Saturday, November 28, 2009

Good Moves, GMA...

So GMA cancels a performance by a guy for kissing another guy and replaces him with a guy who beats his girl friend? That makes me really sad.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


I have a guest post up on Female Impersonated on the topic of my tattoos, religion, and politics.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Halloween Costumes

I'm sure this is a blogging faux pas but i'd really like to resurrect a Halloween post i had up last year. If for no other reason than to give parents, and women, ideas for empowering costumes rather than resorting to the same old (sexist, sexualized, and objectified) standard options.

Halloween, if nothing else, allows children to play dress-up and use their imagination to be anything they want to be. Or in the case of the mainstream costume industry, gives kids the chance to further perpetuate gender roles, reinforce stereotypes, and dress little girls in hyper-sexualized outfits.

I was at a party store last weekend and spotted a wall of "featured costumes." I managed to snap a couple photos with my phone before the salesperson asked me what i was doing. "I am documenting the lack of options for little girls when it comes to Halloween costumes" I responded, "so that i can blog about how this parallels girls' and young women's lack of options in the real world." ("DUH!" i thought sarcastically...) I apologize for the quality of the photos, it was the best i could do with a phone on the fly :)

Of course there ARE options... for example, take page 1 from an online search for girls' Halloween costumes, letters A through H: Aurora, Barbie Anneliese, Barbie Cheerleader, Barbie Rapunzel, Blissful Bride, Bratz Jade, Bratz Sasha, Bratz Staurday Night Style, Cinderella, Devilicious Child, Fanciful Fairy.

Is all the pink making you a bit pukey? Sorry about that...

The store where i snapped the photos of those three costumes had several more options. For example, there were Power Ranger costumes, doctor costumes, and handyman costumes for the boys. For the girls? More of the same. I thought the whole girl = nurse/boy = doctor thing was so last decade?? Guess not. Not to say there is anything wrong with being a nurse, because there isn't. But to lead girls to believe that they don't have the option to be a doctor and boys to believe that they cannot be a nurse is outdated and damaging. The Tycoon costume cracked D and me up the most. I guess the female equivalent to "Tycoon" in Halloween costume talk was the MegaStar?? Because clearly all that girls have to offer is their looks and bodies. The model in the photo on the costume can't possibly be older than 10. No 10 year old should be wearing that much (or LITTLE) pleather... And i doubt many 10 year olds are that developed... So, moral of the story for your 10 year old girl who wants to be "successful" when she grows up? Boys use their brains to make money by becoming Tycoons. Girls use their appearance to make money by wearing very little clothes or by attracting Tycoonish boys.

Obviously it only gets worse as the target audience gets older. Check out the changes in costumes from toddler to girl to tween to teen to adult. The only thing that changes is the amount of fabric that goes in to making the costume. For example, even seemingly empowering costumes, like superwoman (which they call "supergirl") or warrior princes (who then becomes a "Geisha"), become hypersexualized as the target consumer gets a bit (read: no more than a couple of years) older. These attempts at options fall even shorter as girls grow up.

I get it. Some people (read: freshmen college girls who are experiencing their first taste of sexual freedom) see Halloween as an excuse to make any outfit into a sexy costume. Want to be a pirate? Ok! Sexy Pirate it is! Sexy Cat Woman, Sexy Nurse, Sexy Witch, Sexy Bunny, Sexy Schoolgirl, Sexy Anna Rexia (get it? sexy anorexia... riiiiight) and my all time favorite, the Sexy Detective (my freshman year 1st college Halloween party costume...) P.S. You should absolutely click through those links to the photos of those costumes but they are definitely not appropriate for work so careful.

Because i couldn't possibly write about Baby High Heels in any other post than the Halloween ridiculous costumes post, i wanted to include a bit about the new "infant trend..." If the topic of girls' Halloween costumes doesn't bother you enough check out baby high heels (designed for babies 0-6 months)!!!! I can't wait for a friend or family member to have a baby girl so that i can buy these for her!


