Thursday, December 24, 2009

A different take on Christmas

A little post for tonight: a new look at the Christmas story from the incredible Jeanette Winterson (h/t AfterEllen)!

Happy Holidays, from FWF...I'll be back bloggin' fresh on Monday.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Sarah Haskins: Lessons Learned in 2009

Bring on 2010! Enjoy...


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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Things I'm Looking Forward to in 2010...

#1. The new movie about The Runaways starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning (who, last time I checked, was eight...now she's a teenager...I feel old...).



(H/T AfterEllen.)

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Princess and the Frog

So I'm curious about the newest edition to Disney's princess franchise, The Princess and the Frog. It opened last weekend, and it's one in a long list of films I want to see this holiday season (others include Blind Side, It's Complicated, Invictus, Nine, and Avatar). On a positive note, it features a black princess--about time, Disney!--although there's apparently been some controversy about the fact that her prince isn't also black. Personally, I'm not sure why that's a problem. An African American princess and a Latin American-esque prince? The more diversity the better, I say.

However...while I'm in full support of an interracial Disney prince/princess coupling (well, as much as I'm in support of any prince/princess coupling...so that's not saying much), the first time I saw the preview for The Princess and the Frog a few months ago, I was a bit edgy about the way some of the other characters were represented. I realize the film's set in New Orleans and so the characters need Cajun accents. I also realize that there are typically evil witches and wizards and sorcerers pitted against the heroes of Disney pictures, hence the witch doctor. But does the combination of these things--plus the grungy firefly with the missing teeth--in the first Disney film to feature a black princess make anyone else twitch a little with stereotype-overload?



I really want to like this film, but I'm a little worried... So, has anyone seen it yet? What did you think?

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gay Marriage and Gay Mayors

Considering moving to either Washington D.C. or Houston, TX. Aren't you?

D.C. Council Approves Gay Marriage:
“Today’s vote is an important victory not only for the gay and lesbian community but for everyone who supports equal rights,” said Councilman David A. Catania, an independent and the author of the bill.

Opponents have vowed to overturn the bill by putting it to a referendum or by working with Congress, which has a month to review the measure once it is signed.

[...]

Councilman Catania opposes putting the matter to a popular vote. He noted that in a referendum in 1865, only 36 of the city’s residents voted to extend the franchise to African-American men.

“It isn’t that I’m fearful of losing,” Mr. Catania said. “I think the process is diminishing. I think that putting the rights of minorities on the ballot and allowing the forces of intolerance to spend an unlimited amount to demonize and marginalize a population is unsavory.” (emphasis mine)
And...a great political cartoon from the Houston Chronicle (via the Bilerico Project) about Houston's new openly-lesbian mayor-elect, Annise Parker.


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Monday, December 7, 2009

NY State Fail, Diane Saviano Win

I'm a little late on the uptake, but Senator Diane Saviano's impassioned response to the NY State's gay marriage disappointment is fantastic!



H/T Jezebel and several of my FB friends.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bella vs. Buffy

I've admonished my partner for talking down about the Twilight movies when she hasn't actually seen them--hence Twilight is now sitting shamefully at the top of our Netflix queue--which is why I haven't yet posted any sort of take down (or praise???) of the series on this blog. I haven't read the books. I haven't seen the movies. A good friend of mine with preteen daughters described the books, and not favorably, as "Harlequin romance for prepubescent girls," and I'm just too busy to waste my time on a whole series of books I won't even enjoy. It's not even worth the pleasure of being able to critique them. On the other hand, I think I can probably sit through the movies and maybe even be able to enjoy them, so count on my Twilight-related commentary (better late than never) sometime in the next month or so.

That said, just because I don't feel qualified to talk about the series, doesn't mean I can't engage with other people's critiques -- for example, this one from Fannie's Room, in which she compares Twilight's Bella to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is great. And, as a companion piece, there's a video version of this epic comparison (although the video is more of a "if Buffy met Edward..." mash-up):



I know critiques of New Moon and the Twilight series have been floating across my RSS feed over the past month, and I'd be eager to read more of them. So, if you've seen a good post about the films/books or written one, please feel free to comment with a link below.

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Friday, December 4, 2009

SYTYCD

Can I just say how much I love Ellenore on So You Think You Can Dance?





I don't have anything really constructive to say except, in the words of Mary Murphy: "WOOOOOOHOOOOOOO."

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

An Untapped Market

Here's a television show idea that hasn't been done yet: a cooking show where the hosts talk politics; ideally, they could pair the dishes they're creating with the political topics of the day. It could be a cross between The Rachel Maddow Show and Martha Stewart. What would that look like, you say?

Look and see.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

And now for something frivolous...

...which will hopefully be as fun as it looks.

Tina Fey and Steve Carell in a romantic comedy/buddy film/action adventure? Bring it on!



(H/T AfterEllen)

And...care of Salon Broadsheet, a new feminist pop punk band to check out:


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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

No Girls Allowed, Academic Version

Love this (from The New Yorker, h/t Sociological Images):


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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn, NY Calling All Women Artists

Just a quick PSA:

A.I.R. Gallery invites you to participate in an invitational holiday exhibition of small works, Generations VII, December 2nd- January 3rd 2010. The exhibition includes a silent auction. Sales will benefit participating artists and A.I.R. Gallery. 60% of the proceeds of each work will be paid to the artist within one month after the close of the exhibition. The remaining 40% of sales will support the A.I.R. Fellowship Program for Emerging and Underrepresented Artists. Please join this biennial celebration of art made by women!

