Sunday, February 28, 2010

More commercials I can't stand: Axe uses sophisticated humor  

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Activism through theatre  

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I just want to give all of you a heads up that posting might be sparse over the next week - I'm performing in The Vagina Monologues on my campus this weekend, and evidently have two exams next week, so I'm stretched pretty thin.

But I am super excited for The Vagina Monologues. This will be my fourth year in a row performing in them, and it's so wonderful every time. If you've never seen it before, I highly recommend you do. Granted, the show has its flaws, but overall it's a really empowering experience, and the proceeds always go to a wonderful cause. This year, the spotlight is women in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Search for V-Day events near you to find a production. And if I didn't convince you to see the show, I bet the below video will.

Black women breastfeeding: a multigenerational story  

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Saw this on Women's eNews, and wow!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

National Condom Week 2010  

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I didn't get a chance to post this earlier, due to our wonderful guest post series, but this week is:

National Condom* Week



(*It doesn't just have to be limited to condoms. It's excellent to promote other methods of safer sex as well, such as female condoms and dental dams).

Planned Parenthood's Facebook page has a bunch of things you can do to celebrate Condom Week. I got 1,000 condoms to pass out on my campus, and I'm sure my fellow students will be quite appreciative. Enjoy the week and promote safer sex!

Domestic violence numbers increase in many states  

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There is some chilling new evidence that indicates that the rates of domestic violence increased in 2009. Interestingly enough, according to FBI statistics, many cities reported falling crime rates:

FBI figures indicate law-enforcement agencies throughout the nation reporting a decrease of 4.4 percent in the number of violent crime offenses for the first six months of 2009, compared with the same period in 2008. The violent crime category includes murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

Nationwide, FBI statistics for 2009 show a 10 percent decrease in murders.

Unfortunately, the FBI doesn't track domestic violence homicides as a separate category, so it's difficult to tell if DV cases are are on the rise.

But phone calls to state anti-violence coalitions and to the Washington, D.C.-based National Network to End Domestic Violence are revealing that in many states, domestic violence deaths rose in 2009, sometimes dramatically.

Some are speculating that the increased violence is being caused by stress related to the recession - that lost jobs, debt, and evictions may be contributing. What does everyone else think? Why the increase in domestic violence? And most important, what can we do about it?

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Morning after pill  

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By: Rudi - from the series of guest posts written by Dr. Baldwin's students at Michigan State University.

I feel like, even though it is an important thing, a large part of society has not come to terms with the morning after pill. During semester break, a friend of mine had been drinking, and she ended up having unprotected sex. She was so completely ashamed of what she had done, and just wanted to make sure that her guilt was the only consequence. I took her to Walgreens that morning, and said I'd go buy the pill for her. I went into the store, and asked the 40-something women at the counter if I could have the morning after pill. The look I recieved from her was such a scandalized one that I'll never forget it. Was it really so bad that people want to prevent an unwanted pregnancy? Especially college students who can barely afford school, let alone carrying a baby to term. The thing I hated the most was how quickly she judged me. I'm still a virgin, I didn't do anything. All I was trying to do was be a good friend.

Two interpretations of one size fits all  

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By: Amanda Cunningham - from the series of guest posts written by Dr. Baldwin's students at Michigan State University.

I recently stumbled across the article in V Magazine titled “One Size Fits All.” The premise of the article was to show a “regular” model, next to a plus size model in the same outfits. After reading and rereading, I’m having a hard time deciding if this is an article moving women’s body images in the right direction, or making us take one step back.

This is the photo from the front page of the spread:

C:\Users\Amanda\Desktop\122209_terry1new.jpg



Find the article here.

When I first looked at it, I thought, “Oh, this is great! We’re showing plus size models in a magazine spread! We’re moving forward!” Plus, they both look stunning in the outfits they’re rocking.

However, when I looked at it again, I worried that this type of comparison photograph might make women feel even more upset about their current size. Will a woman that looks like the model on the right be worried that that’s how much bigger she actually looks? What if she begins to point out her flaws with the right picture compared to the left? Or, will a woman that looks like the model on the left start to freak out that if she doesn’t change her habits, she may one day look like the woman on the right? But would that even be so bad?

The next thing that I wanted to pay attention to was the caption below this photograph. It reads:

“IF IT'S BRIGHT ENOUGH, TIGHT ENOUGH, OR EYE-POPPINGLY PRINTED
ENOUGH, ODDS ARE IT'LL WORK ON ANY FIGURE.”

I find that there are two interpretations for this, as well. The first, being Thank you V Magazine for showing me something that anybody could wear, and that looks good on every body. But the second being a much more brutal interpretation. The next time I read this phrase, I took it as “any woman of a larger size can still look good as long as they hide their figure behind bright colors, lots of print and tight clothing.” Wait…I thought women were supposed to embrace their curves! Not hide them behind ridiculous clothing!

