Friday, July 31, 2009

New study: feminists aren't man-haters!  

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Wait, feminists aren't angry man-haters? Since when?!?!

Well, since always. But still, we needed a study to prove it (hat tip to Feministing). According to the abstract:


Despite the popular belief that feminists dislike men, few studies have actually examined the empirical accuracy of this stereotype. The present study examined self-identified feminists' and nonfeminists' attitudes toward men. An ethnically diverse sample of college students responded to statements from the Ambivalence toward Men Inventory. Contrary to popular beliefs, feminists reported lower levels of hostility toward men than did nonfeminists. The persistence of the myth of the man-hating feminist is explored.

It's sad that we need a study to assert this, that people can't just listen to feminists when we say that we don't hate men, or heaven forbid, even meet some feminists and see that many of them are, in fact, dating or marrying men.

I suppose proving it over and over again couldn't hurt. Still, I see it as unlikely that the opinions of people like Rush Limbaugh are going to change anytime soon, regardless of scientific studies.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

White model chosen to represent black character  

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Liar is a new young adult book by Justine Larbalestier that tells the story of a young compulsive liar, described in the book as a black woman with short, nappy hair. But you wouldn't know that from the U.S. cover.


Clearly, the cover depicts a pretty white girl with long silky hair. But Larbalestier is known for never having white protagonists in her books. As the author herself explains, authors of books often get little to no say on their book covers:


The US Liar cover went through many different versions. An early one, which I loved, had the word Liar written in human hair. Sales & Marketing did not think it would sell. Bloomsbury has had a lot of success with photos of girls on their covers and that's what they wanted. Although not all of the early girl face covers were white, none showed girls who looked remotely like Micah.

I strongly objected to all of them. I lost.

This is why those who were upset over the cover of Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti, which depicts a white, naked, flat-stomached woman, were wrong to attack Valenti herself.

Why did publishing companies of both Larbalestier and Valenti's books choose the covers that they did? Simple. Because they sell. White women sell. Naked women sell. Pretty girls on covers sell.

Upsetting, to say the least. Unfortunately, such habits are not subject to change until we can change what society views as "beautiful." The most direct thing to do is contact Justine's publisher and Jessica's publisher and state your disapproval for their cover choices. But ultimately, what creates the most change is celebrating all different types of beauty. Women are beautiful, whether they are black or white, or with short natural hair or long silky hair. Hopefully one day the rest of society will realize that.

(Thanks to Tiffany for the story tip)

Defending Obama's comments on Gates  

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I haven't written yet about Barack Obama's comments on the Gates arrest because I haven't quite been able to put how I feel about it into words. But thankfully, journalist Greg Palast (who I saw speak at my school a little while back) did it for me. From his piece in The Huffington Post:

He's in hot water now. For a moment, on national television, the President of the United States turned black!

Last week, when his buddy "Skip" Gates got busted for being Black in Boston, Barack Obama forgot his official role: to soothe America's conscience with the happy fairy tale that his election marked the end of racism in the USA.

Instead, Obama, the excruciatingly middle-of-the-road President, was seized by Barack the militant State Senator from the South Side of Chicago, who reminded us that cops bust Black guys for no goddamn good reason all the goddamn time.

Truth. Obama shouldn't have had to apologize for his comments; the police did act stupidly, and there is a history of people of color being persecuted by cops more often than white people. President Obama said what we were all thinking, and all the other people who want to pretend that racism doesn't exist need to get the hell over it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Crisis pregnancy centers target young black mothers  

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While watching BET, I saw this commercial:



I knew right away what it was, and going to their website confirmed it: a directory of crisis pregnancy centers. This commercial is designed to manipulate scared pregnant women, especially women of color, hence the fact that the ad was on BET and featured all black actresses. Oh, and there is the window that popped up when I clicked on the link to view the commercial on their website:


They titled the commercial "pregnancyline-black." The other advertisement features diverse actresses, though they are not all black, and it's entitled, "pregnancyline-english."

It's the perfect plan! Since black women are constantly getting knocked up and they are often poor with absent baby daddies, Pregnancy Line is there to direct them to "choose" adoption so their baby can go to a nice middle-class suburban white family that can give it a great life!

There are more crisis pregnancy centers in the U.S. than abortion clinics. To help eliminate these harmful and misleading establishments, get involved with FeministCampus.org's Campaign to Expose Fake Clinics. I held a protest against a local CPC and it went really well. I'm sick of seeing their bullshit advertisements and knowing that they are misleading thousands of pregnant women.

Gimme your input!  

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There are a few new things that I'm thinking of bringing to Appetite for Equal Rights, but first I want input from my fabulous readers. I wouldn't want to bring you something that you didn't like. So please take a minute to answer the questions below. Thanks, friends!

