A Look at some of Graph Jam’s stuff

27 09 2009

I saw this on Unapologetically Female and laughed out loud (because it’s so true):

axe

Then I went to the website to see what other graphs they had up and I saw this one:

heels

Now this one is problematic and irritates me for the following reasons:

1. First of all, the axes are switched. The graph is meant to show that the higher your heels are, the more retarded you look, not that the more retarded you look, the higher your heels are.

2. People need to stop saying “retarded”. It is ableist language that is used in a pejorative way and has been normalized in society which adds to the stigma against different-abled people.

3. This is misogynist and reinforces the patriarchal objectification of women, that women are just their bodies and nothing more. Some of the comments that follow the graph are misogynist as well and make me want to cringe. For example:

A commenter named Karen said: “FINALLY! I was wondering if I was the only person who thought this. I want to beat these girls to death with their own shoes!”

Prisbro wrote: “What about all the dumb bimbos who wear big fuzzy boots with mini skirts in august?? Can we throw them into some quicksand?”

Pencilsharpener wrote: “The rapist who murders you will find them adorable and very practical, as they will help him catch you easily.”

Um. Wow. This last comment seems to be based off of and perpetuates the rape myth that a rapist is a sketchy guy lurking on the street corner who will chase a woman down the street, and the myth that what you wear influences your likelihood of being raped. Wrong and wrong.

These comments are disturbing and symptomatic of the the patriarchal culture that we live in, with misogyny (and internalized misogyny) so deeply entrenched.





Weekly Feminist Reader

27 09 2009

Cara covers the story of a Trans Woman Murdered in Hollywood

Partisan Politican Contributions by US Companies

A Take on The Good Wife: The Wrong Side of the Mommy Track

Health Care Reform — at the Price of Women’s Health?

Nike Makes Black Athlete Look Like…an Animal? An Alien? What?

Cross-generational discussions can be difficult – but we need to have them

Trans-misogyny? There’s an app for that

A topic that’s worth revisiting over and over again: How to be an ally

The Reverse of Discrimination is “Not Discrimination”

Minor Offenses: The Tragedy of Youth in Adult Prisons

What’s wrong with [not just young people] everybody now

Malkin’s venom knows no bounds: Obama “doesn’t like this country very much”, is the “Groveler in Chief”





G20RP Sexual Consent Guidelines

27 09 2009

At the G-20 Conference in Pittsburg last Friday, a lot of protesters gathered outside. Since it was a major economic conference featuring leaders from the world’s 20 largest economies, there were many protesters advocating for better wages and working conditions, unemployment rate and hiking violence at the US-Mexico border, clean energy, etc. There was one group of protesters who called attention to sexual assault, establishing procedures and safe spaces for people who are assaulted at the conference or in the crowd. Furthermore, they made a clear statement that sexual harassment and sexual assault will NOT be tolerated.

The following is the G20RP Sexual Consent Guidelines that they disseminated to the crowd. I think it’s pretty awesome! The definitions are thorough and well-informed. Check it out for yourself:

Announcing the G20RP Sexual Consent Guidelines. Please disseminate widely.Perpetrators of sexual violence, assault, and harassment are not welcome in Pittsburgh or any G20 protest organizational spaces.

Support Structure for Survivors of Sexualized Violence and Assault:

If you experience harassment, abuse, sexual assault, or any other kind of consent violation while resisting the G20 this September, or if a perpetrator of sexual violence is interfering with your participation in the G20 resistance movement, or for any other reason you need support to deal with sexualized violence, please come to us.There will be trained and experienced advocates and support people for survivors of sexual assault at the WELLNESS SPACE (located in the clinic).

G20RP Sexual Consent Guidelines: No Perpetrators Welcome!

Perpetrators of Sexual Assault, Abuse, and Harassment Are Not Welcome in G20 Resistance Spaces

Perpetrators of sexual violence/assault/harassment are not welcome in Pittsburgh or any G20 protest organizational spaces. This includes people who have perpetrated in the past*, people currently engaged in or running away from accountability processes, and people who refuse to respect the ResistG20 consent guidelines. People who violate consent guidelines will be directed to leave G20 organizational spaces and housing arrangements. Given the short time frame, lack of people resources, and likelihood of state repression we don’t have the ability to deal with these situations in this artificially constructed community.