Obviously, there are a lot of ways people can interpret anything…I just wonder if this article may actually be more damaging to a woman’s mind than helpful. I feel as if the messages the article is sending are almost subliminal, hinting at the thoughts that, oh wait, it still is more acceptable to be skinny, rather than, damn look how good that model on the right looks, even though she’s 10 sizes larger.

My ending thoughts would be, regardless of the ruthless interpretations above, props to you, woman on the right! And for the rest of the women out there, those curves are beautiful!

Who is to really be blamed for inequality of genders?  

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By: Anonymous - from the series of guest posts written by Dr. Baldwin's students at Michigan State University.

As a woman in the United States of America, I take for granted some of the rights that other women are not given. For instance, I did not even second guess if I would be accepted into college primarily based on my gender. There are many other rights that I do not have to think about as I go through each day, like the freedom of wearing whatever I choose and without covering my face, or being able to apply to any job I want without being disregarded because of my sex. These rights were granted by the law, but it took the fight from society to actually establish them throughout the country. Today, we still must fight for equality among gender regardless what the law may state. The Declaration of Sentiments formed in 1848 says that” all men and women are created equal”. Women still earn less than men in the workforce. We have yet to see a woman as the president of the United States.

There are other countries around the world that have not accepted the fact that women are created equal, too. A recent article by Dr. Khalid Alnowaiser in the Khaleej Times, talks about how women in Saudi Arabia must fight for themselves. Dr. Alnowaiser quotes the Quran that clearly states that men are not superior or inferior to women. It is the citizens that have divided the sexes and made the rules for women to live by. These include only being offered a few jobs and are controlled by men. The author continues to state that if women want to change this, they must do themselves. From an outsider’s perspective, it seems that government is the one to blame for the lack of women rights in Middle Eastern countries; however, it is the boundaries that culture has implements that must be broken.

The law can only protect the rights of women, and it takes more than the signing of a bill or amendment for it to take action. Women must stand up all across the globe for accomplishment to take place. It does not matter if it’s Saudi Arabia or the United States, women must take the power into their own hands and defend their civil rights.

Too much makes too little  

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By: Jill Pass - from the series of guest posts written by Dr. Baldwin's students at Michigan State University.

There is a huge pressure for women to be skinny. Our society teaches us that beauty on the outside ranks higher than ever possible on the inside. This has conformed how society views women, making us strive for acceptance through looks. Ever wonder why women are 90% more likely to have an eating disorder then men?

Men often are attracted to females with thin pretty bodies. This idea warps the mind of women. Men often put the pressure of being thin onto us even if they don't realize it. Men have calendars or posters of models in their rooms. We want the affection a man will give to a half naked model.

Often times this need to be wanted by a man can cause a women to go to extremes. Dieting constantly and dressing up to go to the grocery store just makes a chain effect for men to continue to put this pressure on us. They have seen the effects that the pressure to fit in can do. They continue to chase after women with a tight body before they ever see their personality. Not all of us have it in our genes to be a size 2. However, we still try to get there. Sometimes, striving too hard can lead a woman to have an eating disorder. With society and men putting too much pressure on women to be "perfect," many are becoming too thin.

We don't know exactly what causes an eating disorder. Possible causes include feeling stressed out or upset about something in your life, or feeling like you need to be "in control." However, Society also puts a lot of pressure on people to be thin. This pressure can contribute too; wanted to conform to want society thinks is correct.

Although the majority of women do not have an eating disorder, most still strive for a thin and beautiful body. Our society glorifies thinness and places significance on obtaining the "perfect body." Our cultural norm is to place a value onto people with outer beauty rather to take the time to get to know their strengths on the inside. Size two models are always laughing in pictures, happy to be wearing great clothes and getting attention for it, while women a few sizes bigger are never featured on magazines. We do not have the access to see overweight women "enjoying life" through photo shots. This has created society's need to be a size two; to see skinny as happy.
Thursday, February 11, 2010

Objectification of women in media  

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By: Anonymous - from the series of guest posts written by Dr. Baldwin's students at Michigan State University.

Do you ever notice that women get objectified as sex objects all the time, when men hardly are? Video games... how are women dressed? Provocatively. Clothing advertisements, such as A&F or even Guess... how are women dressed? Half naked or with bare midriffs or cleavage hanging out. Do you seen men portrayed this way very often? Women, please give me your input on this.




Women and men in relationships  

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By: Anonymous - from the series of guest posts written by Dr. Baldwin's students at Michigan State University.

