Monday, February 28, 2011

Red Bull Gives You Whores

Why does this commercial drive me up the confessional wall? 

I know it's supposed to be funny, but it's just so.. not.

First of all, I hate the words "loose woman."  Why doesn't he just say, "forgive me Father, I had sex with a whore," or explain what exactly is loose about her-- because we all know he's not just talking about her character.

Second, reverse the situation.  Would a woman ever confess to being with a "loose man" or any equally ridiculous euphemism?  No-- because there's nothing equal about the double standard of sexuality in Catholicism or anywhere else. 

If a woman was confessing to this "sin" she would say "I slept with a man who was not my husband" or something to that effect.  Again, it all falls back on her, for not protecting the v-card. 

And lastly-- why does Father Red Bull need to know who she is?  And why is he offering suggestions?  Does he need to run out and pin scarlet letters on these disgusting harlots? 

I hate this commercial because it upholds the virgin/whore dichotomy. 

You see, there are two types of girls walking this earth-- those who fuck and those who don't.  And those who do will do it with anybody.  Which is why this douchebag and his friend are now on their way to the supermarket (or wherever) to proposition the whore who is a "sure thing" with something eloquent like "oh, hey, Father Red Bull told me you like to fuck."

So Red Bull gives you-- distorted images of sexuality, sexist imagery, and another reason not to buy into the purity myth

While the company certainly isn't responsible for religious ideologies that oppress women, there's no excuse for reinforcing them.  And while they didn't invent confession, or make sex a so-called sin, there's no reason to perpetuate these practices, even in jest, to sell a product-- a product that already tends to emphasize masculinity.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

An Open Letter to Planned Parenthood

Re-published with permission from Feministified.

I will always stand with you. Why? Because you have always stood for my friends and I. You have provided us with over ten years of resources when nobody else would. You have given us information about our bodies and in turn given us the tools to respect ourselves while we learned to find and get comfortable in our own skin.

Planned Parenthood, you have asked me uncomfortable questions from time to time, but you were the only one who would. And I have to thank you for not judging me. You only asked those questions because you wanted to help. You only asked questions because you knew I needed to acknowledge things about myself.

Planned Parenthood, you have never told me what to do, or how to live my life. You have never told me I was an immoral person. You have never made me feel less than human. In fact, Planned Parenthood, sometimes you were the only one who made me feel good for simply being me. You, Planned Parenthood, have held my hand, have smiled and told me that I was a person worthy of respect and love.

Planned Parenthood, you have provided me with those pesky check-ups, year after year after year. You have provided me with birth control, after birth control, after birth control- working with my body that would reject them all until we found the perfect fit.

You have provided my friends and I with endless amounts of resources, STD testing, Paps, HPV tests, Plan B’s, counseling, breast cancer screenings, cervical cancer screenings, yeast infection help, UTI help, gender identity help, body image help, birth control, etc., etc, etc.

And yes, abortions. And we thank you.

We thank you for giving safe abortions. From keeping women from having to resort to back alley abortions and being mistreated. We, males and females, thank you for allowing us to be educated about our bodies and allowing us to go to college and live our lives with respect for ourselves and each other. We thank you for providing us with a quality of life we could not have had without you, because nobody else would have offered us the endless amounts of resources you have.

I am sorry, Planned Parenthood, that I never told you how much I appreciated you. I am sorry I only donated to you once a year during my yearly. But please know that I, we, stand with you now. And once we win this we will remember to appreciate you/and donate to you, on a more consistent basis.

Many, many thank you’s.
And we mean it! Check out the "I Stand with Planned Parenthood" tab!

Thank you to everyone who is participating! You are making a difference! Keep sending those pics! :))

Dear Readers...

I have a request.

Earlier this month, Anissa Mahmood wrote a guest blog about the Disney Princesses.  And it was wildly popular. 

I'd like to continue promoting other voices in this space. 

So would you please send me writing, videos, pictures, or anything created by YOU that I could display here?

All artforms would receive full credit and link your website, blog, twitter-- whatever.

If you are interested in participating in this project, please e-mail me:

And show me what you got!


Slutty Feminist

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sat-ire-day: Vagina Monologues

See you tonight in Bowling Green-- where we'll scream it from the mountaintops and sell you multiple flavors of vagina lollipops.

All ticket proceeds go to the V-Day fund for Haiti and the Cocoon Shelter of Wood County.

Showings are at 2pm and 7pm in 101 Olscamp of BGSU. 

And again at 3pm on Sunday.

$8 for students.  $10 for non-students.

Spread the word!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday's Five Feminist Friends

1) Feministified writes an open letter to Planned Parenthood.

2) Our Bodies Our Blog reminds everyone to Walk for Choice.

3) Womanist Musings: Rush Limbaugh, Ms. Obama and Fat.