Perpetrators’ presence should not hinder survivors’ participation in G20 mobilizations (Perps: You are not welcome regardless of the survivor’s plans). We are resisting the G20 in large part because the G20 acts WITHOUT accountability to or consent of the people it fucks over. Don’t replicate the same paradigm of domination and abuse that you’re claiming to want to smash.

*We understand and respect that other communities have engaged in their own processes around these incidents. If you have gone through an accountability process and the survivor, joined by the community, feels you have sufficiently dealt with your shit, this statement does not include you.

Support Structure for Survivors of Sexualized Violence and Assault

If you experience harassment, abuse, sexual assault, or any other kind of consent violation while resisting the G20 this September, or if a perpetrator of sexual violence is interfering with your participation in the G20 resistance movement, or for any other reason you need support to deal with sexualized violence, please come to us.

There will be trained and experienced advocates and support people for survivors of sexual assault at the WELLNESS SPACE (located in the clinic). People staffing housing and other spaces, as well as medics and (A)-minded legal observers (note: not the ACLU kind) should also be able to put you in contact with us.

We can offer you:

*Support, caring, and listening

*Advocacy on your behalf, including the removal of perpetrators of violence

*Emergency housing changes to quiet, safer space housing

*Transport to the Pittsburgh rape crisis center

*Medical, herbal, and wellness (massage, acupressure, music therapy) resources

*Resources for further support and/or action

*Support, with the legal team, to document sexual abuse by law enforcement

Consent Guidelines for G20 Resistance Spaces and Housing

Consistently asking for consent and listening to your sexual partner at every step in every sexual encounter, regardless of length, history, or specific situation, is the only way to prevent sexual assault from happening. Consent includes asking, listening, and respecting; it does not include coercion, expectations, or assumptions.

Consent: Consent is actively and voluntarily expressed agreement. Doing personal work to consistently seek consent and respect the times when it is not given helps to combat rape culture, and informed consent, sexual and otherwise, is necessary in the building of strong, healthy anti-authoritarian communities. The following do not qualify as consent: silence, passivity, and coerced acquiescence. Body movements, non-verbal responses such as moans, or the appearance of physical arousal do not, necessarily, constitute consent. Further, if someone is intoxicated, they may not be in a position to give you consent. Consent is required each and every time there is sexual activity, regardless of the parties’ relationship, prior sexual history, or current activity.

Sexual Assault: Sexual assault is any non-consensual sexual interaction. Sexual assault happens, and it happens in activist and radical communities as much as anywhere else. Sexual assault can be perpetrated by a complete stranger, but is often perpetrated by someone known and trusted by the survivor and community. Sexual assault is a tool of domination, of taking power, and can rob someone of their self respect, self worth, and autonomy. Sexual assault is rooted in broader systems of oppression- such as patriarchy, white supremacy, capitalism, homophobia, and colonialism- and is not separable from them in how and why it is perpetrated, experienced, and dealt with.

Rape Culture: Rape culture is the culture in which sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence are condoned, excused and even encouraged. Rape culture is part of a broader culture of violence, wherein people are socialized to inhabit different positions in hierarchical relationships, to commodify their fellow human beings, and to relate to each other through violence and coercion.

We are survivor centric and survivor oriented. When a decision needs to be made to give “benefit of the doubt” to a perpetrator or support to a survivor, the preference will be to support the survivor. State language which serves to cast doubt onto survivors experiences (eg referring to experiences as “allegations”) has zero space in radical support and communities.

Thank you G20RP, Antioch College Consent Policy, Denver on Fire, Unconventional Denver, and the RNC Welcoming Committee





Anti-feminist fun

26 09 2009

The Family Research Council (whose motto is Defending Faith, Family and Freedom – that’s enough to make me never want to be associated with them) held a conference last weekend called the 2009 Value Voters Summit that featured Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin and Bill O’Reilly (Hmph,what a lovely bunch) as speakers. So at this ultra conservative gathering, one of the talks was called “The New Masculinity”:

Feminism has wreaked havoc on marriage, women, children and men. It is time to redress the disorder it has wrought and that must start with getting the principles and ideals for a new “masculinism” right. Such a “masculinism” will have its dovetailing counterpart in a new “feminism” for they mutually define each other and, in nature, are meant to be complementary.

