Saturday, December 22, 2007

I’m not a feminist, but…

I realize that many people have written about women who maintain feminist beliefs but chose not to identify with the feminist movement. Since I have received various related questions and requests for this post, I’ll cover the topic as well:

My question to ya’ll: If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, but doesn’t identify as a duck, is it a duck?

I get it, feminism has an image problem. Not within the movement, because we all think we’re pretty fucking cool, but on the outside. Douglas (1994) found that the 1970s news media “played an absolutely central role in turning feminism into a dirty word by depicting feminists as deviant, man-hating, unrepresentative radicals who were a threat to society.” Obviously with this image of feminists out there, many people chose not to identify as feminists. However, Zucker (2004) found that “exposure to feminism through education, personal relationships, or personal struggles are favorable conditions for feminist identity.”

There's this weird misconception out there that all feminists are hairy, lesbians, pierced & tattooed, unattractive, fat, aggressive, stubborn, humorless, butch, bossy, etc. The thing is, some feminists may be those things, and that's cool. But others are also not. Just like some non-feminists possess those characteristics as well; they aren’t “feminists specific” traits. As a feminist, you can be all or non of those things and still identify with the movement and with its goals, in any combination. Because feminists come in all shapes and sizes so-to-speak, passing judgments and generalizations, is just, well, ignorant and close-minded. As far as those characteristics go, I fit into some. For example, I am pretty stubborn, however, I also wear makeup and high heels from time to time, and that’s all good and doesn't make me any less of or more of a feminist. What I’m trying to say is that whatever image you present to the world does not mediate your identity with the feminist title. Feminists can look and act however, it’s the beliefs and social action that count.

My opinion? The media loves drama. Most of the self-identified feminist that we actually experience through the media or portrayals of feminism that is created is done through extremes. What makes the news and what is created by television is radical feminism because it is an extreme and will get people talking. Radical feminists kick ass and without them, we'd be a lot further back than we are, but radical feminists do not represent the majority of the movement.

Back to “I’m not a feminist, but…”

I encourage you to take this short questionnaire...

Do you believe that:
  • both boys and girls should have access to education

  • all people, regardless their skin color or gender, should have the right to vote

  • you should be able to wear whatever clothes you want without being blamed for how you are treated by others while you are wearing those clothes

  • everyone should have the right to birth control and the ability to determine, themselves, how many, if any, children they bring into this world

  • everyone should have the right to open a bank account and to own property

  • division of labor should be based on skills and interest, not on gender roles

  • no one should be discriminated against based on their race, sex, age, sexual orientation, weight, social class, religion, etc.

  • everyone should have access to legitimate health care

  • diversity should be celebrated, not just tolerated

  • people should be paid for the job they do based on how well they do the job rather than what they have in between their legs or the color of their skin

  • no one should be sexually oppressed

  • we should provide valid sex education for our children

  • domestic violence is unacceptable

  • rape and sexual abuse are unacceptable

  • you hate the way women and men are portrayed by the media

  • add your own injustice here…
If you answered yes to one or more of these you way want to ask yourself why you don’t identify as a feminist.

So why are women (and men, but that’s a different story that will be covered at a different point) so reluctant to self-identify if they support so many feminist values? There are various opinions to this, most having to do with image. Jessica said in an interview that "younger women are nervous about feminism because they're afraid that boys won't like them." I don’t exactly agree with this 100% because all lesbians aren’t necessarily jumping on the feminist train either, and they don’t have the need to impress boys. I think it’s more of a fear that people will think you are too intense or "read into things too much." You’ll scare others (boys and girls) away because you’re constantly looking at things differently, and critically. This is absolutely the experience I’ve had at least.

Similarly, it’s also an identity thing. Maybe people nowadays are “finding themselves” as Dave recently suggested. Are people so scared of all the negative stereotypes and so insecure with themselves that they aren’t willing to embrace all the positives of being a self-proclaimed feminist? Identifying with something and self-labeling means that you are surrendering part of your identity to that specific group and allowing the group to define you. This is in terms of what those within the group and those not within the group want to believe of the group. As far as feminism is concerned, although many feminists realize how empowering it is to self-identify, due to the negative stereotypes associated with feminism, others chose to reject the label.

George Washington University’s Dr. Zucker (2004) published a study addressing this issue particularly. Dr. Zucker’s research explored women disavowing social identities when they said “I’m not a feminist, but…” Zucker notes that even if women embrace feminist principles, they strongly disassociate from the feminist label. Like most research, Zucker’s sample was not completely random because all surveyed were college-educated women, which is not representative of the American population. However, Zucker did find 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 of course I want you on my side because then we could work together for common goals, not just dream big about a world of peace and equality.

The other thing is, as a young adult just beginning to be politically enlightened and active, it is difficult to navigate through the mess of titles and identities in order to chose the best fit for yourself. Should I say I’m “liberal” or “progressive;” “feminist,” “womanist,” “humanist,” or “pro-feminist” There are an overwhelming amount of titles with which one can align and this affiliation is important because it determines our social action and activism. Whatever word you use to empower yourself and work towards equality is okay by me. I just so happen to chose feminist because it seems to sum me up best, stereotypically and otherwise.

In summary, I guess if you work for equality, I don't necessarily care what you call yourself. However, since research shows that feminist self-identity directly and significantly relates to collective action, I think it’s super important. Also, being able to place all the things you tell me you believe in and work towards will allow my psychology operated, categorically inclined mind, to label you a feminist anyway.

I leave you with this: why do you, or why do you not, consider yourself a feminist?

Also, please respond to the two poll questions I have up regarding this issue. Although I realize this is not a random sample in the least bit (since the majority of those who read my blog are either feminists or part of the “male rights movement” – go figure) it’ll still be interesting to see what we come up with.



Happy Christmas to all who celebrate :)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Psychology Research Holiday Humor :)

All of us who've struggled to get studies through the IRB will very much appreciate this :)

Dr. K Kringle
Adjunct Professor of Child Psychology
Far Northern University

Dear Dr. Kringle (Ph.D, M.D., D.O.? Please verify your credentials):

At the regularly scheduled December 24 meeting, the IRB reviewed your protocol, "A Global Observational Study of Behavior in Children" While we believe it has many good features, it could not be approved as submitted. If you choose to revise your study, please address the following IRB concerns:

1. You propose to study "children of all ages". Please provide an exact lower and upper age limit, as well as the precise number of subjects. Provide a statistically valid power calculation to justify this large of a study.

2. Your only inclusion criterion is "belief in Santa Clause." Please provide a copy of the screening questionnaire that determines such a belief. Provide a Waiver of Authorization under MPAA in order to record these beliefs prior to enrollment in your study. The Board recommends that you obtain a Certificate of Confidentiality as beliefs are sensitive and personal information.

3. You propose to "know when they are sleeping and know when they are awake". How will this be done? Will children undergo video monitoring in their beds? Will they have sleep EEGs? You list 100 elves as research assistants. Are any of them sleep physiologists? Please provide credentials of elves.

4. Your primary outcome measure is to "know when they've been bad or good." What standard is being used to determine "goodness'? Do children have to be good all year or just most of the time? Please specify required duration and provide the instrumentation, with appropriate consent forms, that will be used for operationally defining "goodness".

5. You propose to conduct your research by entering the subjects' homes through the chimney. Have you considered the liability potential, i.e., damage to the roof, carpeting, etc., that this will cause? Moreover, children are likely to be startled by your appearance late at night. Please revise your protocol to conduct your home visits between 9 am and 5 pm Monday through Friday with at least one parent being present and all risks and benefits carefully described.

