Anti-feminist Bingo!

18 05 2009

I just read an old entry on Hoyden About Town titled Anti-feminist-Bingo! A master-class in sexual entitlement:

If you find yourself getting frustrated in a feminist conversation with someone who seems to just Not Get It, have a peek through the card. Odds are your antagonist will have used 3, 4, 5 or more of these somewhere along the line.

If you’re a man trying not to be an arsehole in feminist conversations, but you seem to find yourself floundering and can’t figure out why, you might like to scrutinise your comments critically to see if some of these messages are inadvertently coming across.

These bingo cards are awesome.  Here’s Anti-feminist Bingo card 1:

anti-feminist bingo

Anti-feminist Bingo card 2:

anti-feminist 2 bingo

And with the help of Google, I found other cool Bingo cards too.  Here’s a Rape Apologist Bingo card:

rape apologist bingo

And here’s a Fat Hate Bingo card:

fat hate bingoAren’t these great?

Pleasure yourself ladies… with Fling!

18 05 2009


With what you ask?  With Fling, a new feminine chocolate bar made by Mars specially for women.  (But Twix is my favorite chocolate candy bar!!  What’s wrong with that?!  Is it too manly?  And since I’m not a dude, am I not man enough for it?)


Fling is the first new chocolate bar that Mars has introduced in 20 years.  It’s just for the ladies – hence the pink wrapper, the pink “Pleasure Yourself” promotional post cards, the “Naughty, but not that naughty” tag line and the fact that it has only 85 calories!  The chocolate bars also apparently have glitter on them – Ew!  Who would eat glittery chocolate?  So far it’s only sold in California and on the internet, but if it gets popular enough as Mars hopes it will, it will start selling nationwide.

Of course all women go crazy over the color pink, especially if there’s glitter.  If we see something sparkly or pink we will run straight at it and buy it.  But dudes won’t go near it because it’s “too girly.”  Fling is naughty because women aren’t supposed to indulge and eat chocolate or desserts (but everyone knows that women will do anything for chocolate!).  But it’s “not that naughty” because it’s only 85 calories!  Under 100, not bad!   Oh, it’s also naughty because women aren’t really supposed to be sexual, express sexual desire, or pleasure themselves (aka masturbate) for that matter.

The marketing language it uses is chock full of sexual innuendos.  From NPR:

Wrapped in a shiny pink and sliver package, this delicate “chocolate finger” is intended for women. The word “finger” is an industry term for a long, slim confection, Mars spokesman Ryan Bowling says, but with ads that invite you to “Pleasure yourself” in pink lettering, consumers might come to other conclusions.

Hmm…female masturbation?  It seems like Mars is taking the supposed connection between chocolate and sensuality way too literally and seriously.  And instead of being an effective marketing tactic, it’s actually pretty laughable.  What’s also laughable are the super pink t-shirts they also sell.  One of them says: You’ll never forget your first time, and another says Try it in public.  Oh geez.  Major eye roll.

As Cara writes on Feministe: “Why don’t think just change the slogan to ‘skinny chicks masturbate with low-fat chocolate; and get it over with?  It might even add a bit of subtlety.”  LOL.  Why don’t they?

Good news! Female victories! Yay!

18 05 2009

Good news from Kuwait and Lithuania!

First, from Kuwait:

Congratulations to Aseel al-Awadhi, Rula Dashti, Salwa al-Jassar, and Massouma al-Mubarak!   These four women won seats in the Kuwaiti Parliament (with 50 seats altogether) for the first time in Kuwaiti history!

From left to right: Aseel al-Awadhi, Rola Dashti, Salwa al-Jassar and Massouma al-Mubarak

From left to right: Aseel al-Awadhi, Rola Dashti, Salwa al-Jassar and Massouma al-Mubarak

Four seats may not seem like a lot but consider that in the U.S., there are currently only 17 female senators out of 100 and 76 female representatives out of 435.  What’s more, Kuwaiti women gained the right to vote and run for office just recently, in 2005, but none had been elected until now.  Said Awadhi, “It’s a victory for Kuwaiti women and a victory for Kuwaiti democracy.  This is a major leap forward.”

