Friday, October 31, 2008

I'm an early voter!


That's right - I voted today! Yeah!
You?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dueling Obama Ads: Vote Now!

Alright, I'll say it - I liked the Obama spot last night. My mom, on the other hand, loved it - loved it! She phoned me afterward to call the election for Obama, claiming that no one will vote McCain after seeing the Obama spot, and that everyone saw it. I hope she's right.

Me, I'd have to say that - while I liked the spot last night -my favorite official Obama promotion is this one calling on voters to make history. If Obama wins, Jeff Yang makes the case over at NPR that Obama would not only be our nation's first Black president but, with roots in Indonesia and Hawaii, he could be thought of as the first (culturally) Asian American president as well (you'll have to listen to if you want to be convinced, the write-up at NPR's site is pretty weak). Now if he could only be part woman... ;) :



Did you know that, according to a Pew Hispanic study from last July (2008), Obama enjoys the support of 66 percent of Latino voters? As Latina Lista explains:

From everything that has been reported, Latinos sided with Obama and the Democratic party for three main reasons:

1. The pledge to help middle-class American families with taxes, funding college education for their children and the economy.
2. The pledge to get more families healthcare coverage.
3. The pledge to bring about immigration reform

While immigration may not be on the top of every Latino voter's list, it is still among the top 3 issues that are important to Latinos and did initially serve as the impetus for many immigrant advocates/bloggers/voters to throw their support behind Obama.

With that, I'd like to introduce my all-time favorite Obama ad:


And finally, I think that perhaps the most powerful Obama ad this season isn't even about Obama, but about Joe Biden:


Thoughts?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Feminist Parenting: The Wet Blanket Dilemma, Halloween Edition

Halloween is on Friday and its costume crunch-time for tons of parents here in the U.S. The kids need costumes ASAP if they're going trick-or-treating and, of course, the easiest way to remedy the situation quickly would be to go buy costumes, but maybe the thought of dressing the kids as baby sex symbols or racial stereotypes makes you queasy - then what?

Yup, as our friend FeministGal notes, it isn't easy to find a feminist-parent approved kiddy costume on the shelves:
Halloween, if nothing else, allows children to play dress-up and use their imagination to be anything they want to be. Or in the case of the mainstream costume industry, gives kids the chance to further perpetuate gender roles, reinforce stereotypes, and dress little girls in hyper-sexualized outfits.
That's right, in stores all over the U.S.A. there are the racks are full of costumes like:

Sexy Teen Witch














French Maid Jr.














and whatever Major Flirt Girl is supposed to be:














Last year we brainstormed some home-made alternatives like Marie Curie, Hermione Granger, Amelia Earhart, Billie Holiday, and Janis Joplin - but we failed to address one major question. What if your little daughter really, really wants the Major Flirt Girl outfit? What if all her friends are dressed as flirt nurses and trollop fairies and have stuffed melons down the tops of their midriff-bearing coquette pop-star outfits? How can feminist moms and dads turn All Hallows Eve into a good experience instead of an exercise in gender role reinforcement and stereotypes?

No holding back - all of the last-minute feminist parents need ideas on how to pull together some good costumes, and how to get their kids excited about some age-appropriate options. What's your family doing for Halloween this year? What was your favorite costume as a kid?

Why I've Just Decided to Vote Early and to Take a Video Camera to My Polling Place

I don't care if it's a glitch or a trick - anything that keeps a voter from being able to cast her vote for the candidate of her own choosing is wrong:



(h/t Guanabee, where we're reminded "Make sure you get out to the polls early, kittens. Before you hit the poles, even.")

Rwanda: Women Helping Women

With Gov. Sarah Palin serving as a daily reminder that women politicians don't always act in the best interest of women, it is refreshing to read of Rwandan women's success in advancing women's rights through increased representation in government:

Women hold a third of all cabinet positions, including foreign minister, education minister, Supreme Court chief and police commissioner general. And Rwanda's parliament last month became the first in the world where women claim the majority -- 56 percent, including the speaker's chair.

One result is that Rwanda has banished archaic patriarchal laws that are still enforced in many African societies, such as those that prevent women from inheriting land. The legislature has passed bills aimed at ending domestic violence and child abuse, while a committee is now combing through the legal code to purge it of discriminatory laws.

One lawmaker said the committee has compiled "a stack" of laws to modify or toss out altogether -- including one that requires a woman to get her husband's signature on a bank loan.

"The fact that we are so many has made it possible for men to listen to our views," said lawmaker Espérance Mwiza. "Now that we're a majority, we can do even more."

You can read more at the Washington Post.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Girls Are Funny: Sarah Haskins

Actually, this is just a linky post to tell you that there is an interview with Sarah Haskins of Target Women up over at Jezebel, and I think she and Dodai are new BFF. I wonder how I get into that club?

Oh, this is the Target Women that S.H. says is her favorite:



And just to link back into the 'Girls Are Funny' post title - who is your favorite lady comedian?

(h/t bucking the wave)

Mediocre Female Politicians: A Mark of Success?

Judith Warner writes on the opinion pages of The New York Times:

In 1977, Bella Abzug, the former congresswoman and outspoken feminist, said, “Our struggle today is not to have a female Einstein get appointed as an assistant professor. It is for a woman schlemiel to get as quickly promoted as a male schlemiel.”

In other words: women will truly have arrived when the most mediocre among us will be able to do just as well as the most mediocre of men.

By this standard, the watershed event for women this year was not Hillary Clinton’s near ascendancy to the top of the Democratic ticket, but Sarah Palin’s nomination as the Republicans’ No. 2. ...

Mediocrity, after all, is the privilege of those who have arrived.
Go read the whole thing. Then I hope you'll come back here and drop a line about what you think of Warner's argument.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The 3rd International Congress on Islamic Feminism

The Third International Congress on Islamic Feminism is currently taking place in Barcelona, and the BBC has published a collection of brief essays from some of the amazing activists taking part. The views expressed by Muslim feminist leaders of different countries are diverse, as you'd expect when a group of international leaders of any movement gather together, and there are naturally some contradictions in what different women see as the most difficult challenges, their sources, and how to address them. Yet, reading through the collection of views on feminism, religion and secularism made me feel surprisingly hopeful about all of our abilities to better our communities and to challenge one another. I was particularly struck by the words of Amina Wadud:
I do not wish to sacrifice my faith for anybody's conception of feminism, nor do I sacrifice the struggle and actions for full equality of women, Muslim and non-Muslim women, for any religion. Islamic feminism is not an either/or, you can be Muslim and feminist and strive for women's rights and not call yourself a feminist.
It is true, you can strive for women's rights and not call yourself a feminist. Perhaps I've been too intent on defining the label in the past...

Oh, and this seems like an opportune time to point to Fatemeh's "Open Letter to White Non-Muslim Western Feminists." For anyone who hasn't yet read it, this post is (hopefully) an eye-opener and a good guideline on how not to be an ass, one that I'm sure I'll need from time to time.

