Friday, October 9, 2009

Breast Cancer Awarenes Month

Lest we ever forget that for all the struggles we move through each and every day, there have been many before us who have forged the path, endured, and challenged us to fight the very thing that wishes to tear us down.

Fanny Burney Pioneered Breast Cancer Awareness

Here's to those brave women we have known who continue on in the legacy we choose to honor them with and to those brave women we know who continue to show us what bravery, strength, perseverance, and life is all about.

My Gay Soapbox

Let me see how many people I can annoy with this post. If there isn't a one, then I guess Habladora might have a leg to stand on as far as this blog not reaching the people who need to be challenged. However, I believe I can annoy someone. I've managed to do it before on topics that I fully anticipated to be innocuous. So, come on people, don't let me down now. Read the following article by Bill Maher about how the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy can be obliterated by one swipe of the pen from a man with Noble Prize winning character.

Let me just provide snippets to get you going:
But there is one thing the president can do with the stroke of a pen: He can let gays serve openly in the military. It's called an executive order. Harry Truman wrote one in 1948 for blacks in the military, and that was that.

Health care and the environment are complicated, but it's not hard to keep track of the places that God allows you to put your pee-pee. I mean, you can count those places on one hand. And that hand isn't something you should be using either. A year ago, if you had asked your average wing-nut neighbor what he thought about health care reform, he would have shrugged his shoulders and gone right back to eating his Moon Pie. But he's pissed-off about it now, why? Because it's in their nature to be pissed-off. They have a pre-existing condition called the Conniption Fits. The tea-baggers have taught us all an important lesson in modern politics: If you want to be taken seriously, act like a fucking loony-tune.

In fact, let me explain how the right-wing mind works: wing-nuts get up in the morning, get their "news" from Fox or Drudge, and then spend all morning drinking coffee and getting all worked up about whatever Fox and Drudge tell them to get worked up about. "Mexicans - Grrr! Socialism - Grrr! Van Jones - I don't know who he is, but sure... Grrrrrr!" By the time Rush comes on at noon, they're ready to just start demanding we build a wall around Andy Dick. And when Glenn Beck shows up at five, they're seeing red - right through the blue from the Viagra.

Read more at:

Health care and the environment are complicated, but it's not hard to keep track of the places that God allows you to put your pee-pee. I mean, you can count those places on one hand. And that hand isn't something you should be using either. A year ago, if you had asked your average wing-nut neighbor what he thought about health care reform, he would have shrugged his shoulders and gone right back to eating his Moon Pie. But he's pissed-off about it now, why? Because it's in their nature to be pissed-off. They have a pre-existing condition called the Conniption Fits. The tea-baggers have taught us all an important lesson in modern politics: If you want to be taken seriously, act like a fucking loony-tune.

In fact, let me explain how the right-wing mind works: wing-nuts get up in the morning, get their "news" from Fox or Drudge, and then spend all morning drinking coffee and getting all worked up about whatever Fox and Drudge tell them to get worked up about. "Mexicans - Grrr! Socialism - Grrr! Van Jones - I don't know who he is, but sure... Grrrrrr!" By the time Rush comes on at noon, they're ready to just start demanding we build a wall around Andy Dick. And when Glenn Beck shows up at five, they're seeing red - right through the blue from the Viagra.

I've got to admit here. On those rare days when I force myself to go to the gym and swim rather to drive home and have a beer on the deck, I am greeted in the locker room by Glenn Beck. Delightful I tell you. Not much beyond Grrr moments that I can tell. I promise that I will write a comment card about this next time I am there. Put on the local news. Put on Food Network. Don't put on shows that are designed to do nothing but incite.

Until I accomplish that, here is my proactive post. Don't Ask Don't Tell is ridiculous. Banning gay marriage is ridiculous. I'd like to say I have faith that Obama, Mr. Yes We Can, believes that we can indeed provide equal rights. Maybe a skosh of optimism is bleeding through there. In fact, it probably is. That doesn't mean it can't be done. It just might not start with him. It might start with you all out there reading this. You might be giving a supportive head bob or you might be seething. Either way, it's got you thinking that equal rights are equal rights and religious beliefs that engender fear don't automatically grant the right to oppress perfectly beautiful human beings.

Air Force Academy Censors Professor for Discussing Gays in the Military

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Reported Rapes on the Decrease

I've written posts and responses in the past that have landed me in some hot water. I've been in trouble for trying to explain the backlog that exists in forensic science, especially when it comes to sexual assault cases. I've been in trouble because my job as an unbiased scientist who has to testify in court is bound by the notion that it is not my place to label the sexual assault a rape. Oh yes, I have played the role of devil's advocate in a way that is uncomfortable for me.

So, it pleases me to be able to provide a post that has a glimmer of hope. True, it is only a glimmer, but hope has to start somewhere. If it didn't, I wouldn't be able to face my job each day. USA Today provided the following post: Reported Rapes Hit 20-year Low.
Reported rapes have fallen to the lowest level in 20 years as DNA evidence helps send more rapists to prison and victims are more willing to work with police and prosecutors, victims advocates and crime researchers say./
It is clearly a combination of factors of which forensic DNA analysis is only a small piece of the puzzle. DNA evidence obviously makes it easier to establish a link between perpetrator and crime. The national DNA database allows for the linking of heretofore unsolved crimes. Prosecutors are able to rely on something beyond eyewitness identification, which during times of stress on the victim are historically inaccurate. The truth to that is made all the more obvious by the presence of The Innocence Project.

I'm not suggesting that the system is perfect yet. In fact, if you look at one of the links at the bottom of the article above you will find the following: 1-Year Rape Conviction.
Two state lawmakers are questioning a plea agreement that will allow a man to serve only one year in jail on a conviction for raping a 4-year-old girl.

Nineteen of the 20 years of a sentence against 64-year-old David Harold Earls were suspended as part of a plea agreement reached with Pittsburg County prosecutors.
I have to believe, however, that despite some clear failings by our legal system, that the criminal justice system is starting to get it right. There is a long way to go. There is still a backlog of sexual assault cases, which is a direct result of lack of funding. There is only so much a department of five scientists can do.

Still, it does seem as if the pieces are falling into place and that provides me with a reason to keep doing what I do...not that I ever really needed a reason in the first place.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I Used to Be... A Blogger!!!

Once upon a time (long ago) I used to post regularly - daily - here on The F.U. And then I got a full-time job. A job that pays in dollars rather than hits and links. A job that has nothing to do with either writing or feminism. And this life, my blogging life, faded away - making way for the life that pays the bills.

But the need to pay the bills wasn't the only reason I stopped writing. I stopped writing because I became confused about who I was writing for, and who I should be writing to.

You see, as a blogger, I found I was mainly 'preaching to the choir' or fighting trolls. Both are fun, really, in their own ways - but they were things I was doing for myself. And right now it seems as though perhaps we should be trying to communicate, and to sway, those in our country who are still undecided about many of the issues facing our nation right now. About health care. About war. About elections, corporations, and free speech. About torture and rendition. About what is good, and what it means - or should mean - to be American.

Months have passed since my last post, and I'm no closer to an answer. How do we reach an audience that might be convinced by our arguments, and how do we change people's minds if we feel the issues we care about are being misrepresented and misunderstood? Should we all be writing op-eds for our local papers, explaining why we believe universal health care will help our nation? Should we continue to write for our blogs, in the hopes of rallying the troops? Should our language be conciliatory or a call-to-arms?

