WASHINGTON—After decades spent battling gender discrimination and inequality in the workplace, the feminist movement underwent a high-level shake-up last month, when 53-year-old management consultant Peter “Buck” McGowan took over as new chief of the worldwide initiative for women’s rights. . . .
“All the feminist movement needed to do was bring on someone who had the balls to do something about this glass ceiling business,” said McGowan, who quickly closed the 23.5 percent gender wage gap by “making a few calls to the big boys upstairs.”
South African Sonette Ehlers is taking women’s defense in a new direction – vaginally. The former medical technician has developed Rapex, a version of the female condom that is beefed up with teeth to stop would be rapists, or at least to slow them down enough for intended victims to get away. My first thought: won’t the rapists be angrier, and find some other way to hurt these women? After all, it causes no lasting damage – seems like it’ll be more likely to piss them off. And as Kira Cochran of the Guardian points out, “it places the onus for stopping rape not on the perpetrators, but on women – entirely the wrong way around. It implies that rape is an inevitable part of human culture and that women need to adapt accordingly.” Some have even claimed that using the device is just an act of vengeance toward the rapists.
I’m sorry, say that again? Maybe it’s just an old eye-for-an-eye judgment on my part, but I think rapists deserve much worse than a few pricks that aren’t permanent (excuse the pun). The fact is rape is all too common in South Africa (and many other places, too) – perhaps it will... more »more »
What is Feminism? Can Christians be Feminists? Can Conservatives? Can “Pro-Lifers?” Non-white women have often been marginalized within feminist discourse; poor women are nearly non-existent as valiant voices. Also, many issues have divided feminists like sex work or lesbian rights. About five years ago, I listened attentively with my Intro to Women’s Studies class as Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, authors of Manifesta and leaders within Third Wave Feminism, preached to the choir at a neighboring university. Our class was trying to define feminism (so cliché right). We got as far as “feminism is the idea that women are equal to men and thus should be allocated equal rights and opportunities.” But, how do we define “woman?” Feminist theorist Chandra Talpade Mohanty importantly questions the overgeneralization of women’s experiences and the emphasis of placing gender at the center of oppression without complicating it with race and class. While working at a feminist magazine where all of the content was written by and for girls, I came across the same question when an intersex person sent in a piece for publication. What is a woman?
The existence of “pro-life” people who claim to be feminists, also begs the question of what is a... more »more »
If you’ve already told the Postal Regulatory Commission you won’t stand for a sellout to big media (and if you haven’t yet, there’s still time to weigh in before their hearings on Tuesday, October 30), perhaps you’re feeling a little bored, a little blue.
Happily, there’s a cure for such listlessness, and it even involves the mail. You can support the people of Burma by sending your panties to the SPDC! Dunno about you, but the image of hundreds of pairs of panties, lacy, frilly, variegated, winging their way through the postal system carefully packaged in envelopes and boxes, destined to freak out officials worldwide, just puts a smile on my face.
Andrew Buncombe writes in the Independent:
Activists seeking to pressure the Burmese regime are targeting the superstitions of its senior generals by asking for people around the world to send women’s underwear to the junta.
In what may be a first, campaigners based in Thailand have called for supporters to “post, deliver or fling” the underwear to their nearest Burmese embassy. They believe the senior members of the junta – some known to be deeply superstitious – could be made to believe they will lose their authority should they come into contact with the lingerie.
“The... more »more »
I have a love/hate relationship with anniversary issues, particularly when they are celebrated in quarterly ones like Ms. Magazine. The issue quickly diverts from present day feminist politics to a historic trajectory of where we’ve come and where the heck we’re going. A who’s who list is cultivated to show the breadth of feminist leaders—which inevitably falls short.
But, I dutifully read through my Fall 2007 issue of Ms., feeling a twinge of guilt when I remember how I literally squealed when the last issue of Bitch hit my door, because surely I have much to learn from women who raised female wages, exposed the ad industry, deconstructed the definition of marriage, put more women in politics, title IX—the list is endless. (My favorite fun fact from the issue compares Pat Summitt’s salary in 1974, which was $8,900, to 2004, when she became the first collegiate women’s coach to be paid over $1 million).
One group of thankful voices in the issue comes from the Girls Editorial Board, editors ages 8-14 of New Moon: The Magazine for Girls and Their Dreams. My faith in feminism is further restored. New Moon is an ad free publication, where 80% of the content is written by girl readers. Now, I... more »more »
To change, or not to change, that is the question – my last name, that is. I’m getting married, and I am struggling with this decision. I should note before continuing that my fiance is totally on board with whatever I decide (and even has expressed the opinion that maybe I should keep my own). Also, I am not resistant because his name is long and unpronounceable or anything of that nature – Ott doesn’t cause much confusion. I am, however, resistant to hyphenated last names, which feel a little artificial to me.
