Saturday, December 22, 2012

Wonderful PSA



Warning! You will probably cry. I cried!

This is a great PSA coming from Invisible Parents, which is sponsored by organizations all over the European Union. I've spent my entire life around gay and lesbian families and it's an issue that's very close to my heart. My gay and lesbian bosses, friends, teachers, and coworkers are all wonderful people and deserve the same recognition that "traditional" families are afforded. And as the friend to many future gay and lesbian parents, I sincerely hope that when it comes time for them to be parents they can do it in a better world.

Friday, November 23, 2012

What's Happening on FOXJUICE

This happened last week but I'm still going to brag about it. I follow Muffy Aldrich's blog The Daily Prep because she's more or less New England royalty, and wrote a post on Foxjuice about how some commenters reacted when she congratulated President Obama called "'Political' and 'Apolitical' Spaces." It's awesome, you should read it, and Muffy Aldrich reblogged it on her tumblr. Now I'm so embarrassed I made a joke with a swear in it!

Christine has a good rant on why Dresses do NOT mean 'easy access'-- you are welcome to be enraged and grossed out that some people do think that.

Here's a sweet powerpoint by our favorite TA Foxjuicer Beth on the Politics of Female Sexuality! Doesn't this make you wish you were a freshman sociology major?!?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

9 Year Old Female Athlete is Super Awesome



Sam Gordon is the best! I bet she is getting a LOT of playdate requests. At 9 years old, she is the first female football player featured on a Wheaties box! And football isn't even her favorite sport, it's actually soccer. YOU GO, GIRL!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My Little Bronie



I don't know a lot about Bronies, but from what I've read they seem pretty cool, if not a little weird. But HEY, if you're redefining masculinity, you're good by me. Great video explaining the phenom that is BRONIES and their significance to gender politics.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bullock and McCarthy Bring THE HEAT



This actually doesn't look great, but I love Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy so I'd definitely watch them in a formulaic buddy cop flick.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Colbert's Take on the Nation



This is... so great.

PHEW.


I attended a watch party hosted by the Human Rights Campaign at a bar in Philly with my coworkers and friends, which was great because I love being surrounded by people who agree with me, especially in high-tension situations. It was exciting watching the map get filled up, watching democratic victories in swing states and finally the projected victory for Obama around 11:30. My friend next to me texted his sister, "Ur uterus and my gay ass are safe!" Amen.


This was a stressful election season. If you read my blog or Foxjuice, my GOP-related stress condition over the past few months had become increasingly more evident as more posts included all-caps exclamations and a lot of swearing. For a female college graduate, this has been a stressful time. Will my President care about my health and well-being? Will he endorse my right to make reproductive decisions? Will it be illegal for me to use birth control? Will he endorse the rights of my LGBT friends and family? Will he consider with compassion the rights and lives of immigrants? Will he undo or support decades of humanitarian progress and aid worldwide?


For someone who has been solidly liberal her entire life, who has grown up with privilege and attended liberal schools, who writes feminist analysis of culture for FUN and not for money (if someone wants to pay me to write about this, I will take it), who has diverse friends, and who cares about the rights and well-being of all people, it is hard for me to reckon with the fact that Romney got around 48% of the popular vote.

It is easy to write these people off because I really do not have very many people in my life who are not solidly liberal. The new tumblr White People Mourning Romney is a somewhat gleeful look at Romney supporters crying and looking sad-faced that the US will not have yet another rich white man taking office. The Romney campaign failed for a number of reasons to relate to a broad spectrum of people, and that is why he lost. Over 70% of Latinos voted for Obama, over 70% of Asians voted for Obama, over 90% of Blacks voted for Obama, and over 50% of women voted for Obama. The Romney campaign focused on white voters and that is a huge reason why they failed. Because the United States is not a country monolithically controlled by white people anymore. And when a campaign very clearly does not support the rights or lives or values of women, minorities, and poor people, they just can't win. As my friend Imani told me yesterday, "They said that not enough white people voted for Romney...they're gonna come get your ass HAHAHAH" (my response: "Whatever, I am proud to be a race traitor.")


The election was a victory in a number of other arenas, for Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), the first openly gay Senator,  for Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), the first disabled female veteran for the House of Representatives, for Maize Hirono (D-HI), the first Asian-American woman in the Senate, and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), the first Hindu-American for the House of Representatives. Other Senate victories like Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts, Claire McCaskill in Missouri (who "legitimately" beat Todd Akin), and Heidi Heitcamp in Nebraska are also very exciting, and there are now more women in the Senate than ever before. And thankfully, as Jezebel said, "Team Rape" lost big time. Candidates who made it clear that they were anti-women for the most part did  not do well.


We also got marriage equality voted in in Maine, Maryland, and Washington. As my friend Emma observed, there are few other issues on the ballot that are just so HAPPY. People getting married is really nice! Here's a video of people freaking out in Maine when they find out that marriage equality has passed. I think it's silly that we have to vote to allow people to have rights but I am glad that my state made the right choice! 






But it still stands that almost half the population does not necessarily support these things. Take a look at this handy map of electoral college votes in 2012 next to a map of how the US was divided before the civil war. 


The most conservative and right-leaning states today are the states that 150 years ago allowed people to own other people. This is definitely not to say that all states that went red are horribly racist and voted on racial lines (although many people  did!) but that culture is very hard to change. We live in a country that until around 50 years ago allowed schools to discriminate by race, for water fountains and bathrooms be labeled "black" and "white," and for states to determine whether or not couples could marry if they were interracial. Because of the nature of our political system, certain states moved away from racist practices faster than others. So when some of the most vocal Romney supporters talk about how "scared" they are of the next 4 years, or say stuff like, "It makes me wonder who my fellow citizens are. I've got to be honest, I feel like I've lost touch with what the identity of America is right now. I really do," or "We are in a war. We're in a war to save this nation," just... Oh, boy


Of course, some Republicans have reasonable(ish) reactions, pointing out the need to connect to minorities and immigrants and at least be more active about reaching out to voters who are not a part of their historical demographic. To be successful, they need to move away from the crazy rhetoric and breathy Tea Party cries of socialism and communism. When a large number of people within your party can call Obama "Hitler" and a "communist," then you have some serious problems, many of them stemming from probably a sub-par US History education in 11th grade. And then also a lot of really terrible information from Fox News, which refuses to acknowledge facts and numbers and science. When conservative pundits complain about Obama having the unfair advantage of "playing President" after hurricane Sandy, you have to wonder where their priorities lie. Do they really think that the President of the United States has to "play President?" Do they really think that executive orders to help people affected by a hurricane are campaign-motivated? It's sad. 