4) Say It Sister defends Lara Logan from classic victim-blaming.

5) RH Reality Check: Tampons are bloody evidence in Georgia.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Hellcats Versus The Heartbreakers

After seperating into two teams for their second inter-league bout, the Sandusky Rollergirls are ready to take on another flat track league.

In April, the Floral City Roller Girls will visit the old Skateworld to challenge the ladies of Lake Erie.  In May, Sandusky's Rollergirls will travel to Toledo to take on the Glass City Rollers. 

Tighten your wheels and strap on your helmet, it's about to get serious.

Skaters are moving together.  A few even attempted to whip their jammers.  There were power jams and grand slams.  Technique is improving and real derby skills are developing-- as expected.

But the greatest difference isn't on the track, it's in the crowd.  In a packed venue, there was one group of fans that really stood out: little girls. 

It seems Sandusky has unleashed a group of strong, spunky, and heroic women for it's daughters to idolize.  With starry eyes, they cheered tirelessly throughout the bout and rushed the floor for autographs when it was all over.

And that's the secret of roller derby-- the point where speed, agility and femininity morph into something we all aspire to be.  But what is it about quads and fishnets that enables us to unleash our inner badass?

The Rollergirls are developing a junior league, and judging by the Brownies in the audience, they'll be skating their own bouts very soon. 

Until then, we'll be watching the adults lap their competition, one city at a time. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sticking It to the Moms

And Kristen Schaal did it again.

(Flammable) stork bucks.  Brilliant.

I want to grow up to be the Senior Women's Issues Correspondent for the Daily Show.

In Defense of Planning Parenthood

Originally published in the BG News on Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Photo courtesy of Flickr user S.MiRK under Creative Commons 3.0

A week ago, Title X’s biggest problem was under-funding.  But today’s situation is much graver.  In fact, it’s downright frightening.
Our federal spending, upwards of $3 trillion, has created a sticky situation.  After years of irresponsible purchases and short-sighted borrowing, the United States government has no choice but to limit its hand-outs. 
Recently, Republicans put their heads together, and after much sinister hand-rubbing and maniacal laughter, offered this budget resolution—eliminate Title X. 
But how will denying girls the opportunity to play sports save the government money?
Well, it won’t.  Because that’s Title IX.  And we’re talking about Title X—which is equally, if not more important.
Title X is what Planned Parenthood callsthe nation's only program dedicated solely to reducing unintended pregnancy by providing contraceptive and related reproductive health care services to low-income women.”
Passed in 1970 by President Nixon, it signifies a time when Republicans realized the easiest way to cut off the mythical “welfare queen” was to offer her family planning services. 
Title X grants are shared between 4,480 health centers across the nation.  Of the $317 million allocated for women’s health, Planned Parenthood ends up with roughly $75 million.  And it’s money well spent; 33 percent of women in the program regularly choose Planned Parenthood as their healthcare provider.
But last Friday the House approved a bill that would eliminate all Title X funding.  With the additional provision to restrict any federal money from reaching Planned Parenthood, this is obviously an elaborate plan to shut down the largest protector of women’s reproductive rights.  
And it took a man more evil than Nixon to introduce the misguided legislation.
On the right, we have Representative Mike Pence (R-IN), claiming this drastic action will keep abortion providers from receiving federal tax dollars, even though the Hyde amendment has kept that from happening since 1976. 
On the left, we have Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) calling this action “an extreme attack on women's health that threatens the health and lives of millions of women. It would mean less family planning and more unplanned pregnancies and abortions.”
The current situation can be described as a commonsense showdown; by trying to limit women’s access to abortion, the religious right could actually increase the number of abortions across the country. 
While Planned Parenthood provides women accurate information about their legal right to an abortion, they offer a long list of other services, guaranteeing healthy women can have healthy babies when they are ready.
The facilities counsel women about birth control, from abstinence to contraceptives.  And honest consultation about safer sex decreases unintended pregnancies. 
But Planned Parenthood does so much more.  They give pelvic exams.  They test for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.  They provide breast exams, preventative of breast cancer and pap smears, the only way to detect cervical cancer. 
Patients can also get infertility screenings and testing for high blood pressure, anemia and diabetes.
Most importantly, recipients are charged based on their income and ability to pay—because some people still believe healthcare is a human right.  Services are subsidized for those at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level. 
Where will these individuals go in a world without Title X?
This is the most illogical move the GOP has made thus far.  By trying to forward their moral agenda, they’re only deepening the existing economic crisis.
According to Planned Parenthood, “each public dollar spent to provide family planning services saves an estimated $3 that would otherwise be spent in Medicaid costs for pregnancy-related care and medical care for newborns.”
Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) used financial reasoning to support “the ability of women to plan parenthood,” publicly remembering her own experiences as an 18-year-old mother.  Her entire pregnancy was supported by Medicaid—even the ambulance ride to the hospital when she went into labor. 
So if less family planning creates more needy families, how does that save money?
“Public policy has treated poor children and women who have not have the benefit of planned parenthood with utter contempt,” Rep. Moore said.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) not only defended abortion with a personal testimony, but called out the Republican “vendetta” against Planned Parenthood:

