Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Year in Review at TheFU

During my short time here at The Feminist Underground, I've been quite impressed at the sheer awesomeness of this blog. I thought a great way to look back at the year and to celebrate the blog is to highlight some of the posts that have started the most conversation here.

I based this list on the number of comments, but took out some of the posts that weren't so much a discussion as they were a question or blurb that asked for a reaction (such as the threads for the debates). I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I did!

Confessions of a Wedding Planner brought out some of the things we love and hate about the wedding industry, which can often be a ball of frustration for feminists.

Feminist Dilemma: Illegal Interview Questions is a more recent hot thread where we all learned a bit more about what the laws are and what to do when presented with the situation.

Silver Ain't So Bad made us ask ourselves what is up with our obsession with getting the gold. During such an intense Olympic season, it was interesting to take that pause.

Soul Calibur IV: The Great Titty Effect was a contribution by a guest blogger that had several people weighing in -- gamers and game virgins alike.

Men Cheating--it's apparently all our fault also brought out many varied opinions on what constitutes cheating, who's to blame, and, most importantly, what trolls think about it.

A Tale of Two Derbies was another post about sports, this time focusing on the roller derby, and we even got a celebrity commenter in on the convo!

The Lone Feminist at Girls' Night: How Should We Talk to Non-Feminist Women? had us ponder on one of the age-old questions for feminists trying to lead regular lives amongst non-feminists, with lots of links, debate, and heated opinions.

Viagra helps me get my rocks off caused an awful lot of commotion on the blog, and even though there weren't a lot of people in on the conversation, the back and forth is enough to keep you reading.

So that's 2008 in a nutshell here at TheFU. Here's to more discussion, debate, teaching and learning for the new year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Blogging at TheFU

Our lovely blogmistress Habladora is traveling at the moment and it is the week of mayhem, so posting will be light for the next week or so.

Hope you enjoy your: Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Festivus, secular days off, days working miserably when everyone else is off, etc. =)

Let's laugh along with our best friend, Sarah Haskins, in celebration of 2008. CHEERS!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Feminist Flicks

This week I got the chance to watch two movies that I've wanted to see for a while now: Teeth and Itty Bitty Titty Committee. They were both awesome!

Teeth was absolutely hilarious. It's about a girl who has made a pledge to remain abstinent until marriage, until a few complications arise. Her hormones start to kick in and pushed to overdrive because of a dreamy guy she meets. As she's dealing with that, she also realizes that she has vagina dentata -- a toothed vagina. Weirdness and hilarity ensue, ending with one of the funniest scenes ever... sorry, that's where your spoilers end, go watch the movie yourself. I loved that even though the movie was predictable at times, it still cracked me up throughout the whole thing. Mostly, the performance of the lead made the movie and her facial expressions were perfect.

Itty Bitty Titty Committee is about a (very small) radical feminist group who try to spread their message, though rather unsuccessfully. It documents their passions, hook ups, complicated love lives, and their struggle to keep their group together and work for the cause they believe in. The women who play the leads in this movie worked very well together, IMO. It was also rather refreshing to watch a movie where the men account for about a dozen of the lines in the entire thing. The most interesting thing to me was the juxtaposition of the radical group and the established, organized non-profit. I could write an entire post on only that (and probably will when I find enough time). Plus, the fact that the film was inspired by the Riot Grrrl movement and the Guerrilla Girls should really be reason enough for you to watch, so go on!

Have any of you gotten to watch these films yet? What other feminist-friendly movies do y'all recommend?

(Originally posted at Jump off the Bridge)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

URGENT Action: Bush's Conscience Rule

Bush seems determined to make some of his worst decisions in the final days of his presidency. He's just upped the ante by issuing the "conscience" rule, which gives health providers (including pharmacists) the right to refuse performing procedures or giving treatments that are against their religious or moral beliefs.

Here are a few scenarios in which this rule can be applied:

1) Somebody goes to the doctor, learns she is pregnant and subsequently decides to have an abortion (for WHATEVER reason). The doctor believes abortion is immoral. The doctor can not only deny giving her a completely legal abortion, but doesn't need to give her information on how to get one or who to speak to for counsel on having one.

2) A couple decides that in addition to wearing a condom, they will use birth control for extra protection. The local pharmacist, however, believes using birth control is a sin and refuses to fill the completely legal prescription. Said pharmacist does not need to refer the couple to another pharmacy that will fill the prescription.

3) A woman has been living with AIDS after a blood transfusion for several years. She moves to a new town and goes to get her prescription filled a new pharmacy. The local pharmacist believes AIDS is a punishment from God and refuses to fill the completely legal prescription. Said pharmacist, again, does not need to refer this woman to a pharmacy that will fill the prescription.

In all of these scenarios, I've used a different reason that might be against somebody's religious or moral beliefs. In all of these scenarios, the procedure or medication was completely legal. In all of these scenarios, the health provider was not required to give the patient the information they need to receive their legal health care.

If you're as outraged as I am, you can take action NOW! Planned Parenthood has an online petition. Rachel Maddow has posted the phone number for the White House on her show's website (with a link to an MSNBC article) so that we can CALL, CALL, AND CALL AGAIN. We need to act now in order to send a message that we want this rule reversed as soon as possible.

(Cross-posted at Jump off the Bridge)

Feminist Gift Ideas

Economic crisis or no, most of us will still be doing some gift-giving this December. That's right, your mom needs presents, so you've got shopping to do. If you're still looking for good feminist gifts for Mom - or anyone else - here are some of our best ideas:

1. Women in Science points us to several good present ideas for the nrrrd grrrls on the list. My favorite is a "this is what a scientist looks like" women's tee-shirt from YellowIbis. It's customizable too - just in case you want to add "something detailed about you or your research field." Love it. Also, as Loup pointed out last summer, Molecular Muse has some great science themed jewelry - and who doesn't want a pair of estrogen molecule earrings? I know I do.

2. FeministGal of Oh, You're a Feminist?!? not only designs and makes beautiful jewelry, she also uses the proceeds to support her local women's shelter.

3. Someone you know wants a tee with Frida Kahlo or bell hooks on it? Yeah, you know me, don't you? You can get all your feminist shirts and pins at KMStitchery.

4. Another Loup favorite, South End Press has tons of books on feminist topics.

5. Subscriptions! BUST, Shameless, make/shift...

6. Give a chicken. Or a sheep... in the name of someone you love through Heifer International, which promotes gender equality throughout the world by helping women become part of the sustainable development of their communities, enabling them to own livestock and teaching them how to manage their livestock and businesses.

