Why is this petition circulating?!?! And why are so many people signing it?!?!

30 09 2009

There is a petition circulating to Free Roman Polanski.  PUKE!  Some names of celebrities who have signed it so far:

Natalie Portman (this surprises me)

Pedro Almodovar

Gael Garcia Bernal

Woody Allen

Wes Anderson

Martin Scorsese

Penelope Cruz

Harrison Ford

This is all really depressing.  The petition states:

Roman Polanski is a French citizen, a renown and international artist now facing extradition. This extradition, if it takes place, will be heavy in consequences and will take away his freedom.

Um, have people forgotten that he raped a 13 year old girl?!?!?!  Whether or not he is a French citizen, a renown and international artist, a wealthy and powerful man, he should not just be let off the hook for his crime!!  And people should not be so quick to defend a rapist!!  (Unfortunately we do live in a rape culture where this sort of shit is not atypical.)

Even though Samantha Gailey has expressed no desire to pursue the case, as Melissa writes on Shakesville:

The simple answer for that is because justice doesn’t operate on the principle of what’s best for the victim; it operates on the principle of what’s best for the community. (That’s why prosecutors represent “the people.”) Particularly in a case of sexual assault of a minor, there is additional pressure to prosecute, even if the victim(s) don’t support the prosecution, because interviews of convicted/admitted child rapists in prisons suggest that the rapist who only rapes once and never again has about as much supporting evidence for his existence as does the unicorn. (To wit: Roman Polanski’s ensuing relationship with then-15-year-old Nastassja Kinski.) Some of those who understand this principle nonetheless argue that Polanski is now an “old man,” as if old men don’t rape. Unfortunately, they can and they do.

The more complicated answer to If even the girl he raped wants to let it go, why shouldn’t we? begins with this statement of fact: Her reasons are not yours.

Samantha Gailey’s primary reason for not wanting the case pursued, according to the public statements I’ve read, have to do with her not wanting to subject herself and her family to the public scrutiny and media circus that will inevitably surround Polanski’s return to the US and any subsequent court proceedings.

She’s not motivated by sympathy—in fact, she has explicitly said she harbors no “hard feelings” but also feels “no sympathy” for Polanski, and in recent years publicly stated she wished he’s come back just so she could put the whole thing behind her, irrespective of the outcome.

The truth not being spoken is that the people incorporating Samantha Gailey’s wishes as part of their arguments aren’t doing so because they want to protect Samantha Gailey. They’re doing it because they want to protect Roman Polanski.





How’s this for something I didn’t know before?!

30 09 2009

A groundbreaking recent study finds that (GASP!) women wear shoes that cause pain!  What an enlightening finding!  I had absolutely no idea!!  From the NY Times article:

More than 60 percent of women said that in the past they generally wore high heels, pumps, sandals and slippers, all of which researchers rated as higher risk.

Women who wore heels, sandals and slippers were at greatest risk of the most common pain linked to poor choices in shoes, the study found: pain in the hind foot and around the ankle and the Achilles’ tendon.

What a revelation!!

“I think women need to really pay attention to how a shoe fits, and realize that what you’re buying could have potential effects on your feet for the rest of your life,” said the paper’s lead author, Alyssa B. Dufour, a doctoral student in biostatistics at Boston University. “It’s important to pay attention to size and width, and not just buy it because it’s cute.”

When it comes to shoes, men make much better choices, the study found; fewer than 2 percent wore bad shoes.

Hmph.  “When it comes to shoes, men make much better choices”?  Gee, maybe women don’t make “better”, “smarter” choices about shoes they buy and wear because of social pressures exerted on women to look good all the time, which entails wearing high heels.  Or maybe it’s because high heels are gendered female.  There really isn’t much of a market for male high heel shoes.  And since high heels are gendered female, it is harder to find comfy and supportive women’s shoes.

Just maybe.





On Inclusionary Language

30 09 2009

This is a wonderful post about Why Inclusionary Language Matters. It really gets to the heart of a lot of things that I’ve been thinking about lately.

Here’s an excerpt:

What do all of the following words or phrases have in common?