Women have been pummeled by an onslaught of anti-choice legislation.  From the “No Taxpayer for Abortion Act” to the “Protect Life Act” and a flood of state-specific legislation, including Ohio’s very own “Heartbeat Bill” there are obvious motives behind these so-called budget cuts. 
“Now you may not like Planned Parenthood, so be it.  There’s many on our side of the aisle who don’t like Halliburton.  And Halliburton is responsible for extortion, for bribery, for ten cases of misconduct in the federal database, for a $7 billion sole-source contract.  But do you see us, over here, filing amendments to wipe out funding for Halliburton?  No, because frankly, that would be irresponsible,” Rep. Speier said.
While engaging in a war against women, and trying to police women’s sexuality, Republicans have also declared class warfare on the 1.4 million Medicaid patients, both men and women, who regularly use Planned Parenthood services. 
Hopefully the Senate will take a closer look at the data and root their decision in reality, because if passed, the Pence Amendment will not settle anything, except maybe a score.
***Shockingly, my own representative, Bob Latta (R-OH), voted against Planned Parenthood.  I've already signed the petition.  Won't you let the government know where you stand?

Abortion Access Limited by Clinic Violence

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I'm a Follower: @feministbieber

Photo courtesy of Flickr user jake.auzzie under Creative Commons 3.0

Ever since Justin Bieber dropped the bomb he's anti-abortion, even in instances of rape, many fans are left feeling scared, hurt and alone.

Okay, I'm left feeling scared, hurt and alone.

But never fear-- there's a new presence on Twitter to redeem your Bieber Fever.

Check out @feministbieber, the deep, sensitive crooner who's pro-choice and in-touch with his feminine side.  This pop star sticks to the acoustic guitar when sticking it to patriarchy and is looking to team up with Tegan and Sara.

Hipster glasses suggest he's reading more.  And @feministbieber name drops feminist awesomeness, like Robin Morgan and Simone de Beauvoir, all over Twitter.

Not since @feministhulk has a hyper-masculine identity successfully (and hilariously) crossed over into feminist territory.

Here are @feministbieber's top three tweets--

"A lot of people ask why purple is my fave color. Isn't it obvs that I rock it to rep my fave author Alice Walker?!"

"Most people don't realize that "One Less Lonely Girl" was actually inspired by the feminist consciousness-raising group meetings I host."

"Just had the most awesome talk with my #swaggercoach about unpacking his invisible knapsack. He's like totally blown away right now!!"

In the midst of a very serious struggle for reproductive rights, @feministbieber keeps me smiling.  And when I smile, he smiles.

So I'm totally a follower.  You probably should be too.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Wonder Woman

Check out this awesome documentary by the equally awesome Kristy Guevara-Flanagan and Kelcey Edwards. 

Love it?  They need your help making this film a reality.

With 23 days left, they're more than halfway to their goal of $10,000 by March 17th. 

Won't you pledge a few dollars to tell the story of this important role model before she's forgotten?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday's Feminist Friends

1) The Frisky hollers back-- with bureaucracy, no less.

2)  FBomb fears for Title X and Planned Parenthood.

3) Bust scrutinizes sexy period panties.

4) Bitch defends Lara Logan-- who was doing her job.

5) Feministing: justice for rape in the military.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Meet a Falcon Feminist: Aris Kaleps-Clark

Award-winning (former) President of the Delta Lambda Phi fraternity and the only male Women's Studies Major at BGSU:

He also does a hell of a Sarah Palin:

Aris is a Falcon Feminist.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

This is What a Third Wave Looks Like

Originally published in the BG News on Wednesday, February 16, 2011.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Takver under Creative Commons 3.0

With the recent success in Egypt, it’s time to consider social transformations—and who’s causing them.
Asmaa Mahfouz is only 26-years-old, and credited with launching Egypt’s revolution.  Known for her YouTube video criticizing the President’s endless dictatorship,” the girl who crushed Mubarak” in one of many women across the Arab nations standing up and speaking out.
Mahfouz urged people to break away from their computers, take to the streets, and demand democracy.  The message went viral, reaching people across Egypt and around the world. 

She offered to stand alone, but found herself surrounded by supporters on that fateful day in January—now known as the start of the people’s revolt.  Overwhelming support prompted the government to shut down social networking services and limit Internet access.
"My family was so worried about me and they told me women are not harsh enough for that kind of confrontation," Mahfouz said. "They now tell me they are so proud of me. I knew that if I get scared and everybody gets scared, then this country will be lost for good," said Mahfouz.
While the mainstream media depicted violent riots made up of men, the real protests were peaceful and inclusive—not to mention effective.
Further west, you could hear the notes of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” swirling through the air as thousands of women in Italy gathered for another large demonstration. 

After Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, 74, was accused of paying a 17-year-old showgirl for sex, women led weekend protests in more than 280 cities. 
While prostitution is not a crime in Italy, sex with a minor is.  Following years of illegal activity, this may be the first time Berlusconi is successfully charged with an offense. 
During the post-earthquake reconstruction of 2009, the government promised a shelter for victims of domestic violence, but citizens are still waiting.  Italian women-- tired of watching their elderly, conservative Prime Minister either ignore or degrade them-- assembled outside with pots and pans to "bang out" their grievances. 
Rome's Piazza del Popolo was filled with those who think the television tycoon’s sleazy programming reinforces stereotypes and echoes Berlusconi’s real attitude towards women.
While questioning the allocation of their resources, Italians are also concerned about unemployment.  In a society that privileges men, many young women only aspire to be escorts or showgirls-- like the one Berlusconi propositioned.
"In a country where one in two women does not work, and economic disparity with men is still so huge, the body is seen as a viable shortcut," said Italian journalist and author Loredana Lipperini.
One woman involved in Berlusconi’s sex scandal confirmed these fears, calling school “a waste of time.”  Obviously, fraternizing with wealthy men (like the Prime Minister) is a more efficient path to financial stability.
Further north, Iceland is also experiencing a gendered economic crisis and women’s discontent gave way to radical social action that has not lost any momentum since October.
Because they earn roughly 65 percent of their male co-workers wages, Icelandic women staged a walk-out at 2:55 pm; roughly 65 percent of a 9 to 5 work day. 

The soundtrack to this protest?  Dolly Parton’s “9-5,” suggesting “I want to move ahead, but the boss won’t seem to let me, I swear sometimes that man is out to get me” is a relatable experience for women in any country’s workforce. 
The protest, officially named “Women Strike Back” was arranged to advocate “women’s freedom from male violence and closing the gender pay gap.”  A reenactment of the same strike held five years before, the event was more of a gender holiday. 
But participants maintain a serious attitude.  In the same space, members of the Feminist Association stretched a red scarf across an entire block to draw attention to the 270 rapes reported in 2009 with only 7 convictions. 

Apparently Iceland is experiencing a gap in justice as well.  But with an energetic women’s movement and an openly-gay woman Prime Minister, Iceland was dubbed the most feminist place in the world for the second year in a row. 

And with the inspiring events of last week, the world itself appears to be increasingly more feminist.
From the Middle East to the Netherlands, more women are getting involved and choosing to be effective, rather than affected. 

With the help of the Internet, national movements are harnessing international attention and inspiring others, proving the spirit of resistance is alive and well with women around the world.  Embracing a global consciousness and standing together in solidarity-- this truly is what a third wave looks like.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

World Press Photo: Win?

Beautiful victims.  Damaged models.  Disfigured cover girls. 

"What will happen if we leave Afghanistan."

While the Time Magazine cover prompted many Americans to consider it, the caption was not a question.  And the shocking photo the statement accompanied just won the World Press Photo award for 2010.


Taken by South African photographer Jodi Bieber, the picture creates a sense of urgency and our minds are
made up before we ever turn a page. 

A glimpse of this infamous photo would convince anyone; we must stay.

Featuring 18-year-old Bibi Aisha, onlookers could barely stomach the nose-less woman.  If they dared to peek inside, the young girl's story only confirmed their greatest fears.

Oh, the horrors she experienced before she was granted asylum in the United States.

The patriotic image, paired with the bold affirmation, was an ethnocentric, self-congratulatory American's wet dream.

Aisha came to the U.S. for reconstructive surgeries.  Sponsored by Women for Afghan Women, she now owns a prosthetic nose-- and Ugg boots

As the Sun wrote in their follow-up story "her beauty has been restored."  But what if she had been an ugly woman?  Would we have cared so much?

While most reports failed to mention whether the uneducated woman had learned to read, the masses heard she lives with a roommate and likes to shop.  Yes, this unfortunate soul now reaps the benefits of capitalism.

A long way from home and her terrible past, Aisha is two years older now.  Always depicted as shy, helpless and childlike, many Western journalists have shared her story-- topped with a gruesome photo. 

Aisha was given to the Taliban (to settle a debt) at the age of 12.  She was married to an older man, but her husband was in hiding, so she worked as a slave for his family.  Tired of frequentt beatings, hard labor, and sleeping with livestock, Aisha ran away.  She found her way home; only to be returned to her in-laws by her own father. 

As punishment for her disobedience, Aisha's husband took her into the mountains, with other members of the Taliban, and cut off her nose and ears-- and left her there to die.