So that we don't end on a negative note, what are some empowering costumes your kids (or kids you know) will be wearing this Halloween?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Call for a New "Masculinism"...

Who are these assholes and why do they want us to be more manly? And heterosexual, and anti-porn, and anti-choice, and really really Christian...

Apparently a bunch of ultra-conservative religious politicians got together this past week at a conference in DC. Here is there (literal) agenda. Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee were there (no surprise...)

One talk on "The New Masculinity" states that, "feminism has wreaked havoc on marriage, women, children and men. It is time to redress the disorder it has wrought and that must start with getting the principles and ideals for a new "masculinism" right. Such a "masculinism" will have its dovetailing counterpart in a new "feminism" for they mutually define each other and, in nature, are meant to be complementary."

Other talks included:

Here is a highlight from the conference:

SCHWARTZ: ...Pornography is a blight. It is a disaster. It is, it is one of those silent diseases in our society that we haven’t been able to overcome very well. Now, I may be getting politically incorrect here. But one — It’s been a few years, not that many, since I was closely associated with pre-adolescent boys, boys who are like 10 to 12 years of age. But it is my observation that boys at that age have less tolerance for homosexuality than just about any other class of people. They speak badly about homosexuality. And that’s because they don’t want to be that way. They don’t want to fall into it. And that’s a good instinct. After all, homosexuality, we know, studies have been done by the National Institute of Health to try to prove that its genetic and all those studies have proved its not genetic. Homosexuality is inflicted on people.

I had a very good friend who was in the homosexual lifestyle for a long time and then he had a religious conversion in the eighties. And he bought a old motel and turned it into a hospice for some of his former associates who were dying of AIDS. He helped, he helped almost 300 men die. This man was a real hero. But he knew that he wasn’t as healed as he thought he was. He was able to resist temptation. He was able to resist sin. But he wasn’t healed enough to take on the responsibilities of marriage. And he was a brilliant man in the sense that he knew himself. And he knew his limits. And he and I had good conversations about, about the malady that he suffered. And one of the things that he said to me, that I think is an astonishingly insightful remark. He said, “all pornography is homosexual pornography because all pornography turns your sexual drive inwards. Now think about that. And if you, if you tell an 11-year-old boy about that, do you think he’s going to want to go out and get a copy of Playboy? I’m pretty sure he’ll lose interest. That’s the last thing he wants.” You know, that’s a, that’s a good comment. It’s a good point and it’s a good thing to teach young people.

I haven't been blogging lately because I recently started a graduate program in clinical/community psychology. Right now i'm taking the predominantly core/basic classes necessary for a clinical psych phd, like assessment and research statistics. We've spent the past few weeks focusing on what makes legitimate science and what's empirically valid. With this fresh perspective, all i can say about the above "talk" is that it's such a load of pseudoscience! I really can't stand people who present themselves as authorities on a subject by citing faulty (or in this case untrue/nonexistent research) to gain support: "After all, homosexuality, we know, studies have been done by the National Institute of Health to try to prove that its genetic and all those studies have proved its not genetic. Homosexuality is inflicted on people." This specifically made me so fucking angry. But on an even larger scale, i'm a bit confused. I don't quite understand this guy's "logic." Even if i try really hard to look at his "argument" from his perspective (which is difficult enough), i still don't understand HOW looking at pornography in general can "turn" someone gay?? Where's the supposed relationship between pornography and homosexuality?

My friend Heather sent me the Think Progress article on this conference, and in her email she also wrote, "first they claim that feminism has destroyed family and marriage, then they promote "masculinism" via homophobia!! i really just don't even understand..."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Disgusting Guinness Commercial

A facebook friend posted this video on his wall. He wrote "best. video. ever" next to the link. I strongly disagreed.