Would you like to see a 'shameless self-promotion' post every week, which would allow you to comment and promote your own recent blog posts?
Yes! I would love to promote my blog posts!
I might read what people post, but I probably wouldn't participate.
Not really interested.
ugg boots


Would you like to see occasional live chats, in which you can enter a chatroom to talk with both me and other readers?
I would love to see live chats, and would probably participate.
Nah, I wouldn't want to participate.
ugg boots


Would you like to see a Blogathon, in which I stay up for 24 hours and update my blog with posts every half hour, to raise funds for a charity?
Sounds great! And I'll probably donate to the charity you're blogging for.
I might read your Blogathon posts, but I don't think I'd donate.
Doesn't sound like a good idea.
Other
Please Specify:
ugg boots

Buffet of the Week  

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So much has happened. Some good news, some bad news.

  • At the World Outgames, a multi-sport event for LGBT people, small bombs were thrown onto the track at the start of the relay run. Police are holding two suspects. Hopefully they're the assholes that did it, because I want them to pay.

  • A Fox News host, Glenn Beck, stated on MSNBC that Obama is a "racist" who has "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture." How these nutjobs get on news channels is beyond me.

  • Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) introduced a horrifying amendment to ban all federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Thankfully, it was defeated in the House by a vote of 247 to 183.

  • Colin Powell commented on the Gates arrest, stating he's suffered from racial profiling "many times."

  • Senator Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY) announced yesterday that a Senate hearing on "don't ask, don't tell" will be held in the fall. Contact your senators now to tell them to do everything they can to eliminate this discriminatory policy!

  • Governor Schwarzenegger line-item vetoed close to $52 million in funding to the State Office of AIDS, which would've been used for services such as education, prevention, and testing. Nice.

  • File this under: "hypocrisy." A Tennessee senator and abstinence proponent, resigned after admitting having an affair with a 22 year-old intern. Good riddance.

What have you all been reading this week?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Television to avoid: "Hitched or Ditched"  

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"Hitched or Ditched" is a new reality show on the CW. After seeing commercials for it, reading about it, and watching an episode, I've realized that the main message of this program is, "OMG YOUR RELATIONSHIP IS NOT VALIDATED AND/OR GOING ANYWHERE UNLESS YOU GET MARRIED!!!!!1!1!!1" Seriously. Read the synopsis on the show's webpage:

"Hitched or Ditched" is a one-hour reality show focusing on couples who are in long-term relationships but have not yet taken that big leap into marriage. Nominated by a friend who believes it's either time for the couple to tie to the knot or break up, each episode features a different couple who accept their friend's proposition to set a wedding date in one week's time.

Essentially, a couple is sent an invitation to their own wedding. I'm glad that other people who are not in the relationship can decide for a couple when it's their time to get married. And it's wonderful that marriage is forced upon these people, who quite often seem either not ready or not even open to the idea of marriage, which is a quick and easy way to end up in the divorced half of the U.S. population.

Overall, this sad excuse for primetime television seems to be just another way to make marriage the norm and filter out the problematic people who decide to (HEAVEN FORBID) abstain from marriage. Blech.

On the abortion ban in Nicaragua  

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Abortion rights in Nicaragua don't exist. Since the country revised the penal code in 2007, abortion has been made illegal regardless of any circumstances, such as rape, incest, or when the mother's life is in danger. After sending researchers to Nicaragua to study how the ban is affecting people, Amnesty International put together a detailed report (PDF) on the situation, and called the ban a "cruel, inhuman disgrace."




Girls and women can end up in jail for obtaining abortions. And they can share a cell with the doctor or nurse that provided it. Medical professionals are often hesitant to treat pregnant women for illnesses such as malaria or HIV/AIDS out of fear that treatment could cause death or injury to the fetus, and they could be charged with providing an abortion. Many women and girls are terrified of having a miscarriage and being falsely charged with obtaining an abortion. One woman who was admitted to hospital following a miscarriage asked doctors to avoid treating her, frightened that it would look like she had deliberately asked them to terminate her pregnancy.

How did it come to this? In the January 2007 elections, President Daniel Ortega of the left-wing Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) backed the law banning abortion to win important conservative Roman Catholic support. When the ban was first signed into law, the presidency's website stated the the ban would help protect the "right to life." According to the website, legal abortion in Nicaragua "allowed the daily execution of innocent children in their mother's womb, in open violation of the Constitution which protected the unborn child."

Has anyone read The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood? It's a dystopian novel, depicting a future in which women have no reproductive choices; their only value and purpose comes from their "duty" to bear children. As a naive high school senior reading that novel, I insisted that it could never happen.

