Friday, May 30, 2008
Courtesy of Trailer Park Feminist, today's Friday Feel Good is the new Macy's ad, advertising wedding rings and same sex couples!!! :)
"And now it's a milestone every couple in California can celebrate.
Let Macy's Wedding Gift & Registry help you start your new life together.
With hundreds of great brands to register for, we'll make sure
you're happy with your choices every step of the way."
Yes, marriage is still an incredibly patriarchal institution but now we can all equally share in it, at least in California (and a few other states)...
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Over the past year I have noticed a woman at my gym. She is gorgeous. She is fit. She is powerful (can lift more weight than half the men). I watch her perfect abs glisten with sweat and she stretches, or run, or bikes, whatever. She is perfect. Or at least as close to my perception of "perfect" as i'll ever see.
Monday, May 26, 2008
I've been putting off writing about Israel here, for several reasons. Firstly, i am positive there are lots of others out there that know much more about the subject than me. Secondly, based on media coverage, Israel was the one issue i couldn't get on board with Obama about.
Luckily, I caught Obama's Israel speech on Thursday. Below is the video.
I have a hard time navigating between my Jewish identity and the beliefs i am "supposed to have as a liberal" when it comes to America's involvement and commitment to Israel.Jill over at Feministe recently wrote a post entitled Israel at 60. She discussed that "the creation of that state [of Israel] came at great expense." Jill mostly focused on Palestine as a marginalized group and the lack of voice they receive in media coverage. The whole post sat wrong with me and left me incredibly unsettled. Still, i couldn't help but wonder how much my Jewish identity played a roll. Would i still be so pro-Israel if i was not Jewish? I always advocate for the marginalized groups, why is this situation any different? I thought about these things a lot over the last few weeks and came to a conclusion. I don't believe Palestine IS marginalized, at least not in the way Jill suggests.
A commenter, David Schraub, pointed Feministe readers to Phoebe Maltz's post where she takes precisely the opposite position. David did a great job dissecting some of Jill's post and other comments in response to the post. One of the things David wrote that really resonated with me was: "It’s not, after all, as if the Palestinians don’t have powerful allies. The Arab World (which possesses considerable economic/diplomatic leverage on the United States) would be the obvious one. One might argue that it’s a little bizarre to say that Israel is advantaged from a state of affairs where they are utterly dependent on the US for, well, everything, while the US is — at the very least — in a complicated relationship with many Arab states from whom we get all that oil. Who’s got the leverage advantage here? Tack on the entire UN, which is nearly universally aligned against Israel to the point where anti-Semitism does begin to come seriously into play (the Conference of the Islamic States is huge in the non-aligned bloc, the non-aligned bloc is huge in the general assembly, ergo….), and you’ve got a significant amount of countervailing pressure against what the United States throws up in Israel’s favor. And of course, Israel, though certainly possessing a very strong military, is still the size of Vancouver Island, which makes it inherently vulnerable even if every IDF soldier was a reconstituted clone of William Wallace."
David goes on to say, "the dynamics of power here are complicated and cross-cut. Simply labeling one group The Oppressor and the other The Victim, and writing policy accordingly, is going to lead you astray, and isn’t going to end up being consistent with a liberationist agenda for all persons. When the risks for Jews isn’t 'loss of privilege' but the sanctioning of organized anti-Jewish violence, justifying differential burdens based on 'asymmetrical positioning' isn’t going to cut it."
Prior to the CT primary i struggled a lot with who would earn my vote. Overall, Obama seemed like the right choice for me but based on what i'd heard and read from media coverage, Obama seemed not to quite grasp Palestine's involvement and direct responsibility in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict or understand the complexity of it. Media focused on Obama's commitment to negotiations and peace talks. Trust me, i'm all for working things out with words and especially peace treaties but, IMHO, Israel's been there, done that so to speak. I was glad to catch Obama's speech in a Boca Raton, Fla. synagogue Thursday (video above) when he said, point blank:
We must not negotiate with a terrorist group that is intent on Israel's destruction. We should only sit down with Hamas if they renounce terror, recognize Israel's right to exist, and abide by past agreements. That is what I've said throughout this campaign.