Here we go with the classic villification of feminism again… Evil feminism, responsible for destroying men, women, children, families and marriage. So to remedy that, we need a “new masculinism”? The rhetoric used to discuss this “new masculinism” is blatantly homophobic. Here’s a taste. Michael Schwartz, Chief of Staff to Sen. Tom Coburn said:

…Pornography is a blight. It is a disaster. It is, it is one of those silent diseases in our society that we haven’t been able to overcome very well. Now, I may be getting politically incorrect here. But one — It’s been a few years, not that many, since I was closely associated with pre-adolescent boys, boys who are like 10 to 12 years of age. But it is my observation that boys at that age have less tolerance for homosexuality than just about any other class of people. They speak badly about homosexuality. And that’s because they don’t want to be that way. They don’t want to fall into it. And that’s a good instinct. After all, homosexuality, we know, studies have been done by the National Institute of Health to try to prove that its genetic and all those studies have proved its not genetic. Homosexuality is inflicted on people. [Bold emphasis mine]

Homosexuality is inflicted on people?!?!?!?! I don’t understand his twisted logic. And then he continues:

I had a very good friend who was in the homosexual lifestyle for a long time and then he had a religious conversion in the eighties. And he bought a old motel and turned it into a hospice for some of his former associates who were dying of AIDS. He helped, he helped almost 300 men die. This man was a real hero. But he knew that he wasn’t as healed as he thought he was. He was able to resist temptation. He was able to resist sin. But he wasn’t healed enough to take on the responsibilities of marriage. And he was a brilliant man in the sense that he knew himself. And he knew his limits. And he and I had good conversations about, about the malady that he suffered. And one of the things that he said to me, that I think is an astonishingly insightful remark. He said, “all pornography is homosexual pornography because all pornography turns your sexual drive inwards. Now think about that. And if you, if you tell an 11-year-old boy about that, do you think he’s going to want to go out and get a copy of Playboy? I’m pretty sure he’ll lose interest. That’s the last thing he wants.” You know, that’s a, that’s a good comment. It’s a good point and it’s a good thing to teach young people. [Bold emphasis, again mine]

Say what?!?!?! Homosexuality is not a sin. Nor is it a malady. And besides, HOW the hell can looking at pornography “turn” someone gay?!?! This stupidity is way beyond me, and it scares me to think that a roomful of similar close minded conservatives all huddled together to promote a “new masculinism” through homophobia?!

Some of the other panels were:

DEFUNDING PLANNED PARENTHOOD – PALLADIAN ROOM
Mark Bucher, Bucher & Palmer, LLP; Lila Rose, President, LiveAction

As many state and local governments are tightening their budgets to weather this fiscal storm, communities are taking a second look at the funding of the controversial abortion corporation Planned Parenthood. Since 1987, Planned Parenthood has taken in $3.2 billion in taxpayer funds. Planned Parenthood has used its money to support candidates who will continue this money stream and to lobby against initiatives such as parental notification laws in cases of minors seeking an abortion. Learn from people, like you, who have successfully stopped Planned Parenthood funding in their communities.

Ugh. Anti-choicers, go away!!

TRUE TOLERANCE: COUNTERING THE HOMOSEXUAL AGENDA IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS – CONGRESSIONAL B
Candi Cushman–Education Analyst, Focus on the Family Action

True tolerance my ass.

MARRIAGE: WHY IT’S WORTH DEFENDING AND HOW REDEFINING IT THREATENS RELIGIOUS LIBERTY – DIPLOMAT ROOM
Charles Donovan, Senior Research Fellow, The Heritage Foundation; Thomas Messner, Visiting Fellow; The Heritage Foundation; Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Founder and President, Ruth Institute

Redefining marriage poses serious threats to the religious liberties of people who continue to believe that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman. This understanding of marriage is an important religious belief for many Americans, but the freedom to express it will come under growing pressure as courts, public officials, and private institutions come to regard the traditional understanding of marriage as a form of irrational prejudice that should be purged from public life. This briefing will focus on policy and legal developments, as well as how to communicate the link between marriage and religious liberty.