There are important things that we must do. Your first task is to hit the button below this post that will allow you to tweet it. If you don't have Twitter, post it to Facebook. If you don't have Facebook, pick up the phone. Spreading the word is the next step after educating yourself. Next, visit Amnesty's "Take Action" site that allows you to send a letter to the Nicaraguan presidency. You need to register with Amnesty to send it, but registration takes all of one minute.

What else can we do?

Senate panel OKs Sotomayor  

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Great news:

"The Senate Judiciary Committee voted, 13 to 6, on Tuesday to endorse the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, easing her path to likely confirmation as the first Hispanic member of the tribunal."

Wooooooooo!
Monday, July 27, 2009

Movies to shudder at: "Guys and Dolls"  

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Saw this posted in Sociological Images and I found it chilling. This is a 50-minute documentary, entitled Guys and Dolls, that is about men who form full-on relationships with high-end sex dolls.



Haven't watched it yet, but I plan to quite soon. If anyone has watched it, leave your thoughts here. I took a look at the Real Doll website however, and "disturbed" doesn't even begin to explain how I felt. You can create a custom woman, choosing everything from her eye color to her amount of pubic hair. A clean-shaven vagina is standard; pubic hair is $100 extra. You have one body type choice: 5'3 and 70lbs with a C cup. For some men, it is the perfect woman. She is sexy, always in the mood, and never speaks. It is the ultimate objectification.

Smashing BMI standards  

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Thanks to someone in the Feministing community, I came across this project that seeks to illustrate the fact that "BMI calculators" are a big ol' load of crap. They completely misrepresent a person's body, and Kate Harding's "The Illustrated BMI Categories Project" shows that quite clearly. According to these "calculators," I'm obese.


Right. How have BMI calculators screwed you over?

New study: HBO shows gay characters more than any other network  

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For the third year in a row, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) evaluated prime-time programming on 15 major TV networks to determine how often LGBT characters are portrayed in their content. Aaaaaand the winner isssss... HBO!

...Of HBO's 14 original prime-time series, 10 included content reflecting the lives of gay, bisexual and transgender people. That totaled 42 percent of the network's programming hours, in series such as "True Blood," "Entourage" and "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency."

That's excellent that LGBT people are portrayed in almost half of HBO's primetime programming. Of course, how they are portrayed is an entirely different discussion. Still, is portraying people who are queer stereotypically better than not portraying them at all?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

More commercials I can't stand: KGB tackles nappy-headed hoes  

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Renee of Womanist Musings is less than pleased with this KGB commercial, and rightfully so.



She writes:

I suppose it's all good fun to laugh at the lengths that Black women must go to train our hair into submission because we live in a culture that has constructed nappy hair as uncouth or wrong...Looking at this commercial only reifies the ways in which Whiteness is more than content to remain ignorant. In fact, it symbolizes just another attempt to portray Black women as uncouth and bestial in their attempts to covet Whiteness. Yep, just look at the ignorant Blacks putting yak hair in their head.

I have to agree. This ad blatantly invokes the stereotypes of black women in beauty shops, getting weaves and ending every sentence with, "Guuuuuurl, please!" It paints them out to be ignorant airheads who need advice from the intelligent white people to survive. I find this commercial extremely tasteless, to say the least. What does everyone else think?

Gaza judge rules in favor of headscarves for female lawyers  

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In Palestine, women are able to study law... but they are not able to show their hair.

Gaza's top judge said Sunday that he has ordered female lawyers to wear Muslim headscarves when they appear in court, the latest sign that the Islamic militant group is increasingly imposing its strict interpretation of Islamic law on residents of the coastal strip.

It was chilling to hear this because it's apparent that women's rights are slowly being eroded. The Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights called this ruling a "dangerous violation of personal freedoms and women's rights."

Yet some women defend headscarves, believing it to be an important personal choice. Still, it's tough to argue that requiring women to cover up isn't a blatant attempt to control them, since not wearing one is a good way to get arrested. Thoughts?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Movies to see: 'Julie & Julia'  

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Because there are so few of them, I love to promote upcoming movies that feature predominantly female leads. I felt all warm and fuzzy inside watching the trailer for Julie & Julia, which stars the fabulous Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. Amy Adams is often very glammed up, so I was pleased to see that she's more natural in this movie (and still looking adorable).

In this movie, Meryl Streep's character, decades before this one, tackles the male-dominated world of cooking (look for the part where she busts into the kitchen filled with men and shouts "BONJOUR!") and Amy Adams' character, in modern times, blogs about it (YAY WOMEN BLOGGING!) It's a true story about powerful women helping each other, and it's the first major motion picture based on a blog. Will not be missing this one.