Bitch. Cripple. Grow a pair. Lame. Cunt. White trash. “He/his/him” as a generic when the gender of a subject is not known. Ballsy. Harpy. Whore. Female impersonator. Jewed. Real woman. Retarded. Slut. Dumb. Natural woman. Harridan. Witch. Idiot. Man up. Biological sex. Crazy. Tranny. Step up. Breeder. Shrew. She-male. Gay. You guys as a generic greeting to a mixed gender group. Skank. Mankind. “Man” as a generic for “people.” Gyp. Insane. Schizo/schizophrenic. “Disabled” as a noun. Women born women. Ungendering by using “he” as a pronoun for a trans woman or “she” as a pronoun for a trans man.

They’re all exclusionary. Some of these words are actively used today as insults, and some of them have a historical context of use as insults which oppress, silence, and marginalize large groups of people, some of whom happen to be women. Some of these terms are racist, some are sexist, some are classist, some are cissexist, some are heterosexist, some are ableist. (I deliberately haven’t used speciesist terms here because, while I think that there is a clear intersection between animal rights issues and feminism, others may disagree, and thus, may not think that using speciesist language is exclusionary.) Many of these words are a common part of the vernacular; I use “bitch” all the time, for example. Many are examples of subconsciously exclusionary terms, in that people use them thoughtlessly, without realizing what they are really saying.

All of them should not be used by people who claim to be feminists, if feminism for them is about advocating for all women and improving conditions for all women. I include myself in this admonition. Every time we use them, we engage in othering. We exclude The Other, and make it clear that we don’t actually care about the issues that other people may experience. We make it clear that our claims of ally status are just lip service.

At its core, feminism should be, to my mind, about justice. Justice for all women. Not just women who fit into a very narrow set of categories. And this is why we need to use inclusionary language. This is why we need to cultivate spaces which are truly safe for everyone. This is why we need to own our actions and apologize for them if they are hurtful. We cannot repair the damage we have done to other human beings, but we can work to prevent it in the future.

Lots of people like to defend exclusionary language. They say that they like using a term, or can’t come up with a good alternative, or don’t really see why they should have to change. “The word doesn’t really mean that anymore,” or “but I’m not really [pick your poison]ist, so it’s ok.” But, here’s the thing. Even if the word doesn’t mean that anymore, that doesn’t mean that it does not carry very negative implications. Even if someone thinks that the word is being used in a positive sense, it is still loaded with negative meaning. It does not mean that the word does not have a very loaded history. It does mean that every time you use it, you are unconsciously enforcing a system of oppression. You can participate in and even perpetuate a system of oppression without actively subscribing to it.

People who dislike being told that they should not use exclusionary language are often people who have something to lose if actual justice is achieved. If we ever live in a society where trans hatred doesn’t exist, everyone who is cis gendered will lose privilege, for example. As the old saying goes, “we all like to see our friends get ahead, but not too far ahead,” and this appears to apply to social justice issues as well, though you would be hard pressed to find someone who openly admits it. Being informed that you are hurting people with your actions threatens people when they have something to lose in this fight. This is why people push back so strongly when they are informed that their word usage is hurtful. This is why people become defensive when they are asked why they failed to include different perspectives in discussions. This is why people get angry when they are called on their privilege.

You can believe with all your heart that sexism is terrible and evil, but when you call a woman a bitch, it kind of undermines your point. You can think that people with disabilities are oppressed and marginalized by society, and that this is wrong, but when you call something “lame,” you’re saying that you think it’s ok to continue oppressing people with disabilities. When you say that someone should “step up,” you are unconsciously erasing everyone in the population who cannot step, like wheelchair users and people who are bedbound. When you refer to someone or something as “insane” or “crazy,” you are using mental illness as a slur.

So stop it. Stop using exclusionary language. Start including people.

And stop trying to defend it. If you’re too lazy to find a better word or phrase to use, that’s your problem, not society’s. If you can’t be creative enough to think of a different word or phrase, a word or phrase which does not exclude or silence someone, you apparently have not heard of a thesaurus.