The words she spoke to CNN have been used over and over again:
"When they cut off my nose and ears, I passed out. In the middle of the night it felt like there was cold water in my nose," Aisha said.  "I opened my eyes and I couldn't even see because of all the blood."
Aisha sought refuge in Kabul, and was later brought to the United States; where she tasted sweet freedom and became a symbol for something she doesn't really represent.

The Guardian called Aisha's cover story propaganda:
Because, of course, Afghanistan plays host to tens of thousands of foreign troops, most of them American, and as such any efforts to remove the troops are seen by critics of the occupation as all part of a legitimate anti-imperialist cause. From this perspective, to put it crudely, national liberation always trumps female emancipation.
After speaking with experts who summarized the Taliban's position in the country and misogynist tactics for control, Guardian contributor Andrew Anthony wrote "No amount of foreign troops can change the status of Afghan women."

Many have called the photo "war porn" and Aisha herself was unsure if the media spectacle will help other women-- because really, how will occupying Afghanistan keep an entire culture of fathers from treating their daughters like property to be bought and sold? 

Critics have addressed Time Magazine's desperate attempt to make Americans feel responsible for the safety of women in Afghanistan and some even question the women and children abused by American soldiers stationed overseas.

No; the plight of women-- whether it's Bibi Aisha, veiled strangers, or any face wearing the mark of oppression-- was never an incentive.

So as we hand out awards for exceptional journalism, let's remember why we're really occupying Afghanistan; because Bush certainly did not launch this never-ending war in the name of women's rights.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Empowering Messages

Happy Galentine's Day from Slutty Feminist.

And Leslie Knope. 

And April.

I don't need husband.  And neither do you.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hate Male-- See What I Did There?

Photo courtesy of Flikr user Oran Viriyincy under Creative Commons 3.0

Dear BG News,

This is in response to the article entitled "New definition of rape to limit women's access to abortion" by Kate Noftsinger.

Kate Noftsinger's article on current abortion issues is a good example of how important it is to have a good understanding of both the pro-choice and the pro-life position when writing about abortion controversies.

Noftsinger makes a good stand about her own views but I find the straw man pro-life position she set herself up against is close to accurate at best and plain wrong at worst.

In the very first paragraph of her article she claims that pro-life advocates only find abortion necessary in cases of rape and the endangerment of the mother, however, many (like myself) who are pro-life never find abortion a necessity, let alone permissible. This comes from our view that every life is equally valuable, no matter what that life is capable of or how far his or her development is along the path of life. To the pro-life person, aborting an unborn child because it is a fetus is like killing someone who is mute, blind, and dependent on someone else to take care of them, much like a baby in the uterus.

Whether or not abortion is a victory in women's health care is certainly debatable (my own experience is that I've heard many testimonials from women who have had abortions became severely emotionally hurt and sometimes even physically injured) but the main point I wish to debate is Noftsinger's claim that a bill allowing a doctor to refuse to perform an abortion under any circumstance is a bad idea.

Noftsinger speaks as if this bill demonstrates that those proposing the bill think an unborn child's life is worth more than the mother's, when in reality those proposing the bill likely believe the child's and the mother's life are equally valuable. If one believes that the child has life and so does the mother, and that their lives are always equally valuable, one would be likely be unwilling or at least hesitant to kill either of them to save the other.

Noftsinger seems to suggest that a doctor should not have the right to refuse to make this choice. I would think that a proponent of women's choice would also be willing to extend the right to a choice to a doctor of either sex who may simply hold a different opinion than her. Noftsinger looks at this as refusing to perform an operation; a pro-life doctor would view this as being asked to commit murder.

I felt Noftsinger's commentary on the distinction between "different types of rape" were funny and insightful, but this was in my opinion the only highlight of the article. I would welcome a revision of her article someday that takes an accurate and better-understood pro-life position into account.

Friday's Five Feminist Friends

1) Bitch: fed up with fashion week and Pepsi's skinny cans.

2) Bust: visiting the feminist bookstore.

3) Feministified: declaring her love for Jezebel.

4) Ms: wishing Alice Walker a very happy birthday.

5) WMC: promoting women and the Athena Film Festival.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Beating Ohio's Heartbeat Bill

They say it can't happen. 

But this ultimate challenge of Roe v. Wade should have women everywhere very concerned.

Yesterday we explored the motives of the "No Tax Payer for Abortion Act" and the "Protect Life Act"-- the same day the "Ohio Hearbeat Bill" was being unleashed.

The bill will do exactly what it says-- make an abortion illegal if a heartbeat can be detected.  This means six weeks at most, but as early as 18 days for some. 

The "Heartbeat Bill" is one of five others pertaining to abortion that Ohio has introduced just this week.  In a partnership with the "pro-life" group Faith 2 Action (an openly homophobic Christian organization) the state has crawled into bed with the church. 