Of course, we're still shopping too - so let us know if you've got any good ideas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dating Tips of Yesteryear: Stuffed Animals are Man Bait

Watch ladies from the 80's explain how we women go about our man-hunting all wrong (!), then let me know if you think dating advice has really changed much since the shoulder-pad era:

(h/t Guanabee)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Post Secret: Forgiving Our Racist and Sexist Impulses?

Professor, What If...? has a post I'm filing under 'things I wish I'd written' which discusses the racism and sexism frequently seen over at PostSecret. Here's a small taste:
...many postcards don’t indicate “dealing” with issues so much as offloading them so they don’t have to be dealt with. Using an “airing dirty laundry” schema, the site allows “secrets” to be purged, making it “ok” to be racist, unfaithful, uncaring, mean, or whatever, as long as one has “dealt” with it via crafty postcard confessional.
For more excellent, and perhaps slightly uncomfortable, insight - go read the rest.

(image via PostSecret 12/13/2008)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Feminist Dilemma: Illegal Interview Questions

As much as I love freelancing, I am also searching for a full-time position. Yes, I know it is foolish to trade working in my pajamas and setting my own schedule for a guaranteed income, but what can I say - I'm crazy that way. So, this means I'm interviewing - and I recently had one interview that, well, posed a question: what do you do if you're asked an illegal question during an interview?

Here's how it went. I was back for a second interview at an advertising and design company - and the first interview, with the Executive Director, had gone really well. Seriously, he loved me. Now I was back, speaking with the more junior-level guy who would be my direct supervisor if I were to take the position. This second interview was not going so well, partially because guy started this way:

Guy: So, how long have you been married?
Me: Just over a year now.
Guy: Do you have any kids?
Me: No.
Guy: (Expectant pause.)
Me: (Thinking - !?!?)
Guy: (Expectant pause.)
Me: (Thinking - ... he isn't legally allowed to ask me if I plan on having kids, is he? Is that why he's waiting, he wants me to talk about my plans for my uterus? I don't even know my plans for my uterus - and even if I did, it would be illegal for him to ask me about my uterus in an interview. Wait... is my confusion showing on my face?)
Guy: (Expectant pause.)
Me: I really enjoyed the tour of your new production studio, is that where you filmed the...?

Other than that, the only weird thing about the interview was that he seemed to be feeling around about how long I plan on living in Atlanta - lots of questions like 'Do you like Atlanta?' and 'Do you have any family nearby?' - but whether or not I plan to stay put seems like a fair thing for a company to want to know, right? He didn't come back to the baby question and neither did I, but it made enough of an impression that when asked about the interview later that night, I responded, "I don't know - it was a little weird."

As it turns out, I was asked more than one illegal question. An employer can't legally ask "do you have kids" in an interview, nor can she ask about your marital status or your residential history in the region/country. Of course, knowing that these questions are illegal doesn't mean that I'll now know what to do the next time one is asked. So - I put the question to you:

As good feminists, what should we do if a potential employer asks about our marital status or family plans? Do you point out that these are illegal questions in hopes of keeping the employer from being jerk to future female interviewees? Do you answer? Do you change the topic? Do you phone your attorney?

UPDATE: As public interest lawyer Jake Aryeh Marcus pointed out in the comments, these questions are not technically illegal in many states! As Women's eNews explains:
Only 22 states and Puerto Rico specifically prohibit employers from inquiring about applicants' marital status. That means "maternal profiling" is a real problem for many women.
Yeah, you bet it's a problem! I'm interested in knowing how many of our readers have similar stories - have you been asked about your gender, marital status, or family plans in an interview?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Jewelry Face Says It All

Let's all celebrate the fact that I no longer have a fever, and that I'm back to posting on TheFU... by laughing with Sarah Haskins!

I've never been a big fan of expensive jewelry (though I love cool, handmade jewelry like FeministGal's), so jewelry commercials have always made me scratch my head in confusion. People really spend all that money on these things?! On a regular basis?! Oh my.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Vintage Sexism: Pop Science from Centuries Past

Google Book Search has recently added a massive collection of vintage Popular Science magazines dating back to the 1800's and, throughout the decades, most issues spend a considerable number of pages dedicated to the controversial questions of Lady Brains and The Woman Question. Here are some classics:

From May 1872 (p. 87): "...excellent suggestions are frequently made by those who are not fitted by Nature to carry their own ideas into operation. This is especially true in the case of women, who, if they were to devote their whole energies to science or politics, would do violence to their physical organization." (Read: oh noes, if we let them have power or education, their titties will fall off!)

From May 1872 (p. 91): "Women, however, with intellects truly masculine, are, and have always been, more rare than women with masculine development of muscles. There are few, if any, distinctively masculine pursuits in which any woman has ever succeed..."

From October 1872
(p. 165): "It is a lamentable truth that the troubles which respectable, hard-working married women of the working-class undergo are more trying to the health, and detrimental to the looks, than any of the irregularities of the harlot's career."

From March 1872 (p. 553): "It is true that the actually existing generation of women do not dislike their position. The consciousness of this haunts Mr. Mill [as he argues for women's rights] throughout the whole of his argument, and embarrasses him at every turn."

From August 1910 (p. 161): "One phenomenon in this connection is almost embarrassing to mention, in view of the present growing sentiment in favor of women's rights and woman suffrage. It appears from the effects of a recent earthquake on the American people, that human reason is more readily inhibited in the gentler sex and in children, than men... This statement will hardly pass for anything new. This distinction is implied in the wording of one report, which states that 'men were excited, women and children frightened.'"

From February 1920 (p. 36): "'I care nothing for style; I can wear the suit I have on indefinitely,' said Miss Fanny Harley... That, presumably, is why she wears trousers instead of skirts... She is convinced that women's success in the business world is threatened by their traditional, fashionable clothing. Undoubtedly, she would prefer to see our stenographers dressed in white trousers... We gravely doubt that would add to their efficiency."

Of course, today's Popular Science is not much better, as you can see by looking at the stories currently on the front page:

1. Science Dweebs Often Virgins - in which we learn that Science Dweebs are always male: "He blames a dearth of sexy role models for today’s blossoming men of science..." (emphasis mine)
2. Sex, Thighs and Video Games - the audience of this book review is assumed to be all-male as it discusses the depiction of women in video games. Here's an actual quote: "So have a read, ogle the pictures, and then grab your, er, controller and get your game on."
3. An article that dares to ask 'are men more likely to fall fast asleep after sex?' in which the author quotes a "sex expert" as saying "Men go to sleep because women don't turn into a pizza" - creepy image there, dude.

So, Popular Science still delights in gender stereotypes. I'll leave it to you to decide how far we've progressed in our popular notions of both science and gender over the last 136 years.

