Friday, May 28, 2010

UK's first ad for abortion services  

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The first advertisement for abortion services to run in the United Kingdom hit the air earlier this week, and will run about 25 times throughout the next month. Specifically, it advertises Marie Stopes International, which is one of the world's leading family planning organizations.

The ad doesn't mention abortion services - it just refers viewers to MSI. Wow, 2010 and we're just seeing the first family planning services ad now.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Genderfuck Thursday  

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After finding out about the wonderful Genderfork.com (via Feministing) I had an urge to post an ode to gender-bending, because I just love it so damn much. First of all, if you haven't been to Genderfork, visit it ASAP! It is a lovely blog with user-submitted photos...


...and quotes from those who find beauty and pleasure in androgyny and ambiguity:

"Some days I wish I could set my gender on Facebook to 'It's complicated.'"

"People think they're being invasive when they ask me questions some might consider 'personal'— questions about my body, my gender, the way I look, think, etc. They don't seem to understand I love being able to tell people there's a different way of existing out there. Not everything is black and white, just 'this' or 'that.' There's a 'Thiat' and a 'Thast' and every combination you can possibly dream up."

"I bound and buttoned up for church; I wore a fancy dress that showed off my hairy armpits for dinner. This Easter is one big pastel-colored drag show."

I want to cry at the sheer beauty of people being able to express who they are, despite being a part of an entire society that tells them to conform. Some days I wonder if I would present myself in a more androgynous manner if I had questioned gender more while growing up, or if I wasn't so intimidated by society's reactions. Still, last year when I attended a drag ball, I had a blast trying a different gender on for size:



Genderfucking just... rules.

I've thought a lot about gender, and I know that some may argue that the world we should strive to live in is a genderless one... but my thoughts are that instead of abolishing gender altogether, let's have more gender! People take pride and pleasure in gender expression and identity, and I think the world might be a bit boring if we take that away. Let's have thousands of genders, millions, billions! Imagine a world where instead of checking "man" or "woman" on any mundane form or online profile, you're given a blank line on which to write whatever you want. My body tingles just thinking about it.

So I raise my glass to genderqueer, genderfuck, genderbend, unisex, androgynous, ambiguous, fluid, transgender, butch, and everything else.

I want to conclude with some worthwhile videos, first one of spoken word artist Kit Yan performing an amazing piece on the fluidity of gender:



And, because someone on Genderfork.com mentioned it, the music video for "I Want to Break Free," by one of my favorite gender-bending bands, Queen. Think of it in terms of breaking free from binary gender roles :D

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sexual Harassment cards  

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My college graduation is rapidly approaching, and it's final project/exam time. For my wonderful Masculinities class, we're required to do a "liberating action," that is, some kind of activism that draws on what we've learned throughout the class. I've chosen to make small cards that can be carried around and given out to street harassers - whether they cat-call, make inappropriate comments, unwelcome sexual advances, or any unwarranted physical contact. I explain my reasoning for doing this in my accompanying paper:

Every time I have to walk down any street alone, I find myself preparing to be harassed. It’s sickening that I should have to prepare myself for such a thing, but the truth is that I cannot remember the last time I walked down Main Street by myself or with girlfriends, and was not at least honked at by a car full of men. When I go to the bars, I see men standing to the side of the dance floor, watching the women dancing, picking out which one is the hottest or the sluttiest, and then making their moves, which always consists of latching onto her backside without so much as a “hello.” The worst part is that I can’t even really hate them for what they do, because I know that it isn’t entirely their fault; they were just taught in a variety of ways by a variety of people that to be a “man” is to treat women as objects to be ogled. The sad truth is that, “Men learn that to effectively perform masculinity and to protect a masculine identity, they must, in many instances, ignore a woman’s pain and obscure her viewpoint” (Quinn 397). To the harassers, the cat-callers, and the gropers, there are no feelings or souls attached to our bodies, and we could not be their mothers, sisters, girlfriends, or friends because we are not really people, and that is what allows them to continue to do what they do.

It’s time to start reminding these men that, contrary to what they have been forced to believe, what they do does affect us. A honk or a “hey sexy” might seem harmless, but I know that every time I get that attention on the street, it hurts me. It hurts even more when I can’t respond to this inexcusable behavior because it just gets too exhausting to say something to every jerk on the street. Therefore, for my liberating action, I want to make it easier for me and every other woman to call harassers out on their behavior, and for the harassers to realize that their actions affect us.

I'm sure some people might argue that this isn't the best way to handle harassment, and I think it is important to discuss what the best way to respond to being harassed is, but these are for the women who feel that this method is the best for them.

You can download the cards I made as a Word document here.

Please note that the cards are intended to be printed double-sided so that one side has English text, and the other side has the same text in Spanish. Feel free to make any adjustments you see necessary and to post these to your own blog/site (I just ask that you link back to here). And I would love to hear your experiences with carrying these around and distributing them - whether through comments on this post, or through e-mail.

Good luck, and stay safe.

Sarah Palin's anti-feminism  

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So, Sarah Palin recently spoke at the Susan B. Anthony List breakfast - for those of you who don't know, Susan B. Anthony List is "a political action committee helping pro-life women gain election to Congress." I watched some of the video of her speech but I couldn't get too far into it because my body wouldn't stop cringing whenever Sarah Palin mentioned the "new conservative feminist movement."



...Wait, what?

Isn't that an oxymoron? I respect people's individual political opinions, and I'm certainly not one to render feminism an exclusive movement, but I will until the day I die assert that a person cannot claim to want the best for women when they do not trust women to make the right choices for their own bodies.