Entry forms must be postmarked by November 22, 2009. More information about A.I.R. Gallery and the exhibition guidelines can be found here.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

On Not Saying the Pledge of Allegiance

When I was in elementary school, I decided to stop saying the Pledge of Allegiance in school because my family was atheist and I thought it absurd that a pledge to a supposedly secular nation included the phrase "one nation, under God" (that said, I should've stopped using American money, too, but that seemed a bit complicated). This was not my parents' choice, but my own, and I went many years during pledge time either just standing up and not saying anything or remaining seated at my desk. After a brief explanation, teachers were very accommodating and no one ever tried to force me to say the pledge--and I wasn't alone, as a friend of mine (whose family was Dutch and also atheist) and a good acquaintance (who was a Jehovah's Witness) also didn't say the pledge. The (non-)response of my teachers and classmates is just a testament to how liberal my primary schools and teachers were (and, for the record, I went to public school). I felt I was taking a stand and, as an 8 or 9-year-old, that was very important to me. But, considering my environment, I wasn't taking a huge risk.

But this kid, who refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance in spite of his (then substitute) teacher's protests and classmates' teasing and in support of same-sex marriage rights, is my hero:



Also, check out this great rebuttal to the boy's detractors from a reporter at the Arkansas News.

With all the other crap going down right now vis-a-vis same-sex marriage and health care and the war(s) in the Middle East, at least there are a few good things left. Maybe the younger generation really will be different?

(Via Huff Po.)

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More "Fun" with Google Search

After Stiletto Revolt's enlightening experiment with Google Search (h/t Feminist Law Professors), I decided to conduct one of my own.

The results:


Apparently, however, "feminism" has a better rap than "feminists," since this version turned out marginally better:


Sigh.

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Two Steps Forward, But How Many Steps Back?

I've read one interesting and one infuriating article about same-sex marriage published in the past few days that are definitely worth sharing. The first, from The New York Times, talks about the dichotomy of popular mainstream lesbian celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres and the struggle for same-sex marriage rights in the US:
In what may have been the most public display of gushingly romantic affection between two gay or lesbian celebrities, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi professed their love in the secular chapel of Oprah Winfrey’s daytime talk show on Monday.

The moment came less than a week after voters in Maine, like those in 30 states before it, rejected same-sex marriage, and just a day before New York legislators would again postpone consideration of a bill to legalize such weddings, conceding inadequate support.

[...]

In the handful of states where same-sex marriage is legal, legislatures and courts — not voters — have made it so. A few polls in recent months have suggested that while a majority of Americans believe that gay couples should be able to enter into unions with some of the legal protections of marriage, a minority believe that gays and lesbians should be permitted to “marry,” per se. Same-sex marriage doesn’t fit into the kind of family that many Americans believe should be idealized; it offends many others’ deeply felt religious principles.

And yet Ms. DeGeneres, who exchanged vows with Ms. de Rossi during a span last year when same-sex marriage was legal in California, seems more popular than ever — and among audiences squarely in the mainstream.

The second, from The Washington Post, reports on possibly the shittiest thing the Catholic Church has done (or, in this case, threatened to do) in recent memory (and that's saying something):
The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said Wednesday that it will be unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District if the city doesn't change a proposed same-sex marriage law, a threat that could affect tens of thousands of people the church helps with adoption, homelessness and health care.

Under the bill, headed for a D.C. Council vote next month, religious organizations would not be required to perform or make space available for same-sex weddings. But they would have to obey city laws prohibiting discrimination against gay men and lesbians.

Fearful that they could be forced, among other things, to extend employee benefits to same-sex married couples, church officials said they would have no choice but to abandon their contracts with the city.

I mean, really, what a better way to say "God is love" than to threaten to stop helping people if you don't get what you want!

(H/T Kate R. for the links)

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Illustrating the Hypocrisy

A great political cartoon by Steve Sack of Slate Magazine (where you can find more cartoons of a similar persuasion):



(H/T FMF's Choices Feminist Campus Blog.)

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Target Women: Broadview Security

Sarah Haskins' latest Target Women is spot-on. I've been watching these crazy Broadview Security ads for months and wondering, "What the hell?" (I mean, really, who would ever, ever turn on their security alarm in broad daylight when they've just come inside for lunch?) Way to make the world look like an evil, scary place with lots of men in black out to assault women, Broadview. An evil, scary place only your security system can protect us helpless women from, right? Rape fables, indeed.


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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Schroedinger's Rapist

I want to share with you all a guest post at Shapely Prose by writer Phaedra Starling that I found not long ago which has put a lot of my thoughts about public interactions with men into words. It's not a short post, but I really recommend reading the whole thing, especially if you happen to possess a penis.

The post discusses how, when one approaches a woman in public, it's really important to be aware that she does not know whether or not you're a rapist. An excerpt:
Consider: if every rapist commits an average of ten rapes (a horrifying number, isn’t it?) then the concentration of rapists in the population is still a little over one in sixty. That means four in my graduating class in high school. One among my coworkers. One in the subway car at rush hour. Eleven who work out at my gym. How do I know that you, the nice guy who wants nothing more than companionship and True Love, are not this rapist?

I don’t.

When you approach me in public, you are Schrödinger’s Rapist. You may or may not be a man who would commit rape. I won’t know for sure unless you start sexually assaulting me. I can’t see inside your head, and I don’t know your intentions. If you expect me to trust you—to accept you at face value as a nice sort of guy—you are not only failing to respect my reasonable caution, you are being cavalier about my personal safety.

Fortunately, you’re a good guy. We’ve already established that. Now that you’re aware that there’s a problem, you are going to go out of your way to fix it, and to make the women with whom you interact feel as safe as possible.
Now, there have been some negative reactions to her tone. I think, given the subject matter, that it's called-for, although perhaps her condescension is unhelpful. If you can disregard the talking down just for a minute, though, and if you hear all the dismal statistics and despair at the state of affairs, if you wonder how you can successfully approach a woman without being a creeper, or if you're just really awesome, read the rest of the article. It's worth it.

Cross posted at Paper Cuts and Plastic.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Three Things for Tuesday

In order to not get too terribly depressed about Stupak and the attendant health care debacle, I went out seeking mindless entertainment today. Good things (some poignant, some funny, some crazy fun) were found. I thought I would share.

Poignant: Emma Thompson on The View speaking out about sexual slavery.

(H/T Melissa at Women in Hollywood

Funny: Sesame Street does Mad Men.

