Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Professionally Thin: A Fashion Tell-All

Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised by stories like these, yet reading former Mademoiselle editor Valerie Frankel's account of professional life at a Condé Nast fashion magazine disgusted me in any case:
"There was tremendous pressure to look the part, or, as hires were told by the human resources staff, to represent the magazine in our personal appearance. Our work ethic: Get thin or die trying."

To live up to those standards, "Self-starvation was a competitive sport. At staff lunches, the girl who ate the least won," Frankel writes. "During downtime, we'd sit in our offices smoking cigarette after cigarette (to quell hunger) and talking about who ate what, the calorie counts of our lunches, the latest dieting trends, who on the staff looked heavy."

Sure, I know that I'm doubly naive here - naive not to expect editors of a fashion magazine to have unhealthy body attitudes and naive to repeat Frankel's account when we all know she's in the process of selling her tell-all book and might be inclined to some dramatization. Yet, it does seem telling that the spokeswoman for Condé Nast (the publishing giant which published Mademoiselle and which still produces Vogue and Glamour) responded, "I'm sure her memories are her memories, but as to whether any of that was policy, I have no comment."

No comment on a policy promoting eating disorders, huh? Now that's a pretty chilling statement.

Quick Hit: Catcalling Survey

Zuska is currently spreading the word about a study on women's experiences with catcalling and street harassment. The research is being conducted by Dr. Kimberly Fairchild of Manhattan College, who is looking for volunteers to take an online survey about their experiences with harassment and catcalling by strangers. If you would like to participate, you can take the survey here. It took me about 15 minutes to complete. Questions regarding the survey should be sent to: stranger DOT harassment DOT survey AT gmail DOT com

Feeling Clueless?

One thing I've noticed virtually everywhere in my internet overexposure this last week or two is that even smart, well-informed people are at something of a loss when it comes to the "bailout" and the other financial crisis issues. People don't fully understand the problem and its sources so it becomes difficult to support a particular solution (or lack thereof).

So what's a girl to do? Educate yourself, of course, as any self-respecting feminist would. One excellent source of information I've found has come via my iPod. I've been downloading the new NPR podcast Planet Money. Yesterday I learned that the crisis has very real effects on small and large corporations who borrow money on a daily basis in a very different system than those of us with loans or credit cards. And as soon as it finishes downloading, I plan to listen to the post-failed-vote episode.

The show is available on iTunes, but you can also keep up with even more info at their website. Yesterday, the day of the vote, there were 11 blog posts. And today it's not even 10:30 eastern and there are three more posts up. If you're a This American Life listener, this show is a spinoff from their recent episode on The Giant Pool of Money which explained the mortgage crisis more thoroughly and clearly than anything else I've found. (They have another episode coming up this week called, appropriately, Another Frightening Show About the Economy. I'll be listening.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Love Does Not Rejoice in Injustice: Vote No on Proposition 8

Why should Californians vote No on Proposition 8 come November? I think this says it fairly well:

(h/t Alas, a blog)

Bailout Blues

Ok. Things aren't going so well in the world. The much-needed bailout failed to pass today despite its support by Democrats and the White House. And who's fault is it? Nancy Pelosi's of course! She's the reason why Republicans are such suborn fuck-wads! It's not the Republican's faults for voting against the bill to save our dying economy! It's all the mean lady's fault.

To make this day end in tears mixed with laughter (instead of just pure tears), here is one of my favorite clips from SNL. It celebrates women--and more specifically Moms.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Palin is just Clay Aiken with lipstick

One of the better critiques of Palin's nomination is [shockingly] by Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times. He breaks down why Palin doesn't quite capture the essence of middle America, and instead ends up just being offensive. I have posted the entirety of his essay below, because I couldn't say it any better even if I tried. Enjoy!

"I think I might be able to explain some of Sarah Palin's appeal. She's the "American Idol" candidate. Consider. What defines an "American Idol" finalist? They're good-looking, work well on television, have a sunny personality, are fierce competitors, and so talented, why, they're darned near the real thing. There's a reason "American Idol" gets such high ratings. People identify with the contestants. They think, Hey, that could be me up there on that show!

My problem is, I don't want to be up there. I don't want a vice president who is darned near good enough. I want a vice president who is better, wiser, well-traveled, has met world leaders, who three months ago had an opinion on Iraq. Someone who doesn't repeat bald- faced lies about earmarks and the Bridge to Nowhere. Someone who doesn't appoint Alaskan politicians to "study" global warming, because, hello! It has been studied. The returns are convincing enough that John McCain and Barack Obama are darned near in agreement.

I would also want someone who didn't make a teeny little sneer when referring to "people who go to the Ivy League." When I was a teen I dreamed of going to Harvard, but my dad, an electrician, told me, "Boy, we don't have the money. Thank your lucky stars you were born in Urbana and can go to the University of Illinois right here in town." So I did, very happily. Although Palin gets laughs when she mentions the "elite" Ivy League, she sure did attend the heck out of college.

Five different schools in six years. What was that about?

And how can a politician her age have never have gone to Europe? My dad had died, my mom was working as a book-keeper and I had a job at the local newspaper when, at 19, I scraped together $240 for a charter flight to Europe. I had Arthur Frommer's $5 a Day under my arm, started in London, even rented a Vespa and drove in the traffic of Rome. A few years later, I was able to send my mom, along with the $15 a Day book.

You don't need to be a pointy-headed elitist to travel abroad. You need curiosity and a hunger to see the world. What kind of a person (who has the money) arrives at the age of 44 and has only been out of the country once, on an official tour to Iraq? Sarah Palin's travel record is that of a provincial, not someone who is equipped to deal with global issues.

But some people like that. She's never traveled to Europe, Asia, Africa, South America or Down Under? That makes her like them. She didn't go to Harvard? Good for her! There a lot of hockey moms who haven't seen London, but most of them would probably love to, if they had the dough. And they'd be proud if one of their kids won a scholarship to Harvard.

I trust the American people will see through Palin, and save the Republic in November. The most damning indictment against her is that she considered herself a good choice to be a heartbeat away. That shows bad judgment."

Palin is an idiot

I am pleased that the Republicans have nominated a woman for VP, but am disgusted that it is in the form of the under-qualified Sarah Palin. She is clearly way beyond her ability level. She is poorly educated and shockingly ill-equipped for leading a nation.