I highly recommend that you read the whole thing.





Have you seen the Midwest Teen Sex Show?

30 09 2009

The Midwest Teen Sex Show is a sex positive, comprehensive, funny and entertaining sex educational show that I just learned about tonight in a Sexuality Education workshop.

From the About section of their website:

Teens and sex. It happens. Not every teen is having sex and not every teen is abstaining. We hope the Midwest Teen Sex Show will create a space for frank discussion of all things related to teen sexuality. Broadcast media shies away from any real exploration of the topic, and they forget that not all teens live in Orange County.

…we like to call it sex information. We’ll leave the formal education to classrooms and textbooks. Midwest Teen Sex Show is here to provide sex information in a clear and entertaining way. We won’t pretend to be experts, but hopefully a few of our own embarrassing experiences and insights will keep you out of trouble.

Episodes can be viewed for free online and are released once a month and cover a range of topics including Condoms, Oral Sex, Orgasms, Female Masturbation and Abstinence. The Midwest Teen Sex Show just got a spot on Comedy Central though, so you can start watching it on television as opposed to online soon.

For a taste, here is Episode 18, Fetishes:





Roman Polanski Arrested on Saturday in Switzerland

29 09 2009

Roman Polanski was arrested on Saturday in Switzerland. He fled the States for 32 years after being tried for raping a 13-year old girl, Samantha Gailey, in 1977.  Much has been said already in the feminist blogosphere about this, so I’ll just guide you to other bloggers’ insights:

Reminder: Roman Polanski raped a child.

Roman Polanski’s life of crime.

Puzzle Activity Time.

Can arresting Roman Polanski make a difference?

Good news from Pandagon.

Roman Polanski Understands Women: Repulsion.

Rape Apologists: Roman Polanski’s Rape of  Child Not That Bad.





A Look at some of Graph Jam’s stuff

27 09 2009

I saw this on Unapologetically Female and laughed out loud (because it’s so true):

axe

Then I went to the website to see what other graphs they had up and I saw this one:

heels

Now this one is problematic and irritates me for the following reasons:

1. First of all, the axes are switched. The graph is meant to show that the higher your heels are, the more retarded you look, not that the more retarded you look, the higher your heels are.

2. People need to stop saying “retarded”. It is ableist language that is used in a pejorative way and has been normalized in society which adds to the stigma against different-abled people.

3. This is misogynist and reinforces the patriarchal objectification of women, that women are just their bodies and nothing more. Some of the comments that follow the graph are misogynist as well and make me want to cringe. For example:

A commenter named Karen said: “FINALLY! I was wondering if I was the only person who thought this. I want to beat these girls to death with their own shoes!”

Prisbro wrote: “What about all the dumb bimbos who wear big fuzzy boots with mini skirts in august?? Can we throw them into some quicksand?”

Pencilsharpener wrote: “The rapist who murders you will find them adorable and very practical, as they will help him catch you easily.”

Um. Wow. This last comment seems to be based off of and perpetuates the rape myth that a rapist is a sketchy guy lurking on the street corner who will chase a woman down the street, and the myth that what you wear influences your likelihood of being raped. Wrong and wrong.

These comments are disturbing and symptomatic of the the patriarchal culture that we live in, with misogyny (and internalized misogyny) so deeply entrenched.





Weekly Feminist Reader

27 09 2009

Cara covers the story of a Trans Woman Murdered in Hollywood

Partisan Politican Contributions by US Companies

A Take on The Good Wife: The Wrong Side of the Mommy Track

Health Care Reform — at the Price of Women’s Health?

Nike Makes Black Athlete Look Like…an Animal? An Alien? What?

Cross-generational discussions can be difficult – but we need to have them

Trans-misogyny? There’s an app for that

A topic that’s worth revisiting over and over again: How to be an ally

The Reverse of Discrimination is “Not Discrimination”

Minor Offenses: The Tragedy of Youth in Adult Prisons

What’s wrong with [not just young people] everybody now

Malkin’s venom knows no bounds: Obama “doesn’t like this country very much”, is the “Groveler in Chief”