(H/T my good friend Gloria)

Crazy Fun: Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" video

(H/T FanGrrl Magnet)

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

"the terrible toll gay marriage has on fact-checking"

Another funny video, via Feministing and c/o Stephen Colbert. I promise I'll write a more substantial post soon!

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Don't Ask Don't Tell
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorReligion

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

"I'm an independent diva, but I still kinda need ya."

A hilarious send-up of all those "Single Ladies"-esque songs and music videos that have become popular recently.



Via Salon.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pro-Life and Order

Friday night my partner was on the couch watching television and I was only half listening from my study when strains of virulent pro-life rhetoric reached my ears. Was she watching FOX news? No. She was, in fact, watching the most recent episode of Law and Order in which a late-term abortion doctor is murdered and almost the entire episode is spent trying to convince the viewer that the murder might have sort of maybe been justified except for that niggling little detail that murder is illegal. Sure, the doctor's murderer is found guilty in the end, but not before pro-choice ideologies have been (speciously) rendered flawed and amoral. Cops and lawyers alike engaging in debates about reproductive rights and the "right to life" is all fine and good, but graphic descriptions of the murdered doctor stabbing a newly-born infant in the back of the neck with scissors during a botched abortion, offered as evidence of abortion's immorality... Noooooo, not heavy-handed at all. Or are we to believe that all abortion doctors are perfectly willing and capable of stabbing living infants to death? Not to mention that the way evidence was presented (and misrepresented) in this episode didn't even make sense. It was the most preachy thing I've seen on television for a long time and clearly the writers/creators/producers were more concerned with making their points (still not entirely clear) than telling a good story. I was thoroughly disappointed. And aghast.

Kate Harding over at Salon does a great job of breaking down the episode point-for-point. And, since I only saw the latter half of the episode (its train wreck-like quality bringing me out from my study to sit stunned on the couch), I'll leave the rest of the critique to her:
On Friday night's "Law & Order," the abortion debate was represented by two separate, yet equally important, groups: The anti-choicers, who believe fetuses' rights trump women's, and the pseudo-pro-choicers, who are conveniently persuaded to agree with them by the end of the episode.

That sound? It's my head exploding.

Despite the usual "This story is fiction, any resemblance, blah blah blah" disclaimer, the episode was blatantly "ripped from the headlines" about Dr. George Tiller's assassination by an anti-choice activist in May. Our fictional victim, Dr. Bening, is a late-term abortion provider who's already survived one attempt on his life and is shot to death at his church, just as Dr. Tiller was. But in an episode titled "Dignity," Tiller's memory, remaining late-term abortion providers, and women who choose to terminate pregnancies are afforded none. The writers made a weak pretense of "balance" by having two of the series regulars -- Detective Lupo and Assistant D.A. Rubirosa -- espouse pro-choice views, but both are ultimately shamed into thinking they just might be wrong. See how even-handed?
Click here to read the rest.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Woman is Not a Pre-Existing Condition

Thought this might be of interest in the midst of the health-care debate:






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Thursday, October 15, 2009

USPS honors a first-wave feminist hero

Somehow I completely missed this: in June of this year the US Postal Service issued a new stamp honoring African American feminist activist Anna Julia Cooper. Born into slavery in 1858, Cooper went on to get both a BA and an MA from Oberlin University and, in 1925 at age 67, she became only the fourth African American woman to receive her PhD--from the University of Paris-Sorbonne. She was an incredible woman, and I think it's fantastic that the Postal Service is honoring her as part of their Black Heritage series:

(you can buy the stamp here)

In 1893, Cooper gave an address at the World's Congress of Representative Women in Chicago. Entitled "Women's Cause is One and Universal," her speech rivals some of the best oratories in the 19th, 20th and 21st century. Here's an excerpt:
The higher fruits of civilization can not be extemporized, neither can they be developed normally, in the brief space of thirty years. It requires the long and painful growth of generations. Yet all through the darkest pe¬riod of the colored women's oppression in this country her yet unwritten history is full of heroic struggle, a struggle against fearful and overwhelming odds, that often ended in a horrible death, to maintain and protect that which woman holds dearer than life. The painful, patient, and silent toil of mothers to gain a free simple title to the bodies of their daughters, the de¬spairing fight, as of an entrapped tigress, to keep hallowed their own persons, would furnish material for epics. That more went down under the flood than stemmed the current is not extraordinary. The majority of our women are not heroines but I do not know that a majority of any race of women are heroines. It is enough for me to know that while in the eyes of the highest tribunal in America she was deemed no more than a chattel, an irresponsible thing, a dull block, to be drawn hither or thither at the volition of an owner, the Afro American woman maintained ideals of womanhood unshamed by any ever conceived. Resting or fermenting in untutored minds, such ideals could not claim a hearing at the bar of the nation. The white woman could least plead for her own emancipation; the black woman, doubly enslaved, could but suffer and struggle and be silent. I speak for the colored women of the South, because it is there that the millions of blacks in this country have watered the soil with blood and tears, and it is there too that the colored woman of America has made her characteristic history, and there her destiny evolving.
You can read the rest of Anna Julia Cooper's speech here.

Cooper died in 1964 during the height of the Civil Rights movement and at the incredible age of 105! She's a total inspiration.


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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sidewalks are more interesting than gay rights

Sadly, since I moved into the Mountain time zone last year, my formerly-deemed must-see viewing of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report has dwindled from four times a week to the occasional episode on Hulu and clips here and there when I can find the time. The reason? By some ridiculous whim of the programmers here, these shows air at midnight and 12:30am instead of the much more respectable East Coast times of 11 and 11:30pm. Why? I have no idea. But I do know that most nights that's just too late for me...well, if I actually expect to be productive the next day. So while I can't catch all the great Jon Stewart moments when they happen, sometimes other lovely people post clips that just must be shared:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Queer and Loathing in D.C.
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorRon Paul Interview

H/T to Appetite for Equal Rights.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Nip/Tuck is sewin' up the perfect woman

Not that I've seen more than an episode or two of FX's Nip/Tuck or think of it as a bastion of feminist virtues, but still, is this really necessary?