What we have here is a government body occupied with a moral agenda.  So call me a Dixie Chick, but with women's rights under attack, I'm really ashamed to be from the state of Ohio.

The heart is the first organ to develop, which inspired the tactics and wording of the bill. 

However, that doesn't mean the fetus with the beating heart is viable.  And it certainly closes the window of opportunity to have an abortion, which currently gives women at least a trimester (3 months) to make a decision, depending on the state.

Viability-- when a fetus can survive outside the womb-- is legally defined at seven months.  This "Heartbeat Bill" is transparently trying to make abortion illegal before many women even realize they're pregnant.

This is by far the worst anti-abortion strategy yet.  With their strength in numbers, republicans know now is the time to act-- one right-revoking act at a time.

But, like Tupac said -- "Since a man can't make one, he has a right to tell a woman when and where to create one." 

Resistance is necessary. We must let these politicians know we refuse to be reduced to broodmares for the state. 

So sign the petition and tell conservative republicans, once again, to keep their laws off our bodies. 

And keep your head up, ladies.  Things WILL get easier. 

But not without a fight.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Re-Defining Rape and Other Unconstitutional Acts in Congress

Originally published in the BG News on Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Photo courtesy of Flickr user 666isMONEY under Creative Commons 3.0

In a world plagued by sexual assault, abortion remains legal.  It seems the only time “pro-life” voices concede abortion is necessary is in instances of rape, or if the mother’s life is in danger. 
But Republicans are looking to change that by re-defining words which are otherwise self-explanatory and empowering those who already hold power.
In 1973, Roe v. Wade guaranteed American women legal access to abortions performed by doctors in proper facilities.  By 1976, anti-abortionists had placed stipulations on the greatest victory for women’s health of the 20th century. 
The notorious Hyde Amendment prevents federal funds covering healthcare services for low-income people from paying for abortions.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, “nearly 12.6 million women, representing 61.6 percent of adult female Medicaid enrollees, were of childbearing age in 2007.”  None of these women have legal rights to an abortion, unless they can afford the procedure as an out-of-pocket expense.
While this policy reduces poor women to second-class citizens, the legislative branch left a loophole, so as not to seem completely heartless.  Medicaid can still be applied to abortion services in instances of rape, incest or to save a mother’s life. 
So, if you are a woman and you are dependent on the government for healthcare, you cannot exercise your right to choose unless you can prove you were the victim of terrible crime or the physical stress of carrying a child for nine months will literally kill you.  
Yet, the majority of republicans in the House are unsure whether the hoops women are currently jumping through are sufficient to protect tax-payer money.  And that’s why House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) made the “No Tax Payer for Abortion Act” a priority last month.
Proposed by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) rape would only pertain to “forcible” rape.  Statutory rape between an adult man and minor would not count and coverage in cases of incest would only pertain to victims who were under the age of 18.
The late, great comedian (and astute sociologist) George Carlin once expressed that a “pro-life” position (especially one that leads to clinic violence and the murdering of abortion providers) is not only hypocritical, but “anti-woman.”  And that is what these tighter restrictions are—more evidence that our 2011 Congress is anti-woman.
According to those who those who think “forcible rape” is somehow different from plain, old rape, this would prevent women who had been drugged or given large amounts of alcohol from qualifying.  These scenarios often occur in a “date rape” situation, which will also be dropped under the “No Tax Payer for Abortion Act.”  
Date rape, the common name for acquaintance rape, occurs when a woman is sexually assaulted by someone she knows.  According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, 77% of rapes are acquaintance rapes.  A woman is four times more likely to be raped by someone she knows, rather than a stranger.  And acquaintance rape is rarely ever reported to the police.
Making arbitrary distinctions between “forcible rape” and “non-forcible rape” is problematic, to say the least.  If this term, with no legal definition, is allowed to impact legislation, only a fourth of these crimes would qualify for proper legal and medical attention, when every victim deserves to be handled with care.
Last week The Daily Show demonstrated the ludicrous nature of separating “rape-rape” from other kinds of rape with an eye-opening dialogue between Jon Stewart and Senior Women’s Issues Correspondent Kristen Schaal. 
“Republicans are finally closing the glaring rape loophole in our healthcare system.  You’d be surprised how many drugged, underage, or mentally handicapped young women have been gaming the system.  Sorry ladies, but the free abortion ride is over,” Schaal said.
Stewart questioned how this pertained to women who had been intoxicated and taken advantage of in a date rape situation.  Exemplifying that these stipulations would open the door for classic victim-blaming to save a few federal dollars, Schaal questioned what the women in Stewart’s scenario was wearing.
“Because that determines what is rape-rape and what is merely rape-ish.  And I don’t think hard-earned tax dollars should go to women who have only been rape-ished,” Schaal said.
It was brilliant, and credited with changing the wording on the bill. 
The phrase “forcible rape” has been dropped from the “No Tax Payer for Abortion Act” thanks to public outrage, the “Dear John” petition, and maybe a little common sense.  But changing a few words isn’t enough.  This and other potential laws being cooked up by the Republican majority still threaten the rights of women everywhere.
Yesterday, Maddie Oatman of Mother Jones reported Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) has been working on the “Protect Life Act” that would allow doctors to refuse to perform abortions, even those required to save the life of the mother.  This would trump the “Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act” requiring all hospitals, even those receiving federal funds, to help pregnant women by any means necessary. 
I guess you could call the latter the “Protect Existing Life Act”-- which House Republicans think should be changed.
While blurring the line between church and state, lawmakers insist their proposal would protect doctors morally opposed to abortion from discrimination. 
Obviously, it’s important to do all you can for the fetus within the expendable woman because that is what’s right.
These are scary times to be a woman in America.  While a post-feminist attitude has run rampant amongst those who feel women have already obtained social, political and economic equality, there’s about to be a rude awakening. 