6. You state that compensation for participation will be "sugarplums, candy, and toys" for the good little girls and boys. This may not be appropriate for the children with obesity, dental cavities, and hyperactivity. Also, your proposal to leave a lump of coal in the stockings of the bad children will be unfairly stigmatizing to them individually and as a group. In general, the Board suggests a small token of appreciation for all participants. Perhaps a $5 Toys-R-Us gift card would be more appropriate in order to avoid potential coercion.

7. The database of good and bad children will be kept "on a scroll at the North Pole." Please describe the location of the scroll and the security provisions you have in place to protect the data. Is the scroll kept in a locked cabinet in a locked room? Who has access to the scroll? Are there backup copies of the scroll and how often are they compared to the original?

8. You mention the participation of "eight tiny reindeer" in your protocol. Please provide the Board with documentation of Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee approval.

9. Please provide the Human Subjects Protection training dates for Mrs. Claus and the elves.

10. As this study involves prospective data collection and is more than minimal risk without prospect of direct benefit to the subjects, informed consent signed by all guardians will be required. Please have the consent form translated into every language spoken by children and ensure that assent forms are signed by all. Please submit 25 copies of your revised protocol to the IRB. The IRB will be on Holiday Season schedule for the next two weeks. If approved, you will be able to conduct your study sometime in the spring, if all items are appropriately addressed.


Sincerely,
E. Scrooge, MD

Chair, Institutional Review Board

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sex education... works?!

Feministing and the Journal of Adolescent Health provided me with a perfect follow-up to yesterday's post.

Hopefully this empirical evidence gets the government's attention to put more money into sex ed as apposed to abstinance only education in schools.

Here's the abstract for all us fellow psych nerds:


Purpose
Sex education is intended to provide youth with the information and skills needed to make healthy and informed decisions about sex. This study examined whether exposure to formal sex education is associated with three sexual behaviors: ever had sexual intercourse, age at first episode of sexual intercourse, and use of birth control at first intercourse.

Methods
Data used were from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, a nationally representative survey. The sample included 2019 never-married males and females aged 15–19 years. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were conducted using SUDAAN. Interactions among subgroups were also explored.

Results
Receiving sex education was associated with not having had sexual intercourse among males (OR = .42, 95% CI = .25–.69) and postponing sexual intercourse until age 15 among both females (OR = .41, 95% CI = .21–.77) and males (OR = .29, 95% CI = .17–.48). Males attending school who had received sex education were also more likely to use
birth control the first time they had sexual intercourse (OR = 2.77, 95% CI = 1.13–6.81); however, no associations were found among females between receipt of sex education and birth control use. These patterns varied among sociodemographic subgroups.

Conclusions
Formal sex education may effectively reduce adolescent sexual risk behaviors when provided before sexual initiation. Sex education was found to be particularly important for subgroups that are traditionally at high risk for early initiation of sex and for contracting sexually transmitted diseases.



I only have one word for this: "Duh."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Reality television gone horribly wrong...

Unfortunately, tonight I caught a glimpse of what happens when writers go on strike :(

Jamie Lynn Spears kicks puppies, sells heroin to 8 year olds, and drowns dolphins!

Actually she's pregnant, which really doesn't seem like that big a deal compared to kicking puppies, oh and compared to all the other things she could be doing with a terrific role model like her sister. (<--sarcasm, for those who don't know me...)

All the tabloids, radio stations, and even legitimate news programs are covering this like it's a surprise for 16 year old girls to get pregnant, especially with the appalling sex education in our country (or lack there of). For more info, please check out the recent Federally Funded Abstinence Only Education Programs report for current and ongoing problems of teaching our children abstinence only. How are children supposed to stay safe when there are people out there like Tina Marie Holewinski saying things like:

  • there are cancer-causing agents in latex condoms

  • 80% of teenage girls who seek abortions are already on birth-control pills

  • the human papilloma virus is small enough to pass through condoms

  • condoms lead to cancer

  • birth control pills are only 20 percent effective

  • sexually transmitted diseases are spread by skin contact alone

Other *shocking* news that reporters are eating up in response to this is that Lynne, Britney and Jamie Lynn's mom, postponed her book on parenting. Lynne comments that she was "very upset because it wasn't what she expected at all" but "a week after, she had time to cope with it and became very supportive." Give me a fucking break. Cope with it? Your child is pregnant. You should have taught her the importance of safe and protected sex because expecting that she remains abstinent is not an example of good parenting. Put that one in your book.

Since Jamie Lynn plays the lead role in Nickelodeon's Zoey 101, of course Nickelodeon released a statement: "We respect Jamie Lynn's decision to take responsibility in this sensitive and personal situation. We know this is a very difficult time for her and her family, and our primary concern right now is for Jamie Lynn's well being."

This get me totally fired up... "Jamie Lynn needs to take responsibility for this personal situation":

1. "Situation"? Apparently now being pregnant is a "situation." What Nickelodeon can't say the word "pregnant" or talk about S.E.X.? Maybe they should, maybe if Nickelodeon takes this opportunity to advocate the need of adequate sex ed it would really help teach young girls and boys about the birds and the bees...

2. Jamie Lynn is not alone "responsible" for getting pregnant thus making it simply a "personal" decision... which leads me to my next rant:

Here's my biggest problem with this whole thing:
Girls and women do not (usually) get pregnant on their own. There is barely any mention of the baby's dad, Casey Aldridge, who should take just as much responsibility for this child. Neither Casey nor Jamie Lynn should be shamed by the media for this because all it does is speak to the abysmal sex education in our country, however, Jamie Lynn is being shamed and targeted and Casey is not. Why isn't Casey the focus of news broadcasts and interviews about how "sad this situation is" and "how young they are?"

However much I try to make this a generalized example of teen moms, it just simply is not. Jamie Lynn Spears is a privileged and rich girl who will probably never face the worries of teenage parenting. She has the resources (specifically financially) to provide this baby anything it needs. This simply is not a generalizable example of the struggles of teen parenting. However, it is one of many other things such as: double standards, lack of adequate sex education, and privilege.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Guest Post by Dave, Bah-Humbug Edition...

Merry Christmas, now show me the cash. I am accused of being "the grinch" every Christmas season, but for good reason. I can't speak for all the other Jews out there in the world, but I know that because I'm technically not allowed to celebrate that I have a certain passing fancy for this holiday explosion between Thanksgiving and New Years. What is all the fuss about? I even went so far as to see the mighty tree in NY, which is quite large and light encrusted. Good work citizens of NY. Navigating through the haze of shopping bags made me wonder, like I do every year, about the why of Christmas.

As a young nerd in high school, I was coerced into celebrating the ancestor of Christmas, called Saturnalia, which is the harvest holiday used to bring the pagans towards Christianity. In other words, if you call it Christmas but keep similarities like parties and such, people will transition to the new religion. It worked. Contributions to Christmas also came from the Scandinavian holiday of Yule, which also involved lots of drinking, carousing, and merry-making. Sounds like fun, I'll admit. But wait, I thought Christmas was about the gifts? Ok, so there was this fellow named Jesus and he was supposedly born around this time, but that is just a continuation of the myth surrounding this holiday and has little to do with gift giving other than the wise men. In no way am I questioning the validity of Christianity or the belief in the Jesus as messiah, but I am very positive that the birthdate of Jesus is not Christmas. Apparently no one knows the actual birthdate.

Anyway, my beef with Christmas is the economics of the season. Check this out: "On December 6, 1999, the verdict for Ganulin v. United States (1999) declared that "the establishment of Christmas Day as a legal public holiday does not violate the Establishment Clause because it has a valid secular purpose." This "valid secular purpose" is part of the economic boom created during the period between the end of November and the end of December. Maybe you are familiar with the "Black Friday" or "Cyber Monday" or whatever else is popularized by the media as part of the boom. A large chunk of the economic output of our nation is packed into roughly one month of the year, and the pressure to provide is outpacing itself annually, much to my chagrin and disgust.