Heterosexist much?

GLOBAL WARMING HYSTERIA: THE NEW FACE OF THE “PRO-DEATH” AGENDA – CABINET ROOM
Dr. Calvin Beisner, National Spokesman, Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation

  • Why did the President’s science advisor support coerced abortions to protect the planet?
  • Why are top abortion funders underwriting efforts to co-opt evangelicals on global warming?
  • If “people are the problem,” what’s the final solution?

Cap and trade is about more than saving the planet. It’s the biggest tax hike in American history. It threatens to concentrate massive amounts of power into the hands of central government and international bureaucrats. And its ascendancy marks the rise of a new, more subtle challenge to the culture of life.

Ultimately, climate change hysteria rests on an unbiblical view of God, mankind, and the environment. Come and hear how the Cornwall Alliance is pushing back–producing ground-breaking studies on Biblical environmentalism, educating pastors and churches across the country, and activating thousands of Christians to rally against the hype through the WeGetIt.org Campaign. Learn why policies to fight alleged man-made global warming will instead cause hundreds of millions of premature deaths throughout this century, and how human liberty, responsibility, and flourishing are the key to a healthier environment.

Oh my god. Seriously?!

Sometimes this is all so ridiculous and laughable that I can’t imagine anyone buying into it or believing it. The unfortunate thing is that a lot of people do believe this bullshit.





Enough of these disgusting ads already!

25 09 2009

max

Here’s another episode in advertising FAIL. What is wrong with this ad?

1. It objectifies a woman and positions her in sexual submissiveness to advertise men’s shoes, so clearly the gaze clearly is male. When sex is used to sell products, which it often is, the gaze is pretty much always male. Thus women in the ad who are objectified embody a “to be looked-at” ness in which their subjectivity and personhood is denied. They simply exist as sexual objects to satisfy (cis, het) male viewing pleasure.

2. Notice the racial undertones in this ad – the woman who is tied up is Asian. Two stereotypes are being perpetuated here: one is that women are submissive and available for the male gaze and enjoyment; the second is that Asian women are subdued and submissive. She is also wearing a kimono, something that is traditionally and obviously Asian, which speaks to the exoticization and eroticization of Asian women.

3. The woman has a sexy, come-hither kind of look on her face. However, what is sexy about this? She is clearly in a subordinate position (her movement in space is entirely confined seeing that she’s tied up and displayed), sexually available because she cannot resist. She is tied to a shoe, so she is literally attached to an object. Her passivity renders her personal and sexual subjectivity entirely absent. The conflation of female bodies with objects for consumption reinforce and perpetuate rape culture and violence against women by showing that women are readily available and accessible for male consumption. It makes female helplessness seem sexy.

Many people may argue that this ad is just a shoe ad and that all these criticisms are just reading way too into it. My response? This ad does not exist in isolation. It is important to situate it in our cultural context and see this as symptomatic and emblamatic of not only misogyny but racism. We are socioculturally conditioned to be blind to sexism, racism, and other forms of oppression. So if you fail to see anything wrong with this ad, you are not examining it critically enough.





The Dalai Lama is a self-proclaimed feminist!

25 09 2009

dalai_lama1

I hold The Dalai Lama in great esteem and I deeply respect his peace activism.  When I read in the Daily Mail that he identifies as a feminist I wasn’t too surprised:

“I call myself a feminist,” said the Dalai Lama. “Isn’t that what you call someone who fights for women’s rights?”

He elaborates:

“Whether you believe this religion or that religion, we are all the same human beings. We all come from the same mother. That creates the basis for compassion.”

The article also says:

The Dalai Lama went to on say that women are more prone to compassion, since they have the responsibility of bearing children.

While I am more than thrilled that the Dalai Lama identifies as a feminist, I find the claim that women are more prone to compassion because they bear children highly problematic. Not only is this an essentialist idea, but it also confines women to their bodies and their ability to bear children. This essentialist imperative: prescribing women with the role of motherhood and concluding that their fulfillment of that role must mean that they are more compassionate is a perpetuation of gender stereotypes that rest on essentialist notions of womanhood, and a socially constructed gender binary.