Our rights are not as secure as we thought—and those in power are determined to keep chipping away, one unconstitutional act at a time.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Selective Sanctity of Life

Warning: This is classic Carlin, and therefore, offensive.

On life--

And Death--

Obviously, this is older, and some parts are controversial, not to mention politically incorrect. 

However, in the midst of a very scary GOP Bill, I think it's important to demonstrate how long those who identify as anti-abortion have been recognized as anti-woman.

Monday, February 7, 2011

10 Things I Learned From Jessica Valenti

Photo by Jessica Dennis, April 2010
As I mention on my "About Me" page, Jessica Valenti is one of my feminist idols, nestled comfortably between Jessie Spano and Gloria Steinem.

And I met her.  And it was awesome. 

How?  As a member of the Organization for Women's Issues (OWI) at BGSU, we collaborated with several other student groups and departments within the university to raise the money to bring her to our campus.

Seriously.  Imagine driving to school with Jessica Valenti in your passenger seat, discussing potential ideas for her next book and where you're going for dinner that night.

Groupies say reading her work is like forming a friendship.  Seeing her on TV is like,"oh, there's my bestie, doing work."  And watching her school Stephen Colbert (hilarious) or Kathie Lee Gifford (even more hilarious) feels like a personal victory.

So, to all of you who think it would be awesome to kick it with Jessica Valenti because you feel like you know her already, you're pretty sure she gets you, and you're convinced you'd get along because that bitch makes the most sense ever-- it's true.  She's a super good time.

And did I mention the New Yorker was pregnant during her visit to Ohio?  Yes, this TFBA (total-fucking-bad-ass) toughed out an entire day of activities and gave an amazing presentation, followed by an hour long Q&A session and then a book-signing. 

"Hi.  I own all of your books.  Will you sign them?"


Can we say unstoppable?

And this personal annecdote brings me to some rather sad news. 

Valenti has announced she's leaving the blog she launched seven years ago to focus on other things, leaving her space open for new talent. 

"Because I feel Feministing should remain a place for younger feminists to build their careers and platforms, I think it’s appropriate to our mission that I step back," Valenti said.

While her words are truly inspiring, many third-wavers are still panicking, sharing their different stages of grief in a tweet or Facebook status.  (I myself, am still in shock.)

So I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on what I learned that fateful day when I met the woman who attracted an entire generation of of young women to feminism by just keeping it real...

1) Sometimes the hardest thing about being a feminist is admitting, out loud and to other people, that you are one.

2) "Fuck" is one of the most necessary words in the English language.

3) Nothing says "classy and professional" like a shirt-dress.

4) No matter how smart, funny, and interesting your lecture just was, there's always some douchebag in the audience waiting to question you about your outfit.

5) Kashi really is delicious.

6) Always let your friends express their opinions, even if you don't always agree with them.

7) It's okay to be a slut, but it's still a double standard.

8) The concept of virginity is neither medical nor scientific.

9) Consent is not merely the absence of "no" but the presence of an enthusiastic "yes."

10) Blogging is just another way to give patriarchy the middle finger.

Thanks for the memories.  Best of luck in all your future endeavors.  And hurry up with that parenthood book already so I have something to read.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Anissa Defends the Kingdom

In the midst of Peggy Orenstein's insightful book Cinderella Ate My Daughter, I will remind you that I have stated my case against those troublesome Disney Princesses here, here and here.

But now I present you with a different opinion, in favor of the royal pains, by my friend who likes to disagree with me.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user serena_in_VA under Creative Commons 3.0

A guest post by Anissa Mahmood, who is "in the princesses' corner."

