Stay Classy, Tufts Daily

19 02 2009

A week ago the Tufts Daily staff wrote a little blurb in their newspaper; presumably they were bored and wanted to do something “fun” while filling up some space in the paper. It was a letter to Chris Brown, in response to the recent charges of domestic violence and the rumours that have been flying around related to it. It’s pretty short, so I’ll post it here. The bold emphasis is my own.

Dear Chris Brown,

There’s little we can say to a music celebrity who beats his girlfriend up right before the Grammys. Chris, your temper and your childish use of violence has deprived millions of viewers of the chance to boogie to your music. Your songs are forever tainted, and we simply can’t listen to them.

That’s right, we at the Daily Arts department have imposed a moratorium on any Chris Brown music. Not longer will we host dance parties in the basement of Curtis Hall to the tune of “Kiss Kiss.” Some might say that Rihanna “deserved it” or that “it was just a stupid mistake.” Newsflash: Picking on girls isn’t allowed as soon as you hit puberty, and this isn’t the elementary school playground, Chris.

We know you think Rihanna was flirting with other men at the pre-Grammys party. But there was also supposedly a sordid text sent from some short-skirted skank to your phone on the way home, so you aren’t exactly innocent. Whatever happened, violence is not the answer.

We want you to know that we fully support Wrigley’s decision to suspend your commercial. It was stupid anyway, with your pseudo break dancing and spin on the lyrics to your overplayed song “Forever.” And although you’re out on bail for now, you’re probably going to spend some well-deserved time behind bars for messing with your former girlfriend’s gorgeous face.

Maybe this experience will change you; maybe you’ll come out a new man and actually make some original music, but probably not. The real crime is that Rihanna let you get near her in the first place.

Next time, pick on someone your own size and, oh yeah, gender. Leave the petty catfights to the ladies.

The Daily Arts Department


I was honestly shocked and appalled at the last sentence of this letter. At first I was pleased to read that there was some sort of public voice on campus speaking against an instance of domestic violence. The third paragraph that I highlighted I was something with which I was not too pleased. The term “short-shirted skank” is totally an unnecessary name to call a woman. With all the rumours going around, we may not even know if she existed and even if she did, why is she a “skank” ? Why is she wearing a short skirt? Are all women who wear short skirts skanks?

The last paragraph really did it for me, though. “Leave the petty catfights to the ladies”–really? That last sentence basically took away all the meaning from the letter. Why would they have to end it with such a SEXIST sentence? Catfights? really? It really is demeaning to women to suggest that a “man” should know better than to start a fight and such a foolish thing is only left for women. Suggesting to stick to same sex violence isn’t the answer, either.

What do you think? What are you feelings about the Daily posting that in the first place?

Living feminism

19 02 2009

So over on Feministing, Courtney has a post called “Our Feminist Ideals vs. Our Feminist Lives” which I loved because it hits on some of the conversations I have been having with my friends lately about living feminism and bridging your feminist ideas (and ideals) with practice and real life. She lists five ways that she struggles on a day to day basis when it comes to practicing and living feminism:

1. I apologize and say excuse me far too often in public situations when I am just taking up a normal amount of space.

2. I get intimidated when math comes up in daily life situations–whether it’s splitting a bill among friends or trying to focus on the specific allocations in the stimulus package when I’m reading an article.

3. I feel like I have to wear makeup in certain situations even when I don’t want to. At first I chalked this up to an age thing…I’m young so I have to wear make up in certain circles to be taken seriously. I’m starting to feel like it’s just an excuse. (Unless I feel like wearing it, which happens sometimes, and that’s cool.)

4. I still say no to friends or loved ones with a lot of trepidation, even if I know that they are asking me to do something I’m not interested in or don’t have the energy for etc. You might argue this isn’t gendered, but in my family, it certainly was.

5. I sometimes listen to my guy friends objectify women and say nothing. It feels exhausting and killjoy-ish. Part of me feels like I should give myself permission to not be the feminist police all the time. Another part wonders if I just have a hard time doing the hard confrontation shit with my own buddies.

I could not help reading this and nodding my head, agreeing with her. I’ll share one of my own recent experiences that made me feel like a “bad” feminist:

Over the weekend, I was spending time with a high school friend. During one of our conversations she said to me, “I’m not homophobic and I have gay friends who I love, but being gay is an illness.” I sat there and bit my tongue as she went on talking about how being gay was a disease and completely not natural. I was so antsy and in my head I kept going “oh my god…I can’t believe I am actually listening to this. You are SO wrong!” but I just sat there silently listening to her. I wish I had said something but even now I don’t even know what I would’ve said at the moment.

