Not just a pretty face

27 07 2009

Here is a little rant.  Often times in my life people (both men and women, but more commonly men) have told me, “oh it’s okay, you’re so pretty” or “don’t worry, you have such a pretty face.”  The context of these statements vary but generally can be separated into two categories:

1. Talking about and gaging my chances of success.  i.e… “Don’t worry about finding a job after you graduate.  You’re pretty, of course you’ll get a job.”

2. When I want/need something from someone who is a (cisgender, heterosexual) male.  i.e…”You should just ask him,  he can’t say no, you have such a pretty face.”

Yes, being called pretty is a compliment, but it is irritating and offensive that such statements reduce me to my looks alone.  When discussing my concerns about my future, finding a job or whatever after college, why is it that I will “be okay” primarily because I am pretty, not because of any other characteristics I may possess?  Why can’t I not worry because I am intelligent, hardworking, talented, and passionate?  Why does it have to be mainly because I am pretty?

Essentially, by saying that I don’t need to worry about finding a job after I graduate because I am pretty, one insinuates that success is dependent on having good looks.   Not only is this superficial but it is sexist because it denies women their subjectivity and instead objectifies them, reducing them to be merely the direct objects for the cisgender, heterosexual male gaze.  Our cultural and social experiences are irrelevant and our most important function becomes maintaining someone else’s (that someone being a cis, het male) subjective reality.

And case two, when I ask a male for something (and am likely to get it because I “have a pretty face”), is just another example of institutionalized sexism that prevents men and women from achieving true equality.  These practices, granting women something or letting them get off the hook just because they are pretty, continue to otherize women as a separate and unequal group.  Further, these perpetuate the objectification of women in which women are valued most for their appearance and their beauty rather than their personality, their brains, their achievements, etc.

What is also upsetting is that when I’ve spoken up about this and expressed how I felt (I appreciate the compliment, but I would also like to point out that your statement is also sexist) is that I am so quickly silenced by “Gosh, you feminists can’t just take a compliment”, “Whoa, I was just saying you’re pretty, no need to get mad”, or “You’re looking way too much into that, all I said was that you’re pretty, what’s the big deal?”  These silencing techniques further the objectification of women in which we are primarily supposed to be pretty, but silent, faces.

A tribute to the late Dr. George Tiller

27 07 2009

Here is a beautiful piece from the NY Times written in memory of Dr. George Tiller, a true vagina warrior who devoted his life to providing women with a crucial health service despite hindrances, threats, harassment and violence.  It’s a reminder of how tragic Dr. Tiller’s murder was and what a great loss it was for the feminist/womanist community.  Here’s taste of the article:

It did not take long for anti-abortion leaders to realize that George R. Tiller was more formidable than other doctors they had tried to shut down.

Shrewd and resourceful, Dr. Tiller made himself the nation’s pre-eminent abortion practitioner, advertising widely and drawing women to Wichita from all over with his willingness to perform late-term abortions, hundreds each year. As anti-abortion activists discovered, he gave as good as he got, wearing their contempt as a badge of honor. A “warrior,” they called him with grudging respect.

And so for more than 30 years the anti-abortion movement threw everything into driving Dr. Tiller out of business, certain that his defeat would deal a devastating blow to the “abortion industry” that has terminated roughly 50 million pregnancies since Roe v. Wade in 1973.

They blockaded his clinic; campaigned to have him prosecuted; boycotted his suppliers; tailed him with hidden cameras; branded him “Tiller the baby killer”; hit him with lawsuits, legislation and regulatory complaints; and protested relentlessly, even at his church. Some sent flowers pleading for him to quit. Some sent death threats. One bombed his clinic. Another tried to kill him in 1993, firing five shots, wounding both arms.

In short, they made George Tiller’s clinic the nation’s most visible abortion battleground, a magnet for activists from all corners of the country.

Dr. Tiller would not budge.

Continue reading the rest.

Barney’s, This is Completely Unacceptable

27 07 2009

File this under WTF?!!  What were you thinking?!! Via Sociological Images, Barney’s New York had this window display up this past week, but took it down when shoppers complained:

Barney's 1

Barney's 2

The mannequins (obviously female) are apparently being attacked by some invisible assailant with what is supposed to be blood. This display glamorizes violence against women, making it seem fashionable and sexy for women to be in danger or hurt. Depicting women being violently hurt for the purpose of selling clothing is despicable and serves to perpetuate rape culture and a culture of violence.

Sunday Catch Up

26 07 2009

Here are a few things we missed:

This Is What Rape Culture Looks Like.

A woman walks into a rape, uh, bar…

New laws help domestic violence victims.

Human rights violations in U.K. jail.

Women and the Minimum Wage.

Women don’t ask for nasty voyeurism.


On Gendered Language.

On the word “transition”.

