You can love men AND still be a feminist, Lady Gaga

4 08 2009

Just a few days ago, I wrote about how recently when former model Elle Macpherson was asked if she was a feminist, she dodged the question and spoke about how “the concept of equal rights” doesn’t quite sit well with her.  And then today I saw this interview with Lady Gaga:

Lady Gaga talks about a double standard in the music industry – if a female artist talks about and expresses sexuality in her music, then it’s something that raises eyebrows or criticized as being too raunchy.  Meanwhile if a male artist talks about and expresses sexuality in his music, then it’s normal and even celebrated.

She says:

You see, if I was a guy, and I was sitting her with a cigarette in my hand, grabbing my crotch and talking about how I make music ’cause I love fast cars and fucking girls, you’d call me a rock star. But when I do it in my music and in my videos, because I’m a female, because I make pop music, you’re judgmental, and you say that it is distracting. I’m just a rock star.

Right on – it’s important to highlight these ridiculous double standards.  Women are judged for doing certain things that men are not judged for, and vice versa.  But then when asked if she was a feminist, she responds:

I’m not a feminist – I, I hail men, I love men.  I celebrate American male culture, and beer, and bars and muscle cars.

Ahhh… Way to disappoint, Lady Gaga… Loving men, beer, bars and muscle cars and being a feminist are not mutually exclusive.  The stereotype that feminists are man-hating remains pervasive and persistent.

Lady Gaga’s prior statement about the double standard in the music world is a feminist insight because it highlights the gender inequality in one area of life.  However, her response to the “are you a feminist” question reflects the false belief that feminism is about man-hating.

Sigh… When are people going to get over that idiotic idea?





American Apparel Fail, yet again

1 08 2009

I am not a fan of American Apparel, never have been and never will be.  Many people are quick to defend it because the products are made in “non-exploitative settings”.  Okay, so it’s great that the clothes are sweatshop free and made in an air conditioned LA factory where the workers are paid full wages and receive health benefits.

But “exploitative” has other meanings too.  Like sexually harassing workers on a normal basis.  Calling your female employees sluts at work because it’s “endearing”.  Firing people because they aren’t deemed attractive enough.  Constantly objectifying women.  Dov Charney and American Apparel engage in very misogynist practices that disgust me.

American Apparel operates to create and perpetuate an unrealistic, exclusive standard of beauty.  Charney has recently requested that all “ugly” employees be fired because they are “detrimental to the AA ‘aesthetic'” and hindering the company’s ability to profit.  Gawker has an email from an AA store manager:

Summer is supposed to be a great sales season for AA. Needless to say, with the state of the economy, sales haven’t been going so well. Dov usually gets on the conference calls and talks to people, but one week, he went on a huge tirade and made stores that weren’t doing well send in group photos. Why, you ask? He made store managers across the country take group photos of their employees so that he could personally judge people based on looks. He is tightening the AA ‘aesthetic,’ and anyone that he deems not good-looking enough to work there, is encouraged to be fired. This is blatant discrimination based on looks.

Dov personally judged each person in group photos that were sent in, and if you weren’t to his liking, then boy… watch out. The comments that he made were raging from childish ones to insulting ones. Managers that don’t comply with these new standards are afraid of losing their jobs. Employees who aren’t up to Dov’s “look” and whose work ethic is “just ok” are being targeted and scrutinized and the minute they make small mistakes, they are being fired. But it’s only because Dov wants to weed out the “ugly people.” It’s ironic that he would rather have gorgeous slackers who don’t move the product [or lift a finger] working there than normal looking people who are really aren’t that bad looking, but are A+ sellers and great at customer service. The real irony here is that he is no [looker], himself. He’s asking for a class-action lawsuit and i hope that when it rains, it rains hard. Worst place to work, ever. This is happening at many stores across the country.

This is seriously fucked up.  So yeah, in addition to the sexual harassment lawsuits against him, I won’t be surprised if sketchball Charney has another round of lawsuits to deal with.





Not just a pretty face

27 07 2009

Here is a little rant.  Often times in my life people (both men and women, but more commonly men) have told me, “oh it’s okay, you’re so pretty” or “don’t worry, you have such a pretty face.”  The context of these statements vary but generally can be separated into two categories:

1. Talking about and gaging my chances of success.  i.e… “Don’t worry about finding a job after you graduate.  You’re pretty, of course you’ll get a job.”

2. When I want/need something from someone who is a (cisgender, heterosexual) male.  i.e…”You should just ask him,  he can’t say no, you have such a pretty face.”