I have met people who admit that they would never get an abortion themselves, nor are they particularly 100% comfortable with the idea of abortion, but they understand the importance of this right remaining intact because they know it is what is best for the emotional and physical well-being of women. To me, that is a true feminist: someone who, despite any personal hang-ups they might have about a particular issue, will always support the position that protects our needs and rights.

Sarah Palin is not that type of feminist. She isn't a feminist.

Here's what Taylor Marsh, of HuffingtonPost.com, had to say:

You simply can't be a feminist if you don't support a woman's individual rights. Announcing a "new conservative feminist movement" without acknowledging the individual freedoms of women won't cut it. This feministic facade that actually takes aim at women's rights should be seen for what it is.

Anything less than supporting women's full individual rights simply renders you a pretender, a fake, a feminist fraud.

I sincerely hope this "conservative feminist movement" doesn't gain momentum. I might have to *headdesk* repeatedly.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hump Day post: feminist dating edition  

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As someone who's gotten more than her fair share of blank stares and outright laughter when I tell people I meet in bars that I'm a feminist, I more than understand the plight of finding a partner who doesn't cringe at the mention of the "F" word.

If you have some experience in this area, take a few minutes to read two posts in the Ms. Magazine blog by Alexandra Tweten on her mission to find a feminist date-worthy dude via CraigsList. Here is her original post, and here is a second post she wrote yesterday, giving an update on the situation.

How does everyone else deal with trying to find romantic partners who support/hold feminist values? It ain't easy.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Abortion rates rise amongst poor women  

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A new report from Guttmacher Institute shows that the proportion of abortion patients who are poor has increased by almost 60%, from 27% in 2000 to 42% in 2008. According to the report, impoverished women are more likely to seek abortions because financial constraints deter them from wanting to have children. Additionally, financial constraints also make it more difficult to access contraceptives. Sharon L. Camp, president and CEO of the Guttmacher Institute, commented:

Gaps in unintended pregnancy and abortion between poor and more affluent women have been increasing since the mid-1990s, so—sadly—none of this comes as a surprise. Reproductive health disparities, and health disparities more generally, are endemic in this country and stem from broader, persistent economic and social inequities. We need to bridge these reproductive health gaps by ensuring that all women, regardless of their economic circumstances, have meaningful access to the full spectrum of information and services—both contraceptive services to reduce levels of unintended pregnancy and abortion services.

Read the full report here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The time has come!  

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Obama has made his choice for Justice Stevens' nominated replacement on the Supreme Court: Elena Kagan.


And I ate my words when I predicted that Obama might not nominate a woman, out of apprehension for the crap he's going to get.

So who is Elena Kagan? She is a young 50 years-old, and has impressive credentials, though some say she lacks experience. Unfortunately, not a whole lot is known yet on her stance on feminist issues. Apparently, when she was a White House adviser in 1997, she urged then-President Bill Clinton to support a ban on late-term abortions. My prediction is that she holds a somewhat moderate stance on abortion, but given the chance would uphold Roe v. Wade. Reproductive rights organizations are optimistic, and anti-choicers hate her, so that's a good sign! Heh heh.

I also read that as dean of Harvard Law School, she mandated that military recruiters should be banned from campus because she disagreed with the discriminatory "don't ask, don't tell" policy. An awesome move on her part, but undoubtedly a part of her past that will come back to haunt her when Republicans try to shoot her down.

Still, it's likely she will win confirmation, since Democrats have a control of 59 votes in the Senate.
Sunday, May 9, 2010

Thoughts on Mother's Day  

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Although I'm sure many of us have our issues with the overly-commercialized "Hallmark" holiday that is Mother's Day, I can't imagine many of us have issues with honoring the women in our life who have made us who we are. That's how I see Mother's Day. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a mother like Lorelai Gilmore, but I sincerely hope that we are all lucky enough to have strong women role models in our lives.

Living with my mom hasn't always been the easiest task. I have nothing but happy memories of her as a kid - from her ability to always act as if I had given her diamonds for her birthday when really all I gave her was a bunch of pictures I scribbled, to her tendency to always stand up for me when I felt the wrath of my dad's temper (not to say that I don't love my dad - I love him very much, but the man can sure yell). But by nine years-old, she had been diagnosed with a nightmarish disease that over the years, has attacked her body and mind. At 57 years-old, though she needs constant care and is essentially wheelchair-bound, she is still kickin', defying all odds. There is a 50% chance I have inherited the disease from her, and while I don't know yet if I have it or not because I'm not at the point where I'm ready to take the test, I'm sure I inherited her never-give-up, don't-take-shit attitude. Go mom.

We have had our fair share of fights, as the disease attacked her ability to think rationally which made it increasingly difficult to be around her, but I have nothing but love for my mom. And not only was I blessed with an awesome mother, but also an older sister who looks out for me, defends me when people give me crap for being a feminist, and in a few weeks, will be sharing a house with me. I see how my mom's older sister treats her with nothing but the utmost care and love, and I know that if either my sister or me were affected by the disease (Heaven forbid) it would be no different. Because that's what women do, or should do, for each other.

So go give the women in your life big hugs, and tell 'em why they rock. Also, feel free to comment with your stories. Now, enough with the mushy stuff. I feel I have to post the hilarious video I always think of whenever Mother's Day is mentioned.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Anti-domestic violence campaign records men breaking cardboard women  

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A Turkish anti-domestic violence organization, Mor Çati, set up displays in Istanbul of cardboard women with the slogan "I want freedom... from violence" and recorded men destroying them on hidden cameras.



Hmm. Does this really show us anything about domestic abuse? Maybe it just demonstrates an overall disrespect for women and women's issues. Or maybe, as Jezebel suggests, it shows more about vandalism than violence against women. I mean... not that I'm making excuses for what these men did, but to me they just seemed irritated with cardboard legs blocking their path.

Thoughts?