For the most powerful country in the world, we are a nation divided by ideology. We are a nation that has trouble with the concept that all citizens are created equal, which is supposedly a foundational concept of our nationhood. Whereas a Catholic country like Spain, which was ruled by a fascist dictator until 1975 now has legalized same-sex marriage, the US is slowly coming to terms with this. While most developed countries have had Universal Healthcare for years, the US still is divided on whether or not to adopt a system that has proven health benefits across the world. Many US citizens do not like the idea of taxes being used for welfare and public goods although these things tend to benefit most societies. We are a country that continues to be plagued by great sweeping myths that perpetuate inequality and divide people. 


Obama's reelection will not jumpstart the apocalypse. It will not usher the US into a period of racial unity or rainbows either. We live in an imperfect country, and it is fortunate that we have reelected Obama because he will not undo decades  of progress. We should be hopeful for the future, but mindful of how easy it is to go backward instead of forward. We're on our fucking way though. Signed, sealed, delivered. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Feminist Rapper Friday: Angel Haze

Angel Haze first came onto my radar sometime last year for her fantastic 6’7” Freestyle. Angel Haze has a flow like nobody’s business, and so it’s exciting that the 21 year old’s mixtape has just been released with rave reviews

But what will probably be her most-talked about song is the gut-wrenching “Cleaning Out My Closet.”
(**Trigger Warning: sexual abuse**)



“Cleaning Out My Closet” is set to the beat from Eminem’s 2002 classic, “Cleanin’ Out My Closet,” and the similar subject matter makes this connection. Eminem rapped about his difficult childhood and his contentious relationship with his mother, Angel Haze raps about her 10 years of childhood sexual abuse. 
Haze cites Missy Elliot, Lauryn Hill, and Queen Lafitah as some of the rappers she looks up to, and listening to her flow, the influence is clear. Haze has a gift in storytelling, something that has been almost lost in mainstream rap these days. Elliot, Hill, and Latifah’s MC careers harken back to the days when hip-hop was more about lyricism than selling records, and the results are clear. “Cleaning Out My Closet” is masterfully written and performed, but is incredibly hard to listen to. 
Talking to the New York Times, Haze said: 
My ultimate goal was to let go of all of it, the things that kind of haunt me in a way. I know it’s important in music to be honest with who you are, because this world is so full of lost kids who go through the same thing I went through, whose end result is ultimately suicide or drugs. And they don’t know they are strong enough to get through it. They don’t have an example. Too many people are afraid to say, “This happened to me and look what I did with it.”
It’s a brave song, and incredibly graphic. She raps about the eating disorder she developed in response to the abuse, her sexuality, and bleeding through her butt. One line in particular (which in Eminem’s song is “I’m sorry mama/I never meant to hurt you/I never meant to make you cry/ But tonight I’m cleanin’ out my closet”) is particularly haunting, “I’m sorry mom/But I really used to blame it on you/But even you, by then, wouldn’t know what to do.”
Sally Nnamani reviewed the song on PolicyMic and has one paragraph in particular that really rings true: 
In the song, Angel Haze also talks about how her strong disdain for her life growing up made her fabricate characters and fantasy worlds to escape her harsh reality. This is a prominent theme in mainstream rap where artists would rather glorify the violence they experienced growing up and value it as a credibility badge as opposed to highlighting the real impact of violence in urban communities… Nicki Minaj [grew] up in a household of domestic violence. However, her music rarely ever reflects that experience, preferring a style glossed in theatrics and a battle of freakish alter egos.  
The issue here is not that all rap glorifies violence or prefers female MCs to put on wigs and rap for mainstream channels. But the fact that Haze told her story, and told it so well, in the face of all of this shows how she’s a really important voice. 
Childhood sexual abuse is not an easy topic, and it’s not something that people typically talk about so openly and graphically. It’s a problem that is a taboo across the world, something that can be so earth-shattering that it’s easier to stay quiet than talk to someone about it.
These fragments of conversations are important. Until we lift this fucked up veil of silence over the subject, people are just going to suffer alone. Haze is talented, brave and on the brink of breaking into the big time, so I’m glad that she’s using her power of storytelling to reach out. 

INTERNET. I ORDER YOU TO TROLL JOHN KOSTER NOW.




I dare you to listen to this recording without going into a rage blackout. REALLY.
John Koster is a Republican candidate for Congress in Washington State. He is also the newest politician to say dumb shit about rape.
By the way, his twitter handle is @Koster4Congress so tweet at him as you will. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

HAVE YOU VOTED YET?


I voted absentee a couple weeks ago. Look into voting early in your area! Cast your ballot and cast it well!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

What did you dress up as for Halloween (or what are you dressing up as tonight?) 

Friday night my friend and I dressed up as feuding former Disney and Nickelodeon princesses Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes. We carried around their mugshots and cardboard steering wheels.

I have other friends who went for the scary part of Halloween, used sweet makeup trips learned on youtube and freaked everybody out all night. AWESOME. 


Saturday night my friends and I went to a fancy masquerade! 
All we had to do was wear masks. And it was open bar! Wooooooooooooooo!

