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.

Reflections on Pulling the Plug on Rape Culture

30 03 2009

I was at “Pulling the Plug on Rape Culture One Word at a Time: Using Accuracy to Undermine Dangerous Attitudes and Injustice,” one of the last WAM! sessions that featured Cara Kulwicki of The Curvature, Ashley Burczak of SAFER, Marcella Chester of Abyss2Hope, and Ashwini Hardikar, a SAFER trainer/mentor.  Jill at feministe live-blogged the session.

Just a few things that I really took away and wanted to highlight:

1. Cara spoke about how the language we use to talk about sex, especially the language the mainstream media uses to talk about sex, are deeply problematic.  The media often mis-uses words when covering rape cases.  One example she used is how in one story of a rape case, an article said “The defendant had sex with the victim.”  This assumes innocence of the defendant, erases the victim’s side of the story, and falsely implies that the “sex” is a given, a fact.  

Here is a more recent case of rape where the media mistakenly calls a “toddler sex case”.  Obviously the victim was too young to consent.  As a reminder,


2. Ashwini mentioned how in both Hollywood and Bollywood movies, consensual sex scenes are given higher ratings (R or NC-17) than scenes containing violent sexual acts.  In the movie, Boys Don’t Cry, the director had to omit a scene that showed consensual oral sex scene between Hilary Swank’s character (who was transgender) and Chloe Sevigny’s character.  Meanwhile, thee MPAA ratings were completely okay with violent gang rape and murder scenes.  This speaks volumes about how normalized violence is in our society, and how the pervasiveness of violence in the media reflects structural and interpersonal violence that occurs in our day-to-day lives.  Furthermore, what are the implications of this for young people who grow up watching violent sex scenes, or violence in general, and therefore internalize these violent cultural norms?

3.  Marcella defined rape culture as the cumulative effect of toxic personal attitudes and toxic systems related to sex, consent and sexual violence.  Rape culture is designed for those who feel entitled.  Rapists need positive motives to justify and rationalize their egregious acts.  They screw with reality and tell themselves that women ask for it, or that women want to be forced into having sex.  This feeds into rape apologism, and that’s how a rapist, a “nice guy”, can justify committing such an atrocious act of violence.

Rape culture is rooted in the personal and therefore its power and transmission varies.  Because rape culture is rooted in the personal, we all have the power to challenge and change it.  We all have the power to pull the plug without getting burnt.      

4. Ashley, who was just at Tufts for the SAFER Teach-In, talked a lot about dominant rape culture narratives.  These narratives are constantly repeated over and over and indoctrinate all of us into rape culture.  Such narratives include victim-blaming ideologies that put all the emphasis on the survivor and ask what the survivor did wrong, not what the perpetrator did wrong.    

We need to create and spread a counter-narrative to rape culture.  A good counter-narrative would place greater emphasis on the behavior of the perpetrator and by-stander training instead of the behavior of the survivor.  It would break down all forms of oppression and expose the interconnections among them. 

How do we disseminate these counter-narratives though?  Powerholders won’t change out of the goodness of their hearts.  Instead, power structures change because they are forced to.  How do we force them to change?  It’s important to focus on a specific and concrete goal(s) that challenges rape culture.  The goal must be specific and have tangible results.  So it can be something like getting the MPAA to label films that depict sexual violence.  Then from there, find who it is that can give you want you want and go from there.   

Often when we talk or write about rape culture it can get very depressing and upsetting.  However, the Pulling the Plug on Rape Culture session was a very uplifting and inspiring experience – perhaps it was the vibe and energy you got from sitting in a room full of people who were just as concerned and passionate about ending rape.  It was wonderful to hear about the work that other people in the room were doing to end rape culture.  There was also the constant emphasis on and reiteration of how we have the power to end rape culture. 

My only critique of the session is that there was not a strong enough male presence in the room.  Men are important allies in the fight to end sexual violence and it’s important to have them on board from the start.