This ad is actually incredibly offensive. I'm all for sexy advertising but there's nothing sexy or appealing about a women being portrayed as a silent beer coasters while three men(?) drink off of her. I think what bothered me most, though was the text: "Share one with a friend"... seriously? That's such blatant objectification. It portrays women as no better than beer, serving the mere purpose of entertaining men as they bond while they fuck us. Eww. The supposed sex here bothers me, too. It's clearly not good sex (based on the woman's only slight movements) and portrays the woman as nothing more than a body for three others to fuck, which is disgusting and not sexually empowering whatsoever.

Sexism is alive and well in this ad. If nothing else we have to admit that advertisements serve to sell more than the product they are promoting. If that wasn't the case, why would they use hot, half naked women to get products noticed? Advertisements also sell concepts of normalcy, and in this case, create a culture where it's not only ok but sexy to objectify women, use them solely for the purpose of male bonding and beer drinking, and "share them" with their friends. Women (people in general) deserve better than this.

I objected to the link. I posted an explanation underneath it to which many people replied that i was being overly liberal, overly sensitive, and unable to take a joke. Then someone compared this commercial to this Calvin Kline ad of David Becham modeling underwear. The guy was clearly misunderstanding the definition of "objectification." The term is used to signify when a person is seen purely to serve a purpose and their attributes and appearance are separated from the rest of their worth to reduce that person to an instrument (or object) solely for the pleasure or use of another person. When men are photographed half naked (as in that ad) men aren't objectified in the same way women are everyday due to the social context. We live in a country where women are second class citizens and commercials like the Guinness one only serve to perpetuate and glamorize that status.

Research just this year found that men are more likely to think of women as objects if they viewed pictures of stereotypically sexy women beforehand. "Researchers used brain scans to show that when straight men looked at pictures of women in bikinis, areas of the brain that normally light up in anticipation of using tools, like spanners and screwdrivers, were activated. Scans of some of the men found that a part of the brain associated with empathy for other peoples' emotions and wishes shut down after looking at the pictures. Susan Fiske, a psychologist at Princeton University in New Jersey, said the changes in brain activity suggest sexy images can shift the way men perceive women, turning them from people to interact with, to objects to act upon."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Must Reads

Two news articles that you should check out:

Governor Schwarzenegger cuts 100% of the domestic violence budget in California.


The issue of school and education for girls under Taliban rule.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Vulgar Email

I was waiting for an important email this morning, so when my computer beeped to indicate I had a new message, I naturally got excited. This wasn't the email I was hoping for, however. I opened the message, titled, "your friend recommended this article" (because it isn't abnormal for friends to send me articles to read and write about here). But that's not what it was...

The message read:

Enter her twat like a bull
Smart men prefer this solution for giving girls true satisfaction!

There is so so much wrong with that. And I get it, spam emails aren't intended to be works of Jane Austen. But for some reason what bothered me most about this particular message was that "smart men prefer this solution for giving girls true satisfaction." Men really shouldn't be entering girls' "twats" like bulls (or in any other way, either...). Ew.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Platonic Friendship

Can men and women be (just) friends?

I first began thinking about this question years ago after watching the quirky and timeless classic, When Harry Met Sally. The movie revolves around the idea that men and women can never be just friends because "the sex part always gets in the way." They try to navigate through the conversation by setting obscure rules like they can only be friends if both are in committed relationships because then "the pressure of possible involvement is lifted."

Aside from being a heteronormative question, assuming that all men are attracted to women, it is also a question engrossed in strict gender roles and stereotypes. For these two reasons I hoped this would cease to be debated in 2009, when apparently we live in a post feminist society where men and women are equal and free thinking... (that was snark if you couldn't tell).