Tonight I have to go to a make-up rehearsal for the feminist choir I'm in, so I'm going as Rosie the Riveter, since it's such an easy costume. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012

22




So you know how I just wrote that post about how Taylor Swift doesn't consider her a feminist and I think that's annoying? Well, I still love her music. I mean... duh. ANYWAY, her newest album, RED, just got released so I'm listening to it on repeat and gearing up to analyze all the lyrics with my friends (a tradition) and "22" is a standout. I am 22 and often describe this period of my life is a "less glamorous episode of Girls, which is a show I've never seen because I think it would make me sad," but this song is like... ooh, Tay, you got it. Ya got me goo

Quotable

"And if I have to listen to one more gray-faced man with a $2 haircut explain to me what rape is, I'm gonna lose my mind. "

-Tina Fey at the Center For Reproductive Rights Gala

PREACH, sistah! PREACH!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Evil Has a Face, & That Face Belongs to Ann Coulter

By now you might have had the displeasure of hearing about Ann Coulter's latest shocking attention grab, the use of the r-word in reference to President Obama during the last Presidential debate. 

Oh, Ann. Ann, Ann, Ann. Just when we forget you exist, and go to that happy place in our minds where we don't have to think about how unadulterated evil can simply cough and Fox News will bring it on as a special guest, there you are again.

Of course, giving Ann Coulter this attention is what she wants. There are people who hate Ann Coulter and always will, and then there are people who think she's funny and smart and always will. This is just how things are. She says stuff and a bunch of people tell her she's great while a bunch of other people call her the devil (reasonable!) and wish she'd go away.

The upside of Ann Coulter opening her vile mouth is that we often get really intelligent and thoughtful responses from decent human beings. Special Olympian John Franklin Stephens wrote her an open letter, and it's really beautiful:

I’m a 30 year old man with Down syndrome who has struggled with the public’s perception that an intellectual disability means that I am dumb and shallow. I am not either of those things, but I do process information more slowly than the rest of you. In fact it has taken me all day to figure out how to respond to your use of the R-word last night. 
 I thought first of asking whether you meant to describe the President as someone who was bullied as a child by people like you, but rose above it to find a way to succeed in life as many of my fellow Special Olympians have. 
 Then I wondered if you meant to describe him as someone who has to struggle to be thoughtful about everything he says, as everyone else races from one snarkey sound bite to the next. 
 Finally, I wondered if you meant to degrade him as someone who is likely to receive bad health care, live in low grade housing with very little income and still manages to see life as a wonderful gift. 
Because, Ms. Coulter, that is who we are – and much, much more.

So, if you're tired of feeling pure rage toward Ann Coulter, I recommend you grab a Kleenex and read the rest of Mr. Stephen's letter.

The Only Senatorial Candidate Romney has Endorsed says Pregnancy from Rape is what "God Intended"


Oh... did you think we were over politicians saying stupid ass shit about rape? Did you think, perhaps, that Republican candidates had maybe looked at the Todd Akin fiasco and thought to themselves, hmm... better not? Well, think again. Because Tuesday night, senatorial candidate Richard Mourdock of Illinois said that he doesn't believe abortion is an option in the case of pregnancy after a rape because that pregnancy is "something God intended."

Mourdock of course tried to clarify this later, but unfortunately, this is what he actually believes, so his clarification sucks as well. "Are you trying to suggest somehow that God preordained rape, no I don’t think that. Anyone who would suggest that is just sick and twisted. No, that’s not even close to what I said.”

Ummmm... actually, well, no, that is pretty close to what you said. No, Mourdock, it is pretty sick and twisted that you believe so strongly that a fetus has a stronger set of rights than the lady that fetus is inside. It is pretty sick and twisted that you believe that a woman can get raped and then it's still okay for you to be like, "Mmm, actually, my opinion about what you do with your body matters more!"

This shit is fucking tedious to talk about, it really is. Everyone is sick of this stupid election, everyone is sick of absurd politicians saying stupid things, proving how totally screwed our government is. Seriously, I do not want a man who thinks that because he believes literally in some 2,000+ year old book that he's qualified to be in charge of people's lives. Sure, there are tons of religious politicians who are reasonable people. President Obama and Vice President Biden, for example. But they aren't so close-minded and idiotic as to think that their religion somehow gives them jurisdiction over someone else's body. For all their yammering about the Constitution, Republicans tend to forget about that little "separation of church and state" bit.

GAAAAAAAAHHHHH.

Happy Wednesday, y'all. NOT.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Short History of Celebrities Dodging the F-Word

Interviewer Do you consider yourself a feminist? 
Taylor Swift: I don't really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.
Can we collectively groan together now? 1, 2, 3: UGHHHHHHHHH. Alright, as feminist and a Taylor Swift fan, I am well aware of the feminist critiques of her work. Whatever! I just like singing along, let me be. The issue here is three fold:

a.) Taylor Swift doesn't know what "feminism" means. Her dodge-y answer to the f-word question never says "yes" or "no," it just mostly shows that her image of feminism is men vs. women, which is not feminism. Girl, I know you gotta smartphone, you can google it.

b.) Taylor Swift has a ton of fans. They are mostly young and impressionable. I know this. My hearing was off for 3 days after I saw her play in a stadium concert. She knows this as well, which is why despite a hugely public dating history, she has like the squeakiest clean Hollywood rep ever. I mean, seriously. She knows what being a role model is. But when she says she's not a feminist AND also mis-identifies feminism, that sets her fans back.

c.) Taylor Swift is megarich and has megainfluence. Every time a tear falls from her eyes she basically earns a million dollars. And she's still afraid to be associated with feminism? SHIT.

But popular celebrities and famous women dodging the f-word is nothing new.

Gwyneth Paltrow told a magazine in early 2012, "Gloria Steinem may string me up by my toes, but all I can do is my best, and I can do only what works for me and my family."