More Obama racism from right-wingers  

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I understand that right-wingers are threatened by Obama because his skin is darker than the other 43 presidents and he's also bringing new radical ideas to the White House like - GASP! - reforming our crappy ass health care system and - GASP! - giving rights to the gays, but that doesn't even come close to excusing shit like this, forwarded by a conservative activist:


Since Obama has come into the spotlight, too many Republicans have been showing their horrendously racist sides that have perhaps been lying dormant until a black man was given the most powerful position in the States. Now that black people can do more than shoot hoops and tell jokes on stage, conservatives are not happy, and they are showing it by sinking to the lowest of the low. Dan Amira of New York Magazine points this out also:

As they continue to navigate this moral gray area, most Republican Party members are erring on the side of ... erring — making or endorsing racially tinged or outright offensive jokes via e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, and old-fashioned paper, then awkwardly apologizing once they've made an ass of themselves.

Once again, let's be thankful for blogs being able to call out this crap. Contact the Republican National Committee (info@gop.com) and urge them to publicly denounce and discourage this behavior. Also contact organizations like the ACLU and Democracy Now, which can help publicize this ongoing racism, and take action to stop it.

Breast I Ever Had  

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Bust posted about this music video, and it just made me want to puke. Sadly, it's for "Best I Ever Had" by Drake, and as an avid Degrassi fan for 7+ years, it kills me that my beloved Jimmy Brooks objectifies women to no end. I know he probably had little to no say in how the video played out, but as Bust writes, he's defended it, saying, "When women see the video and see all the breast and ass, hopefully they don't take offense."

Well, sorry Drake, but I take offense. When you turn women into mere body parts, I take offense. When the camera is focused on their breasts more often than their faces, I take offense. When the only real women in the video who look like real basketball players are the villains in the story, I take offense. Then again, should I really expect anything more from a song that says, "I can make your pussy whistle like the Andy Griffith theme song"?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fatties need not apply  

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Oh, you didn't hear? Fat people are incapable of holding important political positions because clearly they're going to be too busy shoving donuts down their throats and expanding their muffin top to get shit done. And forget about fixing America's "obesity problem" with these fatties in office because people will take one look at their rolls, and say, "Well, I'll be damned. That important person is fat, so I'm going to be fat too!"

People actually believe in this crap. And by "people," I mean one misguided whacko who was, for some reason I can't begin to fathom, invited onto Fox News to criticize President Obama's Surgeon General nominee, Dr. Regina Benjamin, for being too fat for the job.

Misguided Whacko begins by saying, "This is going to anger a lot of your female audience." I'm sorry, I just have to say this: NO SHIT! (Note his t-shirt. I bet he gets a lot of ladies by sporting that classy attire at bars).




Fav Quotes:

"Would you then want the head of the Fed Reserve to be a guy in a cardboard box who lives underneath the highway because because he understands the plight of poor people and he understands how to make money work?" (So... being overweight... equals... living in a... box...? I don't get it).

"She has shown not that she was born this way, not that she woke up one day and was obese; she has shown through being lazy and making poor food choices that she is obese." (Oh damn! I had no idea this guy was Regina Benjamin's doctor!)

I'm gonna go puke all over Fox News now.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Jimmy Carter leaves church, criticizes religious sexism  

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I never knew much about Jimmy Carter, only that he was a Democrat who served as president from 1977 to 1981. But now, as I've recently learned (hat tip to Feministing), there's quite a lot of depth to the second-oldest living former president. He recently made a move that, if he had made it while in office it would've meant political suicide. He's - GASP! - leaving his church.

Why? According to an essay he recently wrote (read it!), he's fed up with religion being a patriarchal institution.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

Carter cites religion as a driving force behind sexism and misogyny. A brave move, to say the least. I wish this story received more coverage, but it has been featured on major sites like Politics Daily and Guardian.

I wish I could find an e-mail address for Jimmy Carter to send him a thanks. Does anyone have contact information for Carter or any ideas on how to thank him in other ways?

Colbert mocks "reverse racism" argument  

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Heh heh heh.

Most Influential Women in the Media  

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Forbes has released its Most Influential Women in the Media list. It was nice to see that the majority of the women on this list are extremely intelligent, assertive, and actively involved in politics. Not surprisingly, Oprah took the #1 spot. My favorites on the list? Ellen DeGeneres took #4, Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post was #12, Rachel Maddow (swoon) was #15, and the wonderful Campbell Brown of NBC was #24. It's good to see these women being honored for their achievements and contributions.

Undeniably, there is a blatant lack of women of color on the list. But that can be attributed to the fact that there are so few women of color in mainstream media in general. The Forbes list definitely reflects that.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Olbermann's commentary on Sotomayor hearing  

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I can't stop posting about the Sotomayor hearings, mainly because I want everyone to know how inappropriate many of the Republican reps behaved. The crap that spews out of their mouths is unbelievable. Get ready for your jaw to drop while you watch this video, featuring my political soulmate, Keith Olbermann (swoon).