I reject attempts by some of my opponents in this campaign to distort my position. They are counting on fear because they know they haven't told the truth.
The threat of Iran is real and grave, and my goal as president will be to eliminate it. Ending the war in Iraq will, I believe, be an important step towards achieving that goal because it will give us increased flexibility in our dealings with Iran and increased legitimacy in the region.
Obama insisted he would not negotiate with Hamas and respected and supported Israel's right to exist. He also made clear his views on Israel being able to protect itself: "I will make sure that Israel can defend itself from any attack, whether it comes from as close as Gaza or as far as Tehran."
I wasn't alone in my misconceptions regarding Obama's religion, alliances, and view points on Israel. Media coverage and Obama's opponents, as he explained yesterday, led people to believe many fallacies in regards to these issues. Here are several examples via NYT:
Mr. Obama is Arab, Jack Stern’s friends told him in Aventura. (He’s not.)
He is a part of Chicago’s large Palestinian community, suspects Mindy Chotiner of Delray. (Wrong again.)
Mr. Wright is the godfather of Mr. Obama’s children, asserted Violet Darling in Boca Raton. (No, he’s not.)
Al Qaeda is backing him, said Helena Lefkowicz of Fort Lauderdale (Incorrect.)
Michelle Obama has proven so hostile and argumentative that the campaign is keeping her silent, said Joyce Rozen of Pompano Beach. (Mrs. Obama campaigns frequently, drawing crowds in her own right.)
Mr. Obama might fill his administration with followers of Louis Farrakhan, worried Sherry Ziegler. (Extremely unlikely, given his denunciation of Mr. Farrakhan.)
Thinking and especially talking about Israel, the Middle East, and Jews' "right" to the land is at best, difficult. I've personally found it downright impossible given circumstances, extreme opinions, and people's tendentious thinking. With that said, Obama also acknowledged the special bond he himself feels with the Jewish community,
"And I know that I might not be standing here were it not for the historical bond between the Jewish community and the African- American community. I want to make sure that I am one of the vehicles by which we can rebuild those bonds."
I think Obama did a great job in this speech and look forward to more conversations about Israel. We need to keep talking about this and not allowing our fear to dictate our reactions, opinions, and support when it comes to the state of Israel.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
NPR's two part series: "Two Families Grapple with Sons' Gender Preferences; Psychologists Take Radically Different Approaches in Therapy"
Saturday, May 17, 2008
"First of all, I would like to remind all commenters that anonymous commenting is a privilege. I started this blog for the purpose of generating productive discussion... The use of the word 'troll' for me means a person who leaves comments (usually, but not always, anonymously) that are meant to provoke a negative reaction among those who support the authors/ideas of this blog. General tactics used on this blog include: generalizing about all feminists ('feminists hate men!'), assumptions about particular authors ('you wrote about x so you must be like this'), name calling ('conceited,' and 'vain' were alluded to in a recent thread), and others.
Many of the people that I would consider to be trolls on this blog come here, make intentionally aggravating statements, and then try to use the human reactions of other commenters to make a bad name for feminism. It is interesting that they claim to just be presenting an opposing viewpoint. Problem is that there intent obviously does not fit with this. They want to make feminists look bad."
Well said Amelia, and i whole heartedly agree.
Here's the least vitriolic and most toned down example of one that [Anon] has sent me that i moderated:
"Many women do gold dig. And women are manipulative.
It's life. Rather than getting people to shut up about it, why not work to change women for the better?
*gasp* Change women for the better?
I forgot, you're all perfect and never do anything wrong."
At first, i thought it would be educational to start a discourse with my fav trolls (maybe they'd learn something?) but that didn't work out too well... I quickly realized there is no changing these troll's minds and it's better not to engage at all. So although i will still allow anonymous comments because i do value everyone's opinion and encourage discussion, i will continue to carefully monitor comments and refuse to display those that are obviously written by a troll or with a sole purpose of disrespecting or ridiculing others, especially those marginalized.