Ill Doctrine: Poem for Young Voters

Damn, this guy is good...



(h/t Lots of Thinking)

I Hate Fruit Flies

Really I do. When I was doing my fresh-water minnow research in college I had to share the lab space with students doing their fruit fly research. The sickly smell of fruit fly food was enough to turn me off fruit fly research for life. Thankfully I did indeed manage to avoid the little fellas.

However, my distaste has nothing to do with a lack of knowledge about their importance when it comes to scientific research, unlike (apparently) Sarah Palin.
"You guys have heard some of the examples of where those dollars go," the fun Alaska governor said to the guys in the audience, acknowledging their media savvy about Congress members, who sometimes acquire public money for frivolous projects. "You've heard about the bridges. And some of these pet projects. They really don't make a whole lot of sense."

A troubled look crossed her face. "And sometimes these dollars go to projects that have little or nothing to do with the public good, things like ..." she grinned, shaking her head side to side, her voice rising to a facetious pitch "... fruit fly research in Paris, France." Feeling in tune with the guys in her audience, she added, "I kid you not."
Now, I had to read about this because it does seem odd for U.S. money to go towards fruit fly research in France...I mean we all know how much the U.S. doesn't like the French these days, right?

Apparently this is why the research is necessary:
A healthy industry, for sure, and one now threatened by the fruit fly. A University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources report declares that currently "the olive fruit fly occurs in at least 41 counties in California," adding that in other areas of the world where the olive fruit fly has flourished, the pest has wiped out 100 percent of some olive varieties. As Thompson knew, a 2004 USDA report did not mince words: "The recent establishment of the olive fruit fly ... in California has threatened to destroy the U.S. olive industry."
And the reasoning behind the location of the research:
In April, when Thompson won the dubious achievement, he responded: "The olive fruit fly has infested thousands of California olive groves and is the single largest threat to the U.S. olive and olive oil industries." He explained that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will employ a portion ($211,000) of the $750,000 award for research in France. "This USDA research facility is located in France because Mediterranean countries like France have dealt with the olive fruit fly for decades, while California has only been exposed since the late 1990s," he said.
I still maintain that Sarah Palin is not the right female for White House. This wee little fruit fly tale is another example of how she manages to consistently fail at intelligent assessments of a situation.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Children & Clinical Studies.


A topic for which I feel extremely strongly is that of research pertaining to children's health. Luckily the NIH is beginning to come around and started a new children's health research initiative and website. They have a wonderful video on the main page that secretly made me get a little teary eyed.

We have neglected the safety and interests of children for long enough. It is time that we make sure that what we do as treatments is safe and effective. We have long assumed that just because it works in adults, it works in children, too. Evidence to the contrary is emerging at an astonishing rate.

From the website are the reasons why we MUST do research in children:
  • "Understand the differences in children as they grow and develop.
  • Identify the best dose of medicines to prevent harmful effects or under-treatment.
  • Produce chewables, liquids or tablets that are easier for children to take.
  • Find treatments for problems that occur only in children, like prematurity.
  • Find treatments for certain diseases or conditions that occur in both children and adults but which act differently in children and adults, like arthritis or heart disease.
  • Understand how medicines are used in and filtered out of the body in children of all ages.
  • Find treatments for new or existing diseases to improve the health of children in the future, like vaccine studies that were done years ago help children stay healthier today.
  • Treat our children like children, rather than little adults."

Paris Hilton = Patriotic ?!?

God Bless America. While I support the country, I can think of 237 reasons why America is less than love worthy. Paris Hilton is one of them. (Honestly the ready availability of animal print hotpants might also make the list).

What would make your list of top reasons to love America? The site fivethirtyeight.com outlines why I think we'll all have a lot more things to celebrate in the future.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Justice For All

Today Jezebel has a post on an accused rapist who personally took it upon himself to cross-examine the victim at his trial. And there's nothing wrong with being outraged at the manipulations of a criminal. As women it's okay to feel solidarity and to want to support rape victims and fight for appropriate punishments for rapists. I wouldn't have a problem with it if it weren't for the last sentence: "You've got to love our criminal justice system."

I'm hoping this is a knee-jerk reaction, not one that was given time and thought. (To be fair, my knee-jerk reaction to that statement is something not fit for family viewing.) Several of the commenters also went after the Judge for allowing the conduct. An accused rapist who personally cross-examines the victim is most likely a bastard and deserves whatever vitriol we spew. But instead there seems to be just as much hatred for the Judge and the system that allowed these actions as for the defendant himself.

As a lawyer, this tendency to blame the justice system concerns me. Yes, it's terrible that a woman's rapist gets to confront her again in a courtroom setting. But what happens if we don't allow people to cross-examine witnesses against them? What if it wasn't a rapist that was on trial? What if it was an innocent person? Is it okay to allow the suggestion that rapists don't deserve rights? Where do you draw that line?

The article that serves as the basis for the story notes that while the Judge allowed the questioning, he didn't in any way endorse it. In fact, he pointed out to the defense attorney that the defendant's actions were hurting his own case. My guess is this guy just wrote his guilty verdict himself. This isn't a situation where we shouldn't hate the player but the game. This is a time where we really should go all out for the player.

This type of rhetoric tears down a system that we should try to build. This wasn't just some random law someone thought up. It's the 6th Amendment of the Constitution. That's right, folks, your basic Bill of Rights. Mine, yours, everyone's. Even rapists. If we find flaws in the system, we should jump to point them out and rally against them. If we find Judges who refuse to follow the law, we should bring their actions to light. But just because someone you dislike is protected by the same rights as everyone else doesn't mean we, as feminists, should rally a pitchfork-bearing mob. There's no such thing as a perfect legal system. Sometimes guilty people go free, sometimes innocent people go to jail. The trial of a rape victim isn't something anyone enjoys, it's a painful difficult process, especially for the victim who has to testify. I can't imagine how terrible this experience must have been for her. But I also think it must have been hard for the Judge to watch it all unfold and know it was his job to let it happen. I respect him for it, and I hope others will, too.

In Which I Am Again Confused by the Big, International Anti-Gay Agenda Run by Gay Men

This story is really as tragic as it is perplexing. If you've heard of Austria's Jörg Haider, you've most likely heard of his far-right intolerant views. As the head of Austria's most conservative political party, Alliance for the Future of Austria, Haider was known for his antisemitism and his "...championing traditional family values, railing against the European Union and calling for an end to immigration." Now, just two weeks after his death, his party is having to face an awkward truth about its former leader and the figure-head of Austria's "family values" movement- that he was gay.

Jörg Haider died on the night of October 11th. After having some drinks with his partner, Stefan Petzner, the two started arguing. Upset, Haider got into his car and sped towards home. He was drunk and driving far faster than the speed limit. His car ran off the road and flipped twice.

