Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Jon Stewart on abstinence-only education  

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Feministing posted this fantastic clip from The Daily Show. I just had to put it in here.


Disney needs to sort out priorities  

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I'm going to confidently state that I think that Disney should worry a little less about Jamie Lynn Spears' pregnancy or Miley Cyrus' sexy photos, and perhaps start worrying a little more about appalling happenings abroad.

Slate published an article, in which the author exposed an advertisement from the Disney company that he had seen in China. It is a rather large billboard that features a girl that cannot be over the age of thirteen... in her underwear.



The author of the article, Daniel Brook, sent the ad to Disney and got a call from Disney spokesman Gary Foster. He said that they were completely unaware of the advertisement, as it can be difficult to regulate every advertisement that markets their products. Foster is now in China to deal with this inappropriate ad (thank God). I really think that when you have a brand that is as huge as Disney, and it is being marketed to young children, you really can't be too careful in regulating it. I see no reason to axe Jamie Lynn Spears for getting pregnant or Miley Cyrus for bearing her back in Vanity Fair, but a pre-pubescent girl in her underwear? That's where I draw the line.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Race plays a factor in death sentences  

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A new study shows some appalling results when it comes to linking race and death sentences. I was already aware of this information, so to me this study is merely reiterating what has been a problem for several years, but I suppose this issue really can't get enough coverage.

The findings of the study show that those who are convicted of killing whites are more likely to receive the death sentence than those who kill blacks. Moreover, the race of the actual defendant plays a part as well, with studies showing that blacks are more likely to receive the death penalty than whites are.

Ridiculous. Racism is so deeply ingrained in our society it sickens me.

See the full article in The New York Times for more information on the study.

Take Action Tuesday: Sudan activist call  

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For Take Action Tuesday, I want to point you all to an event that Enough sent me an e-mail about. It's their monthly activist call, in which you call in to a special number and you will be connected to a kind of phone conference where you can hear speakers talk about the current situation in Sudan and ways you can help improve it. You can sign up here, and then call in to 1-866-682-6100 on May 1st at 12PM. It should be really interesting, and it'll provide you with plenty of information that you might not find elsewhere, so I would recommend participating if you can.

New GTA encourages murdering prostitutes  

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Okay, I need to send a big "what the fuck were you thinking?!" over to the makers of the new Grand Theft Auto IV. I always knew that GTA was extremely violent and raunchy, but apparently creators made IV more sexually explicit than ever. The best part of Grand Theft Auto IV? Gamers can have sex with prostitutes, and then murder them afterwards. Cool. Just the message we want to send to our young boys.

Click here to see a video that features scenes from the game. You can actually watch a GTA character lure a prostitute into his car, have sex with her, and then run over her afterwards. Seriously... why the fuck is this necessary? I realize that the games sport a warning sticker on the outside, but that does not mean that young boys aren't going to play this. Creators can whine "it's the parents responsibility to regulate what their children see" all they want, but kids are going to get a hold of this game no matter what. I also realize that a lot of other video games are violent, so it wouldn't be right to target specifically GTA on those grounds, but I have never heard of a highly popular video game that encourages murdering prostitutes.

Not. Okay.
Monday, April 28, 2008

Where have all the "real men" gone?  

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The other day I was sent an infuriating article that examines the "sorry state" of masculinity in today's movies. The author, Christopher Goodwin, compares movie stars from old movies, such as Sylvester Stalone, to today's movie heroes, such as "Knocked Up"'s Seth Rogen.



Films such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Knocked Up and Superbad - all from the production stable of Judd Apatow - show that the young male box-office stars of today’s romantic comedies are goofy schlubs and nerds. As unlikely as it seems, actors such as Segel (Sarah Marshall), Seth Rogen (Knocked Up) and Michael Cera and Jonah Hill(Superbad) now define the paradigm of a Hollywood romantic lead. Cary Grant they are not. They’re not even Hugh Grant. They may know the appeal of sex, but they have no sex appeal. Yet this is Hollywood, and these pathetic, if well-meaning, losers inevitably end up with the hottest chicks.



Goodwin complains that there are no modern equivalents to actors like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. I can't speak for everyone, but personally, I find the adorable and endearing Michael Cera to be much more swoon-worthy than Sylvester Stalone and his bulging biceps. What Goodwin fails to realize is that our conceptions on masculinity are changing, and that's a positive thing. Just like women face pressure to act "feminine," men face the same kind of pressure to behave "manly" and "macho." And what does this pressure lead to? Boys picking fights with each other to prove who has more testosterone, school shootings committed by males who are outcasts and thus turn to guns to reaffirm their masculinity, men raping women to exert dominance and control, high rates of binge drinking and reckless driving among males, etc etc etc. I watched a documentary in my Sociology of Gender class, entitled "Tough Guise," and it examined these exact issues. Males are experiencing pressure from every which way - pressure to be a "real man," and these pressures cause some of them to crack. Over the years, male role models have become progressively more "macho," from professional wrestlers:






...to G.I. Joes:






So I would say that the good-hearted Evan in "Superbad" or the surprisingly sweet Ben in "Knocked Up" are positive role models for men today. These new kinds of heroes teach men that you don't have to sport enormous muscles or carry guns to achieve happiness and get the girl. In his article, Goodwin even has the nerve to mention that feminism might be a cause of this "decline of masculinity," which actually makes very little sense because it is more likely that men will have the desire to act more "macho" in response to feminism in an attempt to gain back some of the power that women are trying to obtain by becoming liberated.