Friday, May 16, 2008
There are lots of things going on here:
1. Stereotype of women as gold diggers
2. Stereotype of women as manipulative
3. Benevolent sexism
The women = gold diggers stereotype is based on women using their sexuality to get stuff. In the DQ commercial, the girl is flirting with the boy, using her body language and smile to make him think she's interested in him. In exchange, he buys her an ice cream. Translation: women use their only asset (sex and appearance) and men use theirs (resources, esp money).
The women = manipulative stereotype comes into play mostly at the end when the girl arrogantly and with sass says, "It's like shootin' fish in a barrel." Even at age 9 (estimation) she knows what she can get by using her looks.
Now, let's talk about benevolent sexism: "Characterizing women as pure creatures who ought to be protected, supported, and adored and whose love is necessary to make a man complete. This idealization of women simultaneously implies that they are weak and best suited for conventional gender roles; being put on a pedestal is confining, yet the man who places a woman there is likely to interpret this as cherishing, rather than restricting, her (and many women may agree). Despite the greater social acceptability of benevolent sexism, our research suggests that it serves as a crucial complement to hostile sexism that helps to pacify women’s resistance to societal gender inequality."
The problem is that benevolent sexism is often unrecognized and when challenged, called "chivalry." It's seen as men just being gentlemen and women should be grateful for men being nice. Also, it isn't seen as sexism because women often benefit from it. Even if women benefit, it can still be sexist. Although on the outside benevolent sexism seems advantageous for women, it actually keep women from equality. Since benevolent sexism values women on the basis of their gender, men and women remain unequal. Some see this as "female privilege" but when looking at it that way, we ignore the actual problem: benevolent sexism. Roy says it well: "I think that some of the problems that men face now...are a direct result of the flaws a patriarchical system. It’s not that women have more power than men, it’s that patriarchy is an inherently flawed system that sets standards that are harmful to everyone. It’s a double edged sword."
This might be a bit outdated but it's a questionnaire that assesses your level of sexism, hostile and benevolent (via). Here for a breakdown of scores. And here for the PDF of the paper for you academic type ;)
Obviously DQ knew what they were doing. Why else did they put the little boy in a "donkey sweatshirt" (aka jackass)? Lots of money, time, and thought goes into developing these commercials to send a particular message, don't let them fool you :)
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Congrats Whitney for winning this season of America's Next Top Model!!!!!!
No, I don't think Whitney should count as a "plus sized model" because there's nothing "plus sized" about her, but nonetheless, i'm so proud of her for being the first full figured woman to win!!! CONGRATS WHITNEY!!!!!!!! :)
"California Supreme Court just overturned a ban on gay marriage, paving the way for California to become the second state to legalize same sex marriage." via
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Someone searched, "men gyped by feminism" and somehow found my blog. Specifically my post on fat-fingering. To which he commented:
Instead of complaining about it and crying over it and screaming "no fair".
JUST LOSE THE FUCKING WEIGHT. It's not healthy to be a FAT FUCK anyway.
May 14, 2008 1:45 PM (sic)
Then he wrote:
I'm actually not prejudiced against fat people. I dated a fat chick once. But she was on a diet and motivated to losing the weight.
All my comment proves is that I have a problem with WHINY LIBERALS ON A CRUSADE TO MAKE EVERYTHING AN "ISSUE".
The term "fat-finger" is not at all discriminatory against whiny fat fucks like yourself. If anything, it's making fun of people with LARGE DIGITS. IE- Big fingers.
You're fat. And you're a feminist. And you can't seem to have a happy, fulfilling relationship with a man. Your choice- your problem. Not our's. Get off your soap box. You're preaching about shit that makes no sense.
Seriously. Who cares if most men don't wanna date or have sex with a fat chick. Most women don't want to date a man who has no money and doesn't shave. *shrugs* I get off my ass and go to work every day and shave every morning. Maybe you should start your day with a low carb breakfast and some stomach crunches.
May 14, 2008 3:16 PM (sic)
Anonymous' comment is based on so many assumptions it makes my head spin.