As I try to decide what's next for me, and for The Feminist Underground, these are the questions that are still unresolved. While I miss the community I had as a writer for The Feminist Underground, it feels like community is no longer enough. We need to be speaking to one another, of course, but who else should we be speaking to -and how do we reach them?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sunday, July 26, 2009

TV Review: 16 & Pregnant

This is another post I have up on Jump off the Bridge for the Blogathon. I've been blogging for almost 24 hours now to raise money for READ Foundation.

I have to admit that I had zero interest in watching 16 & Pregnant when I learned about it. MTV is all about reality tv nowadays, and a lot of it is crap, so I just assumed this would be too. But people were posting about the show all over the blogosphere, and I started to get curious. So I set my DVR and decided to watch some of the episodes.

To say that I have mixed feelings about this show is an understatement.

My initial discomfort came from getting the sense that this might glorify teen pregnancy. But, considering the fact that the U.S. has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the industrialized world, I suppose we need to just keep trying things until they work. Still, there is a bit of a sense that everything will turn out okay with these teen parents that might be misleading and not make for much of a deterrent.

I was then bothered by what other bloggers noticed as well, the fact that abortion and adoption were not being considered as practical options. I understand that the sponsors probably wouldn't be too thrilled about portraying abortion as an option for any age, and certainly not for teens. But it's reality. Isn't reality tv supposed to, you know, represent reality? Okay, no, I guess not...

To be fair, I did watch one episode where the teen couple ended up giving their baby up for adoption. It was actually my favorite episode because it showed the struggle over the decision itself, in addition to all of the other aspects of the teen pregnancy. But then I thought, what if it was too negative? Will people forget about adoption as an option because it's too painful? Reactions on twitter while the episode was on mostly commented on how sad the episode was.

It's really a big balancing act, but ultimately I think the series could do a better job. I'm not sure if there is another season planned but if there is, I hope they take it as an opportunity to highlight teens from various backgrounds in the hopes that it provides a richer range of perspectives.

All of that said, I did enjoy watching the show. It wasn't full of the unnecessary drama that often comes with reality shows on MTV. I was sort of expecting Sweet 16 with a bun in the oven, but it seemed much more genuine than that.

(Originally posted at Jump off the Bridge.)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Newsflash: Immigrants Are People Too

I'm currently participating in Blogathon 2009 over at Jump off the Bridge. I'm posting every 30 minutes for 24 hours in order to raise money for READ Foundation by getting great people like you to sponsor me. I've decided to re-post some of the posts here at TheFU, but you can take a look at all of my Blogathon posts here, and sponsor me if you can to encourage me to make it all the way through.

The latest edition of The Cafe at On the Issues Online Magazine has been up for a few weeks now, and I've enjoyed reading some of these posts. One in particular had me thinking a lot, Holding the Line: Defending Feminist Values in Immigration Enforcement.

In this piece, Meghan Rhoad shares what she's learned from interviewing women in immigration detention facilities. She states:
The explosion of immigration detention has undermined two core principles of justice: deny liberty only when necessary, and treat those in custody with dignity. But in the politics of immigration, these core principles have become easily exchanged bargaining chips.
It's all downhill from there, and she lists some of the treatment these women are being put through:
• Women shackled during pregnancy.
• Breasts pumps denied to nursing mothers, resulting in fever and mastitis, and leaving them unable to continue breast-feeding.
• Critical screenings for breast and cervical cancer withheld.
• Contraception and abortion made inaccessible.
• Women humiliated and demoralized because they could not obtain sanitary pads.
• Confidentiality of medical information breached.
• Medical records lost in transfer.
• Requests for medical help ignored while dangerous conditions went untreated.

You should read the whole piece, but I want to say a couple of things.

For starters, I am one of those feminists who cringe when I hear news reports about "the women and children." You know the ones -- it's usually about war or some other horrible but supposedly necessary thing and they let you know that among the victims are countless women and children.

1) Women are not children, and lumping them together in the same sentence pisses me off.
2) All lives have value. I do not need to know that out of 100 victims, x were men, and x were women and children. All I need to know is that there were 100 victims, and my pain and sympathy is already there.

All of that said, I think it's absolutely atrocious to think about what these women are going through. Not to say that whatever the men are going through isn't bad, but seriously, what the hell?? Even women who commit dangerous crimes should not be subjected to this type of treatment. Women who have not committed dangerous crimes? Even less so.

Rhoad states:
the majority of women imprisoned in detention centers have committed no crime. They include asylum seekers, victims of trafficking, survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, the elderly and the seriously ill.

Please think about that for a moment. Survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. Victims of trafficking. Women who have already been through an experience traumatic enough to stay with them for the rest of their lives are now subjected to heinous treatment simply because they are trying to leave that trauma behind.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: immigrants are REAL PEOPLE. They are of flesh and blood. They are not savages. They are not aliens from outer space coming to attack us. They are you or your grandparents or great-great-grandparents. They are ME.

As legislation is introduced that directly affects the experiences of immigrants, please keep this in mind.

(Originally posted at Jump off the Bridge.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Keep Up with the Confirmation

For those of you who don't already know, the confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor started yesterday. You can get a rundown of some of the highlights (and lowlights... is that not a word?) here, here and here.

I haven't actually gotten a chance to see the videos from yesterday, but I did check Twitter from time to time to see what people's reactions were. I want to hold my tongue until the hearings are over, but I'll just say that opponents are not wasting any time in getting into the swing of this.

The hearings continue today, and you can catch live coverage online on several sites including Sotomayor for Justice, C-SPAN, CBS News, and ABC News. You can also see how us regular folk are reacting by searching for the #sotomayor hashtag on Twitter.

For those of you who have been keeping up, what do you all think so far? Are there issues you're concerned about or questions you would really like to have raised? Feel free to discuss what you think about Sotomayor, and your feelings on the hearings in general.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Feminist Bloggers at NOW

I'm currently at the NOW conference in Indianapolis, learning from and engaging with other super feminists. Keep up with the coverage on Twitter with the #now09 hashtag.

Right now I'm prepping for the feminist blogging workshop I'm on the panel for. WOOT! Stop by if you're here (it's at 11:15 in the Plaza Ballroom), but don't worry if you're not because I'll be posting a recap here afterwards.

Friday, June 19, 2009

We Must Speak Our Truth

Every so often I come across a bit of news that takes me back to what I know I need to do. As a feminist lesbian scientist I run across some closed minds. It doesn’t happen often. I generally think it is because there is a certain sense of fear. People who disapprove of who I am are reluctant to say so. Honestly, I would prefer to hear what they have to say so I can respond. Society as a whole is never going to be on the same page on everything. Our job is to hear all the opinions so we can make the most educated decision for ourselves. Today I came across a fabulous article that reminds me of my responsibility to hear the other side.

Douglas Murray wrote what I find to be an amazing piece about how he chooses to have discourse with Muslim extremists. It can be found here:
Why we must debate the extremists: The oxygen of free societies is freedom of speech. Everything short of incitement has to be tolerated, even when it is wrong

Clearly I am not wading into this particular debate as I have no standing in it, but the following quote certainly brought me up short:
At events I regularly meet young Muslims and non-Muslims who have simply never heard arguments put for why liberal democracy is, though not perfect, our only achievable, messy, hope. I think it important that they hear someone speaking in defence of religious pluralism, women's rights, gay rights, and actual diversity in society. I also think it important that they hear religions critiqued, satirised and treated in the same robust manner in which the rest of us have our most cherished ideas treated.
I had such a visceral response this paragraph. It's true...we all need to hear the other side. Without all the information it isn't possible to stand as an intelligent individual. It made me want to speak out more than I do. While I know many people who don't approve of me remain silent out of fear of perceived repercussions, I know I also remain silent for many of the same reasons. I choose to not rock the boat. It is not a wise choice.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Remembering My Father of The Greatest Generation

I realize this post does not generally fall into The Feminist Underground themes, but I'm going with it anyway because it is on my mind. And sometimes a girl just has to speak her mind.