Now Stefan Petzner, who has taken over as the conservative party's leader since the night of Haider's death, is speaking out about their love:
“We had a special relationship that went far beyond friendship,” the successor, Stefan Petzner, a former fashion and cosmetics reporter, said Sunday in a highly emotional interview on Austrian Radio 3. “Jörg and I were connected by something truly special. He was the man of my life.”
The Times goes on to note that Haidar was maried and had two children, and that "he had cultivated a macho, man-of-the-people persona." And, of course, there are those in his party who insist that the rumors of an intimate relationship between Petzner and Haidar are false - that the sightings of the two men at gay clubs are inventions and that Petzner was speaking only of their friendship in particularly tender terms. Yet, Haidar's relationship with Petzner has been an open secret for years. From an article published in 2000, it seems like Haidar's affair can't truely be such a surprise:
Haider, who has become a target of criticism across Europe ever since his right-wing Freedom Party joined the ruling Austrian government, is widely known to be gay, according to Berlin's Tageszeitung and the Austrian paper Der Standard. "We've known about Haider's homosexuality for about ten years," stated the Austrian gay-activist group Homosexual Initiative.
What most bothers me is that Haidar and Petzner were clearly in a loving relationship. As the head of Austria's most conservative and anti-gay party, Haidar was not promoting an agenda of intolerance while feeling guilty about a one-night stand. He had a long term partner and a loving relationship. Why fight to undermine the ability of other couples to find that happiness - why undermine the chances of your own relationship being respected?

Since Haider cannot answer me, this is the question I put to other gay politicians and religious leaders who seem to work tirelessly against their own best interests. Let's start with the Log Cabin Republicans - why?

Eating Disorder-Inducing Reality TV Show Canceled

MTV, a bastion of political correctness and home of "Paris Hilton's My New BFF", has finally decided to cancel a casting call for its new shocker: "Model Maker". The offical website stated "Have you always wanted to model but don't know where to start? Maybe you don't know the right people. Maybe you are not thin enough. Women come in all shapes and sizes, but models don't." This is truly horrifying! The casting call continues:
“Skinny,” “no body fat,” and “size zero” are the words and phrases associated with models. “Chubby,” “well-fed,” and “big- boned” are not…
Is this an April Fool's joke? Unfortunately, no. You can read more about it on the Huffington Post, here.

This is one of the most horrifying concepts I have ever heard. To encourage eating disorder behavior to become "model thin" is beyond reprehension.

I don't have the same problem with other slightly similar shows, such as "Celebrity Fit Club" and "the Biggest Loser". We undeniably are an obese and unhealthy culture, but encouraging teenage girls to lose enough weight to become waifs is just shocking to me. Although MTV didn't have the sense to veto this in the brainstorming session, at least it didn't make it to production.

What do you think?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Daily Activism

I know I am cheating on this post since it is more of a forward rather than an actual post of my own making, but I want to share with you all an email I just received from One.org and encourage you to sign the Keep Our Commitments Petition.
Dear MM,

I want to share a video with you from an amazing speech I heard last night. It was given by one of our founders, Bono. He spoke at the 2008 California Women’s Conference, an event bringing together thousands of women who are inspiring and empowering others through their work, lives and stories.

Click below to watch highlights from the speech and sign the petition:

http://one.org/keepourcommitments/

If you’re as inspired by Bono’s message as I am, I hope you’ll add your name to the same petition he asked everyone at the Women’s Conference to support. It’s a petition 53,000 other ONE members have already signed, calling on John McCain and Barack Obama to keep their commitments to fight global poverty even during these difficult economic times.

In just the last week, people from across the political spectrum, from Colin Powell to President Bush to Robert Rubin, have come forward to stress the importance of international development in our foreign policy. America’s leadership against extreme poverty is more important than ever. As Bono said last night: “When America looks outside of itself, its view of itself is never clearer. Its faith in itself is never firmer. Its purpose is never stronger. Today, at a time when America, again, is tempted to turn inward, turn away from the world and its troubles, it is more essential than ever that you look outward.”

We’re still looking outward because we know America can and must lead the fight to end global poverty.

Thank you for making a difference,

David Lane, ONE.org

1 Reason the Pro-Choice Message is Gaining Traction

A pharmacy in Chantilly, VA is now "...refusing as a matter of faith to sell contraceptives of any kind, even if a person has a prescription." As the Associated Press explains:

States across the country have been wrestling with the issue of pharmacists who refuse on religious grounds to dispense birth control or morning-after pills, and some have enacted laws requiring drug stores to fill the prescriptions.

In Virginia, though, pharmacists can turn away any prescription for any reason.

The report goes on to note that throughout the United States there are at least seven other pharmacies that are also refusing to carry contraceptives or fulfill any type of prescription having to do with birth control.

Ann at Feministing and Jessica at Jezebel have already done an excellent job of pointing out why this trend is troubling. Yet, particularly since this pharmacy is located so close to my old neighborhood, I couldn't resist mentioning this story here. Besides, it seems to provide an answer to the question posed by Tim Fernholz yesterday at The American Prospect: Why has the pro-choice message gained so much more traction this year than it has in previous election cycles? In the past it seemed to me that the anti-choice retoric used by conservative politicians was just a cynical ploy to excite their base and, while still repugnant, represented no real threat. Roe v. Wade had established the law of the land, I thought, and there wasn't much the fundamentalists could do to erode our rights. Now, though, I feel like cases like these are cropping up frequently enough that I realize there is an increasing threat to women's rights to make our own reproductive choices - and an attack on a woman's right to preventative birth control seems like a particularly sinister and wrong-minded example of the gradual gains being made by the anti-woman crowd.

Simply put, examples like these have made us more aware of the possiblity that we could actually lose the rights over our bodies that we fought for so long to gain.

Palin is a well dressed hypocrite?

Hypocrite Sarah Palin apparently wears fancy clothes and believes tax payer money should fly her children around the world. There is a scary level of entitlement there that is reminiscent of Bush, and his 'mandate'. According to the NY Times, the RNC "spent $75,062 at Neiman Marcus and $49,425 at Saks Fifth Avenue in September for Ms. Palin and her family." I [surprisingly] liked one of the comments by a host on The View: "I don’t think Joe the Plumber wears Manolo Blahniks". The beauty of this clothing controversy is that Michelle Obama has been repeatedly slammed for being 'elitist', and in particular was heavily criticized for a 'designer' dress that she wore on the View. This dress ended up being a $148 off-the-rack number. You can check out a fluffy discussion of the issue below.


In related news about misuse of money, yesterday it was revealed that Palin used government money to have her daughters to travel with her, and later had official documents changed to reflect that they were on official business. When the organizers of these events were interviewed many of them stated that the Palin clan played no role in the events and often they were surprised they even showed up.
In all, Palin has charged the state $21,012 for her three daughters' 64 one-way and 12 round-trip commercial flights since she took office in December 2006. In some other cases, she has charged the state for hotel rooms for the girls.