I speak not as someone arguing for a return to the meaning of the season (although that argument is entirely justified for Christians in an effort to reclaim this holiday as something meaningful to their religious experience), but as someone who hates junk.

The effect of the acclimation of all this junk is catastrophic. In a country already over-invested in the credit system, I watch as the public puts even more harsh strain on their credit. Even worse, the environmental impact is significant. Americans demand goods, and demand those goods at the lowest possible price, which means importing goods from countries that will do anything to keep prices low. Want a really excellent example of this in action? Look at China. Their environmental issues make Al Gore look like an ant waving in a football field. People are protesting over issues like hazardous chemical dumps in their backyard, but business is protected in a large part through the government (similar to America, but the leeway is much greater). Workers are pushed to the breaking point for inconceivably low wages. I have also heard the argument that these wages are the best in the region, but the human rights issue goes far beyond the difference in wages between these workers and everyone else. I know that everyone has heard about this kind of behavior and it almost appears maudlin, but the problem is that still no one seems to care until their children are poisoned with lead paint. Even then, the influx of goods is hardly lessened.

One perfect example is the sock trade in North Carolina...ok, its a strange example, but pertinent. The socks made in NC are now too expensive to make because of the stitching in the toe, so most socks are imported from China at the expensive of fossil fuels, carbon emissions, and the previously mentioned abuse of the workers involved. The difference in cost between American made sock stitching and Chinese stitching is barely a penny, but that one difference has placed many many many American sock factories into ruin.

Bottom line: pricing has destroyed our world and subjugated thousands into slave-like working conditions. Christmas is the worst example of consumerism I can think of, and therefore needs discussion. How important is all that stuff really?? Does the things make us happy? Where do the things go when we become tired of them? There is a ridiculous amount of debt created every year because of this one holiday, and it has to stop. The baseline want will always exist despite one's income. No one is decreasing their "wants", only working like mad to put out the small fires of desire for the next best thing to come along this week.

When did it happen that so much clutter was required to make someone feel successful, popular, or loved? I worked in a school where kids used their DCF money to buy over-priced shoes because they needed a way to push status on others. Forget necessities, a new pair of Jordan's will make anyone feel great...right? Isn't that the message? Buy stuff and have an identity? Who are we without all the stuff? Putting the mental energy into this kind of work is easily shoved aside because the answer is so simple: buy things and get an identity. Bottom-line pricing doesn't help, because now we have really cheap ways of creating identity, at the expense of others and our world.

Here is my holiday suggestion: get to know people around you and stop buying them things. Furthermore, stop buying things for yourself. Find out who you are without the obscuring clutter. Remove the want and regain your sanity. It sounds easy, but it is hard in practice because the advertising is everywhere. Drink Pepsi and you are this person. Watch Nip/Tuck and you are this person. Drive a Volkswagen and you are this person. The advertising isn't always literal, but the combination of all these messages is a shiny, and ultimately empty, version of humanity.

My plea again: put down the credit card and pick your brain for a while. I have heard so many people claim they are looking for themselves, but if you are looking for yourself, who is the you?


Oh yea, and, Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee

Very few political figures have ever really scared me. I mean, really threatened everything I hold dear, stand for, and believe to be Just.
Cheney’s one. Mostly because he is the brains of the Bush operation, also because he’s shot someone… crazy stuff.
Another one is Mike Huckabee.

Below you will find many scary Huckabee-ings:

Reproductive Rights:
"I support and have always supported passage of a constitutional amendment to protect the right to life. As President, I will fight for passage of this amendment. My convictions regarding the sanctity of life have always been clear and consistent, without equivocation or wavering. I believe that Roe v. Wade should be over-turned.

As Governor, I used that Amendment to pass pro-life legislation. The many pro-life laws I got through my Democrat legislature are the accomplishments that give me the most pride and personal satisfaction. I banned partial birth abortion, I required parental notification, I required that a woman give informed consent before having an abortion, I required that a woman be told her baby will experience pain and be given the option of anesthesia for her baby, I allowed a woman to have her baby and leave the child safely at a hospital, and I made it a crime for an unborn child to be injured or murdered during an attack on his mother."

(I’m sorry, so you forced doctors to lie to women before able to perform a routine procedure? Awesome…)

Religion in Politics:
"My faith is my life - it defines me. My faith doesn't influence my decisions, it drives them. For example, when it comes to the environment, I believe in being a good steward of the earth. I don't separate my faith from my personal and professional lives."

(he only uses the environment example because any other would be too controversial)

"I support and have always supported passage of a federal constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. As President, I will fight for passage of this amendment. My personal belief is that marriage is between one man and one woman, for life.

No other candidate has supported traditional marriage more consistently and steadfastly than I have. While Massachusetts was allowing homosexuals to marry, I got a constitutional amendment passed in Arkansas in 2002 defining marriage as between one man and one woman. I got Arkansas to become only the third state to adopt 'covenant' marriage. My wife Janet and I upgraded our vows on Valentine's Day, 2005. Today, many churches in Arkansas will perform only covenant marriages, so I'm hoping we'll see a decline in our divorce rates."


(I searched and searched but could not find that decline in divorce rates that Huckabee was talking about... weird...)

Immigration:
"I know that securing our borders must be our top priority and has reached the level of a national emergency. I am as sick and tired as you are that it is harder for us to get on an airplane in our home town than it is for all these illegals to cross our international border unchallenged.

We cannot stem the tide of illegals until we turn the tide. Before you fix the damage to your house caused by a leaking roof, you have to stop the leak, which I am determined to do."

(“We cannot stem the tide of illegals…” I’m sorry… wha wha what?)

"In this age of terror, immigration is not only an economic issue, but also a national security issue. We must know who is coming into our country, where they are going, and why they are here. All those who are caught trying to enter illegally must be detained, processed, and deported. As Governor, I ordered my state troopers to work with the Department of Homeland Security to arrest illegals and enforce federal immigration law.

I opposed the misnamed DREAM Act, which was a nightmare because it would have put us on the slippery slope to amnesty for all. Because once we open that door even a crack, we'll never get it closed again."

(anyone who is so black and white on issues scares me, they leave no room for conversations on these enormously important topics)

"I oppose giving driver's licenses to illegals, such as Governor Spitzer tried to do in New York. I support legislation that would prevent the states from granting this privilege to illegals. In 2005, I signed legislation that prevents illegals in Arkansas from getting driver's licenses.
I will take our country back for those who belong here and those who are willing to play by the rules for the privilege to come here. No open borders, no amnesty, no sanctuary, no false Social Security numbers, no driver's licenses for illegals."


(“illegals” is not a word. Any way you slice it, illegal immigrants are people and should be given universal human rights. I won’t get into my opinions on immigration but I will say that Huckabee needs to find new vocab before I can take him seriously, because using the term “illegals” just doesn’t fly with me.)

War in Iraq:
"Iraq is a battle in our generational, ideological war on terror."

(Once again let me state, you cannot wage a war on a concept. We might as well wage war on grumpiness and rain clouds…)

"Setting a timetable for withdrawal is a mistake. This country has never declared war until 'a week from Wednesday,' we have always declared war until victory.
I am focused on winning. Withdrawal would have serious strategic consequences for us and horrific humanitarian consequences for the Iraqis."


(And Mr. Huckabee, what pray-tell is “victory?”)

"As President, I will fight this war hard, but I will also fight it smart, using all our political, economic, diplomatic, and intelligence weapons as well as our military might.
The terrorists train in small, scattered groups. We can accomplish a great deal with swift, surgical air strikes and commando raids by our elite units.