There are just too many problems here to name them all: from the perfect (white) woman being sewn together by two (white) men and a group of stiletto-and-bustier-clad Asian women working in what looks like a very antiseptic sweatshop and the disturbing interplay of sexualized imagery with scalpels and needles to the outright ogling of the perfectly-constructed faceless woman by the two male protagonists at the end of the ad. Talk about the male gaze and the deconstructed, dis-empowered female body!

I realize all these themes fit in quite seamlessly (no pun intended) with the show, but that still doesn't mean this promo doesn't bug the shit out of me.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Nobel Peace Prize

Today NY Times headline reads "In Surprise, Nobel Peace Prize to Obama for Diplomacy"

I have to admit I'm very confused. Not upset, just confused. The article mitigates that a bit, but still...

What do you all think?

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Two Great Opportunities for Women Artists

A.I.R. Gallery has two exciting opportunities for women artists...and the deadlines are soon, so check them out!

1. Open Call, submissions due October 2, 2009

"The Man I Wish I Was", Open Call for artist submissions. A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn, NY invites any artist worldwide who self-identifies as female to submit original works of art for a one-month group exhibit in January 2010. We look forward to unanticipated perspectives and encourage an open interpretation of the theme “The Man I Wish I Was.” For full details and application see A.I.R. Gallery website.

2. A.I.R. Fellowship Program, applications due October 31, 2009

18-month professional development program with solo show opportunity for women in the NYC area. Panelists: Lowery Stokes-Sims, Curator, Museum of Art and Design; Harriet Senie, Art Critic and Art Historian; and Catherine Morris, Curator of the Elizabeth Sackler Center for Feminist Art at The Brooklyn Museum. Apply online or download an application. Or send SASE for prospectus to: A.I.R. Gallery, 111 Front St #228, Brooklyn, NY, 11217.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Good Wife

I enjoy a good television pilot, one that keeps you on your toes the whole way through; one that involves you quickly and immersively in the characters' lives, letting you identify with the protagonist in a natural and unforced way; and one that trusts its viewers to be smart enough to figure out what's going on without a lot of obvious exposition. The pilot for CBS' The Good Wife, which aired tonight, was one such episode: quick-paced, well-acted (love Julianna Margulies, Christine Baranski, and Chris Noth), smart and compelling. Of course, only time will tell if the show itself is any good over the long haul, but so far I really like the juxtaposition of political scandal, domestic life, and the judicial office environment in which Margulies' Alicia finds herself. I like that Alicia's portrayed as a capable, intelligent woman who's willing to stand up for herself but who still possesses a certain believable vulnerability and sensitivity around the issue of her husband's infidelity and arrest. She's still learning the ropes at the law firm, and while she may not always get everything right, it's obvious that she won't take any flak...at least not for long.

So far, I like. Anyone else watch the pilot?

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Monday, September 21, 2009

What's wrong with this picture?



No comment necessary, I think. From today's NY Times:

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Killer Women

A complete draft of my dissertation is now complete (mini-yay!) and though I still have a bit of tweaking and streamlining to do, I think I can safely say that I'm allowed to have a life again for at least a little while. So, I've been thinking about movies, especially movies I'd like to see, and trying to make sense of my recent interest in one particular horror film even though I do no--I repeat, do not--generally like horror films. Now, I can do a psychological thriller or an over-the-top werewolf/vampire blood-fest like Underworld, but I don't generally do strict horror of the slasher variety (and never of the unfortunately-but-probably-aptly-named "torture porn" variety). Thing is, I'm an absolute scaredy-cat when it comes to graphically-violent visual imagery, and I just have no interest in subjecting myself to stuff like that voluntarily. Of course, none of that explains why I want to see this:



What is it about this film that intrigues me? There are many aspects of it--like the exploitative faux-lesbian vibe and the power-hungry vampire girl trope--that are trite and cliched. And yet... Maybe it's because it's written by Diablo Cody (Juno, United States of Tara) and directed by Karyn Kusama (Aeon Flux, Girlfight). Or maybe it's just that I like that it has two female leads (even though one of them is evil). Or maybe it's that amidst the pandering through eroticized violence and typical slasher/revenge plot there's hint of a feminist resonance in there. Maybe just a little...?

What do you all think? Anyone else interested in seeing Jennifer's Body (no pun intended)? I'll let you all know what I think once I see it.

In the same vein, I've been wanting to see this film for ages...



...and, if I had to choose a favorite horror film, this would be it:



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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Women's Equality Forum

Just a quick jubilant heads-up that my post for The National Council for Research on Women's blog The Real Deal was quoted in Linda Basch's article over at The Huffington Post!

Check out the whole forum here (and comment!) and you can find my post here. A little excerpt:
I don’t know much about politics, but I do know a little bit about equality. And I know that right now the two terms don’t really mix. Still, I have this fantasy about the American political system, and I can’t decided if it’s more disheartening to think that it’s still a fantasy or more frustrating to realize that some people don’t see a problem. Is it too much to ask for a political stage on which candidates are challenged based on the strength of their ideas, not the strength of their jump shot; where debates are waged over the economy and health care instead of necklines, pant length and shirtsleeves? Is it so difficult to imagine a female politician holding political office without first weighing the advantages and disadvantages of having a woman in power? When we consider each new candidate, the question shouldn’t be, “Is this woman right for the job?” but “is this person right for the job?” After all, do we often consider the merits of a male politician’s manhood?
Check it out!

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Monday, August 24, 2009

"The Streep Effect": Meryl Streep and Economics


In another of my series of posts wherein I throw short little tidbits at you to cover for the fact that I'm not really posting these days (it's a temporary hiatus, I promise!) due to my dissertation (oh, that old thing?), here's a great article from The Independent, which I found, as I often do, browsing Women and Hollywood.