The 65th anniversary of D-Day is tomorrow. There has been all the uproar with the Queen not receiving an invitation until the last minute; so last minute that she can't pull together the security detail to get her there. Instead, the Prince gets to go, which makes me question his overall importance these days, but that is neither here nor there.

One of my wishes for my future is to make it to Normandy. My grand wish is to take my mother with me. I'm not sure how realistic either is, but it is there with me each year. My father, who passed away four years ago, was part of D-Day. He was in the U.S. Army Air Force, which existed at the time. He was one of the para-gliders sent behind the lines before the beach invasions. He never talked about his time in the WWII (he was also at Battle of the Bulge) and I never asked. And now as I am older and he is gone I feel the regret of never learning about the hero he was. The extent of what I know is that because of his time there he hated mutton and refused to ever set foot in Europe again. On occasion my mom would try to slip some lamb into a meal; he always caught her. And despite the several trips I took with my mom to Europe, he never returned again.

So, there is my story behind this post.

Today I am remembering my father, what he gave while he was there and what he kept giving up in his life as a result. I generally avoid military discussions as I find myself rather ambivalent. On this matter though, when it comes to what my father's generation gave I am not. Here is to remembering what was given and lost. May we some day learn how to live in peace so that 65 years from now another youngish feminist is not writing the same kind of post as I am now.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Irony Behind the Pro-Life

Those who don't believe in abortion find the appropriate course of action to be to kill those who provide it? Is that supposed to be some sort of Biblical justice? Sigh.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

California Boggles My Mind

It's not as if I expected the California Supreme Court to overturn Prop8. How does the Court override the voice of the people? Well, it doesn't, as was the fear.

My dear friends now find themselves once again struggling with their love being negated by a mass of people who shouldn't have anything to do with it. Not separate rights...simply equal rights. Their love, my friends love, my love takes nothing away from anyone else.

As Moya states:
Unmarried gay couples "Want to be able to have the dream that one day they'll have a relationship with the highest label in the land, and I want to be a model of that. I think my family is a good model of that."
I've known this family for years. I watch their daughter grow up before my very eyes on Facebook because Agincourt and I cannot make it out to visit. I am here to tell you that you would be hard pressed to find a better family both as a couple and as parents. Anyone out there that thinks their love and their relationship is anything less than what we should all strive for is crazy. I look forward to seeing their young daughter grow up into a world where parents such as hers no longer have to fight for what is a simple right.

Quick Hit: SCOTUS Pick Announced

It's official! President Obama has nominated Sonia Sotomayer for Supreme Court Justice. As most articles are noting, she is the first person of Latino heritage to be nominated for the Supreme Court.

I have to admit that I don't know very much about her, only the little that I've been able to keep up with over the past few weeks of speculation. But she seems a good pick! What do you all think?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

NYC: Addressing Harassment in Public Transportation

Just got this emailed to me:

New Yorkers for Safe Transit Presents
Taking Back Public Transit: Ending Violence On Board
Monday, June 8th, 7:00 pm, Brecht Forum, 451 West St. (btwn. Bank & Bethune)

You shouldn’t have to compromise your safety and well-being to simply get across town. Unfortunately, many New Yorkers do. Harassment — and even violent attacks — are happening on subways and at station platforms across the five boroughs. That’s why New Yorkers for Safe Transit is bringing people together to put a stop to the violence. Veronica Tirado, Girls for Gender Equity; Cate Contino, Straphangers Campaign; Emily May, HollaBack NYC; and Doyin Ola, RightRides for Women’s Safety for a frank discussion about how to address violence and harassment, the issues riders are facing, and how to make effective change. All are welcome to share their own experiences and expertise that we can transform into action.

To RSVP and/or co-sponsor this event please email or call 718.522.0822

Event is free, but donations of $10 per person are appreciated.

NYFST is a collection of organizations and advocates dedicated to eliminating harassment and assaults—particularly gender- or discrimination-based—on public transportation in New York City. The coalition focuses on raising public awareness, community building, and facilitating changes that ensure New Yorkers can get from one location to another safely and securely.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

For BC & EC, How Young Is Too Young?

Last month, I posted for Back Up Your Birth Control Day and mentioned that the courts wanted the FDA to consider lowering the age of prescription-less access to emergency contraception from 18 to 17. The FDA considered it, and they have agreed.

On last month's BC/EC post, Mächtige Maus and I started a discussion in the comments about how young is too young to have access to emergency contraception or birth control in general. In one of my comments, I brought up the issue of medication still being a drug. I wanted to elaborate on that a bit and stress the importance of testing and education about how birth control and EC affect women at different ages. If there is a big difference in the effects of these drugs in a 16-year-old versus an 18-year-old, then it stands to reason that more control should be placed on how the 16-year-old can access it. Does anybody know if this research is out there and, if so, what they've found?

Ultimately, it is hard to give an arbitrary age to something like this, especially given all the variables involved. Consider the fact that the average age of these occurrences are probably quite different:
  • menarche (the first period) - around 12
  • first instance of real sex education (not the abstinence-only kind) - this can vary tons depending on state and quality of education, but let's guess 13-15
  • first sexual experience - around 17
  • when society wishes the first sexual experience was - I'll just throw out 18-21
So what age are we supposed to go by? Do you folks have any thoughts?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Heirloom Tomato, Please

It is true that I have often thought I should have been born into a European culture. There are many things that appeal to me: an awesome mass transit system, vacation time that encourages something beyond work, a deep sense of culture/family, and the immediate access to fruits of the earth. The latter really is more at the top of the list. I appreciate the ability to walk out the door and reach a local butcher, baker, and/or produce shop. Apparently Michele Obama approves as well.

The Nation has an article that outlines the concept of healthy eating here.

Now, by publicly championing fresh local food, Michelle Obama clearly hopes to entice Americans away from their junk food past to a healthier, more delicious future. And that is what makes her message so far-reaching. Change America's eating habits and you can change the world.

Shifting to a greener diet would be good not only for the health of America's children and families but the health of the planet. The American diet, and the food production and distribution system that supports it, is one of the main drivers of global warming and a host of related hazards, from deforestation to air, soil and water pollution. Most people know by now that our civilization must fundamentally change the way it produces and consumes energy if we are to stop global warming. Far fewer people realize that it is equally important to change the way we produce and consume food.

I'm on board with a green revolution. I don't see me growing my own garden because I am not all that much of a green thumb. However, we are looking forward to the first weekend of May because that is when the local farmer's market makes its yearly return. We have indeed bought some of the sweetest locally grown, organic tomatoes from there. So, on this Earth Day, hop on board with First Lady Obama and do what you can to return to the earth, grow or shop organic and healthy. It does a body good.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What's In a Name?

Since we here at The Feminist Underground are fond of talking roller derby (see posts here and here), I thought it my duty to bring this to the attention of our readers. Oh the things that will bring about a lawsuit: Frito-Lay suing roller derby skater over use of 'Crackerjack'
Colleen Bell says no one's ever confused her with a snack.

Her roller derby name, Crackerjack, is too similar to the name of their famous caramel popcorn and nut snack (the one that comes in a box with a prize).

The way Bell sees it, "Crackerjack" and "Cracker Jack" can't reasonably be linked.

"(Crackerjack) is a slang from the beginning of the century for an exceptional person or thing," she said. It's also the name of a '50s rockabilly song, which was her original inspiration

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Joy of Tennessee

Honestly, this could be a series if I wanted to make it one. "The Joy of Tennessee - A Study of Repression and Fear" or some such title.