See below Tina Fey ridicule Palin's interview with Katie Couric on last night's SNL. What do you think? Is this funny or horrifying?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

God Save the Queen

Well I'll be darn...the Brits have finally caught up with the times.
Downing Street has drawn up plans to end the 300-year-old exclusion of Catholics from the throne. The requirement that the succession automatically pass to a male would also be reformed, making it possible for a first born daughter of Prince William to become his heir.
Mind you, I have nothing against Brits, but you've got to admit is has taken an awfully long time for them to get this right. Maybe this explains why the U.S. is so ready to hold on to antiquated notions?

Friday, September 26, 2008

First Debate

Here's how I see it:

Obama spent time explaining things and McCain spent time attacking and changing the subject.

McCain was going after moderate voters, but might not have endeared himself to any die-hard conservatives watching - so he's counting on their love for Palin to carry them to the polls come November.

Obama did the best when he was willing to call out McCain's hypocrisies. Obama also did well when he remembered to return the conversations to the most serious issues, but he sometimes let himself get distracted.

Oh, and this is going to make me unpopular - but Jim Lehrer's repeated appeals to the candidates to 'talk to each other' instead of talking to the audience got on my nerves.

What did you all think?

The Funniest Thing You'll See All Day

... except maybe for John McCain getting his ass kicked in tonight's debate, which also should be funny. Really, though, you have to watch Wanda Sykes talk about Sarah Palin - hilarious.

(h/t Art at the Auction)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mini-Rant: Women are Not Interchangeable

You know what's sexist? Implying that women are completely interchangeable by acting as though you could substitute a Sarah Palin for a Hillary Clinton and no one would notice. It is assumed that voters can choose between two white male politicians - their individuality is understood; and it goes without saying that any two male candidates are different people with different ideas that appeal to different kinds of voters. So, for those of you out there who want to call my feminist credibility into question for not voting for 'a woman candidate' - being able to recognize that not all women are the same, just like not all men are the same, makes me more feminist, not less. Yes, I would have been proud to vote for Hillary Clinton and no, I'm not voting for Sarah Palin. And for those trying to maintain that there is some sort of illogic to that, you need to ditch the premise that all ladies are the same - that attitude makes you sexist.

As for the idea that the election of Palin would shatter the glass ceiling, I think this sums up my thoughts on that argument pretty nicely:

For an in-depth (and brilliant) analysis of the above cartoon, visit Ann. For more on why most feminists aren't voting for Palin, you can find some really solid reasons here and here.

Halloween Smorgasbord: Pirates, Pirate Costumes, and a Pumpkin Carving Contest!

I. Pirates
We missed Talk Like a Pirate Day, and we are ashamed. Fortunately, CA NOW has a list of kick-ass female pirates for your enjoyment. Really, go read about Back from the Dead Red - you won't be sorry.

II. Pirate Costumes
I wish I'd known about all those pirate women when I was a pirate for Halloween two years ago (well, I actually looked more like Axl Rose - but I meant to be a pirate), it would have made one conversation with my niece go a bit easier:

Lil Miss Ankle Bitter: What were you for Halloween, Aunt?
Me: A pirate! (I was on a big Flying Spaghetti Monster kick)
Lil Miss Ankle Bitter (dubious): A girl pirate?
Me: Uh... I was a pirate, and I'm a girl so... yeah, I guess so.
Lil Miss Ankle Bitter: Girls aren't pirates.

It warmed my heart when that same niece was a pirate for Halloween last year - and not a pink pirate either! I can't wait to tell her all about Sea Queen Of Connemara.

III. Feminist Pumpkin Carving Contest!!!!
That's right - it's on! Carve a feminist pumpkin - it can be a tribute pumpkin or a scary 'jill-o-lantern' - and send us the picture (pobrehabladora at gmail dot com), along with a brief description. Winner gets their pumpkin displayed on our sidebar for a year and a super-secret cool prize. Here is my Princess Leia pumpkin from last year, to give you an idea of what you're up against:

On an unrelated note, TheFU is now accepting suggestions/donations of potential kick-ass prizes for feminist competitions.

UPDATE: Oooo - it looks like my Leia pumpkin has gotten famous, and like we've got some serious competition this year!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

An Unusual Metaphor

io9, the sci-fi site, has an interesting post up on... wait for it... zombies and feminism. Actually it's a pretty interesting look at the patented "dead girl" movie and how it compares to the rarer "undead girl" movie. The latter at least gets a chance to take revenge. Here's a piece:

Ever since Dr. Frankenstein reanimated a woman to serve as his monster's bride and she said no, the zombie woman has been a weird figure for female resistance to control. Zombie feminism is an uneasy subgenre, daring to use freakish gore and death slapstick to pose questions about what it might take for women to become unrapeable. Or for men to see women the way women see themselves.

The question is, why do we have to imagine ourselves as monsters in order to tell stories about what it would be like to become fully human?

Read the whole post here.

McCain Campaign: Making Palin a Poster Girl, Not a Candidate

When Gov. Palin met with Henry Kissinger and the presidents of Afghanistan and Colombia yesterday, only still cameras were allowed. No reporters, no video recorders, no microphones - nothing was to be brought in that could provide a record of what Palin said. In fact, the McCain campaign is consistently going to great lengths to keep Palin and the press separated. The press, it seems, is starting to take notice - and to cry foul. Campell Brown of CNN has even found a word for the campaign's close control of Palin's appearances - sexist. I think Brown makes a good point:

(h/t Feminsting)

Perhaps McCain doesn't want a running mate so much as he wants a poster veep for the 'small town values' crowd. What's needed is to let her speak to friendly crowds about the beliefs she shares with the demographic McCain seeks to woo, and then to keep her far away from anyone who will ask the sort of questions that might make voters consider whether or not someone's beliefs alone make them qualified to lead.

UPDATE: Even worse, it looks like Palin won't even be speaking for herself during the debates. According to the New York Times:

At the insistence of the McCain campaign, the Oct. 2 debate between the Republican nominee for vice president, Gov. Sarah Palin, and her Democratic rival, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., will have shorter question-and-answer segments than those for the presidential nominees, the advisers said. There will also be much less opportunity for free-wheeling, direct exchanges between the running mates.

McCain advisers said they had been concerned that a loose format could leave Ms. Palin, a relatively inexperienced debater, at a disadvantage and largely on the defensive....

McCain advisers said... they wanted Ms. Palin to have opportunities to present Mr. McCain’s positions, rather than spending time talking about her experience or playing defense.

Tip of the Hat to Jump off the Bridge for pointing this out, Wag of the Finger to the McCain campaign.

HSS Proposal to Let Doctors Refuse Abortions: Comment Deadline

If you haven't submitted your comments regarding the Department of Health and Human Services' proposed rule that would let any medical provider refuse any treatment to any patient at any time, today is the day to act. We know that this rule is intended to make it more difficult for women seeking medical help with abortions or birth control, yet anyone could be affected. If your doctor decides it would be against his code of ethics to provide fertility treatment to a WOC or a lesbian, for example, this rule would open room for him to refuse treatment. In short, this rule is not someone else's problem - it has the potential to impact all of us.

