Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Legal ambiguity (from Erica)

First: this is our 100th post! Congratulations to us!

Second: I just came across this article outlining a bill that's been introduced in the Utah legislature that increases the restrictions on women's access to abortions to include "reckless" in its descriptions of the "homicidal" behaviour (their language). The general problem (besides the frightening level of erosion of a woman's legal right to medical privacy) is that the language of the proposed law is so ambiguous about what constitutes reckless conduct that it could easily lead to the prosecution of women who miscarry after any number of activities while pregnant- whether or not those activities are proven to be the cause of the miscarriage.

There are a lot of things to be said about the law and abortions, including moral arguments on both sides of the issue. When you look at the law itself, however, it's frightening to see what's being created. The legal arguments in this country that make it okay for a state to interfere with a private medical decision and force a woman not to get an abortion are identical to the legal arguments that make it okay for a state to interfere with that same decision and force a woman to have an abortion. I know that sounds like an exaggeration, and to be fair, I'm not saying that the social climate is such that states are likely to start doing that (I hope). However, the legal framework for them to do so is most assuredly in place. And punitive laws like this one, that attack women in ridiculous ways and don't even glance in the direction of other people causing danger to her fetus (abusive partner? Reckless driver? Chef who undercooks her dinner?), aren't doing anything productive, positive, or good.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Gender in Entertainment (from Emily)

In this miserable time of midterms, economic crises, and transporting cats overseas (oh wait, that last one just applies to Erica) I thought it would be a nice time to do another entertainment post.

So, here are some interesting songs and videos that address gender issues, whether directly or indirectly:

First up, here's a song called "Empty Face". I apologize for the poor sound quality of this video; it was the best I could find on youtube. What makes this song interesting? Well, even though it presents a pretty standard stereotype of an unloved, unhappy young woman who dates scum bags, this song makes an interesting paradigm shift. When it first mentions "another successful scumbag seduction," it sounds like a scumbag is seducing her. As it goes on, though, it sounds more like she is going out of her way to seduce scum bags. Interesting. Very interesting.

You all know that the song "I Kissed a Girl" already addresses interesting gender concerns, but listen to  Max Vernon's version of the song. Rather than produce a mirror image of the song by singing about kissing a boy and hoping his girlfriend won't mind it, Max sings the song with most of the original lyrics about kissing a girl and hoping his boyfriend won't mind. But he changes the lyrics enough that it's clear he's still a man singing the song. It has a fascinating effect that makes it sound like a man from a homosexual world, who's singing about the horror and confusion of kissing the forbidden other gender.

Another example of  a man crossing gender boundaries in music is the Glee version of "Defying Gravity", sung by a gay character named Kurt. Personally, I prefer this version over most other versions I've heard, though I of course love Idina Menzel's version like any good Wicked fan. I wonder, though, how different the song would appear if they had chosen a heterosexual male character to sing it. Because "I kissed a girl" makes pointed references to gender, Max Vernon couldn't have escaped those associations if he's tried. But the writers of Glee went out of their way to drag gender into the equation. I wonder why?

Now, let's end on an upbeat note. This is a song for anyone who's ever felt discouraged about their romantic prospects: "Haven't Met You Yet" by Michael Buble. 

Monday, February 22, 2010

Question of the Day (from Emily)

Would you rather be beauty?
Or see beauty?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

In the blogpsphere! (from Erica)

This will be quite brief- I'm tired after taking (and passing!) the social work licensure exam this morning and then working on my latest article for GoGirl Magazine (which you should all start reading, by the way). But before I head to bed, here are some articles I think you all might find interesting to read. Please do feel free to bring comments here and start a discussion about what you see/like/dislike about them!

First, there's a new book out that looks at how the criminal justice system- in particular incarceration- has had a disproportionate impact on African-American individuals, families, and communities and has essentially created a new system for Jim Crow.

Then, there's an interesting study that's finding widespread discrimination against Asian-Americans in undergraduate programs, especially elite schools in the northeast.

There's also a good post out from Apophenia, who points out the power disparities in equality advocacy- especially in terms of who we hear and why.