Sunday Stupidity

29 03 2009

We are back with more Saturday Stupidity!  Since we are a little late on posting, we are just going to call it Sunday Stupidity this time.  So, stuff we’ve heard this week from our fellow peers at Tufts that makes us want to pull our hair out:

“I want to pretend I’m gay or come out to my parents just to piss them off or see their reaction.”

This is an insensitive statement that romanticizes what it means to be gay.  It also said from a position of heterosexual privilege where one has never had to worry about homophobic comments or violence, where one has never had to repress one’s sexual orientation out of fear, where one has never experienced the barriers that LGBTQ individuals face in society.  For some people in the LGBTQ community, coming out is a privilege in itself.  Coming out safely, without worrying about retaliation or violence, can be a privilege for some people.  It’s not something to do just to piss off your parents or test their reaction.

Moreover, wanting to pretend that you are gay especially if you are straight is an insult to the struggles and oppression that the LGBTQ community has faced/continues to face today.  It also feeds into an aestheticization of the gay lifestyle – stylish, fashionable, fit, wealthy, good-looking gay men.


Last night, the Gender Blenders attended the WAM (Women, Action, and Media) party at club Caprice.  It was a really great time.  But for some reason, whenever I attend events for feminists, queer events, or even events sponsored by queer organizations, I get really strange reactions from my peers.  The WAM event was sponsored by QWOC (Queer Women of Color) and Allies of Boston, and a couple of people expressed concern or even outrage that I was attending the event at all.  One friend advised me:

That is not the kind of club you need to be going to.  You need a boyfriend.  You’re obviously not going to meet a boyfriend there!

Just to make it clear, my sole purpose in life is not the pursuit of a boyfriend, and I really can’t stand when people tell me that I need a boyfriend.  Plus, why would my friend assume that no straight men would be at the event?  And why would I want to meet men at a club anyway?  Gross.  Here’s another reaction to the party:

It’s really just rude to them for you to be there.  You’re not gay and you’re not black.  You’re giving them the wrong idea.

I’m sorry…WHAT?  The statement first of all assumes that I’m completely totally 100% heterosexual, second assumes because the event was sponsored by QWOC and Allies of Boston that it would only be queer Black women, third assumes that “of color” means Black people only, and then assumes that queer black women ONLY want to be around other queer black women.  The statement then accuses me of somehow being rude for wanting to attend this party in the first place.  Statements such as these perpetuate the segregation and other-ing of people of different races and sexual orientations.  Here’s another one:

Just make sure you don’t get hit on.  You don’t want those people hitting on you.

Who the fuck are “those people?”  Again, the statement assumes that everyone at the event will be queer women, and assumes that I would not want them to hit on me.  This statement implies that of course all queer women are attracted to ALL women they see and will automatically hit on other women in a rude and uncomfortable manner.  And I don’t exactly want to get hit on by straight men who I am not interested in, so why would being hit-on by a woman who I’m not interested in be such a different experience for me or the other person?  Good golly.

Check us out in The Observer!

29 03 2009

For those of you who haven’t seen our first feature column, Our Vaginas Are Angry at Tufts, in the Tufts Observer, be sure to check it out! 

Our second column will appear in next week’s Observer which will be available as of April 6th. 

Stay tuned and happy reading!

By the way, if people want to contact us, we have an email address: thegenderblenderblog@gmail.com.  Or friend Gender Blender on facebook!

Bathroom reading

28 03 2009

I was at the WAM Conference at MIT’s Stata Center today and yesterday, which was one of the most illuminating and inspiring experiences of my life.   While I went to the bathroom, in my stall I saw a poster that looked like an anti-sexual violence poster that said:

Have you had sex when you didn’t want to?

MIT can help you out.

That text was crossed out and scrawled under it was:

No, Trust me it won’t!  MIT will only make things worse for you!

Two things that came to mind for me as I read this were:

1.  This is a subtlety in the language but by framing it as “have you had sex when you didn’t want to?”, emphasis is once again placed on the survivor instead of the perpetrator.  A better wording would be “did someone have sex with you when you didn’t want to have sex?”  Even though the poster looked like an anti-sexual violence poster it did not mention the word “rape” or “sexual assault”, which is understandable because some people may not identify their experience as rape or sexual assault.  After all, it is up to the survivor to name their experience.  However, I think that it’s still important for people to not be afraid to say the word rape or sexual assault.

