


I guess at least Verizon is making sure they offend everyone, right? Oh wait? That's not a good thing you say? Huh. Who knew?

Monday, May 28, 2012

I'm Just Going to Leave this Right Here...

Often people wonder why I care so much about rape jokes, sexual assault awareness, etc. WHELP, here's a little glimpse into why:

[Image is from tumblr, it reads: Benefits when you're cute: More people notice you, more people talk to you, people listen to you, you get jobs easier, you get dates easier, it's easier to get into a relationship, people text you back faster, you get more followers, you get on those fuckyeah sites faster, you feel better about yourself. Benefits when you're ugly: you don't get raped.]

Guysssss didn't you, like, totally know that if, um, you, like are ugly um, like no one would want you sexually and you totally can't get raped. LOLZ.

This shit was posted YESTERDAY and it already has 25,667 notes, most of which are likes and reblogs. Sometimes I have so much shame and embarrassment for our society. This is us, people. Are you OK with that?

Friday, May 25, 2012

"Why I Quit Dieting"

Check out this awesome piece at iVillage about 33 real women who have taken back their lives by giving up dieting. It features my friend, Ani and the amazing Ragen Chastain who I frequently quote.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

S.E. Cupp Uses a Horrible Situation to Hate on Other Women

12 hours ago I didn't know who S.E. Cupp was. But apparently she's a conservative political commentator. Or so that's what I've gathered from the last 12 hours. Apparently, the ever woman-hating jackasses over at Hustler photoshopped a penis into S.E. Cupp's mouth. So of course, the tweets that I follow blew up over this in defense of the fact that it doesn't matter if a woman is affiliated with the right: when this type of shit happens to her, it's bad for all of us. Misogyny is misogyny no matter who it happens to and it is wrong and disgusting. 

Larry Flynt--shudder--responded with this pearl of wisdom: "That's satire." LOLZ, what? Last time I checked, satire meant when "vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be funny, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit as a weapon."

So I ask you in all seriousness, how the HELL is putting a penis in a woman's mouth intended for the improvement of society? What is the greater purpose here? Without that over riding message, as mastered by individuals like Stephen Colbert, all you have is the ridicule--and in this case, extremely misogynistic ridicule.

Sadly, Cupp isn't doing herself, or any other women, a favor when she says stuff like this:
Cupp balked at the chance that any feminist organizations will come to her defense. "The National Organization for Women, NOW, will not come out and say liberal women deserve more respect than conservative women and we are not going to defend conservative women. They're not going to admit to that but let me tell you that is exactly how they feel."
She believes that "clearly by anyone's standards this is worse" than Rush Limbaugh's having called Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke a "slut," which resulted in national outrage. "The outrage of Sandra Fluke will not be matched on my side," Cupp told The Blaze.
"It seems that feminism has devolved into an institution that has picked losers and winners and has decided that some women qualify for respect and other women do not."
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. I follow a majority of the most high profile feminist bloggers, commentators, and organizations on Twitter and, as mentioned, my feed was blowing up with indignation on Cupp's behalf. Not only has she ignored a chance for ALL women to serve as allies to one another against misogyny, but she's also tried to create some false hierarchy/competition of "fucked up shit men do to women."

Listen to me Cupp and all of your friends on the right: we will never end these types of attacks on women if we use them as an opportunity to tear each other down. There is no solidarity in ignoring the women who are rallying behind you simply because you don't like their liberal politics. There is no sense in dragging other women down when you've experienced something heinous. Once again, I stand behind S.E. Cupp and what has happened to her is truly disgusting. But I, and the other feminists who have come to her defense, don't appreciate being ignored and insulted in the process.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

You'd Be a Lot Prettier If...

I read several women focused/feminist online forums, and on one recently, a woman shared that a man told her that she's be a lot prettier if she wasn't so heavily tattooed. I've heard this said about people before and I'm sure that many tattooed women have experienced this first hand.

Tattoos are an interesting thing. Long considered taboo, they are becoming a more and more commonplace form of self-expression. They are self histories. They pay homage. They are art. They are stories. They are conversation pieces.