Obama's strong words to the NAACP  

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President Obama delivered a heartfelt address at the NAACP's Centennial Convention, in which he acknowledged that though America has come a long way in reducing discrimination, we still have a long way to go. It's during speeches like these that the similarities between Obama and Martin Luther King, Jr. are undeniable. Here's a clip:



Transcript:
The first thing we need to do is make real the words of the NAACP charter and eradicate prejudice, bigotry, and discrimination among citizens of the United States. I understand there may be a temptation among some to think that discrimination is no longer a problem in 2009. And I believe that overall, there probably has never been less discrimination in America than there is today. I think we can say that. But make no mistake: the pain of discrimination is still felt in America, by African-American women paid less for doing the same work as colleagues of a different color and a different gender, by Latinos made to feel unwelcome in their own country, by Muslim Americans viewed with suspicion simply because they kneel down to pray to their god, by our gay brothers and sisters, still taunted, still attacked, still denied their rights. On the 45th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, discrimination cannot stand; not on account of color or gender, how you worship or who you love. Prejudice has no place in the United States of America.

'True Blood' and female sexuality  

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As an avid True Blood watcher, I had to read James Brady Ryan's piece on AlterNet, entitled "Rough Sex With Vampires: What Does 'True Blood' Tell Us About Women and Sexuality?"

To talk about True Blood is to talk about sex: barely a scene goes by without something between innuendo and a full-on orgy. This isn’t new to vampire fiction, as Latoya Peterson pointed out in a piece for Double X. That the sexuality of the female leads is under heavy scrutiny is no surprise, given how much horror fiction has centered on feminine helplessness. To Peterson, the current crop of pointy-toothed dramas continues the genre’s fascination with sexual violence and the idealization of the chaste woman. I can’t fault her for taking issue with eroticized depictions of abuse, often against women. But she’s wrong to equate the sexual politics of True Blood with those of the abstinent, repressed Twilight.

It's extremely important to keep analyzing and criticizing how women are portrayed in mainstream media; it is undeniable that what is seen on TV, read in magazines, and heard in songs greatly influences public opinion and the stereotypes individuals hold. True Blood, quite frankly, isn't perfect when it comes to portrayal of its woman characters. There is a minuscule amount of female vampires, and the few that are shown are often overtly evil and manipulative. Additionally, the show's main vampire, Vampire Bill, states on more than one occasion that he "owns" Sookie. However, to put it bluntly, Sookie is a tough bitch, and can take care of herself with or without her vampire keeper.

Has anyone else seen this show? If so, offer your two cents please!

Jokes about menstruation  

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Who else has seen the Midol commercials that feature woman comedians joking about periods? If not:





What does everyone think about these? For me, they don't seem to sit right. While I absolutely love and admire woman comedians because they are so rare yet so talented, why do they have to be used to joke about menstruation? Most female comedians have a wide variety of material that doesn't have to do with periods, so it bothers me a bit when Midol pigeonholes them into this one narrow category. Moreover, while I like the idea of laughing and joking and talking about menstruation, their jokes tend to take the stereotypical route - i.e. depicting women as wretched bitches while they're on the rag. That part I certainly don't like.

Other thoughts?

Same-sex couples fight for immigration benefits  

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Remember that episode of Friends where the gang found out that Phoebe has a Canadian husband, whom she married simply so he could get his Green Card and stay in the U.S.? Well, while heterosexual couples are free to do that, one partner in a loving same-sex relationship currently cannot sponsor her/his foreign partner to stay in the United States.

Luckily, more than 100 lawmakers in the House and about 20 in the Senate have signed onto bills that would add the United States to the 19 countries that already recognize immigration benefits for same-sex couples.

The long-standing fight over the country's estimated 36,000 same sex couples of two nationalities is a small but emotional part of the debate over immigration reform. But including same-sex couples in the mix could make it harder to pass an immigration overhaul.

A key ally in past immigration fights, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said it would not support a measure that has a same-sex provision.

Writing to Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., the organization said the provision would "erode the institution of marriage and family by according marriage-like immigration benefits to same sex relationships."

Erode the institution of marriage. Haven't heard that one before.
Sunday, July 19, 2009

More commercials I can't stand: female police officers love to get naked!  

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GoDaddy.com is no stranger to sexist advertising. Still, I was horrified to see this pornographic male fantasy aired on Cartoon Network(!)



Only the first 35 seconds were shown, but viewers were directed to a URL to view the rest of the strip show. It kills me that the few mainstream women athletes must be sexualized in order to be accepted. Direct complaints to GoDaddy.com for making it and Cartoon Network for airing it.