Currently the ACLU is demanding that Tennessee schools stop blocking student access to valid LGBT resources.
Knox County Schools and Metro Nashville Public School use web filtering software that blocks student access to the websites of many well-known national LGBT organizations, including PFLAG, GLSEN, and HRC.
The Knoxville News Sentinel is covering the story here and the public comments are frustrating, as per usual.
Yeah, let's unblock beastiality, that's discrimination against the animals or PETA/Humane Society will get you. And let's unblock the child porn as that's age discrimination. And let's unblock every other sick and perverted thing out there because we certainly don't want to shelter our children from the deviants in society.
Thankfully there are a few sane people out there that balance things out.
I guess I read the wrong article. Nowhere does the article talk about porn or pushing ones opinions on another. If minorities can have scholarships, any minority group should have the same EQUAL RIGHT. Come on people...get out of the dark ages!
Seriously people, we are talking about access to legitimate resources. No porn. No attempts at a mass conversion...we don't have enough toasters for that. Simple, plain access to legitimate resources that may gosh I don't know help a kid get to college or even save a kid's life.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Only Practical Ambitions Allowed?

I have tried to come up with something to write in conjunction with the following paragraph from New York Contributor David Samuels, but I am failing because I honestly cannot come up with a reasonable explanation behind it.
There are clear limits to Michelle’s ambition. She went to excellent schools, got decent grades, stayed away from too much intellectual heavy lifting, and held a series of practical, modestly salaried jobs while accommodating her husband’s wilder dreams and raising two lovely daughters. In this, she is a more practical role model for young women than Hillary Clinton, blending her calculations about family and career with an expectation of normal personal happiness. Now her mother is coming to live in the White House.
Feel free to read the article, The Hero’s Foil - Normalizing the President, here in order to see the entire context. However, truth be told the context isn't helping me grab the meaning behind "a more practical role model for young women than Hillary".

An article by Katha Pollit, Mad About Michelle - Subject to Debate, tries to help me out.
That Samuels, like a 1950s home ec teacher, advises "young women" to keep their ambitions "practical" if they want to be happy shows just how disturbing Hillary Clinton--or rather the nightmare fantasy of Hillary Clinton--has been to certain male psyches. Because what if women wanted to be the ones with the wild dreams? What if they wanted men to be the enablers and nurturers? That would be awful.
I am amazed with both women. Beyond that though, I have really been quite proud of Secretary Clinton on the world stage. To hell with "practical" ambitions.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Lessons Learned from WAM!09

This past weekend, I attended the Women, Action & the Media Conference (WAM!) in Boston. It was a great weekend that offered over forty workshops and panels, a film series, two keynote talks, and a "genius bar" allowing conference-goers to sign up for time with media experts throughout the conference.

I started on Friday with the session PR: Getting Your Work Out There. It definitely set the tone for the rest of the conference -- we'd be learning new skills, sharing our own experiences, and making new connections. On Saturday, my morning began with Gender, Non-Conformity and the Media, which explored how the trans experience connects with feminist dialogues and how it's portrayed in the media. I continued my day with a guide to self-publishing, which covered tips for creating your press, using your resources, what costs to expect, and hustling to get your work out there. A panel about community and ethnic media touched on the pressures of speaking for and to a community, the importance of intersectionality, and how "selling out" by relying on advertising actually supports local small businesses. In the Global Abortion Dialogue panel, we learned statistics about access to safe abortions around the world, and watched Not Yet Rain, a touching short film about access to abortion in Ethiopia. The last session I attended was Pulling the Plug on Rape Culture, which not only defined rape culture as a way of normalizing rape in our society, but also provided strategies for ending it.

In addition to the dynamic sessions I attended, I was able to follow some of the other panels I was interested in by keeping up with the #wam09 Twitter feed. This was a great way to make the conference interactive and to follow the conversations happening elsewhere. WAM! was also able to film a number of the sessions which they'll post on their website in a few weeks.

We shifted gears a bit for the keynote talks. Friday's panel was Women Reporting from the Global Frontlines, and we were able to hear the experiences of three women who lived and reported from Iraq, Colombia and Zimbabwe. Their stories were inspiring and reminded us how important it is to cover global issues in the mainstream media. Saturday's keynote was presented by Cynthia Lopez of P.O.V., who gave us a look at some of the compelling documentaries they've presented and urged us to become more involved in public broadcasting.

In wrapping up the highlights of the event, I can't possibly forget about the funniest time at WAM!, our evening with Sarah Haskins. If you're not familiar with her work, don't waste any more time and go check it out. She was even funnier at the event than she is in her videos! She made the night interactive and we all critiqued media and advertising together.

WAM! was a great experience. It was a place to meet the experts, hone our skills, learn new ones, and make connections with like-minded people. The blood, sweat and tears poured into this event were evident, and I, for one, can't wait for next year.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Jury Duty No Longer Sacred?

The following article in The New York Times about how mistrials are on the rise due to jury misconduct disturbs me.
It might be called a Google mistrial. The use of BlackBerrys and iPhones by jurors gathering and sending out information about cases is wreaking havoc on trials around the country, upending deliberations and infuriating judges.
The justice system already finds itself up against the "CSI Effect". Jurors expect snazzy forensic evidence at all trials, which is an unrealistic expectation. There is not always going to be DNA evidence left at a scene or not all evidence submitted is probative and therefore will not be tested. Those are facts that jurors tend to discount and by doing so cases are not receiving the full attention they deserve.

Now add on top of it basic juror misconduct and trials have two strikes against them. Do jurors simply not fully understand/respect how researching the trial or sharing information can destroy the trial altogether or do they not care because it is a moment in the limelight?

How does this fit into this blog you may ask? Oh...I can find a way! In the past we discussed sexual assault evidence not being tested. Now here we have instances where perhaps a high profile sexual assault case actually makes it to the jury trial phase and it can all be for naught because jurors are not taking the civic duty instructions seriously. We can't win for losing.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Back Up Your Birth Control with EC

Today is the Back Up Your Birth Control Day of Action!

The Back Up Your Birth Control campaign focuses on increasing awareness of and accessibility to emergency contraception (EC). It's important to get the right information out there about EC. It is NOT the abortion pill. It is NOT dangerous. It is NOT 100% effective (no form of contraception is).

It always amazes me how little some women know about EC and how it works. In college I was the Women's Studies Major, well of reproductive health information, so people always came (some still come) to me with their questions. I'm going to put that hat on right now and provide a little 411 for those reading who don't know:

You use EC, also known as the morning-after pill or Plan B, up to 3-5 days after you've had unprotected sex in order to prevent a pregnancy. The sooner you take it after intercourse, the better. It basically works like amped up birth control -- it uses hormones to stop fertilization or implantation. Because of this, it doesn't actually stop a pregnancy if it's already happened. You should take a pregnancy test before you get the EC because it'll be useless to take it if you're already pregnant. I repeat, it is NOT the abortion pill. The side-effects are similar to what you'd experience taking the pill, perhaps a bit more intense depending on your body and the hormone levels you're used to.

Currently in the U.S., EC is available over the counter if you're over 18 -- YAAAAY! For the time being, those under 18 need to have a prescription, but the age is being pushed down to 17 and the courts are asking the FDA to consider removing the age restrictions. (You can take action to make that happen here.) ETA: There are other barriers to access that you can read about here (PDF), including cost, coverage, supply, etc.

So there's your education for the day. If you have any other questions, you can ask them in the comments or email me.

Head on down to the pharmacy and stock up on EC. Go with your friends and have them do the same. And keep a stash handy so you can help somebody out when there's an emergency.