Bottom line: this article is highly misguided. Instead of deeming today's heroes as stuck in a "sorry state of masculinity," we should see these new stars as an indication that harmful stereotypes are finally being broken down. It's a positive thing.



(Thanks to Jennifer for sending me this story).
Sunday, April 27, 2008

A good wife always knows her place  

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I'm sure some of you have already seen this, but it's worth posting for those of you who haven't. It's "The Good Wife's Guide" from Housekeeping Monthly in 1955. My Sociology of Gender professor handed it out in class and we were all extremely appalled. It's almost laughable.

See it here.


(Thanks for Jennifer for sending me the link!)
Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Sweet Talk Express  

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This segment on The Daily Show is hilarious, but it also makes me rather nervous because John McCain's tendency to put his foot in his mouth highly reminds me of a certain, ahem, "president" that we have now. I'll argue with anyone who tries to maintain that McCain and Bush are "different," because although there are differences, the similarities seem to be piling up. Now, there's no way in hell that I would ever vote for McCain, but he is a strong candidate, and if he wins (God forbid), we must endure a four-year continuation of the Bush administration. Unless we all move to Canada.


Gay rites  

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The New York Times has a super long, but very interesting (and heartwarming) article about young gay couples. The author is a gay man himself, and he spends time with other gay males who are getting married to explore why so many gay men choose to get married at such a young age. Take a look.
Friday, April 25, 2008

Who says feminists aren't funny?  

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Two famous women that I adore: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Hilarious (catch them on SNL and you will piss yourself), beautiful, smart, out-spoken, talented, and... proud feminists! These two wonderful women are a prime example that women are funny, and feminists do have a sense of humor. Their new movie is now out, "Baby Mama," and I really can't buy my tickets soon enough. It's one of the first comedies in years to present a plot that revolves around the pairing of two women. And with the main character as a single woman who decides to have a baby, it challenges the "traditional" gender roles and familial structures. From an article in Salon:

"What's nice about 'Baby Mama,'" said Poehler, "is, and I don't know if we necessarily, collectively decided for this to happen or not, but that as the movie goes on, our characters have to depend less and less on the men in the film." Angie decides to move on from a man who is holding her back, and in doing so realizes that she is happier on her own. "Tina's character," said Poehler, "is ready to start a family with or without a husband, which is, one could argue, maybe a different kind of story."


Read that entire interview in Salon, and you will fall in love with them. Poehler also discusses her and Tina's roles on Saturday Night Live, and how the stereotype that SNL is a "boys club" was truly abolished when Tina Fey became their first female head writer. Honestly, who better to write for SNL than the incredibly sharp, witty, and cynical Tina?



And for those of you who don't know, Amy Poehler has been splitting sides with her hysterical impression of Hillary Clinton.



Poehler told Salon: "There are so many women to play. So many strong women in politics and entertainment and in positions of power that you get to impersonate, it's really cool."

I don't think I need to further convince you how awesome these ladies are. Don't miss "Baby Mama." With Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, I can't imagine it being anything short of hilarious.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

No, seriously, abstinence-only education works! We swear!  

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Yahoo News had an article today about how abstinence-only education doesn't work. First of all, can I just say:

NO SHIT!

Ahem. On Wednesday, health groups told Congress that sex education programs that only preach abstinence do not cut down on teen pregnancies or STDs, nor do they cause teenagers to start having sex at an older age.

However, the Bush administration is STILL supporting abstinence-only education (God only knows why), and they voiced that support during a hearing before a House of Representatives panel.

Point: Dr. Margaret Blythe of the American Academy of Pediatrics told the committee: "vast sums of federal monies continue to be directed toward these programs. And, in fact, there is evidence to suggest that some of these programs are even harmful and have negative consequences by not providing adequate information for those teens who do become sexually active."
Counterpoint: Rep. John Duncan, a Tennessee Republican, said that it seems "rather elitist" that people with academic degrees in health think they know better than parents what type of sex education is appropriate. "I don't think it's something we should abandon," he said of abstinence-only funding.