Yahoo CEO Melissa Meyer famously said post promotion "I don’t think that I would consider myself a feminist. I think that I certainly believe in equal rights, I believe that women are just as capable, if not more so in a lot of different dimensions, but I don’t, I think have, sort of, the militant drive and the sort of, the chip on the shoulder that sometimes comes with that. And I think it’s too bad, but I do think that feminism has become in many ways a more negative word."

Swan-dress Björk told Bust magazine in 05 that she wasn't a feminist, "Because I think it would isolate me. I think it’s important to do positive stuff. It’s more important to be asking than complaining...You could probably call my mother a feminist, and I watched her isolate herself all her life from men, and therefore from society."

Demi Moore once said, "I am a great supporter of women, but I have never really thought of myself as a feminist, probably more of a humanist because I feel like that's really where we need to be."
Queen of the world Beyoncé told Harper's Bazaar, "I don't really feel that it's necessary to define it. It's just something that's kind of natural for me, and I feel like it's what I live for. I need to find a catchy new word for feminism, right? Like Bootylicious."

In 2009, Sandra Flipping Day O'Connor, the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court told the NY Times when asked if she was a feminist "I don't call myself that."

I could go on with this list, but I won't.

WHAT GIVES, LADIES!? 

It really makes me crazy. It does. It's not as if we're in 1975. It's not even 1991. We have tons of feminist role models running around, normalizing it and declaring their opinions strongly. Amy Poehler! Tina Fey! Alia Shawkat!  Kerry Washington! Ellen Page! Susan Sarandon! Meryl Streep! Halle Berry! Drew Barrymore! Ani DiFranco! Tori Amos! Jodie Foster! Bette Midler! Geena Davis! Ellen Degeneres! Ashley Judd! AND EVEN LADY GAGA.

Yes, Lady Gaga is often counted among the "not a feminist" camp for a well-known interview from 2009, but she has since changed her mind, and ... clearly given it some thought. And she clearly knows what feminism means.


I commend all these women, whether they identify as feminists or not, for all the success and hard work they have had in their careers. But it really saddens me when I see smart, hardworking women brush off feminism based on stereotypes, fear, or their own misunderstanding of the word. It's just plain SAD to see these women get asked the f-word question and then flounder as they try to distance themselves from what they think the word means, all the while demonstrating that they don't actually know. It's the whole "I'm not a feminist, but..." bit, but in Entertainment Weekly proportions.

I get it, labels are tricky. But ladies, c'mon! It's 2012! Google feminism, and get over it.

El Feminismo!


Estás buscando una lugar bueno para noticias y información sobre el feminismo? 

ESPECIALISTA EN IGUALDAD es una página favorita de mío que tiene todo. Te recomiendo, es llena de cosas buenas si tienes una interes en el feminismo con un foco particular en latinas y Latinoamérica. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

And Let's be Real: Raddatz Wins


Remember in the first Presidential debate when Jim Lehr could barely get a word in? Remember how he stumbled through and got steamrolled by that mean rich guy who loves Big Bird but loves firing people more? Martha Raddatz, accomplished journalist, was totally in control of the debate last night. She was professional and like the champ she is, went for those follow up questions, and  she got the juice.

Martha Raddatz, we bow down to you. Can't wait to see how your friend Candy Crowley does in her turn moderating the Presidential Debate.

Did You Watch the Vice Presidential Debate?



Hoo, boy. Ryan's answer here is a bunch of malarky. Uh, bean? Uh, science? Uh, Hyde Amendment? Calm down, dude. Take a fact check. Fortunately, Biden's answer is reasonable, and I love that he accepts his church's position on life beginning at conception--and that he refuses to impose that belief on others. And that he snarkily refers to Ryan as, "my friend." And that he refuses to let Ryan lie.

This is an important election for women since reproductive freedom and family planning are so central to health and socioeconomics, and they are certainly under risk of being trampled if Romney and Ryan are elected.

Did you guys watch the Vice Presidential debate? What did you think?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Reconsider Columbus Day



I imagine that I've posted this before, but it's worth sharing again.

Apart from celebrating some seriously inaccurate historical myth, Columbus Day is a classic demonstration of the whitewashing of history and continued denial of rights and humanity of indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples in North America continue to fight state repression, racism, and horrendous health metrics, and the conditions for indigenous peoples in Central and South America are even worse. Take for example the big story coming out of Guatemala this week--that at least 6 protestors were killed and even more wounded by the Guatemalan military.

Columbus Day is an easy one to forget about--it's a minor holiday that I barely pay attention to since I don't get off from school anymore--but it is certainly important to reconsider, since we have a long way to go before indigenous people are treated equally.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Running for My Life

Today I paid $35 to run 3 miles in a Wonder Woman costume through a hilly cemetery.

The 5K benefitted the Friends of Laurel Hill organization, which holds educational events in the historic cemetery, and Gearing Up, an organization which "provides women in transition from abuse, addiction, and/or incarceration with the skills, equipment, and guidance to safely ride a bicycle for exercise, transportation, and personal growth."

Aside from the basic absurdity of paying money to run, these are good causes, and since the race was COSTUMED (Halloween theme heyoo) I signed up. And then all of a sudden it was race time and I had done almost no training. The thing about running is, I know all these people who run all the time and do races and say it's so fun, but whenever I go out for a light jog around the neighborhood I want to DIE. And Laurel Hill Cemetery is kind of a hard course because it might be the hilliest spot in Philadelphia. FORREAL. I thought I had asthma. But I finished.