(Cross-posted at Jump off the Bridge.)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Celebrating Women's History Month

Time for a little shameless self-promotion here at TheFU.

Have you gotten a chance to check out the Legendary Latinas series over on Jump off the Bridge? In it, I've been highlighting the lives and work of Latinas who have been an inspiration to me in celebration of Women's History Month. Here's a peak at the profiles:

Frida Kahlo
What I really want to do is show why it was so easy for me to love a woman who lived with such pain (physically and emotionally), but who was still able to produce work that spoke truth to that pain and to live her life without apologies.

Dolores Huerta
Her very essence screams to me "I will not be shut down, I will be heard! If you can't speak, I'll be your voice!" I spent a lot of time in my life keeping quiet for the sake of pleasing others, so I have the utmost respect for a woman so fearless.

Rita Moreno
When I was growing up and had dreams of being a world-famous entertainer, I wanted to be Rita Moreno. No, not be like her, I wanted to BE HER... Yep, I'm obsessed. But really, you should be too!

Gloria Anzaldúa
You do not need to be Chicana or even Latina to appreciate her work. It's like she could see what was in our souls. She pulled it out, examined it, played with it, and blew it back in, writing its truth in a way so very real to me.

So that's what I've been working on to celebrate Women's History Month. What have all of you been doing? Blog posts, women's issues, activism, non-profit initiatives?? Leave your links in the comments so we can check it out and celebrate our great work!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

History Repeats Itself with Gender and the Economy

I think ABC News has been following my comments around the blogosphere, because they're reporting on what I've been saying for months now: When Mom Becomes the Breadwinner: Recession's Economic Toll Is Causing Some Couples Marital Issues

I learned in my Women's Studies courses that, like most things in this world, unemployment and economic issues are gendered, and that the personal effects of these are easy to predict. Based on what we know from history (especially The Great Depression and war-time economies), the cycle goes a little something like this:
  • Men and women generally start off on unequal footing, with men making more than women
  • Economy starts to implode, companies need to lay people off in droves (or, in the case of war, men just go buh-bye)
  • In addition to laying people off, companies must now "restructure" - preferably by just reshuffling the people they have left and promoting them without significant raises
  • Men make more to start and are more likely to demand a raise if they get promoted, so men are the first to be fired
  • Women now becomes the head of household
  • Men get depressed, angry, upset, uneasy, etc. because 1) they've lost their job (already an emotional ordeal) and 2) they no longer fill the role society expects from them
  • Tension grows in the home
  • Women are likely still working some form of a "double-shift," many women start to pressure husbands to find a job, even when there aren't any
  • Couple gets divorced, or the men just disappear, or the men commit suicide, or some combination of the above

Seriously, examining this cycle made up about a third of my Women's History course one semester because some variation of this has happened several times throughout U.S. history.

This is yet another example of how sexism and gender roles hurt men and women alike. In my opinion, the heart of the matter is what I pointed out above: they no longer fill the role society expects from them. Losing a job for anybody is stressful, especially during tough economic times. And if your identity is closely linked to your job - as it so often is in the U.S. - that stress is magnified. But add to it the fact that men are still seen as traditional breadwinners and heads of household, and you've got a recipe for disaster.

So far in history, there hasn't been a solution for this cycle, and I'm not sure if there will be one now. My hope is that some good can come of this.

Maybe this time around, there will be more acceptance of seeing men in this role. Or perhaps if enough men embrace the role of stay-at-home father, the government will start paying attention to the needs of parents and focus on access to daycare, education, etc. Okay, those wishes are probably too ambitious, but there's no harm in dreaming.

(Cross-posted at Jump off the Bridge.)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Hey Wait A Mintute!

What is this crazy gender equality talk going on across the pond?
Has Margot Wallstrom been reading our blog?
I am lucky to come from a country - Sweden - where gender equality is practically taken for granted.

In order to create a level playing field there must at least be decent childcare systems in place.

Let me be very clear: I am not arguing that women are better than men. What I am arguing is that representative democracy which excludes 52% of the population from the decision-making tables is not real democracy at all. It is in the interest of society as a whole - women and men - that we be represented equally. Why? Because women bring a different view of the world to the table - they have different experiences, they see things differently and they act differently.

An example (to generalise): to a man, the word "security" often means tank battalions and missile defence systems. To a woman it can mean access to education and clean drinking water for children.

Not a bad read at BBC.
Happy International Women's Day (a day late but not a dollar short)!

I am so tickled that Margot Wallstrom (wish I knew how to get my keyboard to generate the correct spelling) not only stopped by our blog, but that she left a comment. Thank you! You made my day. It encouraged me to do some more searching, which lead me to her blog here. In the same spirit as her comment, I am happy to have found her blog.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Happy Int'l Women's Day!

It's International Women's Day! Celebrated every year on March 8th, it's a time to reflect on the accomplishments and advancements made to women's rights around the world. It is obviously also a great time to think about how to move forward - there's never time for a day off when there's social justice to think about.

In terms of accomplishments, there are many to look at. Going back to the women's suffrage movements around the world, there have always been struggles for equality. This year we've already got Iceland's first woman Prime Minister who's openly lesbian, the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in the U.S., and some more rights for women in Iran, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

But, we've also got anti-choicers having a field day in the U.S., rape still being used as a weapon of war in Congo, and the Catholic Church is excommunicating doctors for saving lives performing abortions.

So I'll turn to you all and ask what you think are some of the best recent accomplishments, and what advancements do you want to make this year for women's rights around the world?

The only other assignment I leave you with is to show some love to all the women in your life. Let them know you admire and respect them, and that their lives are valued.

(Cross-posted at Jump off the Bridge.)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Poor Start to the Weekend

My only hope is that the word on the street is wrong when it comes to Prop8 being upheld in California. The quote that pissed me off the most is this:

"Proposition 8 does not erode any of the bundle of rights that this state has very generously provided" to same-sex couples.

- Kenneth Starr, lawyer for Protect Marriage, the sponsor of Prop.

Oh really? Well how frickin' nice to be allowed to maintain some generously provided but apparently not fundamentally deserved human rights.

I need a beer.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I am just now watching a re-run of The Daily Show with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and all I can think is that she is not supposed to be sitting there on The Daily Show...she is supposed to still be sitting on the Supreme Court.

It's true...that is all I've got.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

When Privilege Smacks You in the Face

Here I am, an immigrant who struggled to perfect my English so that I'd be accepted. I'm a woman who has trouble taking orders from anybody, but especially men. I have more debt than I feel comfortable admitting to. I did not grow up wealthy (AT ALL). I know what gunshots sound like in real life. The only thing I've ever (co)owned is the car my guy and I bought from his father for $1,000 that was just stolen.

And yet...

I order food at work a few times every month. And my delivery guy is always a Latino who doesn't really speak English. And I get annoyed when they're late or make me leave my desk to sign for the food. And I feel guilty because I don't have any cash and just realized that the tip I put on my card when I placed the order is not enough for a roundtrip MetroCard. And I feel disgusted until the next time I get hungry and inevitably do it all over again.

I really need to start bringing cash to work...

Friday, February 27, 2009

I Like Obama's Conscience

Alright folks, good news for this Friday:

Word on the street is that Obama will be repealing Bush’s last-minute anti-choice “conscience” rule. I wrote about the rule a few months ago, and my pro-choice wish for the new administration was for them to take repro rights seriously, so I'm thrilled to hear that he's taking action.

