Where is homosexuality legal and illegal throughout the world?

31 03 2009

Via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:World_homosexuality_laws.svg


Homosexuality legal

██ Same-sex marriage

██ Civil unions or other recognition

██ No recognition of same-sex couples

██ Foreign same-sex marriages recognized

Homosexuality illegal

██ Minimal penalty

██ Large penalty

██ Life in prison

██ Death penalty

Oh no! The radical liberal agenda is taking over!

31 03 2009

Last night, the Tufts Republicans brought David Horowitz over to speak about academic freedom and how education is liberally biased.  Horowitz is a neo-con who is the founder and president of the David Horowitz Freedom Center (at least he has an something named after him.)  The Center publishes FrontPage magazine, a conservative online journal.  I found a better way to spend my time, but the Tufts Daily seems to have pretty decent coverage of the lecture.

Horowitz claims that liberal professors are indoctrinating students with their liberal ideology and undermining the nation’s democracy.  He specifically picked on disciplines like Women’s Studies, Peace and Justice Studies, African-American studies, and various other cultural studies as being extremely leftist.   Apparently these disciplines  do not properly educate students because they don’t challenge their beliefs.

Excuse me but Women’s Studies, Peace and Justice Studies, and the various cultural studies exist to challenge the status quo and the dominant ideology that we’ve all been socialized into.  They exist to challenge the prevalence and intersection of different forms of oppression: heterosexism, sexism, racism, ableism, classism, etc., and to give a voice to groups who have been traditionally marginalized and excluded from academia and society as a whole.

Horowitz supported former Harvard University President Larry Summers who said that men are better than women are at math because women have less mathematical ability.

According to Horowitz, Summers’ statement that women have lower mathematical ability than men was a perfectly intellectual statement backed up by research, and it only caused controversy because it did not coincide with traditionally liberal academic beliefs.

Wake up Horowitz!  Summers’ statement was sexist, misogynist, and anything but “a perfectly intellectual statement backed up by research.”  It didn’t cause controversy because it wasn’t in line with “traditionally liberal academic beliefs.”  It caused controversy because it wasn’t in line period!

And specifically about Women’s Studies, Horowitz said:

Women’s Studies programs are training students to be radical feminists. How many of you have heard that gender is a social construct? The “nature versus nurture” debate has been going on for years, and anyone who argues that gender is a social construct should not be allowed to teach … It’s not a proven point.

This actually made me laugh out loud.  Seriously Horowitz and your neo-con cronies?!  Nice try.  How dare Women’s Studies programs exist?   It’s so very radical to want to learn about gender and sexuality interact with and manifest in social institutions like the law, the media, the economy, etc.  And it’s so very radical to challenge patriarchy!  We can’t afford to have any of those “radical feminists” running around!

Senior Dan Hartman, a former president of the Tufts Republicans, agreed with much of Horowitz’s argument. “We need to have professors stand up to the status quo, challenge those who are ideologues and bring back academic balance,” he said.

“‘We need to have professors stand up to the status quo'”?!  This doesn’t really make sense.  Does he mean “stand up for the status quo”?   Besides, nothing is stopping professors from being conservative if they want to.  I’m sure there are conservative professors out there just as there are liberal professors.

If you really want to talk about indoctrinating students and not properly educating them, why don’t you look at the dominant “banking” method of education that is dominant in this country?  But no, we must all watch out for those radical liberals who dare to question the status quo.  Not surprising from a neo-con.  As usual, the right is wrong.

Stop saying “retarded” !

31 03 2009

As I was browsing through our Twitter contacts, (follow us @TUgenderblender) I noticed a post by Feministe. I think this is a cause that really needs to be brought to light. The Special Olympics started a campaign called “Spread the word to end the word” to get people to think about their word choices and how it may affect others.

Honestly, I’ve personally never got into the habit of saying “that’s retarded” and I’m glad. It’s something that always made me cringe. It’s right up there with saying “that’s gay.”

So what can you do?

Make a pledge on http://www.r-word.org/

Tweet about it: “I pledged to end the use of the r-word today – can you? http://www.r-word.org/ #rword.”

