Monday, December 17, 2012

Masculinity and violence  

Jessica Valenti posted this on Facebook, and I thought she was bringing up an incredibly crucial point to help us make sense of this whole nightmare that happened in Newton, CT. This is an advertisement for the gun that shooter Adam Lanza used to kill 26 people:

What many people (usually the haters) don't understand is that feminism isn't just about changing the roles of women, it's also about changing the roles of men. And by that I mean breaking down the constraints that men are subjected to simply because of their gender. This is a perfect example of how our society has taught us that being "manly" means engaging in violent acts. I mean, come on, how many symbols of masculinity in pop culture that young boys grow up idolizing are largely associated with guns?

When we're teaching impressionable boys that to be a "man" is to inflict violence on others, how can we possibly be surprised that these violent outbursts keep happening? Often, the shooter is someone who was an outcast and was possibly bullied incessantly. Now think about the fact that while being told by their peers that they weren't worthy of the respect a "man" gets, they're being bombarded by endless societal aspects that say, "being a man = being violent."

So, yes, I do believe stricter gun control laws can definitely help the problem, but we also need to look at the underlying cause: our culture's warped view of masculinity.

I didn't really understand the vastness of this problem until I saw the documentary"Tough Guise: Violence, Media & the Crisis in Masculinity." In it, anti-sexist male activist Jackson Katz explains the direct link between the messages we're sending to boys about what it is to be a man and the rampant violence that we're faced with. It is a huge problem. And far too many people are overlooking it.
Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chris Brown and his defenders  


For some reason, despite the fact that "don't hit a woman" is quite a popular mantra in our culture, most people seem to not give two shits that Chris Brown once bludgeoned and threatened to kill his then-girlfriend, Rihanna.

It was clear from that incident that Chris Brown is a very disturbed man who has serious issues and represents something that we should NOT glorify, especially as a role model for young men and boys. His career should have been over following the many, many horrifying details and photos that were released demonstrating the seriousness of that situation, but it seems that now the dust has settled and Chris Brown has emerged virtually unscathed.

He should be insanely grateful that his worst problem that emerged from this scandal is an angry Twitter remark here and there from his seemingly few haters, but no. The latest person to criticize him via Twitter, Jenny Johnson, sparked Brown's obviously rampant bad temper, causing him to verbally attack her, calling her a "bitch" and a "hoe" and other things I can't bring myself to repeat.

The whole exchange was a CLEAR AS FUCKING DAY sign that Chris Brown learned absolutely nothing about how to treat women. And his fans learned absolutely nothing about not worshiping a terrible human being. But alas, in their eyes Brown can do no wrong, hence the thousands of death threats they tweeted towards Johnson for daring to speak harsh words towards their beloved woman-beater.

Chris Brown is publicly treating women like dogs and getting away with it.

Here is the latest example: this past Tuesday, during an interview with Howard Stern, the Game, who refers to Chris Brown as "like a little brother to me," said this when asked about Brown's violence towards Rihanna:

"I feel like he made it back OK, and they're back together. What I thought of it, I just figured they were young and that was just, you know, one of those Hollywood mishaps. I don't think it'll happen again."
Oh, you know, yeah he punched a woman repeatedly and threatened to kill her, but it's totally just one of those funny Hollywood hijinx. We can all laugh about it now!

You really have got to be kidding me.

And what is that bullshit about "it won't happen again"?! Um, does he not remember Chris Brown verbally attacking a woman on Twitter last month and threatening to shit in her eye?

Yeah, he really "made it back OK."

Howard Stern was smart enough to ask the Game if he would be as forgiving towards Chris Brown if he had beaten up Game's own daughter. He didn't have an answer, which means, "Hell fucking no, he would be dead to me."

The point is that not only is violence again women alive and well (and rampant) but so are the people who are perpetuating it. And I don't just mean those who physically raise a hand to a woman, but the people who fail to hold abusers accountable for their actions. Chris Brown got away with it all because we let him. We are still glorifying and honoring him, despite the fact that he did something seemingly unforgivable. His fans threatened to murder the person who most recently dared to remind the world what he has done.

This whole ordeal has been a good indicator of how much of a problem violence against women really is... because we're not just up against the abusers, we're also up against every single person who's ready to stand by the abuser's side and defend his actions.
Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Rape awareness ads that DON'T blame the victim  


Many of us know that victim-blaming in the case of rape and sexual assault is entirely too common. Of course, there are plenty of others who don't know or just don't care, and that's how we get anti-rape ads like this that are counterproductive because they reinforce the ever-popular myth that if a woman is drinking or wearing provocative clothing, she's just asking to be raped.

That's why it's refreshing to see some anti-rape ads that actually - GASP! - put the blame on the rapist. I don't know where they get these crazy concepts.

I'm referring to the new set of ads produced by Sexual Assault Voices of Edmonton (SAVED), a Canada-based anti-sexual assault organization. Here are a few of the PSAs:

What I like about these ads is that it puts the responsibility of preventing women being raped entirely on the potential rapists. Rather than saying, "You women who get drunk better watch out because you're gonna get raped!" they're saying, "Listen, women get too drunk sometimes. It happens. But that doesn't mean it's an invitation for you to take advantage of her."

They simplify the concept so that it's easy to understand and there are no gray areas: if a person cannot consent, don't touch them... because that's what rape is.

I also like that they show two men in one of their ads since rape can come in all forms.

SAVED invites you to use their posters in your own community. The wider we spread these concepts, the better.

Not on my Christmas wishlist: "Battle of the Sexes" board game  

I just want to let you all know that this exists:

Actually, when I physically held the game in my hands last week and surprisingly resisted the urge to throw up all over it, it looked like this:
I know what you're thinking: "Ha ha! 'Battle of the Sexes' board game? Too funny. What kind of questions do they ask? Tool questions for the men and cooking questions for the women?"