Hoping I Never Ride in an Ambulance

I couldn't not post this as soon as I saw it because it's just too disgusting:
Ambulance Attendants Accused of Molesting Patients

What kind of country/world do we live in where this is even a possibility?! You'd think that in a situation where a person is most defenseless -- in an ambulance, presumably en route to the hospital because of an emergency -- that would be the safest place to be. The people in the ambulance with you are supposed to be the ones there to help you. You basically have to put all your trust in them, whether you're conscious or not, because there's nowhere for you to go and nothing for you to do.

So to learn that almost 130 ambulance attendants have been accused of molestation just in an 18-month period is appalling. For one, if 130 were accused, how many others have been molesting patients without being accused? Then there's the fact that it's 130 attendants, not 130 times, meaning it's quite likely that many of those attendants had done it before they were finally accused. In fact, the article mentions one man pleaded guilty to five counts of molestation! This is also the number of attendants accused, yet it's unclear what the fate of most of these attendants is/was.

I have to say, though, that as shocked and disgusted as I was while reading about this, I was completely unprepared for the quote from the EMS director in Delaware:
"Is even one case tolerable? I think most state directors would say no. But we're bound by reality here."
Could he not think of a better way of wording this? "Most" state directors would say no?? I would hope that ALL state directors would admit that even one case of molestation is intolerable. In fact, I would hope that all EMTs (minus the perverts themselves, I guess) would find one case of molestation intolerable. And, no, you're not "bound" by reality. Sure, there is a reality that exists that you're striving to change, but saying you're "bound by reality" is like saying "hey, this is really messed up and, you know, ILLEGAL, but my hands are tied b/c that's just the way things are." Somebody please fire or impeach this man as soon as possible.

But I guess I live in some crazy world where privacy should be protected, stranger's bodies are not public domain, and sexual assault should be punished. Sorry, what on earth was I thinking?

(Cross-posted at Jump off the Bridge)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I Gotta Go Home, I've Got a Bad Case of Gay

You're at home in your jammies now, right? No!?? Damn it, people - you were supposed to call in sick today, with a bad case of the gays. Because, if we're going to treat gay as a disease, then we should get sick leave for it. But the point won't sink in unless we all do this at once, and today is the day.

So, go find your boss and tell her that you've got to go home - you feel a case of the gays coming on and you'd hate to spread it around the office. Then you can go sit in bed and watch the new Sarah Haskins video about vampires. This is my type of activism! (Actually, you're supposed to use the time off to volunteer for your local LGBT or Human Rights organization - otherwise you're not doing it right. Still, you could watch the new Sarah Haskins video first - and you can wear jeans and sneakers to volunteer instead of that stuffy button-up you're stuck in now.)

So, get to it!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Baby Dood Sells Studio Rights to "How to Talk to Girls"

You remember that little kid who wrote an advice book that warned all males to steer clear of 'pretty girls' - girls who "have big earrings, fancy dresses and all the jewelry but are like cars that need a lot of oil"? Remember how Harper Collins gave this little dood a book deal (and, yet, they still won't return my calls)? Well, now he's sold the film rights to Fox. Classic.

Seriously, you can't get too irked with a 9-year-old for the dumb things he says or writes. Little Dood is getting these ideas about 'high-maintenance ladies' from somewhere, maybe there's a Big Dood at home. Seriously, though, what makes us so eager to buy back our own sterotypes repeatedly? What about a kid parroting them back to us makes us all sigh "awwww"?

UPDATE: Oooo, it looks like Guanabee is already working on a script. Go help them!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Quick Hit: Feminism's Little Victories Make Me Smile

Over at Daily Kos, SusanG has noticed something about President-Elect Obama's most recent weekly address:
Aside from the commitment to what sounds like a great progressive stimulus plan, one sentence struck me: Will your job or your husband’s job or your daughter’s job be the next one cut?. Read that closely. In a speech about universal fears and hardship, he is addressing his primary listeners as women. Never have I heard sentence construction like that from a president -- women addressed directly in a non-"women's issues" setting as legitimate, fully fledged and very concerned and invested breadwinners.
Little moments like these, they make me feel good.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Arkansas Would Rather No Parents for Needy Kids Than Equal Rights for Same-Sex Couples

The right to wed is not the only civil right under attack for lesbian and gay couples in these United States. While all eyes have been turned towards California, the right of lesbian and gay couples to parent adopted or foster children has suffered a major setback:
Arkansas residents recently voted to ban people who are "cohabitating outside of a valid marriage," as Shelley and Ross do, from being foster parents or adopting children as these women did.

The measure was written to prohibit straight and gay people who are living together from adopting or becoming foster parents, but its real objective, child welfare experts say, is to bar same-sex couples like Shelley and Ross, 52, from raising children—even if it means youngsters who desperately need families will wait longer.
This vote to keep same-sex couples from becoming parents is hateful, and it hurts children as much as it does the couples whose basic rights it revokes. Susan Hoffpauir, the president of the Arkansas chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, lamented in the pages of the Chicago Tribune, "We don't have enough quality homes as it is, and now we're going to place more restrictions?"

Across the country, similar laws aimed at keeping lesbian and gays from becoming parents are threatening the wellbeing of children in need of loving homes and robbing same-sex couples of an equal status in the United States. Utah only permits straight married couples to adopt, while North Dakota allows child placement agencies to "rule out prospective adoptive parents based on religious or moral objection."

One state, however, is working to reverse its bigoted and harmful laws: a Florida judge ruled last week against a law that had previously baned adoptions by lesbians or gays.

For those still unconvinced, the Tribune article also frames the issue in economic terms:
Some 129,000 U.S. children are in foster care, and the only criteria should be who can best provide a loving, permanent home, according to Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute.

In a recent report, the non-partisan group concluded that a national ban on gay adoptions could add $87 million to $130 million to foster care expenditures annually because these children would then be living in other types of institutional care, such as group homes.

"On its face, this [Arkansas] law is just crazy," Pertman said. "I fear what will happen if other states see this as a model."
In answer to this economic incentive for justice, compassion, and equality, one social conservative group that lobbied for the ban on same-sex adoptions argued that better advertising for straight couples willing to become foster or adoptive parents will solve the issue.

We still have so far to go.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Teen Girl Fights Off Armed Robbers with Mad Tae Kwon Do Skills

Kids, I'm not saying you should try this at home, but I have to admit I'm impressed:
...when a San Diego dad who preferred not to be named found himself hogtied by house burglars, his teen-aged daughter--a tae kwon do black belt--fought them off until he was able to free himself and run for help. Father and daughter both survived the ordeal in fine health.
You can read more over at San Diego's NBC affiliate site.