Conflating motherhood and compassion is dangerous because it places an onus on women to behave a certain way because of their biological capabilities. Furthermore, women are not solely responsible for bearing children. Clearly there are many other influential people involved as well (it does take a village).

This being said, I do not mean to diminish the Dalai Lama’s statement that he is a feminist, but instead I mean to simply take everything with a grain of salt and to retain a critical eye. I think it’s great that the Dalai Lama publicly declared that he is a feminist and I would love to see more prominent people (be they celebrities, politicians, writers, activists, etc.) publicly align themselves with feminism as well. After all, the more the merrier! We can never have too many feminists!





Men and Feminism

21 09 2009

I just discovered a website, XY Online, which is:

a website focused on men, masculinities, and gender politics. XY is a space for the exploration of issues of gender and sexuality, the daily issues of men’s and women’s lives, and practical discussion of personal and social change.

…XY is a pro-feminist website. It is guided above all by a commitment to feminism. XY is intended to advance feminist goals of gender equality and gender justice. XY is intended therefore to encourage men to involve themselves in personal and social change towards gender equality. It inspires men to develop respectful, trusting, and egalitarian relations with women, to promote equitable and liberatory ways of living and being, and to join with women in projects of gender equality and social justice.

It’s run by pro-feminist men which is awesome because we can always use more men to help smash patriarchy! I find it interesting that the website describes itself as a “pro-feminist” website rather than a feminist one.

I’ve had several conversations with many different men who identify as pro-feminist rather than feminist, which brings up the discussion of whether men can be feminists or if they simply are allies to feminism or pro-feminist.

What are people’s thoughts on this? And definitely check out XY Online! I haven’t had much time to peruse it much yet, but my preliminary readings and first impressions have been positive.





Happy Peace Day!

21 09 2009

Today, September 21st, is International Peace Day. In 1999, filmmaker Jeremy Gilley started Peace One Day to find a starting point for peace. He was on a mission to document his efforts to establish the first ever fixed day of global ceasefire and nonviolence. Two years later, all 192 member nations of the United Nations unanimously adopted September 21st as an annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence and thus September 21st became Peace Day.

Peace Day is  not just about creating and sustaining peace between nations, but it is also about creating and sustaining peace on a more local and interpersonal level. This means observing nonviolence in our homes, our friendships, our relationships, our schools, our communities, our workplaces, etc. As most peace activists already know, peace is more than just the absence of war. Peace is also the absence of structural violence.

Structural violence can often be invisible and harder to detect because it is so normalized and ingrained in society. It is a term that was coined by Johan Galtung to denote violence that is perpetuated by the systematic ways in which a given social structure or social institution oppress people and violate their basic humanity. Examples of structural violence include racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, ethnocentrism, etc. Structural violence is linked to and interdependent with direct violence because it creates the foundation from which direct violence can manifest seemingly justifiably.

His Holiness The Dalai Lama has said, “We must make every effort for the promotion of peace and inner values.” Peace One Day has suggestions for how you can take action on Peace Day. One simple way is to make a commitment to take action on Peace Day. Go throughout the day with this elevated intention. Taking action does not have to be a grand gesture. It can be small (afterall, the personal is political), like apologizing to someone who you may have wronged, making a donation to a nonprofit organization that you support, taking some time out of your day to volunteer, etc.

Gilley, the Chair and Founder of Peace One Day, says:

We want to reach 3 billion people with the message of Peace Day by 2012, and we are working with governments, the UN system, non-governmental organisations, schools and corporations to achieve that; but ultimately it is your support that will help make it a reality. As Ahmad Fawzi (now Director of News Media at the UN) said at our launch in 1999, “It is the peoples of this world who can create peace.”





The toy NOT to get your daughters

2 09 2009

Thoughts on this pole dancer doll has been circulating among the feminist blogosphere recently:

poledancedoll-299x300

Yup – it’s a pole dancer doll for children to play with. This Pole Dancer doll “dances to the music and moves up and down the pole as well as around and around the poll”. My initial questions upon seeing this are:

1. Who the heck thought that creating this and marketing this product to children was appropriate and acceptable?

2. What kind of parents would want their kids to play with this doll?

Not that pole dancing isn’t an acceptable activity or profession, but this pole dancing doll hyper-sexualizes girlhood and reinforces the idea that the most important thing about a girl is her ability to flaunt her sexuality for the male gaze.  As Melissa writes:

My objection to this item is that it introduces as a fun activity a sex act to which a child cannot consent and actively seeks to sexualize children, specifically girls, and specifically in an objectified and submissive sexual role.

