Monday, March 18, 2013

"... the socialization of boys regarding masculinity is often at the expense of women. I came to realize that we don’t raise boys to be men, we raise them not to be women (or gay men). We teach boys that girls and women are “less than” and that leads to violence by some and silence by many. It’s important for men to stand up to not only stop men’s violence against women but, to teach young men a broader definition of masculinity that includes being empathetic, loving and non-violent."

-Don McPherson, former NFL quarterback, feminist and educator

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Women & Influence

A little over a month ago now I attended the Women's Way of Philadelphia annual Women & Influence Conference. This year's theme was Women & Leadership, very appropriate considering that the United States is 95th in the world for women in legislature. Pennsylvania (where I live) is 47th in the country for women in elected office.

The keynote speaker was Sam Bennett, of the Women's Campaign Fund and the She Should Run Foundation, who even early on a Saturday morning was a firecracker. As her work is devoted to getting more women into office, she shared her own story to how she got to where she was, as well as some powerful facts concerning women in political office that she's come across:

1. The most important pre-indicator in whether a woman will run for office is if she runs for something in elementary school/middle school/high school. We should be encouraging girls to get involved in student government!

2. There is no such thing as mild sexism. All of it is electorally devastating. Women drop 7-10 points when it happens and the possibility of sexism in campaigning is a huge deterrent to women running in the first place.

3. But when candidates call out that sexism, it brings those points back and gives them a bump in poll numbers. Conventional campaign wisdom used to say that female candidates had to ignore the sexism lest they be called a whiny girl, but research by the WCF and She Should Run Foundation say that it makes candidates look more assertive and brave.

4. Women don't run because they're not asked. On average, a woman needs to be asked six times before she decides to run. Later in the conference someone brought up the point that when men are applying to jobs, if there is a list of 6 qualifications that potential candidates should have and they have 2 or 3, they will still apply. Women, if they are missing one of the qualifications, will not. Men and women are socialized differently, so for now we should be asking more women to run for office. 

5. When women do run, they win in equal numbers. Fear of losing is irrational when you're not even running!

6. When women run for office, they tend to raise more money than their male counterparts because they work harder. You wonder why Hillary Clinton is so scrappy? She works really really hard! 

7. Women report being concerned about a work/life balance. 0% of men report a similar concern.

8. Women are concerned about the impact of negative campaigning and sexist media coverage of their families.  0% of men report a similar concern (even a fear of negative campaigns.)

9. Women are concerned about raising enough money for their campaigns. Research shows that women give to campaigns (male or female) significantly less than men. Sam encouraged the audience to give just $5 whenever you see a female candidate you like! (The price of a grande Starbucks specialty drink!) And as Cheryl Bullock, Senior Advisor and Southeast PA Regional Director for Senator Bob Casey, Jr., said later in the day, "If you want good leaders you've got to spend money to support those leaders."

So... are you thinking about running for office now?

Monday, March 11, 2013

"Anyone who knows anything of history knows that great social changes are impossible without female upheaval." 
-Karl Marx

Saturday, March 9, 2013

"I’m a feminist because I believe in women… it’s a heavy word, feminism, but it’s not one I think we should run from. I’m proud to be a feminist."
-Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

"I'm a part of the Women's Movement even if no one knew it but me." 
- Judy Blume in "Makers: Women Who Make America"

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Birth Control on the Bottom

This is actually the most brilliant sketch I have ever seen and it's so good that I'm mad... and now I'm watching it AGAIN.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Many young men today have a shockingly strong sense of male superiority and a diminished capacity for empathy. They believe that the capacity for empathy and compassion has to be suppressed, early on, in the name of achieving masculinity. That this is true despite the progress of the women’s movement, parents who are psychologically aware and moral, stunning opportunities for men and women, is disappointing at best. But there is no way around it: Most young men who engage in acts of violence—or who watch them and do nothing, or who joke about them with their friends—fully subscribe to traditional ideologies about masculinity. The problem isn’t psychological; these guys aren’t deviants. If anything, they are overconforming to the hyperbolic expressions of masculinity that still inform American culture.
Michael Kimmel, Guyland

Laci Green on Life Before Roe

January 22nd is the 40th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade. Check out Sex+ Educator Laci Green's video on the significance of this event.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Fake Dead Girl and a Real Dead Girl... Guess Who the Media Cares More About?

If you're on twitter or facebook or the internet or anywhere in earshot of people who like making jokes about nationwide scandals (I was pretty proud of my hashtag, #morelikenotreSHAME), you've probably heard about Manti Te'o's fake dead girlfriend. The Notre Dame football player gained sympathy this year when he revealed his long distance girlfriend, who survived a brutal car accident, died of cancer the same day that his grandmother died. (His grandmother really did die. That was real.) Whether this was a calculated press grab or a Catfish gone wrong, it's all anyone can talk about.