Female Genital Mutilation as Grounds for Asylum

I apologize for my complete lack of posting. I haven't been feeling well, which is one excuse. But the real one is that sometimes it's just hard to find a good idea that sticks and is post-able. When they do come, it can be from strange places. Like last night, when the fluff-mystery novel I was reading happened to have a little side-plot on female genital mutilation and for some reason this got me wondering why I hadn't heard anything on the role it's playing in US Immigration cases.

Asylum is a tricky thing to petition for. It has strict requirements. Reading denied asylum cases is just about the easiest way to get yourself good and depressed. We've posted on it before with domestic violence cases. They're a prime example of the problems you run into. Getting beaten by your husband, your family, even your village, isn't enough to get asylum. It has to be your government that's out to get you. If the mafia is after you, tough luck.

With all of the denials that go on in asylum cases, I was expecting the worse for female genital mutilation (FGM) cases. It's the kind of practice that is widely done in certain cultures, but we don't hear much about a governmental role. It also can make things difficult when you come from a particular country but are formally governed by a smaller tribe.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that FGM is a recognized basis for protective asylum. In fact, the controversy surrounding FGM in immigration cases is actually concerning women who have already undergone FGM. To get a little background, a February 2008 Congressional Research Service Report for Congress is a good place to get started. While the federal courts seem to find past FGM as sufficient for asylum, the Immigration courts themselves still aren't following suit.

A 2nd Circuit case from June 2008 dealt specifically with three women from Guinea who were all previous victims of FGM. The Court really hit the issue of the deep problems created by FGM and how they may extend far beyond the actual act. It is also an act that can be performed more than once, which offers more protection to those women who have already undergone FGM. The common practices of rape and sex trafficking also played a role in their consideration of potential future harm. You can read the entire opinion here.

It appears that FGM is making some great progress as a successful claim for asylum. Let's hope the trend continues.

When Nice Guys (TM) Attack: Hot Chicks with Douchebags

First, a word about Nice Guys™:
“Nice Guys™”: The “™” marks the difference between men who are genuinely nice people and men with entitlement issues who wail “but I’m a nice guy!”. There are two types, which often overlap in one individual:
  1. a guy who believes that the simple act of being decent means that the universe owes him a girlfriend.[defn from Mickle][more from Jeff Fecke at Shakesville]
  2. men who are looking to date a woman with the appearance of a supermodel, and yet they continually whine about how “women don’t like nice guys - they only want good-looking assholes”...
And now that you know the Nice Guys™, I give you... their website! That's right, Hot Chicks with Douchebags is run by and for Nice Guys™ - a special place where they can collectively assert that the universe owes them women that look like supermodels while chanting "women only want assholes" in unison.

Sure, I'll admit HCwDB is funny at first glance. The site routinely mocks some colossally over-the-top displays of a particularly ridiculous idea of masculinity - one that would define 'manliness' as enormous muscles, tough-guy tattoos, and a loudly-stated and often-repeated interest in firearms. Muscle-flexing guys strutting for the ladies through loud displays of faux aggression and crotch-grabbing are an embarrassment, and they no doubt deserve to be mocked.

Still - the icky on HCwDB works on a lot of levels, and - after an initial guffaw - will ruin your fun. The problem is that instead of sticking to pointing out one type of harmful (and silly) gender performance, the site mixes in a healthy dose of misogyny and some huge double standards. Here are a few of the ways Hot Chicks with Douchebags goes wrong:

1. Drooling over the women in the photos is, in large part, what this site is about. Sure, Jay Louis, the site's author, tries to be 'ironic' as he publicly lusts over the women in the photos he posts- he writes "I would humbly bongo her hindquarters with only a quart of yak's milk and a small Malaysian sherpa named Shingwa to guide me" and "Speaking of manna, [this] blonde is trashy/tasty, but undeniably sexy, with a shoulder I'd suckle with the fright of a caged calf sensing his impending transition into veal" and "I long to fondle her inner thighs with chicken grease" - because ridiculousness is totally an antidote to creepy - right? Yet, this guy is posting pictures of women without their consent and writing about what (funny?) sex act he'd like to engage in with them - and that's not cute, its icky. Adding a few lines about the guy in the photo doesn't change the essential creepy wanker dynamic here either.

2. Just... this quote: "...Native Hottmerican on the right makes my wumpa want to wigwam, and my Native American term for something want to Native American term for something." I have no words. There's more like the above though - pretty much every woman of color on the site gets some type of similar treatment.

3. So, let's see if I've got this straight - if a woman works out, applies some makeup, and sometimes chooses revealing outfits... she's hot. And that's good, hot is what's she's supposed to be - so that men can have the pleasure of looking at her and deciding that they deserve her more than the guys she's freely chosen for her company. Yet, if a guy goes to the gym, styles his hair, and chooses an outfit that reveals what he considers to be his best physical assets... he's a douche who has somehow stolen the women that better men (men less concerned with their looks) deserve. That seems a bit like a sexual double standard. Of course, Louis responds to a similar criticism (deploy irony shield!) on the site:
[...] My mission quest is to save the hott by changing the culture. By rearranging the semiotics of discourse into a new alignment in which douchery is no longer necessary.

Then, and only then, will the boobies be free.
So someday it will be socially acceptable for a normal-looking guy to be the love interest of women who invest time and energy into looking like supermodels. Oh, wait a minute:

Look, to me HCwDB is a maddening display of male entitlement a la Nice Guys™. Yet, I haven't been able to convince a single person out here in the 'real world.' Several friends of mine maintain that the site is uproariously funny and that, if I just keep reading, I'll see how clever it is and fall madly in love with it. There have even been threats made of buying me the book. All I can say is... this guy got a book deal?!? I'm a nice blogger, the universe owes me a hot book deal... but not the accompanying lawsuits.

And so, dear readers - what do you think: is HCwDB super-plus funny or about a million tons of just plain gross?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Martin Defeated

Damn... it looks like the good guy lost.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Vote Jim Martin Tomorrow!

Alright, Georgia - it's time for us to vote again. The runoff election between Jim Martin and incumbent Saxby Chambliss is TOMORROW, December 2nd. You can check your polling place here.

Why am I supporting Martin, you ask? It's true, he's not quite as progressive as most of us would like, but he's the pro-choice candidate and would help build a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. And, as the NARAL Blog for Choice notes:
Jim signed amicus briefs in support of Roe v. Wade and always voted in support of the landmark Supreme Court decision that recognized that women and their doctors -- not politicians -- should decide what's best for women's health. When Jim was Chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the Georgia legislature, he stood up against an anti-choice abortion ban that came for his committee -- more than once -- because it didn't include an exception for women's health.