Donate your Facebook Status: “I pledge and support the elimination of the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. http://www.r-word.org/ #rword”

Do your part. What you say DOES make a difference! People of all abilities should be treated fairly.

This is egregious

31 03 2009

For those of you who don’t know what Tufts’ official sexual assault policy is, here it is:

The University supports the right of the victim/survivor of a sexual assault to decide how best to utilize various University, community, private, and public remedies to address crimes of sexual assault. Within the University, instances of sexual assault may be reported to the following offices:

For Arts, Sciences, and Engineering students:

The Office of the Dean of Students

617 627-3158

For all other Students and Staff/Faculty:

The Office of Equal Opportunity

617 627-3298

Instances of sexual assault may also be reported to the Tufts University Police Department:

Medford Police Department: 617 627-3030

Boston Police Department: 617 636-6610

Grafton Police Department: 508 839-5303


There are so many things wrong with this non-policy that I don’t even know where to begin.  For starters, there is no definition of sexual assault.  Furthermore, why is the Dean of Students’ Office the first telephone number listed?!  Who is going to call the Dean to report being sexually assaulted?!  How awkward would that be?!  Besides, most assaults do not occur during the 9-5 work hours so students would just be directed to voicemail. 

The resources that should be listed but aren’t are the contact information for Elaine Theodore, the Sexual Violence Resource Coordinator (located at Health Services); Susan Mahoney, the Sexual Assault Clinician (also located at Health Services); as well as the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC). 

It is also seems a little irrelevant to include the phone numbers for the local police departments because many survivors may not feel like reporting especially if the perpetrator is another student, someone they are friends with or someone they know on campus.  Furthermore, putting the phone numbers of the police departments while not putting the phone numbers for the Sexual Violence Resource Coordinator, the Sexual Assault Clinician, and BARCC, seems to sway survivors into reporting. 

Reporting is an option, but it is an option that not many survivors choose to go through for various reasons.  The most important thing for a survivor is to regain autonomy and a sense of control over his/her life.  Therefore options should be presented to him/her without pushing or persuading him/her in a particular direction.

And the Tufts policy says that the University will support the survivor in best utilizing various resources (or in their own words, “remedies”) after their assault.  However, it fails to mention what the resources are.  So how are survivors supposed to know what they can do if they aren’t presented with various routes they can take?

Sadly, the other written material that Tufts has about its sexual assault policy and procedures in the Judicial Handbook only gets more vague.

All you need is an “Occasional Wife”

30 03 2009

Do you need to organize your house? Do you need to arrange dinner parties, special events, business events, weddings, etc.? Do you need to eliminate the clutter you have lying around? Why don’t you call the Occasional Wife?! Ta-da!


What the fuck?!! Observe this wife’s super thinness. And her maid costume. With the high heels – because it’s easiest to run around the cleaning the house and taking care of errands when you’re tottering on heels. And of course she looks all happy, smiling like that. Because wives LOVE being stuck with doing all the housework all the time. She is also conveniently white, when in reality people working as domestic helpers or servants generally tend to be people of color.

The Occasional Wife is a New Orleans business founded by Kay Morrison, who got the genius idea when she was in the kitchen with her husband, and you know it was just “one of those days when neither our schedules nor our two young children were cooperating. At that point we realized that this family, our family, needed a wife.” What an epiphany, no? Wives – the perfect solution for your busy lives.

Excuse me? Needed a wife? Because wives are supposed to be housewives, doing all the chores and errands that you have to do but don’t want to do, or don’t have time to do. So what exactly does the Occasional Wife do? Just your typical wifely duties, you know.

The Occasional Wife will significantly simplify your daily routines and special event activities. By prioritizing tedious tasks, handling them in an appropriate manner, and organizing and streamlining work and personal environments, we make your life and special occasions stress-free and enjoyable. The Occasional Wife efficiently and effectively removes clutter, organizes spaces, cares for and manages your errands, tasks and other daily responsibilities, and plans and coordinates your complex social functions.