Adventures of an Agnostic Jew  

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There's a lovely thread going on at That Is So Queer involving how to cope with being both Jewish and Agnostic/Atheist. As an Agnostic Jew, I felt compelled to offer my two cents, and I thought it'd be great to spread the conversation across the blogsophere. Here are my answers to the questions Faith asked on her blog, and I hope all of you can provide your own experiences... whether they be with Judaism or any other faith.

What do you do to maintain your culture?

I celebrate most major Jewish holidays with my family, like Passover and Yom Kippur. Part of our celebrations is to attend synagogue. As a kid, celebrating Jewish holidays and going to temple were obligations to me. Keeping our Jewish culture alive is extremely important to my father, so he would sort of "force" it upon us. I would always complain and drag my feet and beg to leave services early, but now I realize that children aren't really supposed to understand religion. Any children who claim to understand religion are simply regurgitating what their parents shove down their throats (see: "Jesus Camp"). I believe that if religious parents raise their children properly, their daughters and sons will not fully understand their religious culture until older. That's how it went with me.

Now, I'm an adult and my dad can no longer force synagogue upon us, but I still attend on holidays out of respect and love for Judaism. Each holiday, I try to remind myself why I'm celebrating this holiday and what it means to the Jewish people. Each holiday is a chance to learn more about Judaism and develop new found respect for my people.

Have you found a community that welcomes you and makes you feel included?

The synagogue I attend now is the same one I attended Sunday school in and the same one I was Bat Mitzvah'ed in. My family and I have been with this temple for so long because the community within it is made up of extremely supportive and welcoming people. When my grandmother passed away, my rabbi, who had never even met her before, traveled to Brooklyn to deliver a heartfelt service for her. I haven't discussed my Agnostic views with my temple's clergy, but I think that if I did, they would be nothing but understanding and open.

Do you attend synagogue? If so, how do you deal with the God stuff?

Because of all the "God stuff," I don't attend weekly; only on holidays. But in order to get past it, I try to read deeper into our prayer books and find the true meaning behind the words. "All people make mistakes but God is perfect" doesn't have to mean exactly that - it can mean that all people are united by their tendency to inevitably make mistakes, but we can always strive to be a better person. "God" doesn't have to be a big man in the sky - it can mean a variety of things to a variety of people. Also, because my temple is so progressive, they have been filtering in gender-neutral prayer books. Words like "Him" and "King" have been eliminated, so that makes it much easier for me to read them.

What other questions need to be asked?

I'm going to let all of you handle this one.

Vintage (non)sexism  

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I came across this vintage Lego advertisement via Sociological Images:


I just love it. Not only is it undeniably rare to see a little girl featured in an advertisement for a traditionally "boy's" toy, but it seems even rarer to see her dressed in jeans and sneakers as opposed to pink tutus and bedazzled tiaras.

As a kid, I used to play with many "girl's" toys, like Barbie and Polly Pocket, but one of my favorite toys was a play toolkit. I used to spend hours "fixing" things with my plastic wrench and screwdriver, and I remember feeling inexplicably cool while doing so. In retrospect, I'm sure this feeling came from my knowledge that I was playing with a toy that I wasn't "supposed" to be playing with. Maybe that's why it was my favorite one.

Poll time  

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Do it up, folks! Many thanks :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Roller girls kick ass  

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Because I love:

a.) Roller derby girls
b.) Ellen Page
c.) Drew Barrymore

I must see this movie.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Childbirth pain "a rite of passage"  

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"Women 'should go through pain' in childbirth, says male midwife" is the title of an article that I came across (hat tip to Choice Words) that made me increasingly angry the further I got into it. A male midwife, Dr. Denis Walsh, believes that the pain involved in childbirth is a "rite of passage."

First and foremost, methinks males who will never experience childbirth pain shouldn't pass judgment on the women who do undergo childbirth and choose to have an epidural.

Moving on, it's one thing if Dr. Walsh's argument is that it is healthier and less risky to give birth naturally, but his main argument seems to be, "Pain in labor is a purposeful, useful thing, which has quite a number of benefits, such as preparing a mother for the responsibility of nurturing a newborn baby."

Essentially, Dr. Walsh believes that the pain will "toughen up" new mothers to the point where taking care of a baby is a cinch!

To me, it seems as if this is one midwife who is looking down upon certain women who choose how they wish to birth their child. Each woman's childbirth experience is unique, and every woman has a right to choose the circumstances under which to give birth that will make her most comfortable, mentally and/or physically. To quote Hannah from Choice Words, "If I had a midwife who said that to me, male or female, they would immediately be given a one-way ticket to NOT being my midwife." Indeed.

Anyone side with Dr. Walsh? I'd be interested to hear your opinions, and I do love me some debate.

