Friday, September 28, 2007
We'll start with the jeers - a pregnant woman was fired from a plastic surgery office "...after being told to suck in her belly so she wouldn't scare away patients." The plaintiff, Erin Griggle, "was told to keep 'sucking her belly in' by Dr. Brian Vasser Heil...so she didn't scare away patients who came to the office to look better." Yes, folks, according to this doctor, all you have to do to hide a pregnancy from prying eyes is inhale deeply. Apparently we humans are still so uncomfortable with our own biology that after a mere 200,000 years, we are still absolutely terrified by the sight of a pregnant woman. Terrified. And here I though that being pregnant had become trendy. Via Feministing.
Jeers to Italy for ordering stiletto heels as a mandatory part of the uniform for its female police officers. Via Jezebel.
Cheers to the US Senate for finding a way to "extend federal hate-crime protection to people victimized because of their sexuality," but jeers to Bush for making them have to sneak such reasonable legislation in with an unrelated military bill.
Finally, can you do a cheers and jeers post without paying homage to Stephen Colbert's Tip of the Hat/Wag of the Finger? I can't. And this one is on a SI hot debate topic - breast feeding. So, without further ado - I give you Wag of the Finger - Breasts.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Ummm... microwaved breast images?
Does it come in black?
UPDATE: ABC News, at least, is taking this research seriously. According to this article, "...the device incorporates a series of microwave antennae to detect temperature changes in the breast that point to early stage breast cancer." There is a caveat, however. As breast surgeon Anne Rosenberg explains:
Thermography has been around for 20 years, but has not been sensitive or specific enough to replace traditional imaging, such as mammography... This technique of using the microwave antennae to pick up and record temperature changes in the breast, with an alarm if the threshold is exceeded, would need to be validated in a clinical trial to determine whether it is sensitive or specific with regard to identifying cancers … since not all of these temperature changes will be due to a cancer.Other experts express concerns that such a bra would increase stress in women when the bra sounded false alarms. At the same time, the device would fuel a false sense of security if the alarm did not sound, "since most cancers are less than one centimeter" in diameter and would be difficult to detect via temperature changes caused by increased blood flow. As this research is quite well funded, perhaps the "smart bra" will get smart enough within our lifetimes to be of some use. Yet, in the meantime, don't wait for a quick fix - we all need to be doing our self-exams, visiting our doctors, and living healthy life styles to reduce our risks.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
China bans all sexy ads - oh, and also "'Vulgar' adverts for things like breast enhancements and female underwear..." Apparently, men's underpants aren't vulgar. Or perhaps the underpants themselves are male or female?
Our Episcopal Churches have caved to international homophobia and agreed to no longer appoint openly gay bishops or bless same-sex couples.
At fashion week in Milan, billboards featuring photographs of a naked anorexic woman are used to promote awareness of the disease and call for responsible behavior from the fashion industry in regards to representations of beauty - oh, and the billboard is also meant to advertise for clothing. Is this responsibility in advertising or an exploitive stunt? UPDATE: One of the billboards can be seen here.
World famous primatologist Jane Goodall speaks out about the destruction caused by crops grown for biofuels in sensitive environments.
Jake Young of Pure Pedantry considers the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of different sex education programs.
Italy considers whether it is best to fine the clients of prostitutes on the spot, if caught, or to "serve legal papers in clients' homes in order to shame them."
The New York Times says to consider your weight when you were 20 when determining how much you should weigh to maintain your health. Now if I could be speed-walking to class every day instead of commuting to work... oh, and living off caffeine and pizza.
Europeans try to fend-off evolution denialists - and here I thought the States had the copyright on cooks and cranks. Watch out, European ladies, if your legislators are anything like ours they'll be trying to deny your right to birth control pills next.