"Elitist"?! People with health degrees have the expertise to decide what is going to protect children, and what isn't. Parents shouldn't be the ones to decide because they have a bias! Of course nearly all parents are going to want their children to wait to have sex, but that isn't realistic. What everyone needs to come to terms with is the fact that abstinence-only education is a great way to leave teenagers completely misinformed, thus causing them to do stupid things, like drinking bleach because they think it can beat HIV, or not using a condom because they have no idea how to use one.

"Charles Keckler of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said the Bush administration believes abstinence education programs send the healthiest message."

Yeah, and that's why statistics show that 1 in 4 teenage girls has an STD, and 30% of girls become pregnant before the age of 20. Doesn't sound very healthy to me.

The perfect belly button...?  

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This is fucking ridiculous. I thought I had seen everything when that guy on MTV got calf implants, but apparently the amount of things that people can find "wrong" on their bodies is never-ending. The new craze: belly button augmentation. I wish I was kidding. Costing a whopping $5,000 - $7,500, an "umbilicoplasty" can involve a number of things: turning an "outie" into an "innie," making navels more diamond-shaped, making navels less deep, or even removing the navel completely. Um, WHY?! So you can look like Kyle XY?


Among other what-the-fuck new plastic surgery crazes: downsizing the labia, G-spot injections, and vaginal rejuvenation (basically "restoring" one's virginity). 1,030 vaginal rejuvenations were done in 2006 alone - a 30% increase from the year before. What is going ON?

Full article at MSNBC.com.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Penis theft in the Congo  

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I never thought that in addition to the rape crisis in the Congo, there would be a mass panic over penis theft. Seriously, this is fucking bizarre. Police arrested 13 sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men's penises. Apparently, "penis-snatching" is not uncommon in West Africa. Men have claimed that sorcerers will merely touch them to cause their penises to disappear or shrink.

These beliefs are shockingly prominent in the Congo... and they can be quite harmful. When I was watching "The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo," rapists were interviewed and asked why they committed rapes. Some of them responded that they had a magic potion to cure their nation, and that the potion only works if they rape women. Yeah, seriously.

New role model for children: Super Mom!  

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So, I was surfing Shine in hopes that I would find something interesting to read, and lo and behold! I found an article about a new kind of action figure: Super Mom. I kid you not. The action figure designed to show children the hardships of being a working mother. Accessories include:

  • Two different heads to put on your doll: a calm head, and a "frazzled" head.

  • A baby, that can switch between being a "little angel" and a "mini monster."

  • A "mommy bag" to hold work and other important mommy accessories.

  • A cell phone to call school and the office.

  • A super long to-do list.

  • A bag of groceries.

  • Work shoes and casual shoes.
The dolls even come in different races: Caucasian, African-American, and Asian.



Unfortunately, the doll doesn't talk, but if it did talk, I think some of the phrases might include:

"Today at work, I hit the glass ceiling!"

"Honey, I wish I could buy you that new toy, but your daddy didn't pay child support this month."

Notice how the doll doesn't come with a loving partner. In the words of Shine's Lylah Alphonse: "maybe those dolls are sold separately."

The verdict: well, it's not perfect, but it's a hell of a lot better than Bratz Dolls, or Ty Girlz. At least Super Mom does more than shopping and accessorizing. It's just a little upsetting because one has to wonder where Super Dad is, and why he doesn't come with a "frazzled" head. Maybe because even though more women are in the working world, they are still expected to the majority of the house work and child care? Just a guess.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Take Action Tuesday: part 2  

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So, I know I already made a post about something you can do for Take Action Tuesday, but this also deserves your attention. Tomorrow at 6PM, the Senate will be voting on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. It has already passed in the House, and now it is crucial to let your Senators know that they must pass it as well. It also must be passed with strong support because Bush has threatened a veto. From NOW:

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act will fix the Court's constitutional misinterpretation and ensure that pay discrimination victims get their fair day in court. This Act will simply return us to the longstanding rule that treated each and every discriminatory paycheck as a new act of discrimination.

It's sad enough that women are still only paid 77 cents or less to men's dollar, even though civil rights laws banned wage discrimination over four decades ago. The Supreme Court's decision could push back much of the progress that women have been making in closing the wage gap. Congress must restore those rights.

Call the Senate switchboard tomorrow at 1-866-338-1015. The operator will answer, and ask to be connected to the Senators from your state. You will then have the opportunity to leave a message for your Senators - tell them that you strongly urge them to vote for the Fair Pay Act.

Women in Iran punished for activism  

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In Iran, if a woman chooses to join the fight for women's rights, she is putting herself in grave danger. In a country where the popular notion is that female activism is a threat to the nation, an activist can be punished with jail time or lashes. Recently, three women in Iran were sentenced to lashings and jail sentences for participating in a peaceful women's rights rally. Conservatives reject the belief that Iran discriminates against women, and maintain that they live their lives in accordance with "God's divine law." The three women were charged with taking part in an illegal gathering and collusion with the intent to disrupt national security, disruption of public order and refusal to follow police orders.