I’m really partial to my last name. It defines me. My first initial and last name spell a real word, and it’s actually fitting for my personality. People call me by my full name all the time, because there are so many Sarahs out there. Yes, I share my name with an actress, but that’s kind of good – when you google me, you have to sift through all her pages before you get to any mention of me, and I like it that way. When I imagine going by a different name, I feel uncomfortable. Like I’m masquerading as someone else.
On the other hand, it’s cultural tradition.... more »more »
Gabrielle Burton’s Heartbreak Hotel runs each of its engines at full capacity. It is completely intelligent, completely feminist, completely hilarious, completely furious, completely compassionate, and it does the whole thing inside out. It is an exhausting book. It is worth the effort, and then you will force it on your friends.
This is a story of the rebirth of the straight white middle-class American feminist, written in the mid-1980s, and it takes place in Buffalo. It is dated, but to a feminist era and type I feel unlived nostalgia for: there’s a Midwest-runaway New Yorkiness about this sarcastic, corny, male-affectionate, DIY feminism; little bits Gilda Radner and Silver Palate Cookbook. Characters are tortured by middle-class feminist questions like, does it bring me pleasure to serve others? I say this without mockery. It’s a good, often hushed question.
Heartbreak Hotel is intentionally written to be diffuse, not like those, ahem, linear books you’re used to reading, and it has the guts to create two-dimensional characters and give each a voice, and through jokes,... more »more »
Check out these modern interpretations of Wonder Woman.
Yay for artists keeping it real.
Which one do you like best? My favorite is Sam Kennedy’s (pictured here). But did you notice that not one of these drawings was made by a woman? If you have your own drawing to add, post it here.more »
It saddened me greatly to hear that Grace Paley, a talented writer and social activist who championed women and anti-war movements among other things, died yesterday at her home in Vermont at the age of 84.
Ms. Paley’s short stories, for which she won much acclaim, focused on women’s lives – not glamorous portrayals of the social elite, but the grittiness of everyday life for the single mother, the ex-wife, the “women that Roth and Bellow and Malamud’s men had loved and left behind,” says her obituary in the New York Times.
I first read Ms. Paley in a course called Contemporary Short Fiction, which, in this case, meant postmodern fiction and included a thick anthology with that label on the cover. The tale was “The Pale Pink Roast,” written in 1959, and told the story of a woman and the estranged father of her child, with whom she had still slept with behind her new husband’s back. I was surprised at the stark honesty of the story; she portrayed her characters with all their flaws and contradictions, leaving the reader to sort it all out, with an ear for dialog that is spot on.
Ms. Paley did not rest on her literary laurels, but... more »more »
Deborah Solomon’s interviewee in her August 5th weekly New York Times Magazine column was the writer Mary Gordon. When asked, “Are you a Hillary Clinton supporter?” Gordon replied, “I think no woman is electable in America.” She kept going, but reading that line, I remember thinking, “Wow, this woman has guts. Thank goodness someone is saying it. ” My second thought was, “I bet she gets trashed in next week’s letters.”
This past week, there was one response: I’ve quoted it in its entirety below; click the link for author info.
“Thinking (out loud, in a highly public forum) that “no woman is electable in America” is a sure way to help make it true. Mary Gordon is a role model for this country’s female intelligentsia. Her publicly defeatist attitude is deplorable.”
Succinct, well-written, and a bit knee-jerk? If, when directly asked, Gordon states what she perceives to be today’s truth, is that “defeatist” and “deplorable,” or is it exposing a sickness and giving it the air to heal? Even if she supports the candidate’s agenda, and still doesn’t think she’s electable, would it have been a better thing to say “Yes”?
No matter the issue at hand, I believe that any feminist who suggests another... more »more »
In his Herald Blog today, Teddy Jamieson announced that feminism is dead:
“How often, after all, do you hear the word feminism these days outside the Guardian women’s page? We have, it seems, moved on. Indeed, according to a press release for cultural commentator Laura Kipnis’s new book, The Female Thing, these days we are living in a “post-post-feminist world”.”
I hate that journalists are so fond of declaring this.
NARAL created this hilarious, if disturbing, video to discuss the 2008 republican presidential candidates’ views on abortion. If it wasn’t so true, I might laugh.
Meanwhile, in Ohio, legislators have proposed a bill which would make it compulsory for the “father of the fetus” to give permission for a woman’s abortion. If he doesn’t give permission she can’t have an abortion. Check out the feministing.com debate on the issue, where some men weigh in to applaud the legislation.
What do you think? Do men deserve a say in reproductive rights decisions?more »
- Are farm subsidies causing obesity? Yes. US farm subsidies mostly go to big corporate farms that grow corn, making unhealthy food cheaper. Kim O’Donnell of the Washington Post suggests that we subsidize fruits and vegetables. Sounds like a good idea to me. I know, Nancy Pelosi already signed off on the Bill, but it’s never too late register your dissent. Write your senator or congressperson.