We don't have a dog in the fight between Sunnis and Shiites - our enemy is Islamic extremism in all its guises."

(if you don’t like “slippery slopes,” this is a clear slippery slope if I ever saw one…)

"I will expand the army and increase the defense budget."

(this may scare me most of all…)

2nd Amendment:
"As Governor, I protected gun manufacturers from frivolous law suits.
I was the first Governor in the country to have a concealed handgun license."
(Lovely…)

Now, the issues above were directly from his campaign website. Here are some articles from recent news:

Documents Expose Huckabee's Role In Serial Rapist's Release:
I wish I were joking.

Huckabee’s thoughts on same-sex marriage:
Here’s an excerpt:

"I don’t think the issue’s about being against gay marriage. It’s about being for traditional marriage and articulating the reason that’s important. You have to have a basic family structure. There’s never been a civilization that has rewritten what marriage and family means and survived."

(1. “the issue isn’t being against gay marriage it’s being for traditional marriage” what the fuck is the difference? 2. What’s a “basic family structure” because if he is defining a nuclear family as a mom, dad, two kids, a dog, and a white-picket fence he’s gonna have to outlaw single parenting, fostering kids, parents who are childless by choice, and many many other “situations” that I consider very much a “family.” And 3. “never been a civilization that has rewritten what marriage and family means and survived” haha, what?! Did he really just say that… read a history book sir before you spew nonsense and run for president.)

Thoughts on sex ed:
"I Do Not Believe in Teaching About Sex or Contraception in Public Schools"
Of course you don’t…

And last but not least, brought to you by Fox News (I know, I couldn’t believe it either):
"A wife is to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ"
I am certainly glad i'm not his wife...

Because I try to see both sides of issues and keep an open mind, this is the only thing that makes him the smidge bit cool, on a personal level:
Huckabee, 51, enjoys playing bass guitar in his rock-n-roll band, Capitol Offense, which has opened for artists such as Willie Nelson and the Charlie Daniels Band, and has played the House of Blues in New Orleans, the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver, CO and for two presidential inauguration balls.

And the only policy that makes me hate him a bit less, on a selfish level (even if it's for the wrong reasons…)
"I am a steadfast supporter of Israel, our staunch ally in the War on Terror, the only fully-functioning democracy in the Middle East, and our greatest friend in that region.
The United States must remain true to its long-standing commitment to the Israeli people.
As President, I will always ensure that Israel has access to the state-of-the-art weapons and technology she needs to defend herself from those who seek her annihilation."
(why is Israel a “she”?)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Halliburton and Rape

I got an email this morning from MoveOn.org and truthfully, i don't always read the emails they send... this one I read though, I encourage you to read it as well:

Dear MoveOn member,

Jamie Leigh Jones was a 20-year-old woman working in Iraq for a subsidiary of Halliburton when she was drugged and brutally gang-raped by several co-workers. The next day, Halliburton told her that if she left Iraq to get medical treatment, she could lose her job(1).

Jamie's story gets even more horrific: For the last two years, she's been asking the US government to hold the perpetrators accountable. But the men who raped her may never be brought to justice because Halliburton and other contractors in Iraq aren't subject to US or Iraqi laws. They can't be tried for a crime in any court(2).

This is one of the most disturbing stories we have come across in a while. We're calling on Congress to investigate Jamie's case, hold those involved accountable, and bring US contractors under the jurisdiction of US law so this can't happen again. If hundreds of thousands of us speak out against this outrageous story, we can force Congress to take action.

Can you sign the petition? The text is in the blue box at the right. Clicking below will add your name:
http://pol.moveon.org/contractors_accountable/o.pl?id=11800-7663772-dPtSqY&t=3

After you sign, please forward this email to friends, family and colleagues—we all need to speak out together. When you get an email from us, it doesn't usually include a graphic description of a brutal attack. But when we heard this story, we knew we had to do something about it.
Here's how Jamie described what happened after the attack:
I awoke the next morning in the barracks to find my naked body battered and bruised. I was still groggy from whatever had been put in my drink. I was bleeding... After getting to the clinic and having a rape kit performed...I was blocked in a container with no food, no way to call my parents, and was placed under armed guard by Halliburton (3).

Jamie's attackers aren't the only ones exploiting a legal loophole to get away with their violent crimes. Another female employee of Halliburton says she was raped by her co-workers in Iraq (4). Employees of Blackwater, another private contracting firm in Iraq, were accused of killing innocent Iraqi civilians, and that incident turned into an international scandal. Worst of all, they may never be punished(5).

Private contractors in Iraq are making massive amounts of money, operating above the law and are accountable to no one. This has to stop. Congress needs to act now to bring these contractors under the rule of law. If they don't, nothing will prevent a case like Jamie's from happening again. No man or woman working in Iraq should have to fear that they can be attacked without consequences. Please sign on to the petition: Congress must investigate the rape of Jamie Leigh Jones and others, hold those involved accountable and bring US contractors under the jurisdiction of US law.

Please sign on to the petition: "Congress must investigate the rape of Jamie Leigh Jones and others, hold those involved accountable, and bring US contractors under the jurisdiction of US law." Clicking here adds your name.

Thanks for all you do,
–Nita, Wes, Karin, Marika, and the MoveOn.org Political Action Team


Sources:
1. "Halliburton hit in rape lawsuit," New York Daily News, December 11, 2007
2. "Victim: Gang-Rape Cover-Up by U.S., Halliburton/KBR," ABC News, December 10, 2007
3. Jamie's Journal, The Jamie Leigh Foundation
4. "Female ex-employees sue KBR, Halliburton—report," Reuters, June 29, 2007
5."Blackwater Probe Narrows Focus to Guards," Associated Press, December 8

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Panties get pulled!!!

I guess activism DOES work!!!!! :)

Wal-Mart Strikes Again

As if we need additional reasons to hate WalMart, here’s a good one. And it’s a shame, too, I was starting to hate WalMart less due to their “going green initiative...”


Thanks to one of yesterday's Feministing posts, I learned of this product:




Here is a reaction letter I wrote to Wal-Mart. I encourage you all to do the same:

To Whom It May Concern,

I recently noticed a product you are selling in the junior department at which I was appalled. I am referring to a pair of girls’ underwear that reads, “Who needs credit cards…” written across the vagina. Upon immediate reading, I took this underwear to imply that young girls should prostitute themselves for cash. Although I am sure this is not the message you intended to portray when promoting this item, based on Wal-Mart’s high standard of family values and all, marketing these underwear sends a message of girls bodies as commodities. It promulgates the erroneous notion that all girls have to offer is their bodies, oh and sex. Especially since this message was written on the crotch region, I immediately took it to imply that Wal-Mart believes girls’ biggest asset is in between their legs. Not only does this promote the sexualization of children but also the idea that girls and women should use their sexuality to acquire things.

If you do not yet see the severity of this issue, I encourage you to pretend this phrase was written on a pair of boys’ boxers. Could you ever imagine, “Who needs credit cards” written over the crotch where the boy’s penis is intended to be? Although this product would be equally as unacceptable if it were marketed towards boys, it would also never happen.

Sexually charged clothing for junior girls (and boys) is unacceptable and until this item is pulled from Wal-Mart, I will refrain from shopping at Wal-Mart again. I will also make everyone I can aware of this atrocious product.

Concerned Consumer,
Galina

(Ok, so what, i lied about the "concerned consumer" part. But Wal-Mart responds better to the business model and my feedback may have more weight if they believe they'd lose a costumer rather than if i notified them that i don't shop at Wal-Mart to begin with...)