I can't imagine living in a country that won't let me peacefully rally for a better society. I've heard haters claim that feminism isn't necessary anymore because we already got everything we want ("everything" essentially meaning the right to vote), but I highly doubt these people are remotely informed of the appalling situations of women abroad. For God's sake, these women are going to be stripped, tied down, and whipped repeatedly... for speaking their mind.

As part of Take Action Tuesday, I want all of you to consider doing something to help the situation of the women in Iran. The Women's Forum Against Fundamentalism in Iran has a list of things you can do, people you can write to, petitions you can sign, to help stop the mistreatment of women in Iran. Here's a few other websites that can offer you information about this situation as well:


Monday, April 21, 2008

The Marine Corps "appeal" to women  

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Times is hard.

At least for the Marines, who are facing difficulty with recruiting during this highly unpopular war. Their solution? Why, reach out to the women, of course! The Marine Corps have begun running women-friendly ads in magazines with a female audience, such as Shape.

The Marine Corps started accepting women for clerical duties in 1918. In 1973, when the military dropped the draft, the Marines attempted to appeal to women by distributing brochures to college women. The brochure cover had a picture of a flower on it. Other than that, the Marines predominantly ran ads with its "few good men" slogan. In the 1990s, the Marines began having trouble reaching recruitment goals, and thus ran ads in magazines like Seventeen and Sports Illustrated for Women:


The tagline reads, "Get a make-over that's more than skin deep." Other ads during this time had the slogan, "You can look at models, or you can be one." I don't think I have to make any comments about gender stereotyping here.

Today, the Marines are again looking for a "few good women."



To me, it seems as if the Marines don't particularly give two shits about "reaching out to women" unless they're in a jam. Appealing to women doesn't seem to be a top priority unless recruitment numbers are down. That makes me angry.

Full article at the New York Times.

Playtex says curvy women are sexy! Oh wait...  

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Dammit, Playtex! You were so close to earning my full respect for putting curvy females in your bra commercials, but why, WHY did you have to ruin it with stupidity?



Okay, first let's talk about the fact that the curviest woman in the commercial is the one to bring up "muffin tops." And THEN let's discuss the fantastic ending: "Gravity is no longer my enemy... but brownies are."

OF COURSE brownies are the enemy of the one plus-sized woman in the commercial! It's not enough to just put curvy women in your commercials, but you have to take the extra step to promote the belief that curvy is sexy. If the curvy woman is afraid of brownies, obviously being curvy is not something she aspires to be. Ergo, curvy is undesirable. Oh, Playtex, you were so close...
Sunday, April 20, 2008

Old, young, black, white! All survivors take back the night!  

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Every year, my college participates in Take Back the Night, a huge event to protest violence against women. It is completely student-organized, and it consists of bands/artists/poets performing, fun activities like tie-dying, lots of food, and tables set up to hand out things like pamphlets on sexual violence and information about safe sex. Raffles are also done, and donations are accepted. This year, all proceeds went to a local battered women's shelter. It's a great event, and yesterday was Take Back the Night 2008.

I took pictures so I could post them in here, just to show you all how awesome it was. First, we spent several hours enjoying the music and activities in the lovely sunshine. One of my favorite activities was a crash course in self-defense. Here's me kneeing a potential rapist square in the crotch:




And my girlfriend doing the same:






Heh. It was pretty badass. After all the festivities were over and done with, we did the annual march around campus, and eventually through town. We chanted the entire way, which got extremely exhausting. A few of the chants were: "Sexist! Rapist! Anti-gay! You can't take our night away!" "2, 4, 6, 8! Stop the violence, stop the hate!" "Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes, and no means no!"







Here's a short video that I took, in which we're marching down Main Street and chanting, "Out of the bars and into the streets! We won't be raped, we won't be beat!"






We marched to the court house, where we stood outside and listened to a speech about the numerous police officers and judges that are supposed to protect us, but instead fail to take rape and sexual assualt seriously. The best part of this was the fact that our march had police escorts, so there were cops standing right there, being forced to listen to what we had to say.




I managed to capture a little bit of the speech in a video:






After the march, we had a speak-out, in which everyone sat in a circle and shared experiences and feelings they had regarding sexual violence. It was really powerful. If any of you attend a college that doesn't participate in Take Back the Night, I highly recommend you get some people together and organize it for next Spring. It's a great experience.
Saturday, April 19, 2008

My new tattoo  

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Heh. It hurt like hell, but it was well worth it.
Friday, April 18, 2008

Sex that saves the planet  

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Has anyone else noticed that everywhere are commercials advertising "eco-friendly" products? Hybrid cars from Toyota, energy-efficient lightbulbs from WalMart, etc etc. Another thing to add to the list: green sex toys. Ohhhh yeah. All-natural massage oils, rechargable vibrators, hemp lingerie - so you can have sex and save the planet at the same time. Sounds like a good deal to me. My orgasms are sustaining the environment, dammit!
Treehugger.com has several tips on how to greenify your sex life: choosing the right sex toys, using natural lube, proper condom use, switching to bamboo bed sheets, finding natural aphrodisiacs, and more. Scroll down to find a list of websites that offer green sex toys as well. Eco-friendly products aren't just for hippies anymore! So go buy your significant other (or fuck buddy) some hemp underwear for Earth Day and enjoy some good earth-friendly sex.