2.  The cross-out of the original text and the scrawl underneath it is unfortunately reflective of something seen in many colleges and universities: the lack of institutional/administrative support for survivors.  Many schools do not do all that they can do to prevent or address sexual violence on campus.  And many students and administrators at whichever school they’re at tend to believe that they are the exception, that sexual violence just doesn’t happen here.

Black Mayoral Candidate Tries to Bring Back the Noose as Punishment…Say WHAT?

28 03 2009

I just saw this story on The New Black Woman, and I am completely outraged.

In Jackson, Mississippi, a 65-year-old Black Republican mayoral candidate is hoping to bring back the hanging noose as a form of punishment for crime.  The candidate has been met with outrage on his position by many, but still insists that his stand is welcomed in some especially crime-filled areas of Jackson.  

Candidate George Lambus has been hanging flyers around Jackson with statements such as: “Crime can only be alleviated by a noose and a stout tree limb.  I will provide the noose and when the economy improves, I will get the jobs here.”  

Lambus said in an interview with the Associated Press:

Look at recent history, like in South Africa, when apartheid was abolished.  Blacks went on a crime spree. Other blacks got tired of it … and they formed vigilantes and they killed people. It brought the crime down.

Citing the Bible as a model, Lambus claims that executions are the only way to control crime.

The Mississippi Republican Party is not supporting Lambus, and he is very much a long-shot in the election.  But since Lambus is the only GOP candidate, he is expected to automatically advance as the Republican candidate.

I’m hoping that Lambus’ outrageously offensive stance will cause people to ignore him in the election.  However, the sheer idea that he could promote this movement is frightening.  In the 2000 census, Jackson was found to be 70.6% African American or Black as opposed to 27.8% white.  The Jackson, Mississippi public school system in 2005-2006 was 97.25% African American.  (These are the most recent statistics I was able to find.  If you know of any more recent statistics, let me know.)  Knowing the historical connotations that the noose has for African Americans, and the inequities in the legal system, I can’t believe that Lambus would even attempt to use the noose as a punishment.  And “controlling” crime with vigilante violence is absolutely ridiculous.  Adding violence to violence does not equal peace.  Lambus’ platform is simply appalling.

Newsflash: there is a NEW feminism!

28 03 2009

Newsflash feminists: THERE IS A NEW FEMINISM!  It’s called YES FEMINISM!, as defined by Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, speaking at the recent 1st International Conference on Woman and Human Rights.  The conference was themed “Life, Family, Development: The Role of Women in the Promotion of Human Rights,” and occurred last Friday and Saturday in Rome. It was organized by the Pontifical Council, the World Women’s Alliance for Life and Family, and the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organization.  Out with the old, in with the new.  “Old” feminism is no longer in:

The old feminism was based on egocentric individualism, often egotistical. The new feminism must be interlaced with love for life, for the family, for others; a feminism regulated by charity, the queen of the virtues.

Hear that ladies and gentleman?  The “old” feminism really did not value life, the family, others, and social work.  In fact, it hates life, motherhood, marriage, the family, etc, and it did nothing for charity or social justice causes.

Goodbye egocentricism and hello “yes” feminism!  Apparently this “new” feminism unites the best intuitions from the process of female emancipation while denying all that is contrary to the true dignity of a person.  Mind you, “the true dignity of a person” includes absolutely no abortion and no to pro-choice activism.  After all, cells that have yet to form a fetus are persons too!

The Cardinal also stated, “There will be no new feminism without God, especially if God is not discovered as Love.”  Okay, got that?  So from now on feminists must all believe in God.  Because God is Love.  And if you don’t get that then you’re not a feminist.  Away with you atheists and agnostics!  How dare you call yourselves feminists when you have not discovered God and the Love He represents and shares?