As I only have two small ones myself, I don't experience any tattoo hate, but I am regularly asked what they mean. I like talking about them. They are a part of my body and adornments through which I have chosen to express myself. Several of my friends and coworkers have large, beautiful tattoos which they consider central to who they are. So I can only imagine how insulting it would be to have this very personal choice critiqued. In fact, it reminds me of another extremely common statement: "she'd be a lot prettier if she lost some weight."

All I'm saying is that I fail to see what we gain from our tendency to buy into a very narrow, limited notion of beauty. The more I think about it, the madder I get at just how many people it leaves out. And I think it's pretty obvious that reducing a woman's worth to her physical appearance is extremely problematic. Not only is it objectifying when it's done to you, but it can have a devastating effect on one's self esteem, when internalized. Especially given that even the "prettiest" models are so heavily photoshopped that they don't look like themselves.

Besides, things like self-expression and our bodies are deeply personal decisions. If you don't like the way a person looks--be it because she has too many tattoos or pounds for your taste--here's a novel thought: keep your opinions to yourself. Chances are she's not doing it for you anyway.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Two Fat People Walk Into A Bar...

...and they, too, participate in the cultural narrative of fat shame feeling both apologetic and defensive about their bodies.

Ba dum cha! ...Not funny? Yeah, I don't think so either. 

There's been a couple of really great pieces on fatness recently that I wanted to highlight. The first is by Brian Stuart, in which he discusses "fat isolation." Melissa McEwan wrote a really lovely follow up about how one can be a good thin friend to fat people. (Her piece goes into great detail about this topic, but I'm going to focus on the part that is about fat-on-fat hate.)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Check It: Rihanna and Slut Shaming

Check out this piece that was just passed my way on how Rihanna is being slut shamed and the case that we cut that shit out. It's by Michael Arceneaux at Ebony.

I totally agree. It's really tiring how everyone gets all bent out of shape and threatened by female owned sexuality. Just let her do her damn thing.

In other news, I agree with Liz Lemon when she said, "I reject Chris Brown's come back" a few episodes ago. If you needed further evidence that he SUCKS, just so ahead and check out that link at the top.

A Friendly Reminder...

In a recent conversation with a friend, we connected over how small things about our personal choices have led some liberal acquaintances to lump us in with conservatives/fundamentalist Christians--despite these identities being extremely different from who we really are. (Sorry that's ambiguous, trying to respect privacy.)

It got me thinking. And so, I'd like to throw out a friendly reminder to my fellow progressives: just because you're liberal, doesn't mean you're automatically open minded. To be an accepting, non judgmental person it requires that you actually take the steps to accept people as they are and get comfortable with difference. I see a lot of people who are pretty damn oppressive about their left wingness and quite literally scoff and sneer at people who don't think the way they think or live the way they live.

Now, of course, as feminists (progressives, liberals, what have you) we do not have to accept all opinions equally. As I've written before, I very much agree with the Tumblr STFU Hypocrites when they said "I'm not going to respect your 'opinion' if all it does is oppress people.

But what about the personal choices which some of us make that have literally no bearing on other people? Here are a few examples, to really illustrate what I mean: I've seen women judged as "not feminist" because they embrace attachment parenting for their families. I've seen people labeled "sex negative" simply because they don't personally have multiple sex partners. I've seen gay people called self-loathing just because they prefer not to actively engage in Pride Week activities. I've seen women presumed to be anti-choice because they were teen moms. In each of these cases, the person's individual choice is judged and falsely taken to represent their wider socio-political views. But there's a big difference between saying "all women must stay home with their kids!" and "I chose to stay home with my kids." isn't there? 

TL;DR I'm just saying, maybe this meme:

...exists for a reason, ya know? And let's not let it dominate the perception of those of us on the far left.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Suburgatory: Not Bad!

Just a quick hit on a TV show recommendation I have...I've been watching Suburgatory on ABC on and off an I'm really enjoying it, or at least, I've enjoyed the handful of episodes I've caught so far.