NARAL is asking everyone to send Obama thank you notes for taking a stand for women's reproductive rights.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Implications of Redefining Life

North Dakota, as you've probably heard, has passed a bill that states “any organism with the genome of homo sapiens” is a person deserving of full civil rights. Can you name three disturbing implications of this new definition of ''human"? Kris-Stella of Coffee Shop Philosophy can, and if you haven't read her post you should do so here.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Remembering Conchita Cintrón

I don't like bullfighting. Sure, I've read The Sun Also Rises and watched Hable con ella - but watching an actual bullfight made my tummy so queasy that I had to leave early (just because the guidebook tells you that bullfights in Arles are "no-kill" doesn't make it true). So I was surprised to find myself feeling... inspired while reading about the life of Conchita Cintrón, the bullfighter from Peru who killed over 750 bulls - bulls that would have probably been content to mind their own business if sequin-wearing cowhands hadn't started sticking flowery knives in their flanks for the amusement of an onlooking crowd.

Did I mention I don't really care for bullfighting?

Somehow, though, I still want to like Conchita Cintrón, who became an enormously popular bullfighter at a time when ladies just weren't supposed to do such things, or do anything other than darn their husbands' socks while looking pretty, really. Cintrón, born in 1922, began fighting bulls at the age of thirteen. According to the New York Times:

Cintrón was seriously injured in 1949 in Guadalajara, Mexico, when a bull gored her in the thigh. Carried to the ring’s infirmary, she pulled away from doctors, returned to the ring and killed the bull. She then fell unconscious and was rushed into emergency surgery.

That same year in Spain, where a law prohibited women from dismounting to fight a bull on foot, she simulated the kill by touching the bull on the shoulders — where the sword would go — as it passed her, drawing cheers from the crowd.
I'm impressed by the spirit Cintrón showed in the face of discrimination. Surely her career challenged many stereotypes about what women could and couldn't do. However, my admiration for her determination raises the question - should we celebrate any female first that occurs in the face of discrimination? Since a good half of our readers are vegetarians, I know some of you will have opinions.

Conchita Cintrón died last Tuesday, at the age of 86. She paved the way for the female bullfighters who came after her, and remains one of the most popular figures in bullfighting history.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Funnies: Beauty = Skin Deep

I realize that it seems like every week is a bad week for me, but damn I guess it's been a bad month. So because this is not a Beatles blog, I will spare you all countless Beatles videos (though ummm, you can watch one here) and instead share the latest from Sarah Haskins, Target Women: Skin Care.

(Click here if you can't see the video.)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Just Passing the Message

In case you haven't noticed, there's some conversation rumbling around the feminist blogosphere.

Earlier this week on my post about the feminist label, Mandy Van Deven linked to the guest post she co-wrote with Brittany Shoot over at Professor, What If...: What if the feminist blogosphere is a form of digital colonialism? In it, they make some great points, some not-so-great points, and some great points in not-so-great ways about the hierarchy in the feminist blogosphere, the (under)representation of bloggers representing marginalized groups, the issue of tokenism, money-making, and a whole lot more. The post itself is certainly worth a read, but you should really check out some of the responses thusfar at:

Astarte's Circus,
Having Read the Fine Print,
Being Amber Rhea,
Taking Steps,
Tiny Cat Pants,
Womanist Musings,
Radical Doula,

(What? Told y'all it was a rumbling...)

Monday, February 16, 2009

To Be or Not to Be... A Feminist

I think it's finally happened... my brain simply can't wrap its head around the conflicting ideals within the feminist "movements."*

I've been thinking a lot lately about the label "feminism." After the Fem2.0 Conference, there was a lot of talk in the blogosphere about what is considered a feminist blog (see here and here, for example). One of the first things that came to my mind when I saw Womanist Musings on there was, "wait... what's the criteria here?" Not that I don't think Womanist Musings is one of the best blogs out there, because I totally do. But... the name of her blog is Womanist Musings. And while womanism is historically considered part of feminism, it often isn't seen that way anymore. I also know Renee takes issue with a lot of aspects of the larger feminist "movements," as do many other WOC. BFP has publicly gone from a self-proclaimed feminist, to rejecting the label and considering taking "femi" out of her name. So finding her on a list of top feminist blogs... what exactly does that mean for feminism? And what does it mean for me?

Because, hey, guess what? I'M A WOC!! And I have the same problems that so many others have with the feminist "movements." I know there are countless people who call themselves feminists but still say/do racist, ableist, homophobic, etc. things. I simply cannot wrap my head around that. So I usually just say things like "that's not what I consider feminist..." and keep it moving. I am critical of the "movements" and those people, but I do not reject the label or the "movements."

But more and more I've started to ask myself... should I? I know that I don't need the label in order to keep believing what I do and acting the way I do. So what's the big deal?

I know what you're thinking... "But, Sally, I thought feminist was the only label you were proud of claiming?! What on earth is going on here?!" Honestly, I have no real answer to that.

I do not think I am ready to let go of the feminist label. To me, feminism is more than these "movements" or the individuals that claim to represent them. I've always said you do not need to identify as a feminist to be one.

I still believe that. But I also see merit in rejecting the labels. Is it fair for me to call Renee or BFP feminists simply because they meet my own definition of the term, even if they don't feel comfortable with that label? Is it fair for others to give them that label?

It seems to be the ultimate question of fighting the system from within vs. fighting the system from the outside. Is it time for me to really consider and internalize the reasons to reject the label?

Even now, this is so difficult for me to even write. I'm struggling to put down all the things I'm thinking and to summarize what's been running through my head for the past few weeks. I know that I have to start working through these things in order to have some sort of closure. I haven't had a real "feminist" post in weeks, not only because I haven't had time (though I really haven't, which sucks anyway), but also because I just don't know what to say.

I don't want to keep making excuses for these racist, homophobic, condescending people calling themselves feminists. But I also have great examples of people who still use the term, WOC or otherwise.

I know feminism is a process. I guess I never realized just how much of a personal process it would be.

*I intentionally put movement in quotes for several reasons. 1) There is no clear distinction between the Second, Third, even Fourth so-called waves of feminism. I'm not about to start splitting these up & trying to define them in this post. 2) I'm not entirely sure how a cause with so many factions can really be considered one, singular movement -- waves or no waves. 3) No matter how many waves, a lot of the problems I mention in this post are seen in some form throughout all of them, so distinctions don't really even matter.

(Originally posted at Jump off the Bridge)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

How Feminist Organizations Should Talk To Feminist Bloggers

Coming out the Feminism 2.0 conference I had a bit of an epiphany. The bloggers/activists panel attended by Tedra Osell of Bitch Ph.d , Liza Sabater of Culture Kitchen, and Kim Gandy, former president of NOW, was probably one of the most useful conference panels I’ve attended since I’ve been attending conferences.

Feminist organizations, cannot treat the major feminist bloggers (or the major women bloggers) as if they are volunteers. You cannot send the major bloggers the same press release or action alert that you have just sent out to your 5,000 email subscribers and expect them to response with marching orders. “Sending press releases to bloggers” is not a real strategy of blogger outreach. And it’s probably not enough to just sit on panels with them at conference every few months either. While it’s useful to have the personal contact that builds the relationship with bloggers that is only the start of the relationship.

Feminist organizations should treat certain well-trafficked women bloggers the same way they would treat Amy Goodman or Rachel Maddow. As high-flying media personality you want to co-opt and a relationship that requires constant personal attention directly from the executive director or president.

I’m going to talk about NOW because Kim Gandy was on the Feminism 2.0 panel on bloggers and activist. Kim started to talk about the difficulty in discussing what was happening with the economic stimulus package and the process where the family planning provision was dropped. It’s a complicated political issue and it’s not as simple as saying “Obama screwed the women’s interests for political expediency.”