She apparently also charged the state of Alaska to stay in her own home, according to the WaPo:
She wrote some form of "Lodging -- own residence" or "Lodging -- Wasilla residence" more than 30 times at the same time she took a per diem, according to the reports. In two dozen undated amendments to the reports, the governor deleted the reference to staying in her home but still charged the per diem.
Gov. Sarah Palin is clearly saying one thing and doing another. I admit that image is important, but really, $150,000 on clothes seems excessive. Just as important as showing that your words are more than just rhetoric?

This coming from the Govenor who championed selling the state plane on eBay, albeit at a huge loss. She and her daughter stayed in a $700 per night hotel for a week, when the conference was only one day. I think that this is excessive. She needs to pay for the extra dates herself. The thing that really makes me mad though is that Michelle Obama is the one who is painted as being an elitist.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The 67th Carnival of Feminists...

... is taking place over at Jump off the Bridge and is one of the best I've seen. There's a lot to read and discuss, so head on over!

Bead for Life


Check out this wonderful organization--Bead for Life. It is a group that sells beads by impoverished Ugandan women to empower them.
"BeadforLife began with a chance encounter between a woman who was sitting near her mud home and the founders, Torkin, Ginny, and Devin. They learned that there was no market for her beads and that the woman worked for a dollar a day in a rock quarry. They admired her paper beads and bought a few. Soon friends began to admire the beads and they realized that there might be a market after all. Classes were held to improve the quality of the beads and develop several different styles of necklaces and bracelets. In North America BeadforLife applied for non-profit status and began to develop it’s unique program of citizen participation in eradicating poverty. The wonderful Bead Circle of support sprung up and allowed BeadforLife to expand the programs. Our approach includes the income generation activities of making beads, but also offers programs in health, vocational training, entrepreneurial training, microfinance grants, and affordable housing."
Check out their website to see how you can help by hosting your own bead party!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Beer and Cakes!


It's my birthday! Oh, don't worry - I don't want anything special...







but I am going out to celebrate with beer and cake! And then... feminist pumpkin carving this weekend, so get your submissions in!

Obama's Endorsement in the WSJ

Catharine A. MacKinnon, law professor at the University of Michigan, has endorsed Obama as the best candidate for women. Her endorsement appears in the Wall Street Journal (!):
Existing laws essential for women's economic survival have often been regressively interpreted. Women on average remain poorer than men, largely because of unequal pay. Recently, the Supreme Court held in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Inc. that plaintiffs must sue as of the first unequal paycheck, when they might not even know that their pay is unequal. Barack Obama supports restoring the rule, followed for decades, that allows suit for all the wage discrimination as of the last discriminatory paycheck. John McCain opposed this in the Senate...

Since 1980, when the Supreme Court permitted exclusion of medically necessary abortions from Medicaid coverage, poor women (disproportionately women of color) have not had effective access to abortion because they cannot afford it. This was when many women lost the right to choose.

Last year, a slim majority upheld a federal abortion ban on a specific procedure that had no exception for protecting a woman's health, ominously eroding the rights of even financially privileged women. Should the abortion ban on the ballot in South Dakota prevail this fall, its challenge in court would place any federal decriminalization of abortion in jeopardy. Of all issues that affect women as women in this election, who sits on the Supreme Court may determine this one, along with the fate of a new possible civil remedy for violence against women....

...An Obama presidency could restore that balance in fairness that ideological appointments by past administrations have upset, and that Mr. McCain has committed to continue.

Neither presidential candidate has taken a position on all of these issues. But the decision, in Mr. Obama's words, on "what kind of America our daughters will grow up in" could not be more urgent. At stake is nothing less than whether women will be, finally, equal.

Professor MacKinnon, I couldn't agree more.

Final Reminder: Carnival of Feminists

Here's your final reminder to submit a post for tomorrow's Carnival of Feminists hosted at Jump off the Bridge. I can't wait to read everyone's entries.

Here's how it works:

Pick a blog post you'd like to nominate (from your own blog, or somebody else's) and submit that post by emailing the URL of the blog post to frausally@gmail.com before October 22nd. (The submission form seems to be having issues...)

The post should be somewhat recent (within the last couple of weeks or so), and I don't have a theme or any stringent rules, BUT, because the next carnival is the last one before the election, I want to remind everyone that it is a feminist carnival. By all means, write about politics if you so choose, but keep in mind to relate it to women, women's issues, or feminism. Cool? Cool.

For more information on the Carnival of Feminists, check here.

Sheila Bair: Rising Star

Yesterday morning I caught an interview with Sheila Bair, chairwoman of the FDIC, on NPR's Morning Edition. According to the NPR piece, Bair sounded alarms when the housing bubble was still inflating:

Bair has a reputation as a consumer advocate who hasn't always won the praise of the lending industry. Two years ago, when the economy and housing were booming, she warned lenders that they needed to rework subprime loans — or risk damaging the economy.

It wasn't a popular position at the time, said Ellen Seidman, a former director of the Office of Thrift Supervision and now a fellow at The New America Foundation.

"To some extent, she was getting the 'Hey lady, you're not supposed to be talking about this' reaction," said Seidman. "She began very early saying we have a problem here."

And now the job of cleaning it up is an overtime job. Bair laughs about her BlackBerry: She's constantly trading communication with FDIC staff, Warren Buffett, interest groups and — of course — Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Considering Bair's foresight, I am relieved to hear of her constant contact with Paulson. So is The American Prospect, which has been putting forth the idea that Bair might just be a good choice to take over as Treasury Secretary in the new administration:

Bair has used FDIC's temporary ownership of a large failed bank, Indy Mac, to demonstrate how a mortgage refinancing program can be done right. The FDIC has contacted all of Indy Mac's mortgage holders who are in financial straits, and is working out easier mortgage terms. In some cases, bondholders are made to eat part of the loss. This is the right approach to repairing the entire subprime mess. So Bair has both the background and the commitment to do the recapitalizing and regulating of American banks correctly.
In her interview with NPR, Bair did not seem to be activly seeking an appointment to the Treasury - in fact, she quipped that she was looking forward to the end of the crisis so that she could go back to being unknown. Yet, Robert Kuttner, Bair's advocte at The American Prospect, makes quite a case for her being the perfect candidate - so if the candidates are reading TAP, we might be hearing a lot more about Sheila Bair in the coming months.

Mommy Penalties, Daddy Bonuses

Neil H. Buchanan has just concluded some research on the ways parenthood effects male and female lawyers' salaries, and he has posted a synopsis of his findings over at Feminist Law Professors. Basically, it seems as though men who are fathers earn more than their colleagues while women who are mothers earn less:
My tentative results confirm the “daddy bonus” that others’ have found in other studies, with the range of estimates suggesting a 15-20% salary advantage for fathers. Unlike previous studies, however, I also find a strong suggestion that women with children endure a “mommy penalty,” earning perhaps 10-15% less than the childless (and thus 25-35% less than fathers). I also find some weaker statistical support for the hypothesis that childless women earn less than childless men, with my estimates suggesting an 8-9% difference disfavoring women.
Buchanan goes on to speculate a bit about what causes fathers to benefit from a 'daddy bonus' while mothers suffer from a 'mommy penalty.' Do fathers tend to shirk parenting responsibilities by putting in longer hours while mothers are expected to pick up the parenting slack? Do men simply wait a bit longer to have children and therefore have a salary that matches with their greater experience during the fatherhood years, giving them a pay advantage over young men (and -inexplicably- all women)? Are lawyer fathers more likely to have stay-at-home or part-time spouses that take care of all domestic concerns?