Tomorrow is the deadline, so it is imperative that we speak now. Two ways to submit comments include visiting the Regulations.gov website and submitting a comment on their site (docket number HSS-OS-2008-0011) or emailing consciencecomment@hhs.gov (put HSS-OS-2008-0011 in the subject line).

To be sure, the point of this HSS rule is to limit abortion access, and some will argue that it will not be interpreted in a way that will impact anyone but women seeking to terminate a pregnancy. Of course, even this intended interpretation of the HSS's proposed rule takes choices away from women and families and allows doctors to deny assistance to patients seeking medical care.

It is time for the anti-choice crowd to stop pretending that all situations are the same and attempting to to write rules to fit one ideal scenario in which bringing a pregnancy to term is a viable option. Who should make the decision in cases like those of
Tiffany Campbell, who discovered that she must terminate one twin fetus or loose both? Who should make the choice for a woman who's life might be put at risk by bringing a pregnancy to term? Who should decide for a woman with limited financial resources living in a country where medical bills routinely bankrupt working people who discovers that the fetus would be born with an illness that would require constant care and frequent medical treatments? Who should make these decisions - some Bush appointee or a doctor who believes that it is his or her right to deny legal medical procedures to anyone deemed unworthy?

Please join us in telling the HSS that women deserve the right to expect their doctors to provide medical services, not over-simplified world views and moral judgments.

(h/t to This Is What a Feminist Blogs Like, which has tirelessly provided information on this proposal from the start.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cover of the Year

Any feminist with eyes knows that magazine covers are basically the root of all evil. The airbrushing, the recycled but repackaged sex secrets, the overpriced fashion, the endless parade of celebs. I always kind of figured that the people who make these magazines have kind of a sense of humor about it, that they must realize that they're not really doing anything.

Then I saw the finalists for the 2008 Best Cover contest by the American Society of Magazine Editors. And now I'm just confused. The following cover is nominated in 3 categories, including Best Cover:
And now I can't decide if magazine people think the whole thing really is a huge joke or if they're a bunch of 5th graders. I can't really disagree with this cover. But this is the kind of brilliance that nominates you for cover of the year? Really? I think we need to raise the bar just a smidge.

However, there were only 3 of your model/actress/singer looking pouty and thin covers between all 8 categories. Even 2 of the 3 celeb cover nominees were men. You had a couple from Vanity Fair, but no Cosmo or Elle or any of them. (I'm not sure all those New Yorker covers are great replacements, but at least it's something else. Personally, I think the best overall group of covers came from Wired.) See all the nominees here.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday (?!) Links

I know, I know... I'm a day late with the links. I've added some extras from today to make it up to you though...

Six women raise money for a maternity hospital in Afghanistan by swimming the English Channel. (This link's for you, Maus).

The Feminist Law Professors discuss a new study on girls and sexism.

McCain's Radical Health Care Agenda is scary.

Studies find that boys are just as catty as girls.

FeministGal collects ads showing McCain contradicting himself - repeatedly.

Renee discusses micro-activism and gives some ideas of how we can all confront our privileges.

The American Prospect has a brief article about gender, race, and the challenges facing WOC.

The Curvature discusses a judge who has bared a woman from having children.

Some Southern Baptists are angry about a magazine cover that shows women preachers.

The American Psychological Association has voted to prohibit consultation in the interrogations of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

What else have you been reading - or writing - since last week's links?

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Not-So-Female-Friendly Skies

I've been planning at some point to write a post about female pilots. I did a bunch of flying in the last few weeks, something I haven't done in a while. But for a period of time I traveled for business constantly and was on a plane 5 times a week. I've flown a few hundred times, all told, but I have NEVER had a female pilot. Not once. Not even a female co-pilot. It seems to always be that same deep male voice coming over the loudspeaker to tell us what the weather is like where we're landing.

In an age where there's a significant effort to even out the gender gap in nearly every possible industry, I have to wonder why pilots are so different. Salon's Ask the Pilot column addresses the issue, though not directly. According to him, in the mid-90's women made up 3% of "cockpit crew members." It's unclear whether this means only commercial pilots, those employed by airlines, or some larger group. But it's still an abysmally low number.

The same question was asked on All Experts and was answered by Dottie Norkus, a pilot and charter member of Women In Aviation International. She uses data from the FAA, but it's similarly vague. It shows women making up 6% of total pilots in 2006, though this includes everything from student pilots to commercial pilots. Norkus claims that part of the problem is that aviation is still considered a "male" career. That doesn't convince me, there are plenty of women in other careers considered dominantly male.

So I went to a final source, a dear old friend of mine who happens to be a military pilot. She cites a major issue as the large number of commercial pilots who come from military backgrounds. It's one of the few ways to get enough flying hours to fly commercially. Once you open that door, the forces pushing women away from flying in the military are numerous. My friend describes the male attitude towards women among top pilots this way:

They're fine so long as you're junior or less experienced. As soon as you become an equal, you're a threat and a problem. Fighter pilots are not your every day, average dudes. They're guys who love to be foul, practically live without female contact except for their wives (and that's for only part of every year), and they are continually pumped up about being the biggest, baddest, guy in town.

Another big factor isn't so much the outside pressure as the internal one. If you have any plans on getting pregnant, that'll get you out of the cockpit for your pregnancy. Afterwards you'll have to start your training over again. And, of course, there are the long deployments that would separate you from your child or family for months at a time.

Despite our progress in many job markets, there are still those with a pre-existing male preference, and aviation seems to be one of these. It's also arguable that any career path with these obstacles for women (such as the military) is going to take a long time to change, if they ever do. I admit, I do look forward to the time when my friend gets back into civilian life and we can have the kind of normal friendship that isn't really possible when she's deployed for months on end.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Creating a Mosaic

A little over two years ago, I became involved with a nonprofit called The Women's Mosaic (TWM). TWM works to unite and empower women by promoting personal growth and intercultural understanding. It is their mission to create positive social change starting with women themselves, and having that stretch out locally and then globally.

What really got me was the tagline: Recognizing Our Unity; Celebrating Our Diversity. The concept is simple, but often overlooked. Just because we're different doesn't mean we shouldn't strive for unity. Why can't we use our differences to create a greater collective of voices and visions to unite and empower us?!

For seven years, they've hosted events aiming to do just that -- they've examined body image, religion and spirituality, various countries and cultures, women's role in politics, and much more. The events are the core of TWM, and I don't think I've ever left one without learning something new or meeting a woman with a fascinating story.