- India elects its first female president! Granted, they are a parliamentary democracy, so the role of president is mostly symbolic, but still, pretty cool — I hope she’ll use her clout to improve the lot of women in India. Of course, not everyone is excited. But from a purely stats standpoint, Pratibha Patil is joining this proud list of women presidents and prime ministers. Who knows? Maybe the US will be next.
- Short on numbers for your next rally? Too busy to picket? Hire protesters!
My day job requires that I fill out a lot of forms for college students, including verifications of good student status for insurance companies that have good student discount programs. I rarely read the eligibility specifics past the part that pertains to me, but it was a slow day, so I skimmed through and found this little gem:
The Good Student Discount terminates at age 25 or if female, at the time of marriage, whichever occurs first.
Um, excuse me? Do women automatically become more reckless once they get married, and should no longer get discounts? How come a male can get married and still get this discount until age 25? Can anyone help me here, because I can’t come up with one plausible reason for this rule to be in effect. This is a well known insurance carrier, and should know better. Or their lawyers should. And the form was revised 12-12-2005!
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts…more »
In general, I’m not susceptible to reality TV (unless it involves cooking), but I have to admit that even though I don’t make a point of watching E!’s show The Girls Next Door, I find myself flipping to it during commercials with shocking frequency.
The show is “reality” fare that follows Hugh Heffner’s three girlfriends’ lives in the Playboy mansion. Of course the reality presented does not resemble the reality I live in, but is strangely compelling nonetheless.
So why do I, a self-proclaimed strident feminist, get sucked in?
In a certain way, the very substance-less nature of the program appeals to me — Kendra, Holly, and Bridget are doing exactly what popular culture tells our women to do:
- Define their value in relation to men;
- Consume, consume, consume;
- Spend a lot of time exercising, waxing bikini lines, putting on makeup, and vamping for men.
To watch the girls on screen is to see my psyche as I might be if I bought in to the standards of beauty and consumption that our culture elevates. For this reason, the show both fascinates me and sickens me.
On the other hand, the girls have each made shrewd calculations and sacrifices to get where she they are —... more »more »
On her blog, Jeannine says: “This is one of the few persona poems where I tried to write in a male voice, so it was a little risky for me.”
I reckon it’s good—potentially good for the poem, most def. good for the mind—to mess around with gender in this way. Seems like, now that the distinctions between genders are blurrier than ever, it should be easier for us to do. But having tried writing from the boys’ side of things, I find it still does feel risky, or at least difficult. Brava!more »
Word in the fishbowl is that Jane magazine is folding. Jane was founded by Jane Pratt who also founded the defunct Sassy Magazine–a cult favorite among 80s teens. If Sassy was the edgy, sarcastic girl who developed before all the other 8th graders at the sleepover, Jane was the equally sarcastic, slightly jaded, tell-it-like-it-is best friend to the more mainstream women’s magazines out there. With Jane gone, there leaves a hole in the market, and a need for a fresh new voice from the modern American woman.
To me, this is the voice of a woman who enjoys kick boxing as much as salsa dancing, reading postmodern fiction as much as shopping for party dresses, and creating great art as much as appreciating certain pop culture guilty pleasures (SexyBack, what?) She’s the type of woman who will check her lipstick in the glass ceiling before smashing it with the stilettos she got on sale.
Who is this woman to you?more »
While you’ve been on vacation, here’s what you’ve missed
-J. Goodrich wrote a meaty article for The American Prospect about how the media portrays Republicans as the “Daddy Party” and Democrats as the “Mommy Party” by strategically using masculine and feminine terminology in their descriptions of candidates like Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton.
-South Dakota state rep Joel Dykstra has entered the race for the Republican nomination to the senate, according to this article in The Hill. Dykstra is known to pro-choice activists as the man who called “rape and incest” a buzzword:
“I think ‘rape and incest’ is a buzzword. It’s a bit of a throwaway line and not everybody who says that really understands what that means. How are you going to define that?” –South Dakota state Rep. Joel Dykstra (R-Lincoln County) on why the state legislature didn’t include those exceptions in its abortion ban, April 20, 2006.
-Money Magazine’s Senior Editor Marlys Harris advised women to marry into money in order to get rich.
“Work hard, take risks, maybe build your own business. That’s the traditional route to financial success. Of course, there’s another highly traditional path to acquiring wealth that isn’t talked about quite as much these days: Marry money.”
“To worm your... more »more »
And a few more items of interest:
- Know a breast cancer survivor? Sponsor Fringe Copyeditor Karen as she participates in Race for the Cure, or better yet, sign up yourself!
And RIP Elizabeth Claibourne. You will be missed!