Thursday, February 26, 2009

And Now a Word from our Sponsors...

People always ask me how relevant i believe feminism to be: "haven't we come a long way since outwardly sexist discrimination?" Maybe. I will agree that in a lot of ways sexism (as well as other forms of oppression) are a lot more subtle and insidious than they used to be. However, even though we have come far we aren't even close to there yet. Women continue to make less than men, women continue to fight for reproductive rights and control of their own bodies, and women remain out-numbered in politics, economy, and other positions of power.

One arena in which sexism never ceases is the media. Commercials continue to use tired gender stereotypes in their advertising believing people react positively to this, and maybe they do, because if they didn't market researchers would need to come up with different strategies.

I came across a video yesterday that put together sexist commercials from the 1950's, 60's and 70's. These commercials are clearly sexist, one voice over states, "every woman needs to be herself at times, and that means baking!" The commercials start about 1:00 min into the video.

But then i remembered commercials i saw just this past month during the Super Bowl that were just as bad!


and then earlier this year the commercial that made me want to hurl my TV out the window, never have children for fear of ruining them, and write many angry letters to Playskool:

I wrote more about this disturbing commercial last year and there was some controversy in the comment section. Playskool is advertising a "place where she can entertain her imagination!" as the little girl is shown with the washer and drying saying, "let's do laundry!"

So sure, maybe we have "come a long way" since women were denied the right to vote but we certainly aren't there yet.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Happy Birthday, Audre Lorde

Many of you know my love for Audre Lorde. Those who don't know her, should, and those who do, know exactly why i love her. After reading many of Lorde's essays and poems in college i vowed to live my life as she would, never silent and always working towards something. In Lorde's words, “I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.”

Audre Lorde's birthday was last week. I happened to miss it because i was interviewing for my top choice graduate program in Maryland. I thought she'd forgive me if she knew the work i intended to do if i gained admission to the program*. I also saw it as a good omen to be interviewing on her day of birth, symbolism like that is important to me and makes me believe in the interconnectedness of the world. I actually mentioned her to one of my interviewers, who knew exactly who Audre Lorde was. As soon as he and i connected on this, i knew this program was IT. I knew there was nowhere else i'd rather be.

After writing my last substantive post on my engagement and my ring i have been thinking a lot about silence and choices. I made the choice to "come clean" to the wonderful community i have found and fostered here on my blog, knowing i would face opposition. Since then i haven't written, i've stewed, i've considered, and i've gone back on forth on reactions/responses.

In another life i may have used silence to protect myself. I may have not shared my news and choice to get married for fear of being ostracized within the feminist community. Then i realized that all too often silence is used to maintain the status quo, to oppress individuals and communities, and to protect ourselves from progress and change.

There are many ways in which you "cannot" be a feminist, trying to fulfill all the requirements of a movement is daunting, exhausting, and takes the focus off the actual point: the issues, the activism, the community. I understand why several people were hurt by my post and I own my privilege/decision to marry. However, that backlash should not (and will not) stop me from further discussing my wedding plans here from a feminist perspective.

It will be a rough road to travel on, for many reasons including bruised egos and offended friends, but this is my story and i plan to share it as we write it. I want to keep my community involved in my life and disclose on here as much as i feel comfortable to. I think many feminists can relate to my insecurities of marriage in terms of patriarchy, sexism, and marriage inequity. For that i will continue discussing it and figuring things out as i go. I apologize if this offends anyone, but i do not apologize for not remaining silent as my partner and I struggle to figure out how to make a wedding and an egalitarian marriage work within a homophobic and unjust culture. We will work towards marriage equity in this country in our own ways, and work towards sharing the values of egalitarian relationships with anyone willing to listen.

*I'll be studying the effects of discrimination - racism, sexism, homophobia, etc - on mental health and examining empowerment and consciousness raising to decrease negative effects of oppression in a clinical psychology phd program.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Woman Beheaded in New York State. National Organization for Women-NYS Questions Media Blackout

My friend, Heather, forwarded me this awful story and press release:

Press Release
February 16th, 2009
Contact: Marcia Pappas, 518-452-3944

Woman Beheaded in New York State

National Organization for Women-NYS Questions Media Blackout

ALBANY, NY (02/16/2009; 1237)(readMedia)-- On February 12, 2009, in Orchard Park, Buffalo, NY, forty-four year-old Muzzamil Hassan, a prominent Muslim businessman, was arrested for having allegedly beheaded his wife, thirty-seven year-old Aasiya Z. Hassan. What was Aasiya's crime? Why, Aasiya was having Muzzamil served with divorce papers. And apparently, on February 6, Aasiya obtained an order of protection which had forced her violent husband out of their home.

NOW New York State is horrified that Erie County DA, Frank A. SeditaII, has referred to this ghastly crime as "the worst form of domestic violence possible." The ridiculous juxtaposition of "domestic" and "beheading" in the same journalistic breath points up the inherent weakness of the whole "domestic violence" lexicon.

What is "domestic" about this violence? NOW NYS President Marcia Pappas says "it is high time we stop regarding assaults and murders as a lover's quarrels gone bad. We further demand of lawmakers that punishments fit crimes. We of NOW decry the selective enforcement of assault laws and call for judicial enforcement of our mandatory arrest policy, even when the axe-wielder is known by his victim."

And why is this horrendous story not all over the news? Is a Muslim woman's life not worth a five-minute report? This was, apparently, a terroristic version of "honor killing," a murder rooted in cultural notions about women's subordination to men. Are we now so respectful of the Muslim's religion that we soft-peddle atrocities committed in it's name? Millions of women in this country are maimed and killed by their husbands or partners. Had this awful murder been perpetrated by a African American, a Latino, a Jew, or a Catholic, the story would be flooding the airwaves. What is this deafening silence?

And exactly what do orders of protection do? Was Aasiya desperately waving the order of protection in Muzzamil's face when he slashed at her throat? Was it still clutched in her hand as her head hit the floor?

You of the press, please shine a light on this most dreadful of murders. In a bizarre twist of fate it comes out that Muzzamil Hassan is founder of a television network called Bridges TV, whose purpose it was to portray Muslims in a positive light. This a huge story. Please tell it!
Marcia A. Pappas, President
National Organization for Women-NYS
Phone: 518-452-3944
Presidents Email:
General Email:

Monday, February 2, 2009

Joining the Good Fight

I, too, would like to show solidarity to my dog loving sisters and join the doggie revolution! I'd like to introduce you to Beans, the second love of my life:

Here we have Beans doing his favorite thing, hiking:

Here is Beans on a hunger strike when UConn basketball lost last season: