What if you would like to learn to suck dick? Well, apparently you should opt for a degree in male studies…

While away from the blogosphere for several days, it seems I have been infected by a virulently misogynistic troll. Said commenter has littered comment threads with reference to “Male Studies” and lovely comments such as “Hello again Sexist/Bigot/Fascist!” and “Male Studies will begin this year at the OnStep Institute. Suck my dick.”

Who knew we needed a new academic discipline to learn how to suck dick?

Said commenter also claims patriarchy does not exist and refers to me repeatedly as a bigot. Hmmm, seems that his male studies curriculum might need to include a “how to read the dictionary 101” course.

I am certainly devoted to my feminist opinions and analysis, but I do not consider myself intolerant of other opinions. I do not, for example, go trolling on men’s rights websites and leave hateful comments. I do not treat others with hatred and intolerance in the way this commenter has repeatedly done at this site (and I assume at other feminist blogs as well).

I debated whether to approve the repeated hateful comments. In the end, I decided not to trash them even though they are bigoted and hateful. To do so would be to go against my belief that open dialogue is necessary and that even those ignorant of their own misogyny deserve to be part of the conversation. Granted, I wish commenters such as the one currently trolling this blog would make better use of their and my own time – what is the point of visiting openly feminist blogs only to spew hate and try to advertise male studies? News flash buddy, we are not interested in buying what you are selling! (And, I think you may have to learn to suck your own dick as I doubt anyone is interested… View the film Shortbus for some pointers in this department…)

Published in: on February 21, 2010 at 8:04 pm  Comments (9)  

What if the U.S.A. extended its holidays to include more than DWMs (dead white males)?

Sure, the US has a few days honoring those other than DWMs (Martin Luther King, Jr. day, for example). Yet, for the most part, the USA closes  schools, banks, post offices, etc to honor those of the dead white male persuasion.

Seeing that this year President’s Day and Susan B. Anthony Day fall on the same day, the strikingly un-diverse practice is put into sharp relief. How many people know it is SBA Day? How many kids study her work, and the work of other important women, as much or as often as that of all the dead white dudes?

I found a 3rd/4th grade lesson plan on SBA here. Thank Aphrodite for teachers that recognize SBA deserves as much (or more!) attention than former presidents.

As Miriam at Feministing notes in her “Today in Feminist History” blog column, most recorded history is about white men:

“In just the few months that I’ve been doing this series, I’ve encountered how difficult it can be to find important feminist historical moments, particularly organized by date. Especially when I’m doing most of my research online. So much of recorded history (particularly available on sites like Wikipedia, NY Times on this day) is about white men.”

This is why the 90th birthday of the league of women voters goes relatively unnoticed (except at feminist blogs, as here) and why I couldn’t find any mega big, mainstream blog covering SBA day. Seems like with all the coverage DWMs and AWMs (alive white males) get, we could pay a tad more attention to women’s history. (Yes, I know, it’s called HIStory for a reason…)

As noted by A Funny Feminist (who posted the someecard above), having this day off school “is a total wasted opportunity for kids to learn about presidents and other government whatnot.”

Just imagine if ONE day a year were devoted entirely to learning about women’s history? Yeah, we say there is a month, but my kids experience thus far reveals that Women’s History Month usually involves putting a few women’s pictures on the wall and maybe doing one report on an important woman. If I didn’t cajole some of the teachers into letting me talk in their classrooms during the month, there would be NO mention of feminism and no coverage other than the “rockstar women” that all the kids have already heard about…

If we really did honor these “Other” months, imagine the twist people like the white male studies peeps would get their boxers/briefs in!

Happy Susan B. Anthony Day everyone.

What if this season men-of-color get to rule the island? (Hypermasculinity and its ‘Others’ on Lost)

Lost provides particularly fertile ground for an analysis of desirable masculinity through both its ‘hypermasculine’ traditionally attractive male characters  (Jack and Sawyer) and the many ‘others’ that the show, via various means, codifies as ‘hot.’

Sawyer is often cited as the “guy we’d like to be stuck on a deserted island with,” (as here), but other males get there share of love too, as with Feministe’s fondness for Sayid.

While Jack and Sawyer, the two traditional male hotties of the show, represent white, macho, hetero-masculinity, the show offers us a number of other ‘male beauties’ notable for their diverse skin color, body size, age, race, ethnicity, etc.

Moreover, by ‘de-masculinizing’ many characters and showing them as vulnerable, emotional, dependent, etc, the show also subverts normative gender expectations.

By often placing beauties ‘others’ at the center of viewer identification and aesthetic fondness, the show in effect allows viewers a ‘post-colonial’ gaze that promotes appreciation and identification with those historically designated as Other (through characters such as Jin, Sayid, Miles, Michael, Walt). As the show relies on the ‘stranded island motif’ utilized by Defoe and others, post-colonialism readings seem particularly apt.  While it initially seemed as if the ‘white male studs’ would rule the island and be the ‘heroes,’ Lost undercuts this tradition sometimes and, if the two-hour premiere was any indication, this just may be the season where men-of-color drive the narrative .

