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Sacrifice and Devotion in the Indian Tradition: A Response to the NYT Article

17 Oct

This post is a response to the NYT article in the Sunday, October 17 paper. The article can be found in an online slideshow form here.

What I loved about this article was it’s focus on devotion. At first it starts out explaining that the holiday is a celebration of devotion to one’s husband (with an all day fast), but as you go through the 5 different profiles, which span generations, neighborhoods, and family histories, you find that the focus is on a very different kind of devotion. Instead of the journey of fasting being about a woman’s gratefulness to her husband (whose language, if not theme, is at least problematic), in almost every profile the couple fasts TOGETHER because as Pradeep Kashyap says of his marriage to Reena,”I’ve always thought of ours as an equal relationship, so I chose to fast with her, and we’ve done it together every year.”

What I love about this SO MUCH isn’t JUST that it puts the focus on equality and giving to one ANOTHER (in one situation the man is a doctor and though he used to fast with her, she insisted he stop doing so so that he doesn’t compromise his patients safety). And by all means, I’m not saying that this isn’t how EVERY Indian celebration of this holiday and others it is or should be. My point, and my appreciation for the article, is the way in which the media (and the populous) generally highlights the inequalities, the wrongs, and the “weirdness” of other traditions.

I thought this was a wonderful article which (and I think unintentionally, though no less wonderfully) highlights that even the most “traditional” of families, marriages, and religious unions are still places where equality exists.

Weekly Wrap-Up

8 Oct

The point of the “Weekly Wrap-Up” is to pass along some of my favorite posts from my favorite places on the Internet. I’d expect most of them to be regarding feminism and rabbits.

This week’s post includes some of my all-time-favorite “introduction to feminism” posts. Posts are from Feministing.com, Jezebel.com, and KateHarding.net, all wonderful sites to go to for your feminist-filtered news and opinion.

Can a Man Be a Feminist?

Schrödinger’s Rapist: or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women without being maced

Why ignore misogyny? (Because it hurts less)

Aaaaand…. an adorable otter, you know, for good measure.

Here’s my own adorable bunny rabbit as a reward for participating in my first Weekly Wrap-Up:

Why Are We Romanticizing (Probably) the Worst Era for Women Ever?

10 Jun

Why Are We Romanticizing (Probably) the Worst Era for Women Ever?

I love Mad Men; I do. I think it highlights precisely how deep sexism was embedded in ad agencies, within the home, and within the social spheres of the women, but like many a-great critiques, this point can be (and is) missed. I hope this show never, ever, ever goes off the air (I mean, I love it), but there is no doubt that it contributes to an unhealthy fascination (which is becoming obsessive) with this era.

There are many great things about the 50s, like The Comets (Rock Around the Clock, anyone?); buuut it wasn’t exactly a great time for women. An interesting transition, or regression rather, was occurring. Women were forced back into the home following WW II. Following World War II, women found themselves with a new image, “but the new image this mystique gives to American women is the old image: ‘Occupation: housewife’” (Friedan, The Feminine Mystique, 43). This shift from the American woman as growing and changing with American society to being, once more, limited to the walls of her home is, as Betty Friedan describes it, world-shattering (Friedan, 44). American society, such as the male-dominated workplace, adjusted and, too, contributed to her confinement.

So what is with the (new?) romanticization of the time period? Is it connected to the religious resurgence and push for traditional household? Is it part of the backlash against feminism? Is it part of the feminist movement, an, “I can be a housewife in all the traditional senses and be a feminist too!” (which I’m not arguing against, not here at least, though I think this line of thought can be problematic)?

What (finally) prompted me to write on this was my recent attendance to a bridal shower. The theme was 1950s housewife and all of the ladies were appropriately clad. There were 11 bridesmaids (though not all of us were present), but aside from that chunk of youth, the rest were 40-80 year old church folk. On the table was this “Guide to Being a Good Wife,” with the last “rule” circled and highlighted:

“The most important thing to know is that a wife always knows her place.”

Doh!