And in Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite, European Union Budget Chief, was elected as the country’s first female president by an overwhelming victory (she won 68.17% of the votes)!

Grybauskaite, Lithuania's first female president.

Grybauskaite, Lithuania's first female president.

Grybauskaite, a black-belt in karate and a “tough-talking former finance minister”, ran as an independent and said, “I think that the political elite devaluated themselves and people do not trust local politics any more.  And my own experience and my own results in my career show people that I can be trusted.”  She faces the challenge of improving Lithuania’s declining economy and strives to create and implement a policy that will “stabilize public finances, stimulate exports, absorb EU aid faster and provide tax breaks for small and medium-sized businesses.”

Congratulations to these five amazing, impressive and inspirational women!  Their victories are super exciting!

You were discriminated against and now have a smaller pension because of that? Gee, that sucks.

18 05 2009

The Supreme Court declared in 1976 in GE v. Gilbert that pregnancy discrimination by employers “was not a gender-based discrimination at all.”  Congress however overrode the Court’s interpretation and passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1979 which amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to outlaw pregnancy discrimination by employers.  The Pregnancy Discrimination Act stated that companies could not treat pregnancy leaves differently from other disability leaves, so maternity leaves are just disability leaves that are credited towards retirement.

But today, in a 7-2 decision the Court held that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act should not be applied retroactively and that AT&T is allowed to pay female employees lower pension benefits if they took maternity leave before the PDA was enacted.  Four AT&T female employees who had taken at least one maternity leave between 1968 and 1976 sued AT&T to get their leave time credited towards their pensions.  They lost between 67 and 261 days of uncredited leave.

AT&T lawyers argued that their pension plan was legal when the women took their pregnancy leaves so there’s no reason for them to recalculate their pensions now.  They also argued that the Pregnancy Discriminatory Act is not supposed to be retroactive and since the women took their leaves prior to its passage, they don’t deserve the extra money.  And seven Supreme Court Justices agreed with them.   This is a slap in the face for these four women, and countless other women who have been discriminated against because they were pregnant.

The women’s lawyers argued that even if the Pregnancy Discrimination Act is not retroactive, the preceding decision from Lorance v. AT&T Technologies should inform this current decision.  In that earlier case, the Court held that if a seniority system is discovered to be facially discriminatory, it “‘can be challenged at any time.'”  Furthermore, the Civil Rights Act of 1991 states that intentionally discriminatory seniority systems “when a person aggrieved is injured by the application of the seniority system” can be challenged.

The two dissenting opinions came from Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg Stephen Breyer.  In her dissent Ginsburg notes:

Today’s case presents a question of time. As the Court comprehends the PDA, even after the effective date of the Act, lower pension benefits perpetually can be paid to women whose pregnancy leaves predated the PDA. As to those women, the Court reasons, the disadvantageous treatment remains as Gilbert declared it to be: “facially nondiscriminatory,” and without “any gender-based discriminatory effect.”

There is another way to read the PDA, one better attuned to Congress’ “unambiguou[s] … disapproval of both the holding and the reasoning” in Gilbert. On this reading, the Act calls for an immediate end to any pretense that classification on the basis of pregnancy can be “facially nondiscriminatory.” While the PDA does not reach back to redress discrimination women encountered before Congress overruled Gilbert, the Act instructs employers forthwith to cease and desist: From and after the PDA’s effective date, classifications treating pregnancy disadvantageously must be recognized, “for all employment-related purposes,” including pension payments, as discriminatory both on their face and in their impact. So comprehended, the PDA requires AT&T to pay Noreen Hulteen and others similarly situated pension benefits untainted by pregnancy-based discrimination.

So the question essentially is, “Does paying a woman lower pension benefits than she would otherwise be entitled to constitute ongoing discrimination if the decision was initially made in the past?