So, Georgia women, stand with those who've stood with you. Support Jim Martin for U.S. Senate.
It isn't easy to be a pro-choice politician here in Georgia, so Jim Martin's opposition of anti-choice agendas shows real character. So, Georgians, let's help Martin win - because a defeat for Chambliss is a victory for choice.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cue the Elevator Music

Don't think of it as being ignored. We're not ignoring you. We not only hear you clamoring for new posts, we're listening.

That being said... we're on holiday! Posting will be light until we return from all of our Thanksgiving travels. If you find yourself missing the wit and feminist insight you usually find here, visit Free Rice and play some quiz games to pass the time as you pine for us.

Help end world hunger

Happy holiday, everyone!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Linkage

1. The military is pushing for a repeal of the 'don't ask don't tell' policy.

2. In England and Wales, laws regulating prostitution are about to be changed. "Anyone who knowingly pays illegally trafficked women for sex could face rape charges, while kerb crawlers could face prosecution for a first offence."

3. Brazil is 'cracking down' on women who've received illegal abortions, investigating and prosecuting women reported to have terminated any pregnancy that was not either the result of rape or a threat to the mother's life. Sure, anti-choicers sometimes brush-off the question of how much time a woman should get for having an abortion if we make it illegal, but the issue is real.

4. Seven (good) things Obama's win might mean for women's health!

5. Is there a shift in the abortion debate away from questions of 'to ban or not to ban' to 'how do we reduce the number of abortions'?

6. Civil unions for all - helpful or simply a bad idea?

7. Another last-minute Bush rule change will target family and medical leave.

8. There's more nonsense from that California professor making such a fuss about his school's insistence that he, like everyone else, attend the legally mandated sexual harassment seminar. Drama.

9. A lesser-known anti-choice law has gone into effect in South Dakota, where doctors must now tell women considering abortion that "she is terminating the life of 'a whole, separate, unique, living human being' with whom she has an 'existing relationship'..."

10. TransGriot writes about the importance of the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Alright, those are the links from me. I've been traveling, though, and am way behind on my reading - I'd love it if you'd fill me in on the other good stuff you've been writing and reading.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Funny Friday: Sarah vs Sarah vs Sarah (sorta)

Yeah, I know the election is over, but since it turns out we're all a bunch of huge Sarah Vowell fans here, I couldn't help but post her interview with David Letterman. Also, this will give you an idea of what I want for Christmas:

That's right, I want to hang out with Sarah Vowell. You all can set that up for me, right?

For the day's final Sarah, we bring you the latest in Sarah Haskin's Target Women, just in case you've been under a rock and haven't seen it yet. If you have already seen it... watch it again! Practice makes perfect, people, so maybe this time you'll watch it just right:

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Today has been designated as a day to mourn those who we have lost, people taken from us through violence and acts of hate. Mourning is important, and so is fighting. And the fight to end the hatred cannot be regulated to only one day. We must remember those who've been abused or killed and let that memory embolden us to oppose bigotry whenever and wherever we see it. Lindsay gives us one way to fight, but opportunities big and small exist all around us on a daily basis.

If anyone has not yet heard the incredible story that aired on NPR of two transgender children and their parents' very different decisions, go listen. Then make your friends and family listen. Since it is easiest to dehumanize people when the myths about them are more prominent than their true stories, I believe the NPR piece has a shot at doing some good.

Also, Feminist Law Professors points to a national survey on transgender experiences in the U.S., so if you identify as gender non-conforming in any way, you can take the survey here.

Finally, what have you done in the past to fight trans hate? What can we all do in the future? Who are you remembering today, on this day of mourning?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

An End to University Rape Case Gag Orders

As a local Charlottesville newspaper, The Hook, reports:

Four years after the college safety nonprofit Security on Campus filed a complaint against UVA for its mishandling of sexual assault cases, the Department of Education has ruled that the university has, in fact, violated federal law by threatening victims of sexual assault with punishment if they spoke about their cases.

The ruling has major implications for victims of sexual assault on college campuses across the country, according to the man who filed the complaint on behalf of then-UVA student Annie Hylton, now Annie Hylton McLaughlin.

“It means that victims can’t be silenced at UVA or anywhere else,” says S. Daniel Carter, director of public policy for Security on Campus.

As a student and then graduate student at the University of Virginia, I was bothered by the university's Sexual Assault Board and its rule that victims of sexual assault keep silent about their cases -even if their attacker was found guilty. Sometimes, as in the case that prompted the complaint against UVA, the defendant was found guilty but allowed to stay at the school, and the victim was still bound by silence. If she spoke about the case, she could face charges from the Judiciary Committee. I am glad that my alma mater will now be a better place for students.

You can read more about the case and the ruling at The Hook, and the article is very interesting - be warned, though - some of the comments are revolting. Also, thanks to Noticing the Gap for leading me to this story from the town I consider to be my home.

UPDATE: Policies like UVA's are not uncommon. You can check your school's sexual assault policies at SAFER (Students Acting for Ending Rape).

Worst Date Stories: 'Your Male Privilege Is Showing' Edition

So, I went on this date once - obviously, this was awhile ago - with a fellow grad student (he was in the English Department, I was in the Spanish Department). The conversation turned to our favorite books and authors, and I listed a few I was excited about at the time. I'd just discovered Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, so that made the top of the list. Sarah Vowell is one of my favorite humorists and my sole source of U.S. history, so she made the 'favorites' cut as well. I believe I was reading Gertrude Stein's Three Lives at the time and wanted to talk about it, and I was also halfway through Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies and loving it (truly a great collection of short stories, I can't believe I haven't read her novel, The Namesake, yet). Anyway, dude looks at me and says, "So, are you -like- one of those girls who only reads books by women?" Seriously, the guy had just given me a list of all of his favorite authors - all of whom were men - and I didn't ask if he only read books by white guys. But, you name too many books by women, and you're 'one of those girls'? Come to think of it, he probably meant feminist... so yeah, I'm one of those. We don't just read books by women though, we also have bra burning parties and hairy leg contests. Sheesh.

That wasn't the worst comment like that I got on a date, though. The worst was when I went out to coffee with a guy who, when I mentioned working with the Women's Center, asked if I was a feminist. I said yes. So he says, "Answer me this, then. If women are as smart as men, why are there no women geniuses?" (No, it wasn't Larry Summers - I'm not that old). I think we both knew it wasn't going to work out by then.

Anyway, those are my two 'bad date' stories from the Your Male Privilege Is Showing category. Anyone else want to share? Ideas for other categories? Feel free to list your favorite lady authors and lady geniuses as well.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Title X Money Could Go to Anti-Choice Clinics

As Ms. reports, the plan by the HHS to give medical workers the right to refuse services to patients on moral grounds might have yet another scary consequence for women:

The Bush administration is planning an 11th-hour rule change that could open a new spigot of government money to “crisis pregnancy centers”—fake, anti-choice clinics whose mission is to convince pregnant women not to have abortions (see Ms., fall 2008).

