Saturday, March 7, 2009

"Only in a Woman's World": What were they thinking?

I've got a new post up at The Hathor Legacy about this highly disturbing advertisement for Baked Lays, Smart Earth and Smartfood Snacks.

Check out my post here, and you tell me if I'm overreacting!

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Friday, March 6, 2009

Breaking the Silence

What follows is a cross-posted guest post by Pat from the Campaign for Gender Equality. Check out their website for more information.

“Turning a person into a thing is almost always the first step in justifying violence against that person.”
- Jean Kilbourne, lecturer and keynote speaker focusing on violence, women, and the media.

Chris Brown’s brutal beating of Rihanna reignited talk about domestic violence in this country. That is a good thing! We need to have more honest conversations about this epidemic. The statistics shed some light on the severity of this problem:

Battering is the single most common cause of injury to women in the United States, more common than car accidents, mugging and rape combined. Much to the misconception of many, victims of domestic violence come from all races, classes and ethnic backgrounds. Of all women murdered in the U.S.—an average of three a day—about one-third were killed by an intimate partner. According to the National Organization for Women, women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapes every year.

I found this recent article by Megan Twohey and Bonnie Miller Rubin disturbing. According to them, 1 in 10 teens suffer from dating violence, yet their reaction to Rihanna’s beating is that she deserved it. What is the answer to this gross misconception? Education. According to Twohey and Rubin:
“In recent years, some schools and youth organizations have started educating teens about the dangers of dating violence. Rhode Island and Virginia have adopted laws requiring such instruction in the public schools. But most states, including Illinois, don't have such a mandate and education on the topic remains in short supply, experts say. Two of three new programs created by the federal Violence Against Women Act in 2005 to address teen dating violence were never funded.”
Not only are we not doing enough to educate youth about domestic violence, but the media (a prime source of information for today’s youth) doesn’t give domestic violence its due coverage. We barely heard anything about the woman in New York who was recently beheaded by her husband after she had filed for a divorce. Where is the outrage? I know it’s not a pretty story, but if we don’t talk about domestic violence, and, more importantly, learn about its roots and causes, we will never eliminate it.

What makes domestic violence and other forms of violence against women so prevalent? What makes men feel they can have power and control over women? The answers to these questions are abundant and complicated, but recently I came across two videos that shed some light:

This one speaks to advertising and the effects it has on women and the value of women.

This one talks about the media and how men learn to treat women.

Campaign for Gender Equality is a non-profit 501c3 organization focused on raising public awareness of the benefits of gender equality, regardless of age, race, class or sexual orientation, through education and advocacy.

We have partnered with Professor Bettina Aptheker, head of Women's Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, to promote her "Introduction to Feminisms" course now available in a 17 set DVD. In her DVD titled “Domestic Violence: Strategies for Prevention and Resistance” Aptheker says, “Violence against Women is the magnification of the historical unequal power relations which have lead the domination over and discrimination of women by men to the prevention of women’s full advancement.” Order “Introduction to Feminisms” on DVD.

Battery, whether emotional or physical, is about power and control. From Aptheker’s DVD, here are just some examples of the different types of domestic violence.
  • Emotional – putting her down, making her feel bad about herself, calling her names, making her think that she is crazy.
  • Economic – trying to keep her from getting or keeping a job, making her ask for money, giving her an allowance, or taking her money.
  • Sexual – making her do things against her will, physically attacking the sexual parts of her body, and treating her like a sex object.
  • Using children – using the children to give messages and using visitation as a way to harass.
  • Threats – making and/or carrying out threats to do something physically or emotionally, threatening to take the children, and threats to commit suicide.
  • Using male privilege – treating her like a servant, making all the big decisions, acting like the master of the house.
  • Intimidation – putting her in fear by using looks, actions, gestures, loud voices, smashing things, destroying her property.
  • Isolation – controlling what she does, who she sees and talks to, and where she goes.
Perhaps many readers do not experience these confinements, but a great many women in our own country still live this way. These patterns of domestic abuse and domestic violence are all about power and control. To stop the epidemic of violence against women that exists in this country we must break the silence. We must put adequate funding into educating the next generation of girls and boys about violence against women and its root causes. We must have honest conversations about domestic violence and pressure the media to change its portrayal of women as objects.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

McDonald's McCafe ad

There's this incredibly annoying McDonald's McCafe advertisement that I've been seeing lately, but I can't find a video of it anywhere to showcase its sheer stupidity. I also haven't been able to catch it on tape yet, but if any of you either have it in a digital format or have seen it floating around online somewhere, I will be very grateful for a copy or a link.

That said, the commercial goes something like this: two young women drinking McDonald's coffees--one hot, one iced and covered in whip cream--talk whilst walking a park, amidst boisterous giggles, about everything from the unwanted gift of a puppy to boyfriend trouble. Stereotypical "girl talk." And they giggle constantly. And, there's a twist! As the commercial nears its end, a voice-over extols the virtues of McDonald's McCafe to bring people together and let you have a break from real life and the two women smile and hug as they part. Then, the blond woman turns towards her companion and asks something along the lines of "Wait, I didn't catch your name?" They introduce themselves to each other, amidst more giggling, and the voice-over says something revealing that amounts to "McCafe helps you connect with friends, even new ones."