In need of Holiday cheer? Look no further :)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Romney's plea to the GOP

I've neglected current events, for this I apologize…

A number of important things have happened lately, I will focus on the one making quite a stir in the political race: Mitt Romney’s “I swear, Mormons are Christians, I mean, religion shouldn’t, wait should play a role in politics, cough cough” speech. Confused yet? Me too. Every news program I’ve listened to or read about compares this speech to JFK’s speech on Catholicism and government. However, I fail to see the comparison. Instead of insisting that his religion will remain separate during his role as president, Romney (superbly) defended Mormonism (without actually using the words…) and insists religion should, but shouldn’t, have a place in politics… Here are some important excerpts:

"We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America – the religion of secularism. They are wrong.

The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation ‘Under God’ and in God, we do indeed trust.”


Also, Romney quoted John Adams and said:
"Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone."


This speech is just as narrow-minded as the politicians and voters to whom he is trying to "prove" Mormonism, not to mention this entirely ignores all atheists, agnostics, and those people of religions that believe in more than one God…

Herein lies the problem… WHO CARES? Why does he need to defend his religion when the political office of president should have no barring on the president’s religion and visa versa. It’s just so frustrating that religion is still a qualification for president. What ever happened to the separation of church and state?!

As a political strategist (which I am far from) I think his best bet would be to separate his religion from politics altogether because then he will win the hearts of those who believe in the separation of church and state as apposed to trying to prove his Christian-enough-ness.

Also, Romney said the word “Mormon” only once whereas he eluted to “God” over a dozen times. So which is it, Mr. Mitt, are you trying to show how similar Mormonism is to the other sects of Christianity or are you trying to pretend you aren’t Mormon altogether?

On a more sympathetic note, I do feel a tad bit bad for Romney, it’s frustrating that he has to defend his religious beliefs in general, and the fact that he did opens up doors for the other GOP candidates to prove they are more Christian (read: thus more appealing candidates) than Romney.

Apparently men are only good for heavy lifting

Quick vent:

I needed to bring a computer up to the office this morning. I work in a substance abuse clinic so you know, one of those ancient (and pseudo-heavy) PCs... As I walk up the stairs with PC in hand one of the female counselors, while watching me struggle with the door offers these words, "why are you doing that yourself? Isn't this why we hire men in this place? Get one of the guys to help you." My calm, lighthearted response was, "I lift weights on a regular basis and can probably carry more than half the men here." To which she says, "But that's what men are for..."

I'm sorry... WHAT?!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

What is feminism?

"I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute..."

–Rebecca West, 11/14/1913


Since I stared writing here, I’ve had a number of requests to define feminism. It took a while because this is tough to do. Like any social/political movement, there is much variance on the definition based on who you ask. Lots of feminisms exist, here are some I’ll define and then include a rundown of what my feminism looks like:

Amazon Feminism: Amazon feminism is dedicated to the image of the female hero in fiction and in fact, as it is expressed in art and literature, in the physiques and feats of female athletes, and in sexual values and practices.

Cultural Feminism: believes that there are fundamental, biological differences between men and women, and that women should celebrate these differences. Western society values male thought and the ideas of independence, hierarchy, competition and domination. Females values ideas such as interdependence, cooperation, relationships, community, sharing, joy, trust and peace. Unfortunately, says the cultural feminist, these ideas are not valued in contemporary western societies. Cultural feminists are usually non-political, instead focusing on individual change and influencing or transforming society through this individual change. They usually advocate separate female counter-cultures as a way to change society but not completely disconnect.

Eco-Feminism: This branch of feminism is much more spiritual than political or theoretical in nature. It may or may not be wrapped up with Goddess worship and vegetarianism. Its basic tenet is that a patriarchical society will exploit its resources without regard to long term consequences as a direct result of the attitudes fostered in a patriarchical/hierarchical society. Parallels are often drawn between society's treatment of the environment, animals, or resources and its treatment of women.

Feminazi: Not a real movement, this term was created by the media, specifically invented by Rush Limbaugh.

Libertarian Feminism: based upon individualist or libertarian (minimum government) philosophies, i.e. philosophies whose primary focus is individual autonomy, rights, liberty, independence and diversity.

Liberal Feminism: works within the structure of mainstream society to integrate women into that structure. Its roots stretch back to the social contract theory of government instituted by the American Revolution.

Marxist and Socialist Feminism: Marxism recognizes that women are oppressed, and attributes the oppression to the capitalist/private property system. They insist that the only way to end the oppression of women is to challenge the capitalist system. Socialist feminists believe that there is a direct link between class structure and the oppression of women.

Radical Feminism: Provides the theoretical framework to feminism. Radical feminism was the cutting edge of feminist theory from approximately 1967-1975. It is no longer as universally accepted as it was then, nor does it provide a foundation for certain feminism such as cultural feminism. Radical feminism focuses on patriarchy as a system of power that organizes society into a complex of relationships producing a male dominance that oppresses women. Radical feminism seeks to challenge patriarchy by opposing standard gender roles and male oppression of women, and calls for a radical reordering of society.

So, because all these movements differ on many issues, feminists often have different opinions and beliefs on a variety of topics. There is much variance within the movement but our goal is to work together for the common good of equality (or at least this is what i hope and strive for).

My feminism:
I identify with feminism because of its commitment to social, political and economic equality for all people. Regarding women specifically, my feminism allows me to: be independent, while depending on those I love; be flirty and “girly” whenever I want, without it compromising how people view my intelligence or sexual freedom; exercise, for me, for my body, for my health and strength, not to fit a status quo standard of beauty; stand firm for what I believe in, and not be called too masculine or a bitch. My feminism does not discount the differences between men and women, but strongly believes that this difference is either a product of, or exaggerated by, socialization. My feminism values men because it values equality. It seeks to end the discrimination of people on the terms of sex, age, race, social class, religion, sexual orientation, etc. Through my feminism i strongly believe that women deserve the same rights and responsibilities as men. Oh and my feminism is always changing, because like the waves of change flow through society and politics, feminism needs to be fluid to reflect the needs of the world.

thanks soc.feminism terminology for lots of these definitions.
If you identify with any of these and would like to change/update the definition, please feel free to comment and i'll see what i can do :)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

What would YOU do?

I had an interesting afternoon yesterday. I usually go to the gym on Wednesdays after work, yesterday i didn't feel like it and wanted to get home to the puppy. I usually take the stairs up to my apartment, yesterday i was carrying tons of stuff and took the elevator...

I got onto the elevator on the first floor and there was a woman, my age, kneeling over in pain, crying. I asked the obvious question, "are you ok?" To which she told me the story of how her leg started hurting at 3pm that afternoon (it was 6pm) and continued to get progressively worse there after. She could barely drive home from work and had to pull over a number of times from the pain. She said she was from out of state and her insurance was "out of network" so it would cost too much to see a doctor. I told her from what i know of medicine (not very much) that it sounded like a blood clot and chances are, it wouldn't get better on its own. Then I offered to take her to the hospital. *

We had a hell of a time trying to get there... neither of us knew where the hospital was (note to readers: once you move in somewhere, learn where the closest hospital is in case of emergency!!) She was on the phone with her insurance and 911 dispatchers the entire time trying to make sure the ER visit would be covered and that we would be able to find the hospital. As we drove, the pain got increasingly worse to the point that she could barely breath... it was terrible, i have never seen someone in so much pain.

Once we got to the ER, we had to wait 15 minutes FOR A WHEELCHAIR (because she couldn't walk to get out of the car) and then another 10 minutes before she was triaged... she should have called an ambulance in the first place... she didn't want to have hospital bills pile up... American health care... another blog... ANYWAY, that's the story... I put my cell number into her phone in hope that this mysterious stranger i met in pain on the elevator calls me soon, so i know she's ok...