Fast forward to today as I engaged in my sleepy morning let's-get-the-day-started routine, pouring coffee and turning on the often trite Good Morning America. In the segment I linked they too discuss this "timeless question" of an impossible platonic friendship between men and women. The segment was an obvious scheme to promote Steve Harvey's new book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man (which i won't link because of the strict gender roles and stereotypes that even the title doesn't fail to perpetuate). For 'empirical evidence' GMA referenced a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that found that an opposite sex friendship can end in an affair 15% of the time. (emphasis mine.) What about the other 85% of the time? That sure doesn't seem like enough statistical evidence to back up the claim to me...

The whole "timeless question" leaves me more than prickly. It assumes that men can't think with their appropriate brain and that they are sexually attracted to every woman they meet. It also ascertains that women are 1) naive and 2) not sexually driven. This sort of thinking is damaging for men because it sets men up to be the ultimate perpetrators. They are always on the prowl and are singly sex minded. It promotes the idea that it's always a man's responsibility to get into a woman's pants and it's solely a woman's role to guard her virginity, pureness, sex, whatever.

For women it's a double whammy. Not only are women once again regarded as naive, helpless, and meek, doing whatever they can to protect their one and only precious commodity, but they are determined to not have the same sex drive that their male counterparts posses.

Continuing to think in the heteronormative way in which this question is presented, I think that mature and responsible men and women can absolutely have platonic relationships that don't deteriorate into a let's rip each other's clothes off and make passionate love in the bedroom situation. I think the dynamic between opposite sex friends has to be different, and that your partners have to be involved in the friendship (for example, it shouldn't be a secret friendship because that sets up a sketchy relationship from the beginning). But all in all, i think it is entirely possible for heterosexual men and women to have close friends of the opposite sex.

Readers, what do you think?

(cross-posted at feministing community where there is some discussion going on in the comments sections)

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Latest for Afghan Women

Afghanistan passes 'barbaric' law diminishing women's rights: "Rehashed legislation allows husbands to deny wives food if they fail to obey sexual demands."

A new law was recently passed in Afghanistan that allows Shia men to deny their wives food if their wives refuse their husbands' sexual demands. Another element of this new legislation grants full guardianship of children to their father exclusively.

Human Rights Watch noted that these laws contradict Afghanistan's constitution and called on leaders to repeal the new legislation.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Worried about being a sweaty bride??

I was taking a hiatus from blogging, but then i got this in an email from TheKnot and couldn't resist writing about it:

Subject: Worried about sweating excessively on your wedding day?

"BOTOX® is approved by the FDA as a treatment for excessive underarm sweating when antiperspirants fail. There are enough things to worry about on your wedding day! Sweat stains on your wedding dress should not be one of them!"

REALLY!? So TheKnot recommends brides to inject a toxin into their bodies so that they do not sweat on their wedding day? God forbid...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

More Racially Charged Police Brutality?

An ambulance being driven by a black EMT "failed to yield" to two white police officers. Why does the skin color of the men involved matter? Because after you watch this video, you might agree that this "confrontation" (as the news gingerly calls it) may have been racially motivated.

The cop grabbed the EMT driver by the throat... how is that appropriate? The EMT driver calmly discusses that he is transporting a patient to the hospital... the trooper doesn't seem to care much about anything but punishing the EMT driver.

Here is the clip i saw this morning on the news:

In light of all the racially motivated police brutality recently, this one shouldn't go unmentioned.

Monday, June 15, 2009

June 15th is "National Man Day"

Apparently today is "National Man Day" according to two Indiana brothers. The Longanecker boys declared June 15th to be a day for men to "stand up and do manly things" and reclaim their masculinity. The brothers are spreading their message using facebook that encourages men to participate in "manly things" today. What are these "many things" you may ask? Well according to these boys manly activities include:
  • being left alone by your woman (no chores, no telling you to be home by dinner time, no helping with the kids, and no "honey do" lists!)
  • sitting in your favorite chair and scratching yourself
  • shooting stuff or blowing something up
  • eating steak
  • shooting animals
  • punching someone in the face

From their facebook group:

On June 15th, men across the nation will unite in one cause and one voice saying, 'I am man!'On that day, men across the nation will blow things up, they'll shoot big guns, they'll punch each other for no reason, they'll pump some iron, or they'll watch every Rambo movie from beginning to end. Straight through. And when asked why we do these things, we'll say 'Because I'm a MAN!' Since when has there been a time when that answer to a question has was unacceptable? Since when has being a man been lame? Since men have let down their guard and become sissies. It's time to take back the crown of masculinity.