The premise is pretty simple. Tessa (Jane Levy) a high schooler, and her single father, George (Jeremy Sisto) move from the big city to the suburbs and have to adjust to what this means for their lives. Tessa struggles with fitting in at her new school and being around people who are sort of vapid and privileged.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What Has Fatphobia Done For Us Lately?

Have you heard about HBO's new documentary series "The Weight of the Nation?" I feel like I'm hearing about it every where this week. The marketing fairies are out in full force for this one.

Unfortunately, I don't have HBO so I didn't get to catch it (the four part series ran last night and today.) So far, however, I am deeply concerned about the marketing for the film, which displays it at yet another voice telling fat people we are the enemy.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Time Magazine Asks, "Are You Mom Enough?"


Someone passed me this story earlier today and I can't help but throw in my 2 cents. Time Magazine is running a cover story about attachment parenting and they are clearly trying to be edgy and controversial about it. In fact, the cover story reads, "Are You Mom Enough?" and depicts a woman who is breast feeding her preschool aged son.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Who Needs Feminism: A Conundrum in Story Sharing

I first came across the Who Needs Feminism? movement about a month ago. I was enamored with a space which was sharing personal connections to feminism from many, diverse young people at Duke University--a school that hasn't always had the best track record with gender sensitivity. Here's what they're all about from their Facebook page:
We, the 16 women of Professor Rachel Seidman’s Women in the Public Sphere course at Duke University, have decided to fight back against these popular misconceptions surrounding the feminist movement. Our class was disturbed by what we perceive to be an overwhelmingly widespread belief that today’s society no longer needs feminism. In order to change this perception, we have launched a PR campaign for feminism. We aim to challenge existing stereotypes surrounding feminists and assert the importance of feminism today. We feel that until the denigration surrounding feminism and women's issues is alleviated, it will be hard to achieve total gender equality, both statistically and socially. 
Of course, the movement isn't just about the experiences of the Duke campus so as it got attention and picked up a lot more participation, the voice of the site expanded as well. I follow Who Needs Feminism? on Tumblr. Because they get a ton of submissions, it's constantly updated. Recently I saw a note from the mods that they publish whatever submissions they get as to represent all voices.  Overall, that is a great thing: different experiences and forms of feminism, how wonderful! But, I started to see a bit of a negative trend as well with the publication of voices which unfairly portray feminism in a narrow manner--often as straight, white, cis, etc.

It raises an interesting conundrum for me: Which is more important, promoting all experiences or promoting an inclusive form of feminism?

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Ladies of the Avengers

This is part of my series on 2012 blockbusters. Check out the others: The Hunger Games, Prometheus, Snow White and the HuntsmanTed/Abraham Lincoln Vampire HunterBraveMagic Mikeand MIB3.

Did you know I'm married to a movie guy? Like, a BIG TIME movie guy. As such, his excitement for the first blockbuster of the summer, The Avengers, was pretty extreme. And we had the opportunity to see it early last Monday night. But because it was so damn good, we saw it again Friday night (and he even saw it a third time yesterday.)

Aside from just being highly entertaining and just the right amount of humor and high-paced action, The Avengers even got a few things right about gender. This isn't surprising as many geek feminists laud Joss Whedon (the writer/director known for his comparably strong female characters, like Buffy.)

But as someone who doesn't know a ton about Whedon's work (sue me! I'm a NERD, not a geek!) I didn't really know what to expect. I just knew I was really happy to not be offended by the end of it. So let's take a look at what I specifically liked about the women of The Avengers. This might get a little tricky, because I'm really, really going to try to avoid spoilers, but no promises...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Have You Heard of Julia Bluhm?

I'm a little late, but I would be remiss if I didn't give a huge shout out to an 8th grade girl making a big difference, Julia Bluhm. Julia started a petition at asking Seventeen Magazine to "give girls images of real girls." As her petition reads,
I’m in a ballet class with a bunch of high-school girls. On a daily basis I hear comments like: “It’s a fat day,” and “I ate well today, but I still feel fat.” Ballet dancers do get a lot of flack about their bodies, but it’s not just ballet dancers who feel the pressure to be “pretty”. It’s everyone. To girls today, the word “pretty” means skinny and blemish-free. Why is that, when so few girls actually fit into such a narrow category? It’s because the media tells us that “pretty” girls are impossibly thin with perfect skin. 
Here’s what lots of girls don’t know. Those “pretty women” that we see in magazines are fake. They’re often photoshopped, air-brushed, edited to look thinner, and to appear like they have perfect skin. A girl you see in a magazine probably looks a lot different in real life.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Too Fat to Fly? How Do We Know?