The Supreme Court’s ruling on this issue is upsetting and will impact the lives of many women who took pregnancy leaves years and years ago and are now approaching retirement.  However, it is important to keep in mind that The Supreme Court is an interpretative body – it interprets the laws that Congress has written.  So while today’s decision is infuriating, the responsibility should be on Congress to remedy the legislation so that pregnancy discrimination is prohibited.

Activism is easier than you think

18 05 2009

Renee wrote a post recently about activism and what fighting for social justice is all about.  Many people equate activism with attending protests or rallies, going to conferences, or large gestures as such.  However, the small steps we take and the small things we do add up and can amount to significant change as well.  The personal is political and what we do in our daily lives does have an impact.

This is what micro activism is – the decisions we make and the actions we take in our daily lives that may not necessarily be grand gestures but certainly make a statement about our personal beliefs/values, and reflects our opposition to social institutions and systems that are oppressive and damaging.  It includes blogging, being conscious about where we shop, mentoring someone younger than us, calling someone out on disrespectful and offensive jokes or comments, etc.

Like Renee says, micro activism isn’t about what everyone around you is doing.  It’s about what you are doing, or what you can do:

Small everyday acts disturb the norm…Each person we touch is an opportunity to make change.   One need not lobby on Capitol Hill to take on the label of activist, you simply need to live your stated beliefs to the best of your abilities.

Keeping all of this in mind, I recently bought and read 50 ways to improve women’s lives: the essential women’s guide to achieving equality, health, and success.

50 waysIt was put together by the National Council of Women’s Organizations and features fifty short, easy to read essays by different feminist activists on various issues to care about and take action on along with easy ways to get involved.  Contributors include Helen Blank, the director of leadership and public policy at the National Women’s Law Center; Dianne Feinstein, California’s senior senator, the first female president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the first female mayor of San Francisco, and the first woman elected senator of California; Gloria Feldt, the president of Planned Parenthood; Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization of Women, and Madeleine Albright, the first female Secretary of State.

This book is very informative and inspiring.  It’s broken up into seven comprehensive sections: Do It for Your Health; Practice Real Family Values; Grow Your Money, Grow Your Mind; Lead the Way; Forge a Path for the Next Generation; Build the Community You Want to Live In; and Reach for the World.  The essays/primers on important issues and guides to activism cover a diverse range of topics including supporting prenatal care across the globe, creating community media, promoting financial literacy, combating human trafficking, ending sexual harassment, and teaching honest sex ed.

This is a book that I highly recommend to everyone.  Many people often wonder, but what could I possibly do?!  Well, this book certainly has some answers to guide you along.

GPS monitoring in domestic violence and stalking cases

18 05 2009

via The New York Times and Slate

There has been a recent push from many organizations for court-mandated GPS monitoring in domestic violence and stalking cases.  Several state laws permit judges to mandate GPS monitoring as a condition of a restraining order.  The GPS can keep track of abusers and alert police whenever a domestic violence offender enters a restricted zone or removes or deactivates the bracelet.  GPS monitoring is also a possible deterrent from the violation of restraining orders in the first place.

A recent law in Massachusetts has expanded GPS device use to include domestic violence and stalking offenders who have violated orders of protection.  Thirteen states have passed similar legislation, and about 5,000 abusers are being tracked nationwide.  

There is debate over who will cover the cost of such monitoring if it becomes more widely used.  The cost of the monitoring system is somewhere around $10 per day.  States such as Massachusetts make the abusers pay for their own devices.  However, this plan is problematic in cases where the perpetrator is unable to meet the cost or is paying child support at the same time.  Another plan would be for the government to pay for the systems, but the systems are quite expensive.  Hopefully, this cost will be made up in reduced needs for other domestic violence resources and shelters.  There are also concerns that paying for the GPS systems might actually divert funds from other domestic violence programs.  With the recent economic crisis, many states have had trouble meeting the cost of the GPS monitoring program and the associated training for police and judges.

