August 28th: a landmark day in Civil Rights history in America

29 08 2009

Yesterday, August 28th, was an important and historic day in Civil Rights history in the America.  It is a day that links three prominent men whose lives were and are significant contributions to fight for racial equality and justice in this country.  The three men we are talking about are Emmett Till, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Barack Obama.

On August 28, 1955, Emmett Till, only 14 at the time, was kidnapped and then brutally murdered in Money, Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a white woman passing by.  Till lived in Chicago’s South Side and took a trip down to Mississippi with his great uncle and cousin to visit relatives in August 1955.  On August 24th, Till and his cousin stopped at Bryant’s Grocery store to buy candy and while in the store, Till allegedly either said “bye, baby” or whistled at Carole Bryant, the white store clerk.

Bryant’s husband, Roy Bryant, and his half brother, J.W. Milam, forcibly kidnapped Till, brutally beat him, gouged out one of his eyes, and then shot through the head.  His mutilated body was found in the Tallahatchie River, with a 70 pound cotton gin tied around his torso with barbed wire.  Though Bryant and Milam admitted that they were guilty, an entirely white jury acquitted them of murder on September 23, 1955.

Till’s mother, Mamie Carthan Till, chose to have an open casket funeral so that everyone could witness the racist violence that resulted in her son’s brutal murder.  Till’s murder mobilized civil rights activist in protest of the atrocious killing and the racially biased US justice system that let his murderers free.

Eight years later, August 28, 1966, was the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where over 200,000 people attended to pressure then-President Kennedy to take civil rights seriously and to advance civil rights legislation in Congress.  That day, renowned civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his iconic “I have a dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial.  King said:

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

His words resonated powerfully then as they still do now.  His speech was a resounding cry that echoed the sentiment of many like-minded civil rights activists and supporters at the time who demanded racial equality.  However, his vision of a cohesive, united nation in which there is equality and justice for all, regardless of race, ethnicity or color, has yet to be realized.

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Hanes and the Sexy Librarian

26 08 2009

Here is a vintage Hanes Mystrece stockings ad which features the sexy librarian look:


The full text of the ad reads:

You can read about women who are unforgettable, disarming, and a not-so-quiet sensation,
or, become one by wearing new MYSTRECE. If you dipped your legs in liquid chiffon, you’d get the fit, the look, the utter cling of MYSTRECE. And for pennies more, you get that Hanes exclusive: No run can grow past the nude heel and demi toe.

How exactly does wearing Mystrece, “dipping your legs in liquid chiffon”, make a woman unforgettable, disarming and a not-so-quiet sensation?

Intact hymens and the fetishization of virginity

14 07 2009

Via Sociological Images, an older ad marketing a tampon:


The beginning text of the ad goes like:

I really wanted to use tampons but I heard that you had to be, you know, ‘experienced’. So I asked my friend Lisa. Her mom is a nurse so I figured she’d know. Lisa told me she’d been using Petal Soft Plastic Applicator Tampax tampons since her very first period and she’s a virgin. In fact, you can use them at any age and still be a virgin.

It’s laughable that this is the actual text of the ad. It’s also ridiculous that people used to fear that girls could lose their virginity by using tampons. “In fact, you can use them at any age and still be a virgin” – OMG Yay! What a relief! Oh gee, society and its fetishization of virginity.

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Robert McNamara dies at age 93

7 07 2009

Yesterday, Robert McNamara died at the age of 93 at his home in Washington.  McNamara is known best for his role as the architect of the Vietnam War.  From 1961 to 1968 he was responsible for engineering the escalation of American troops in Vietnam.  Because of him, the US went from only having a few hundred soldiers in Vietnam to having 17,000 soldiers by 1964.  His actions resulted in the casualties of over 58,000 American soldiers, more than 3 million Vietnamese soldiers and civilians, and approximately 1.5 million Laotians and Cambodians.

He knew that he played a key role in America’s involvement in Vietnam.  In 1964 he said, “I don’t object to its being called McNamara’s war.  I think it is a very important war and I am pleased to be identified with it and do whatever I can to win it.”

But perhaps what distinguishes him is his honest and open reflections on his role in Vietnam, which he soon came to regret.  Years later he described the Vietnam War as “terribly wrong”.  In 1995 he published a memoir, In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam in which he wrote:

[Top US officials] who participated in the decisions on Vietnam acted according to what we thought were the principles and traditions of this nation.  We made our decisions in light of those values. Yet we were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why.

In The Fog Of War: Eleven Lessons From The Life of Robert McNamara, an award winning documentary produced in 2003 by Errol Morris, he said:

We are the strongest nation in the world today.  I do not believe that we should ever apply that economic, political, and military power unilaterally. If we had followed that rule in Vietnam, we wouldn’t have been there. None of our allies supported us. Not Japan, not Germany, not Britain or France. If we can’t persuade nations with comparable values of the merit of our cause, we’d better re-examine our reasoning.

AngryBlackBitch says:

And examination of McNamara offers a look at how certainty, ego and secrecy can result in policy that is fubar from the start…

…it also offers an opportunity to reflect on the limits of apology, the wages of war and the sad lack of accountability that eats at those who benefit from it even as it eats at those who object to it.

When I walked along The Wall and the cold stone grew taller and taller with name after name, person after person, friend after friend, son after son, father after father a shudder passed through me and I wondered how one could atone for such death and destruction…and I looked away as a woman wept softly while touching, barely making contact and oh so lightly caressing one name listed among the thousands.

And it is that moment that I think of now…those names and the millions of nameless Vietnamese that I think of now.

May they rest in peace.

And may we work to learn from the lesson of Robert McNamara…

Vintage Sexism: Tide

3 07 2009

Here is your average heterosexual white couple where the man is the breadwinner and the woman (“his ‘Missus'”) is just there to service him by doing his laundry, among other things, in this vintage Tide advertisement:


“He wears the cleanest shirts in town… His ‘Missus’ swears by Tide!”


Meat is oh-so-manly!

20 05 2009

Vintage sexism via Sociological Images:


This is a Campbell’s Soup ad from the 1940s.  Because meat is so manly!  And you know, men who work so damn hard everyday to put food on the table need “Beef! Beef! Beef!” to keep them strong and healthy so they can keep raking in the big bucks.  And of course women are supposed to fulfill their housewively duties and cook for their husbands.  Cook Campbell’s Beef Soup, that is.

Flashback #6

3 04 2009


Not sure when this was from, but some time when these comic books were only 15 cents.  


Oh no!  They are jarring and pickling sexy half-nude women!

Oh no! They are jarring and pickling sexy half-nude women!

Hmm…they are binding a half-nude woman, forcing her into a jar full of who-knows-what, and adding her to their collection of virtually identical dead skinny naked ladies.  And the cover is implying that SHE is the monster!!???  Vintage sexism at it’s finest, and most disturbing romanticization of sexual violence.  Well done, Marvel Tales.