How do you go about educating people, especially when they are people you are friends with, without sounding condescending? How can you have constructive conversations to enlighten people if they are stubborn and don’t want to hear your side?

Scarleteen: “Sex Ed For The Real World”

19 02 2009

I just saw this website on the Feministing community page, and I thought I would share it with all of you.  This is one of the most accessible, inclusive, and comprehensive sex education resources I have seen.  Scarleteen is geared towards young adults, but really is a great resource for anyone of any age.  Scarleteen is a great way to anonymously gather information related to sex and your body without embarrassment or fear.

Thanks, Scarleteen, for being so awesome.

The “Modesty Movement”

19 02 2009

I was browsing through Urban Outfitters’ online spring catalogue and got really upset by their advertisements, featuring topless women or just women’s bodies and not their heads.

Do these women not have faces?

Do these women not have faces?


Ahh...of course I want to buy the shirt that she ISN'T wearing.

Ahh...of course I want to buy the shirt that she ISN'T wearing.


Of course, seeing these images is nothing new to me – the objectification of women is so ubiquitous and normalized. Fashion advertisements have stopped advertising for clothing long ago and have instead showcased women’s bodies. This is also true of men’s fashion advertisements as well, like the classic Abercrombie ads.

Then I stumbled upon an article in North by Northwestern called “Girls raise their tops, lower their skirts for the modesty movement” which caught my eye.  

The “modesty movement” is made of women and girls who are not rejecting fashion but are rejecting scantily clad clothing, so no cleavage, no bras as shirts, and no super short miniskirts. More women and girls want to dress comfortably and fashionably without being (as) objectified and ogled at. Northwestern sophomore Maura Ross, the fundraising co-chair of the Northwestern College Feminists says:

I think that we are taking two steps forward, realizing that we don’t need to impress men with our bodies to get things, and [also] that we are powerful in who we are and we can step forward from the whole idea of the housewife.

Another Northwestern sophomore and advocate for the movement, Jasmin Avila, says:

People think like, “Oh my gosh, puritanical conservatives, people that want to wear turtlenecks all the time, people that wear potato sack nightgowns.” When you say, “Oh, I like to dress modestly,” people think you’re a prude, you know? It’s such a terrible perspective to have about it. I just think that, essentially, modesty is a form of self-respect.

The Modesty Movement is a form of resistance to the hypersexualized images and portrayals of women in the media. By dressing more modestly, women and girls are empowering themselves by demanding recognition for who they are instead of what they look like or what they’re wearing (or not wearing). 

However, critics of the Modesty Movement argue that it is a step backwards instead of progress. It sort of perpetuates the victim-blaming rape culture mentality, placing responsibility on women to “watch what they wear”. Dressing modestly will not necessarily make you less likely to be raped. Critics say that the Modesty Movement suggests that women can change men’s behavior by changing what they wear, which is not true. We can’t be held accountable for the (mis)actions of others.

This is also where the word “choice” comes in and gets tricky. If a woman chooses to dress provocatively, is that empowering or disempowering? I suppose it depends on her motives for dressing provocatively – if she dresses so because she is comfortable in her own body, then that could fall under empowerment. Meanwhile, if she dresses to get attention from men, then that leans more towards disempowerment. Women and men can be quick to attack women who are dressing “sluttily” but at the same time, Avila does have a point that women and men can also be quick to judge women who are dressing more modestly as uptight prudes. 

It kind of seems like a lose-lose situation. What ever women wear, they will always be under scrutiny. What are people’s thoughts and opinions?


19 02 2009

This is something that has been circulating in the feminist blogosphere earlier today (technically yesterday). It appeared in February 18th’s New York Post (a trashy newspaper that most people do not take seriously, but still).


My initial reaction upon seeing this was a complete blank. Honestly, WTF?! is all I had/have to say.

Al Sharpton articulates it better than me:

The cartoon in today’s New York Post is troubling at best, given the racist attacks throughout history that have made African-Americans synonymous with monkeys. One has to question whether the cartoonist is making a less than casual inference to this form of racism when, in the cartoon, the police say after shooting a chimpanzee, “now they will have to find someone else to write the stimulus bill.”

Being that the stimulus bill has been the first legislative victory of President Barack Obama (the first African American president) and has become synonymous with him it is not a reach to wonder whether the Post cartoonist was inferring that a monkey wrote it?