The proposed regulation, pending action by Bush’s Health and Human Services Secretary, Michael Leavitt, would give health care workers the “right to refuse” to provide women abortion referrals, unbiased counseling and even--depending on interpretation--birth control. Not only would this mean that U.S. women were no longer guaranteed full information from their health care providers, but, according to reproductive rights group SEICUS, it could also open up federal Title X funding—the bread-and-butter of comprehensive family planning clinics such as Planned Parenthood—to CPCs. Currently, Title X funding is reserved for clinics that provide women full, unbiased counseling about their reproductive options.

These 'crisis pregnancy centers' are deceptive about their anti-choice agenda, often include false information about abortion, and are finding their way onto campus referral lists with surprising frequency. For more details and some sharp commentary, visit Viva La Feminista. Also, we've written a bit about the HHS's proposed rule at TheFU here and here.

UPDATE: Feminist Law Professors has a post up discussing the campaign to expose these fake clinics. Go read all about it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hillary Clinton to Accept Secretary of State Position

If The Guardian is to be believed, it's pretty much a done deal:

Hillary Clinton plans to accept the job of secretary of state offered by Barack Obama, who is reaching out to former rivals to build a broad coalition administration, the Guardian has learned.

Obama's advisers have begun looking into Bill Clinton's foundation, which distributes millions of dollars to Africa to help with development, to ensure that there is no conflict of interest. But Democrats do not believe that the vetting is likely to be a problem.

Clinton would be well placed to become the country's dominant voice in foreign affairs, replacing Condoleezza Rice. Since being elected senator for New York, she has specialised in foreign affairs and defence. Although she supported the war in Iraq, she and Obama basically agree on a withdrawal of American troops.

Well, what do you think? Are you excited about this appointment? Nervous? Do you think The Guardian is jumping the gun by calling this before anyone else?

Quick Hit: Japanese Girl Drafted to Play Pro Baseball

A 16-year-old girl has been chosen to play on a Japanese men's baseball team, and is set to become the first woman to play professional baseball in Japan:

High school student Eri Yoshida was drafted by the Kobe 9 Cruise, a professional team in a new independent Japanese league that will start its first season in April.

"I always dreamed of becoming a professional," Yoshida, who is 5-feet (152-centimeters) tall and weighs 114 pounds (52 kilograms), told a news conference Monday. "I have only just been picked by the team and haven't achieved anything yet." [...]

Yoshida took part in a tryout held earlier this month and passed with flying colors. The right-hander held male batters hitless for one inning in the tryout and her successful outing helped her become one of the 33 players picked in the draft.

Congrats and good luck, Eri Yoshida! I know I've got a new favorite team...

Comic Strip Othering, You Know - For Funsies

Yes, it has been shown that women and men actually speak the same number of words each day, but that doesn't mean that we have to give up super-clever jokes like this one:

Get it? It's funny because girl-people are so different and incomprehensible and other. Sure, it might not be 'scientifically true' that women talk more than men, but it just feels so true - probably because we've been exposed to jokes like the above our whole lives. But, if we let our stereotypes give way when presented with evidence that should disprove them, then we might have to think up new jokes - and no one wants that.

(h/t Language Log)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lotta Links

These are a few of the stories that got us talking this week:

1. Antonin Scalia sounded like a complete ass on Monday as the Supreme Court heard arguments on a federal gun ban that bars those convicted of domestic violence from owning guns.

2. What should Obama do about sex ed?

3. A Texas pastor attempts to 'take back sex for married couples' by challenging the legally wed members of his congregation " have sex for seven straight days." I think this means he want them to have sex once a day, not keep it going 24/7 - still, its going to be an awkward week for a lot of the church's kids with parents who decide to give it a shot. "I heard zoo noises." Me, I'm all for it - if these people have their own business to manage, maybe they'll be less inclined to meddle in other people's affairs.

4. The American Humanist Association will be putting out bunches of pro-atheist ads this holiday season. What do you think- is this a good idea, or akin to throwing rocks at a hornet's nest?

5. Debate about fake dongs leads to a big question: Who decides whose sexuality should be treated as a medical issue?

6. This irked me: "The nation's Roman Catholic bishops vowed Tuesday to forcefully confront the Obama administration over its support for abortion rights, saying the church and religious freedom could be under attack in the new presidential administration." No outcry about the Bush administration's policies on torture and rendition or the wars, but the admission that keeping abortion a safe and legal choice might reduce the number of abortions and does save lives - that's a threat to religious freedom. I don't get it.

7. High school students are staying silent on sexual assaults.

8. The SFGate looks at Prop H8 and the pre-election polls that made many of us think it would fail.

9. Yahoo! has a new 'for the ladies' site - and it's mainly about fashion, attracting the men-folk, and the color pink. Sigh.

10. What's the Global Gender Gap Report really saying?

11. New Hampshire's state senate is the first to have a female majority.

12. An amazing woman has passed away.

13. What will Michelle Obama do for working women when she arrives at the White House?

14. A baby girl has been born to the recipient of the world's first ovary transplant.

15. Ever wonder how birds know what notes to sing? We have...

Thought? Stories we might have missed?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Job Segregation and the Wage Gap

Sociological Images has some sharp observations regarding the wage gap between men and women and how it relates to a phenomenon called 'job segregation.' As Lisa explains:
Men and women are sorted into different jobs and jobs associated with women are paid less.

Below is a list of occupations and their average wages for 2007 from The Bureau of Labor Statistics. I picked out occupations that were rather straightforward (not a random sample, just an illustrative one), put them in order from lowest to highest, and colored them according to whether they are feminine (pink) or masculine (blue) occupations...

Parking Lot Attendants: $8.82
Child care workers: $8.82
Coatroom attendants: $9.18
Bellhops: $9.25

Sewing machine operators: $9.31
Manicurists and pedicurists: $9.60
Home health care aid: $9.62

Stock clerks: $9.85
Janitors: $10.00

Hairdressers: $10.68
Security Guards: $10.85
File clerks: $11.06

Pre-school teachers: $11.12
Barbers: $11.31
Receptionist: $11.40
Bus Driver (school): $12.43
Construction workers: $13.13
Butchers: $13.87

Dental Assistants: $15.17
Bus Driver (city): $15.94
Roofers: $15.98
Car mechanics: $16.43
Truck drivers: $17.41
Electricians: $21.53

Lisa draws three conclusions from her observations:
1. Occupations that are disproportionately female "cluster towards the lower wage end of this hierarchy."
2. Neither the difficulty of the job nor its importance to the community is the determining factor in how wages are set for each occupation:

Car mechanics are paid more than dental assistants. They require a similar amount of training, yet we still pay those taking care of our cars more than those taking care of our teeth.