Dumb Things Said by Republicans: The Greatest Hits Album  

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This is just too funny to not read: "The 10 Dumbest Things Republicans Have Said About the Sotomayor Hearings" from AlterNet. My personal favorite is Pat Buchanan's claim that Obama's list of the "final four" possible Supreme Court nominees being all women proved that Obama is openly practicing affirmative action... because all these women couldn't possibly have been considered by the president for the position because of their qualifications. Stay classy, Pat.



Luckily, Sotomayor is kicking ass in the confirmation hearings.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Important political news  

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The confirmation hearings for Supreme Court justice nominee Sonia Sotomayor have begun. The first day of the hearings were interrupted three times by anti-choice protesters, including "Jane Roe" of Roe v. Wade, all of whom had to be escorted out. Irritating, to say the least. Watch Judge Sotomayor's opening statement:



AND: Yesterday, President Obama announced his appointment of Regina Benjamin, MD to the position of surgeon general. A family doctor from Alabama, Benjamin has lost family members to a variety of diseases, which causes Obama to believe that she has a particularly deep understanding of the health issues that face the U.S. population. So far, I'm extremely pleased that Obama seems so committed to filling important political positions with people who have been notoriously underrepresented.
Monday, July 13, 2009

New feminist blog for teenagers  

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As Feministing also points out, there's a brand spankin' new feminist blog in action, called FBomb. It's geared towards teenage feminists, which I think is wonderful because supporting and encouraging young feminists is a great way to keep the feminist movement alive and kickin'. According to them:

The FBomb.org is a blog/community created for teenage girls who care about their rights as women and want to be heard. Young feminists who are just a little bit pissed off and very outspoken are more than welcome here.

I wish I had FBomb when I was a teenager because I sure as hell wasn't learning about feminism in high school. It wasn't until college that I started receiving an education about women's studies that went beyond the suffrage movement. Be sure to subscribe to the FBomb feed and spread the word!
Sunday, July 12, 2009

A child with a secret gender  

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How do we, as feminists, raise our children to be free from gender constraints? Well, according to the New York Times, one Swedish couple knows how. Currently, only a handful of close relatives know the gender of their two year-old child, and that's it. The child's gender is kept a secret from anyone else, and the child is simply called "Pop."


"We want Pop to grow up more freely and avoid being forced into a specific gender mould from the outset," Pop's mother told the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet last spring. "It's cruel to bring a child into the world with a blue or pink stamp on their forehead."

Pop wears dresses, and also "male" styled pants, and Pop's hairstyle changes often, from traditionally feminine to traditionally masculine (and, one would imagine, to some untraditional styles now and then.)

I agree that the manner in which conformity and stereotypes are thrust onto children at the youngest of ages is disturbing. However, will this do more harm than good? Is it wrong to thrust our feminist agendas onto our children? Will this lead to resentment and confusion on the child's part? It's difficult to answer these questions, so if anyone can offer their opinion, I'm all ears. I think it's wonderful that they're trying to break out of a gendered society, but it's important to ask these questions before doing so.

Having a genderless child, however, is a great way to challenge the rigid manner in which a gendered society is run. Which bathroom will Pop use? Which line will Pop join when teachers split the class up into a boys' line and a girls' line in the hallway? Undoubtedly, Pop's activist parents will confront those who are responsible for these sexist set-ups, perhaps leading to people changing their own behaviors and challenging stereotypes, but is it ethical to use a child as an instrument to break the patriarchy?

A complex situation, to say the least. Still, I admire the courage and the strong values of Pop's parents. It's not easy to be in the small minority of those who challenge gender roles.
Saturday, July 11, 2009

Steps towards reproductive justice  

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Two positive pieces of information, folks.

One, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed an amendment to the foreign aid appropriations bill yesterday that would permanently ban the Global Gag Rule. The Global Gag Rule bans federal money from funding any reproductive services abroad that "promote" abortion. Currently, it's been a tug-of-war amongst the past few presidents - good ol' Ronald Reagan instated it, Clinton revoked it, Bush Junior re-instated it, and Obama just overturned it again. It's utterly pointless, and it keeps abortion services and education from reaching the women who need these services the most. Let's hope and pray that it passes through Congress.

Two, Ireland is currently undergoing its own Roe v. Wade. Three women are challenging Ireland's abortion ban in ABC v. Ireland, which currently prohibits abortion in almost every circumstance except when a woman's life is in danger. I feel powerless to help in any way possible because I'm all the way in the U.S. Anyone have any suggestions on how to support abortion rights in Ireland from the outside?