Perhaps Silverton is Not Completely Accepting of their Trans Mayor.

Banning Cesar Chavez: Whites “Sanitizing” US History Again.

Same crap, different day.

Marketing Asian Women to Anti-feminist Men.

When the Outside Looks Like the Inside.

Quick Hit: Healthy Teen Initiative amendment passed

25 07 2009

On Wednesday July 22nd, the US House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the Healthy Teen Initiative amendment to the proposed health care reform bill, Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009.  It passed 33 to 23.  Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA) introduced the Healthy Teen Initiative amendment, which supports comprehensive sex education by allocating $50 million dollars in state grant funding for “evidence-based education programs…to reduce teen pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.”  The grants are to be available to both public and private nonprofit programs, including ones presented in schools, community-based, and faith-based organizations.

President and CEO, Joseph DiNorcia, Jr. of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) said:

It is far past time that we start addressing the challenges to health and well being of young people with programs that comprehensively address sexual health and behavior instead of with programs that are ideologically based or narrowly focused. Thanks to the leadership of the Energy and Commerce Committee, we are one step closer to achieving this goal.

Equal Rights Amendment Reintroduced

25 07 2009

Earlier this week on Tuesday, July 21st, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was reintroduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Judy Biggert (R-IL), and over 50 co-sponsors.   The ERA would add a part in the US Constitution to say, “Equality of Rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex”.  For the bill’s full text, click here.

The ERA was originally introduced as the “Lucretia Mott Amendment” at the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the 1848 Seneca Falls “Declaration of Sentiments,” which is regarded as the founding of the women’s rights movement in the U.S.  In 1972 the ERA passed in Congress and was sent to the states for ratification.  It was approved by 35 states but was never ratified because it fell just 3 states short of the 38 required for a constitutional amendment to be ratified.

Congresswoman Maloney said:

Women have made incredible progress in the past few decades. But laws can change, government regulations can be weakened, and judicial attitudes can shift.  The only way for women to achieve permanent equality in the United States is to write it into the Constitution.  These 54 words, when passed by Congress and ratified by 38 states, will make equal rights for women not just a goal to be desired but a constitutional right.

Rep. Biggert said:

Thanks to the work of pioneers like Lucretia Mott and Francis Willard, American women have achieved a level of independence and equality once thought to be unattainable.  This amendment will carry on that tradition by forever enshrining the rights and freedoms of our daughters and granddaughters in the Constitution of the United States.  I’m proud to join Congresswoman Maloney and my other colleagues in this historic effort, and look forward to working with them to protect the basic liberties of women here and around the world.

According to Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal, citing research from the World Economic Forum, in comparison to other countries worldwide the US ranks 31st of 128 countries overall, but 76th in educational attainment, 36th in health and survival, 69th in political empowerment, and 70th for wage equality for similar work and 71st for representation of women in our Congress.

Many people do not know that the ERA was never passed.  We need the ERA to pass in order to help women overcome deeply entrenched and systemic sex discrimination so that society as a whole can benefit.

Wednesday Blogaround

22 07 2009

Happy Wednesday!  Here’s what we’ve been reading:

Jimmy Carter protests religion’s treatment of women – Thank you Jimmy Carter!  Last week he issued a position paper opening with “Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.”  It’s awesome to see such a prominent man of faith take a stance and speak out on sexism in organized religion.

Lessons for Feminists from Sarah Palin – what the feminist community can learn from Sarah Palin: from the beginning when she first entered the political limelight to her recent resignation speech.

Kansas Attorney Sued After Showing Pictures of Alleged Rape After Refusing to Prosecute – Okay, this is fucked up.  A county attorney in Kansas chose not to prosecute a rape that occurred at a party in 2007, but chose to show pictures of the assault to parents of other people who attended that party to prove that there was underage drinking.

Why the planet needs more non-breeders – a post from fbomb, an awesome new young feminist blog, on Cameron Diaz’s decision to not have kids (for the environment) and how women are caught in a double bind where they are judged for both wanting/having kids and not wanting/not having kids.

Racism in Cambridge: Harvard Professor Gates Arrested (Updated) – RacismReview’s take on Professor Gates’ recent arrest.

Cop Sues Burbank Police Department for Discrimination – Last week, Asian American police detective Christopher Lee Dunn filed a lawsuit against the Burbank Police Department alleging that he was the victim of discrimination and retaliation prior to being unjustly fired.  This is the sixth time that the Burbank Police Department has been sued for discrimination since May.

If You’re Disabled You Cannot be a Customer – People who are differently abled are often treated as second class citizens and “treated like an inconvenience and rushed out of sight”.

On Chris Brown’s Public “Apology” – Or rather, Chris Brown’s non-apology.  “The message [from his “apology”] is clear: beat, bite, punch and strangle your girlfriend, and as long as you apologize, you are a-OK.”