And pre-school teachers are paid less than butchers and bus drivers. Is preparing our children for school less important than getting them there? Do we value the man preparing our meat more than we value the woman tending to our child?

3. In professions that have two distinct titles for males and females, the female equivalent earns less: "For example, maids are paid less than janitors and hairdressers are paid less than barbers."

Enlightening, isn't it?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Most Offensive Thing You'll Read All Day

In response to a brief post discussing circumcision, several comments suggested that male circumcision was the moral equivalent of female circumcision, or female genital mutilation (FGM). This comment is pretty representative:
In countries where FGM occurs it is usually the women who perpetuated it onto their daughters, they often don't feel it was a violation. Heck in Indonesia it's done on neonates, just like males here. So how do they know what is missing? What reason would they have to stop it, they're fine. It's the same dance just a different tune.
Well, heck - it seems we have very different definitions of the word 'fine.'

Fortunately, Denialism Blog sets the record straight:

Independent of how you may feel about male circumcision, it does not normally, or even more than very rarely, lead to long-term medical consequences. FGM nearly always does. FGM is not usually as "simple" as a pinprick. And who performs it is irrelevant. If women are co-opted into torturing each other by the dominant male culture, that is most emphatically not a mitigating factor, but a sign of how deeply disturbed gender relations in the culture are.

Male circ is not a method of controlling males and their sexuality... FGM is always---always---a method of controlling women and their sexuality. It is almost always mutilitory (rather than symbolic) and leads to widespread female urogenital problems. Despite what the foreskin-worshipers may say, male circumcision and FGM are in no way equivalent.

I really appreciate having some male allies willing to point out the stupidity of the 'women are incapable of doing anything to hurt women, ergo if a woman does something then it must be good for womankind' argument that we see so frequently around these parts. I'm also going to have to agree with PalMD on his second point too, "Go ahead and argue the ethics of male circ on their merits. There is a reasonable discussion to be had. But leave FGM out of it."

Two Ex-Ex-Gays Share Their Experiences

'Love In Action' is a Christian program that aims to turn gay men into straight men. The sad part of this interview with Scott Tucker and David Christie, two former participants of the program who are now openly gay, is listening to them review what has happened to some of their friends from the program - suicide, failed marriages, and more pretending. You can listen to their stories and see some of their photos here.

(h/t Pam's House Blend)

Sex Trafficking, Internet Brothels, and Changing Laws

The BBC reports on the arrest of a group operating in the UK and Thailand that was responsible for the trafficking, abuse, and enslavement of dozens of women. The trafficked women were forced to work as prostitutes, their services advertised via 'online brothels':
Nine people from Thailand have been jailed for up to two-and-a-half-years for their part in exploiting women who were advertised in "online brothels". They are thought to have made millions of pounds from women trafficked from Asia to the UK for use in the sex trade...

One of the women - advertised on the website as "Helen" - had been "bought" from her traffickers by a syndicate of two women and a man for £11,000 and then told she would have to pay her "bondholders" £30,000 to win her own freedom.

Brian O'Neill, prosecuting, said she effectively had to sleep with 300 men, at £100 a time, to buy herself out of a modern-day form of slavery.

While prostitution is technically legal in the UK, laws against soliciting, streetwalking, and brothels effectively make it illegal to sell sexual services, but not to buy them. The increase in trafficking cases might change the laws to put some legal responsibility on the purchaser as well as the provider:

Earlier this year the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, announced plans to introduce legislation to outlaw paying for sex with someone "controlled for another person's gain"...

If it becomes law it would mean "punters" would have a legal obligation to ensure women they pay have not been trafficked.

An increase in trafficking cases has also prompted calls for massive reform of laws regarding the sex trade in the UK. One group calling for prostitution reform explains the challenge this way:

As explained above, the current laws tread an uneasy path between legality and illegality. Would it not be better in our enlightened society to decide once and for all "is there a place for prostitution in the 21st century"? This would lead to two outcomes:

  • We decide there is a place for prostitution in the 21st century and legalise all aspects of the "profession". In addition we help prostitution to become an acceptable part of society by incorporating it into education, health and politics.
  • We decide prostitution is largely an abuse of women (as was decided in Sweden). In order to protect women who have been forced into prostitution the law is changed to move the "blame" and illegality to the purchaser of sexual services.
Since I feel like I don't know what the best solution is, I'm curious to know other people's thoughts on how prostitution should be best regulated to prevent trafficking and abuse.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Congratulations, Connecticut!

It's a happy day in the nutmeg state! As the New York Times reports:
Bunches of white balloons and giant sprays of long-stemmed red roses festooned City Hall here Wednesday morning, as one of the eight couples who successfully sued the state to allow same-sex marriage became the first to obtain a marriage license as the law took effect...

The official start of gay marriages came a month after Connecticut’s highest court legalized the unions, and the court announced only last week that Wednesday would be the official first day of nuptials...

“Today, Connecticut sends a message of hope and promise to lesbian and gay people throughout the country who want to be treated as equal citizens by their government,” said Ben Klein, a lawyer with Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, a Boston group that litigated the Connecticut case.
Cheers! Congratulations to all the couples that can now begin planning weddings. I hear Connecticut is beautiful in the early summer... May many states (ahem, CA) follow the example of our northern friends and keep fighting until equal rights for same-sex couples are guaranteed throughout the country.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans' Day and Anti-Choice Protesters

California NOW alerts us to the fact that Veterans' Day -that's right, November 11th - has increasingly become a day of anti-choice protests and violence over the last decade:

Over the years, four doctors who provide abortion service have been shot around this date, and one, Dr. Bernard Slepian, was killed.

If you do not already participate in a clinic escort program, you can contact your local NOW chapter to find out how you can volunteer to help women receive needed health services without harassment.

I like that California NOW doesn't merely report the rise in protests, but suggests a way to combat the harrassment. You can also check out their video explaining how the escort program works at their site.

Gender and Profession: Lady Doctors and Male Nurses?