Yes, being called pretty is a compliment, but it is irritating and offensive that such statements reduce me to my looks alone.  When discussing my concerns about my future, finding a job or whatever after college, why is it that I will “be okay” primarily because I am pretty, not because of any other characteristics I may possess?  Why can’t I not worry because I am intelligent, hardworking, talented, and passionate?  Why does it have to be mainly because I am pretty?

Essentially, by saying that I don’t need to worry about finding a job after I graduate because I am pretty, one insinuates that success is dependent on having good looks.   Not only is this superficial but it is sexist because it denies women their subjectivity and instead objectifies them, reducing them to be merely the direct objects for the cisgender, heterosexual male gaze.  Our cultural and social experiences are irrelevant and our most important function becomes maintaining someone else’s (that someone being a cis, het male) subjective reality.

And case two, when I ask a male for something (and am likely to get it because I “have a pretty face”), is just another example of institutionalized sexism that prevents men and women from achieving true equality.  These practices, granting women something or letting them get off the hook just because they are pretty, continue to otherize women as a separate and unequal group.  Further, these perpetuate the objectification of women in which women are valued most for their appearance and their beauty rather than their personality, their brains, their achievements, etc.

What is also upsetting is that when I’ve spoken up about this and expressed how I felt (I appreciate the compliment, but I would also like to point out that your statement is also sexist) is that I am so quickly silenced by “Gosh, you feminists can’t just take a compliment”, “Whoa, I was just saying you’re pretty, no need to get mad”, or “You’re looking way too much into that, all I said was that you’re pretty, what’s the big deal?”  These silencing techniques further the objectification of women in which we are primarily supposed to be pretty, but silent, faces.





Barney’s, This is Completely Unacceptable

27 07 2009

File this under WTF?!!  What were you thinking?!! Via Sociological Images, Barney’s New York had this window display up this past week, but took it down when shoppers complained:

Barney's 1

Barney's 2

The mannequins (obviously female) are apparently being attacked by some invisible assailant with what is supposed to be blood. This display glamorizes violence against women, making it seem fashionable and sexy for women to be in danger or hurt. Depicting women being violently hurt for the purpose of selling clothing is despicable and serves to perpetuate rape culture and a culture of violence.





Sunday Catch Up

26 07 2009

Here are a few things we missed:

This Is What Rape Culture Looks Like.

A woman walks into a rape, uh, bar…

New laws help domestic violence victims.

Human rights violations in U.K. jail.

Women and the Minimum Wage.

Women don’t ask for nasty voyeurism.

Complimentary.

On Gendered Language.

On the word “transition”.

Perhaps Silverton is Not Completely Accepting of their Trans Mayor.

Banning Cesar Chavez: Whites “Sanitizing” US History Again.

Same crap, different day.

Marketing Asian Women to Anti-feminist Men.

When the Outside Looks Like the Inside.





Equal Rights Amendment Reintroduced

25 07 2009

Earlier this week on Tuesday, July 21st, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was reintroduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Judy Biggert (R-IL), and over 50 co-sponsors.   The ERA would add a part in the US Constitution to say, “Equality of Rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex”.  For the bill’s full text, click here.

The ERA was originally introduced as the “Lucretia Mott Amendment” at the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the 1848 Seneca Falls “Declaration of Sentiments,” which is regarded as the founding of the women’s rights movement in the U.S.  In 1972 the ERA passed in Congress and was sent to the states for ratification.  It was approved by 35 states but was never ratified because it fell just 3 states short of the 38 required for a constitutional amendment to be ratified.

Congresswoman Maloney said:

Women have made incredible progress in the past few decades. But laws can change, government regulations can be weakened, and judicial attitudes can shift.  The only way for women to achieve permanent equality in the United States is to write it into the Constitution.  These 54 words, when passed by Congress and ratified by 38 states, will make equal rights for women not just a goal to be desired but a constitutional right.

Rep. Biggert said:

Thanks to the work of pioneers like Lucretia Mott and Francis Willard, American women have achieved a level of independence and equality once thought to be unattainable.  This amendment will carry on that tradition by forever enshrining the rights and freedoms of our daughters and granddaughters in the Constitution of the United States.  I’m proud to join Congresswoman Maloney and my other colleagues in this historic effort, and look forward to working with them to protect the basic liberties of women here and around the world.

According to Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal, citing research from the World Economic Forum, in comparison to other countries worldwide the US ranks 31st of 128 countries overall, but 76th in educational attainment, 36th in health and survival, 69th in political empowerment, and 70th for wage equality for similar work and 71st for representation of women in our Congress.