Do you need a wife? Want to rent a wife? It’s all do-able! One Occasional Wife goes for $40 an hour, but if you get two Occasional Wives then it’s $65 per hour. (Somehow I suspect that just because they charge $40 an hour per wife, or $65 for two, the wives don’t get paid that much.) What a bargain! And of course, the website says “Order as many as you’d like!” Get as many Occasional Wives as you want because your real wife is too busy or too bourgeoisie to do (gasp!) housework. Just pay women, these Occasional Wives, to do things that neither the husband or the wife wants to do.

Okay, so you’re super busy working your ass off to make money for your family and just can’t come home and deal with the clutter, the “tedious tasks”, all your errands, and everything else you have to do. You want/need some extra help around the house to lighten up your load, and you can actually afford it. Fine. But why on earth would the three women who started this business call it “The Occasional Wife”?!! Way to delineate all household chores to women.

Apart from being plain creepy (“Hi, I’d like to buy an Occasional Wife please.”), this also perpetuates the confinement of women to the domestic sphere. It bothers me that three women are the ones who started this, and that this business was awarded as the “Innovator of the Year” in 2007. It’s apparently innovative to reinforce patriarchy and commodifying women again to pay “wives” aka servants to do work that you don’t want to do.

Disney’s First Black Princess

30 03 2009

The Princess and The Frog

Disney is returning to it’s original 2D animation style to introduce a new 2009 feature, The Princess and the Frog.  The film is based loosely on the book The Frog Princess by E.D. Baker.  This film will be the first traditional animation feature in the Disney animation series since 2004’s Home on The Range.  And it is also the first Disney musical since Hercules.

The film supposedly began under the working title The Frog Princess and the princess’ name began as Maddy.  Maddy was originally listed on the casting call sheet as a “chambermaid.”  However, the film title was changed to The Princess and The Frog and supposedly the princess’ name was changed to Tiana.  Tiana’s occupation was also reportedly switched from chambermaid to waitress.  

But it seems that Disney is denying the claim that the information was switched.  In a press release, the Disney PR department said:

…There is incorrect information being circulated about Disney’s 2009 motion picture The Princess and the Frog (whose previous working title was The Frog Princess)

The central character is a young girl named Princess Tiana. The story takes place in the charming elegance and grandeur of New Orleans’ fabled French Quarter during the Jazz Age . . . Princess Tiana will be a heroine in the great tradition of Disney’s rich animated fairy tale legacy, and all other characters and aspects of the story will be treated with the greatest respect and sensitivity.

This American fairy tale is several years away from completion and the creative process is ongoing . . . unfortunately much of the information that has surfaced, including the casting breakdown . . . is inaccurate. When we do casting calls we frequently use substitute information as we don’t want details out about the movies. Therefore that information you have is incorrect.

One thing Disney does admit was that the title was changed.   It has been argued that the new title was chosen because it has been perceived as less derogatory to black women because it does not imply that the princess is in some way ugly.  Many people believe that the name and occupation were in fact changed due to a media outcry against racism in the film.  Some critics noted that the name “Maddy” calls to mind the word “Mammy,” an offensive stereotype of African American women.  And the portrayal of “Maddy” as a chambermaid for a spoiled white girl was considered insulting.  The name may have in fact been changed due to this outcry, and many people seem to agree that the new name for the princess is more fitting because it is more regal and “ethnic” sounding.  

In reaction to the film’s preliminary information, Jennifer Daniels from BET wrote:

As it turned out, my ‘Boys’ could write a better story than this.  

Our plucky young Black protagonist, Maddy, as a chambermaid. There’s also a plantation owner, two practitioners of voodoo – one a Magical Negro, the other a villain – a singing alligator, and score by the whitest White man to ever rest his head in the Big Easy, Randy Newman. (Were the Neville brothers & Harry Connick, Jr., busy?). Knowing Disney, I’m sure there’s a dead parent somewhere in the mix. The living parent, Maddy’s mother Eudora, is also a maid. Somebody turns into a frog. Oh, and the prince is White.