Oh, and while I won't even pretend that it has anything to do with feminism, news that birds see the earth's magnetic field... visually... with their eyes... well, I'm fascinated.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Americans—of either gender—are reading fewer books today than in the past. A poll released last month by The Associated Press and Ipsos, a market-research firm, found that the typical American read only four books last year, and one in four adults read no books at all... Among avid readers surveyed by the AP, the typical woman read nine books in a year, compared with only five for men. Women read more than men in all categories except for history and biography.Although the above quotation asserts that women are out-reading men in almost all categories and certainly reading more in terms of sheer volume, the rest of the article focuses on speculations that perhaps we sensitive women enjoy fiction more than men do because we are more empathetic than men. I find the research of Louann Brizendine, author of The Female Brain and the scientist cited to support this empathy and fiction are for girls theory, to be a little suspect, however, as she restates the debunked myth that adult women talk more than men do.
However, I am left wondering - are we Americans really reading so little? Do men really read much less than we do? What books have you all been reading recently? Are there any recommendations for those of us who are in danger of not meeting the yearly average for an avid female reader?
Monday, September 24, 2007
Thanks to MarkH for introducing us to this awesome new blog, and for his continued discussion of the OTA. Also, if you haven't signed Maus's petition yet, you can sign here.
UPDATE: If you are having trouble thinking of any scientists that have not already made the list, reading through the list of this year's "Genius Grant" recipients might introduce you to some contemporary women in science doing unusual and interesting work. I certainly enjoyed reading through it, although it disturbed me that the youngest fellow is only three years older than I am. I better get working!
Saturday, September 22, 2007
I briefly alluded to this topic in my last comment on the Skirts Flying post. Charlottesville, VA has a fabulous soccer league for kids and adults. I respect the city for all they do to promote this sport. However, I am not without one wee complaint. I always found it quite infuriating that the women's matches were always assigned to the worst fields in town, were given only one field referee, and generally that referee was a little high school boy who clearly did not want to be out on that pitch.
So, that wee complaint leads into my aforementioned tirade. Can *ANY*one explain to me why there are different rules for women's sports versus men's? For instance, this applies to: softball vs. baseball (I mean how pitiful is that...we don't even get the same name), lacrosse, hockey, tennis, gymnastics. At least I no longer have to include 6-on-6 basketball anymore, although I would like to point out that it was in existence in my home state of Oklahoma until 1995. Perhaps that experience foreshadowed my future life as a feminist because I railed against that injustice even back then by refusing to play that game.
I go back to the post I referred to above. I am not saying that I have an issue with making a distinction between men's and women's sports as far as the competition aspect of it goes. I generally have no desire to play against a man. I am fully aware of my strength limitations in comparison. I'm 5'2-1/2". I am quite sure that I would be flattened if I played lacrosse against a guy. However, why on earth change the rules for women playing against women? I never got into lacrosse because checking is not allowed. If I had any skating skills whatsoever I still would not want to play ice hockey because checking is not allowed. I did, however, play rugby because I got to tackle people. Such fun! Seriously.
It causes me endless amounts of ire to see that women are still treated as delicate little flowers who should not be encouraged to participate in physical contact sports. In fact, not only should they not be encouraged, we should not even allow those type of rules to exist so women don't have access to physical contact sports at all. Now *there* is a bloody brilliant idea!
Friday, September 21, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
The problem is that contractors are often used specifically because the are outside of the chain of command. Far from the US courts that would usually try the crimes of US citizens and corporations, granted immunity from the laws of the country in which they operate by CPA Order 17 with the words"Contractors shall be immune from Iraqi legal process with respect to acts performed by them pursuant to the terms and conditions of a Contract or any sub-contract
thereto", and outside the military chain of command - mercenaries seem like a quick fix for a government that wants no questions asked and no messy moral dilemmas. Privatization of all aspects of occupation is such a good strategy, in fact, that we have 180,000 private contractors in Iraqi right now. Like Catch-22's Milo, these contractors are paid to do the cooking and the laundry - and some of the shooting too.
Ours should not be a country that hires private companies to do our fighting for us so that we can dispense with the moral high ground. War is terrible and violent and bring violence against the innocent. War fought by mercenaries that act outside the confines of conventions and oversight bring more violence against the innocent. Wars bring violence against women. Wars fought by men acting free from the threat of trial or accountability bring more. The United States should not have a class of unregulated soldiers.