* Here is where the question comes in... would you have taken a total stranger to the hospital upon meeting her in the elevator in extreme pain? I told D that EVERYONE would because that's what people do for one another... D disagreed and out of the three people i told this story to last night, two exclaimed, "What were you thinking?! What if she was faking it so that she could rob you? What if she had a weapon in her purse?!"

Have we become this jaded and suspicious?
I don't live in constant fear. I don't think everyone is out to get me. I genuinely trust people until they prove me wrong... is this a dangerous way to live?

Would you offer a stranger in need, in desperate pain, a ride to the hospital?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Re: Male Rights Network's comment

My first instinct was to delete MRN's comment. The little irritated and angry voice inside me said, "MY BLOG, MY RULES" but then i thought about all my anti-censorship friends and decided my anger would be better focused in devising a retort to each and every section of MRN's comment :) Enjoy!

MRN: "Propagating the ludicruous idea that feminism has fostered romantic culture, rather than being the number one cause for its death. And the even more ludicrous claim that feminists 'make better romantic partners'!"

The research study i linked in yesterday's blog was conducted at Rutgers University and found that male or female supporters of equality also had stronger relationships. I don't know about you, MRN, but i'd prefer to be with an individual who values and respects me. In the study, feminists were found to have more satisfying relationships because in "egalitarian relationships there is more flow of give and take" and a mutual respect:
"where there's caring, sharing, openness and honesty, sexual satisfaction increases. It not only feels good now, but it is likely to get better and better as you age."

"If you're married to someone with feminist values-someone with a sense that men and women have the same worth-that would be a key factor in terms of your health and satisfaction in the marriage, whether or not you call yourself a feminist."

The study also found that:
"If you're a woman paired with a male feminist, you have a healthier relationship across the board-better in terms of relationship quality, equality, stability and sexual satisfaction."

"Men paired with female feminists have greater sexual satisfaction and greater relationship stability. There were higher scores on two of the four dimensions, with no difference on the other two."

"If a relationship is based on authoritarian control, keeping one person on top and the other underneath, it gets old pretty fast--for both partners"

My only issue with this study is they did not evaluate same-sex couples. As a psychology researcher, i will definitely keep this in mind for a future study :)

MRN: "The feminist hatred of religion - itself an expression of conservative morality - raises its head again. The failure to recognise that feminism has become a replacement morality, and that it is just as anti-male (if not worse) as religions were anti-female."

This statement is as misguided as it is ignorant. Feminists don't hate religion. I was purely discussing the intrinsic sexism in religion because change can not come about without discourse. Secondly, feminism is NOT anti-male. Feminist 101 gives a great explanation of feminism being anti misogyny, not anti men. In fact, many men, even those who do not identify with the feminist title, think equality is pretty cool, and value feminism. Men aren't the enemy. If feminists focused on MEN rather than misogyny and inequality, we'd be totally missing out on targeting crazy women like Ann Coulter.

MRN "The propagation of never-disputed such as the Wage Gap Liberal dropping of the term "male dominated" at a time when most University students and workers in the professions (in their 20s) are female by a very large gap. The misreprentation that feminism is a "taboo" political topic, when the feminist agenda is to be seen and heard in even the most shallow exposure to our newspapers, TV, movies and education courses."

The wage gap is indeed a real issue, not only between white men and white women but also between white men and people of color; this fact is empirically supported via US Census Bureau. Also, how is "male dominated" a fabrication? Maybe women have access to education IN THIS COUNTRY but there are still MANY fields that women are highly underrepresented: engineering, architecture, mathematics, head chefs, to name a few... However, women are catching up in some fields like the sciences, where they earned "46% of biology Ph.D.s and filled half of the incoming medical school classes in 2005."

As far as MRP indicating that feminism isn't "taboo" anymore... how is he to deny the stigma that still exists around identifying as a feminist? For example, he targeted me specifically for this reason. How did he find my blog in the first place? I've been promising post more on the stigma around feminism, and i will, i just keep getting distracted with other posts and responses to comments ;)

Male Rights Network, do you have any more false and ignorant points you'd like me to clarify?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Interview with a feminist...

I answered some questions today regarding my perspective on feminism. I thought it was appropriate to post them here post interview :)

1.) How do you define yourself as a feminist? (i.e. what makes you a feminist different from all other feminists)

I don't know if i'd say that my feminism is different from all other feminists but what makes me identify with the feminist movement is it's focus on equality. I believe in social, political and economic equality for ALL people.

2.) When did you first decide you were a feminist?

I realized it is where i belonged in my first women's studies lecture in college. I was a sophomore and really confused about my political views, having come to college with an indoctrinated sense of right wing conservatism, i knew feminism was something my parents would despise so it intrigued me even more. I knew i belonged when finally, everything clicked and i actually agreed with what i was learning as
apposed to pretending to understand/agree when my dad talked about what he heard that morning on his conservative radio shows.

3.) How did becoming a feminist change your relationships?

As much as i would love to say that becoming a feminist made me treat everyone equal and created nothing but harmony in my life, this is not at all true. Feminism to this day mediates my relationships through every social interaction. At first, it pissed my friends off and they treated me like i was the PC police. Once i realized that wasn't the way to get my views across i tried other tactics, all even more
futile. I quickly realized i can't change people and can't convert everyone over to my side. As far as romantic relationships, feminism continues to inspire me to strive for an egalitarian relationship which is an incredibly difficult one to achieve. D and I split up responsibilities based on skill, interest, and time. Although we try to be as equal as possible, it varies weekly with schedules. However, being in a relationship with someone who also considers themselves a feminist has put us on the same page and allowed us to strive for similar goals both romantically and politically. Oh, and feminists are better partners :)

4.) Does feminism have any impact on your identity as a Jew?

Not at first. For a while the two groups of people i felt most comfortable around were Jews and feminists. However, the more i started to think about religious patriarchy the less i started to identify as a Jew, at least a practicing one. The beauty about Judaism is that secular Jews are everywhere. Many people don't "practice" but still connect to God in a Jewish way on a spiritual level. With this i identify. With Orthodox and/or Conservative Judaism, not so much, especially not anymore.

Fundamentally, the Judeo-Christian ethic is sexist from its roots. The story of creation first indicates that Eve is created from Adam's rib, then turns her into a villain for eating from the tree of knowledge, seducing Adam, and getting them both kicked out of the Garden forever. Aside from the Old Testament, Judaism is sexist in practice as well. A concept present in various religions, women's sexuality is
represented by her clothes and thus she must cover up in various ways. Although we are most familiar with this concept through Muslim women in burkas, Orthodox Jewish women are asked to cover up in many ways as well, so not to seduce men with their sexuality. This idea, once i started to think about it, really bugged me. Why do WE have to cover up?! Why can't the men just NOT LOOK. This not only takes the
responsibility away from men but also oppresses women's sexual expression. This is a case where women are asked to deflect the attention of men when in fact it should be men who are educated not to view women as sexual objects, but as equals. This not only victimizes the woman, indicating that she is responsible for the attention she
receives from men (similar to victimizing rape survivors) but also is an unfair statement towards men. Basically, asking women to cover up as to divert the male gaze isn't giving men enough credit. I know many a man who is able to control himself and NOT give inappropriate attention to women.

Anyway you slice it though, Judaism and most other religions i have thought about were build on patriarchy, by men, placing women in second-class roles whether to "protect and cherish" them or to blatantly indicate them as inferior. This is how and why feminism has greatly impacted my role as a Jew and has made me think more about religious patriarchy within Judaism. Oh and i also hate the fact that
Judaism is one of many religions opposed to same sex marriage.

5.) What is the current state of feminism as you see it?

I see that feminism has come a very long way since the first wave, with still much further to go. For instance, many inequalities still remain such as the wage gap, gay rights, international women's rights, women in male dominated fields, violence against women, etc. Also, feminism is still very much stigmatized. More to come on the stigma of feminism soon.