The other day in class we started discussing relationships. I’ve been briefly thinking about some of the comments made and it’s come to make me feel like the younger the boyfriend the less he cares. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for nearly three years, and I am a freshman in college. Tell me about it. When we were younger it was kind of you do your thing, I’ll do mine. I notice many girls crying because their boyfriends don’t spend enough time with them, or he’d rather be a boy than paint her toenails. Understandable? I think so, but she doesn’t. Boys seem to like being manly, and I feel like with their girlfriends not being understanding of the fact, it tends to drive them away. Women seem to strive for the perfect lovey dovey relationship. The candles, the movies and the cuddling. The man; however seems to like to watch football, and eat a burger. Young couples getting married appear to fall out of love, or result in divorce whereas older couples fall more in love with each other. Elderly couples look like they could not be happier because they both know they were in it for the long haul, and made it. They no longer have anything to damage their reputation. They have a best friend they couldn’t live without. They may not have gotten married when they were 20 however. This is very stereotypical of me to assume these things, but men and women not getting along gets more and more apparent with every discussion had.

Some call it confidence  

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By: Anonymous - from the series of guest posts written by Dr. Baldwin's students at Michigan State University.

During the 2009 election we had three strong but very diverse candidates. We had the old-timer, the minority and the female dog. Unfortunately she didn't get a very good reputation. Hillary Clinton is seen as an over empowering woman. She is a threat to men in the government and throughout the world. But what is wrong with a little confidence? In today's society it is a positive thing for a man to be confident. Confidence in a man is sexy and shows power. Women are taken as aggressive and atrocious. That if we come off as too confident or secure men are turned away and view that woman as stuck up. Why can't a woman be confident and proud of herself without being called out on it? Women and men should be see as equal when they are looked at for what they have accomplished or how they perceive themselves.

Natalie "Green" Portman  

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By: Anonymous - from the series of guest posts written by Dr. Baldwin's students at Michigan State University.

Graduating from an Ivy League college, Natalie Portman had been voted the "Sexiest Vegetarian Alive" couple of years ago. Aged 28, while most of the fellow celebs would focus on making their professional career on-screen, this young celebrity chose to perform globally. She wasn't vegetarian in her childhood days. This transition came when she read aloud a book about animal shit to two of her friends and realized that meat eating had ruined their own backgrounds. One friend had asthma while other couldn't eat fish because of dumping in the local river. While some greenies buy vegan clothes and footwear that are made from non-animal materials, Natalie Portman actually designs them! The actress lent her name and voice to the Animal Planet documentary Saving a Species: Gorillas on the Brink, which highlighted the threats to the animals' rainforest habitat. Portman has also been active in groups like Global Green USA, an organization that tackles environmental issues on an international scale. Below are the 10 reasons that Natalie Portman gave to justify her being a vegetarian.

1. Slim Down While Feeling Good

Is shedding some extra pounds first on your list of goals for the new year? Vegetarians are, on average, up to 20 pounds lighter than meat-eaters. And unlike unhealthy fad diets, which leave you feeling tired (and gaining all the weight back eventually), going vegetarian is the healthy way to keep the excess fat off for good while feeling full of energy.

2. It's the Best Way to Help Animals

Every vegetarian saves more than 100 animals a year from horrible abuse. There is simply no other way that you can easily help so many animals and prevent so much suffering than by choosing vegetarian foods over meat, eggs, and dairy products.

3. A Healthier, Happier You

A vegetarian diet is great for your health! According to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarians are less likely to develop heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or high blood pressure than meat-eaters. Vegetarians get all the nutrients they need to be healthy (e.g., plant protein, fiber, minerals, etc.) without all the nasty stuff in meat that slows you down and makes you sick, like cholesterol and saturated animal fat.

4. Vegetarian Food Is Delicious

So you're worried that if you go vegetarian, you'll have to give up hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, and ice cream? You won't. As the demand for vegetarian food skyrockets, companies are coming out with more and more delicious meat and dairy product alternatives that taste like the real thing but are much healthier and don't hurt any animals. Plus, we have thousands of tasty kitchen-tested recipes to help you get started!

5. Meat Is Gross

It's disgusting but true: Meat is often contaminated with feces, blood, and other bodily fluids, all of which make animal products the top source of food poisoning in the United States. Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health tested supermarket chicken flesh and found that 96 percent of Tyson chicken was contaminated with campylobacter, a dangerous bacteria that causes 2.4 million cases of food poisoning each year, resulting in diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever. Learn more.

6. Help Feed the World

Eating meat doesn't just hurt animals; it hurts people too. It takes tons of crops and water to raise farmed animals-in fact, it takes up to 16 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of animal flesh! All that plant food could be used much more efficiently if it was fed to people directly. The more people who go vegetarian, the more we can feed the hungry.