My grandmother adores one of her doctors, who she insists on calling her lady-doctor. It doesn't matter how many times the doctor's name comes up in conversation, or that I've actually met her, when referring to this woman my grandmother always says something along the lines of "Doctor So-and-So, my lady-doctor, says..." Frankly, my grandmother is too cute for this to irk me, but I do find it interesting to think about which professions get gender-neutral names and which we feel the need to tag with female or male labels. Nobody refers to 'my favorite lady-musician' but - even on this site - we often talk about the female politicians we like. I've never heard anyone discuss their lady-teacher, but I have heard mention of lady-pilots, presumably because they're still rather rare (for reasons Maggie discusses here). Which brings us to today's cartoon:

So, for all you language-lovers out there: Does this gender-tagging of certain professions reinforce our stereotypes or is it sometimes necessary for clarity when we speak of professions where parity has not yet been reached?

(h/t Sociological Images)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Meyung Robson: FBI Agent and Chef

From NPR's Morning Edition, the story of Meyung Robson:
Robson's road from pageants to FBI special agent began on April 29, 1975, when her father retired as a three-star general and the Communists were closing in on Saigon.

"When we saw a helicopter falling off the rooftop of a condominium a block from our house, my mother said, 'That's it, we have to leave,'" Robson says. "So we just rushed out of the house with about $60 in my dad's pocket. [The] entire family just ran with clothes on our backs to the port of Saigon."

They scrambled onto a ship, and a few months later found themselves in New York as refugees picking strawberries in Stony Brook.

"It was just heaven, after spending so much time on sea, to be able to just lie down in field of strawberries and eat as much as we could, and sell the rest for 15 cents a basket. It was fun, it was really fun," Robson says.

The rest is an amazing story, so go read and listen. And if anyone hasn't started writing their novel yet, a trip to her restaurant in Bangkok could be a good place to start researching a novel based on Meyung Robson's adventures. Just remember who gave you the idea...

Stay-at-Home Mom Label: Applicable to Any Mother Who Works from Home?

When Kendra LaDuca and Amy Maurer Creel noticed that they never wore jewelry after having given birth to their daughters (because babies love nothing more than grabbing and slobbering on mom's baubles), they saw a business opportunity. Why not make fashionable jewelry out of chewable materials? That way, if Baby wants to use your pendant as a teething ring for awhile, no problem:
The two formed their company, Smart Mom, in 2002, and spent the next four years finding a suitable material for Teething Bling, lab-testing it and refining prototypes. Made from latex-free silicone, the same material used to coat baby spoons, the matched necklaces and bracelets come in an array of colors and patterns, including camouflage and a pale flecked green that resembles jade. They sell for $19 and $12, respectively, on the Smart Mom Web site...

Amy and Kendra started selling Teething Bling in 2006, grossing about $80,000 and netting $12,000 in the first 12 months, Amy says. Sales have climbed over the past 12 months to about $125,000, Amy says, with about $60,000 net.
Brilliant, right? You can find their jewelry here.

My question is this: How would you refer to LaDuca and Maurer Creel? As entrepreneurs? Business women? Inventors?

The Washington Post Magazine bypassed all of those terms, choosing "Stay-at-Home Moms" for the title of the article profiling LaDuca and Maurer Creel instead. "But wait, perhaps the WaPo means that they were stay-at-home moms before starting the business!" you might argue. No go--Maurer Creel was "a freelance media and marketing consultant" before teaming-up with LaDuca, although she did work from her home office.

Look, I'm all for parents being able to decide to stay home with their children, and it would be nice if more parents could afford to do so. Many of us feminist types would like parental leave laws in the States to be more like those in France, where in addition to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave, families have access to two years of unpaid leave that can be divided between parents any way they like after the birth of a child. Choice is good. Yet, to call any mother who works from home a 'stay-at-home mom' seems odd to me - and referring to LaDuca and Maurer Creel as such completely hides their entrepreneur identities, which are the central point of the article, behind their motherhood. Why would the WaPo choose to focus the article's title on their 'stay-at-home mom-ness' while actually profiling of two business women? Is there some glamor to the term that I'm missing?

How do others feel about the stay-home mom label? If you work from home and have kids, how do you answer the question 'so, what do you do'?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Quick Hit: Obama to Swiftly Lift Global Gag Rule

As MSNBC reports:
Transition advisers to President-elect Barack Obama have compiled a list of about 200 Bush administration actions and executive orders that could be swiftly undone to reverse White House policies on climate change, stem cell research, reproductive rights and other issues, according to congressional Democrats, campaign aides and experts working with the transition team...

The new president is also expected to lift a so-called global gag rule barring international family planning groups that receive U.S. aid from counseling women about the availability of abortion, even in countries where the procedure is legal, said Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. When Bill Clinton took office in 1993, he rescinded the Reagan-era regulation, known as the Mexico City policy, but Bush reimposed it.

"We have been communicating with his transition staff" almost daily, Richards said. "We expect to see a real change."

Yeah, progressives!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Obama Family Photos: Election Night

The whole album is up on flickr, but here are some of my favorites...

The first kids earn a puppy by sitting through super-boring returns:Michelle and Barack look calmer than I did at this point in the evening - and more sober:
Presidential paddycake:
That's right, keep him headed in the right direction, Michelle:"OMG, Dads are so embarrassing!":(h/t Guanabee)

Lesbians on ABC Family's Lincoln Heights?!?

Its no secret that we form our ideas about the way the world is 'supposed' to work in part by watching and parodying the attitudes and actions of those around us - especially when we're young. For just one little example (and I promise I'll get to the lesbian kiss soon), a recent report on NPR explained that many teens see smoking as relaxing and refreshing because they are "...primed to see smoking as a sort of relief... That's the image television — one of the strongest influences in their lives — portrays." Teens who watch shows like Sex in the City learn to expect a sense of relief when smoking a cigarette because that is what so many of the characters express when they light up. This 'priming' of young people's expectations also influences ideas about gender roles, body satisfaction, and heteronormativity as well.

Where was I? Oh, TV lesbians. TV's ability to prime our expectations about relationships and sexuality is one of the reasons I was so tickled to see this scene from ABC Family's Lincoln Heights. The story line is one that you've probably seen on made-for-teen and family shows before. As StuntDouble of After Ellen explains, the plot of this episode revolves around "...the old "I have this friend" trick. It works so well, until you actually do have this friend who needs you to intervene on her behalf... Cassie and her gay BFF, Stacy, have heard word that Kelly is a lesbian. Cassie thinks Stacy should just ask Kelly to prom, but Stacy doesn't even know if Kelly is actually gay! What to do? Send in your wingwoman, of course."

Oh no! We've got a Cyrano de Bergerac dilemma! For a good guess at what happens next, I'm sure we could refer to at least three Saved By the Bell plot lines. Yet, the predictability of the drama is part of what makes this scene so promising as a social message - it isn't that they're lesbians that complicates the plot, but the mix-up about who's doing the wooing. That its a same-sex love triangle, come on, that's no big deal. And that's a good thing.