Um. Yeah, pretty much. Well, actually, the women answer the manly questions and the men answer the ladyfolk questions to see which gender is better... or something. Men answering questions about pantyhose?! That's so wacky and unnatural, why it's almost HILARIOUS! Here are the instructions:

Players divide into two teams: men vs. women. The goal is to move your team's pawns across the game board. Along the way teams will have to answer questions about the opposite sex in order to move.

These are examples of "man" questions:
1. How many lugs are on the typical wheel?
2. Where is the Superdome located?

These are examples of "woman" questions:
1. How do you stop a run in stockings?
2. What type of nut is used to make marzipan?

I feel like the person who made this doesn't know anything about women and men, aside from the knowledge they gained from watching endless marathons of 1950s sitcoms. I'm amazed at this board game's ability to take something as complex as human beings and reduce them to two-dimensional caricatures. Here's one more snippet from the game's instructions:

To spice things up, the battle gets a little tougher with wild cards. These cards could either propel you to an easy victory-- for buying diamonds for her birthday-- or send you catapulting backwards-- for borrowing his razor to shave your legs!

Just... stop it. Given the choice between the two, I would happily opt for the *NSYNC board game.

That's how much I DON'T want to EVER find out what is inside the box of the "Battle of the Sexes" board game. I feel like if I were ever open it, it would immediately start yelling at me to make it a sandwich.
Friday, November 30, 2012

Men's magazine cuts a woman in half and objectifies her parts  

Men's magazines are usually pretty predictable in that we can expect them to write mostly about things than manly-men love, like boobs and how to touch boobs and how to be like guys who touch a lot of boobs. Boobs. But I can say that I never expected "lads' magazine" Zoo Weekly to post GAAAAAHHHHH WHAT IS THAT?!?!

That is just... disturbing. No, wait. The comments left by their super intelligent fans are what's disturbing:

Luke and Andrew are my favorites. Real stand-up guys. Although Andrew might want to update his humor because I can't believe sexist douchebags are STILL using "women = sandwich makers" as their primary put-down of our gender.

Sexist stereotype AND sexual innuendo!

The horrendous disembodied woman has since been taken down after a complaint issued by the Advertising Standards Bureau... because, y'know, they have standards and all. Seriously, Zoo Weekly should know that the only thing that can pull off the sexy-halved-woman routine is Beetlejuice.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Today marks the 100th anniversary of...  


Today, activists all over the world are gathering on bridges to show their support for gender equality. It might be too late to attend a bridge gathering near you, but you can see from this map just how many bridge events happened across the globe. Pretty incredible.

There are plenty of other IWD events to attend today/tonight, so find one near you.

Google even dedicated one of its famous doodles to International Women's Day.

Head on over to the IWD website for some cool stuff, including photos of women celebrating all over the world. And if you're a social media junkie like myself, read Mashable's "How To Support International Women's Day Using Social Media." By the way, look to your right to see IWD on Twitter.

Mashable also posted this nifty video from Equals that lists many of the ways women and men are not equal (and it features Daniel Craig in drag!)

Even if you just stay at home today, find a way to celebrate. Enjoy today, enjoy how far we've come, and enjoy the women who did so much to get us here.
Thursday, February 24, 2011

More commercials I can't stand: Virgin Atlantic sets us back 50 years  

Really, Virgin Atlantic? You couldn't have made a commercial without the horrific gender stereotypes? Apparently they want us to live in a world where the men are the pilots and the businessmen, and the (skinny, white) women are flight attendants dressed in short red skirts and stripper heels. Thanks, Virgin, for your big middle finger to the feminist movement.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ending solitary confinement, reducing psychological damages  

Though I may not write about it too often, prisoner rights is a feminist concern. Women and non-gender conforming prisoners find themselves uniquely affected by a variety of issues: just take a moment to read about the all-too-horrific practice of shackling incarcerated women during pregnancy or the large amount of sexual assault inflicted on inmates with an unconventional gender identity.

But steps are being taken in the right direction to ensure that prisoners are treated humanely. Most mental health experts agree that the use of solitary confinement in prisons can result in long-lasting psychological damages. According to the ACLU, a bill was introduced in the Colorado state legislature this week to end Colorado prisons' use of solitary confinement. Some shocking numbers tell why this is clearly the humane thing to do:

In Colorado, 37 percent of those in solitary confinement are prisoners with mental illness or developmental disabilities – up from 15 percent just a decade ago. The more than 1,400 Colorado inmates in solitary confinement spend 23 hours a day in isolation, for 16 months on average, at an increased additional cost of up to $21,485 per year, per inmate.

Read a copy of the bill online.

Kansas' abortion provider targeted  

The doctor who stepped up after the assassination of Dr. George Tiller is now facing serious intimidation from anti-choicers, who have made her their new target.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Monday, January 31, 2011

"Girlie-girl" culture  


Spotted an article on Slate today that highlights a new book: Cinderella Ate My Daughter by feminist author Peggy Orenstein.

Her website describes the book:

The acclaimed author of the groundbreaking bestseller Schoolgirls reveals the dark side of pink and pretty in this wake-up call to parents: the rise of the girlie girl is not that innocent.

As a new mother, Peggy Orenstein was blindsided by the persistent ultra-feminine messages being sent to a new generation of little girls—from "princess-mania" to endless permutations of pink. How many times can you say no when your daughter begs for a pint-sized wedding gown, she wondered. How dangerous is pink and pretty anyway? Being a princess is just make-believe, isn't it? Does playing Cinderella shield little girls from early sexualization—or prime them for it?

I LOVE anything that questions the mass distribution of harmful gender role-reinforcing products to young girls that are far too easily accepted by society as "normal." Will be adding this to my reading list.