Clinton and Obama on The Colbert Report  

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Aww, they're just so darn cute when they're being funny.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Student has abortions for the sake of art  

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I would be interested to hear what all of you think about this.

For an art project, a female Yale student had multiple abortions. According to the Yale Daily News, this project is "a documentation of a nine-month process during which she artificially inseminated herself 'as often as possible' while periodically taking abortifacient drugs to induce miscarriages. Her exhibition will feature video recordings of these forced miscarriages as well as preserved collections of the blood from the process."

Aliza Schvarts, the artist, said the point of her project is "to spark conversation and debate on the relationship between art and the human body." Yale students are utterly shocked by Schvarts's subject matter.

Personally, I don't see this as a good thing at all. I fully support art and creativity, but I don't believe in aborting fetuses for artistic purposes. I think there were many other ways that Schvarts could have done this project to get across a similar message that wouldn't have involved partaking in miscarriages. Moreover, I think this creates a negative image around pro-choicers and is giving anti-choicers more ammunition in their war against reproductive freedom. Aliza succeeded in getting people's attention, but went to unjustifiable lengths to achieve it.

Trashing the wedding dress  

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What do most people envision when they hear the word "wedding"? Probably a beautiful, well-groomed, made-up bride, sporting an elaborate, expensive, and delicate white wedding dress. Well, for some brides, it's more fun to challenge this perfect wedding vision than to accept it. A new trend has emerged that has brides across the country choosing to trash their dresses after the wedding, rather than wrapping them in plastic and sticking them in their closets. "Trashing the dress" involves a woman hiring a photographer to take pictures of her after the wedding, donning her white dress and posing on the ground, in water, covered in mud, laying in sand, and any other dirty places.




It's a fun and liberating way to unwind after the stress of planning a wedding, while challenging rigid social norms surrounding marriage and weddings. I actually never heard of this trend until I saw this article on MSN.com today. A giant smile spread across my face when I Google'd images of newlyweds trashing dresses. They all look like they're having a BLAST, and the photos are undoubtedly much more interesting than your traditional "smile because I have to" photos that are taken during the wedding. This is something that I definitely want to partake in.



Court defines the withdrawal of sexual consent as rape  

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On Wednesday, Maryland's highest court ruled that if someone consents to sex, and then withdraws that consent during sex, it is still considered rape. Thank God. I will never understand how someone can argue that if a woman says "yes" at first, and then a few minutes in, begins screaming "no" and the man does not stop, it is not rape. How is that not rape? No still means fucking no, despite when it is said.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Strippers aren't real people  

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"There is no sincere relationship you can build with a stripper. I can't even look at her face anymore" - Will, from the new season of The Real World, upon finding out that his new roommate is a stripper.

Really? Really? As if being a stripper makes someone a person that isn't worthy of his time. As if strippers don't have real feelings and lack the ability to make connections with other humans. Forgive me if I completely don't understand your logic, Will.

First transgendered person in China to go public  

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Though there are over 1,000 people in China who have received gender reassignment surgery, 33-year-old Ying Ning is the first one to ever go public with it. She is openly talking to the media about her excitement over receiving her new ID card that lists her as a female. Prior to receiving her new card, Ying had to postpone a trip out of fear that airport security would be confused upon seeing "male" on her ID. Regulations to receive a new ID card under a new gender include providing medical proof of the surgery, and parental consent, even if the person is of legal age (wow, really?)

We have enormous progress that still needs to be made, but look at what has happened just in the past month! The first pregnant transgendered man to go public in the U.S., and the first transgendered woman to go public in China. I think that first person is so important, because he/she can inspire others to go public as well. And putting people who are "different" in the limelight is an important way to get others to fully understand them and to stop fearing the unknown.

The full article can be found here, on a Chinese news website. The lack of understanding in China can be seen solely in the title of the article, as it uses the term "transsexual," which isn't quite PC. But hopefully this is the first of many important steps to come.

A flexible tampon for every cheerleader  

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New type of tampon: Playtex Sport. A tampon made for the girl/woman who needs a flexible tampon for when she's active. Sounds good... if the commercial didn't completely ruin the product. The 30 second ad for Playtex Sport could have shown women doing any type of physical activity or playing any kind of sport, and what do they decide to show? Cheerleading.