What exactly is yes feminism though?  Hear it from the wise one:

Cardinal Martino explained that it must promote a “yes feminism,” that encompasses a “yes” to God, Father of the whole of humanity and Creator of man and woman in his image and likeness, a “yes” to life, to all life and to everyone’s life, always, a “yes” to the family founded on marriage, a unitive and fruitful love between a man and a woman, and a “yes” to women and to their genius.

Get it?  Yes feminism means yes organized religion, yes heterosexism, yes heterosexual marriage, yes patriarchy!  Yes! to all the women who geniusly comply with patriarchy!  If you support the diversification of households/family structures instead of solely recognizing heterosexual marriages and a woman’s rights to her body and her body autonomy, then it seems that new feminism is unfortunately not for you.  Oppose patriarchy?  You’re in the wrong place.  What a bummer, right?

Furthermore, the Cardinal says:

To deny nature, that is, to deny that the human person is above all a project loved and accomplished by God the Creator, which it is not good to subvert arbitrarily, is the focal point that must be made very clear. When nature is denied, the human person is no longer a project, but becomes inexorably a product either of culture or of technology.

Ahh…reducing women to their bodies?  The right thing to do, of course.  Because women are just “nature”, they are confined to their biology and their reproductive functions.  So don’t dare use birth control or even consider abortion because it’s only natural for women to be mothers and caretakers, y’know.  Don’t forget, feminism = the heterosexual, nuclear family.  Don’t you dare refute that!

Alrighty, Cardinal and all others who support him, all this talk about this so-called “new” feminism is just a mask for “have we killed feminism yet?”  Want the answer?  NO you haven’t killed feminism!  Sorry, feminism is not about bowing down to patriarchy.  “New” feminism = patriarchy, which is so NOT the case!  No thanks Cardinal, but I think that I”m content with plain “old” feminism.  New feminism, a.k.a patriarchy, just isn’t my style.

The Guy’s Manual-Powered by Grape Nuts

28 03 2009

Post Cereal’s Grape Nuts has recently released a new ad campaign specifically targeting men.  The main part of the design is a 50-episode web series entitled “The Guy’s Manual.”  The campaign features Kenny Mayne, the host from ESPN’s “Mayne Street.”  The website is debuting with 14 episodes, but will be expanded to include 50 episodes in the next eight months.  The campaign will also include post, radio, and banner ads.

The tagline for the ad campaign is “..because when you tackle something tough at home, at work, or at play…that doesn’t just take know-how.  That takes Grape Nuts.”  Episodes include “Landing a Date with the Cute Girl at the Office,” “Taking Apart Your ’65 GTO to Teach Your Son how an Engine Works,” “Throwing Back the Biggest One You’ve Ever Caught,” “Taking Your Fiancee’s Poodle for a Morning Jog,” “Looking Cool Driving a Minivan,” and “Going Bald Like a Man.”  

The series is co-produced by MSN, OgilvyEntertainment, and Reveille.  “We are excited to collaborate with Post and Ogilvy on a fun and innovative new show that connects with guys where they live—online,” said Howard T. Owens, managing director of Reveille (an independent TV studio) as quoted on EarthTimes.org.

Sexism in advertising is extremely prevalent, not only against women but against men as well.  Men are expected to be “manly:” to be physically strong, unemotional, heterosexual, tech savvy, risk-taking, and sexually confident.  Here’s why “The Guy’s Manual” is problematic.  Much in the same way that the Frito-Lay “A Woman’s World” campaign discussed in feminist2’s previous post reinforces cultural definitions of ideal femininity, “The Guy’s Manual” reinforces stereotypes of heterocentric “tough” masculinity.

The website includes a great deal of information on subjects such as camping, sports, exercise, relationships, automobiles, and technology.  Most of the tips are catered to men who are stereotypically “masculine.”  All of the men appear to be heterosexual, and thus the relationship tips are geared towards heterosexual relationships.  The women pictured in these scenarios are stereotypically feminine and often annoyingly high maintenance.  And the men are often desperate to prove their manhood, even in potentially “emasculating” situations such as walking a girlfriend’s poodle.

