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.

What if we could re-VAMP the Mommy Myth? (pun intended)

I have my first guest post up at Girl With Pen. It’s entitled “The Mommy Myth that Will Not Die” and analyzes the Twilight’s saga’s representation of motherhood.

Can you all give it a read and please leave a comment?

Thanks much!!!


What if ….? Short Takes 11/19/09

As life and other projects are drastically reducing my blog-time here at Prof What if ? I have decided to start posting some short takes consisting of brief musings on recent news and events. Kind of like tweets I suppose, but I have not dipped into that world yet. Maybe soon.  Can someone as verbose and opinionated as me limit herself to 140 characters? Time will tell. For now, on with today’s short takes:

1.    KPBS this evening featured a cosmetic surgeon lamenting that healthcare reform is unfairly targeting cosmetic procedures with a 5% tax hike. He claimed this is sexist, using the rational that  86% of cosmetic surgical patients are women.  No, 86% of such patients are women because we live in a SEXIST SOCIETY that evaluates a woman s worth based on her looks!!! Duh! Profiting off this fact is not some altruistic anti-sexist endeavor as Dr. Knife-man claimed! Another Mr.Cut-em-up told sob stories about women who had been laid off and come into his office hoping to finance surgical procedures so they can look younger and  land a job. While the job-market (especially in certain fields) is undoubtedly lookist, making cosmetic surgery more affordable is not the answer!!! Instead, how about trying to dismantle the beauty/diet industrial complex? Instead, the fake boob factory scalpel boys are boo-hoo-ing their fat-sucking and botox-injecting are being targeted and it’s sexist. How about attacking the Stupid Amendment instead — you know, the one that limits a woman’s reproductive choice. This seems a little more pertinent to the sexist healthcare argument to me…

2.    Read today that the Pentagon is going to launch an investigation into the Fort Hood shootings  — isn’t that kind of like having the fox investigate why there are so many dead chickens in the hen-house?

3.    Saw a girl who looked about 5 wearing and  I love Edward  t-shirt. I am wondering how she knows this. Is someone reading the Twilight series to her as a bedtime story?  “Oh mommy, read to me again about how girls are so clumsy and I need a man to make happy!!!”  It’s Snow White but instead of just cooking and cleaning, Bella also trips over her own feet and reproduces sparkly human/vampire babies! Plus, she has headboard busting sex on a private island! Ooh, even better than Beauty and the Beast!

What if Edward is ruining it for mere (male) mortals?

(A guest post from Constant Revision.)

Dear Edward: A Twilight Series Retort

Goddamn you Edward Cullen! Damn the soul you may or may not have to hell! You have no right, as you are the most fictional fiction character there ever was, to set the standards of romance that you have.

Your character’s quite literal intoxicating presence have ruined any chance I may have ever had of being someone’s one and only.

Stories have swept water cooler conversations, marital counseling offices, and blogs like Fmylife.com, promoting the female species to ask themselves why males aren’t more like, the vampire, Edward Cullen. It’s not fair.

We males are cheated by this — there is no way men can fully convince their girlfriends they are vampires without being arrested for giving hickeys frightfully similar to assault.

What is it that makes you so much better than the rest of us, Edward?

Is it your pale white skin? Couldn’t be, albinos would be Hugh Heffner status.

Is it your animal-like blood lust? Nope, that would put cannibals at the top of the most eligible bachelor’s list.

I have a theory, please stop me if I am on the wrong track:

Women are enamored by your dangerously sexual dependence on one female whom you are supernaturally enthralled by.

This theory covers all the strong basis for attraction evident in your stories encapsulated via the claim “You are like my own personal brand of heroine.”

Your words fluttered teenage girls’ hearts across the nation and made their way to internet e-cards and social networking cites.

This sexual dependence is even more effective because it takes you so long to satisfy that urge.

The remission you have before indulging is equivalent to a starved dog obeying a sitting command when a juicy steak lay in front of it. What female doesn’t fantasize about being wanted like that? Not only does it make them feel visually appealing, but also needed.