…A movie like The Frog Princess, with its touching tale of a po’ Black chile (sic) being rescued from the Big Black Voodoo Daddy by a great White hope in the pre-Civil Rights Movement South not only offensive and ignorant of history, but highly insensitive as well.

It does seem that many people do consider the presentation of a black princess in a Disney movie to be a long overdue bit of progress, even if the portrayal might be problematic.  But some have been hailing the film with headlines such as “Princess Maddy Repairs Disney’s Racist Reputation.”  This is taking it more than a little bit too far.  Simply having a black heroine (who of course conforms to standards of beauty and thinness) and a Latino (maybe?) prince (who is buff, handsome, and strong looking of course) does not mean that the film is racism-free.  And of course the couple is heterosexual!

William Blackburn from the Charlotte Observer stated:

This princess’ story is set in New Orleans, the setting of one of the most devastating tragedies to beset a black community. And then they throw in the voodoo theme [the fairy-godmother character is a voodoo priestess] and an alligator sidekick. When you put New Orleans, alligators and voodoo together, there’s no beauty there.  

Whereas it has been argued that the use of New Orleans as a backdrop is insensitive, on the other hand some seem to see the film as a positive for New Orleans, taking the spotlight off of the devastation and putting it back on the beauty of the city and the culture.

Another debate has arisen about the prince’s race.  From what I’ve read, it seems that the prince is supposed to be Latino, but some people argue that he is white. Others say that the prince was originally supposed to be white, but his race was later changed to Latino after the public outcry.  While some see the portrayal of the interracial relationship as progress, others would have preferred a black prince.  One commenter on filmschoolrejects.com said:

What is wrong with the prince being black?? Why MUST he be anything but?? I don’t want my daughter growing up with fantasies of a white guy “rescuing” her. It kind of seems that the “prince” in Disney movies is usually white though, even with the other “ethnic” “princesses”

Another commenter wondered if Disney was just trying to “kill two birds with one stone” by including both a Latino man and a black woman, when neither group has been represented in Disney films before.

I have to say I’m a little nervous about the film’s content, but I’m also really excited to see it.  The animation looks absolutely beautiful, and it will certainly be something to blog about once I actually have seen how the plot actually plays out.

So, what do you all think?  Is the inclusion of a crazy voodoo-practicing villain, a jazz-singing alligator, and a Cajun firefly friend with only four teeth just more Disney  racist stereotyping?  Are you buying Disney’s supposed argument that the information circulating about the character’s name and occupation was false, or do you think the changes were a product of a quick panic that Disney might be seen as racist?  Is the use of New Orleans as a backdrop offensive or brilliant?  Is the inclusion of an interracial couple progressive or problematic?  And last, is Princess Tiana a monumental and progressive step towards racial inclusion in Disney films, or is she just another racially stereotyped, ultra-feminine, skinny heterosexual girl to instill children with unrealistic expectations of romance?

You forgot about masturbation, Logan

30 03 2009

In Logan Crane’s column in the Daily today, “The art of O”, she writes about how few women achieve orgasm during sexual intercourse and then proceeds to give advice on how women can achieve orgasm when having sex with men.  Like many of her other articles, this one is also very heteronormative.

She writes:

Women know all too well that we can easily lose motivation to have sex. One thing comes up, and we are suddenly fixated on the issue at hand. A woman will never be able to come if she isn’t in the mood.

It is unfair to generalize that women easily lose motivation to have sex.  This rests on the assumption that women are not very sexual beings and do not feel sexual desire as much as men do.  Moreover, “one thing comes up, and we are suddenly fixated on the issue at hand”?  Is this to suggest that women (and women only?) have such short attention spans and can’t fully concentrate on anything?  It is difficult for both women and men to come if they aren’t in the mood.

And one oversight in her list of ways for women to orgasm during sex: what about masturbation?! Women can achieve orgasm while they are masturbating more easily than when they have intercourse.  Furthermore, masturbation is something every woman can do, not just heterosexual women who are sexually active.  Orgasm through masturbation is something we can all do ourselves so we don’t have to rely on a partner to get it right for us.