Obviously, I can't remember the commercial word-for-word, but it's the most grating commercial I've seen in a long time. The incessant giggling makes me want to change the channel. The implication that something as simple as bonding over your McDonald's coffee can cause two women who are complete strangers to giddily reveal all their secrets to one another? What's up with that? Not to mention that the commercial makes the two women look like completely airheads. Argh!

Has anyone else seen this ad?

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Glamour Magazine's Salute to American Icons

For Women's History Month and in honor of its 70th Anniversary, this month's Glamour Magazine includes a huge photo shoot of contemporary actors posing as some of the most well-known and influential women of the last seventy years, in an article entitled, American Icons: 7 Decades of Rule Breakers, Risk Takers & Style Makers. Since it's Glamour, there's obviously an emphasis on fashion, but I actually think the shoot is pretty great (although I would agree with Amy over at Appetite for Equal Rights that the inclusion of Carrie Bradshaw is a little weird...not that Ms. B isn't a style icon, but...yeah).

Anyway, you should check out the whole slide show, but here are a few of my favorites:

Hayden Panettiere as Amelia Earhart

Alexis Bledel as Rosie the Riveter

Chanel Iman as Althea Gibson

Odette Yustman, Spencer Grammer and Rumer Willis as the Women of Woodstock

America Ferrera as Dolores Huerta

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The fight for marriage equality continues

Yesterday, the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD, not to be confused with GLAAD) filed a challenge to the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). You can read more about that here and here.

Tomorrow, the California Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of Proposition 8. Tonight, Marriage Equality USA has organized candlelight vigils all across the state in support of LGBTQ rights.

Today, you should watch this powerful, short video put out by Equality California, and I hope it will inspire you to find some way--whatever your means--to help out in this continued fight for equal rights:

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I forgot how much I love Janeane Garofalo

Where has the outspoken-feminist-comedian goddess that is Janeane Garofalo been since the late 1990s? I've missed her.

(H/T AfterEllen)

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Daddy Issues on Criminal Minds

I have a post up at The Hathor Legacy about the latest episode of CBS's Criminal Minds. Here's a snippet, but you can read the rest over at THL:
Episode 4.16 had all the makings of a compelling episode, although perhaps the fact that they opened with the following Camille Paglia quote should have given me pause: “The prostitute is not, as feminists claim, the victim of men but rather their conqueror, an outlaw who controls the sexual channel between nature and culture.” In any case, in this episode the unsub (”unknown subject of an investigation”) is revealed in the first scene (and in last week’s previews for the episode) to be a twenty-something woman, clearly coded as a call girl in only a lacy bra and thigh highs; she poisons her wealthy john with champagne. Cue the foreboding music and the opening credits.

Things start off pretty predictably. The BAU team, discussing their current unsub, note that a very small quotient of serial killers are female, and that they are often very discrete and able to get away with killing far more people than their male counterparts before getting caught (ah, yet another example of women being underestimated and undervalued for their skills!). Mentioning the infamous, real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos–who killed men she thought might be the type to rape her (and who was notably portrayed in the film Monster)–as a point of comparison, the BAU agents assume their unsub’s murders are also sexually motivated. In particular, they hypothesize that she chooses to kill certain clients because of some specific sex act they all like that triggers her in some way. But soon, clues reveal that the trigger for this particular violent femme might not be sex at all.

Speaking of Criminal Minds, how fantastic is it that Kirsten Vangsness (who plays the awesome, oracular tech-goddess Penelope Garcia on the show) just announced her engagement to girlfriend Melanie Goldstein. A big congratulations to them both.

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

What’s Happening to Dora the Explorer?

Have you seen how Dora the Explorer is being marketed nowadays? This once-proud symbol of girl agency & power now stars in sexed-up, passive incarnations in toy stores, on cereal boxes…and even, more and more, on her TV show.

Sign on to a petition and tell Nickelodeon to knock it off and restore Dora to her place of inspiration!!!

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Feminist Flashback #26

For this week's Feminist Flashback, the first Barbie commercial, from 1959. Lyrics and transcript below the cut.


[Female voice, singing]
Barbie, you're beautiful.
You make me feel
my Barbie doll is really real.

Barbie's small and so petite.
Her clothes and figure look so neat.

Her dancing outfit rings a bell.
At parties she will cast a spell.

Purses, hats and gloves galore,
and all the gadgets gals adore.

[Male voice, speaking]
Barbie dressed for swim and fun is only three dollars. Her lovely fashions range from one to five dollars. Look for Barbie wherever dolls are sold.

[Female voice, singing]
Someday, I'm gonna be exactly like you
Till then, I know just what I'll do.

Barbie, beautiful Barbie,
I'll make believe that I am you.

(H/T Feminist Law Professors)

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