I'll try to work them all out for you...
Assumption #1: Because he "dated a fat chick" he clearly cannot be a bigot. Right. Way to tokenize, asshole. Did you also "have a black friend back in college?" I thought so.
Assumption #2: I'm a "whiny liberal"... no comment
Assumption #3: I'm fat. Because I can't possibly care about discrimination against people on the basis of weight unless i'm fat. I also must be black since i hate racists and gay since i can't stand homophobia. Am I "fat", a WoC, gay? It doesn't matter. What matters is i shouldn't be treated differently if i was or wasn't any/all those things.
Assumption #4: I can't "seem to have a happy, fulfilling relationship with a man." Two assumptions wrapped in one, gee wiz. I'm obviously heterosexual and i'm obviously single. Of course since i'm "fat" (assumption #3) i can't possible be in a relationship. And i'm obviously straight because you're a heteronormative asshole.
Assumption #5: Being "fat" is a problem. Um... didn't you internalize any of what the original post said?
Assumption #6: "most men don't wanna date or have sex with a fat chick." Hm... any of my commenters wanna take this one on?
Assumption #7: "Most women don't want to date a man who has no money and doesn't shave." HUH?
Assumption #8: I don't exercise or eat right ("Maybe you should start your day with a low carb breakfast and some stomach crunches.") Physical appearance does not equate how "healthy" someone is. Nutrition and health are based on lifestyle, not on appearance.
That should about do it.
Dear Anonymous, my apologies for not being able to get to your comment sooner but D and I were out celebrating our 5 year anniversary.
UPDATE: I gave all this some more thought... i wanted to pick one main focus for readers to walk away with from all this this... there are actually two.
1. Discrimination based on a person's weight exists. Weightist attitudes exist and they've been referred to as the "last form of acceptable discrimination." Here are some examples. I don't usually participate in the "Oppression Olympics" but Yale did and found that "Weight/height discrimination is prevalent in American society and is relatively close to reported rates of racial discrimination, particularly among women. Both institutional forms of weight/height discrimination (for example, in employment settings) and interpersonal mistreatment due to weight/height (for example, being called names) were common, and in some cases were even more prevalent than discrimination due to gender and race."
2. The reason i don't post pictures or much personal information about myself on this blog is because it doesn't matter. It isn't the point. It doesn't matter how much i weigh or whether i'm gay or straight. It doesn't matter my ethnicity or race. What matters is that people's rights shouldn't be violated based on any of those things. This isn't about me. It's about equality. Which is why i don't entertain (or respond to) personal questions, attacks, or comments. I know i did a bit by adding that it was D and my 5 year anniversary but i only did so because of the irony :) So shoot me, i'm not infallible. Never said i was... The point is, people's rights shouldn't be taken away by anyone just because they don't fit into some skewed notion of "normalcy" that an individual might have.
Not only does it completely ignore the roles any father or father figure has in a kids life, upbringing or psychology, it also acts as if qualities such as acceptance, nourishment, instruction and empowerment are exclusive to the mother. Or, worse, not in any way the responsibility of the father. It claims to paint a realistic picture that no mother can be, or should be expected to be perfect, and give good self-help advice about forming positive relationships in your life. However, it falls into the standard, "mother blaming, father shouldn't be expected to do anything" sexist mantra that's really outdated.
I do have to give credit to the article in the general philosophy that we should all be responsible for developing each other to our highest potential, but if we don't start with the simple assumption that both women AND men should be expected to provide a stimulating nourishing environment for the kids, regardless of what happens in their parents relationship (divorce, changed feelings, etc) than how much can we really expect of society to do?
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
In summary, Melissa Bruen, Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Campus (the UConn student paper), was sexually assaulted Friday of UConn's annual Spring Weekend. While walking on the Hunting Lodge Road Trail (aka "the rape trail") she was picked up by her shoulders, pinned up against a pole and "dry humped" by a stranger. She, unlike many sexual assault victims, fought back. She pushed the guy off, grabbed him, and threw him onto the ground. She punched him in the face, full force. Melissa describes fighting back: "A small crowd had gathered, mostly men. Now they seemed shocked. I was supposed to have been a victim, and I was breaking out of the mold. I hit him in the stomach, while clenching my legs around him to prevent another man from pushing me off. In all, it took three men to pull me off my assailant. He got up and ran off, yelling at me, as if I were the would-be rapist."