By objectifying and hyper-sexualizing girls, this doll reinforces society’s fetishization of youth (especially for girls/women). This fetishization of youth creates ageist standards of beauty which further enables the cosmetics and plastic surgery industry to thrive.





Cougar Town – more on why I hate the word cougar

2 09 2009

I’ve shared my thoughts about the cougar label before, so I’ve been really annoyed at all the ads I keep seeing on the New York subways for Cougar Town, a new ABC sitcom set to premiere on September 23rd, featuring Courteney Cox.

cougar town

Cox plays 40 or 40-something year old Jules Cobb, a newly divorced woman in Florida with a 17 year old son. She decides to get back in the dating scene to add excitement into her life. There’s an older post on Jezebel about why Cougar Town looks awful, and the first reason that they list is the use of the word “cougar”.

There is nothing liberating or transgressive about the cougar label when it applies to women.  As Rebecca Traister writes in Salon:

Cougars. Pussies. Foxes. Faster pussycat! Kill! Kill! Active, aggressive female sexuality is always talked about as feral, often feline. When it’s older, apparently, it develops sharper claws and teeth. Unless, that is, it’s exhibited by a primmer and more contained MILF. That’s just a lady with kids who men want to fuck. It’s impossible to tell, until we get closer to the specimen, whether she has any interest in doing the fucking herself.

The enthusiasm for the “Wild Kingdom” analogy is a sign of how strange and hysterically funny the idea of energetic female sexual desire is — whether it’s in the form of 34-year-old Drew Barrymore, who has cheerily referred to herself as a “pre-cougar” or “puma” because she’s dated men a couple of years younger than her, or 50-year-old Madonna, who recently dated 20-year-old Jesus Luz. How sad and backward that we have to give it a nickname, animalize it as if it’s outside the boundaries of civilized human behavior, make it a trend, pretend that Demi Moore invented it. That’s not progress, and it’s not a step forward for women.

Yes, must we animalize female sexuality and try to cutely conflate older single, attractive women who have sex with younger men with (the Wikipedia definition of a cougar) “large, solitary cats [with] the greatest range of any large wild terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere, extending from Yukon in Canada to the southern Andes of South America.”

If you go on Urban Dictionary to look up what a cougar is, you will find degrading definitions:

An older woman who frequents clubs in order to score with a much younger man. The cougar can be anyone from an overly surgically altered wind tunnel victim, to an absolute sad and bloated old horn-meister, to a real hottie or milf [Mother I'd like to fuck, made popular by American Pie]. Cougars are gaining in popularity — particularly the true hotties — as young men find not only a sexual high, but many times a chick with her shit together.

“An overly surgically altered wind tunnel victim”, “an absolute sad and bloated old horn-meister” or “a real hottie or milf “? Are those really the only ways that we can think of older women in society? Is that the only vocabulary that we have to describe older women? Ageist much? Misogynist much? And isn’t it demeaning to call an older, more sexually experienced woman a “chick with her shit together”?

The third definition listed says:

An attractive woman in her 30’s or 40’s who is on the hunt once again. She may be found in the usual hunting grounds: nightclubs, bars, beaches, etc. She will not play the usual B.S. games that women in their early twenties participate in. End state, she will be going for the kill, just like you. Associated with milfs.

And the example they give of how to use cougar in context: I bagged a cougar last night at the club.

Sigh. I don’t even know what to make of this.





Celebrate same-sex marriage in Vermont with HubbyHubby!

1 09 2009

In celebration of legislation allowing same-sex marriage in Vermont that is effective as of today, Ben and Jerry’s scoop shops in Vermont have renamed their Chubby Hubby ice cream flavor to Hubby Hubby for this whole month:

HubbyHubby

A Ben and Jerry’s wedding truck is to pass through Vermont, handing out free HubbyHubby to the public. Now isn’t that sweet? Says Walt Freese, chief executive officer of Ben & Jerry’s:

At the core of Ben & Jerry’s values we believe that social justice can and should be something that every human being is entitled to. From the very beginning of our 30-year history, we have supported equal rights for all people.