The article, "The Streep effect: Why economists love her," expounds on Meryl Streep's recent "career renaissance," and then tracks the compelling economic effects her films have had, from increasing the sales of ABBA records (post-Mamma Mia) to pushing Virginia Woolfe's Mrs. Dalloway to number 1 on Amazon's best-seller list after her portrayal of Clarissa Vaughan in The Hours.
Streep, who turned 60 in June, has carried off a unique feat among contemporary Hollywood leading ladies: she has sustained a long, A-list career without a break, and moved into roles that have the authentic prestige of the grande dame without settling for matronly support slots. The achievement is all the more impressive considering how many of her best contemporaries have fallen by the wayside, suffered patchy careers, or bowed out, weary of sub-par roles...
Check it out.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

The Rights 5: LGBT Rights in Colorado

A new-ish ad I just saw for the first time here in Colorado, made by Progress Colorado:



Bonus points for the racially-diverse cast of superheroes!

The website can be found here.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Women in Combat

Really interesting article in the NY Times today about women in the military, and their increasing roles in combat.

The article is accompanied by an equally compelling video essay.

What do you think about women in combat roles?

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It's Complicated, the trailer

Melissa just posted this over at Women and Hollywood and seeing as I will happily watch Meryl Streep in anything and this actually looks like it'll be good, I had to re-post.

Enjoy!


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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Please say it ain't so, Colorado

"Colorado "Personhood" proposal's 2010 ballot title approved"

Am I losing my mind? Am I experiencing deja vu? Did we or did we not just shoot down this amendment last year?
Abortion opponents are one step closer to putting a "personhood amendment" on the 2010 ballot after the title of their proposal was approved Wednesday.

The next step is getting approval for the language on petition forms, and then gathering 76,047 valid voter signatures over the next six months.

The proposal differs from the failed 2008 "personhood amendment," said Leslie Hanks, vice president of Colorado Right to Life.

That proposal defined a fertilized human egg as a person, which proponents conceded confused the public. The new one refers to "the beginning of the biological development of that human being."
Sigh. At least this past year's amendment was defeated 73% to 27%, so I don't have to start glaring at all of my neighbors. Although I was stuck in traffic behind a car yesterday with the following lovely decorations: 1) a "right-to-life" pro-"personhood" bumper sticker, 2) an "America is number one" type sticker, 3) two American flags, one fluttering from each front window and, 4) the kicker, a bumper sticker which read "One Nation, One LANGUAGE, One God." Did I mention that there are a lot of Mexican immigrants in Colorado? Yeah.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sotomajority!*

Congratulations to new Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic person and the third woman to serve!


See the NY Times for more.

* Full credit for this term goes to my friend Jenny.

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

ABDC: Beat Freaks

And now for something completely different:

Since I have a weird guilty-pleasure sort of thing going for America's Best Dance Crew and I'm lacking the time and energy for a more insightful post AND who doesn't want to procrastinate for a moment while watching awesome videos, I decided to post a quick little tribute tonight to Beat Freaks, the all-female dance crew that made it to the ABDC Season 3 Finale. Sadly, they were still beaten out by Quest Crew, but I'm pretty sure Beat Freaks was the first all-female team to make it that far in the competition. And, besides, they're awesome.


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Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Gates-Gate Update

I've been astoundingly remiss in blogging these days and again the only excuse I can offer is that I've been frantically working towards the completion of my dissertation. What about the other FWF contributors, you say? I'm sure they're also equally busy with work and/or summer vacations. Rest assured, come Fall I'll be back in the full swing of things and (hopefully) blogging up a storm.

That said, as a sort of peace offering for my absence, here's a little update on racial politics in America vis-a-vis Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s arrest, or, as my parents and I like to call it, "Gates-Gate."


You've all probably heard--billions and billions of times on every form of media imaginable--about how President Obama referred to the police officer's decision to arrest Gates as "stupid"...and boy is he regretting his words. The President's choice of words has, somewhat inexplicably, become the hot topic this past week, prompting President Obama to offer an apology and invite the two men over for a beer, in a time-honored tradition of male bonding.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Henry Louis-Gate
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJoke of the Day


Of course, putting aside for the moment that the President certainly has better things to do right now, a significant player in all this has been completely left out. Linda Whalen, the woman who called 911 and started the whole chain of events leading to Gates' arrest, has been seriously maligned by the media. After her 911 call was released, it became clear that Whalen never mentioned the race of the alleged burglars in her call nor is she the "privileged racist white neighbor" many bloggers made her out to be:
Tapes of the call released earlier this week revealed that Whalen, a first-generation Portuguese-American who doesn't live in the area, did not mention race. When pressed by a dispatcher on whether the men were white, black or Hispanic, she said one of them might have been Hispanic.

"Now that the tapes are out, I hope people can see that I tried to be careful and honest with my words," Whalen said. "It never occurred to me that the way I reported what I saw be analyzed by an entire nation."

Cambridge police Commissioner Robert Haas acknowledged that the police report contains a reference to race, but said the report is merely a summary of events. The arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley, has said his information on the race of the suspects came during a brief encounter with Whalen outside Gates' house; she contradicted that Wednesday, saying she made no such description.

Has Whalen received an apology for her vilification by the media or been asked over to the White House for a beer? What do you think?

Update (Aug. 3): I just found out (thanks Lauren for the heads up) that Gates' did thank Whalen for her call to the police, offering her flowers in a "gesture of gratitude."

On another racist-icing-on-a-racist-cake note, a Boston PD officer sent a vehemently racist email in response to an article by a Boston Globe reporter calling Henry Louis Gates Jr. a "banana-eating jungle monkey" (several times) and insisting that the female author of the article was such a "fool" that she is only good for serving him his "coffee and donuts on a Sunday morning." You can read the full email here. While the officer in question has been suspended pending a hearing, some are arguing that his email falls under the auspices of free speech.

What do you think? Where does free speech end and hate speech begin?


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Monday, July 20, 2009

So angry...

...I can't even come up with a decent title for this post.

I've just come back from a week without internet, secluded off in the wilderness writing about culture, and this is how culture greets me when I return: "Henry Louis Gates Jr. Arrested, Police Accused Of Racial Profiling".