By expanding desirable masculinity beyond the Jack and Sawyer types to include Locke, Hurley, Jin, Sayid, etc. the show (partially) breaks with a long tradition of elevating the white man to a god, and demeaning all others to villains or servants.  Alas, as the premiere revealed, it seems the white man is both god (blonde haired-blue eyed Jacob) and devil (the ‘new’ Locke). But, might Sayid be the ultimate island hero? Or is he, as hour three suggested, “infected”?

Especially via characters like Kate and Juliet, the show also includes power/leadership/deity status in female form. However, I doubt island power will be revealed as matriarchal in this final season.

Lost may(partially) capture a cultural call for a diversifying of beauty, gender, sexuality, and power, but it is hardly the new feminist frontier. But, hey, we did get to see Sawyer crying this week.

Published in: on February 11, 2010 at 12:00 am  Comments (1)  
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What if you want to focus on something else besides crazy James Dobson’s cult commercial on Superbowl Sunday?

There has been excellent and inspiring critique around CBS’ heinous decision to air the anti-choice ad bankrolled by Focus on the Family. I really like NARAL’s call to use social networking sites to spread the word about the importance of NOT focusing on this add tomorrow. (To read the call about updating your facebook status and twitter feeds with posts showing your support for pro-choice, go here.)

During the superbowl, I will choose not to focus on CBS, the football machine, nor FonF’s anti-choice ad. Instead, I will focus on spending time with my kids and ensure we discuss the importance of reproductive justice and pro-choice legislation/activism. My daughter deserves the right to make choices about her body and its reproductive capacity. My son deserves to live in a world where all humans are supported to make the best reproductive choice for their bodies and futures.

I do have to admit that Like Elizabeth Gilbert of Mother Jones, “I have a general, albeit sometimes irrational, distaste for quarterbacks.” She explains her distaste as follows: “There’s something about their deified status, the fact that they’re often positioned as Great White Hopes on mostly black teams…”

I agree, and would add that my distaste includes all of football, not just quarterbacks. My dislike is fueled by the history of rape, sexual assault, homophobia, misogyny, and violent masculinity linked to the football machine. It is also fueled by my personal history – I was dragged unwillingly to all my older brother’s football teams as a kid.

I realize my stance lands me in the “anti-American” camp according to some. (That’s ok, because I don’t put much truck in nationalistic patriotism…) I imagine I am in the minority for insisting my son NOT play football – I don’t want him ending up with serious injuries like my dad, brother, nephew, and cousin. Neither do I want him to be part of a sport that too often seems to glorify aggression and the “tough guise.”

So, like Gilbert, I am happy to weigh in on the Superbowl add abortion debate and come down on the side of this-is-yet-another-reason-football-sucks…

As Gilbert notes, the poster boy of the anti-choice ad, Tim Tebow, is known for “declaring his virginism and etching bible passages into his eye-black for every game.” Charming.

The ad is sponsored by the scary, scary Focus on the Family cult, headed by the anti-choice deity James Dobson.

The ad will reportedly include testimony from Tim’s momma who will wax emotional about how wonderful it is she chose life – or chose to have the now mega money making handsome Timmy. I would wager (did I just use a Palin word?!?) that the ad will NOT include details about maternal mortality rates or other icky details about how “choosing life” often also means choosing generational poverty let alone frames future children’s lives as more important than the lives of existing women.

The ad is even more odious considering it features a woman who “disregarded the advice of her doctors and risked death to give birth to the Football Messiah” (as noted in this excellent post). What else the ad probably won’t share is that Pam Tebow had constant medical care, something most of the worlds mamas-to-be don’t share (especially if they don’t share Pam Tebow’s white skin privilege).

The controversial ad was made even more contentious with the news CBS refused to run an ad from ManCrunch, a gay dating site. As Michael Rowe writes at Huffpo,

“The network’s rejection of it merely highlights the obvious: that CBS had already decided where its ethical priorities lay when they accepted the commercial from Focus on the Family last week. Those priorities clearly don’t lie with women, or with progressives, or with any group that happens to find itself on Focus on the Family’s no-fly list.”

No, their priorities lie way, way, way on the right side of the bed, on the same side as Focus on the Family. I don’t wish to sleep anywhere near that side of the bed and I sure as heck wish it wasn’t so crowded.

I am reminded of the childrens song “Ten in the Bed.” I wish we could all roll over and knock this ad out of CBS’ bed, that’s for sure. Let’s at least keep airing our voices and proudly share our support for a woman’s right to choose. Let’s focus on creating families where female lives and choices are valued just as much as those of football heroes…

What if links – 2/6/10

Any Lost fans? If so, please check out my first Pop Goes Feminism at Girl with Pen

Renee, as per usual, has a great list of links at today’s “Drop it Like It’s Hot”

For another great link round-up, check out Gender Accross Borders here.