So, what should we do now? The government must honor Iraqis' request that they remove Blackwater USA from their country. We have already been unreasonably slow in doing so - and according to State Department Tom Casey, Blackwater personnel will continue to work and carry guns in Iraq while a commission investigates what changes in policy should be made. A real investigation into this incident, and of past incidents, must be conducted. Clear oversight of and accountability must be instated for all US personnel in Iraq. If we are to continue to say that we are there to provide security for Iraqi citizens, we must do everything in our power to ensure them that they need not fear us. Refusing to let them try or citizens while providing no clear chain of command or accountability for our own forces seems a poor assurance of our good intentions.
I think my project is now ready for its unveiling.
Please direct yourself to the Care2 petition website to sign the following petition.
Once you have signed it, please direct as many of your friends to sign the petition, and direct them to do the same. We can start a movement. If it looks like this will take off, I can increase the signature goal. At the moment, I have it set at 5,000.
Go to it!
2 weird cases of police getting out of hand - a University of Florida student gets the stun gun for becoming disruptive during a question and answer session with Sen. Kerry - from the photo it looks like the police outnumbered the student 5 to 1. Also, remember that little old lady that got knocked down and then arrested for sassing a police officer when he wanted her to do more yard work? Well, she is now having to defend herself in court.
Crazies are once again mis-representing science in an attempt to defend their homophobia.
The Episcopal Church is facing a show-down about gay bishops.
Saudi women are fighting a ban on female drivers.
Maryland upholds a ban on gay marriage.
CNN partakes in some not-so-sly editorializing in a piece that evokes Mrs. Robinson and talks of older women "seducing" younger men; all while supposedly reporting statistics that show a rise in acceptance of relationships where the woman is older than the man.
The woman who forced into marriage to a cousin when she only 14 has to clarify that, while she did not use the word rape, she was still forced to have sex by her husband and her community. Sure sounds like rape to me.
Monday, September 17, 2007
UPDATE: Not surprisingly, I'm not the only one who has noticed some sexism in our nation's attitudes towards breasts and breastfeeding. Yet, I had no idea that this was such a well publicized heated debate right now. Apparently, this debate is being held not only here at SI, but across the nation at nurse-ins being staged in protest of an Applebee's restaurant insisting that a woman either cover her nursing baby with a blanket or leave the establishment.
Friday, September 14, 2007
an office on the Hill, named the Office of Technology Assessment, which worked for the legislative branch and provided non-partisan scientific reports relevant to policy discussions. It was a critical office; one that through thorough and complete analysis of the scientific literature gave politicians common facts from which to decide policy debates.Hummm… that does sound like a good idea. Naturally, the OTA, being wise and good, was axed by a Republican congress. Politicians now make important policy decisions without non-partisan expert opinions. Instead, any fool with a chart can stand up and talk about *science* - just look at the infamous Brownback presentation on frozen embryos (really, go watch – this is one of those classics that only gets funnier with multiple viewings - via Brad DeLong). While presentations like Brownback’s are highly entertaining, reliance on these types of emotional appeals from non-experts who lack any data make for bad policy decisions and we are all suffering the consequences. So, we really should do something to bring back the OTA. MarkH gives a link with senators' emails. I now feel like I should motivate my science buddies to write letters - or to at least sign one that I draft. I have the sinking feeling that, if I keep letting people manipulate my desire to enact positive social change, it might start interfering with my TV time.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
According to the BBC, a television show that purportedly conducts 'sting operations' and airs them faked a sting involving a teacher, making it appear that she had been forcing students into prostitution. After the story aired, parents assaulted the teacher before she was arrested. She spent 10 days in jail. As there is no evidence that she is guilty, the woman has now been released and the journalist who made the report has been arrested. It will be interesting to see what happens to him and to the channel that aired the report.