He has already accounted for "differences such as part-time status, the ages of children, and whether the children are living with the lawyer-parent," but Buchanan intends to continue his research and is asking for reader input. If you have ideas of other evidence he should consider, visit him here.

Reflections on Saturday's Outing

The Annie Leibovitz exhibition that I viewed at the High Museum of Art last year has made its way across the pond and is now at the National Portrait Gallery in London. In her review for The Guardian, Liz Jobey writes:
...Leibovitz explains that she had considered making a book entirely of personal photographs, but then she concluded "that the personal work on its own wasn't a true view of the last 15 years. I don't have two lives. This is one life, and the personal pictures and the assignment work are all part of it." While that must be true in practical, physical terms, what it doesn't acknowledge is the emotional difference between assignment pictures and personal ones. The mixing of the two kinds of photographs in this show seemed to confuse the audience, as they moved from public to personal to public again, they looked as if they didn't weren't sure how to respond.
While I don't entirely agree with Jobey's criticism, it reminded me of the difficulties I had with the exhibition a year ago - namely with the lack of mention of Susan Sontag as Leibovitz's partner despite the many photographs of her. So, in response to the Guardian's piece, I'm re-posting my own take here:

On Saturday, Casmall and I went to see the Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life, 1990 - 2005 exhibition at the High Museum of Art. The collection of photographs is beautiful and haunting. Much of the power of the exhibition comes from the juxtaposition of celebrity portraits taken for magazines like Rolling Stone with her personal photography, the unifying narrative coming from photographs of her family and of Susan Sontag, her lover. What I find disturbing, though, is that while the exhibition deals, in a large part, with the relationship between Susan Sontag and Leibovitz and with Susan Sontag’s fight with cancer and eventual death, no mention is made of the photographer’s love in descriptions of the exhibition. Galleries announce that “[t]he personal photographs in the exhibition document many events involving her family, including the birth of Leibovitz’ three daughters and the death of her father,” but are silent about the more prominent theme of the loss of a lover and the looking back on a shared life. It is hard to say if it is the decision of the gallery to remain silent about such an important element of the exhibition, or if the lack of mention of Sontag's relationship with Leibovitz from descriptions is instead due to Ms. Leibovitz’s desire for privacy.

Above is one of my favorite portraits from the collection. It shows Marilyn Leibovitz, the photographer’s mother.

Celebrity Ego Alert--Angelina Jolie

Ultimately, it's partially our fault--by purchasing the tabloids and watching entertainment news, we are in fact encouraging our actors to have outrageous egos. They can do it all! Our fascination with celebrity has trickled down (or up) to legitimate news sources, such as the Times. I have noticed a disturbing trend towards our top news sources offering less news and more fluff.

The NY Times has an article today on the 'amazing' Angelina Jolie. The article marvels on how she manages her 6 children. Six is a lot (more a soccer team than a family?), but even I could handle that many if I had unlimited funds, completely flexible schedule, and nannies/maids/chauffeurs/Brad Pitt.
At 33 she occupies a rare place within Hollywood’s uppermost tier of female stars...There’s also the humanitarian activist who has served as a United Nations good-will ambassador and is now a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. And there’s her role as half of Brangelina, an unincorporated business that remains the celebrity magazine industry’s best bet for surviving the economic crisis.
She has that good-will ambassadorship because she is a beautiful celebrity--NOT because she is qualified. There is an important distinction. She's no Boutros Boutros Ghali--that's for damn sure!
A dark period, when Ms. Jolie was cast as the man eater who broke up Mr. Pitt’s marriage to Jennifer Aniston during the production of the 2005 caper "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," is behind her.
She was not 'cast' as a man eater--she was in fact a home wrecker. There was no role or play-acting there. She destroyed a marriage. I have no sympathy for this. The soft wording in the Times article enraged me.
Recently she and Mr. Pitt auctioned off pictures of themselves with their newborn twins to People and Hello! magazines, raising an astonishing $14 million for their charity, the Jolie-Pitt Foundation.
Does is really make it better that she exploits her children for good causes? Personally, I think that there is no excuse for this.

I think that idol worship is stupid, but aren't there any better role models out there? Real women (part of Palin's real America, I imagine) struggle everyday to make a living, support their families, and survive.

Jolie is a fraud. She's not a mother, but rather a marketing ploy. Well done advertisers. We bought the magazine, but we don't buy that she's the real thing.

Monday, October 20, 2008

What Women Want?

What do you think of this mock 'women for John McCain' ad? Would it sway any of the women you know who are thinking of supporting McCain/Palin, or do they know McCain's policies and support them?



Thoughts?

Caribou Barbie Jokes and Palin

SNL had Palin herself on the show this past Saturday. Leader of the liberal media elite, the NY Times, had an article discussing her appearance, and it was right on. She's a celebrity, not a politician.
"Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska made her point by going on Saturday Night Live. She proved she has a sense of humor at a time when the country is still debating whether to take her seriously as a potential commander in chief...And that was what was so remarkable — and jarring — about her engaging, relaxed performance on SNL.
...
Usually elected officials like [McCain, Clinton, or Obama] go on the show to disarm voters by showing their lighter side. Ms. Palin has already shown her lighter side to the public. The one thing nobody has accused her of is being too stiff and sober-minded...And yet on the very weekend that former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell endorsed Mr. Obama on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and cited Ms. Palin’s selection as a reason, and Senator McCain told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” that she was a “direct counterpoint to the liberal feminist agenda for America,” Ms. Palin joked about her nickname, “Caribou Barbie.”"
Instead of building credibility, she's going on the celebrity movie-promotion circuit. She is unfit to be president. And the final line of the article "One thing everybody can agree on is that Gov. Sarah Palin is qualified — to someday host her own television show." Ouch.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Right Way to Write a Sarah Palin Op-Ed

Sometimes I just want to point out the correct way to write an op-ed. Ever since she got nominated, my office has been flooded by authors who want to write about Sarah Palin. Some were okay, but many were way too strident. No one reading the op-ed was going to be convinced of anything other than that the author really didn’t like Palin’s policies or how they thought she would govern.

I’ve written before about how op-ed writers need to make themselves be an “expert” on the subject they are writing about. Just because you have an opinion about Sarah Palin doesn’t mean anyone should listen to you -- unless you can tie yourself into the subject. You have to find the logic that give you the “in” to subject matter.