What happened next is even more shocking. As Melissa yelled back to him, "YOU assaulted ME," another guy approached her and said, "You think that was assault?" He pulled down her tube top, grabbed her breasts, and the crowed cheered. Melissa tried to break free but was shoved into others. She writes, "I was surrounded, but I kept swinging and hitting until I was able to break free of the circle they had formed. I started running barefoot toward Celeron, but ended up throwing myself on the ground, crying and screaming hysterically. I saw a friend in the crowd, and all I could do was scream his name over and over. I could see the ambulance and police checkpoint in the distance."
Please read Melissa's full article for yourself.
I graduated from UConn. I worked as a peer counselor. I worked for the violence against women program as a sexual assault victim advocate. I also worked to dispel the "rape trail" myth while i was there by talking about the rarity of men jumping out of the bushes on the trail. I tried to help people understand that it was much more likely that the guy who just took you out on a date would rape you. At Uconn date rape is incredibly prevalent. At UConn (like many other college campuses) people don't realize the definitions of rape and/or consent. Reading Melissa's experience leaves me totally shocked, disgusted, and angered. This story is awful.
Spring weekend is notorious for sexual assaults but this one left me in tears. I can't believe the crowd's reaction! Or rather lack there of. If i saw a woman being sexually or physically assaulted i hope to G-d that i'd step in and do something. And if others were laughing, cheering on the assailant, i would probably want to punch them in the face. I am usually not a fan of violence but honestly, i want to punch these boys right in their face (or "in their wieners" in the words of Juno's dad...)
Also, I have an incredibly pessimistic view of UConn's judicial system and response to sexual assault and rape. I had an experience with them while supporting a friend who was a survivor of rape. Her case was incredibly clear cut. There was no denial that he had raped her. On numerous occasion. With a witness in the room... the guy got off, scott free. He wasn't punished one bit. I hope Melissa goes through any legal system other than the University's, for her own sake. Again and again when it comes to women's safety, I am disappointed at my alma mater.
Melissa was not only incredibly strong and brave during the attack but continues to feel the effects of what happened to her. She's bombarded with comments, insults, and threats that attempt to trivialize her assault and victim blame. "She made it all up for fame" one comment says, "she shouldn't have been wearing a tube top" argues another, and my all time favorite, "maybe she shouldn't have been drinking."
Melissa's assault in general (in front of a crowd), University and police response (keeping the case open thus giving her an opportunity to press charges down the line), and her ability to discuss what happened to her (being editor-in-chief of the newspaper and access/involvement in campus resources) leave me thinking about the women who don't have the same opportunities post assault as Melissa. As well as women who did/do not fight back. Melissa reported her assault. How many weren't reported? How many survivors didn't fight back? How many victims did/do not even realize they were sexually assaulted?
Although disappointed in the UConn community (the applauding crowd) for not coming to Melissa's aid, i am incredibly proud of Melissa herself for sharing her story and starting dialogue. Good for you, Melissa, for getting people talking about sexual assault, violence against women, and civil responsibility.
Melissa ends her article with, "I was raised to fight back, so I made sure to get a few good swings in. My bruises will fade, and I will move on. But if you ever see someone being assaulted, do the right thing."
Also, here are links to the more mainstream feminist blogs that covered this story: Feministing and Shakesville
(Kyle, thanks for the picture)
Monday, May 5, 2008
Mondays and Thursdays are my early days. I work at a methadone clinic and since drug abuse is a non-discriminating disease (meaning anyone can be addicted to drugs) many of our patients have 9-5 jobs like the rest of us and get their treatment before work. Anyway, i work 6am-3pm two days a week... 6am may seem way early for some but i actually love being able to get home by 3:30 and spend QT with Beans...