Many people do not know that the ERA was never passed.  We need the ERA to pass in order to help women overcome deeply entrenched and systemic sex discrimination so that society as a whole can benefit.





Wednesday Blogaround

22 07 2009

Happy Wednesday!  Here’s what we’ve been reading:

Jimmy Carter protests religion’s treatment of women – Thank you Jimmy Carter!  Last week he issued a position paper opening with “Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.”  It’s awesome to see such a prominent man of faith take a stance and speak out on sexism in organized religion.

Lessons for Feminists from Sarah Palin – what the feminist community can learn from Sarah Palin: from the beginning when she first entered the political limelight to her recent resignation speech.

Kansas Attorney Sued After Showing Pictures of Alleged Rape After Refusing to Prosecute – Okay, this is fucked up.  A county attorney in Kansas chose not to prosecute a rape that occurred at a party in 2007, but chose to show pictures of the assault to parents of other people who attended that party to prove that there was underage drinking.

Why the planet needs more non-breeders – a post from fbomb, an awesome new young feminist blog, on Cameron Diaz’s decision to not have kids (for the environment) and how women are caught in a double bind where they are judged for both wanting/having kids and not wanting/not having kids.

Racism in Cambridge: Harvard Professor Gates Arrested (Updated) – RacismReview’s take on Professor Gates’ recent arrest.

Cop Sues Burbank Police Department for Discrimination – Last week, Asian American police detective Christopher Lee Dunn filed a lawsuit against the Burbank Police Department alleging that he was the victim of discrimination and retaliation prior to being unjustly fired.  This is the sixth time that the Burbank Police Department has been sued for discrimination since May.

If You’re Disabled You Cannot be a Customer – People who are differently abled are often treated as second class citizens and “treated like an inconvenience and rushed out of sight”.

On Chris Brown’s Public “Apology” – Or rather, Chris Brown’s non-apology.  “The message [from his "apology"] is clear: beat, bite, punch and strangle your girlfriend, and as long as you apologize, you are a-OK.”





For Your Saturday

18 07 2009

Here are some good posts in the feminist blogosphere to check out:

Lessons from the Rape Culture and a piece inspired by that post.

The Obamas and the Door of No Return.

Hillary’s Challenge – Would putting women first make for better foreign policy?

The Latest Marriage Dust-Up.

Reproductive Rights Matter At Every Age.

Shave and get drunk, because you’re already brilliant.

“Disabled Girls” Video Game.

The Supreme Court and Redefining Racism.





Friday Linky Love

17 07 2009

The Progressive Case Against Sotomayor:

Sonia Sotomayor’s all-but-certain confirmation will be a notable victory for Democrats, and for the cause of diversity on the nation’s highest court. Whether it will be a victory for criminal justice is another question—one that seems to matter little to most of her liberal supporters.

The Rights of Men:

I’ve been half-listening to the Sotomayor hearings all this week, and have been fairly bored—how many times can you listen to a woman answer the same question? But every once in a while someone throws out a real gem, like Senator John Coryn (R-Texas) quoting Martin Luther King Jr. to make an anti-affirmative action point (because that’s exactly what MLK meant when he said he dreamed of a day when his children would “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”)

PFAW on the litany of right wing fringe lies about hate crimes legislation:

People for the American Way has released a document about the tired, hoary, untethered-from-reality pack of lies that the professional anti-gay set keeps spewing about hate crimes legislation, “As Senate Prepares to Take Up Hate Crimes Bill, Far Right’s Inflammatory Claims Should Not Be Taken Seriously.”

Lateisha Green’s Killer Dwight DeLee Convicted of Manslaughter as a Hate Crime:

There is a verdict in the trial of Dwight DeLee for the death of Lateisha Green.  Green was a trans woman who died from gunshot wounds in November; DeLee was originally charged with murder in the second degree as a hate crime.

Just minutes ago, the verdict came back and was announced on Twitter (the AP also has a blurb).  A jury convicted Dwight DeLee of manslaughter in the first degree as a hate crime.

Real Bras? They’re not for trans women:

On a slightly less surreal, but possibly more absurd note than the trainwreck that is VWHC’s trans exclusionary policy comes this report in the Vancouver (where else?) section of Xtra West (link here).

See, us trans women, we’re so speshul™ that we even get our own speshul™ underwear now.