DNMP Politico has more good links of the week here.

Ah, we need more hours in the day to read all these blogs!

Happy Saturday everyone.

Published in: on February 6, 2010 at 12:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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What if we aimed Haiti relief/aid efforts with gender in mind? Or, It’s not about hating men, it’s about helping Haitian women

If one can wrangle any positive shards from the rubble that now pervades Haiti’s landscape, I would say that it would be the tremendous outpouring of concern and aid. Unfortunately, such concern tends to aid and aid donations shrivel once the media moves onto its next story.

Once the Haiti earthquake is merely a blip on the mental desktop of most Americans (like Hurricane Katrina before it), the situation for the majority of Haitians will not have changed for the better. Rather, especially for women and children, the situation is likely to be even worse. This is why some organizations are targeting their aid at women and children.

As reported by Tracy Clark-Flory, the “women and children” first aid model some organizations are taking makes sense due to the fact that women and children “are typically the ones most vulnerable in the wake of a catastrophe.”
Before the earthquake, Haitian women were already dealing with extreme poverty, lack of adequate healthcare, high rates of HIV/AIDS, and huge infant and maternal mortality rates. They live in a country that only made a rape a criminal offence in 2005, where at least 50% of women living in the poorer areas of Port-au-Prince are raped. And, as reported by the UK’s Times Online, in post-earthquake Haiti, rape is rife in the makeshift camps in and around Port-au-Prince.

Haiti also has a serious child trafficking problem and huge numbers of girls working as domestic servants. The number of women and children trafficked from Haiti will likely rise post-earthquake. In fact, the UN reports children going from hospitals in Haiti, suggesting trafficking as the likely cause.

Even before the earthquake,  Haitian mothers, as detailed by the International Childcare organization, had to “cope with the fact that one in eight Haitian children never live to see their fifth birthday due to infectious disease, pregnancy-related complications, and delivery-related complications. In Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, many parents cannot afford to send their children to school, give them proper medical care, or even guarantee that their children will have safe drinking water.”

For all of these reasons, Haiti needs what Lucinda Marhsall calls “Gender-Responsive Aid.” As she notes,“there are needs that are specific to women, particularly for pregnant women and mothers with new babies and the need to address the added vulnerability to violence that women face when government infrastructures are dysfunctional.” Yifat Susskind of MADRE  confirms this argument, noting “”One of the things we know is everywhere there’s this kind of disaster there’s a stark rise in violence against women in…When men deal with very, very difficult stresses, one of their outlets is violence against women.” In addition to the tendency for increased violence against women in the aftermath of a disaster (as also noted here), women are already economically disadvantaged in Haiti (due in large part to what is commonly known as the feminization of poverty).

As noted by MADRE,

“…women are often hardest hit when disaster strikes because they were at a deficit even before the catastrophe. In Haiti, and in every country, women are the poorest and often have no safety net, leaving them most exposed to violence, homelessness and hunger in the wake of disasters.

Because of their role as caretakers and because of the discrimination they face, women have a disproportionate need for assistance. Yet, they are often overlooked in large-scale aid operations. In the chaos that follows disasters, aid too often reaches those who yell the loudest or push their way to the front of the line. When aid is distributed through the “head of household” approach, women-headed families may not even be recognized, and women within male-headed families may be marginalized when aid is controlled by male relatives.”

Further, to make matters even worse for Haitian women, when the earthquake hit, Haiti’s Ministry of Women was holding a meeting. Almost everyone there was killed or injured. So the very people interested in helping Haitian women were lost to the community. (For the full story, see here).

However, despite the fact women and children were ALREADY disproportionately disadvantaged in Haiti, despite the fact that Haiti has lost numerous women’s rights leaders, men’s rights activists have taken up the “you all are a bunch of man-haters” rallying cry.

For example, Robert Franklin suggests that calls like the one made by Clark-Flory “ignore men or boys in need in favor of women and girls.” Accusing her of misandry, he makes similar arguments to those put forward in the “Amidst Haiti Disaster, Women’s Groups Seek to Deny Relief to Men” article at Spearhead. Claiming that “women’s groups are heading to a disaster area with the same anti-male agenda with which we are so familiar,” pieces such as these ignore the gendered realities of our world – realities that put women at greater risk.

Such articles also ignore the fact that women get pregnant (current reports estimate that the earthquake has put at least 63,000 pregnant women at risk in Port-au-Prince alone) and also (as humorously pointed out here) fail to recognize that menstruating women require tampons and pads.

For the global mamas in Haiti, for the women and children of this, the poorest country in the Western world, we need to ensure that aid organizations are aware of gendered realities. It’s not about hating men, it’s about recognizing a gendered response to this disaster is necessary.

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