The latest effort, which I've helped lead, is CHICKS ROCK!, a blog that continues to work towards the mission of TWM: having women share their experiences related to diversity and personal growth. Our hope is that CHICKS ROCK! can reach a greater audience and engage people on a personal level. Maybe it sounds silly, but we really want to create a community where everyone (even men) feels welcomed and wants to work towards the same goal. Who knows, we might fail, but it's worth a try, right??

So head on over there and check it out. There's not too much there now, but in the coming weeks it'll grow, and you can be part of that process! Hopefully, TWM will affect you in the way it's affected me and you'll find yourself stronger and more culturally aware, optimistic, and positive that you were before. At the very least, you'll meet other chicks that rock. =)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Why It’s Better To Fight Lies With Different Lies

I’m being a bit flip, but the point is that research continues to show me that if you can’t fight lies with “the truth” then its better start telling new lies. Or at least change the subject.

Shankar Vedantam’s Human Behavior column points to another fascinating study about what people think when they are told something isn’t true. Most of the time it doesn’t matter, the effect has already happened.
In experiments conducted by political scientist John Bullock at Yale University, volunteers were given various items of political misinformation from real life. One group of volunteers was shown a transcript of an ad created by NARAL Pro-Choice America that accused John G. Roberts Jr., President Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court at the time, of "supporting violent fringe groups and a convicted clinic bomber."

Bullock then showed volunteers a refutation of the ad by abortion-rights supporters. He also told the volunteers that the advocacy group had withdrawn the ad. Although 56 percent of Democrats had originally disapproved of Roberts before hearing the misinformation, 80 percent of Democrats disapproved of the Supreme Court nominee afterward. Upon hearing the refutation, Democratic disapproval of Roberts dropped only to 72 percent.
Basically if you already were primed to dislike John Roberts, the information had the most effect on you, even after you were told it wasn’t true. If you weren’t primed to dislike him, it had less effect. Vedantam doesn’t mention what about the people who weren’t primed either way, but I would bet it still had some effect, perhaps even a lot, but less than on those who already disliked him.

I can’t find the original study but I can speculate a few reasons why it would work that way. If I'm already in an anti-John Roberts frame of mind, I think hearing “John Roberts supported a convicted clinic bomber” has the effect of reminding me why I don't like him (His extreme positions about women’s rights), even when I find out later that this specific fact isn't true. I remain in a slightly elavated state of John Roberts-hating despite the fact the new cause of the hate is wrong. The new incorrect information merely reminds me of all the old correct information that I already know. (Just to be clear, I'm using pretty broad terms to discuss what are really more subtle emotions and thoughts. But being in a "John Roberts-slightly-elevated state of increased dislike" just doesn't roll off the tongue.)

Another aspect of the study I would like to know more about is how the corrections were presented to the test subjects. The article says the subjects were shown an "ad by abortion-rights supporters." I’m not sure I would trust pro-life group to tell me the sky is blue. It's possible that in this particular study the source of the refutation is the problem, and hence why hearing it didn't change the democrats' feelings about Roberts. However if it was presented as coming from a more neutral source, say from factcheck.org or the Washington Post, they might have found it more trustworthy and had a bigger impact. However the Republicans might not have had the same reaction from the source.

Which leads to the second study Vedantam quotes.
Political scientists Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler provided two groups of volunteers with the Bush administration's prewar claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. One group was given a refutation -- the comprehensive 2004 Duelfer report that concluded that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction before the United States invaded in 2003. Thirty-four percent of conservatives told only about the Bush administration's claims thought Iraq had hidden or destroyed its weapons before the U.S. invasion, but 64 percent of conservatives who heard both claim and refutation thought that Iraq really did have the weapons. The refutation, in other words, made them misinformation worse.

In a paper approaching publication, Nyhan, a PhD student at Duke University, and Reifler, at Georgia State University, suggest that Republicans might be especially prone to the backfire effect because conservatives may have more rigid views than liberals: Upon hearing a refutation, conservatives might "argue back" against the refutation in their minds, thereby strengthening their belief in the misinformation. Nyhan and Reifler did not see the same "backfire effect" when liberals were given misinformation and a refutation about the Bush administration's stance on stem cell research.
Again, I’m wondering if the source of the refutation matters? Republicans are more likely to distrust the so-called mainstream media outlets, your Washington Post, New York Times, NBC, CBS, ABC, 60 Minutes, Newsweek, Time, etc, etc, etc. But I’m wondering if they heard that The National Journal refuted Bush administration's prewar claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction would that change the results? Possibly not:
A similar "backfire effect" also influenced conservatives told about Bush administration assertions that tax cuts increase federal revenue. One group was offered a refutation by prominent economists that included current and former Bush administration officials. About 35 percent of conservatives told about the Bush claim believed it; 67 percent of those provided with both assertion and refutation believed that tax cuts increase revenue.
This is why whenever I read about people hearing that Sarah Palin is telling lies I know it won't faze Republican voters. They think it’s the media who are the liars.

But the other part of charge-countercharge that these studies can’t duplicate is that even when we hear a refutation, we can often find a contradictory opinion. Especially if it supports a belief we already want to believe. Don’t like factcheck.org, don’t worry. Someone on Newsmax already explained why “the media” is just spinning lies.

I would rather live in a world where untruths can be countered by facts. But that doesn’t seem to be the world we live in. So rather than fighting fire with sand its probably better to fight with fire. Cause it doesn’t matter how much sand you put on some lies, it never puts them out.

Cross-posted at NewsCat

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Palin Effect: Helping Voters Restore Homophobic Pride

It seems like the anti-gay supporters of Proposition 8, the ballot measure that would restore marriage inequality to California, have been bolstered by the Sarah Palin effect:
Since Republican presidential nominee John McCain picked evangelical Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate - the Yes on 8 campaign has leapt ahead in the fundraising arena - raising around five million dollars since Sept. 1.

As of right now - the antigay Yes on 8 campaign has sixteen million dollars to spend on expensive commercial air time - compared to eleven million for the No on 8 campaign.

What do Palin's nomination and Proposition 8 have to do with one another, you ask? Well, Sarah Palin has restored the conservatives' pride in 'small town values.' 'No, no' - she tells voters, 'you're not voting for a ticket that would extend both an unpopular war and the financial policies that have wrought havoc on our economy - that's not what the election is about. It's about defending your values.' So, if small towns don't value a healthy economy and an end to the war, what do they value? Marriage inequality. With just McCain around, people were forgetting that they were once proud of their bigotries - now all this talk of 'small town values' has made denying other people the opportunities the rest of us enjoy seem patriotic again.