We all know the argument: Disney is an evil corporation, corrupting society by marketing racist and sexist animated films (fairy-tales, as they are often called) to children. Disney's female roles, which mostly consist of princesses (or princesses-to-be) are pure cartoon evil.

Helpless young ladies suffer through the most unthinkable circumstances in their quests to find (and keep) true love, exemplifying gender-normative women in their most genuine form; soft, feminine and frail.

Or are they?

Call me crazy, but there’s something to be said for the princesses and against continuing to bash them as anti-feminist femme fatales.

The first few generations of Disney Princesses (you know, the white ones) get plenty of flack for their wimpy, damsel-in-distress attitudes. Snow White, the pioneer princess and "fairest of them all," not to mention exceptional housekeeper, had to be rescued by her prince.

So did Sleeping Beauty—also living rather commonly in the woods. And again, with Cinderella, and the maid status.

Ugh. How dare they marry up when girls had plenty of other opportunities to elevate their socioeconomic status in medieval times. They should stand up for themselves, have dreams of their own, and live adventurous lives without the help of men.

Obviously Disney had an agenda here.

Sarcasm aside, what we're really making an argument against is fairy-tales. Tales are rooted in folklore. Tales nestled deep in a patriarchal history. While the stories are problematic, there’s no sense blaming Disney.

Watch any film from the era of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty (film noir, anyone?) and misogyny is a common theme. But Disney didn't invent patriarchy or fairy-tales or love stories.

The films are merely a reflection of the times, not the other way around.

Fast-forward to third wave territory and the majority of Disney's movies featured non-whites. Disney doesn't get any points here because they white-washed the characters and played on racial stereotypes-- but these were the baddest bitches any fairy-tale could ever want.

These women didn't need love--they chose it.

Jasmine was an Arabian princess destined to marry a stuck-up prince. What did she do? Well, she was certainly "not a prize to be won." She stuck to her guns and married for love, breaking tradition and the caste system.

She got an entire law changed. If anything, that’s a story arguing against classism.

And Pocahontas?  She fell in love with a white man and suddenly she’s blamed for the colonization of America. However, I vividly recall the obvious moral-- we are all people and shouldn’t be divided along racial lines.

Both races were trying to kill each other and Pocahontas became the peacekeeper, showing them the error of their ways. How is this a poor representation of women?

And please forgive Disney for re-writing the history of United States colonialism as it makes a terrible love story.

But let's not forget about Ariel and Belle-- the misfits. Yeah, they were white, but definitely "different" by traditional standards.

Ariel was the wild adventurer who wanted to explore the world outside of her watery home. Unfortunately, everything got a little crazy when she fell for that Eric guy, but that’s what happens when you take a leap of faith and stop at nothing to achieve a silly goal.  

(Can you tell she is my least favorite princess?).

And then there’s Belle, the nerdy bookworm who reformed a beastly prince. Belle: using her kindness and intelligence to change the world one cold heart at a time.

How about Mulan? She joined the army, disguised as a man, to spare her father. She clearly did not fit the gender-normative world of her parents, but showed them she was an amazingly courageous person.

Ta-da! A girl doesn't need to be feminine to be a hero!

Oh, but wait, she is stereotypical because she falls in love at the end.

So what’s with this love stuff, anyway? I don't know about you, but I'm starting to see a trend.

Are we saying falling in love is anti-feminist because it makes us weak and dependent on men?  I think we are confusing different concepts.

Yes, falling in love makes us vulnerable, but I don't think we can downplay fierce female figures just because they "screwed themselves over" by enjoying a little romance.

These ladies were awesome all on their own and finding male companions didn't change that. I don't consider love to be inherently anti-feminist, so princesses finding lifelong companions shouldn’t revoke their badass-ery.

And lucky them, falling into the arms of men who supported their non-traditional endeavors and loved them unconditionally—because really, shouldn't we be worried about male characters as role models in these movies too?

We are giving Disney way too much credit for children internalizing gender stereotypes.  It’s everywhere. And the princesses of the last two decades were the strongest female characters appearing in animated children's movies.

I am not saying kids can’t absorb gender norms from Disney's princess films. I just think kids tend to focus on the moral messages aimed directly at them--NOT the sociological problems hyper-sensitive adults see.

The princesses are pieces of the whole, used to tell audiences that love conquers all.

And Disney’s damage is mild compared to others.

If you want to be angry, watch an episode of Entourage or Gossip Girl. Study their female characters. Notice how modern young women are portrayed and treated in these shows. 

What messages are they sending?

Or you can take a romp through tween erotica with the Twilight saga. If you are getting a stomachache, you’re probably digesting the concept. Pop culture can be a destructive force, but we have to pick our battles.

Everyone huffed and puffed about Disney until the corporation gave up on fairy-tales. Now what do we have? Movies about robots, toys, aliens, cars, and monsters. I guess we won the battle against femininity in the children's film industry.

Now what are we left with?