Man Finally Put In Charge Of Struggling Feminist Movement

See, feminists do have a sense of humor :)
Thanks for the link D, good find!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Introspective Blog-O-Drama

I learned two things about myself today:

1. I am rude.
2. I quickly go into defensive mode.

Ok so the first is not actually true. I am not really rude, just perceived as rude. This, like many other personality traits, work as a dichotomy for men and women. When men fervently express their opinions or stick up for their political beliefs, they are considered intellectual and passionate. However, when women express their opinions in the same manner, it is perceived as either a. rude or b. overly emotional. I tend to take on a lot of male personality traits, (not on purpose, it’s just who I am) and am constantly bombarded with messages of how to act more feminine. People think I am bitchy or standoffish based on my strength and candor whereas I would wager bets that if men acted in the same manner, they would never be perceived this way because it is normal and expected for men to be strong and blunt. On a less personal level, this is frustrating especially when examining critiques of Hillary Clinton. I will refrain from saying who I support in this election for now, but I will say that I am getting exceedingly annoyed by people saying that Clinton is too masculine and not sensitive enough when just a few months ago the problem was that a female president would be too emotional. I mean, Holy Shit, what if she decides to go to war because she is PMSing! Give me a fucking break. Same thing goes for the whole Obama isn’t “black enough” bull shit. People who spew this nonsense need to start focusing on the real issues.

Back to blog-o-drama, #2: quickly going into defensive mode. This statement is actually pretty accurate. I, like a lot of feminists I know, quickly go into defensive mode as soon as our point of view is threatened. I can’t speak for other feminists but with me this is all part of a great big “my whole family is conservative and loud” problem that I need to start working on. I grew up in a Republican, immigrant, family who literally lived the “from rags to riches story” (a-whole-nother blog in itself…) My first women’s studies lecture in college opened my eyes to a world of knowledge where for once in my life I felt like I politically belonged. (for those of you who don’t know me, embrace this emotional gal because it is a rare form to see me in...) Needless to say, coming home for my first visit post WS was an interesting slew of arguments and debates. Long story short, I have always needed to defend my views, thus myself. I have become so much a part of the things I stand for that first instinct is always to jump in with a defense. Not only because (if) I feel threatened but also because I see it as an opportunity for education. I know not everyone wants to be “taught” and most who already have their minds set up don’t even consider it a lesson, still, my instinct is to take the chance and show the other side, the brighter side, the more progressive side, the EQUAL side, etc. We have one life on this planet, why not make the best of it for ourselves AND for our brothers and sisters? Maybe I am taking this all too personally? Truth is, I don’t think that’s the case because

Blogging is not just for those of us with opposable thumbs


Beans in an avid blogger :)
(sorry about the poor picture quality, photo taken with cell phone camera)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Umbert left a bad taste in my mouth (wait...ew i didn't mean it that way...)

After writing about Umbert, I couldn't help but continue thinking about the whole abortion debate.
Why is something so personal, so emotional, becoming increasingly more political? There are many reasons for this but one of the most pressing is access to sex education.
The presidential campaigns started much earlier this term than i've ever remembered in the past. Probably because there is so much at stake. I think both democrats and republicans alike are ready for change and expressing negative feelings towards Bush is no longer controversial.
There are so many issues to take into consideration when deciding on candidates: budget & economy, corporations, crime, drugs, education, the environment, foreign policy, government reform, gun control, health care, immigration, jobs, tax reform, etc.
For me though, it's the social politics that make or break a candidate. Stands on abortion, civil rights, same sex marriage, access to education, immigration, etc. are what's most important to me. I'll write a couple of blogs purely dedicated to the election as we get closer but for now let me address access to sex education, all thanks to our dear friend Umbert.
This is a great website that breaks down each candidate's stance on sex ed. Here's a summary that i took from the page:

Democrats
Joe Biden: supports "age-appropriate" and comprehensive sex education but also voted to fund abstinence programs.

Hillary Clinton: has favored abstinence-plus for a decade. In 1996 as first lady she helped launch the teen pregnancy campaign, which has a goal of reducing teen pregnancy by one-third by 2015 through comprehensive education and awareness. Ten years later, as New York senator, she introduced the Prevention First Act, which would have allocated $100 million for family planning services in an effort to curb teen pregnancy.

Chris Dodd: is "appalled" by the Bush administration's abstinence-only programs.

John Edwards: promotes comprehensive sex education.

Mike Gravel: favored comprehensive sex education in a questionnaire

Dennis Kucinich: co-sponsor of the Responsible Education About Life Act that emphasizes comprehensive sex education programs.

Barack Obama: introduced the Communities of Color Teen Pregnancy Prevention Act of 2007 in Illinois. He respects abstinence as a choice but also advocates age-appropriate comprehensive sex education.

Bill Richardson: favors abstinence-plus.

Republicans
Rudi Giuliani: the only Republican candidate still waffling about his pro-choice stance, avoids the topic.

John McCain: promotes abstinence-only programs but has previously promoted comprehensive sex education.

Mitt Romney: promoted abstinence education in Massachusetts classrooms as governor of that state from 2003 to 2007. Believes schools should "promote abstinence as part of their health curriculum and teach that marriage comes before babies."

Fred Thompson: backs abstinence education.

Duncan Hunter: favors "equal emphasis" on abstinence. He wants to give abstinence the same amount of teaching as the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases.

Mike Huckabee: favors abstinence-only and opposes abstinence-plus.

Ron Paul: favors abstinence-only programs.

Tom Tancredo: favors abstinence-only programs.

Here to learn more.

Friday, November 30, 2007

It's time to abort Umbert...



I don't know what is more disturbing, that a fetus gets his very own comic strip or that the website indicates not to worry, Umbert will have an "interactive Kid’s page, apparel, books and other items!"
For those of you gasping, "No way! Even anti-choice Catholics wouldn’t go this far!"
Yes way.

umberttheunborn.com is a website dedicated to Umbert, an unborn, unaborted, fetus. The page is still under construction but says it will be completed after the holidays.

Gee wiz, I can’t wait!

The comic strip makes a really bad joke about the meaning of "viable" and how a child really isn’t viable until after college. All I’d like to say to that is if a fetus you are carrying isn’t viable for 21 years, you should definitely see a gynecologist because that may indicate a problematic pregnancy...
What else can we expect from this fantastic anti-choice website? An area where we can see and hear Umbert in the womb, they call this a "womb-site."
Seriously!?

Aside from the ridiculous nature of this website/comic strip I would like to point out a few key things.
1. Umbert is a male baby
2. Umbert is white
3. Umbert is expected to go to college
4. Umbert has 2 parents
5. Umbert’s mom doesn’t actually exist.

Let me explain what i mean by #5: Umbert is just this elusive fetus floating freely. Seriously, no talk of mom or a uterus anywhere on the webpage. I guess taking rights away from women regarding their own bodies is just so precious and darling, as long as it’s done through a cartoon. Aw, how cute.

Honestly, I’m all for a good laugh but I think Catholic.net went a little far with this one. If you feel the urge to write the artist who created Umbert, his email address is: cangemiart@aol.com

In summary, for the holidays, remember, (taken directly from the website) "Give one[the book] to a 'choice' friend. Umbert just might change his or her mind!"

Gag.

Here are some more cartoons by the same artist... although I don’t really get these... probably because I’ve never seen Star Wars to D’s dismay :)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Donating rice is as easy as 1, 2, click-a-roo


Thanks Jenna for this wonderful website that not only allows us to donate food but also to learn new vocab!
For every word that you get right, they donate 20 grains of rice to end world hunger. You learn new vocab while helping end poverty and hunger... very cool website and project.
Brought to us by WFPand Poverty.com

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A marriage proposal that ISN'T every woman's dream? Couldn't be...