They scored the best times for people in age categories 21+, 13-19, and 13 and under. My time was better than the time of the kid who won for the 13 and under bracket. Just saying. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Advice Corner: Slut Shaming


Recently we got asked a question on FOXJUICE about slut shaming. I have reposted my answer here, but you can read the original at FOXJUICE
Anonymous asked: Should a girl feel embarrassed or ashamed if a guy thinks she's a slut?
The sad part of the question is that no matter what I say, the girl will still probably feel embarrassed or ashamed if she is called a slut. That is how name-calling works.
When the It Gets Better project started two years ago to reach out to LGBT youth after a tragic spike in suicides among kids who had been bullied about their sexuality (or perceived sexuality), a lot of feminist bloggers brought up the idea of doing a similar project about slut shaming, which unfortunately also has prompted a number of suicides among teenage girls. Bloggers generally liked the idea but in general didn’t know what to say. Like, being slut-shamed feels bad right now… but someday it won’t suck so much?
I like logic, so here goes my attempt to logic-away some of the sting: “Slut” is a derogatory and gendered term. While in recent years it has become somewhat normalized and is thrown around “affectionately” by friends, occasionally applied toward males (often as “man-slut” or “man-whore”) it is almost always used on women. There is no male equivalent. Leora Tanenbaum, author of Slut! Growing up Female with a Bad Reputation has a handy guide to gendered descriptors, and lists terms for women that are positive and negative and terms for men that are positive and negative. The list of negative terms for women (slut, bitch, floozy, whore, etc.) is much longer than any of the other lists, and unsurprisingly, there are few terms that are complimentary toward women in regards to their sexuality. Men, on the other hand, get bachelor and ladies’ man and all sorts of other “positive” reinforcement for exploring sexual behavior.
The use of the word “slut” is tied to the antiquated idea that somehow a woman’s sexual behavior makes up her self-worth. That is why when Kristen Stewart cheats on her boyfriend she gets called a Trampire and skewered in the media, and when various male celebrities cheat on their wives, beat their girlfriends, solicit prostitutes, or engage in any sort of unsavory behavior, we tend to forget about it. Women are under an intense amount of scrutiny for their sexual behavior (and often simply their perceived behavior, Tanenbaum writes about girls who are virgins or simply have big boobs as being called sluts out of jealousy or simple adolescent spite) and it is not fair. It is not fair under any universe. It is a word that can have devastating repercussions for a girl’s reputation, especially in the age of the internet, where every terrible thing has the potential to be posted online, shared, commented on, and exacerbated.
Whether you have had sex with 0, 1, or 100 people, you are not a slut. You are not a whore, you are not a ho-bag, you are not a floozy, a tramp, a bitch, or a cunt. You are not promiscuous, loose, or easy. You are not a bad person, you are not deserving of ridicule, and you are not lesser. You are a human being with integrity and worth and promise and a goddamn right to your sexuality, however you wish to express it. Whether you wait til your wedding night or have sex in the back of a car when you’re in high school, your sexuality is your own and it is your own business. And you should never feel ashamed of your right to express your sexuality.
If you get called a slut, it will simply not feel good. Whether it is a boy or a girl who does the name-calling, you will probably feel embarrassed or ashamed, because that person is specifically calling you out for something that is private and shrouded in complicated social dynamics. This person is denying you your humanity and your right to your body and your choices. Perhaps you then feel embarrassed—question the clothes you were wearing, think about the boys you were talking to, or feel ambivalent about the experiences that you have had. In the harsh society that we have, that is natural. We have conditioned ourselves toward these responses. But I ask that you also feel ashamed and embarrassed for the name caller because he or she does not have the good sense to leave people alone. He or she does not have the integrity to allow you to exist unscathed and un-judged, probably because they did not have someone to tell them how to be a respectful person. And maybe he or she is insecure about something within their own life, and they are taking it out on you because they see you as an easy target, or they don’t like you, or they just feel like it. They are using an utterly uncreative word on you, a word that you do not deserve, to try to degrade you. This kind of cruel behavior is embarrassing. It is shameful.
I hope that you do not get called a slut. I hope that the people around you are better than that. And I hope that if you do, you have friends who will support you through it. I hope that you do not feel embarrassed or ashamed, or at least for not too long. I especially hope that if you know someone who has been called a slut or is repeatedly harassed and slut shamed that you reach out to her and let her know that she is not a slut. But what I hope most of all is that you never call anyone else a slut. I hope that you hold slut shamers accountable, and do not give them the power that they do not deserve. You are better than that.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Friday, August 31, 2012

Feminist Rap Friday: Deconstructing "Bad Bitch"


Lupe Fiasco's song "Bitch Bad" has been out for a couple months, but the video has just been released, which has reopened the floor to criticism.

The song follows two narratives, one of a girl who grows up watching video girls and is conditioned to emulate them herself. The other is a boy who grows up watching his mother sing along to songs about "bad bitches," so he grows up to associate that with power (and his mother). When the two meet later in life, the boy doesn't see the girl as emulating the good parts of "bitch" that he's grown up with, he just sees a BAD bitch.

As many critics have said, it's a really simplistic view of gender and of the construction of the word, "bitch," and ultimately blames women for not respecting themselves.  Akiba Solomon over at Colorlines has a great response in her August 30th article on the subject:

I say this as a black woman who has been called a bitch by men who look like me in the streets; had dudes who look like me throw juice and 40 bottles at me for ignoring their advances; had a man twice my age who looked like me call me a trick-ass ho for daring to hail a cab rather than riding with a stranger; had a classmate who looked like me shove me into a cafeteria conveyor belt because I wasn’t tactful enough when I told him I didn’t want his number; and had another one who looked like me call me an ugly black bitch with no ass just for averting my eyes. That kind of verbal abuse from people you’ve been raised to call “brother” has a cumulative effect. So if Lupe Fiasco or any other black male hip-hop artist takes the time out to say STOP!, I’ll ride for that effort and hope that the fair criticism propels him to another level the next time around. 

I'm not a huge fan of this song, but I think Fiasco is trying to come from a good place, and the subject definitely is prime for more discussion in hip hop. I am conflicted about my own uses of the word "bitch." It is a word that I think, I use too often. Usually it's just plain derogatory, which I know, but yet it still comes out of my mouth. Recently while hanging out with several of my feminist guy friends, I noticed that they unconsciously said "bitch" a lot.
"Ugh, look at that bitch," they would say.
"Yes, that FEMALE CHARACTER is being unpleasant," I would respond.
When asked to clarify my views on the word, I didn't really have a good response. I don't think the word should totally be eradicated from our lexicons but I also couldn't offer clear guidelines on when I thought the word was appropriate and inappropriate.