It was difficult enough for NOW to explain the issue to their members, let alone for the feminist public to digest. This is where bloggers can come in. It would have been useful for Gandy or someone from her senior staff to call (and I do mean call) some of the highest profile bloggers and explain the situation the same way Gandy did at that conference. Then the bloggers can write a post that starts with “I just got off the phone with Kim Gandy…the situation is this…” Or alternatively “A high-profile source at NOW is telling me the reason the family planning was dropped was XYZ…they have heard from Henry Waxman…”

Feminist organizations should treat major bloggers the same way Senators treat newspaper columnists. Let’s face it, a lot of the issues that non-profits want to explain are complicated. But if Jessica Valenti of Feministing or other highly-trafficked bloggers write a post their readers will trust their “vouching” on the issue. It is an effective strategy when the issue is complicated to target several “opinion leaders” and for a lot of feminist organizations that is the feminist bloggers.

This is not unlike the relationship between conservative newspaper columnists and republican politicians. George Will doesn’t work for the Senate Republicans. But his ideology and theirs are often similar. George Will can be co-opted, and wants to be co-opted, but he needs to be feted.

This was something Liza Sabater was getting at on the panel. The reason Daily Kos is the number one blogging site isn’t because of the writing, she says. It’s because the Howard Dean campaign feted Markos Moulitsas for almost two years. And the end of the Dean campaign, Markos was seen as a player and subsequentially has made a lot of money because of that reputation. That’s what Sabater wants and so do most of the biggest bloggers, to be seen as a player and insider. In exchange feminist organizations, like NOW, get access to the bloggers’ readership. For NOW, with its aging membership, being tight with feminist bloggers is a way to get a lot of potential new blood in their organization.

Sabater was essentially asking to be feted by those groups that want her to write about them. Feed her tips, give her access and in exchange you get her good will and access to her readers. And there is another aspect to treating influential bloggers with access. She, meaning bloggers, can also play “the bad cop” and say things that organizations can’t. There are going to be points in the Obama term that is going to put the major feminist organizations in the delicate balance of not wanting to push their friends in the Senate, House and White House too hard but being unhappy with the message they are getting. This is where feeding the feminist bloggers can put the message out even when you can’t get any louder on your end without pissing off your political friends.

The thing about treating blogger outreach as a high-profile as talking to any media personality is that it costs very little but it requires a realignment of thinking.

Cross-posted at NewsCat

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday Funnies

I'm going to go ahead and be honest here -- I've had a long week at work and could not wait to get home. I could've used some yummy chocolate at that point, but it's more fun (and less calories) to laugh at Sarah Haskins talking about chocolate instead. So drop that brownie or chocolate bar you're eating, and tune in:

Want more funny? Check out the Target Women: Super Special over at Jump off the Bridge.

UPDATE: Some browsers can't see the embedded video, so I'm posting a link to the site here.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Voilà! Modern Medicine Shows Off

Okay...I am sneaking this post in at work in between DNA extractions and a pile of post-move paperwork because I am simply dying to know. What are some of the opinions floating around out there about the octuplets?

Outrage? (Scientifically speaking) Joy? (The miracle of birth) Astonishment? (What was wrong with six) None of society's damn business? (This one speaks for itself).

I had originally had this as a comment, but I figured I'd move it to my original post...maybe this will get me out of trouble with LaPH. I was cleverly trying to instigate dialog. But she was right, I was cheating a bit as well. :)

The simple answer is I find this to be scientifically irresponsible.

I'm not well versed in IVF. A quote from Wikipedia states, "Embryos are graded by the embryologist based on the number of cells, evenness of growth and degree of fragmentation. The number to be transferred depends on the number available, the age of the woman and other health and diagnostic factors. In countries such as the UK, Australia and New Zealand, a maximum of two embryos are transferred except in unusual circumstances. In the UK and according to HFEA regulations, a woman over 40 may have up to three embryos transferred, whereas in the USA, younger women may have many embryos transferred based on individual fertility diagnosis. Most clinics and country regulatory bodies seek to minimize the risk of pregnancies carrying multiples."

Going off that alone I have two thoughts. (1) The UK, Australia, New Zealand limits make sense to me. Considering the incidence of premature birth that comes from multiples along with the medical issues a two/maybe three egg limit that mimics what tends to occur naturally seems acceptable. (2) Who in the US thought eight was a brilliant idea? I mean either they all fail or only a couple remain viable or all of them remain viable and then you have just stepped into the termination debate.

But hey, at least it wasn't stem cell research.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Coming Up for Air

Some notes on the new job. Basically, I really like it. Yet, I couldn't help but notice:

1. The expectations of dress are dramatically different for men and women. Male professors often teach their classes in jeans, female in full suits or skirts and heels. I haven't yet figured out how much of this is due to the personalities of the professors and staff, and how much is due to different expectations for men and women.

2. There is no way I could put in the hours expected of me if I had children. No way. There is no on-campus daycare to help working parents out either. Very few of the professors or staff in our department have children, and only one of the women.

While the dress code discrepancy is more of an annoyance than a real complaint, I can't help but think that many women might be kept out of jobs like mine because of the long and unpredictable hours and the lack of good child care options. Which leads me to the conclusion that we'll never really put those 10,000 cracks in the glass ceiling without guaranteeing more support for working parents.

Hot Chicks (manipulate the oppresive constraints of gender)

I love hot women as much as the next person, but what is up with this Chickipedia website?!

According to its About page, this website is "the first female-only encyclopedia of the people, by the people, and for the people," whatever the heck that means. While I think it's great to have a space to celebrate women's achievements and have no problem admiring their hotness at the same time, this is somehow not what I had in mind.

Let's start with the focus on women's measurements, which they've got right there on top, along with an outline of what those measurements roughly look like. It's also what comes up when you search for somebody... which I find rather strange because I don't see how knowing measurements will help you find who you're looking for, but whatever. It's also owned by Break Media which is apparently "the Internet’s premier entertainment community for men." Um-kay.

Then we move to the gray area... The list of assets includes the standard perky breasts, long legs, nice ass. But it also includes some really awesome stuff like "black belt in Tae Kwan Do" (apparently, Evan Rachel Wood kicks ass) and "ability to manipulate the oppressive constraints of gender" (Hilary Swank kicks ass in a completely different way).

Also, the information on the pages I checked out actually seem to not be gross or terribly degrading! I expected to find disgusting sexual innuendos or more vulgarity and grossness, but it seems to actually just have normal information. They have bio info, lists of what the women have been in and who they've worked with, and even give props where it's due.

They also include women who I suppose would not conventionally make hot lists, like Jeanne Tripplehorn, Amy Holmes and Rachel Maddow. (Ok, anybody who wouldn't put Rachel Maddow on their "hot" list is freaking crazy, but I think you know what I'm trying to say here.)

Maybe these unexpected pluses (if one can call them that) is what confused the crap out of me. If it'd been as sleazy as I expected, I would've just kept it moving like I usually do when I find sites like these. But these people seem confused about what exactly they're going for here...

I realize I shouldn't have expected much, but I'd never heard of this site and was intrigued. But I guess I can go ahead and file this under "what else is new?"

(Cross-posted at Jump off the Bridge.)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Blog for Choice 2009

I'm breaking the silence here for Blog for Choice Day!

The theme is "What is your top pro-choice hope for President Obama and/or the new Congress?"

I'll keep this really simple -- My hope is that everything is done to ensure that Roe v. Wade is not overturned. I want Obama to select Supreme Court Justices that will actually take women's rights, especially women's choice, seriously.

It is the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. More than three decades have passed and yet we are still having this conflict, why?! It doesn't get much simpler than it is a woman's choice. Period. The end.