Violence against women is a leading concern in the women's rights movement. While we are desensitized through the media to what is (or rather should be) unacceptable, real life violence makes the headlines. This morning I was late for work watching a story on GMA about a woman in Spain, Svetlana Orlova, who was proposed to by her (abusive) x-boyfriend on national TV. She declined the proposal and was found dead five days later. I guess Patricia's Diary producers didn't do a very good background check, otherwise they would have found that Svetlana had taken out a restraining order against this man in the past.

The spin that GMA takes on this story is an important one. GMA asks the question whether or not the show is to blame for the death (arguably) caused by the appearance on the Patricia's Diary Show. This story is similar to a few others involving TV appearances that lead to tragedies. For example, in 1995 the Jenny Jones Show did an episode about secret admirers where Scott Amedure confessed his love to a blank-faced Jonathan Schmitz. Jonathan, who turned out to be homophobic, killed Scott later that month. Two other shows that ended in tragedy are Nancy Grace and Dateline: To Catch a Predator.

Although I can write about media's direct accountability in all these cases, I'd rather discuss the culture of violence that we are overwhelmed by every day. What makes it acceptable for 1. a show to invite an abusive x-boyfriend onto their show for a surprise proposal and 2. for said x-boyfriend to then murder his x-girlfriend (disclaimer: he hasn't yet been found guilty but is the lead suspect).

As a culture, we still don't take violence against women seriously enough. Although there have been great leaps in laws such as establishing marital rape laws, domestic violence and abuse still way too often remain a private, rather than public, concern. Our culture's attitude towards violence against women is evident through how women are portrayed in media and advertising. Objectifying women (and people in general) is the first step towards violence against them. Dismembering women such as in countless ads and commercials is a perfect example is objectification. More blatantly, some designers advertise directly with images of violence against women. Now I ask you, am I reading into this or does this set up a culture of violence towards women in our country? Below are some photos to help demonstrate what I am referring to.









Another way in which we don't take violence against women seriously enough is evident in countless human rights violations through history. Women are the victims of rape as war crimes; in some cultures, baby girls are unwanted and devalued in relation to their brothers and thus killed in hopes for a baby boy during the next pregnancy; human trafficking in Nepal; I can go on and on. Here and internationally, violence against women is not taken seriously enough and thus leaves open opportunities for the "romantic reunion" of an abusive x-boyfriend and his terrified x-girlfriend. Romanticizing violence is a completely different story that I am sure I will cover one of these days. But really, would the audience have "oohed and aahed" if they knew what was coming out of this marriage proposal? They may still have based on how much pressure and value we put on marriage...

* The Fetish ad reads: "Apply generously to your neck so he can smell the scent as you shake your head 'no'." Seriously?!?!

(photos courtesy of about-face)



Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving

Eight Things I love about Thanksgiving:

8. People coming together to help others that do not have as much (donating food, money, clothes - all are great but just remember to do these things year round, not just when a commercial holiday asks you to)
7. People realizing what they are thankful for
6. Israeli Couscous and Sweet Potatoes (see recipe below)
5. lots and lots of dessert…
4. The occasion to reflect on my family, besheret, and wonderful puppy
3. Arguing politics with my conservative relates
2. The opportunity to openly post a liberal blog in a country of pseudo-free speech
1. Thinking about my parents moving to America and giving up their entire lives for my brother and I to have more opportunities than they did in Russia.

Eight Things about Thanksgiving that I could do Without:

8. Football (if 8 years in marching band didn’t get me into football nothing ever will)
7. Thanksgiving means the start of Christmas carols everywhere you go (although this year I think it started even earlier!… puke)
6. Women spending all day (sometimes longer) in the kitchen preparing underappreciated meals for their families
5. The origin of Thanksgiving itself (taking land from the Native Americans, claiming it as our own, then dressing our kids up in stereotypical costumes to "celebrate")
4. The fact that Native Americans are the most impoverished group of people in the US, have the highest rate of alcohol abuse/dependence of any other group, and are grossly underappreciated and underrepresented
3. Black Friday. Oh lord how I hate Black Friday. How capitalist commercial American of us…
2. Inhumane slaughter of all those turkeys: “Between 250 and 300 million turkeys are raised for slaughter every year in the U.S.- 46 million alone for Thanksgiving in 2006. U.S. turkey consumption, which has increased by 108 percent since 1970, averaged at 16.9 pounds per person last year.” http://www.adoptaturkey.org/industry.htm ... Tofurky anyone?
1. All the food that goes to waste while others don't have anything at all to eat.


Sweet Potatoes and Israeli Couscous
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 shallots (or 1 onion), chopped
2 sweet potatos, peeled and diced
1 cup Israeli couscous
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook shallots/onions until soft but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add sweet potato and couscous; cook, stirring, until couscous starts to toast, about 2 minutes. Add stock, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook the couscous for 10 to 12 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is al dente. Remove from the heat.
Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving

Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday! :)

my uterus = a cardboard box...



Watch this commercial. It's under a minute long so check it out...

All i can say is my uterus is not a cardboard box, thank you very much.

I can't say much else about this... feel free to comment though!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Ms. Pac-Man, the Revolutionary :)



Awesomeness :)

Obviously i've discovered youtube. I have never understood the whole youtube craze but there is just so much delicious stuff on it!

I got to this video by watching a bunch of Ali G clips on feminism, hilarious stuff! I highly recommend it.

I swear, I'll have more serious stuff up soon, i'm just all about the youtube right now :)

Plus, i don't think anyone actually reads my blogs so i can put down whatever it is that amuses me :)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Why blog? Especially about feminism?!

I needed a space in which I could rant and share. The most fascinating thing to me is when I disclose that I am a feminist to someone who, until that point, was taking me very seriously, completely alters their perspective. It's so interesting what people think feminists "are." Seriously, feminists now-a-days come in all shapes, sizes, colors and beliefs... We should embrace the "f-word" not shutter because of it.

When someone says, "feminist" what image comes to your mind? Leave comments and be honest. Regardless of whether you think of a strong, confident, woman in heals; a bra burning radical; a stay-at-home mommy who made that choice for herself, or anything else, put it down... i wanna see what images people have of feminists...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Girls Pledging their Virginity to Daddy (Purity Balls)



They can suck my Purity Balls...

First thing's fist: this is so creepy. Giving a pink box that symbolizes virginity to your daddy? Can't we all see multiple issues here? Let's start with the issue of preaching abstinence. Teaching our children abstinence only sets them up for failure. This doesn't address the actual issues of sexuality, and raising children ignorant about sex causes many more problems than it solves. Studies show that abstinence only education has no impact on the rate ofsexual abstinence but DOES have an impact on pregnancy and STDs (in a very bad, kids have less knowledge and are less confident in saying "no" to sex, way.) Basically since children are only taught not to have sex, they are not taught how to protect themselves when (inevitably) they do have sex thus causing them to make bad decisions once engaging in sexual behaviors.

Secondly, these super creepy purity balls send all sorts of fucked up messages about sex being a measure of a young girl's value. Choosing to have sex (or not have sex) in no way equals being less of a person or less of a girl. A girl's virginity isn't a pink box that should be locked off like a treasure and given to daddy, that's just damn creepy.

Thirdly, this whole concept not only limits gender roles and endorses male dominance but also promotes heteronormativity. What a double wammy! First you give your virginity in a pink (PINK!!!) box to your daddy (a man) until you can give it to your husband (another man.)

Where's the woman's role in her own sexuality and her own life? It's a contract that young girls are being asked to sign and give up the rights of their bodies to the men that control them throughout theirlives. YUCK.