7. Save the Planet

Eating meat is one of the worst things that you can do for the Earth; it's wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution, and the meat industry is one of the biggest causes of global warming. Adopting a vegetarian diet is more important than switching to a "greener" car in the fight against global warming.

8. All the Cool Kids Are Doing It

The list of stars who shun animal flesh is basically a "who's who" of today's hottest celebs. Joaquin Phoenix, Natalie Portman, Tobey McGuire, Shania Twain, Alicia Silverstone, Anthony Kiedis, Casey Affleck, Kristen Bell, INXS lead singer J.D. Fortune, Benji Madden, Alyssa Milano, Common, Joss Stone, and Carrie Underwood are just a handful of the super-sexy vegetarians who regularly appear in People magazine. Check out our recent "World's Sexiest Vegetarians" poll for more hot, compassionate celebs.

9. Look Sexy and Be Sexy

Vegetarians tend to be thinner than meat-eaters and have more energy, which is perfect for late-night romps with your special someone. (Guys: The cholesterol and saturated animal fat in meat, eggs, and dairy products don't just clog the arteries to your heart; over time, they impede blood flow to other vital organs as well.) Plus, what's sexier than someone who is not only mega-hot, but also compassionate?

10. Pigs Are Smarter Than Your Dog

While most people are less familiar with pigs, chickens, fish, and cows than they are with dogs and cats, animals used for food are every bit as intelligent and able to suffer as the animals who share our homes are. Pigs can learn to play video games, and chickens are so smart that scientists to that of monkeys have compared their intelligence.

When asked to comment on her choice to be a vegetarian, she said, "I am a very strict vegetarian ... I just really, really love animals, and I act on my values."

Girl wrestler dominates  

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By: Kristi - from the series of guest posts written by Dr. Baldwin's students at Michigan State University.

This is a video about a 12-year-old girl on a wrestling team. Not only this, but she is a very successful female wrestler. As I expected, her male competitors never take her seriously until she defeats them. However, it is really interesting to me to see that the triumphs of this girl have received very positive recognition in the media. She seems to be very respected by the community and also has an extremely supportive and excited mother. I’m glad that this mother is able to support her child’s untraditional position instead of pushing her daughter into a more feminine or “girly” activity or sport. I also think the portrayal of this accomplishment as something really cool shows that society is warming up to the idea in some small ways.

What are your thoughts?
Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The MTV generation  

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By: Anonymous - from the series of guest posts written by Dr. Baldwin's students at Michigan State University.

Is TV sending the wrong message to young girls? This question is nothing new and everyone has heard it before. But what is anyone doing about it? All I see are more and more shows portraying women and young girls in a negative light. Whether it is in the hugely popular movie series Twilight, where Bella finds herself unable to survive without a guy by her side to take care of her, or all of the MTV shows, like Jersey Shore, which is centered around women who are solely interested in drinking and hooking up with men. Then you have The Hills, a show that shows a group of girlfriend who care about designer labels and being famous. They don’t act like friends, instead it’s all about the drama and them betraying one another, doing spiteful and hurtful things. These are not the types of people young girls should be looking up to. When they watch shows like this it makes it okay and validates the fact that being a bad friend and person is okay, that drinking so much that you can no longer make sound judgments is just another weekend, that sleeping with around and hooking up with random guys is no big deal, and that loosing yourself to a man is acceptable.

It's time someone stands up and pulls this type of media from airing. Sure it may be entertaining, but what is it doing society? Not only are girls being told that that is how you should act, it’s telling boys that that’s what you should expect girls to act like. I find this to be a sad truth, I see so many girls that feel the pressure that society is putting on them to act that way. I also see the regrets they have in the morning when the walk through the halls of the dorm, and they can’t remember what they did the night before or where they were. Unfortunately everyone else can see what they did because it’s plastered all over Facebook. It’s hard enough to grow up and be in college, trying to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life and studying to get good grades. We don’t need the added pressures society puts on us.

"Conveyer Belt of Love"  

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By: Amanda N. - from the series of guest posts written by Dr. Baldwin's students at Michigan State University.

Looking at this preview, I decided I had to watch this show. 5 ladies choosing men off of a conveyor belt? Come on now. Reality shows these days are getting so out of hand. Women are doing anything and everything they can just to appear on T.V. While men will make a fool of themselves just to get a little media attention also. I remember when reality shows weren't popular. I think the first one I remember even watching was Fear Factor or Survivor. Now, half the shows on T.V. are reality shows. People doing just about anything just to have their face appear on national television.

Thinking about reality T.V. shows got me thinking about the differences between men and women and their roles in them. Men are often in the media from doing outrageous things...while women are engaging in trying to be like celebrties, or having eating disorders.

Is The Conveyor Belt of Love a true way to find your love? I don't think so. Love happens when you least expect it and this show is just pushing it.