If I didn’t know ma’ lil’ punk rock girl and her man to be so well I would have bolted then and there. And I get it, it’s satirical, but my worry is that the 11 or so that made up the “youth” were the only ones that got exactly how fucking ridiculous said rule is. The absurdity of the statement was addressed at the close of the shower (which, by the way, was a blast and chalk full of dirty-joke induced giggles up at the head table), but we were still among women who (arguably) this was lost upon. For them, it was quite possible that a statement such as this was reaffirming to their beliefs.

This issue of “audience” and the relationship with responsibility of the author/comedian/television show/artist/etc/etc are incredibly interesting to me and there is much to be said which won’t be expounded upon in this particular blog post.

What do you think? Is it innocent dress up? And even if it is (and it is) innocent on the part of the planners and participators, should we be held responsible for the (potentially unforeseen) consequences (such as the message to the young children who don’t understand satire and to the older folk who understand the message, but not that it is a satirical critique)?

Outside of the bridal shower and each individual indulgence in recalling this time period, will there be backlash from this romanticization? Are we (re)selling (unintentionally, maybe) a specific kind of femininity and idea of woman?

The typical reaction to these worries of mine go something like, “chill the fuck out; it’s one night of 6-inch-heel, red-lipstick-wearing, apron-donning dancing.”  I think it’s a mistake (always) to discount the effects of our actions, even if they are unintended, unintentionally, and seemingly harmless.

Give up coffee and wine in 19 years?

12 Nov

“I used to drink an awful lot of coffee, but I was told after the age of 40 you have to be careful with coffee and wine. Apparently, that can be one of the reasons older women get bloated around their stomach… I don’t miss having a glass of wine because I’ve switched to vodka. I don’t really like vodka that much but if I’m at a party I have a small one with a lot of fizzy water and a huge squeeze of lime. Initially it’s like medicine but I’ve got used to it now.” — Liz Hurley. [Daily Mail]

(courtesy of jezebel.com)

 

I’ll take my coffee and wine with a side of bloated stomach puh-lease.

Seriously though, coffee and wine is probably half is not more than half of the liquids I consume daily (if it counts, it’s mostly coffee).

Personally, it sounds like Liz Hurley still hates her vodka medicine, but godforbid she gets a little bloated in the middle. Just and FYI, Liz Hurley looks like this:

liz-hurley-20050621-48509

Speaking of perpetuating rape culture

27 Oct

Feministing said it well: “being drunk isn’t what puts a woman at risk of sexual assault–being near a rapist does.”

(click the link to read A Little Victim Blaming With Your Coffee)

Sorry I haven’t had time to write my own stuff. Crazy week following three days off for my Dad’s wedding.

This is the most Horrifying thing. Ever.

27 Oct

From Jezebel:

Bay Area Homecoming Dance Becomes Scene Of Brutal Crime

Brace yourself for the most stomach-turning story in a long time: on Friday, a 15-year-old girl was brutally gang-raped after a homecoming dance in a suburb of San Francisco, while as many as 15 teenage boys stood around, doing nothing.

The victim was leaving the dance in Richmond, CA — a suburb of San Francisco, not too far from Antioch, where Phillip Garrido held Jaycee Dugard — when a classmate invited her to drink with him in a secluded area near the school. She agreed, becoming so inebriated that she fell over, at which point as many as seven young men raped her, beat her, took photographs, and stole her jewelry. They assaulted her for two-and-a-half hours, injuring her so badly that she had to be flown from the scene in critical condition.

A gang rape always has the added awfulness that the rapists are comfortable enough with their crime to commit it in front of others. This case is especially bad because the girl’s attackers continued in front of multiple witnesses, assuming that they would do nothing. That assumption was correct. In fact, it was someone hearing about the assault at a local house party who called the cops. Richmond police lieutenant Mark Gagan said, “What makes it even more disturbing is the presence of others. People came by, saw what was happening, and failed to report it.”

At first I thought this was a Kitty Genovese situation, in which indifferent bystanders failed to help a crime victim. In fact, it’s worse. CNN’s Nick Valencia writes that, “as many as 15 people, all males, stood around watching the assault, but did not call police or help the victim.” Gagan adds, “As people announced over time that this was going on, more people came to see, and some actually participated.” This isn’t a case of people turning their heads away and saying “none of my business.” It’s a situation in which 15 boys and men (one suspect in custody is 19, the other 15) treating public, brutal assault as a form of entertainment.