And if you don't believe me that the small town values is simply a euphemism for homophobia, ask a conservative to define the term for you. Oh, wait - someone already did:

And California, please vote no on Proposition 8.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Election 2008: Still About Race

This election is about race. Perhaps even more than it is about the economy or the wars.

Now, before you decide to argue with me on this one, go listen to Michele Norris and Steve Inskeep talk with voters in a small Pennsylvania town about race, racism, and the presidental election. Everyone should listen to the conversation that aired on All Things Considered, although the piece featured on Morning Edition is interesting as well. These conversations are jarring - they show just how very bind to our privileges and our prejudices we still are.

I don't want to give too much away, because I think that listening to the NPR pieces in full is a sure way to better understand just how deep, and how elusive, our problems with race still are. Yet, listen in particular to one woman who insists that she just knows by looking at Obama that she can't trust him - a gut feeling that she insists isn't racist, but that she acknowledges will trump anything she learns about him through his actions or words.

Go listen. Then I hope you'll come back here to record your thoughts.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday Evening Links

Anti-Racist Parent has a rather heartrending essay about transracial adoptions and how kids cope with feeling different.

The L.P.G.A. has reversed its policy of making golfers prove they are fluent in English before they can tee-up. My, how generous! [/snark]

I'm sure you've heard by now, but Rick Santorum thinks we're not doing feminism right! Mr. Santorum, with all due disrespect, you're not doing logic right.

Zuska discusses how conversations about oogling so quickly get degraded and derailed by stupid pseudo-psychological / pseudo-evolutionary arguments that basically boil down to "Menz can't look away from boobies, teh science makes them too mesmerizing!"

Renee takes on what it really means to 'dress the part' as a feminist.

Why does Sarah Palin hate polar bears and love oil?

Slowly but surely, women are attaining equality in what has traditionally been a male-dominated field - urology.

Sarah Palin's church "... is promoting a conference that promises to convert gays into heterosexuals through the power of prayer." Ugh.

Kris-Stella's post about the little details that make one feel foreign after moving to a new country really resonated with me, as I'm sure it will with many of our readers.

I know I've missed tons of interesting articles this week, so leave a link in the comments. Don't be too shy to self-promote.

Monday UPDATE: Also, here's some Tina Fey- because Mondays should be funny (thanks, Kelli, for emailing us the link):

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Feminist Actions: Political and Personal

A couple of days ago we discussed what it takes to be a feminist politician, and the consensus seems to be that it is not enough to simply embrace the label. To be truly pro-woman, we decided, a politician must work to protect women's rights and freedoms.

Yet, how about for the rest of us? What does it mean to be a pro-woman - a feminist private citizen?

I'll start by admitting that I've felt most feminist not when working for a non-profit organization that seeks economic justice for low-income women, as I do now, but as a teacher. Challenging the cavalier expressions of homophobia I often heard from my students (and sometimes even from the faculty and staff), asking students to question their assumptions about gender and race (and as a Spanish teacher in a small rural town I saw some attitudes in young people that I'd naively believed to be dying out), and fighting with the administration to provide more support for pregnant students - there were a lot of up-hill battles, but I know I won at least a couple.

Now, even though I work for an organization with feminist aims, my days are spent drafting letters of inquiry and editing grants. Its a good cause and I believe in the organization and its goals, but I don't feel more feminist now than I did in years past.

That's why I believe that, for those of us who are not writing policies or voting on fair pay, there are still many ways to be pro-woman. The Professor and FeministGal have already published some suggestions for how we can all be pro-woman activists post-graduation, but I want to hear from readers:

What do you do that's pro-woman?
What does being pro-woman even mean for private citizens?

Sex and Politics: How Yummy

The following article, Beauty and the Beast by JoAnn Wypijewski, was a lovely read for me this morning. Did you sense the sarcasm in that? I had a massive migraine yesterday and I think I feel it coming back. I appreciate how this article assesses a simple fact: while Palin might somehow help McCain politically, the Palin VP pick seems to be more about sex than gender or policitcs.

Here are a few snippets to ponder:
At his introduction of Sarah Palin to the world on August 29, John McCain appeared a man possessed, playing with his ring, fastening his gaze on her breasts, her backside, his right fingers sliding up from that dratted gold band to the finger tip, pinching it as if to control the volcano stirring within him.
The Republicans didn't need just any woman to compete with Obama for the Wow factor, the Mmm factor, the stable, loving family factor. It is a calculated bonus that adherents can now speak loftily of making history, but for different reasons, drawing deep from the well of their identities, and not for the first time, both McCain and the right needed a sexual icon.
And finally, this is where my head started to hurt again:
Rush Limbaugh, who began a push for Palin as VP in February, can hardly contain himself: "Sarah Palin: babies, guns, Jesus, hot damn!" he crowed. "We're the ones that have the babe on the ticket!"
When Bush was re-elected, we wanted to move to France. If McCain/Palin are elected, I believe Agincourt and I might have to consider Germany this time.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Feminist Parenting: Parenting My Way

(Note to readers: Today, as part of what has become a regular feature on feminist parenting, we are honored to have as a guest blogger Kandee of Lots of Thinking. These are her words...)

What's the quickest way to emasculate my little boys? Apparently, it's to teach them that they're equal to girls. Nothing says loss of manhood like being equal to women. And oh, they don't have to be rough (also emasculating). Gotta love family and their unsolicited parenting advice.

Back in the day, I would have never guessed that I would be called a feminist. But from the first 'accusation', I've taken on that label with pride. So naturally I am raising my children according to my values of gender equality. Who would have thought it was such an uphill battle? Certainly not me. I was very naïve. I heard the principles of equality spread across all parts of my life like a slogan. From tv, school, work, and even my family. But what came as a surprise to me was that, similar to race, people were just paying lip service to equality. They were being politically correct. They didn't actually believe that.

And it's not only gender equality that I'm trying to reach. My parenting style is also an effort to move (my family) away from masculinity as a form of power over women. We learned that femininity was weaker. We learned that a rightful place for a man is to lead, to be aggressive, and to be strong. So what does that say for the bulk of men that will never be the ideal? That will never be physically big, mentally strong, or emotionally tough? They feel a sense of inadequacy that can easily turn into aggression, bravado, and posturing. Well, I don't want that for my boys.

Now I've had to incorporate other people's gendered views into the lessons I teach my sons. I have to watch all their tv shows, spending half the time pausing the tv to have an impromptu lesson on gender equality, which doesn't always go over well for a 6 and 4 year old. But it pays off when I'm standing in the kitchen and I hear one of them say "hey, they're not suppose say that" or "that's wrong" when it comes to MSM's understanding of masculinity and femininity.