Same-sex marriage licenses are also offered in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa, with legislation passed in Maine (which is facing obstacles) and New Hampshire (where same sex marriage will be legal in January). Similar legislation is pending in New York.





Congratulations, Hilary Lister!

1 09 2009

According to The Guardian, Hilary Lister, 37, has made history as the first quadriplegic to sail solo around Britain. In 2005 she also set the record as the first quadriplegic to sail solo around the English Channel. We salute you, Lister!

Hilary-Lister-001

Lister is an Oxford-educated biochemist who has a rare, progressive neurological disorder, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, that has left her paralyzed from the neck down. Last night at 6:45 pm she sailed into Dover, completing the final leg of a marathon journey undertaken in a series of 40 day-long sails that started in June last year.

She used advanced technology (her “sip and puff” system) that enabled her to steer and control the sails by sucking and blowing through plastic straws. She embarked on and completed her voyage alone, except with a support team that helped her get in and out of her boat.

Says Lister of her amazing feat:

It’s a privilege to be back in Dover. The killer was when the wind died just east of the entrance to the harbour but unbelievably it picked up just as I sailed in.

Asked of the highlight of her journey:

Just seeing whales 35ft long fully breached out of the water was incredible. Two of them jumped like dolphins, it was amazing.

All in all:

I’m so relieved to be home but looking forward to the next challenge. One thing I’ve learnt is that you can’t predict the future, we couldn’t even predict tomorrow’s weather so I’m not ruling anything out or anything in.





Women and feminists “detrimental” to the family says VA Gov. Candidate Robert McDonnell

1 09 2009

Virginia Attorney General and Republican Candidate for Governor, Robert McDonnell, wrote a 93 page master’s thesis in 1989, “The Republican Party’s Vision for the Family: The Compelling Issue of The Decade”, for the evangelical school he attended in Virginia Beach, Regent University. In that thesis, he states that women and feminists are “detrimental” to the family. He describes feminism as one of the “real enemies of the traditional family.” He declares a 1972 Supreme Court decision in Eisenstadt v. Baird, which legalized contraception use by unmarried couples, illogical. At the end of his thesis, he maps out a 15-point plan that the Republican Party should implement in order to protect American families.

McDonnell spent 14 years in the General Assembly before going on to be Attorney General and his political track record exhibits blatant opposition to women’s rights. During his 14 years in the General Assembly, he pursued at least 10 of the policy goals he wrote of in his thesis, including restrictions to abortion, covenant marriage, school vouchers and tax policies to favor “the family”. In 2001, he voted against a resolution in support of ending wage discrimination between men and women. Then in 2004, he voted against allowing student health centers on college campuses to dispense emergency contraception, and has supported a lot of anti-choice legislation throughout his tenure, including a ban on late-term abortions, mandating that minors receive parental consent prior to having an abortion and requiring women seeking abortions to observe a 24-hour waiting period.

Now as he runs for Governor of Virginia, he tries to distance himself from his thesis, which clearly exhibits a lot of misogynist sentiment. However, actions speak louder than words and his track record is telling enough. According to Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal:

It would be one thing if this thesis was a satire, but it was a policy directive to the Republican Party. McDonnell went on to enact major planks of the policy agenda developed and described in the thesis. It also revealed that he has a well-developed belief against separation of church and state. One of his defenses on his views regarding working women is that his wife and two daughters work. However, we have seen with other advocates of the religious right that personal lives often have no relationship to public policy positions. We must evaluate McDonnell’s views by his actions as a public official, which have furthered an anti-women’s rights record.

I am sick of the religious right using rhetoric of “the American family” to promote and further homophobia and misogyny. It is frightening and disturbing having people like McDonnell as public officials.





Chris Broughton agrees with Pastor Anderson and wants Obama to die and go to hell

31 08 2009

Earlier, Pastor Drake prayed for Obama’s death on Fox News and now, Chris Broughton wishes death on Obama. Earlier this month, on August 17th, Broughton brought a loaded AR-15 to Obama’s health-care town hall meeting in Phoenix, Arizona (He carries guns around for self defense apparently). His fundamentalist pastor, Steven Anderson, prayed for Obama to die and go to hell, and Broughton completely agrees.