This Washington Post column by Catherine Iino is nearly perfect example in tying a non-national name to a national subject.
I serve on the Board of Selectmen of Killingworth, Conn., a town that has about the same population as Wasilla, Alaska, and I share Sarah Palin's affection for small-town life.
Notice there isn’t much of a preamble. She goes right into who she is and what she’s going to talk about. Then she uses her background in serving on the board of a small town to explain why that experience is relevant to talking about Sarah Palin.
It's been widely reported that Sarah Palin hired her friends for high offices and turned to her family for advice. You do that in a small town. The talent pool is limited. You know who is sensible, who gets things done, who is willing to donate time and energy. In my town, few positions -- appointed or elected -- are paid. Even the opportunities for graft and corruption are small potatoes. (Killingworth hasn't received any earmarks.) You call your friends and cajole them into serving on one more board or committee.
There’s nothing horribly partisan or accusatory. Sarah Palin did hire her friends for office and turned to her husband for advice. The author isn’t saying that’s wrong. But she manages to turn the fact to the point she wants to make.
This is not the way you want the federal government to be administered. Everyone knows everyone in Wasilla and Killingworth, but obviously, you can't know everyone in the United States. We need the people heading federal departments and agencies to have knowledge, competence and track records that inspire public confidence. And we need a chief executive who knows how to seek advice from independent experts, not just her friends and family.
And that’s the key. Catherine Iino is just a a boardmember in the small-town of Killingworth, Connecticut. Why is her opinion important? Because she can illuminate why running a small-town (even as “executive experience”) is entirely different than running a country.

Her ending is a bullseye.
Of course, small towns have distinctive vices as well as virtues. Because we don't have many professional administrators, we reinvent a lot of wheels. Decades-long feuds often color political debates. Sometimes we cut the wrong people too much slack. We muddle through, and I wouldn't want to see Killingworth tie itself in red tape trying to prevent these problems. But you couldn't run Safeway Inc., much less the federal government, the way you run a farm stand.

There is an aspect of small-town life that we should do our best to send to the national level: the attitude toward our neighbors. We need to believe that we are a community, that we all must contribute to the common good. Small-town executive experience, however, would be a risky thing to send to Washington.
Could Iino have tacked on more about Palin’s experience as governor? Sure, but the op-ed didn’t need it. Palin and the McCain campaign have made a virtue out of “small-townness.” Iino’s op-ed, without being harshly partisan or strident, simply points out the errors in the line of logic.

It’s a great op-ed written by an outside voice who knows what she's talking about.

--crossposted at NewsCat

Sunday Funnies: Jill Trent, Science Sleuth

Old-school comics that pass the Bechdel Test!?! I know who I'm going to be for Halloween - Jill Trent, Science Sleuth:

Thanks to Women in Science for the introduction.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Our nightmare

Just for fun check out this site:

http://www.palinaspresident.us/

Friday, October 17, 2008

Target Women: Disney Princesses

As those of you who read my blog know, I've had a long week. And what do I like to do on Fridays when it's been a long week?! No, not whatever you're thinking about -- I like to LAUGH!

Laugh with me as you watch Sarah Haskins' latest Target Women: Disney Princesses.


Immigrant Classes?

Something about this just doesn't smell right:

A controversial scheme to create special classes for immigrant children has been approved by the lower house of Italy's parliament.

The measure, proposed by the right-wing Northern League Party, would require foreign children to pass a special test before being admitted into schools...

Under the proposal, the children of immigrants would have to sit tests on citizenship and would be placed in "bridge classes" if they failed, where they would study Italian language, law and culture until they could pass the test.

A spokesman for the Northern League said the aim was to guarantee equal opportunities for foreign students and facilitate integration.

But opposition politicians have described it as "an act of the worst xenophobia".

Alright - I understand that adjusting to a new culture can be difficult, especially when you don't speak the language well. And immigrants to the U.S. have to pass similar tests before becoming citizens.

Yet, denying children access to education for not being enough like the locals - that makes me feel queasy.

Thoughts?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

FGM Ban in Uganda

It isn't a country-wide ban, but its a promising start:
A community in eastern Uganda has banned the deeply rooted practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), an official has said...
"The community decided that it was not useful, that women were not getting anything out of it, so the district council decided to establish an ordinance banning it," Mr Chelimo told AFP news agency...

FGM is seen in some countries as a way to ensure virginity and to make a woman marriageable...

UN agencies have called for a major reduction in the practice by 2015.

They say it leads to bleeding, shock, infections and a higher rate of death for new-born babies.
It is hopeful to see this shift in rhetoric - the leaders of the community have stopped talking about what is desirable for men - a supposed insurance of virginity - and are instead promoting what is safe for women.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Final Debate

Thoughts?

Babies vs. Xenophobes

That's right, xenophobes, our strategy has been revealed - our army of babies will ensure that your worst fear will be realized:



Did you see how my new favorite Aussie vlogger Natalie got around to mocking not one, but two flavors of racism? Brilliant.

(h/t Guanabee)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Girl-Crush of the Day

In this Vogue article on Jill Biden, there's a bit about how Joe asked her to marry him five times before she said yes. And I totally get it. I kind of want to marry her myself. At 30, a stepmother to two young boys, pregnant with her first child, and married to a senator, instead of sitting back and relaxing, she got her Masters. With Michelle Obama, she's changing the definition of the political wife. There's also a look at Joe's sister Jean, his campaign manager and best friend. (Aw.)

Sexual Assault: What Doesn't Kill You Doesn't Matter?

This repugnant argument highlights just how much work still needs to be done when it comes to changing the way we think about sexual assault:

A barrister has caused outrage by suggesting a rape victim could not have been upset by her ordeal because there were photos of her on Facebook looking happy.

The woman was attacked in 2001 when she was 19 and has since tried to kill herself.

Her attacker, Anthony Francis, was caught seven years later as a result of a DNA sample.

His barrister tried to persuade a judge to be lenient by showing pictures posted on the social networking site of the woman laughing and smiling at a fancy dress party in the years since the rape.

Colin McCarraher, defending, told Reading Crown Court last week: 'What we have is a person who has post traumatic stress but is quite capable of going out and having a good time at a fancy dress party.'
The lawyer's "she doesn't look upset enough" defense failed, and Francis has received a five-and-a-half year sentence. Yet, that this argument was even made reveals a still prominent attitude that rape and sexual assault are somehow essentially different from other crimes; unlike other types of assault, if the victim is not completely debilitated - if the victim shows signs of recovery - then we're supposed to act as though the attack must not have been a serious crime. Can you imagine treating another type of physical assault in the same way? If someone is attacked and beaten, does anyone try to excuse the attacker if the victim had a drink that night or manages to smile at a party years later? There is only one other type of physical assault I can think of in which defense attorneys routinely try to blame the victim for the abuse - domestic violence. Hum... what do those two types of attacks have in common?

For more outrage visit Guanabee, where I first found the story, and Feministing.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Asking for What You Want: Can I Have a Book Deal?


As Broadsheet reports:

This past July, a woman calling herself La Roxy was inspired by the book “Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide” to start a project in which she explicitly asks for something every day for a year. According to the book’s authors, women’s reluctance to ask for stuff can result in massive financial losses over the course of a career, slower advancement and way more grunt work in the home, among other unpleasant things. La Roxy was so struck by their message that by the time she got to Page 7, she’d already decided to try her asking experiment. And of course the next natural step was to blog it, hence the Daily Asker.