Notre Dame's reaction to the Te'o scandal (both before it broke and after) has been much larger, as the internet is starting to notice, than their reaction to the 2010 suicide of St. Mary's College freshman Lizzy Seeberg, who died shortly after filing a formal complaint against a Notre Dame football player for sexual assault. The rape case was dismissed, and Seeberg's legacy and unfortunate end (even more unfortunate that this is the fate of many women who have brought sexual assault charges against college athletes) was largely forgotten. Until now.

Irin Carmon for Salon astutely points out that Te'o's story is a "better" one. It's easy to make jokes about, easy to speculate on, and easy to create sensationalist press about. Seeberg's story is tragic and complex. Her story brings in the culture of idol worshipping college athletes receive at large universities. Her story brings in the complicated relationship that college campuses have with handling sexual assault charges. Her story brings in the issue of how to handle harassment after filing a claim of sexual assault. Her story brings into focus the number of women who commit suicide after being raped. None of that is easy to talk about.

In a December article, Melinda Henneberger wrote about why she wasn't excited for her alma mater's, Notre Dame's, football season. (Before the Te'o scandal broke.) She said, "There are plenty of good guys on the team, too, I’m repeatedly told. And oh, that Manti Te’o is inspiring. I don’t doubt it. But as a thought exercise, how many predators would have to be on the team before you’d no longer feel like cheering?" (Emphasis mine.)

People remain divided on the sanctions against Penn State football, and honestly, I don't follow college sports despite having gone to a university with a large sports culture of its own. But should we really be giving these institutions money and attention when there is so much evidence that some college athletes abuse their exalted positions and that the school will cover up their indiscretions? (And sometimes, this culture begins in high school!)
Dave Zirin, my favorite sportswriter (okay, the only sportswriter I read but he's awesome), sums it up nicely:
Within hours of the story breaking online, Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick held a press conference where he backed Te’o to the hilt ... [and] even cried. His behavior only raises more important questions than anything Te’o will face tomorrow. Why hasn’t there been any kind of privately funded, outside investigation into the alleged sexual assaults committed by members of the football team? ...It says so much that Te’o’s bizarre soap opera has moved Swarbrick to openly weeping but he hasn’t spared one tear, let alone held one press conference, for Lizzy Seeberg, the young woman who took her own life after coming forward with allegations that a member of the team sexually assaulted her. Swarbrick’s press conference displayed that the problem at Notre Dame is not just football players without a compass; it’s the adults without a conscience.
This is not to say that all college sports are morally bankrupt. This doesn't mean that I hate football or the players or their coaches. But when we continually face down these stories of abuse of power and sexual assault within the context of college sports, isn't it time to reconsider the kind of power and privilege we grant to these programs? And at the very least, make a concerted effort to change the culture of college sports so that we expect these men to honor their female peers the same way they honor commitment to their teams.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

For a Good Time, Watch For a Good Time, Call…

I’d seen the trailer a few times, and as the loyal feminist I am, pledged to myself that I would see the female-centered, lady-written comedy, For a Good Time, Call… , despite not being that excited from the trailer. One day, after reading an interview with writer Katie Naylon on her experience with the film and her brief college experience with phone sex, and seeing that it was available for rent on Amazon, I queued it up.
And ohhhhhhhmyeffinggod, it was amazing. 
Lauren, an uptight girl whose plans come crashing down, and Katie, a free spirit with an expensive apartment, are forced to live together out of economic necessity. Lauren soon discovers that one of Katie’s many strange jobs is working as a phone sex operator, and when she realizes that she can’t get back on her feet so easily, she and Katie become business partners, and finally learn to like each other.

What I loved about the movie was how the characters eschewed bland stereotypes—which tend to be a hallmark of female driven comedies (even perfectly funny and fun comedies like Pitch Perfect). Lauren isn’t the typical uptight RomCom girl who needs to be broken by a fun man—she actually finds herself on her own (and with the help of Katie). And Lauren isn’t a ditzy slut—she is much more layered than that. Also Justin Long as their best gay friend Jesse was fantastic. 
The core of the movie really explores female friendships, which is something that if you ever talk to me for more than 30 seconds, I am obsessed with. But where many other movies about female relationships kind of fall short, For a Good Time triumphs. While the two girls’ romantic relationships are an aspect of the movie, ultimately it’s is about the two of them and the story of their unlikely friendship. 
So, please please pleeeaaase do yourself a favor and watch this movie. I have already downloaded it on iTunes so I can watch it everyday forever. 
(Originally posted on Foxjuice)