“Affirmative Action Increases Diversity by Discriminating Against White Men”:

Only some crazy fringe politician that no one ever listens to or pays attention would say something like that right? I guess only Pat Buchanan on MSNBC. See video below if you can stomach it.

The Brazil Files: Bela or Bust Part 1 – On Gender:

I recognize that to say that the preoccupation with being beautiful for women in Brazil boils down to three separate entities is oversimplifying. Gender, class, and race obviously intersect constantly and are difficult to consider beyond their Venn diagram-like existence. Yet for the sake of clarity and hopefully accessibility, I have decided to discuss this topic in three parts: 1) gender, 2) class, and 3) race.

Ratification of Important Women’s Rights Document Sparks Controversy in Cameroun:

Let’s start off with some good news- Cameroun joined 27 other African countries in promoting the health and rights of women when it ratified the Maputo Protocol on May 28th, 2009.  The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, better known as the Maputo Protocol, guarantees the human rights of women throughout the continent.   Adopted by the African Union in 1993, the Protocol calls for the adoption and implementation of national measures that uphold women’s sexual and reproductive rights, political and social equality, and the right to live free from violence and coercion, while providing a comprehensive legal framework for holding African governments accountable for violations.

Eyelid Gluing for a “Western” Look:

I’ve posted in the past about surgical procedures used to give “Asian” eyes a more “Caucasian” or “Western” look. As Alexia R. showed us, though, there are temporary means of getting a similar effect, particularly gluing a fold into eyelids. WonderHowTo posted a video showing the technique:

Is Amitjo Kajla Too Pretty to be a Prison Guard?:

Former prison guard Amitjo revealed to the industrial tribunal in Birmingham that she believes that she was forced out of her job because of her appearance.  She is claiming constructive unfair dismissal. The chief complaints sited against her were the amount of make up that she wore and the alteration of her work uniform.  The work uniform was deemed to be to revealing, while Kajla claims that it was only reduced to be size appropriate.





Sadly unsurprising, but still upsetting

14 07 2009

On July 1st, the White House publicized a report delivered to Congress that lists every employee and his/her title and salary. Ariel over at Community Feministing has a great post that really breaks it down with a critical feminist lens and includes a chart of White House salary levels according to gender. The male/female ratio is pretty much 50/50 – 49.7% of White House staffers are women.

Unsurprisingly however, women working in the White House earn less than their male counterparts. How much less? $9,462 less. While the average salary for male employees is $82.020, the average salary for female employees is only $72,558. So in the White House, women are earning $.88 to the male dollar. Nationally, women make $.77 to the male dollar (yes the wage gap still exists).

When looking at median salaries, the median salary of a female White House employee is $57,129 whereas the median salary of a male White House employee is $67,059. And more women occupy lower paid positions than do men as evidenced in the graph below.

WHPayLevelswodetailees

Thanks again Ariel for compiling and analyzing all this. The results were sadly unsurprising but still disappointing. It’s more proof of why feminism is still relevant and necessary.





“I’m not saying that…” and “No offense, but…”

14 07 2009

If you have to follow up or preface a statement with either of these statements, you are probably saying something stupid.

The other day, the head chef at the restaurant I work at delivered a lecture to the staff about women’s clothing.  He said something to this effect.

I want you all to come in here fully in uniform…

Well, that makes sense!  It certainly looks unprofessional for servers to come into work half in uniform, shirt un-tucked, and with their hair messy.  But instead of focusing on the obvious, he went on to single out the female waitstaff as the problem, following up his comment with this:

If you girls come in here in tank tops and shorts and one of my cooks makes some sort of comment, then I have to fire one of my guys.  You can avoid the whole thing by just wearing your uniform.  …I’m not saying that you deserve those comments because of what you were wearing, but you can just avoid the whole problem in the first place.

Having not lived one day as a female waitress (and given the offensive, sexist comments that he spews constantly), I was not the least bit surprised by his mentality.  This particular chef feels completely comfortable arriving at and leaving work in his street clothes with no fear of harassment or insulting comments.  It is troubling that he sees it as an inconvenience that he has to fire one of his staff for sexual harassment, when in fact the ones who should feel inconvenienced are the people on the staff who endure such remarks.  Also, I have heard plenty of offensive comments, threats, and inappropriate and unwanted grabbing by employees and even managers, but never in my year of employment at this restaurant have I seen anyone fired for sexual harassment.

Of course, clothing has nothing to do with the problem of harassment at the restaurant.  My uniform consists of a hideous combination of a man’s dress shirt, tie, dress pants, and a long black apron.  However, women on the staff are sexually harassed and treated inappropriately not only by some male staff, but by some managers and chefs as well.