And last but not least, as always, the U.S. military makes headlines with its extraordinarily high rates of sexual assault. In this article, though, the subject isn't just that noteworthy topic- instead, it focuses on one former member of the Air Force who is using her experience to advocate for cultural change in the military and better prevention of sexual assault. Personally, I find this article fascinating, but that's also because sexual assault prevention and response in the military is likely to be my career for the next decade or so.

Anyway, enjoy!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Follow-up on Global Warming (from Emily)

I don't want to dwell on environmental issues too much, especially since I understand the frustrations of those who feel like climate change has been blown out of proportion, or that there are many more immediate problems to address. However, while I was procrastinating one of my papers (which deals with gender issues in writing, incidentally), I came across this clip from The Daily Show. If you have a distaste for crude humour, just skip straight to 3:40 or so. I'm posting this more out of a concern for logic than a concern over the environment. I think the way climate change naysayers have responded to the East Coast snow storm is just one example of ways that we all reinforce logical fallacies. As Sam B concludes in the end, if one dingo steals your baby, that must mean every dingo steals babies, right? NOT - that, my dears, would be a logical fallacy.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Unusually Large Snowstorm
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

PS - I apologize, dear readers, for my recent lack of eloquence. There's something about being stressed that makes me write tersely, but that's no excuse for making you suffer through inferior prose.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Interracial Dating - Invisible Dating (from Emily)

I went to a Valentine's Dance this weekend, and it was put on by church volunteers. Somehow the incredibly cheesy atmosphere made this one of the funnest events I've attended in a long time. They had things like poetry contests, pick up line games, etc. Aside from the organizers' ignorance to the fact that some people don't eat meat and would prefer not to have meat tossed in with every single dish (such as baked beans, for instance), it was just a great evening.

But then I saw a subtle and yet frustrating example of racism: there were several people dressed as cupids walking around the floor, holding their cupids arrows over couples in order to encourage them to either hug or kiss. For the most part they sought out couples while they were slow dancing, but they also went after people who were near each other during faster songs. A Madagascaran man was at the dance with a Caucasian woman, and it was pretty obvious that they were a couple. But when a cupid walked by, she held the arrow between the woman and a nearby casucasian man, even though this woman was talking to and standing much closer to the Madagascaran man.

Now, I know that I'm using the term "racism" pretty loosely here and that this cupid had no intention of hurting or discriminating against anyone. She was just having a good time and getting into the Valentine's Day spirit. Furthermore, it was an easy mistake that could have happened with any couple, regardless of race. But it still strikes me as more than coincidental that it didn't even occur to the cupid lady that a white woman would be on a date with a black man.

I know from having dated a black man in Utah that openly dating someone of a different race makes you stand out far more than it should. People give you funny looks and do double takes, and if you're a white woman with a man who isn't white, security guards are likely to keep an eye on him when they see you together, just in case you're at more risk than you realize. So I know just how much attention an interracial relationship can draw to itself. It had never really occurred to me before this dance, however, that the opposite sometimes occurs. That people sometimes are so unused to seeing interracial couples that they can't even see one when it's right in front of them.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Men Don't Get to Represent Humanity Anymore? (from Emily)

Here is a revealing clip from the Colbert Report. Colbert's guest, a former curator for art museums such as the Boston MFA, laments the decline in olympic art that celebrates the human as an individual. While there is some truth to his argument that today's posters seem more corporate than human, note how readily he assumes that male figures represent all of humanity. He's willing to contemplate the homoerotic implications of Nazi Olympic art, but even then he doesn't mention that more than half the world's population is left out of the equation by virtue of being women. Note also, how Colbert fails to draw this oversight to his guest's attention. It would have been easy to do, and it would have made for good comedy too, so I can only imagine that Colbert and his writers didn't notice the oversight.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
David Ross
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorSkate Expectations

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Amusing clip of the day (from Erica)

Usually, Emily or I post clips from the news in here if we have a pertinent point to make. Today, I'd like to direct your attention to this clip from Rachel Maddow, who uses a beautiful display of logic (and an appearance by Bill Nye the Science Guy!) to make a great point about the brou-ha-ha that claims that the recent snowstorms here in the East are proof positive that climate change is a hoax.

Why am I posting this in a feminist blog, you might ask? Simple. The people who are most affected by adverse changes in global climate patterns are the people who don't have the global or economic capital to move, refurbish their homes, or advocate for protection and change. Approximately 70% of those people are women. Climate change is a feminist issue because its most dire consequences will have the greatest impact on women who have to fight extra-hard to make their voices heard in the global theatre.