Of course, GPS monitoring isn’t a perfect system.  Some argue that GPS monitoring might enrage certain abusers and make violations even more likely.  Also, there are many different types of long-distance abuse, harassment, and intimidation that are possible even with GPS monitoring. The ACLU has complained that there is too much leeway for judges in decisions about GPS monitoring.  It is also very difficult to protect families who live in rural areas where police are not able to respond quickly to alerts.  There is also always the fear that the perpetrator will remove his/her device.

I have also seen arguments that GPS monitoring could be unjustly used by legal authorities to target the black community and monitor the activities of black males.  Also, some argue that since GPS is typically used in the worst and highest risk cases, the punishment should be prison, not GPS monitoring.  Check out the Harvard Law Record article for a synopsis of a panel discussion on the pros and cons of GPS monitoring.

All in all, though, this does seem like a pretty good option.  The system puts the burden on the abuser rather than the victim.  The system also will provide clear and prove-able evidence of violations of restraining orders in the case that the perpetrator does enter the restricted zone while wearing the device.  GPS monitoring can alert victims of violence if their perpetrator is in the vicinity and notify police.  It could buy victims the much needed extra time that it takes to escape and could also deter acts of violence in certain cases.  Although it isn’t a perfect system, GPS monitoring could help victims breathe a bit easier, and even a little bit of relief from fear and danger is priceless for victims of abuse.

Repealing DADT is really not that hard, can’t we just do it already?

18 05 2009

Andrew Sullivan has a great piece on The Atlantic about how Obama, just like the presidents who have preceded him, has failed to take more proactive steps in furthering civil rights for the LGBTQ community.  Not only is there inaction, but there is also a lot of silence.  Writing a note to Lt. Sandy Tsao, discharged for being openly gay, saying that he is “committed to changing our current policy” is insufficient.  (She was still discharged and where are we with repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?)

Sullivan writes (Bold emphasis mine):

And it’s tedious to whine and jump up and down and complain when a wand isn’t waved and everything is made right by the first candidate who really seemed to get it, who was even able to address black church congregations about homophobia. And obviously patience is necessary; and legislative work takes time; and there are real challenges on so many fronts, especially the economy and the legacy of war crimes and the permanently restive Iraqi and Afghan regions we are constantly in the process of liberating from themselves. No one expects a president to be grappling with all this early on, or, God help us, actually leading on civil rights. That’s our job, not his.

But I have a sickeningly familiar feeling in my stomach, and the feeling deepens with every interaction with the Obama team on these issues. They want them to go away. They want us to go away.

Here we are, in the summer of 2009, with gay servicemembers still being fired for the fact of their orientation. Here we are, with marriage rights spreading through the country and world and a president who cannot bring himself even to acknowledge these breakthroughs in civil rights, and having no plan in any distant future to do anything about it at a federal level. Here I am, facing a looming deadline to be forced to leave my American husband for good, and relocate abroad because the HIV travel and immigration ban remains in force and I have slowly run out of options (unlike most non-Americans with HIV who have no options at all).

And what is Obama doing about any of these things? What is he even intending at some point to do about these things? So far as I can read the administration, the answer is: nada. We’re firing Arab linguists? So sorry. We won’t recognize in any way a tiny minority of legally married couples in several states because they’re, ugh, gay? We had no idea. There’s a ban on HIV-positive tourists and immigrants? Really? Thanks for letting us know. Would you like to join Joe Solmonese and John Berry for cocktails? The inside of the White House is fabulous these days.

The Obama Administration is certainly a welcome and much needed relief and improvement from the Bush Administration.  Yet the Obama Administration has made it clear that we need to “be patient” and we cannot expect any immediate support, action or committal answers from the White House with regard to DADT and LGBTQ rights.  Contrary to what’s been said, repealing DADT would not be that difficult.

How to end dadt

The Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara released a report last week, “How to End ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’: A Roadmap of Political, Legal, Regulatory, and Organizational Steps to Equal Treatment”, that presents a blueprint on how President Obama can end the unjust and discriminatory discharge of LGBTQ service members in the military without Congress enacting a law first.  Read the full report, or read a good summary and analysis here.