Famous African American women  

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By: Bre - from the series of guest posts written by Dr. Baldwin's students at Michigan State University.

So with February being Black History Month I decided to actually do what they wanted us in elementary school to do. I started to research and read about different women’s lives and their achievements towards equality. I read quite a few and was quite amazed at the difficulties that these women had to overcome for our modern world to be become more equal. For example, Daisy Bates guided and advised the Little Rock Nine. The nine children that voluntarily forced a white school to integrate and allow black children in. During this time she was arrested and voluntarily went to jail for a violation of a city ordinance just for helping and protecting the children. Also she and her husband started and wrote a newspaper that voiced civil rights, before the Civil Rights Movement was even a movement. She later went on to improve the life of her community until she died in 1999. But what makes her truly stand alone is that she was the only female civil rights leader to speak at the March on Washington in 1963.

Mary McLeod Bethune also lived to improve her community. She founded a school for African American children, now known as the Bethune-Cookman College, in 1904. At the time she was only one of a few women who were the president of a college. The school she founded surpassed the standards of traditional black schools and rivaled those of white schools. She was also president of the National Association of Colored Women. And among her list of credentials she was also a member of Roosevelt’s “Black Cabinet” whose purpose was to raise concerns about the black community.

One more woman I want to mention, that I believe should be a role model to everyone is Dr. Maya Angelou. She experienced many hardships growing up as many people of her race and of her gender also did. She spoke about many of these in her book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” which memoirs her childhood. She worked closely on the civil rights campaigns of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. And was even a world wide activist with her early career in West Africa. Dr. Maya Angelou was even appointed to many capacities by many presidents and read an original poem at President Clinton’s inauguration in 1993.

Women and sports  

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By: Colleen - from the series of guest posts written by Dr. Baldwin's students at Michigan State University.

As a college aged student athlete, I find that sports are very important to the health of anyone; both male or female. But it makes me very upset that high school, and college female sport teams do not get nearly the same amount of funding that men's sport teams do.

At my old high school, the all male (big surprise) football team members did not have to "pay to play" - when at the same time the all female gymnastics team was being downgraded to "club" status because they did not have "enough members" for the school to pay any costs; let alone recognize them as a team sport. The root of this issue lies in the assumption that the sports are designated for men - and the women who play them are treated as the second class in the world of athletics. And this, obviously, needs to be fixed.

Body image for women  

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By: Hina Bhai - from the series of guest posts written by Dr. Baldwin's students at Michigan State University.

Why have women always been so concerned about their bodies? Every day people (especially women) ask question about how they can flatten their tummies or increase their boobs. This type of behavior starts from very young age - how they are supposed to look or dress to act as a female in the society, and that is why many are more likely to develop eating disorder in order to maintain their body shape. The pressure to fit in society for appearance lead women to psychological consequences such as appearance anxiety. Indeed, women are more serious about their body image than men because they are judge on their appearance which is based on society standards, i.e. perfect figure and ideal face. Thus, we can see many women around us, who are very much conscious of their body weight and attractiveness but why not men? Why do they are so relaxed and have positive behavior about their body? So it’s very essential to think about it and understand that how societal norms affect women’s lives and make them feel their own body image dissatisfaction.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Respect or disrespect?  

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By: Anonymous - from the series of guest posts written by Dr. Baldwin's students at Michigan State University.

When it comes to life and especially dating, it is natural for women to expect or even demand men to act in a gentlemanly manner. For instance, the man usually must initiate conversation and at some point ask the woman out, once he has accomplished that he is expected to pick her up, open doors for her, pull out chairs, push in chairs, and pay for her meal and any other activities such as mini golf or a movie, all while keeping her fixated and content within an exciting conversation. Does the man do this because he wants to? Or is it because he feels compelled to because that is what the woman expects and even what society expects? I personally feel that with all the talk about women's march towards equality, I find it odd that they some women who demand such independence expect such treatment. Treatment that could be mistaken as disrespect; disrespectful in the way that it suggests women are not capable of doing any of these things on their own. Not capable of taking a man out for an equally exciting night out, or simply able to open the door for themselves. Yes, we have come to know this as common courtesy but at some point does it not suggest that the man still holds all the power? Traditionally the man plans out the night, while the woman has no say in the evenings' activities. This shows a lack of equality in a relationship that should be shared equally by both the man and the woman. It comes to one final question. When a man asks out a woman and she is not involved in any of the nights' planning, from the location of the pick up, to the destination, to the opening of her car door, and the payment of the meal and activities. Is it respectful? Or disrespectful?

Legislators versus the Real World  

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By: Jade - from the series of guest posts written by Dr. Baldwin's students at Michigan State University.