Anyone who went to a big, rough high school has seen this happen with a fight — everybody in the school rushes to the scene, cheering, booing, and even joining in as kids beat each other up. This practice is bad enough, exposing teen bloodlust and lack of compassion, but adding sexual assault to the mix makes the onlookers’ situation all the more heinous. That all said onlookers were male seems important here — were they so afraid of having their masculinity questioned that they couldn’t say anything? Or, more disturbingly, were they enthusiastic about the event, participating, however vicariously, in some kind of conquest? Whatever the case, not one, not two, but fifteen young men watched a gang-rape take place and essentially chose to side with the rapists — as Yes Means Yes would say, “that’s rape culture.”

I’m lightheaded with shock and appall after reading this. I can’t even form thoughts in rebuttal. Seriously. This is going to take way the fuck more than a hot chocolate to get over. (For those that don’t know me, I’m generally fairly certain a hot chocolate will fix all my problems.)

Here’s some comments I “enjoyed” from the Jezebel post:

I’m going to hand in my “homo sapien” card. If this is the group I’m classified with, I’d rather be something else.

And this is a key example of why guys need to go past giving lip service and actively help to dismantle the rape culture. You in particular not being a rapist is no longer sufficient. It is about you in particular being strategically situated to help potential victims and spark change in situations where women are viewed as nameless, faceless pieces of ass, to be used and exploited as men see fit. This is the patriarchy, right here, and it is high time that it was toppled. I hope they press charges on all of those worthless bystanders as well for aiding and abetting these gangraping assholes.

Paging Michael Kimmel – I heard him speak to a group of students and this was almost exactly what he said, “You in particular not being a rapist is no longer sufficient.”

[This is in reference to men needing to take an active role in stopping rape culture. Not being a rapist, is no longer sufficient. I echo this too in feminism: not being a sexist doesn’t make you a fighter for feminism.]

Your BF is engaging in a common error of sociological thinking. “I’m not a rapist, I don’t know any rapists, ergo, rape culture is not a problem for anyone anymore.” Which completely overlooks the institutional underpinnings that allow the ism and attending abuse to continue. But society allows rape, even encourages it. It is a societal value in America that women’s sexuality is bad and scary and needs to be controlled-unless she’s around a guy, any guy, in which case, why isn’t the bitch putting out? And it is a societal value that men’s sexuality is important, so important that it needs to be exercised all of the time, regardless of the willingness of the other participant. And the legal system abuses the victim a second time. Until this behavior is as discouraged and as widely derided as evil as murder is, I will not be satisfied that the battle is won. And good for you for fighting the good fight. If you don’t make the effort, he may never get it

the sad part is that i am sure the majority of those bystanders would blame the victim… in this case, a drunken 15 year old girl. because anybody knows a 15 year old girl who somewhat clandestinely drinks alcohol is literally asking to be gang raped. *headdesk*

It’s very hard to call the police while you’re filming the assault on your phone.

Jezebel is a great site that covers horrifying news shit like this and also fashion, hollywood, etc. I suggest checking it out if you haven’t.

Also, I suggest, if you ever see a gang rape, go all Hulk on they ass, or you know, at least call the fucking cops.

Class Schmlass

22 Oct

As you can tell, I use the f word a lot (fuck) and I often refer to feminism as the big f word (which has a history in how many and who signs up for Women and Philosophy v. Feminist Philosophy).

So as you can imagine, I was totally bummed when I found out there was a blog playing on “the f-word.” I hear it’s a good blog. I’ve never checked it out.

Here are the feminist blogs I read (daily):

feministe.us/blog

feministing.com

pandagon.net

jezebel.com

racialicious.com

bitchphd.blogspot.com

And when I get time I head over to:

feministlawprofessors.com

kateharding.net : Shapely Prose

While I’m at it, comics I read (or try to) daily (despite the fact the update 3x a week):

Achewood

Fart Party