Empowering. Not that cheerleading isn't an acceptable sport, but why of ALL activities, does it have to be such a stereotypically female activity? Ugh.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pope comments on child abuse issues  

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In his six-day visit to the U.S., Pope Benedict has been making comments regarding the child abuse scandal tied to the Roman Catholic Church. Since 2002, about 5,000 priests have been accused of child abuse. Pope Benedict's comments included him saying he was "deeply ashamed" and these instances have caused "great suffering" for the church. "Great suffering" for the children too, I'd say.

Full story here.

RAINN launches online hotline  

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RAINN (the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) has launched a brand new online counseling service. Their new online hotline provides a safe online place for victims of rape and/or violence to talk with someone. This service is particularly helpful for those who may not be comfortable talking on the phone. I think it's so important for these types of organizations to utilize the internet to connect with young people. Props to RAINN.
Monday, April 14, 2008

Stereotypes through animation?  

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So, I'm going to bet on the fact that most of us have noticed the incredibly strict gender roles commercials adhere to by only portraying women as the buyers and users of cleaning products and baby food. I don't think I have ever seen a commercial for a cleaning product that featured a man. Example:





But has anyone noticed a frightening increase in the number of animated ads that are perpetuating gender stereotypes? Whether it's a talking elephant selling air fresheners, or mama and baby bear discussing children's cough syrup, I have definitely noticed more of these over the past couple of years.







What worries me about these animated ads is the fact that because they're animated, they will probably appeal to children more and will be more effective in grabbing the attention of any kid sitting in front of a TV set. It seems like another outlet to implant gender roles in their young vulnerable minds. And with all the Barbies, Ty Girlz, toy cooking sets, baby dolls, and Easy Bake ovens in this world, God knows we don't need that.

Glamorization of thinness could be regulated under law  

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France is considering taking drastic steps to cut down on eating disorders. A new law may be passed that would make it illegal to promote being underweight in a positive manner, such as running a pro-ana website, using dangerously underweight models in fashion shows, or demanding actors lose weight in order to be in a movie. All these actions would be punishable by law. "Dangerously underweight" would be determined by the BMI of the model/actress, with less than 18.5 being considered underweight, and less than 17.5 as a sign of starvation. Perpetuating unhealthy body images could get someone landed in jail for up to three years, or they would have to pay fines.

Interesting. I'm not 100% sure how I feel about this new law. I mean, I can understand regulating the BMIs of models and actresses - I think that can actually be a pretty positive thing for society. And I have always thought that pro-ana websites are disgusting. It would just take a lot of strict enforcement to really make this law effective, and the law itself needs to have clear regulations, so it doesn't go so far as to infringe on basic rights, like freedom of speech. But maybe this could be a step in the right direction. What do you all think?

The internet receives an estrogen injection  

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Last year, women-centered websites increased by 35%, making female net users outnumber male net users for the first time ever. Salon explores the cause of this boom, possibly attributing it to the fact that many women are rejecting the shallow female magazines out there (see: Cosmopolitan) and are on a quest to find a more intelligent source of news and entertainment.

I think it's great that alternative options are emerging for those of us who are sick of flipping through magazines that feature "how to please your man" articles and are loaded with beauty tips, but hardly any world news. However, the "feminet" has a long way to go. Salon particularly mentioned Yahoo's new women-centered website, Shine, which I actually posted an entry about awhile back. Salon comments:


"Shine as yet feels like more of an extension of the glossies than an alternative (many of Shine's stories come directly from publishers like Condé Nast, Hearst, Rodale and Time). Shine seems less interested in creating a distinct voice than it does in becoming a portal."


I agree. I have surfed Shine many times, hoping to find that it was a better website than I thought, but I keep having trouble with finding anything of substance on there. It is truly an electronic women's magazine.

But alas, there is hope. I do think that over time, these sites will improve, provided they listen to feedback from their public (i.e. the overwhelming amount of angry comments left on that Shine article I posted about... you know, the one that called the pregnant Jessica Alba a "blimp"). Salon mentions Wowowow.com, which I think is an improvement over Shine, and a step in the right direction. It focuses more on news and politics than how to survive a bad hair day. So okay, we're making progress, but let's make more, eh?
Sunday, April 13, 2008

Serial sex offender arrested for the 53rd time  

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On Wednesday, Freddie Johnson, a serial sex offender, stepped onto a crowded subway train and pervertedly rubbed himself up against a woman. An NYPD transit team caught him in the act, resulting in Johnson's fifty-third arrest. Of his 53 arrests, 30 of them were for sexual abuse. 53 strikes and you're out? Wow, I'm ecstatic that women are so wonderfully protected from perverts.
Johnson was already on lifetime parole when he molested the woman on the subway. The state attorney general's office had tried to convince the Manhattan Supreme Court that Johnson was too dangerous to be put back on the streets, but the judge disagreed and instead placed him on lifetime parole. That seemed to work out well. For God's sake, this man is sick in the head. He needs to be put away where he can't do this to women anymore, while receiving therapy and treatment to try and salvage any humanity he might have left inside him. Luckily, this arrest will get him locked up, but someone tell me why the fuck it took 53 arrests for anyone to do anything. I believe in giving people chances to redeem themselves, but 53 of them? Come ON.