Numerous blogs on this site are about women and their rights, but I was thinking about something a little different. Many people don’t realize what really goes on behind closed doors in the senate because it’s mostly ideas that they don’t want the people to know about. This is not something most men and women want to even talk about for the fear of being shunned by society. Why is it that our state and house representatives can serve one term and work part-time, but get paid for full time work? They get all the benefits they could ask for, without having to pay a dime. When it came time to make budget cuts, they cut education instead of their own salaries. In my opinion, life would be a whole lot different, if they paid for even a portion of the things everyone else in the world has to pay for.

They also don’t participate in our health care, retirement or social security, which we all have to pay for. For some reason, all of the people representing our state have their own separate plans. It’s no wonder that none of them care about the problems everyone else is facing. It’s not fair to everyone who works hard for their money and has to save everything they can just so one day they can retire and not have to worry. Meanwhile, all these people have to do is serve four years and they’re set for life. I find that utterly ridiculous, but there is nothing we can do about it. The legislators are so focused on their party, democrat or republican, that they aren’t realizing what is truly best for the people of the state of Michigan. What happened to “of the people, by the people, for the people”?

Feeling shameful about birth control  

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By: Anonymous - from the series of guest posts written by Dr. Baldwin's students at Michigan State University.

Shady: That's how I feel when I pick up my monthly birth control. It's odd that one little trip to CVS can leave one so low and degraded. Do I have a boyfriend? Yes. Am I sexually active? No. Do I still feel the impending shame upon visiting my pharmacist? Absolutely. These days I feel as if birth control has such a negative connotation even with its various uses. Yes, many do use it as for the specific reason of its name; birth control. But even then, women are just taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves. Is that so wrong? And the many others who use birth control for medical reasons such as endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, acne, pain, ovarian cancer risks, and regulating their menstrual cycle are simply taking care of themselves . For more serious matters its ridiculous that all women should feel the negative reactions to using it. The truth of the matter is that this invention is helping keep unwanted children off the streets and others in good health. I think society should really take these methods into consideration and change the outlook of birth control. Also, more so than just society, women themselves need to realize the connotation and stop making assumptions as to the reasons their friends and acquaintances are taking birth control. If you were to ask many women what their feelings were on their peers reasons for using birth control many would likely answer for sexual reasons and think lowly upon those users. However, changing the outlook has to start somewhere and truthfully women and teens themselves could make a big difference in this area.

Are they really learning?  

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By: Rudi - from the series of guest posts written by Dr. Baldwin's students at Michigan State University.

I had an experience not too long ago that really shocked me. I was lightly messing around with my boyfriend at the time, and I came to learn a very interesting fact about him; he had never taken a sexual education course before. This guy is a college sophomore, you’d think he’d have taken some form sex ed., but he had nothing. Needless to say, I got my anatomy textbook out, and taught him a few things about female anatomy, and, most depressingly, how babies are conceived.

His problem was that he had never been in a setting where he was required to learn these kinds of things. He had gone to a Catholic school up until his junior year of high school where he then enrolled in a fine arts academy. Obviously parochial schools get leeway on what they teach, but it was the arts academy that really got to me. Having spent my high school summers at band camp, I know a thing or two about teenage musicians; they tend to be rather sexually adventurous. Yes, the ones going to an academy are a lot more serious about their art, but they also live with each other the entire school year. Incidents are bound to happen.

Now I know that parochial schools won’t change their curriculum because pre-marital sex goes against their beliefs, but I feel like private schools, just like public schools, should have some form of sex ed. required to graduate. Not only does it increase awareness of pregnancy and STDs, but it’s a good thing to understand how the other sex operates. Nobody should have to break it to a 20-year old that the stork doesn’t bring babies.
Monday, February 8, 2010

Wanting to be skinny  

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By: Dana Hensley - from the series of guest posts written by Dr. Baldwin's students at Michigan State University.

This is a video of an anorexic model; she weighs as little as 70 pounds. I'm aware that some men do suffer from anorexia, but not nearly as much as women do. I feel like "losing weight" or "not eating something" has crossed every females mind at least a dozen times. This video is so real that it's sickening. Woman shouldn't feel this pressure to be so skinny. As twisted as this modeling picture is, and the idea behind it- I feel like it could have a positive effect. I don't think that many women would look at that picture and dream to look that way. And hopefully most women would realize that this is how we should feel about any model- anorexic or not. Not everyone has the same body type, and not ever woman is meant to be tall and skinny. We should all love ourselves for the way we are- personality and body. No more letting society or models influence our decisions, especially when it comes to harming our personal health.