The language I use, the toys I buy, the television shows we watch - they are all filtered through the principle of equality. Mind you, we still have Spider-man in the house, but we discuss, engage, participate with our children in hopes that they will see and hear the hetero-normative masculine-leaning sexist practices in our culture and how problematic they are.

So far, it seems to be working. Our children have become critical thinkers, they are media literate, and most importantly, they are becoming conscious of the subtle messages sent in our culture about who they are and how false that might be. The discussions force them to continue thinking about these messages through critical lenses. I can't afford to leave the gate wide open and allow others to form their opinions for them. Especially while they're so young.

Even with all of that, parenting my way is not an option I thought I would have to aggressively pursue. There's a complexity to parenting that you are rarely warned about before you have kids. Everyone tries to parent along with you, and while there are advantages to community parenting, it usually comes up after you have kids that the family you are in may not support your parenting style, especially if you're a feminist. No, I don't want your help with toughening up my boys. They're fine just as they are. If anything, my middle one needs to calm down a bit. But the fear is that I'm not preparing them for real life. Well, when they start allowing fist fights at board meetings for managers who disagree, you let me know and I'll certainly try to toughen them up then.

(Crossposted at Lots of Thinking)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Are All Women Pro-Woman?

Historian Estelle Freedman of Stanford University recently commented that Sarah Palin is different from the female politicians who came before her; Palin is one of "...a younger generation who assume that she can aspire to do anything." Indeed, Palin is of a generation of women that watched shows like Bionic Woman, The Carol Burnett Show, Wonder Woman, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show during childhood - programs that presented (white, middle-class, attractive, straight) women as smart, strong, competent, and able to succeed at anything from stand-up comedy to crime solving. When she was 9 years old, Palin probably cheered as Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs at tennis. Palin states that she grew up in a household where her parents assured her that "...this is America, and every woman can walk through every door of opportunity." So does that mean that she is necessarily a feminist, or necessarily pro-woman? Is every woman pro-woman?


A woman can enjoy the rights that women's movements have gained for us without being interested in seeing those rights extended to women in general. A woman can be pro-self, but not be in favor of bettering the lives and opportunities of all women. Such a person is pro- a woman perhaps, but not pro-women.

So what does it take to be a genuinely pro-woman politician? My criteria are these:

1. A pro-woman politician must actively defend women's equality.
Yes, that means that they must support bills seeking to close the legal loopholes that allow companies to continue discriminatory pay practices forty-five years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act. The McCain campaign reports that Palin would not support a change in the laws that allow companies to pay women less for equal work - she does not support the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

2. A pro-woman politician must defend the rights of diverse types of women.
Since women come from all ethnic and social backgrounds, a pro-woman candidate has to defend the rights of women from backgrounds different from her own. That means that a pro-woman candidate should seek to protect the rights of poor and working-class women as well as the rich.

One way to support lower-income women is to push for universal health care, so that all women have health insurance. A pro-woman candidate would help insure pregnant women and help women have access to safe and effective methods of birth control. The McCain-Palin plan would go in the opposite direction, forcing more Americans to buy private insurance and potentially making finding any insurance difficult for women with 'pre-existing conditions.' Since we know that many insurance companies define pregnancy as a pre-existing condition, the McCain-Palin plan could make paying for pregnancy much more difficult for expectant mothers.

3. A pro-woman politician works to ensure that women are protected from violence, assault, and hate crimes.
That's right, a pro-woman mayor would fight to keep victims of sexual assault from having to personally pay for the investigation of the crime committed against them. During Palin's time as mayor of Wasilla, the city billed victims for their own rape kits. Obama, on the other hand, sponsored and passed legislation in the state of Illinois that really works to support victims of sexual assault, making it so that:
...if you report the assault to the police within 72 hours of the crime and if you file a claim application within two years of the date of the crime, you can be reimbursed for out-of-pocket medical expenses, loss of earnings, psychological counseling, and loss of support income due to the crime.
For me, Palin doesn't fit the pro-woman criteria. Which leaves us with only one question:

Is supporting a woman candidate an inherently feminist act?

Well, yes and no.

Yes if your support of a woman candidate reflects your belief that a woman's capacity to be a good leader is equal to a man's, and that the particular woman for whom you're voting is the best candidate for the job.

No if your vote reflects your belief that a woman would be the most effective tool in eroding women's rights.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Woman-Getting-Abortion Blog

I'm surprised that I hadn't seen a blog like this before but one anonymous woman has started a blog titled What to Expect When You're Aborting. Its pretty much her first-person experience. Some people are a tad skeptical it's real, but I've communicated with the author and, more than that, I find her writing to be incredibly riveting and personal. It just feels like a real person.

In the meantime Joan Lamunyon Sanford has an column on why just because Bristol Palin has a loving family that will support her choice doesn't mean that every pregnant 17-year-old can expect the same. Which is why teenagers, like adult women, need to have choices because not everyone's life is full of peaches'n'cream families with the financial means or desire to help.

Cross-posted at NewsCat

Confessions of a Wedding Planner

It's true! I used to be a wedding planner!

I had a short stint as a wedding planner, which happened accidentally (long story), but was exciting for me because I've always loved the idea of weddings. Marriage, itself, I was never a fan of, but weddings were fun to me. Take out the traditional, sexist crap and what you've got left is a great celebration with people you love! What's not to like?!

My biggest problem with weddings isn't really the traditions. I was fortunate enough to deal with people who were very open-minded and forward-thinking. Most of them had unique weddings with personal touches and steered clear of the things people usually can't stand about weddings, especially giving the woman away. Most of them didn't leave all the planning to the woman, but instead shared the responsibilities. Most of them didn't worry about white dresses, lace, having the best of the best, and everything being perfect. Most of them just wanted a good time with their friends and family. My kind of people.

Nope, my problem isn't with the couples -- my biggest problem with weddings is the industry. The nature of my job was such that I had to push couples to spend more money. There were minimums to keep track of, upgrades to encourage, all sorts of loopholes and hidden fees. I hated it. Because when I wanted to be a wedding planner, I wanted to be the one finding ways to SAVE people money. I wanted to call companies out on their ridiculous prices and dirty tricks. (Tip #1 for everyone: do not say you are planning a wedding! Say it's a family gathering/event. It doesn't work with every company, but when it does, you'd be amazed at the difference it makes!)

So, needless to say, I didn't do very well at my job. Couples loved me, but I wasn't bringing enough money in to satisfy my superiors. And though I still like to help people with their weddings on my own and lead people down the money-saving, tradition-breaking path, I think things would be much easier for everyone if we could all encourage more anti-weddings.