I hope you know why us mere mortal men are unable to accomplish this feat. The reason we can’t live up to you is because the kind of obsessive behavior you enact would lead to stalking and restraining orders. (You didn’t get served that little slip by a process server only because Bella Swan feels the same way.)

Bella is, in fact, the entire reason that we could never live up to your image. She is just as enamored with you as you are with her. The connection between the two of you is quite literally love at first sight.

To meet the sick standards that you have set, that supernaturally obsessive feeling has to be mutual between two people. The women who tell their boyfriends that they wish they would act more like Edward Cullen should be careful about what they ask for. Because, if men follow suit, women might not be prepared to handle (or even like) that kind of adoration.

Mr. Cullen, because of the commotion you have started in the romantic world, and the trouble you have caused for the dating man, I sincerely ask you to stake yourself, or tear yours limbs asunder and throw them into a fire.

Whatever it takes to get you out of the picture and out of the minds of confused fans, just do it for the sake of those of us who are not fictional and actually have to deal with real life limitations and repercussions.

We can’t be you, we don’t want to be, and, quite frankly, there a number legal boundaries keeping us from that.


Don’t Bite My Girlfriend’s Neck

(Otherwise known as “Defender of the Dater” and “Constant Revision”)

What if so called “truth warriors” put down their misogynistic weapons?

Some time ago, Visible over at Smoking Mirrors analyzed the corporate media (dis)information machine in a post entitled “The Hydra-Headed, Blood-Sucking Bitch Media” (not linked for reasons to be revealed below). The post covered media corruption and control, closing with “Every one of you is a warrior for truth… or should be.” Yet, problematically, the post suggested that truth warriors are male and the media is a hydra-headed, blood-sucking bitch.

Visible writes,”The most pervasive and insidious enemy of the people and the truth is Bitch Media. This is the control booth that forms mass opinion and precipitates the impetus that fires the engines of war.”

I agree that we no longer have a free media, and that our media is a “control booth” perpetuating massive disinformation while inducing consumerist apathy. However, I take issue with the choice of terminology. I said as much in the comment I posted to the blog:

“I agree with your analysis of the corporate dis-information media machine. However, I am wondering why you chose the terms ‘bitch’ and ‘hydra’ to describe it.

Bitch is a term most often used to denigrate females — or to insult men by equating them to the feminine.

Moreover, the hydra is often represented as a many-headed female water snake. Thus, both of your descriptors, ‘bitch’ and ‘hydra’ equate the media with a monstrous femininity.

Seems to me the ‘raping phallus media’ would have been more appropriate — especially as the media is controlled by those with penis privilege, rather than vice versa.”

Visible replied,

“I’m sorry professor. I should have a sign on my blog but I don’t. This is a ‘PC-free’ one. We consider PC thug action to be easily as bad as anything else faced by humanity.

I’m wondering if you get after the hip-hop and rap artists or are they allowed more latitude for the obvious reasons?”

Well, it would have been nice if Visible had addressed my question rather than merely informing me the site is “PC-free” in a comment dripping with sexism and racism. This tactic of dismissal by way of using the catch all idea that political correctness is “thug action” on par with say genocide or imperialism is an interesting (if unproductive) form of evasion. While I readily admit that what is known as political correctness has its limitations, I also would point out that most who condemn political correctness as a totalitarian mind control come from the far right, or that side of the spectrum that calls feminists “victims” and POC “complainers.”

Moreover, my comment resulted in an onslaught of hateful comments and threatening emails. The animosity and violence displayed in these missives was the worst I have experienced in blogland; hence, I purposely did not hyperlink the post as I really do not relish the idea of more emailed threats to my person.

As to the question posed above, whether I “get after the hip-hop and rap artists,” well, yes, I do, at least to those who promote racism, misogyny, and other forms of hate. The notion that latitude would be given for “obvious reasons” puzzles-is this meant to imply that obviously ALL such musicians are black and therefore I, as a VICTIM FEMINIST would give them a “get out of misogyny free card” ?

Others responded in the thread by calling me “Professor Dickhead” and told me to “Stop acting like a bitch.” Yeah, original. When you call someone out on sexist terminology, they use more sexist terminology to attack you with (without, I might add, one shred of analysis.)