“The point is to simplify my life by and boost my financial situation by asking,” she writes. “The point is to try to benefit from the type of situation where ‘it can’t hurt to ask.’ The point is to start thinking about asking in the first place...”

Now, when the 'women just don't ask for higher salaries' argument started being frequently bandied about, I wrote about some research that explains exactly why we don't ask - we're more likely to be punished for seeking more. Yet, like La Roxy, I did start thinking more about the need to be proactive in negotiating higher salaries for myself. And when I got my next job offer, I did negotiate for a higher salary. Sure, I was treated with a bit of hostility by one of the people privy to the information that I'd convinced the boss to pay me more; but, trust me, the money was worth the couple of snubs and rude comments thrown my way.

So, I've decided La Roxy is right - the only way to break the common perception that women who ask for the things they want are 'less nice' than the men who act in the same manner is for all of us to start asking for what we want.

I want a book deal - what will you be requesting?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Evening Links

1. Who was the women who could have saved us from the financial crisis, but was ignored by Greenspan et al.? AlterNet knows, and will introduce you.

2. On National Coming Out Day, Pam asked us all to come out - as allies.

3. Frank Rich and Jezebel both explain how McCain and Palin have been race-baiting in truly frightening and reprehensible ways. The odd thing is, as McCain alternates between making Obama sound scary and then distancing himself from his supporters' more vile assertions, he doesn't seem to realize that his campaign is encouraging their fears and misconceptions.

4. Feminist Law Professors have introduced me to On the Issues Magazine, which has some interesting pieces in this edition.

5. Even more nun news: India's first female saint.

6. The NYT explains why sweetie, dear, and other condescending forms of address hurt the elderly. Jessica adds some commentary over at Feministing.

7. A small group of vigilante modesty police have been attacking women in Israel.

8. Change.org discusses of feminism's Third Wave, and the difficulties of defining it.

9. Illegally removing voters from the rolls might have a serious impact on this year's elections.

10. Renee reports on the frightening story of a young black woman who was beaten in a McDonalds by a white man - no one helped her.

11. Apparently we live in a time when not photoshopping a woman's image on the cover of a magazine is disrespectful, particularly if that woman is not Hillary Clinton - Art at the Auction has more.

12. The BBC reports on the sad situation of the surrogate mother industry as it exists in India, a country that has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.

What else have you been reading and writing about this week?

Target Women: Number 2 Is (Super Secret) Job 1!

Happy Sunday - make sure you make time for fiber ;)



(Hat tip to Petpluto, who always beats me to these.)

Amen Sister!


Courtesy of David Willey: BBC News, Rome
Sister Cecilia Gaudette, who last voted for President Eisenhower in 1952, has registered to vote and says she will vote for Democrat Barack Obama.

Fashion and the Economic Downturn

The Sunday WaPo has an article entitled "Gilded Age Fashions in a Bleak World" describing the incongruity between the fashions on the runway with their excessive opulence and the current economic climate.
"Oscar de la Renta sent some of his most intoxicating evening wear down the runway in February. One of his ball gowns will cost as much as a scooter. (Yes, that's the new analogy. Who's buying cars these days?) And the team at Proenza Schouler sent a fully sequined jumpsuit down their runway in New York. They got behind a showpiece that, if produced, would cost more than the mortgage payments on most of those houses currently in foreclosure."
I agree with the article that high-end fashion is out of touch with America, but honestly, hasn't it always been in its own stratosphere? That's part of its allure--it's a glamorous dream. Only movie stars on the red carpet wear runway clothes, and even then it's tamed and tailored to a more reasonable cut, to be less of a spectacle. So what if there is a flurry of brocade--we want to dream about opulence now more than ever.

Even as a small child I knew that lipstick represents the economic climate. From an NY Times article, I found out that this idea is aptly named "The Lipstick Theory". Women want to look and feel pretty, especially when the money falls short. Lipstick is a relatively cheap and easy indulgence.

Wapo continues:
Just looking at them is a unique pleasure, akin to the high one might get from window-shopping. The point is not the purchase; it's the fantasizing. There is something psychologically pleasurable about simply being around beauty. We are made better by our surroundings.

That was the thinking during World War II. Governments understood that their citizens needed beauty, art and music to make life livable. In Europe, while some fashion houses such as Chanel closed, others struggled through the war even as materials necessary for production were rationed or completely unavailable. In the United States, women were encouraged to maintain their beauty rituals as best they could. They were asked to keep up appearances. To keep looking forward. The fighting, after all, was for a future that was better than the past. The beauty industry -- from lipstick to party dresses -- symbolized hope. A well-turned-out woman, one who had managed to make herself pretty, had managed a kind of victory.

Ultimately, the fashion houses are just businesses. They sell ideas to the masses (of which I am definitely one) and clothes to the uber-rich. I couldn't afford a couture gown even before the stock market tumbled.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Vote No On Prop 8

Near as I can tell, we are a group of fairly like-minded readers and contributors. Sure, there are a few disagreements now and again, but we seem to do a good job at being responsible, liberal, open-minded people. So, my guess is I don't need to do a whole lot of convincing most people reading this post about the horrendous implications behind Proposition 8 in California. The hate it engenders, the fear it fosters, the rights it erodes...all of it is simply horrendous.

For those among us who get it and live in California, thank you for your upcoming no vote. For those among us who get it but don't live in California, visit No On 8 to donate because it is going to be hard battle in these last weeks against proponents who have an awful lot of money to throw into the mix. A donation will help fight the following misinformation that is being used to win support for Prop8:
Fiction: Teaching children about same-sex marriage will happen here unless we pass Prop 8.

Fact: Not one word in Prop 8 mentions education, and no child can be forced, against the will of their parents, to be taught anything about health and family issues at school. California law prohibits it, and the Yes on 8 campaign knows they are lying. Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley has already ruled that this claim by Prop 8 proponents is “false and misleading.”

Fiction: Churches could lose their tax-exemption status.

Fact: Nothing in Prop 8 would force churches to do anything. In fact, the court decision regarding marriage specifically says “no religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs.”

Fiction: A Massachusetts case about a parent's objection to the school curriculum will happen here.

Fact: Unlike Massachusetts, California gives parents an absolute right to remove their kids and opt-out of teaching on health and family instruction they don't agree with. The opponents know that California law already covers this and Prop 8 won't affect it, so they bring up an irrelevant case in Massachusetts.

Fiction: Four Activist Judges in San Francisco…

Fact: Prop 8 is not about courts and judges, it's about eliminating a fundamental right. Judges didn't grant the right, the constitution guarantees the right. Proponents of Prop 8 use an outdated and stale argument that judges aren't supposed to protect rights and freedoms. This campaign is about whether Californians, right now, in 2008 are willing to amend the constitution for the sole purpose of eliminating a fundamental right for one group of citizens.