Honestly, country and hip hop are two genres that I listen to a lot of, but not so much with male artists.  Do you guys have any suggestions for actually feminist rap songs from male artists?

And additionally, do you use the word "bitch?" Why or why not? And do you think that there are appropriate and inappropriate uses of the word?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Call Me Maybe Parody of the Day



Cooch Watch is a sweet group in Virginia that is shaking things up since Virginia tends to be on the offensive for vagina freedom. They're going to be posting another music video soon, but this one is fabulous and hilarious ("Call Me Maybe" does NOT get old for me, literally every manifestation and parody of it I LOVE) so enjoy!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rape is Rape.

"The views expressed were offensive. Rape is rape. And the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we are talking about doesn't make sense to the American people and certainly doesn't make sense to me. So what I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn't have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women."
-President Obama, after Rep Todd Akin's (R-Mo) comment about "legitimate rape" and abortion that has seemingly blown up his campaign.


 One article I read (I think on Jezebel) pointed out that the "shock" over Akin's comments is misplaced. Shock is stupid. We know that politicians have ridiculously archaic views on women's health, that the past two years have been banner years in the US for horrifying statements about rape and personal integrity and personhood of women. Shock is over. It's just time to be mad.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Problems, Problems, Problems. The Conundrum of Rape Revenge Movies.

As someone who dithered away her liberal arts degree by taking as many film classes as possible (not my major... or either of my minors...), I took a special interest in the representation of women in horror movies, particularly slashers, and the connection between representation in movies and the actual political climate of the decade the movie was produced in.

In the process, I read a lot about women in horror, and something that came up again and again was the controversy over rape-revenge films, like I Spit on Your Grave (1978 and its 2010 remake) or The Last House on the Left (1972 with a 2009 remake). There are maaany more, but those two films mark the real beginning of this trend in horror, which had its real heyday in the 70s (not coincidentally, the same time that 2nd Wave Feminism made its mark). Rape-revenge films seem to be making somewhat of a come back though. I Spit on Your Grave and the Last House on the Left both had recent remakes, and movies like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hard Candy, Kill Bill vol. 1, and Teeth can certainly be counted among those ranks. I Spit on Your Grave has the distinction of being the most well-known rape-revenge film, so I watched the remake the other night to try to finally put together some thoughts on a genre that I have, for the most part, tried to avoid.

The argument for rape-revenge films is that it is a fantasy of empowerment for women. This is basically the same argument for the Final Girl in slasher movies, except that the Final Girl's motivation for life comes after all her friends are brutally murdered by a psychopathic stalker, and the revenge-taker in rape-revenge films derives her motivation from earth-shattering, gratuitously violent rape or gang rape. The tables turn, and the rape-survivor goes on to meticulously murder and torture her rapists until she finally has her revenge. The director of the original ISOYG, Meir Zarchi, said that inspiration from the movie came from a time when he and his daughter came across a bleeding woman in Central Park, who had just been brutally assaulted. The girl was mistreated at the police station and never received justice. Zarchi wrote the movie as a re-imagining of the process, one in which the rape survivor gets her revenge.

I Spit on Your Grave is horrifying. The basic premise is that a novelist, Jennifer Hills, goes out to a cabin to write her novel in the woods. A band of hillbilly locals, aided by the local sheriff, disgruntled by her stuck-up city ways (aka existing), decide to rape her.

What is striking about the first assault, and then first rape scene is that Jennifer Hills does everything that women are told to do. She does it "right." I have taken a self-defense class and what she does during her assault is exactly what we're told to do in the case of rape. She asks them nicely to leave, she uses alternative distractions ("my boyfriend is coming," "I'll have a drink with you, and then please leave"), yells, screams, says "No," and eventually physically fights back. When made to perform fellatio on a bottle of vodka, she uses an opening when her assailant is distracted to hit him in the knees and run away.

When she's captured again and raped, she breaks free from being restrained and punches the rapist in the face. Later on, weakened from being raped several times, and tortured, Jennifer still tries to reach for a gun before it's kicked away. I haven't seen the original (which apparently holds or held a record for the longest rape scene in a movie), but I was not incredibly disturbed by the rape scenes, probably more of a testament to my own desensitization than anything else, but they were not any more scandalous or graphic or horrifying than rape scenes I have seen in other movies (I think the one in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo takes the cake for me). Ultimately, I think the rape scenes were unpleasant to watch, and for most people, I would bet that they'd feel the same way. The rapes are portrayed as awful, the rapists despicable, and are shot in a way that does not overtly sexualize the assaults.

Although in his 1980 review of the original, Roger Ebert shared this from his experience watching the movie in theaters:
How did the audience react to all of this? Those who were vocal seemed to be eating it up. The middle-aged, white-haired man two seats down from me, for example, talked aloud, After the first rape: "That was a good one!" After the second: "That'll show her!" After the third: "I've seen some good ones, but this is the best." When the tables turned and the woman started her killing spree, a woman in the back row shouted: "Cut him up, sister!" In several scenes, the other three men tried to force the retarded man to attack the girl. This inspired a lot of laughter and encouragement from the audience.

I wanted to turn to the man next to me and tell him his remarks were disgusting, but I did not. To hold his opinions at his age, he must already have suffered a fundamental loss of decent human feelings. I would have liked to talk with the woman in the back row, the one with the feminist solidarity for the movie's heroine. I wanted to ask If she'd been appalled by the movie's hour of rape scenes. As it was, at the film's end I walked out of the theater quickly, feeling unclean, ashamed and depressed.
As always, well-said, Ebert. 