It's time for men to be men.What should you do on this day? Be the man God made you to be. Be a good father, drop kick your best friend when he least expects it, dump a whole tank of gasoline on a pile of sticks and ignite it by shooting another can of gas! Be responsible for your actions, go out there invite every man you know, eat an 18 oz steak, get your wife some flowers, punch another guy in the jugular and be a MAN!

Hey at least "be a good father" made the list??

As laughable as all this may seem, there is a serious and growing problem with what young boys are taught about masculinity. Patriarchy, sexism, and "machismo" culture are just as damaging for men and boys as they are for women. For example, boys learn the type of masculinity that the Longanecker brothers are advocating at a young age are are rewarded for being tough, macho, and strong in the physical sense. This also teaches them that being a “real man” is associated with violence, power, and control. The consequences of this are not only great for women (due to increased instances of rape, sexual harassment, domestic violence, and physical abuse) but also for men who are often violent against other men. Men commit the majority of violent acts in this country, towards both women AND men because they are taught early on that they are being "manly" by doing so.

There are many wonderful groups forming that teach the type of masculinity that empowers young men in ways other than through violence. These groups embrace inward evaluation, compassion, bounding, and positive contribution to the community.

Check out these sites for more info and please leave others in comments if you know of more: V-Men, Homeboy Industries, and MAVAW

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


A new over-the-counter product called IntelliGender can possibly predict the sex of an unborn fetus as early as 10 weeks old.

It claims that within 10 minutes of taking the urine test, a woman will be able
to tell her baby's gender. The specimen will turn green if it's a boy, and
orange if it's a girl.

A product like this has serious implications in countries (and families) where one sex is preferred over another. 10 weeks is early enough to terminate the pregnancy, and the thought that this product may aid in abortions based on the sex of a child is more than troublesome. For example, China's preference for male babies is ingrained in both culture and politics. At one point the Chinese government set into place a one-child-only policy as an attempt to target overpopulation which significantly increased the number of female infanticides. The Communist Party took power in 1949 and outlawed this practice. However, in the 1980's the Chinese government census continued to show hundreds of thousands of missing baby girls each year. The practice of female infanticide in China is most prevalent in rural areas where boys are valued for their ability to help with the land and take care of their parents later on in life. Girls, however, traditionally move in with their in-laws and cannot further help their birth family. Baby girls are often "abandoned, suffocated, or drowned soon after birth." Aside from being an inhuman, unethical, and sexist practice, female infanticide effects the Chinese culture in many ways, "in 1997 the London Telegraph quoted ...a Chinese journal... which warned the male-to-female ratio in China has become so unbalanced that there will soon be an 'army of bachelors' in China - an estimated 90 million Chinese men in search of a spouse." Female infanticide is an old practice dating back to 200 B.C. in Greece. It still exists today mostly cited in China and India.

The makers of IntelliGender state they will not be distributing to China and India. Still, products like these terrify me. It makes me feel like we are one step closer to being able to generate our "ideal" child.

At least it turns orange and green rather than pink and blue? Oh for small victories...

Thanks, Joanne, for sending this over and pointing out the "i need it right now" instant world we currently live in.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday Feel Good: New Hampshire Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

Now New Hampshire can really proclaim the right to "live free or die!"

Friday Feel Good: Gay Penguin Couple Adopt & Hatch Egg

Via BBC News and Edge:

A pair of male penguins in a German zoo have taken in an egg that was rejected by its biological parents, hatched the egg, and now are rearing the chick, according to a June 3 article carried at BBC News.