John Oliver takes on Fox News  

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I loathe Fox News. I've mentioned this before. That's why I found The Daily Show's particularly hilarious and truthful "documentary" about Fox News to be the highlight of my day. Enjoy!








Heh.
Saturday, April 12, 2008

Officer charged with sexual assault  

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It really upsets me when I hear stories about law enforcement officers abusing their power. A New York City police officer, Wilfredo Rosario, was recently charged with sexually assaulting one woman, and trying to convince another woman to have sex with him in order to avoid a summons. He has been charged with felony sexual abuse, official misconduct, unlawful imprisonment and attempted coercion. He could face up to seven years in prison, and I'm assuming he lost his job. You know, it's really scary when we can't even trust the people who are meant to protect us.

Full story here.
Friday, April 11, 2008

McCain wants the ladies  

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Watch out, ladies, John McCain is trying to get your vote. Stats show that he's lagging far behind his Democratic rivals in the female vote, so he's stepping up his game. How? By being a guest on The View. Well, I guess that's one way to do it. Tensions were a tad high, but that's kind of expected when you surround a man who cast 113 anti-choice votes in the Senate with liberal women. Joy Behar took the liberty of bringing up her hatred for Bush, and challenged McCain to convince his audience that he's different from Dubya. His response:


"...I respect President Bush and we have a friendly relationship. There are issues that we've disagreed on, the conduct of the war for four years, spending, climate change. There's a list of issues that we have open and honest disagreements, keeping within the overall philosophy of less government is better government, lower taxes, strong national defense, etc., etc."


He didn't even touch women's rights. I'm sorry, Mr. McCain, but I highly doubt you're going to get as many female voters as you desire. If you want more women to vote for you, I would suggest you stop opposing our right to choose. Voting for the Federal Abortion Ban, denying access to low-income women who need abortions, opposing an act that would establish penalties for those who use violence against clinic employees, and supporting spending 75 million dollars on abstinence-only education isn't going to get you very many points with the ladies. Making nice with the women of The View doesn't change the fact that for years, you have actively opposed giving a woman control over her body.

A big "fuck you" to John McCain. You don't get my vote.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Obama for repeal of "don't ask, don't tell"  

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Barack Obama recently told The Advocate, a gay magazine, that he favors repealing the preposterous "don't ask, don't tell" policy in the military. He said:

"We're spending large sums of money to kick highly qualified gays or lesbians out of our military... That doesn't make us more safe."

Well put. There are so many things wrong with the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Aside from the fact that it requires gays and lesbians to shut their mouths about their sexuality while straight people can talk about it freely, it really says something about our priorities when the armed forces cares more about a person's sexuality than their qualifications and ability to protect our country.

When is a fashion ad NOT a fashion ad?  

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When I saw that the New York Times had an article today called "When Is a Fashion Ad Not a Fashion Ad?" I got momentarily excited. The feminist part of me started jumping up and down, thinking that a major newspaper was finally writing an article on the sexist advertising and the grotesque nature of fashion ads to feature people that are, ironically, without clothing. Unfortunately, such is not the case. Even though at the top of the article was a particularly cringe-worthy advertisement...





...the article was instead about the deeper meaning behind fashion ads and how they can "tell a story." Not what I was hoping for. So, when is a fashion ad really not a fashion ad? In my opinion:





I'd say when the focus of the advertisement is anything but the clothes. Get it right next time, New York Times.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Anti-choicer makes threats  

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Roy McMillan, an anti-abortion extremist, has been ordered by a judge to stay at least fifty feet away from Mississippi's only abortion clinic. The doctor at the clinic had made a complaint against McMillan, saying he feared for his life, because McMillan made comments such as, "Your days are numbered." The doctor was so shaken that he started wearing a bulletproof vest.

It's amazing how scary anti-choicers can be sometimes. Personally, I will never understand those who pride themselves on being "pro-life" and then shoot a doctor in the head. This Summer, I'm volunteering to be a clinic escort at a Planned Parenthood in Hempstead. Even though there has never been an incident of violence at this particular clinic, I can't help but be a little worried. You never know when someone's going to take their cause just a little too far.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Take Action Tuesday: stopping child abuse  

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This week's Take Action Tuesday is inspired by this upsetting story. In Pennsylvania, a two-year-old girl died after being beaten with a video game controller by her mother's boyfriend. It wasn't the first time he had beaten her, but for some reason, the mother never did anything to stop it. Both of them have been charged and taken into custody.

This story killed me, especially after seeing a picture of the little girl. It makes me wonder how often this happens and how many children are abused each year. According to statistics, almost 900,000 in 2005 alone.