Children on diets  

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By: Kaity - from the series of guest posts written by Dr. Baldwin's students at Michigan State University.

http://www.paulabecker.com/blog/images/if-skinny1_lrg.jpg

The other day I was at a family party, and while helping with the desserts, I asked my ten-year-old cousin if she would like some cake and ice-cream. Her response? “No thank you I can’t, I’m on a diet.” I was so caught off guard by what she had just said to me! When I asked her why she was on a diet, she said she needed to lose weight because she was fat. Now we all know that as we grow, some children have a bit of a belly. But it was NEVER considered fat, just that the child was still growing into their body. It was never a concern to anyone, especially the child.

How early in life is media now infesting the minds of children of our nation? Extreme dieting, anorexia and bulimia were typically observed by young women who entered the stressful world of high school. Keeping up with unnaturally skinny models and movie stars is hard on these young women who want to be skinny, beautiful, and accepted. Nowadays though, does this really only apply to young adult women? Or are the stressors of wanting to be skinny effecting children as young as ten? Girls this young shouldn’t be concerned with the way they look. Their only concern should be which type of cereal would be more fun to eat, not the amount of calories they are consuming.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Changing ourselves to please men  

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By: Lea B - from the series of guest posts written by Dr. Baldwin's students at Michigan State University.

I recently heard about the woman who is attempting to look like Jessica Alba, not just because she feels she is not good enough but because she wants to get her man back! I wasn’t so shocked at first, women try to look like celebrities all the time, just turn on your TV and there is probably a whole section in the news dedicated to showing women how to dress like their favorite actors for less. But this woman had taken it to another level, she was getting plastic surgery, that’s right, going under the knife just so she could look like what she thinks is better and please her man!

Personally, the extremes women go through to look good for men have always bugged me. Sure men try to look good too, but how many of them spend hours shaving, putting makeup on, fixing their hair and deciding what to wear. As if that wasn’t enough, now we have women spending money and going under the knife with the sole purpose of winning back their men! If that isn’t scary I don’t know what is!

To all the women out there, we’re all getting older and no one is going to look the same after 40-50 years. If your man is with you just because of your looks, rest assured it’s not going to last. So my message is be yourself and if someone doesn’t love you for you then don’t waste your precious time!

Mum  

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By: Anonymous - from the series of guest posts written by Dr. Baldwin's students at Michigan State University.

Everybody says that we have to be good daughters; we have to be nice to our mums, appreciate her and love her.

Well mum, I love you and I cherish you and I would do anything for you. You’re always there for me, from the moment that I wasn’t even born yet, when I was still a flesh with no heartbeat. I want to repay you mum. I want to make you happy, because you made me happy all the time, just by being by my side.

I love you mum. Is that not enough? Did I do anything wrong? What’s the matter mum? Why is dad crying? All that I can remember is I moved out, went to college and you came to visit me in the middle of the semester, with huge suitcases before you went to off to your visit relatives. “I don’t need this anymore; I want to give them away to your aunts”. That was what you said. That was your first lie.

Weeks had passed and nobody could reach you. Where were you mum? You said that you would call; you said that you’ll be back soon. My grades were falling mum, my weight dropped 13 pounds; I missed you and I’m worried.

Months had passed and I finally heard from you. I’m sorry I ignored you at that time but I was hurt, angry, upset, disappointed, and utterly confused. I’m not saying that I get it now, because I don’t mum. I deserve an explanation, at the very least.

It’s been almost a year now mum, and I’m still hurt and upset. But I missed you. Always have and always will. Very very much. I need your guidance, your assurance, your support. I’m growing up mum, and I need you. If I ever see you again, I don’t know whether I want to scream my lungs out at you or to hug you so tight till my bones hurt and never let go. But one thing for sure is that I’ll never stop loving you mum. Ever. Please come back.

PS; To my dear friend, stay strong love.

Sorority girls  

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By: Anonymous - from the series of guests posts by Dr. Baldwin's students at Michigan State University.

“Sorority girls are sluts.”, “Sorority girls are dumb.”, “Sorority girls party all the time.”, “Sorority girls are….” And I could go on and on with all the incorrect stereotypes that people have of sorority girls. It is not fair that the actions of one person or one sorority affects how others think of ALL sororities and people involved. We had spring recruitment for my sorority tonight and one girl came in and said her roommate was angry with her for coming because of those stereotypes above and she did not want her friend to turn into a “typical” sorority girl. Well roommate. You are wrong. Not all sorority girls are like that, not even close. Sorority girls are sluts? Many of the girls in my sorority have boyfriends that they have had for a long time. Sorority girls are dumb? Well, my sorority has the highest GPA in Greek Life on campus. Sorority girls party all the time? What about last Saturday night when a bunch of us watched A Walk To Remember in my room?

My sorority is not filled with carbon-copy girls, we are completely different. That is why I fell in love with this great group of girls. I was able to hold interesting conversations with them, about topics I was actually excited to be talking about. I do not know about other sororities, but I am sure that none of the sororities on my campus fit the stereotypes.