Such behavior is not unknown. In many animal species, from fruit flies to birds to primates, same-gender sexual contact and social bonding (including long term pair bonding) have been observed.

In the case of Z and Vielpunkt, two penguins at the zoo in Bremerhaven, the pair had been observed attempting to hatch a stone. When a male-female pair of penguins at the zoo rejected their own egg, keepers gave it to Z and Vielpunkt, who tended and hatched the egg and now, a month after its hatching, continue to care for the chick.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

"I was going to ask you what's new, but I think I know"

Anyone watch American Idol? This is extremely disturbing to me on so, so many levels...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Actually, Yes. That WAS Racist...

I was eating lunch last week with some of the counselors at the clinic. The Chinese food arrived and they were passing it around to everyone who had ordered. As they passed it to one woman, she exclaimed, "if I eat any more Chinese food this week my eyes are gonna slant!"

I turned to her, astonished, and said, "wow, I haven't heard a racial slur like that in a long time."

"That wasn't racist!" she demanded.

"Actually, Yes. it was. When you mock an already marginalized group of people based on their appearance, that's racist. You stereotyped a population based on physical attributes..." I retorted. She snarled at me and proceeded to eat her egg roll.

This happened last Friday. I came in to work early this week and found a Chinese food menu strategically placed on my office door. Is it a coincidence that someone wanted to share a Chinese food menu with me this week? Maybe. Am i being harassed? Possibly. Would they do this to me if I was noticeably Asian? Probably not.

I don't really understand why it's still acceptable in American culture to mock Asian Americans? Do people not realize the racism here because Asian Americans are the "model minority?" They supposedly have assimilated into American culture better than any other minority group and thus discrimination does not affect them? Or is it because the American stereotype of Asian Americans as "docile" is so prevalent that people think it is acceptable to discriminate a group of people that are "too well mannered" to speak up?

For reference, some truths about Chinese food, Americans, and discrimination all brought to you through a TED talk...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Horse Herstory

Filly Rachel Alexandra, the first female horse to be entered in the Preakness Stakes, is making history (and a lot of controversy).

Regardless of how you feel about horse races, at least the girls are getting a chance in the sport, and kicking some boy horse butt! ;)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Feminist Label

Where is there room for me, a white woman who stands firmly for equality and acknowledges the discrimination within feminism, and is committed to pointing out and relinquishing (white, cis, able, hetero, and class) privilege? I want to identify with a feminism willing to embrace all people and challenge preconceived notions of what and who "is" and "isn't" feminist, one focused on celebrating diversity and learning for everyone's experiences. Where do i fit? Because i'm a bit confused these days.

Please read these two posts by Renee prior to responding...
Womanist Musings: I am not a Feminist
Womanist Musings: Can a White Woman be a Womanist?

I agree with commenter "juju" who said "ultimately, the work that you do is much more important than the label you wear, and you should just call yourself whatever works for you and continue doing the work." I understand and agree with focusing on activism but often identity fuels a social movement and propels it forward with greater force. I would hate our progress and activism to slow because we're too busy focusing on what our identity should be.

I wrote about this a bit in my "I'm not a feminist, but" post: George Washington University’s Dr. Zucker (2004) published a study addressing this. Dr. Zucker’s research explored women disavowing social identities and found that in the 272 women surveyed, self-identifying as feminists was a predictor of feminist activism. Herein lies my concern. On one hand, I don’t care if you identity as a feminist or not, as long as you retain feminist beliefs. On the other hand, if self-identifying as a feminist is going to make you more of an activist, then it matters.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Quick Hit: Women Bullying Women at Work

As a possible bit of a follow up to my post on female bullying, my wonderful sister in law sent me this article that i will pass on to all of you. However, i will disclaimer it with the fact that i didn't get a chance to read it carefully yet or do an analysis. Feel free to leave your feedback to the piece in comments.