Fiction: People can be sued over personal beliefs.

Fact: California’s laws already prohibit discrimination against anyone based on race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. This has nothing to do with marriage.

Fiction: Unless Prop 8 passes, CA parents won't have the right to object to what their children are taught in school.

Fact: California law clearly gives parents and guardians broad authority to remove their children from any health instruction if it conflicts with their religious beliefs or moral convictions.
For those among us who don't get it, stop for a moment and really think about it. Prop8 is inequality plain and simple. Surely we are beyond being a nation that supports inequality between its citizens. Consider the following statement found at Proud Parenting:
Kathryn Kendell, executive director of San Francisco’s National Center for Lesbian Rights, says that gays, lesbians and their straight allies need to educate their friends and neighbors about the importance of voting. “There are heterosexuals out there who might love their gay next-door neighbors, but not bat an eye at voting for Prop 8", said Kendell. “You have to engage them in the harm” she said, adding that if the issue isn’t personalized, “it’s easy for them to think the harm doesn’t exist.”
Bottom line, if you are reading this post, living in California, and on the fence about Prop8 please realize that there is ultimate harm in this piece of legislation in the form of extreme hate. Don't be a part of that hate.

If you are reading this post and are still going to vote yes on Prop8, then you probably should not be visiting this blog at all because you aren't going to like what we have to say.

Feminist News Quiz

Have you really been paying attention to our trials and tribulations from around the world this week? Are you in-the-know about what's new in sexism, and what's being done to stop it? Prove it! Ready, set ... one, two, three - GO!

1. Iran has announced plans for a new __________ designed specifically for women - to protect their modesty.

2. A judge in _______________ has told a woman not to call the police if battered by her ex again, claiming that her abuse is her own fault for not being able to leave.

3. This U.S. state has just overturned a gay marriage ban: ___________________ !!! Woot woot!

4. The president of ________________ is in big trouble with both the feminists and the religious fundamentalist of his country for having flirted with Gov. Sarah Palin.

5. Virologist Barré-Sinoussi has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology, along with two other scientists. She and her Institut Pasteur colleague Luc Montagnier were the first to characterize and isolate the ____________________. Yeah, women helping to save the world from terrifying diseases!

Check your answers (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Friday, October 10, 2008

Feminist: I Read Your Paper for This? Pt.2

As you read this morning, I had a nice little dialogue with am New York today. I was already slightly annoyed by their article on Fey's portrayal of Palin costing the GOP votes, but that was only the beginning.

The paper was chock-full of annoyances, including a headline that read "McCain presses Ayers link: Releases ad about Bam's 'terror' ties" (I'm sure calling him "Bam" right next to "terror" isn't helping anything), and a lovely piece on how Angelina Jolie and Jessica Alba have lost their baby weight (I guess inquiring minds want to know, too bad I'm not one of them).

The worst of the bunch, however, was "Feminists: We fought for this?"

I was worried from the moment I saw the headline. I'm always afraid that we feminists might go too far when critiquing her. Not to worry, because the article isn't even about real people.

Sorry, let me correct myself, it's actually a "conversation" between living and dead feminists! The entire article, if you can even call it that, basically uses the names of feminist leaders to bitch and complain about Sarah Palin.

Honestly, I'm getting annoyed just writing this post, so I can't even articulate all of the things I wanted to say. Here are my major problems with this piece of crap article:

1) This is a newspaper - free or not - so shouldn't they have, I don't know, NEWS? Not a weird piece of fiction?

2) It feeds into the "feminists hate Palin b/c she's beautiful" b.s., with Bella Abzug complaining that Palin is an unintelligent beauty queen.

3) It turns all feminists into insulting caricatures. Hillary Clinton is off cackling in a corner, Abzug is described as having a "salty talk," etc.

4) It doesn't actually distinguish who is alive and who is dead, so this piece is really over a lot of people's heads! Sure, most know by now who Geraldine Ferraro is, and Bella Abzug is also a bit familiar, but how many have heard of Barbara Jordan or even Shirley Chisholm? It's sad, but true. So "quoting" people who are alive mixed in with people who are dead is hella weird.

5) Speaking of "quoting" dead people, here's my favorite (and by favorite, I mean disgusting) quote:
"I'd like to throw that Sarah Palin off a Bridge to Nowhere, right into the water," said one-time presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm.
Nice, right? Because that's exactly what I would expect the intelligent, successful, 1st African-American woman elected to congress, generally kick-ass Shirley Chisholm to say about Palin.

Really, if you want to talk about the problems you have with Sarah Palin, do it from your own perspective with your own name. If you want to talk about what she might mean for feminism, do it without insulting feminists or women or Palin. If you want to find out what feminists have to say about Palin, consider actually interviewing one of them!! Is that really so hard to understand?

Read the thing for yourself. Notice that they've changed the title to "Henican: Ghosts of the women's movement haunted by Palin."

Okay, I'm officially pissed off for the rest of the day. Thanks a lot, am New York.

(Cross-posted at Jump off the Bridge.)

Woo-hoo!


Connecticut's State Supreme Court has just overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage!

UPDATE: Read all about it here.

Feminist: I Read Your Paper for This? Pt.1

This morning, I got to the train station earlier than usual, so I had time to pick up a copy of the free NY paper, am New York.

Oh boy.

After throwing away the outside cover (which is just a bunch of huge ads), I got to the real cover and was greeted with: "Fey’s Palin impression has some wondering if ‘SNL’ will sway the election." You've got to be kidding me.

I shall now give you the dialogue I had with myself as I read:
Whether it’s asking for a lifeline in her twangy voice when stumped by CBS’s Katie Couric or playing the flute in her debate with Joe Biden, voters might be getting to know Tina Fey as Sarah Palin rather than the vice presidential candidate herself.
Well, yeah, that tends to happen when a candidate refuses to do interviews except for a select few with a laundry list of conditions.
But has the impersonation gone too far? New Yorkers don’t think so.
Thank goodness for that.
The fact that Americans knew so little about Palin when she was picked by Sen. John McCain has helped exacerbate the problem of her identity being tightly bound to the characterization by Fey
Perhaps if she ever bothered to hold a press conference, or didn't have a scripted debate, or agreed to do more interviews, the McCain camp could counteract this. Maybe that's just me...
"It’s a tremendous help to the Democrats," said John Leo, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a popular-culture expert. "It doesn’t create a feeling about Palin. But I think it solidifies or magnifies what’s in people’s minds."
If this is already on people's minds, then isn't it a good thing that the skit is bringing this out there? It's not as if it's based on lies, since the funniest stuff is verbatim. People should trust their judgment, no? *long pause* Wait, what's a "popular-culture expert???"

Read the full story here. My dialogue with am New York did not end there, unfortunately, and I'll be posting part 2 later today.


For more on Fey as Palin, check out the post by Le Loup-garou, and two responses by aviva, here and here.

(Cross-posted at Jump off the Bridge.)