I support the 911-truth movement (of which Visible is a part). However, I would prefer my 911-truth and truth-seeking without the misogyny. Unfortunately though, a hypermasculinist undercurrent seems to run through much of the truth-seeking blogosphere. When I read many of the blogs of this ilk, I find myself questioning why women writers and activists are hardly ever included. Instead, we have descriptions of women like those at Smoking Mirrors such as “bimbo with the short skirt” or quotes like “You are Charlie Brown. Lucy is Bitch Media and the truth is the football.”

Call me a victim feminist (or bitch) if you will, but I would prefer warriors for truth that employ non-misogynstic weaponry.

What if we, as feminist bloggers, are governing our actions by the ethics of a lifeboat?

When I started this blog last May, I was a blog virgin. I had never blogged let alone read many blogs.

A woman near and dear to me had suggested I start a blog on a whim, noting that as I love to write so much, and academic writing is such a slow, cumbersome, rule-bound process, I should give blogging a try. With visions of pornified MySpace pages in my head, I was wary of the virtual style of communication. I wondered if my convictions that writing can serve as an important form of feminist activism and that theorizing (a la hooks) is a libratory practice could translate to the online universe.

I didn’t realize until diving into the blog waters how rich, vibrant, and diverse the blogosphere is. Being a feminist, I gravitated towards the deep pool of feminist blogs. However, I soon hit some rocks as I swam through the sometimes murky sometimes far too facile waters. I was variously buoyed up and drowned, wondering when and if feminism might serve as a floating device rather than an anchor. Among exhilarating surfs through intellectually critical prose, I was dismayed to find some serious pollution in the waters. White privilege clogged the atmosphere. Cisgender perspectives, transphobia, and heteronormanativty seeped into the discourse. Attacks and vehemence flowed, sometimes in a trickle, sometimes in torrents (and not only from foul trolls, but from feminist bloggers themselves).

As I kept writing and kept reading, I found myself variously exhilarated and depressed. The new ideas, the critical work being done in virtual spaces, the sense of community – all these were akin to a thrilling white water ride. But, the in-fighting, the ‘waves’ attacking one another, the highlighting of some voices and the silencing of others, these were like drowning yet again in all the problems that have plagued feminism for so long.

From the start, I had intended to invite both bloggers and non-bloggers to write at Professor, What if. Motivated both at a practical level and a theoretical one, I hoped to be able to keep my blog chugging along during the heat of the semester and full-time teaching AND to open up my little space to a diversity of voices. However, thanks to my communication with other feminist bloggers, I have come to see that the guest blogging paradigm can be exploitive. Further, it can serve to keep the ‘big fish’ firmly at the top of the food chain as the little minnows struggle not to be swallowed up.

I still have hope that sharing our virtual spaces and voices can be productive and transformative, but I realize now that these waters require very careful navigation if the intention is to keep everyone afloat. This concern brings the infamous essay “Lifeboat Ethics” to mind with its chilling premise there is not enough room in the boat for everyone. As its subtitle, “The Case against Helping the Poor,” indicates, the thesis purports we must govern our actions by the ethics of the lifeboat and realize there is not resources for everyone in the world to thrive.

As feminist bloggers, we must work against such a paradigm and endeavor to keep everyone afloat. Both those that request guest posts and those who agree to be guest bloggers should aim to keep everyone in feminist blog waters alive and well. Unlike that final sinking scene in the Titanic where those in the water are frantically pushing others down into the water to save themselves, I hope we can find a way to swim, rather than sink, together.

The first guest post will speak to some of these concerns, addressing the worrisome ways the feminist blogosphere functions as an empire, or lifeboat, rather than a flotation device. Do we want to be the colonizers, the colonized, or do away with the imperial process altogether? Do we want to launch a select few to safe land while letting others drown? While most feminists would immediately voice disdain for imperialist practices that exploit and oppress, I think we need to think very carefully about how our own actions sometimes further entrench, rather than erode, systems of power and privilege.