Thought to be drowned in the river, Jennifer comes back and violently murders each of her rapists. These scenes were actually the most unpleasant to watch for me, because the torture is truly horrifying. While I did not feel sympathy for the characters being tortured, I really just felt uncomfortable watching the torture in the first place. I have avoided the "gore-porn" genre of horror movies completely (for example, Saw and all of its sequels) because that level of grossness, even knowing that it is simulated, is not something I want to watch. I closed my eyes several times during this last half of the movie, too disgusted to watch Jennifer enact her revenge.

I think the most upsetting thing about rape-revenge movies, for me (*and I have never been assaulted), is the idea that the fantasy of torturing and murdering rapists is an empowering fantasy. In this political climate, I think this is just an offensive notion. If we are counting movies like I Spit on Your Grave as empowering because the girl who gets brutally gang raped gets brutal revenge on all her rapists then this is some seriously messed up stuff.

When Enough (2002) came out, the same debate happened, albeit on a smaller scale. Jennifer Lopez's character, Slim, escapes an abusive relationship and goes on the run with her daughter. When Slim's "freedom" is threatened by her ex's psychopathic stalking, she goes on the offensive and Batman's her way to revenge. (Yeah, I used Batman as a verb.) The final showdown feature's Slim's careful planning, using technology and martial arts skills to get her true revenge on her ex-husband. This movie too, is sometimes described as an empowering depiction of a woman escaping domestic abuse to achieve her ultimate revenge fantasy.

The real "empowering fantasy" that we should see as a response to rape or domestic abuse is an actual appropriate response to violence. When rape survivors are still interrogated on their use of alcohol or drugs, or on the skimpiness of their clothes, or on the "legitimacy" of their rape, the fantasy we should imagine, and fight for, is a society that does not treat rape survivors with suspicion. When rape survivors in college are presented with a variable labyrinth of bureaucracy to file complaints against their rapists, get their cases lost, or Native American rape survivors find it nearly impossible to prosecute non-Native rapists, this improbable murder-revenge rampage isn't empowering. When the Violence Against Women Act is constantly under threat of being amended to be less effective, or eliminated altogether, these are the real struggles that victims of rape and abuse face. Rape-revenge films and domestic violence-revenge films accept the status quo, that the system doesn't work, and present women with the fantasy of murder following their traumatic experience. While certainly some survivors probably wish their assailants dead or maimed or diseased or something, rape-revenge films disguise the real problem, that violent, gender-based violence is common and ostensibly legal.

(**And this doesn't even begin to cover the issues surrounding male survivors of sexual abuse or rape, or trans*, LGBT, or gender non-conforming survivors either.)

Monday, August 20, 2012

How to Turn on a Feminist Part II

A little over a year ago I wrote a short and handy (satirical) guide to getting with a feminist. It's really just the basics on how to be a decent human, with special respect towards that hottie feminist you want in your life. But as one reader aptly pointed out... what about US FEMINISTS?!

Hi Liz!

Guess what? It turns out that I am one of the beings who are led to your site after searching 'turn on feminist'. But since you seem to be an inquiring mind (as I am) who likes to take a look at things like search term data, I thought I would explain: I'm a young woman (who considers herself a feminist), wishing to have a good time, but against the rights abuses and negative imagery of the conventional sources of inspiration (aka the porn industry). Where does a rights- and media-conscious chick go on the internet to get sexily inspired? That was the question that led me here: and I am glad to have met a new blog! But the question remains...

New data for the set.

K

Thanks for the question, K! This question has plagued many a google-friendly feminist for years. How can you look up some good ole orgasm inspiration and avoid the plethora of sneaky surprise one-armed alien and a blonde chick fisting sites that are SO MUCH MORE COMMON than porn that is woman friendly?

1. First of all, if you're not totally opposed to porn, there is porn out there that is woman friendly. Basically, the porn industry is the Black Eyed Peas of porn. This is industry stuff, it's popular, it makes a lot of money, but it's kind of soulless and really painful. And besides the Black Eyed Peas of porn, there's also the NICKLEBACK of porn. And KID ROCK of porn. And for like, sane people, that's just unbearable. You're withering and dying in this void of horrible, horrible, industry options. BUT WAIT! Just like the music industry, there's independent stuff! There are the riot grrrl rebels who cast off tradition! There are the Mandy Moores who come back after their sugary pop phase and do their own thing! THERE IS GOOD STUFF AVAILABLE! Feministe has this helpful guide to resources for such porn (the post itself is SFW but the links are NSFW). There's even an annual Feminist Porn Awards, which has been around since 2006. Many people have said this, from pornstar Annie Sprinkle to author and journalist Caitlin Moran, but the answer to bad porn is not LESS porn, it's better porn! You might have to peep around and see what kind of stuff you like best, but having a starting point is so much better than the prospect of having to wade through the muck of terrible porn to find those feminist gems.

2. Porn is also basically everything. We are a world so saturated with porn, that everything from burger ads to PG-13 movies is all porned out. While there are negatives to this, the positive side is this: if you are not really into porn because of the low production quality and you know... other stuff, there are other sexxxy scenes. And those are in movies. And many of those are on youtube. My friend once spent half an hour on youtube, looking for the scene in My Best Friend's Wedding when Dermot Mulroney takes the ring off Julia Robert's finger with his teeth to prove to me that it was "the sexiest scene ever." Another one of my friends is obsessed with the episode 3.12 of Weeds when Nancy and Conrad finally hook up. Sexy scenes in regular old movies and TV shows can be potent stuff, and the graceful thing about the internet is that almost everything is available to you. And it's probably likely that you have some favorite scenes of your own, whether they're as tame as ring-removing via teeth, that racy Ryan Gosling/Michelle Williams cunnilingus scene (NSFW!) from Blue Valentine, or that scene in Ghost where Patrick Swayze seduces Demi Moore in the clay studio, these things are readily available... Thank you, youtube. Personally, I was so impressed by the upside down rain kiss in Spiderman  when I saw it back in the day (and thanks, The O.C., for your episode 2.14 recognition of this being the best ever), that years later when I had my first boyfriend I convinced him that it was something that we should try. So, with some creative couch maneuvering, we tried it, not quite the same as the movie, but I thought it was kind of cool. His comment, "I couldn't really breathe."