Just because groups or organizations have stereotypes/reputations does not mean they are true. The same goes for reputations. Most of the time, stereotypes and reputations are formed by the impression the group made on the community many years ago, not by the current members of the group/organization. Before you knock something down, make sure you give it a fair shot. This rule should go for everything in life, including meeting other people. Do not just base a relationship off of what has previously been said about the person. Give them a fair chance. Give everything in life a fair shot and you might just fall in love with something, or someone, unexpectedly.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A note about the next week  

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Something really cool is happening here!

Over the next week or so, expect to see 1-4 guest posts each day, all written by college students from Michigan State University. Dr. Baldwin, who is teaching a first-year composition course with the theme Women in America, contacted me and asked if her students could have their posts published here as part of their unit on blogging. Naturally, I was stoked that blogging about women's issues is being taught in the classroom.

So, from now until next week, I may post myself if something really urgent or huge comes up... otherwise, you'll only be seeing posts written by Dr. Baldwin's students. Try to comment and give feedback; we want them to get the full blogging experience! I'm excited to see what everyone comes up with. Enjoy.
Monday, February 1, 2010

The infamous anti-choice Superbowl ad, and why it's so dangerous  

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In case anyone hasn't heard, when you sit down to watch the Superbowl on February 7th, you might have to prepare yourself to watch an anti-choice commercial. Though CBS has never allowed "issue ads" to air in the past, somehow Focus on the Family was able to get through. The ad will feature University of Florida football star Tim Tebow.

I'm betting the ad won't blatantly say "pro-life," and that's partly why it was accepted. Anti-choice activists like to use deceitful tactics to trick people into visiting their websites and their fake clinics. I predict the ad will be a hokey message of "let's celebrate family and babies because WHO DOESN'T LOVE BABIES?!" type of deal. Fast-forward to clueless Superbowl viewers saying, "Well, uh, I think family's important... and I like babies... hot damn, I'm gonna visit FocusOnTheFamily.com right now!"

And FocusOnTheFamily.com is no site to be taken lightly. Enjoy some excerpts from the stuff they're preaching:

[From the section on sexuality]

Boys and Girls Are Different:

God made boys and girls different in order for both to become lifegivers. When you are older and married, you may someday have children. Girls have babies — boys don't. Girls have the ability as they get older to birth babies. A baby is a gift from God and grows in the womb in Mom's tummy.

Affirm Your Child's Gender:

"Isn't it great to be a girl!" "What a strong boy you are." These messages affirm your child's gender identity. Do not (even jokingly ) put down or make fun of your child's gender. "What a baby" or "What a sissy" does not help your young son. Affirm your daughter's unique beauty. Let her know how special she is, particularly in Daddy's eyes.

Babies Come from God — They Should Be the Result Only of Marital Love:

Babies are all made by God. This is why we protect their life right from the beginning. How do babies come into the world? The best way for a baby to come in to the world is through the love of a married man and woman. Sadly, this doesn't happen all the time. However, God's best plan is for a baby to be born with a mother and father that are married.

[From the section on "How We Dishonor God in Our Sex Lives"]

The Challenge of Homosexuality

Male and female are not cultural constructs but God-created parts of humanity made for each other to show forth the image of God in the world. Remember Genesis 1:27: "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."

Male and female, together, are the fullest picture of the image of God in creation. That's why they need each other. Adam wasn't complete without Eve.

Homosexuality denies this and falsely states that differences in male and female don't really matter. Nothing could be further from the truth. Homosexuality violates the Trinitarian image of complementarity in a profound way.

[From the section on Transgenderism]

We call upon all parents to take a proactive role in their children's development by providing them with a strong, Christian example of what it means to be male and female. Many of the problems associated with transgenderism, like confusion and pain, stem from a lack of parental involvement and guidance.

These people not only preach an anti-choice agenda, but also promote anti-feminist values that include reinforcing gender roles and justifying hatred against queer people. They call premarital sex a "monstrosity" and fully support the harmful practice of putting those with same-sex attractions in counseling to "fix" them. This is a dangerous site, and I worry about the consequences of exposing nearly 100 million people to it.

But of course, reproductive rights activists and feminists are not letting this slide. There are a number of online petitions you can sign and forms you can fill out to contact CBS, including one on the Feminist Majority Foundation site. I'm not sure if CBS will end up pulling the ad (I mean, $2.8 million is a lot of moo-lah), but it couldn't hurt to tell them that we're pissed off that they're allowing this. In your message, try to include some of Focus on the Family's other harmful ideals, such as their stance against LGBTQ people, and Tweet/Facebook/blog about it. We'll see what happens come February 7th.