I have gone back and forth in the past about what will happen if Roe v. Wade is overturned. It was my Women's Studies Senior Thesis for goodness sake! But I'm tired of making my brain go there. Overturning Roe v. Wade just shouldn't be an option. With news of underground abortions going on (honestly, I couldn't write about the Dominican women and Cytotec b/c it was just too close to home), I really don't have the mental energy to listen to reasons why a conscience rule is necessary.

So that's my hope-- plain and simple. What's yours?

(Cross-posted at Jump off the Bridge.)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Silly-Happy Bye-Bye Bush Celebration

This just because I'm feeling happy about saying goodbye to President Bush tomorrow:

I hope you're all celebrating in your own ways!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

MLK Day of Service

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal holiday for those of us living in the U.S. of A., and many of us will have the day off. We're not supposed to just sit around and watch Bewitched reruns though, MLK Day is a national day of service. That's right, as

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Clinton's State Department Will Champion Women

If you are a regular reader of news, you probably read all about Hillary Clinton's confirmation hearing yesterday. You may have heard that it went swimmingly, or that there were questions about conflict of interest, or that a lot of it was about policy with countries like Iran. What seems to be getting left out of these stories is a lovely exchange between Clinton and Senator Barbara Boxer.

Boxer made it plain that she wanted to hear what the State Department is going to do about the international rights of women. Clinton was right there with her, promising a strong Women's Office and Office of Human Trafficking if confirmed. I didn't know there was such a thing. But here's the Women's Office and here's the Office of Human Trafficking. Boxer referenced a series of articles by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times. Kristof's columns are here (his recent articles are from January 1, 4, and 11; November 27 and 30; September 25; and August 31). In fact you can see that this isn't a new issue for him. There's a set of articles from 2004 on slavery and human trafficking as well. Who said women were the only ones who should be talking about women's rights?

I have to admit, I'm kind of surprised this story isn't getting a bit more play. The only example I've found? Rachel Maddow!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Quick Hit: Loving the Fame!

For those looking for some interesting feminist blogs to read, here's a "top 100" list that managed to introduce me to some new sites. Take a look and, yes, you'll see us included in the excellent company. Yeah!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Amusements

If you get as bored with the internet on Sunday as I do, here's a couple little things to peruse until everything gets going again tomorrow morning.

I don't know if you're as sick of whiny relationship memoirs as I am, but even I couldn't stop reading this one posted on Salon. Something about it just brought the whole thing to a new low. The very simple story? Freelance writer of upper-middle-class background wants to marry a guy who will put food on the table but instead marries a wonderful but unambitious guy with no money who gets fired from his job. Girl's response? I should divorce him. It's amazing that she treats her eventual decision to stay with him and get an actual paying job as some huge sign of growth. I had to check my calendar to make sure we are in the 21st century. This isn't a pro-feminist link. It's more of a so-horrific-you-can't-look-away-car-accident kind of thing.

As for something more peppy and woman-friendly, Slate is considering how one woman may change fashion. President-elect Obama's pick for his new Solicitor General is Harvard Law dean Elena Kagan. (The Solicitor General is the federal government's representative before the Supreme Court.) She's the first woman appointed to hold the position, which puts her in a bit of a quandary. The traditional garb worn by the solicitor general when before the high Court includes a morning coat, vest, and striped pants, basically resembling the outfit at right. Women present in various roles at the Court have worn this outfit before, but Dahlia Lithwick thinks the whole thing should be thrown out and I must agree. It's bad enough we have only one woman on the Court right now, but an outdated tradition that favors men and makes women look ridiculous is inappropriate.

As for me, I'm more interested in whether Kagan will be doing her own arguing. Usually the Solicitor General argues the government's position in all cases before the Court, though deputies may also perform the arguments. Kagan's background is mostly in administrative law, which is perfect for someone in this position. But I haven't seen any evidence of appellate work in her history and it's not just something any lawyer can step in and do. Especially in the biggest court in the country. After her administrative role at Harvard, I'm curious to see if she sticks to an administrative role or decides to step up herself. Either way, I'm happy to see such an impressive woman in such an impressive position. (There are already whisperings of her filling an empty Court seat someday.)

And last but not least, I heard there was a Rachel Maddow bit on SNL last night so I hopped over to hulu to take a look. I admit I wasn't a faithful viewer for a while there after the election, but I have hopped back on and I really enjoy her program. I was glad to see that it wasn't a Keith-Olbermann-style-pounding, such as the one Ben Affleck gave a few months ago. But I was kind of surprised to see that there didn't even seem to be much of an impersonation beyond a wig and a suit jacket. What about all her cute little mannerisms? The way she does funny little voices? The nerdy humor? Did you see when she wore the cavers helmet last week? I thought it was a lost opportunity. And the lesbian jokes there at the end fell very very flat. For now I'll withhold my judgment on SNL newbie Abby Elliott who played Maddow, though I was surprised it was her after I'd just read that other newbie Michaela Watkins was interested in giving Maddow a try.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Your 2008 Feminist Reading List

I am a complete bookworm, and I'm at my most annoying at the end of the year when I like to compile lists of my favorite books and bug people to read them. While I was putting my 2008 list together, I thought I'd keep an eye out for any good books for feminists and those who love them, and was surprised by my results. There was only one book you'd find in your regular fiction section that I can unequivocally recommend. But I did hit the jackpot in a completely different area.

I was the kind of kid who always wanted to be an adult. I went through a fruitful reading period from about 5th to 8th grade where I read all those really great classics. There were no shortage of strong, smart, and interesting female characters. Little House on the Prairie, A Wrinkle in Time, Julie of the Wolves, Jacob Have I Loved, Bridge to Terabithia, I Capture the Castle, I could go on and on. But then I started reading adult books and it took me a long time to realize that there weren't anywhere near as many strong, smart and interesting women in them.

So, I present to you, 3 Young Adult books I read this year that I would have died for at 13. I know that these days people think of YA and think of mushy drivel and rich-girl melodrama, but there is so much more out there and it's just as good as it ever was no matter how old you are. Plus, not only are all three about strong girls, but they're all written by women.

  • Life As We Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeffer. This is the only book on this list not published in '08 (actually '06) but I didn't find it until recently. I have always loved crazy post-apocalyptic stuff, but this book is actually the apocalyptic part where you have no clue what's going to happen. Pfeffer's heroine writes about the ever-increasing calamities in her diary, a device that rarely works but really does here. Miranda's relationships with her family and friends go through a lot of strain as she finds the things that used to matter don't anymore.
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. If you do keep up with YA, I have little doubt you've already heard of this one since it's taking the place by storm. The premise sounds insane, a futuristic society with an annual battle where teenagers have to fight to the death, but you'll be surprised just how personal and compassionate of a book it is. It also has a nice edge of satire and a plot that's full of surprises. Our heroine, Katniss, is nothing if not savvy, but she's also both tough and tender. Allegedly there will be books to follow and I'm very excited.
  • The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. This is the only book of the bunch that is set in the plain-old present. At first glance it appears to be your average boarding-school novel complete with crushes, pranks, and secret societies, but it turns out to be a study in budding feminism. Our lovely young Frankie, who finds herself suddenly attractive after the summer break, has to think long and hard about what it means to be a girl and what you should really look for in a boy. I really love the way Lockhart already knows what kind of person her heroines will end up being and is going to show you how they'll eventually get there even if you don't see the final product.

So, there you have it, and I'm sure there's a whole bunch more that I've missed. As for my one regular fiction recommendation, it is The Age of Shiva by Manil Suri, a beautifully written book set in India that follows one woman's life that really rings true (even though it's written by a man). What I love about it is that you can see the difference between reacting to patriarchy and breaking free from it.

What are some great books you've read this year?