There are some things I like about the site.  The tips include advice about families and fathering, and the marketing strategy pretty effectively makes use of the internet to educate and engage viewers.  The site is fun to visit and provides a ton of episodes and articles.  And even though the site has little to do with Grape Nuts cereal besides asserting over and over that tackling anything tough somehow requires Grape Nuts, the purple background and constant references to Grape Nuts Cereal actually did make me really crave Grape Nuts.  And I’m a woman…go figure.

But men shouldn’t have cultural ideals of masculinity shoved at them any more than women should be constantly told to conform to the feminine ideal.  So…is Grape Nuts’ new ad campaign savvy advertising or an insultingly narrow definition of what it means to be a man?  Maybe it’s a little bit of both.  What do you think?

How does race play into hook-up culture?

27 03 2009

PACT (Prevention, Awareness and Community at Tufts) is in the process of filming a documentary about hook-up culture at Tufts. We heard from many different people and their thoughts on various issues related to hook-up culture: whether hook-up culture exists here at Tufts, the advantages and disadvantages of hooking up, how race/racism factors into hook-up culture, how to be an active bystander, how technology enables/facilitates hook-up culture, where sexual assault plays into hook-up culture, etc.

What interested me the most was the whole race/racism issue. People may think that we are beyond race and racism now, that we are “color-blind”, but that is not necessarily true. People spoke about their experiences and thoughts on hooking up with or dating people who exclusively hook up or date people of a certain ethnicity. Like white males who only hook up with or date black women, or Asian women, etc.

Exclusively hooking up with or dating people of a certain ethnicity (like only Latinos/Latinas, or Asians, or blacks, etc.) is problematic and racist because in these scenarios, that ethnicity is being eroticized, fetishized and otherized. People project ideas and assumptions about the behavior of certain ethnicities based on racist stereotypes about that ethnic group. It further groups the people of that ethnicity together and tokenizes people – that one person is representative of the whole ethnic group.

But is it racist to hook up with or date only within your own ethnicity or to purposely avoid hooking up with and dating people of your own ethnicity? Some people mentioned having friends or knowing people who refuse to date within their ethnicity because they don’t want to be seen as people who only date within their race. Like how some Asian men make it a point to NOT hook up with or date Asian women because they don’t want to be that stereotypical Asian who only dates Asians. Or how some black women never hook up with or date black men.

I can understand why some people may choose to date exclusively within their own ethnicity – some parents may be very intolerant of interracial dating. Therefore it may be easier to date within your own ethnicity to avoid any parental/family drama. Parental pressure can be a strong force factoring into people’s decisions of who they date or become romantically involved with. Then again, some people just don’t give a damn what their parents think and date whoever they want to regardless of ethnicity.

I have a hard time believing people who say that they only date certain ethnicities because they are simply attracted to certain features. Like if they find blond hair and blue eyes extremely attractive. Or if they find dark skin and dark hair sexy and attractive. What lies behind the attraction? I feel like there’s got to be a lot more than just really liking blue eyes.

I am also slightly skeptical of the argument that it’s better to date within your own ethnicity because “people like you understand you better”. This relates back to the whole why do all the black kids sit together in the cafeteria question. People are conditioned to believe that it’s a personal issue, that people of your skin color just get you in ways that other people can’t. This ignores the underlying structural forces that come into play that shape these relations. It is no coincidence that wealthier suburbs and neighborhoods tend to be predominantly white while housing developments and projects tend to consist of people of color.

It’s easier to convince yourself and accept that it’s a personal, individual thing where people from your ethnic background get you better, but it’s never that simple. It’s also problematic because it lumps all people of a certain ethnicity together. Since you guys are all black, Asian, Hispanic, etc., obviously you are all the same and get each other.

The whole issue of race and romance, how race and racism influence who you choose to hook up with and/or date, is part of an ongoing dialogue that I have with my friends. Despite the many number of times I’ve talked about this and the many number of people I’ve discussed this with, I still haven’t come to any concrete conclusion. What are people’s thoughts and feelings on this?