It's certainly an exciting time to be a pro-choice activist.
Friday, July 10, 2009

New movie follows all-lesbian basketball team  

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As Amelie at The New Gay points out, there's a new independent movie coming soon to theaters, called Lady Trojans, that highlights the ups and downs of an all-girl high school basketball team during the 1990s. The sports team happens to fit the stereotype of "lesbians love sports," because all the team members are lesbians, and incidentally, they all sleep with each other.



From the trailer, it seems like the documentary is portraying the romances in a very real, tender, and non-pornographic manner, which is great. Still though, does this film feed too much into the stereotype that if you get a bunch of lesbians together, they're going to have one giant orgy? I wonder if the film addresses other issues, such as the discrimination the team members face from non-team members, what other students say about them, and most importantly, why lesbians are drawn to sports teams. Amelie of The New Gay makes a great point in saying:

But as queer women, we need signifiers, and we need a safe space. And while not every athletic team is a safe space, many, many are.

I think it would be interesting if the movie were to tackle that issue, rather than focus solely on the lesbian drama. I love that a movie has been made highlighting real lesbian women, but the jury's still out on whether it's a positive portrayal or not. Other thoughts?

Google bans ads for abortion providers in certain countries  

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Google AdWords has developed a new policy regarding advertisements for abortion services. In case you're unsure, AdWords allows people and companies to advertise next to relevant search results, like this:


Their new policy disallows ads for abortion providers in more than a dozen countries, including Brazil, France, Mexico, Poland, and Taiwan. Their choice of countries perplexes me. Certain ones that were banned from seeing such ads have conservative abortion laws, but others, like France, have liberal abortion laws. So why this particular group of countries? Anyone have any ideas?

Regardless, it's time to let Google know that we won't stand for this. It's crucial that all women have easy access to the reproductive services they need. Direct complaints to press@google.com. The International Women's Health Coalition has a sample letter if you're stumped.
Thursday, July 9, 2009

How to be beautiful just the way you are  

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Currently, the top headlines on the covers of several major women's magazines are as follows:

Bikini-Ready Beauty Secrets

10 Easy Ways to Make Your Boobs Look Amazing

21 Days to Brighter Skin

Get a Great Butt

Beauty Tips From the Stars

Pear Shaped Figure Fixers


All these magazines have something in common: they're all trying to tell us that we're not acceptable the way we are and we must change immediately in order for anyone to love us.

The good news? There's an art project underway that's out to change that in one of the most direct ways possible. It's called "Beautiful Just the Way You Are," and it seeks to, instead of subjecting young girls to headlines such as those above, turn magazine racks into this:


Visit the project's website, print out your own "Beautiful Just the Way You Are" posters, and get busy. It might not get rid of these harmful "beauty" magazines completely, but it will certainly send a message to women and girls everywhere.

Playing Catch-up  

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I'm back from vacay! It was everything I needed and more. But now it's back to the real world, which means facing rainy New York and being a full-time feminist activist. Here's what I missed:

  • In India, New Delhi's highest court has officially decriminalized homosexuality, which was made illegal in 1861! This is a landmark case if ever there was one.

  • File this under: "where the fuck was all the media coverage?!" Cynthia McKinney, who was the Green party candidate in the 2008 presidential race, was held hostage in Israel after attempting to deliver aid and supplies to the Palestinians. But all the news stations are still talking about Michael Jackson. Thank goodness for blogging.

  • The House Appropriations Committee rejected an amendment to the federal appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2010 that would have continued a ban on using local funds to help low-income women in Washington, DC access abortion services.

  • Massachusetts has filed a lawsuit against the federal government, challenging the legality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

  • Kai Eide, the United Nations Special Envoy to Afghanistan, urged Afghan leaders to fight violence against women at a meeting in Kabul where he announced a new UN report on the subject, entitled "Silence is Violence." The report urges that women's rights are not a luxury, but a necessity.

  • Sarah Palin has resigned as governor of Alaska. While that may be a positive thing in the sense that it means one less conservative anti-choice politician in power, it also draws attention to the disturbingly low amount of women governors there are today.

  • Christian activist Randall Terry has launched a horribly disturbing anti-choice campaign to defeat Sonia Sotomayor.

  • A "women's-only" pharmacy in Vancouver is attempting to exclude trans women.

  • Last month, NOW on PBS aired "Abortion Providers Under Seige," which examines violence and harassment directed towards abortion providers. You can watch the program online.

Whew. Anything else?
Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A note about the upcoming week  

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So this is the part of the summer where I take the vacation I can't afford. Hooray! I'm off to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware (which incidentally is a MAGNET for gay men and lesbians) for the next week to lay on the beach, drink margaritas, and celebrate my birthday on the 6th. The cabin we're staying in has WiFi, but I might not have a whole lot of time to post. Sorry friends :( I'll do the best I can.


funny pictures