It’s also sad that among the people in the room (probably about twenty), nobody (including myself) challenged him.  Heaped on top of his hetero male privilege, this chef is my boss, and thus I am caught in a tedious position.  Do I confront stupidity when I hear it, even at the risk of my job?  Or do I let the moment pass, and thus let this person maintain their power at the expense of my beliefs?  Strange that he would champion uniforms as our defense against sexual harassment.  I left the situation feeling even more powerless.

This is a subject that feminist2 and I have been discussing a lot lately.  When is the argument simply “not worth it?”  Is it always worth it?   How do we function when we must confront people in power?  Is there a way to work in a feminist way from within the power hierarchy, or must we live with the risks of upsetting the structure, even in our daily lives?  For more on a similar subject, refer back to feminist2’s post on how to have constructive feminist discussions with friends and family.





Intact hymens and the fetishization of virginity

14 07 2009

Via Sociological Images, an older ad marketing a tampon:

virginad

The beginning text of the ad goes like:

I really wanted to use tampons but I heard that you had to be, you know, ‘experienced’. So I asked my friend Lisa. Her mom is a nurse so I figured she’d know. Lisa told me she’d been using Petal Soft Plastic Applicator Tampax tampons since her very first period and she’s a virgin. In fact, you can use them at any age and still be a virgin.

It’s laughable that this is the actual text of the ad. It’s also ridiculous that people used to fear that girls could lose their virginity by using tampons. “In fact, you can use them at any age and still be a virgin” – OMG Yay! What a relief! Oh gee, society and its fetishization of virginity.

Read the rest of this entry »





Media Justice for Sotomayor

11 07 2009

Check out this clip that the Women’s Media Center recently released that documents how poorly the mainstream media and right wingers (like Rush Limbaugh) has treated Sotomayor ever since her nomination. The media has treated her in blatantly sexist and racist ways.

The Senate hearings will begin on July 13th to confirm Judge Sotomayor. Sign the Women’s Media Center’s statement to support media justice for Sotomayor and hold the mainstream media to a higher standard.





More ageism and sexism in advertisements

8 07 2009

Saw this ad for Ripolin Paint on Sociological Images.  Sociological Images, in the post, also points out some more ads that criticize and mock older women.

The images are not necessarily safe for work or lecture, so they are below the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »





When a friend says something stupid and insulting

7 07 2009

I was spending time with a high school friend (who we’ll call Anne for the purposes of this post) this weekend and she was telling me about her older brother and his interracial relationship.   Anne and her brother are both white and Jewish.  Meanwhile her brother’s girlfriend, who he is quite serious with, is a Chinese woman.  Anne has had issues with this from the start because she thinks it’s only appropriate that her brother (and herself) date other white Jewish people.  So during our conversation as she’s expressing her frustration with and disapproval of her brother and his girlfriend, she says to me, “ugh, whatever, it works for him because he needs to be with someone who will just shut up and listen.”

Someone who will just shut up and listen?  This is both a racist and a sexist statement.  It plays into gender stereotypes that women are subservient to men and therefore should/need not assert themselves.  It further plays into racial stereotypes that Asian/Asian American women are sexually desirable because they are especially subservient compared to their female counterparts of other racial backgrounds.

Although I was fuming inside, I did not say anything to my friend and instead just changed the topic.  In general, I dislike confrontation and controversy so I didn’t want to start an argument especially with a friend who was only visiting me for the weekend.  I’m sure that Anne was not trying to be offensive on purpose and I’m not even sure if she realized what she said was wrong and why.  Furthermore, if I were to have said something I don’t know what I would’ve said.

Meanwhile, another part of me was annoyed at myself for not speaking up.  If she was truly ignorant about her comment, then I should educate her especially since as a friend, I’d probably have more clout than some other random person.  She’d be more likely to consider or value my opinion and insight since we’d been friends for so long.  So by not speaking up, in a way I was complying with power structures in society that enable racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression, to maintain themselves.

This is a constant struggle that I have – deciding when/how to call out friends on offensive racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, etc. comments or jokes that they make.  Most of the time people use the “I was just kidding” phrase.  Or they accuse me of being overly sensitive or “looking too much into things” and sort of turn it into a joke.

What are people’s thoughts/advice on having constructive and respectful conversations with family, friends or acquaintances in which you point out how their speech or actions are/were offensive and counter to social justice?








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