Apparently, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., one of the preeminent scholars of African American studies and race theory, Harvard professor, was arrested late last week for attempting to open the jammed door of his own house. A neighbor called the police, reporting "two black men" attempting a break-in and the police arrived to question, and eventually arrest Gates for "disorderly conduct," even after he produced identification and proved the house was his.

From HuffPo:
Some of Gates' African-American colleagues say the arrest is part of a pattern of racial profiling in Cambridge.

Allen Counter, who has taught neuroscience at Harvard for 25 years, said he was stopped on campus by two Harvard police officers in 2004 after being mistaken for a robbery suspect. They threatened to arrest him when he could not produce identification.

"We do not believe that this arrest would have happened if professor Gates was white," Counter said. "It really has been very unsettling for African-Americans throughout Harvard and throughout Cambridge that this happened."

The Rev. Al Sharpton is vowing to attend Gates' arraignment.

"This arrest is indicative of at best police abuse of power or at worst the highest example of racial profiling I have seen," Sharpton said. "I have heard of driving while black and even shopping while black but now even going to your own home while black is a new low in police community affairs."

Ogletree said Gates had returned from a trip to China on Thursday with a driver, when he found his front door jammed. He went through the back door into the home – which he leases from Harvard – shut off an alarm and worked with the driver to get the door open. The driver left, and Gates was on the phone with the property's management company when police first arrived.

You can read Gates' lawyer's official statement over at The Root.

To say I am appalled would be an absolute understatement.

Update: Apparently the charges were just dropped. First smart move by Cambridge law enforcement so far.

Also, reading comments about this case has me in a tizzy. What is wrong with people? (Alas, a blog's comment section is pretty mild, but makes me fear other media outlets.)

Update #2: A few other posts on Gates' arrest:

Rebecca Walker's blog
Shakesville
NPR
Pam's House Blend
Racialicious


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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Feminist Flashback #46

A.k.a. Women in Prison, part 3 of 3


Wrapping up my mini-series of Feminist Flashbacks (parts 1 and 2 here and here, respectively), I bring you a documentary you probably haven't heard of, but that's well worth a watch: the 2006 British musical documentary about women in prison, directed by Brian Hill. Yep, you read that right, it's a musical! Aptly entitled Songbirds, this unconventional doc chronicles the lives, trials and tribulations of some of the 250 women incarcerated at Downview Prison in Sutton, England.


Want a little more information? Check out this review.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Feminism as Realism

Recently, I saw the movie Fucking Amal (aka Show Me Love in the US). It was an enjoyable film, as a whole. It even includes an overt feminist moment: one of the main characters breaks up with her boyfriend - permanently - after he fails to disagree with his friend's hatred of women! But the most interesting feature of the movie was its realism. There's no trite plot, and the characters are remarkably flawed. Not in the theatrical, 'tragic hero' way, mind you - they just do things which are wrong. No more, no less. Early in the film, the main character (who we are supposed to sympathize with) says some insensitive and horrible things to a wheelchair-bound friend. Later she apologizes, but it's too late. There's no Hollywood reconcile-for-free card. She simply did something wrong, learned (or not) and moved on.

It was all rather interesting, and considering the feminist overtones, I found the movie to be a metaphor for modern feminism.

Now, the debate over what feminism is, what feminists believe, and what feminists do wrong has been raging for as long as the movement itself. Perhaps the oldest argument is about race - and as so many feminists were white privileged women, mistakes were made. Serious, important mistakes, in fact. And it continues to the present. In the world of online feminism, it sometimes threatens to overwhelm everything else. (As an example: the recent discussion, and lack thereof, about the rights of trans individuals sparked by the New Orleans Women's Health Clinic issue). It seems that whatever the merits of each individual discussion - which are many - they keep repeating themselves forever. So now, there no consensus, no agreement, and lots and lots of anger. People get alienated. It's difficult for non-feminists to see what it's all even about, so they are reluctant to join and thus do nothing.

So, I want to suggest a new, or rather and additional, definition for feminism: Feminism is realism.

Whatever the faults of this continuous debate, I think there is an explanation. Feminism, at some level, is about trying to find out what the world is really like, what really goes on. It is called 'feminism' only because what really is, is the patriarchy. And when we find out what the world is really like in more detail, we try and challenge it, try to change it. That's what makes it different from most other movements - so many *isms (think of Populism or Marxism or Religious Rightism and so on) start with an agenda, an ideal world, a goal. They try and work toward that goal at all costs. When the world changes, they either die out, or change their goals - and keep pushing, often at the cost of destroying so many other worthwhile goals, and certainly without really considering their actions.

Feminism, then, is far more based on reality, setting goals and agenda solely based on actual, observed inequalities. Hence the near-obsession with point even the littlest things out, from an obvious bias in a politician's speech, to a little detail in a car commercial. And also (for good or ill) the debate of defining feminism. Not because there's a question of what to do, but more a question of what the world is really like. Mistakes are made, to be sure. Real life is just like that.

And perhaps when we're done, even if it's not called feminism anymore, the concept will still remain: Finding out what is, realizing what is wrong with it, and challenging those wrongs.

Just a thought.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Feminist Flashback #45

A.k.a. Women in Prison, part 2 of 3


While I haven't read anything yet that confirms my suspicions, I'd be willing to bet that the BBC's hit television drama Bad Girls (1999-2006) was more than marginally based on Germany's Hinter Gittern, which I featured as the previous flashback. Obviously, Bad Girls isn't just limited to German-speakers and at least the first few seasons can be purchased in the USA (and viewed, I think, on BBC America). In any case, I can't recommend Bad Girls highly enough; it's less risque than its German cousin, which is neither here nor there, really, and it's fun, smart, thought-provoking and a little campy (but only in the best of ways).