Below is  the video of Anderson’s infamous August 16th sermon:

Broughton concurred with the sermon, because Obama is “destroying our country”. He further said that he’d like to see Obama “deader than a doorknob”:

It would be good for the country if he were to go sooner than later. However it happens, I’m going be happy that it happens. I’m gonna be a happy man…I would rejoice.

When a reporter asked him if he was advocating violence against the President, he responded, “I’m not going to answer that question directly.” While he dodged the question, it is obvious that Broughton is advocating violence against the President. Bringing a loaded AR-15 to an Obama health-care rally shows violent intent. Wishing for someone’s death is violent. Violence is a continuum and although he may not have committed any violent acts to the President, he certainly is guilty of many violent thoughts.

This is absolutely sickening and infuriating, especially since Anderson and Broughton are using a religious platform to advocate for Obama’s death. It is okay if you disagree with Obama’s policies and politics, but do you really have to take it to the extreme and preach hate and wish/pray for his death?





Thoughts on Sex and the City

30 08 2009

satc

I’ve wanted to blog about this for quite some time now since I’ve had so many conversations with friends about the Sex and the City show (SATC). Is it a feminist show? Can you like SATC and still be a feminist?

I’ve heard plenty of reasons why people consider SATC to be a feminist show:

- the four protagonists (Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha) are all women and the show really foregrounds the relationship among these four women. It celebrates and centers around their strong and enduring friendships – although the men in their lives are always changing, the four remain close friends and are always there for each other.

- the four protagonists are all well educated women who are over 30 and career oriented, not solely wives and/or mothers (although some of them do become wives and mothers later on).

- it makes it acceptable and even normal for women to express and pursue sexual desire. Several episodes of SATC talk about female masturbation and different kinds of sex toys, which was revolutionary at the time.

In spite of these points, I do not think that SATC is a feminist show. This isn’t to say that I dislike the show – I definitely enjoy it and there have been times where my girlfriends and I would have SATC marathons. But there are aspects of SATC that make it fundamentally not feminist:

- there is no race/class analysis. Feminism is about recognizing the intersectional nature of oppression and seeing that gender oppression does not stand alone – it is tied to racial oppression, class oppression, and other forms of oppression. All four of the main characters on the show are wealthy, white, (cis-gendered, heterosexual) women. They live extremely comfortable lives that do not reflect the reality of most working women.

- the portrayal of gay men is very neoliberal and whitewashing. Gay identity is co-opted and commodified by mainstream capitalist narratives that equate gayness with fashion and consumerism. The two gay supporting characters: Stanford Blatch and Anthony Marentino (especially Stanford) are portrayed more as accessories to one of the female leads, fulfilling the stereotype of the “gay best friend”, to help every straight girl with fashion, guys, etc. The only representation of the LGBTQ community that SATC offers is the privileged gay elite – wealthy white cisgender men, which is a very limiting and narrow portrayal.

- it is essentially a celebration of capitalism, consumerism and acquisition. And according to Marxist and socialist feminist schools of thought, capitalism is the source of oppression for all women. The SATC characters are always going on shopping sprees especially when it comes to shoes. Manolo Blahniks became a household name because of Carrie and her obsession with them.

- yes the four protagonists are female, and they are well-educated and (for the most part) successful in their careers, but most of their conversations tend to be about men, shopping and/or sex. In one episode when the four are at a diner, Miranda says something along the lines of “We are all well-educated, successful women; why can’t we talk about anything other than men?!” She storms out on her friends and they just continue talking about men.

- it doesn’t challenge the patriarchal gender binary and in some ways even reinforces it. Samantha is known for having sex “like a man”. Because she has casual sex and doesn’t really do relationships, she defies stereotypes of femininity, but instead of being more of an empowered woman, she’s “like a man”. And then, in one episode, Charlotte goes on two separate dates with two separate men in the same night. Her doing so made her “become a man”. But then, she worried about how she’d manage to eat two meals in a row, which made her “become a woman again”.








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