3. Feminist erotica! If the only erotica you know about is the stuff that gets published in the back of Cosmo or 50 Shades of Grey, you don't know erotica. Bitch Magazine has some great recommendations in this post, and many people have commented with their own favorites. If you're skeptical of the whole lack-of-actual-visuals thing, I recommend you read Caitlin Moran's glowing recommendation for erotica in her book How to be a Woman. Basically, dirty library books fueled this woman's sexual awakening. Once you read that, you may be more open to reading as a sexy pastime.

Anyone have recommendations of your own? I've posed the questions to my fellow bloggers on Foxjuice so we've all got our thinking caps on and will probably be posting something about this in the next few days. I'll be sure to link it here when that happens, but also if you haven't been reading Foxjuice... you should start!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

More than Just a Character

Check out this piece on Think Progress on the Influence of  Parks and Recreation.
 Here's a standout section:

But Leslie isn’t just likable—she stands for ideas more specific than the archetypes represented by Regan’s working mother [of Up All Night], Whitney’s committmentphobe [of Whitney], or Jess’s lovable kook [of New Girl]. That may be a limitation on the show’s ultimate audience, though I do wonder if a less surreal take on small-town public service could capture a wider viewership. But the point remains that Leslie has some problems that are inflected by gender, but the bigger idea she represents isn’t solely bounded by her sex. More lady shows could stand to have big ideas where the program’s perspective on it is tied to a main character’s gender, but not solely defined by the fact that she’s a woman. I’m all for explorations of femininity and what it means to be a woman, and I wish more male audiences were interested in those kinds of shows, or that the entertainment industry trusted them to be. But not everything every woman does is about gender and gender roles.
This is such a perfect sentiment. In this sense, Leslie Knope is a much more whole character than most other leads in comedy. Other sitcoms, like Up All Night, Whitney, and New Girl, are much more oriented toward pushing the light-comedy aspect of the show than anything else. Parks and Recreation, despite its broader context, is not outside of this sitcom norm. The MOON joined Model UN. Tom Haverford started an entirely ridiculous company, which bankrupts. Gay penguins got married. And this scene (linked because I'm not allowed to embed), in which Leslie and her crew walk across ice during a campaign rally might actually be one of the funniest physical comedy scenes written in the last decade. P&R is just as ridiculous when it comes to the funniness of sitcoms, but it also stands for something, and Leslie Knope is one of the most human characters, male or female, on television. It certainly helps that Amy Poehler is one of the most vocal comedians and feminists out there, but there are a lot of things involved in creating a show that is so fantastic.

Like Leslie, Tami Taylor (Connie Britton) of Friday Night Lights had a similar role. While the show centered on a high school football team, and ostensibly, Coach Taylor, Tami's husband, she is a shining star throughout all five seasons. While she certainly could have remained in the background and just been support to her husband, Tami gets a job as the school counselor at East Dillon, and isn't afraid to butt heads with her husband over issues that the students are facing. She's a vocal advocate for students' needs, especially for troubled teenager Tyra Collette, who emerges as an independent and strong character of her own. Tami later becomes the Principal of East Dillon, and when her husband whines that he misses "the coach's wife," she snaps, "I'm still waiting for the principal's husband," and he apologizes. (BTW their marriage... fictional marriage... is perfect.) When a student from West Dillon comes to her for advice on an unwanted pregnancy, Tami discusses the girl's options honestly and openly, including abortion. After it comes out that Tami spoke to the girl before she got the abortion, a few parents lead a crusade to get Tami fired. Instead of resigning or backing down, she negotiates her way into becoming the guidance counselor at West Dillon high school. At the end of the series, Tami has been hired as the Dean of Students at a prestigious school in Philadelphia (filmed at Temple University HEYO), and after discussing with her husband, they decide that it's her turn for her career to be the dominant one. The Taylors represent the best of what Friday Nights is about, which is about strong advocacy for the high school students on the show. Each of them, Coach Eric Taylor and Tami Taylor have their niche students (Coach Taylor even helps a female student become an assistant coach in the last season... tears to my eyes) and abilities, but the fact that they have interests and abilities beyond the basics of their characters makes the show interesting and inspiring to watch. Characters that stand for something make for great television.

Also... just check out how endearing Tami Taylor is.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bring It.

My friend Julie and I were at a concert a couple days ago, and walking past the ATM line heard the following exchange:

Guy 1: [To a female friend] Bitch, come this way.
Guy 2: Yo, you don't need to call her a bitch!

Julie and I obviously high-fived this hero.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hell yeah, Gabby Douglas


"I’m going to wear my hair like this during beam and bar finals. You might as well just stop talking about it."
-Gabby Douglas.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Why Contraceptive Use Matters



Via the Guttmacher Institute

A great break down of the necessity of family planning.

Choice Matters!

THE VIDEO MAY BE FUNNY, BUT BARRIERS TO CHOICE AROUND THE WORLD AREN’T.

Pathfinder International (a global leader in sexual and reproductive health!) has just released this video for their #ChoiceMatters campaign.

Share the video and go to Pathfinder International's website to learn more about the issue of reproductive and sexual health around the world. Hint: it's even crazier than in the US. Tweet your thoughts with the #ChoiceMatters hashtag and join the conversation to break down barriers to women's reproductive health and freedom worldwide.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

It is time that we realise that feminists come in all shapes and sizes. Some may wear heels and make-up; some feminists may not wear bras. The physical package of a woman is not what makes a feminist, but rather a commitment to gender equality and celebrating diversity amongst women.
Meghan Lewis

Monday, July 30, 2012

Until we change patriarchy, women can only play within this system. If we reject the game altogether - not worrying about the way we look - then we will be penalized through economic, political, and social discrimination.
Dr. Caroline Heldman