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Yoo Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg

While I may not have quite the clout (yet?) to call myself a television expert, I do fancy myself a bit of an amateur connoisseur of all things televisual, not to mention that I have a long-standing vested interest in the relationship between feminism and television production and the role of women in television history. So you can imagine my surprise, a distinctly pleasant surprise, when I learned about the pioneering foremother of all television personalities, star of the first real TV family sitcom, by way of Aviva Kempner's compelling, well-executed documentary, Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg, which opens tomorrow in New York City.



Chronicling the life and times of the eminent screenwriter/actress/producer Gertrude Berg (born Tillie Edelstein in 1898), Kempner's documentary skillfully weaves together archival footage from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s with contemporary interviews with Berg's co-stars, family, and fans, including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and NPR correspondent Susan Stamberg. And, the best part? Kempner includes excerpts of audio from Berg's well-loved radio show, The Goldbergs, which launched her writing and acting career when it aired in 1929, as well as rare footage from the CBS television show which followed in 1949. The television version of The Goldbergs, a situation comedy about a middle class Jewish family, earned Berg the first Best Actress Emmy in history and a tremendous fan following.

But Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg isn't only an enjoyable, edifying journey, showcasing the charming personality and extraordinary work of a television legend. Masquerading beneath the pleasingly nostalgic facade of a well-paced and fun documentary, the film also performs a great public service. A rich historical tapestry is interwoven into the narrative of Berg's life, the effects of the World Wars and, most significantly, the Red Scare and House on Un-American Activities' blacklist rendered starkly against the backdrop of Berg's ostensibly-carefree family comedy. Moreover, Gertrude Berg is, or at least should be, a feminist icon to be lauded and remembered, not locked away in the vault of television gone by.

It's a terrible shame that I, a great lover of television, had never heard of Berg until now, but it's not surprising. The laws of popular culture unfortunately dictate that the new not only supersedes but often tramples on the old. Feminism, too, wave after wave, is occasionally guilty of reinventing a perfectly good wheel. Sometimes its important to be reminded of those that came before, and Gertrude Berg is nothing if not an example of an exceptional feminist, a pioneer of radio and television, a woman ahead of her time, a woman who fashioned an incredible career and whose worked touched millions. The least we can do is remember her, and Kempner's lovely documentary doesn't let us forget.


Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg opens Friday, July 10th (tomorrow!) in New York City at Lincoln Plaza Cinema (1888 Broadway) and The Quad (34 West 13th Street), followed by screenings throughout New York State. LA-area screenings begin July 24th, with a nationwide roll-out throughout the late summer and fall. For a full (and continually-updated) list of screenings, check out the official website.

Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg Trailer from Aviva Kempner on Vimeo.




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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Feminist Flashback #44

A.K.A. Women in Prison, part 1 of 3

In 1997, the ground-breaking German television drama Hinter Gittern: der Frauenknast [Behind Bars: The Women's Prison] first aired, and I watched it with rapt attention with my grandmother as a teenager, an interesting experience to say the least, considering German prime time is like an only moderately tamed down version of Showtime. The show ran for ten years and, while I haven't seen it since the second or third season, from what I can remember it was pretty hard-hitting, impressively executed and downright fascinating.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure if it'll ever come out in America, but DVDs of the show in German are available. If you're a German speaker, it's well worth a watch.



(If that's not enough of a taste, here's another trailer.)

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Friday, July 3, 2009

Target Women: Hair

In yet another installment of Ridiculous Advertising 101:


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Thursday, July 2, 2009

She Writes

Just a quick PSA to announce that Deborah Siegel (of Girl W/Pen), Kamy Wicoff, and Nancy Miller just launched a new social/professional networking site for women writers.

Check it out!

Looks awesome so far...and a fantastic idea.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I don't get it...

Lt. Dan Choi served his country proudly in the Iraq war after graduating from West Point. He's a leader---groomed as such at the country's top military university. So after all this, why did the military administrative board of the New York National Guard recommend he be discharged? Because he stood up and proudly represented who he is---a gay man. However, as an OPENLY gay man who is active in the military, Choi violated the "don't ask, don't tell" policy and stands to lose some, if not all, of his veterans benefits.

So President Clinton thought it would be a good idea to not allow recruiters to ask if a person's sexual orientation as part of the military's admission process. Unfortunately, he also thought it was a good idea for any gay person in the military to keep it quiet, forcing them into a closet with a padlock on it. And now, it's sketchy as to whether or not Obama will repeal the act as promised when running for election.

Let's get right down to it. As a person drowning in the military culture (entire family is in and/or retired), I must stand up and applaud Lt. Choi. He stayed true to who he is AND served his country. He is to be honored, not ridiculed, for his service, leadership, and courage to fight a seemingly endless war. Thank him for having the balls to fight instead of sitting on your high horses, glad that your sons and daughters aren't over there fighting (I'm talking to you, members of Congress). And, for Pete's sake, quit trying to govern someone else's bedroom and find out what's going on in your own! (I'm talking to you, endless line of political figures that sleep with anything in a skirt EXCEPT for your wife.)

Get rid of "don't ask, don't tell" and focus on the bigger picture. Trust me, I've asked the Korean war veterans, the Vietnam war veterans, the Operation Desert Storm veterans, the Bosnia conflict veterans, AND the Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans in my family and they could care less if the girl or guy next to them is gay...as long as they have their backs and make sure everybody makes it home alive, nobody cares.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

The Word: Stonewalling

I totally missed this when it originally aired on Thursday, but Colbert is so spot-on it hurts.

"We're here. We're queer. They'll get to us eventually."


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Feminist Flashback #43


My parents just sent me about four thousand pictures of the Christopher Street gay pride parade in Berlin, so for this week's feminist flashback we have the 1999 German film Aimée & Jaguar, starring the amazing Maria Schrader (Rosenstrasse) and Juliane Köhler (whom you may have also seen in the film Nowhere in Africa, which won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 2003). Aimée & Jaguar based on a true story about a love affair between two women in Nazi-era Berlin. It's an amazing film and an incredible love story--beautiful and sad. And the book, a biography, upon which the film is based, is quite good, too.