This morning, a new clinician happened to see me do it. Unlike the other counselors, he doesn't yet know that i "read into things too much." Anyway, he watched me carry the 5 gallon bottle from the kitchen through the hallway, lift it off the ground, place it on top of the water cooler, and then proceeded to say, "hey, you should let the guys do that."
"Because it's heavy." He said. Then another counselor walked through the hallway and he said to her, "Look at the way Galina just manhandled the water cooler."
"Maybe sometimes" he said, "but not 6am on Monday morning."
–verb (used with object), -dled, -dling.
1. to handle roughly.
2. to move by human strength, without the use of mechanical appliances.
Friday, May 2, 2008
(check out About-Face and Jean Kilbourne's site for more negative advertising)
My undergraduate honors thesis examined body image satisfaction and thin-ideal internalization in relation to feminist identity. I hypothesized that feminists, or women with a stronger feminist consciousness, would be more satisfied with their bodies and would internalize thin-ideals less than women who did not relate to feminism. Some of my findings were inline with that: as feminist self-identification increased, body dissatisfaction decreased. Thin-ideal told a more complicated story. I measured two aspects of thin-ideal: awareness and internalization and found that although awareness of the thin-ideal was impacted by feminist identification, internalization of the thin-ideal was not. What this told me is that raising feminist identification in general may not be enough and although feminist identification raises awareness of negative stereotypes about women, it may not protect women from internalizing these stereotypes. Basically, social messages, images, stereotypes, advertising, etc. may effect us way more than we consciously know and realize.
Feminism taught me the importance of maintaining a critical eye. Whether i was looking through fashion magazines, watching TV, or going about my daily business, applying the feminist tradition of not accepting things as they were totally changed my life (and annoyed lots and lots of people).
Dealing with my own stuff surrounding food I quickly became empowered by feminist theories of "normalcy" and beauty. I also finally understood that a woman's value is not defined by how she looks or how much she weighs. I'm not saying that feminism will cure an eating disorder, if i could prove that i'd be rich and lots of girls wouldn't be starving themselves. What i am saying is that feminism allows women to embrace themselves and their bodies, as they are, and recognize that their value, importance, and position in the world should not be a direct result of how they look. Also, i quickly realized the amount of time, money, and energy women spend on looking a certain way. The conspiracy theorist in me was convinced that this "standard of beauty" for women was nothing more than a way to keep women in their place and far away from equality. As long as there are impossible standards of beauty women will never be equal.
Moving on to what this post was supposed to be about: Madonna. I used to be all about Madonna. I recently had an incredibly interesting intergenerational conversation with an older feminist about Madonna's legacy and influence on women's sexuality. I think Madonna has done some amazing things for the women's movement (intentionally or just as career moves) especially surrounding women's power, sexuality, and freedom. These arguably progressive and positive influences on women's bodies and sense of self have undoubtedly left a mark in music, popculture, and society in general. In fact, Courtney (who ya'll know i love) featured Madonna today on her "Thank You Thursdays" column.
Needless to say, it left me a bit disappointed in Madonna... I won't go on a tangent about the social responsibility celebrities should take for the younger generation that is looking up to them, but for real, come on! Cele/bitchy calculated the caloric intake for some of Madonna's meals that appear in the article. Here is an example of a day in the life of Madonna's diet:
Breakfast: 1 cup Kashi cereal, with ½ cup plain—or vanilla—nonfat rice milk [262 calories]
Lunch: 2 hardboiled eggs with ½ cup each of baby carrots and cherry tomatoes [194 calories]
Dinner: 3 to 5 oz grilled sea bass with ½ cup steamed spinach [240 calories]
[Total: 696 calories]
Combine that with 2 hours of exercise and you have a really unhealthy and dangerous lifestyle that no one would be able to maintain longer than one week. Madonna has a huge influence in both music and pop culture. It scares me to death that girls will be reading that article and replicating Madonna's extreme diet.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
In light of Holocaust Remembrance Day, here's a NYT article from yesterday.