Help stop it:

Castration?!  

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Louisiana lawmakers consider castration for sex offenders.

No. No no no no no. Although I have to wonder... what would they do for female sex offenders?

*shudder*

Sexism vs. Misogyny  

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Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times wrote a short opinion piece, attempting to sort out the differences between sexism and misogyny. It's an interesting thing to think about because many people can't really distinguish between the two. He opened it up for discussion - I would suggest reading the comments because they're pretty interesting, and feel free to leave a comment of your own.

I think there's undoubtedly a difference between sexism and misogyny.

Sexism: Discrimination or devaluation based on a person's sex.
Misogyny: Hatred and mistrust of women.

Kristof brings up instances of violence against women. He makes the interesting point that many men who are violent towards their wives or girlfriends don't do it out of hatred, which is true. Many batterers claim that they love their partners, so it can't exactly be called misogyny, can it? I would sooner call it sexism because I don't think most violence committed by men against women comes from hatred of them, but rather a notion that women are weaker and submissive, and therefore as the dominant sex, men have the right to try and "control" them through violence. Sexism.

But random acid attacks in South Asia and brutal rapes in the Republic of Congo? Misogyny. Although I think a case can be made for sexism as well, I feel that if violence is committed against women randomly, it can only stem from a general dislike and hostility towards females.

Thoughts?

Another woman stops another thief  

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Apparently the 83-year-old woman who used a gas nozzle to fight off a purse-snatcher isn't the only bad ass woman to be resourceful in a dangerous situation. This story from the New York Times is about a woman who stopped a burglar by hitting him with an ice scraper. She saw him climbing out of her window, chased him down, hit him with the ice scraper, made him pick up all the objects he stole off the ground, and held him until the police arrived.

Maybe thieves will soon learn to stop targeting "helpless" women as their victims.
Monday, April 7, 2008

T-shirts display "I was raped"  

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Take a look at this video about a rape victim selling t-shirts online that say, "I was raped."
I can understand why people have concerns about this t-shirt, but I think that they can also be very liberating for victims. Many women are afraid to tell people that they were raped out of embarassment or fear of being alienated, but seeing other women wearing this t-shirt could inspire them to come out of the shadows. I think it can also be a way for rape victims to channel anger and distress - wearing this t-shirt can be a way to take the power back that was stolen from you.

What do you all think?


(Thanks to Leslie for showing me this!)

Vintage sexism  

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For kicks, I was looking up some vintage sexist advertising that promotes nice little obedient and submissive women of the 50s and 60s. My favorites:








Ah, the wonderful advertising from decades ago. Looking at these, I tried to take comfort in the fact that ads promoting the obedient housewife and the submissive woman are no longer as common as they once were, but I can't lie to myself. Advertising, I think, has gotten worse. Now, ads promote women as sex objects, and many utilize underlying messages of domination, abuse, and rape. Some examples:




(Reads "The Axe Effect")



Ugh. It's everywhere. And people ignorantly claim that sexism hardly exists anymore. It exists, just in different forms. Today, we are so used to seeing sexualized images of women that we often fail to notice them and acknowledge how harmful they are. Keep an eye out, and try your best to avoid becoming numb to them.
Sunday, April 6, 2008

Buffet of the Week  

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Here are your samplings of current events from around the world!

  • POPLINE - a popular online health database - recently, for some absurd reason, removed the word "abortion" as an acceptable search term. However, after much scrutiny, they restored our right to search for "abortion" on their database.

  • A recent study has shown the desperate need for comprehensive sex education in Florida. The survey showed that some teenagers believe in dangerous myths, such as drinking bleach will prevent HIV infection, or smoking marijuana will prevent pregnancy.

  • 25,000 people rallied in Pakistan over an anti-Muslim film that sets verses from the Koran against a background of images of terror attacks.


  • A ranch in Texas was recently raided and found to be owned by a polygamist, who had taken an obscene amount of children captive. On Saturday, more children were removed by police, bringing the total amount of children at the ranch to 137.
  • The disgusting sexism of Fox News continues in this video examining the "decreasing trend" of women bearing their cleavage.

  • A new law in Wisconsin allows victims of domestic abuse to terminate rental agreements without penalty.

  • Hillary Clinton was accused of telling a false story several times in her campaign about a pregnant woman being turned away from a hospital for lack of insurance, only to die shortly after. The angry and upset family of the departed woman has come out to explain that Clinton has not been telling the story properly.


  • A new study finds abuse and neglect in about 1 out of every 43 infants.

  • Images of sexy female dancers are being used to sell apartments.

  • Because of the extremely negative social stigma surrounding pre-marital sex in China, single mothers have a very difficult time maintaining a happy lifestyle for them and their children.



  • A new study shows that women do significantly more housework than men, although the hours per week of housework for women has decreased over the past couple decades.

Anything I missed?