Hummm... perhaps, when it comes to certain institutions and services designed to serve and protect the public, unchecked free market forces don't best serve the public best interest.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
The journal Sex Rolls discusses the correlation between media portrayals of violence against women and attitudes towards women.
The Guardian reports on a new study that finds that the pill protects against cancer.
NPR tries to explain to people that immigrants really are trying to learn English.
Life Science explores the important questions like - do bras sufficiently support breasts?
It has been a mere 24 hours since someone last told me that violence against women is no longer a serious issue in our society (as though it could be a not-so-serious issue) and I come across this disturbing story in CNN. UPDATE: The woman held against her will and tortured was African American and an ex-girlfriend of one of her attackers. He had a history of domestic abuse, having been charged with domestic battery and assault after attacking her in July.
Oh, and wearing high heals makes your bones grow in crazy ways.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Let's say you are confronted with a commonly believed myth and you have sound evidence that disproves the myth. You think you've won, don't you? All you have to do is counter the false belief with your factual evidence and the myth will dissipate, right?
Well, the bad news is that it isn't that easy. The Washington Post reports that people will misremember myth debunking facts, truly believing 30 minutes later that the evidence they just read was in support of the belief they already held. *Sigh*
Via denialism blog and Newscat.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Saturday, September 8, 2007
That is why I am so impressed with the tactics used by Jessica over at Feministing when she came across an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer entitled "Stripper poles: New Feminism?" The article cites "post feminists" who "argue that the pole is empowering," without interviewing or citing any such women. The author then the laments that:
There was a time when feminism was about women being smart and assertive, and building inner strength.
Somewhere along the line, though, it morphed into slut culture. Girls tell themselves they're in charge. But they're still just strutting it for the boys.
Great reporting, that. Terms left undefined, sweeping generalizations, no sources, and invented conclusions. So Jessica says we write the paper. Not only about the blatant misogyny, but about the crappy reporting too. That is what readers need to be doing - holding supposedly reputable publications accountable not just for their mistakes (although we should be doing that as well), but also for their laziness. I love editorials, don't get me wrong, but I miss real news and I'm ready to do something to get it back.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
There's no place like home, there's no place like home...
Crap. I'm still in Georgia.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
So, since those two have managed the insight part to my satisfaction, it frees me up to watch Samantha Bee segments of the Daily Show and laugh and laugh. I will try to embed one of my favorites here, so that you can laugh too.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
To me, this sounds bad - shouldn't we be teaching our girls and boys alike to be confident, and also that there are certain times when it is best to curb their first impulses? To me, these segregated classes sound like a practice in institutionalizing gender stereotypes - negative ones on both sides.
Saturday, September 1, 2007
One aspect of the debate is the labor theory of value. Andy Murray, are you serious? Did you just go on record and say that "the guys have the potential to play a 5 1/2-hour match"? Granted, he has backtracked since then even if Tommy Hass has yet to see the light. However, I can only infer from the initial simplistic statement that Murray originally felt that women don't have the potential to play a 5 1/2 hour match. Could that be because the powers that be in the sporting community tend to alter the rules for the women's side of the sport to, I can only assume, pander to our more delicate side? This particular aspect of the debate can be seen all around the web. In fact, even the Christians have taken up the cause. Apparently Jesus weighed in on this topic and He was already against us way back then. That doesn't bode well, now does it?
The other aspect of the debate is that women deserve equal pay, period. It's all well and good for those who say that women sports shouldn't get equal pay unless they do the same amount of work...all well and good, but wrong. Fine, so the debate revolves around tennis where women are forced to play fewer sets. However, the same argument does not hold weight for golf (I'll put in here that yes, the fairways are shorter for women, but they play just as long as men), soccer (if women get paid to play soccer at all), or basketball. I find it striking that the equal pay debate focuses upon tennis so that the equal work ploy seems valid. It's when you look at all the aspects where women don't get paid the same for the same amount of work that those same voices grow remarkably silent.
Here is my last link...I enjoyed the side by side debate.