I just came across the story of Kenlie Tiggeman who is suing Soutwest for a "too fat to fly" situation. And the interesting twist is that she's not suing for a cash settlement. She wants, instead, for airlines just let us know when we're too fat to fit in their seats. From an ABC News piece:
Tiggeman said she is not seeking monetary damages from the airline and filed the injunction application pro se, without legal representation. She said she wants an industry standard to be put in place for flyers who have to buy a second seat, including rules so that it is no longer up to gate attendants to decide whether or not an obese passenger has to purchase a second seat. 
"If you're telling me I have to buy two seats, you should tell me at the point of purchase, not the day I'm flying when I check in at the terminal," she said.
This is really interesting. I'm with Ragen Chastain, in that I actually don't think it's unreasonable to ask large people to buy more space. She said:
I understand the airlines’ position that they are selling space and so they feel that if you take up more space than you purchased you should pay more than others. At the very least, if the airline wants to charge more for people who take up more than one seat, then that policy must be applied across the board – so if people’s shoulders are too broad or their legs are too long, then they’ll need to buy another seat as well.

...Airlines ask fat people to purchase two seats if they don’t fit into one. But then they make it difficult if not impossible to do so. I personally know people who’ve had to spend hours on hold to get the tickets purchased (because you can’t buy two tickets under the same name) only to be told on the plane that they had to give up their extra seat because the airline “needed” it, or to have their seats be non-adjacent. If this is really such a huge problem then they should make the solution that they propose easy for us. And if the flight is not full, the money that we pay for a second ticket should be refunded.
YES. What both  Chastain and Higgeman are getting at is that airlines need to be mindful of people of size and the fact that they are PEOPLE, so treat them as such. If the airlines put reasonable rules and guidelines in place, it helps preserve the dignity of larger customers. But if no rules exist, and people are being pointed out and humiliated at the gate, then there's clearly a problem.

So good on you Higgeman. I hope you win your case.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

How to Enter Feminist Discussions at the 101 Level and Not Totally Mess Up

As it has become abundantly clear, I've been dealing with a whole lot 'o people who are new to (and relatively insensitive toward) discussions of gender. These past few exchanges have been a truly stressful experience for me. They've made me question my ability to engage with people who frankly don't care about issues of oppression and equality. They've made me want to go live in a cave where I only interact with other hardcore feminists who "get me."

And that's really sad--because if everyone who cared deeply about a cause became so jaded by interactions with uninformed people, that cause would eventually die out. There'd be nobody willing to spread/promote the messages. And that's really the last thing I want for feminism. I really believe there needs to be a space for 101 interactions. I'm not convinced that I'm necessarily the person to champion these spaces, for my own emotional health, but I do think they are important.

As such, after doing a few things to personally cope with this frustrating business, I've decided to channel this experience into something productive and hopefully useful. What follows are my suggestions for how to enter feminist discussions (and other discussions of privilege, oppression, and inequality) at the 101 level and not totally mess up! I should note here that some of the people I engaged with were actually just trolls. But for people who are new to feminism and would like engage in good faith, here you go...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Facebook Annoyance: The Mansplaining Edition!

Facebook is continuing to be the bane of my existence. For every good experience I have with it, comes about 5 horrible ones. I'm really beginning to think I should quit it all together. Too bad I'm hopelessly hooked on being one click of a button away from knowing what all my friends are doing...

Plus, look what great blog fodder Facebook is giving me! So much that "social media" is now its own tag. Hooray?

Anyway, the latest incident involves some pretty heavy mansplaining and the justification of sexist language. Which made me realize that I haven't ever really written about mansplaining before...which is kind of incredible since I, like every outspoken woman, encounter it on an almost daily basis.