Unfortunately, I don't think the English-language trailer really does the film justice, but it's the best I could do on short notice:


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Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Question of Nature

(In the as-if-anyone-cares department: Real Life caught up with me & I had to disappear for a while. Sorry. Also, I'm burned out on writing about music for the moment, so I'll try some other things and see what happens!)

A moderate while ago (a few hundred years or so), there was a general consensus that women were rather worthless 'creatures'. They were unsuited for work, any sort of stress was dangerous to their health, they had 'hysterics', and the best treatment for women who were sick was to remain immobile in be, thus rendering them weaker! That was the Nature of Women. (All this was only applied, of course, to white, affluent women... but that's another topic)

Since then, most people (early feminists, especially) noticed that those ideas were so much crap, and revised them to "Women are weaker physically, but equal mentally - and perhaps more 'moral'". Even more recently - having become certain of the mental part and dropping the moral part - a few optimistic statisticians noticed that female athletes were improving much faster then male athletes, and predicted that women would become physically equal to men by the 21st century.

This proved to be a bit too optimistic. It hasn't happened, and the current general consensus among politically correct people is that women are equal to men in every way (and to speak otherwise is anathema) except athletically. With regard to that, of course, we know that men have more testosterone, so they'll always perform at a higher level. That's the natural way. End of discussion, sorry girls!

But somehow, nobody ever seems to ask why.

The title of the linked article above is "Women athletes will one day out-sprint men", according to 'scientists', despite that the article actually favors the opposite. By 'scientists', then, they mean "people who know how to extrapolate data points", not "experts in women's athletic performance"; thus their foregone conclusion.

As someone who knows how to extrapolate, and who also knows when not to, I have a question: So, men have higher testosterone levels; why is that so? Why shouldn't women have high levels and men lower levels? There's even an animal (the Spotted Hyena) for which this is true. Why is the opposite 'natural' for humans?

The answer, on the face of it, is 'evolutionary pressure'. For most of human history (thanks to short lifespans and other pressures in pre-industrial societies) a woman's ability to pass on her genes was mainly determined by her ability to have more children, and to care for them effectively, not by her physical strength. The two, it seems, are not synonymous.

So! I'll admit that men are physically stronger than women. For that matter, it might be true (assuming these have a genetic component) that men are smarter, or more stable emotionally, or any other measure of human superiority you care to name. I'll admit - not without a fight, but admit - it's possible that men are naturally better than women in every aspect other than child-rearing ability. Perhaps the anti-feminists are correct...

Here's the thing: Being natural doesn't make it right!

To reuse a trite example: Let us say that someone cuts in front of me in line. I might feel an urge to bash their head in. That doesn't make it right. Furthermore - I probably feel less of an urge than my ancestor did 2000 years ago, as random, female, head-bashers don't last long in most societies.

In the same way, we know that there's something wrong with inequality, so why not try to stop it in all forms? Who cares about natural?

Now that the pressure for women to select for child bearing ability has been mostly removed, might not things slowly equalize? It will take thousands of years, perhaps, but it seems possible, even probable. For less obviously sex-linked traits, their evolutionary erasure is certain.

I'm not an expert, though - I've been looking for real genetic studies that examine this, and haven't been able to find anything. (If someone is a geneticist, or geneticist adjacent, leave a comment!) So, I could be missing something important. It does seem very sensible...

In the meantime, why do so many continue to fight about the natural, when 'natural' is so uncertain? We must learn to value all people equally, whether masculine women or feminine men, masculine men or feminine women - not to mention all arbitrary-gender-sphereoid-point arbitrary-sex-identities of all sorts.

'Natural', as it turns out, has no useful meaning.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Thank you, Burger King...

...for making me want to shoot myself.

Ugh.



(H/T Bridget)

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Rest in Peace, Legends of my Childhood...

I'm not ashamed to say that, glorified pin-up girl or not, I adored Farrah Fawcett--especially as Jill on Charlie's Angels, but also the hair! And she was only 62... Rest in Peace.



And Michael Jackson, at 50, on the same day. Sigh.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Feminist Flashback #42

What is marriage? Grover wants to know...



(H/T The Bilerico Project)

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Obama, DOMA, Dean and Maddow

Or, the long-form alternative title for this post: Yes, Obama, changing the Civil Rights page on the White House website after your election and then defending(!?!) DOMA is not only ridiculous, but also downright insulting.

Ahem.

I haven't said much here yet about Obama's atrocious record so far when it comes to LGBTQ rights, mostly because I was abroad for three weeks and simply didn't have time...but also because I haven't been properly able to channel my outrage into coherent sentences. I'm still not sure I can manage the latter, but I can at least post here with a link to CREDO's newest petition, asking the Justice Department and the Administration to apologize for its abominable and hypocritical defense of DOMA. Please read and sign.

If you need to know more before you commit to a signature, Rachel Maddow and Howard Dean discussed the issues on Maddow's show last Monday (h/t AD Miller):


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Better Off Ted


ABC's work place sitcom, Better Off Ted, returns tonight and I, for one, couldn't be happier. It had a short (six episode) run in the spring and has since been approved for another limited season. I think the show's pretty hilarious, and I'm especially fond of its quirky, over-the-top sense of the humor and the fantastic characterizations. It actually reminds me a bit of Andy Richter Controls the Universe, but better, and hopefully with a longer run.

Oh, and did I mention that the show co-stars Portia de Rossi, who is absolutely hysterical (meaning funny, not literally hysterical) as the megalomaniacal, matter-of-fact Veronica, the eponymous Ted's boss. But don't take my word for it; below, Portia de Rossi explains the show:



Ted's definitely the "straight man" of the show, while characters such as Veronica, Ted's co-worker Linda, and scientists Phil and Lem engage in all the comic hijinks. How nice it is to have a television show where all the jokes aren't at the expense of the women (and, when they are, it's never because they're women) and where the male protagonist doesn't feel the need to put down the other characters in order to be funny.

Anyway, check it out. Better Off Ted airs on ABC Tuesdays this summer at 9:30/8:30c.


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