Which is why I absolutely had to share this piece about a couple who planned an unconventional wedding at an unconventional price-tag. The anti-wedding planners worked with a couple to hold a protest, have a ceremony on the street, and host a reception at a pizza place. Read it because it's quite funny. I also hope it will inspire me to stop being lazy and start planning my own unconventional wedding.

For folks who've been married, what was your wedding like? For those who haven't, what are your wedding expectations? Is there such a thing as a feminist wedding? If so, what does it look like?

Monday, September 8, 2008

How We Like Our Lesbians

I've been thinking a lot lately about our society's views on lesbianism. It's been a hard topic for me to avoid. There's Ellen & Portia's wedding, pictures of Lindsay Lohan with her girlfriend, the streak of lesbian writer Sarah Waters' books and films I've been engrossed in, and there's "I Kissed a Girl" on the radio every 30 seconds or so. The first three embrace a full view of lesbians, they're allowed to love and commit and be girly or not. The latter, sadly, is far more common.

Let's face facts: we like our lesbians young, pretty, drunk, and with boyfriends cheering them on. We prefer the spring break girls making out for kicks (or, often, cameras) because that way no one has to feel threatened by their sexuality. It's no mistake that when LiLo got a girlfriend instead of a boyfriend and actually got serious about her, the tabloids suddenly quit talking about her.

For all the progress we've made with our views on gay life and culture, we seem to be stuck in a rut with lesbians. Take a search for gay characters on TV and they are dominantly men. You've seen plenty of young gay male characters, they're allowed to struggle with their sexuality or be totally comfortable with it all before they hit legal age. When you do find a lesbian character, they're usually "experimenting" with their sexuality or have left a long-term relationship with a man for a woman. (Can you believe it was 14 years ago that Ross's wife on Friends who left him for a woman was played for comic relief and yet we still keep making the same joke?) You won't see women who identify themselves as lesbian the way male characters identify themselves as gay. (The two exceptions to this that I've found are The L Word and my favorite character on Weeds, the adolescent Isabelle who's hot for her best friend's Mom.)

As for The L Word, I haven't watched the show so it's hard for me to take a stand. So instead I'll pass the baton to Sarah Waters: "You see very sexualised images of lesbians, women who tend not to look like the lesbians I know, very made up and girlie and in one way it's a nice advert for lesbianism but it does not feel very real." From what I've heard about the show, this is a common complaint. Their "lipstick lesbian" approach makes them more appealing to a mainstream audience, even though it may not adequately portray the depth of the real lesbian community.

That all brings me back to Sarah Waters. She gives us in her books exactly the kind of diverse portrayal lesbians should be getting in general. When you represent a small community, there can be a temptation to make your characters too perfect, to try and show the best of you. By presenting them as all sorts of different people complete with flaws, they feel accessible to anyone, gay or straight. Their feelings of longing and desire are the same ones we all have.

It's not surprising that Waters hasn't quite been a breakout success in the U.S. After all, we're too busy listening to Katy Perry (who happens to be straight) sing about the taste of cherry chapstick. If you look, you'll be able to find her novels almost anywhere, but I bet many of you hadn't heard of her before. Three of her novels have been adapted for British television, though most in the U.S. played only at gay film festivals. (I even heard somewhere that when the BBC's version of Tipping the Velvet played in the U.S., that we edited out the naughty parts.) But I think Waters is exactly what we need to give lesbians the legitimacy they still haven't obtained.

If you'd like to get started (and I think you should), Waters' books are Tipping the Velvet, Affinity, Fingersmith, and my personal favorite The Night Watch. The film adaptations of the first three are all available from Netflix and Amazon. I've just finished watching all three films, and while I do like the books more, there's something liberating about being able to watch two girls kiss just like any two other people.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Ladies of the World

As a super-big apology (for being a couple days in celebrating your Birthday) to a favorite male feminist of mine, Casmall, here's a video that I'm dedicating to the "Ladies of the World" on your behalf:

Let the Fantasy Football Begin!

That's right folks, it is fantasy football time again in

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Who Knew...Gays are Individuals, Too

I've got to say, if Prop 8 passes in California this November I am going to cry. Just giving you all a heads up on it. Our dear friends Leanne and Moya are getting married at the beginning of next month. We are sadly unable to make it. If a mere month later their marriage is banned I am not sure I will be able to fully articulate my outrage.

The reason I bring this up now is because I ran across this article in The Atlantic which boldly suggests that homosexuals are individuals. Shocking, I know.

I enjoy how the piece was written. In regards to the May 15th ruling granting same-sex couples the right to marry, Andrew Sullivan writes:
What’s notable here is the starting point of the discussion: an “individual.” The individual citizen posited by the court is defined as prior to his or her sexual orientation. He or she exists as a person before he or she exists as straight or gay. And the right under discussion is defined as “the opportunity of an individual” to choose another “person” to “establish a family” in which reproduction and children are not necessary. And so the distinction between gay and straight is essentially abolished.
And that was followed by a description of his wedding:
Ours was not, we realized, a different institution, after all, and we were not different kinds of people. In the doing of it, it was the same as my sister’s wedding and we were the same as my sister and brother-in-law. The strange, bewildering emotions of the moment, the cake and reception, the distracted children and weeping mothers, the morning’s butterflies and the night’s drunkenness: this was not a gay marriage; it was a marriage.
It sure is hard to get through days some times knowing full well that our society still battles race issues, gender issues, and sexual orientation issues. I just keep hanging my hat on the hope that future generations will get it right. And in the meantime, we will just have to keep calling the injustices out into the open right here.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Belated Birthday Wishes

I know...we suck. We missed Casmall's birthday.

However, Jacob did not and wants it known to the world. This post is from him.

The basic translation from cat to human is, I believe, "What up dawg? Thank you very much!"

Sexism Watch 2008: Bill O'Reilly v.Bill O'Reilly Edition

Impassioned defenses of feminism are flowing forth from an unlikely source these days - Bill O'Reilly and the Faux News crew. When it comes to how powerful women are discussed in the media, Jon Stewart has some clips that demonstrate how far we've come in the last, oh, seven days (h/t Fourth Wave):

I detect some flip-flopping from some of the nation's most beloved dough-heads.

Still, are we happy to have some converts to the 'gendered attacks are repugnant' camp? Will Palin's position as the first Republican Party VP nominee change the national discourse, or can we expect sexist business as usual after this election cycle is over?

