Monday Blogaround

5 10 2009

Here are some things that popped up on my feminist radar:

What Counts as Real Rape? – More from Gwen on the Roman Polanski case

Concerns About Racism Are “Weird” – The trivialization and dismissal of racism by saying “it’s weird”

US Fence Causes Increase in Border Deaths – Today marks the 15th anniversary of the poorly misguided border strategy known as Operation Gatekeeper

Childbirth at the Global Crossroads – The implications of surrogacy and assisted reproductive technology on women in the “developing” world

End the War in Afghanistan – Peter Rothberg’s lists ways you can help end the war in Afghanistan

Fiona Pilkington inquest: how ableism can lead to suicide – ableism has been instituted and normalized in our society, thus marginalizing and erasing certain existences

Woody’s To Face Boycott – The Fairness Campaign is calling for a boycott of Woody’s Tavern at 4 PM Tuesday

My Weight – Stomp out weight bigotry and fatism. As Joy Nash says, “Tell people how much you weigh. It’s just a stinking number.”

Reclaim the Night (For Cis Women Only) and the London Cis Feminism Network – Feminism is not fully functional if it excludes trans people

Activist Modus Operandi: Methods of Communication – a great post from Genderbitch on activism for marginalized groups and tips on how to be an effective activist





Why is this petition circulating?!?! And why are so many people signing it?!?!

30 09 2009

There is a petition circulating to Free Roman Polanski.  PUKE!  Some names of celebrities who have signed it so far:

Natalie Portman (this surprises me)

Pedro Almodovar

Gael Garcia Bernal

Woody Allen

Wes Anderson

Martin Scorsese

Penelope Cruz

Harrison Ford

This is all really depressing.  The petition states:

Roman Polanski is a French citizen, a renown and international artist now facing extradition. This extradition, if it takes place, will be heavy in consequences and will take away his freedom.

Um, have people forgotten that he raped a 13 year old girl?!?!?!  Whether or not he is a French citizen, a renown and international artist, a wealthy and powerful man, he should not just be let off the hook for his crime!!  And people should not be so quick to defend a rapist!!  (Unfortunately we do live in a rape culture where this sort of shit is not atypical.)

Even though Samantha Gailey has expressed no desire to pursue the case, as Melissa writes on Shakesville:

The simple answer for that is because justice doesn’t operate on the principle of what’s best for the victim; it operates on the principle of what’s best for the community. (That’s why prosecutors represent “the people.”) Particularly in a case of sexual assault of a minor, there is additional pressure to prosecute, even if the victim(s) don’t support the prosecution, because interviews of convicted/admitted child rapists in prisons suggest that the rapist who only rapes once and never again has about as much supporting evidence for his existence as does the unicorn. (To wit: Roman Polanski’s ensuing relationship with then-15-year-old Nastassja Kinski.) Some of those who understand this principle nonetheless argue that Polanski is now an “old man,” as if old men don’t rape. Unfortunately, they can and they do.

The more complicated answer to If even the girl he raped wants to let it go, why shouldn’t we? begins with this statement of fact: Her reasons are not yours.

Samantha Gailey’s primary reason for not wanting the case pursued, according to the public statements I’ve read, have to do with her not wanting to subject herself and her family to the public scrutiny and media circus that will inevitably surround Polanski’s return to the US and any subsequent court proceedings.

She’s not motivated by sympathy—in fact, she has explicitly said she harbors no “hard feelings” but also feels “no sympathy” for Polanski, and in recent years publicly stated she wished he’s come back just so she could put the whole thing behind her, irrespective of the outcome.

The truth not being spoken is that the people incorporating Samantha Gailey’s wishes as part of their arguments aren’t doing so because they want to protect Samantha Gailey. They’re doing it because they want to protect Roman Polanski.





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.





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.





Angry Green Girl sexualizes women for a good cause

3 09 2009

via Sociological Images

You may already know that I have some serious issues with the way that PETA uses women’s bodies to promote vegetarianism (along with PETA’s other offenses which we have blogged about here and here and here and here and here).  Well, here’s another example of a similar situation.

agg_logo

Angry Green Girl, according to her website is “shamelessly exploiting everything I got to save our world!”

The site has some mildly educational videos about environmental issues, all using scantily clad attractive women to attract heterosexual men to environmental causes.  Some of the videos include a fully clad man called “Can’t Get Laid Guy,” to whom the “hot” women are downright mean. By conforming to stereotypes of the shallow, ditzy, self-centered, and rude but attractive female, the site seems to attempt mainly to attract “geeky” heterosexual men.  With statements such as “As for you, think about turning off the lights before you leave your apartment and maybe some day a sober girl will give you her real phone number,” the site attempts to attract these men with the vague hope of one day being able to gain sexual access to beautiful women (as long as they go green).  The site also reinforces the stereotype of the smart but nerdy male who has absolutely no social life and no chance with the beautiful but cruel and shallow female.

Will watching attractive women parade around in bikinis really convince heterosexual men to care about environmental issues and change their lifestyles accordingly?  I highly doubt it.  In the videos, the environment seems less of a focus than heterosexual male access to beautiful female bodies.  Personality is treated as an unimportant factor on the site (the girls are downright mean and extremely shallow, but are still presented as the height of sexual desirability.)  So what is Angry Green Girl really selling?  Sex.  And it may be sad but true that “sex sells,” but sex sells Calvin Klein underwear and string bikinis, not causes like environmental activism.

But don’t take it from me.  Watch some of the videos from the site and decide for yourselves.

And here’s a video from an Angry Green Girl hybrid-only waterless bikini car wash.

Good cause?  Yes.  Good tactic?  In my opinion, not so much.  What do you think?





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.








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