UPDATE: Feministing has picked this up too, and adds another Daily Show clip - an interview with Newt Gingrich that includes a brilliant defense of choice by Jon Stewart. Go watch!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Celebrate Good Times, Come On!

Today is the birthday of my all-time favorite feminist... Casmall! Some of you know Casmall from his insights here at TFU, some from 'real life.' Regardless, leave some love in comments.

We'll be celebrating tonight, mainly by drinking beer and talking politics. Regular posting will resume tomorrow, though.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

There's No Book Banning in Feminism

Gov. Palin, I was disappointed to read about your attempts to use your mayoral powers to get books banned from the Wasilla Public Library:

Shortly after becoming mayor, former city officials and Wasilla residents said, Ms. Palin approached the town librarian about the possibility of banning some books, though she never followed through and it was unclear which books or passages were in question.

Ann Kilkenny, a Democrat who said she attended every City Council meeting in Ms. Palin’s first year in office, said Ms. Palin brought up the idea of banning some books at one meeting. “They were somehow morally or socially objectionable to her,” Ms. Kilkenny said.

The librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, pledged to “resist all efforts at censorship,” Ms. Kilkenny recalled. Ms. Palin fired Ms. Emmons shortly after taking office but changed course after residents made a strong show of support...

Let me guess, Gov. Palin - you ran on the slogan "We will have our first Christian mayor," so the books you wanted banned were those that talked about evolution or 'teh gays,' right? Perhaps we'll never know the exact titles. Yet, Mrs. Palin, while I will defend you against purly gendered attacks, I'm not voting for you. What's more - I don't like you.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Parenthood and the Political Candidate

So. Let's try and move past the VP insanity that was the internet this weekend. Instead, I thought we could take the opportunity to restart the female political candidate discussion now that there's a woman back in the race. I've done a lot of reading in the last few days, did some thinking, and then went on a search through many of the major presidential campaign speeches from the last decade or two and I've got one thing in particular I want to talk about: how female candidates present themselves compared to male candidates.

There is a pretty set pattern for the major candidate's speech. Introduce yourself, say hi and thank you to the wife and kids, give us some real meat about where you come from and who your parents are, then hit the policy issues sprinkling in anything that may be relevant to your own family's history. It introduces the candidate as just another person, and also plays that "identity politics" that we're so fond of lately so we can see their candidacy as its own kind of fairy tale. In all my searching I found only one male candidate who referred to himself using the word "father" or "dad": George W. in 2000 who asked his daughters to "e-mail your old dad once in a while."

This was a pattern that Sarah Palin broke from last week in her speech announcing herself as McCain's VP candidate. Her speech can be divided into four basic pieces. First, she gives a rather detailed history of her husband and her children, presenting herself front and center as a wife and mother. Second, she talks about her political work in Alaska. Third, she talks about John McCain and the national campaign. And finally, she closes by discussing her role as a female candidate. The final part is more of a sound bite than a real discussion and is less than half the length of any of the other pieces. In fact, the first part of her speech where she discusses her family is longer than any other part of the speech. Palin spent longer talking about her children than about her political work. She refers to herself with the word "mother" or "mom" three times.

Palin's speech does not fit the normal pattern. But it does fit in relatively nicely with another pattern: the candidate's wife's speech. Look at Michelle Obama last week or Hillary Clinton in 1996 (in her It Takes a Village speech). They both use female family words: daughter, sister, wife, mother. The wife's job is to do the humanizing work, to introduce her family and her husband to a curious nation, to show how they are just like other families in the country with the same problems and struggles, and to introduce some of the softer policy issues. Look at this quote from Hillary's 1996 speech for the basics: "I wish we could be sitting around a kitchen table, just us, talking about our hopes and fears, about our children's futures. For Bill and me, family has been the center of our lives. - But we also know that our family, like your family, is part of a larger community that can help or hurt our best efforts to raise our child."

I in no way mean to criticize Palin. Her speech is relatively similar to most of the speeches we've heard from women in these political races. (I also couldn't find the text to any of Hillary's major campaign speeches to compare her to.) But compare it to the speech Geraldine Ferraro gave in 1984. Ferraro follows the normal candidate script to a T. She talks about her parents and her humble beginnings, of the work she's done and the progress she's made in her life, she hits some big policy issues, being sure to hit inspirational notes along the way. She briefly mentions and thanks her husband and three children at the end of her speech, just as the rest of them do. In its formula, it's nearly identical to the speech Biden gave when he was announced as Obama's VP. Just change Scranton, PA to New York City.

What I want to talk about is what this dichotomy means. Do we want female candidates to follow the same playbook as the men? Do we want them to emphasize the fact that they're women by referencing motherhood and family so strongly or do we want them to focus more heavily on policy issues? Is it right for women to ignore motherhood in their speeches the way men do in theirs? The floodgates are open, there will hopefully be a steady stream of female presidential and vice presidential candidates from here on out. What is it that we want to hear from them? Will the way they frame their own lives affect the way they're spoken of by others? I know I'll be curious about how other Republicans at the Convention refer to Palin and how she refers to herself. And I'll be just about bowled over if we hear any substantive fatherhood talk. It's just not in the script, no matter which party you're in.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day Links

I know, I know - links are generally for Sundays. Since its a holiday though, I get a weekend extension. So, happy Monday reading:

Scottish schools have begun vaccinating girls against HPV, and all 12-15 year old girls attending schools in the UK will be offered the vaccine by next August. The UK has decided to go with the Cervarix vaccine rather than Gardasil, which is used by the majority of vaccination programs.

An initiative aimed at keeping gays and lesbians from becoming adoptive or foster parents will appear on the Arkansas ballot this November. Apparently, keeping heterosexual rights from being shared with gay and lesbian couples is more important to the Arkansas Family Council than making more loving homes available to children in need.

Doris Gibson, the amazing founder of the Purvian news magazine Caretas, has died. You can read about her life and her defiance of the military dictatorship of General Juan Velasco over at the BBC.

A Venice art museum's director apologizes after a security guard forced a Muslim woman to leave the building simply for wearing a niqab.

Until attitudes change about what the role of wives should be, many Japanese women are delaying marriage.

Most Californians oppose Proposition 8, which would ban gay marriage.

In Massachusetts, voters will decide this November whether or not to reinstate a 1913 law that would make it illegal for out-of-state same-sex couples to wed there.

It looks like VP candidate Sarah Palin doesn't support
awarding benefits for same-sex couples after all.

Womanist Musings discusses spankings.

THEFEMTEAM reports that 90,000 children have been deported from the U.S. without a parent or guardian.

Professor, What If...? tells of a horrible company called Fit 2 Wed.

Happy Labor Day! What else are you reading?