The latest in Facebook (from Erica)

For those of you who didn't spend yesterday and today glued to your computer in the pursuit of dissertations and finishing homework- aka those of you who aren't Emily or me- you may not have heard about the group on Facebook that attempted to make light of violence against sex workers. Entitled "Killing your hooker so you don't have to pay her," the group finally faced action from Facebook after enough people reported it for offensive content. However, it's not gone entirely: it's been re-founded under the name "Grand Theft Auto taught me if you kill a hooker, you get your money back." For an added offensiveness bonus, the founding comments on the group's wall referred to "feminist cunts" getting the former group shut down. Already, it has over 700 members. If you have a Facebook account, I'd suggest visiting the group page and reporting it by clicking on the link at the bottom on the left. This is just all sorts of ridiculous.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Dodge follow-up (from Erica)

Apparently, Dodge has been taking heat for their misogynistic "man's last stand" commercial lately, and instead of rolling over and getting rid of the ad as they ought to, they've opted to produce another ad that doesn't exactly make up for everything.

The original ad- images of men voiced-over by a male voice making promises of "civilized behaviour" a la putting the toilet seat down and eating fruit for breakfast, all the while implying that these are from the checklist of emasculation- is bad enough, but the new one is even worse. It features a woman standing out on the lawn of a house while her male partner yells at her and throws her stuff out of a second-story window. She then gets into the advertised Dodge sedan and drives away while a text banner declares that Dodge makes getaway cars. I'm not making this up! Apparently, escaping from your angry partner who's throwing stuff at you is a marketing tool.

If you want to watch the ads, the original is available here and the new one is available here. I'd post them in here, but I don't really want their links to dirty the site.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

More in the News (from Emily)

Just two weeks ago today, a twelve year old girl in Pakistan died from unexplained injuries she had received at her employer's house. She was working as a maid, and her wealthy employer claims she fell down the stairs and then died from a skin disease he had magnanimously been providing treatment for. Meanwhile the death certificate says she died from blood poisoning, and that the injuries on her body were caused by "blunt means." Her family is so poor, though, that it's not looking like justice is about to happen.

Very tragic.

In other news, let's not forget about Sarah Palin's expanding political life. Heaven knows the issues and controversies surrounding that woman are worthy of a post, so keep following the blog - sometime soon, I'll be contributing a bit on Sarah Palin's media coverage vs. Scott Brown's media coverage. In fact, if you have any thoughts or sources on that, send them my way.

And last but not least - Yulia Tymoshenko, who became Ukraine's first female Prime Minister in 2005, is currently struggling in her bid for the 2010 presidential elections.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Apologies (from Erica)

Dear readers,

Today is apology time! Fun stuff, eh?

No, I didn't do anything criminal or anti-feminist or mean. In fact, some of you will probably read this and answer with a hearty "...why do we care?" But since Not Another Wave was envisioned to be a collaborative effort, I feel like this is important to do.

See, Emily and I work on this together. We may write our posts independently for the most part, but we love to spend a couple of hours at a stretch talking about this website and what we'd like to do with it next. Our last brainstorming session, in January, was what resulted in the daily questions we've been presenting for the last few weeks. We intended to share the load of question-asking.

I've been pretty remiss on that point, especially in the last week or so. I make no excuses aside from the standard "I'm unbelievably busy" explanation that seems to be contagious amongst graduate students- finishing two master's degrees, job hunting, moving abroad, and planning a wedding can have that effect. But this is a project that's been incredibly important to me since Emily and I started it, and the fact that it's slipped to the bottom of my pile is saddening. As a result, Emily's been carrying the burden for contributing to Not Another Wave over the past several weeks. I'm sorry I've been absent, readers. And I'm sorry I've abandoned you with all the responsibility, Emily. As of this post, I'm making sure that changes.

The questions I'm raising with this post aren't really questions, but more of a call for shout-outs from our readers to people that have really "been there" for them. Who, in your life, has really helped you out by shouldering a burden when you were overwhelmed or distracted by other projects? Who's been available for you 24/7 when you needed to call someone and complain or cry? Who's championed you when you've lost faith in yourself and your abilities?

Emily, you're an incredibly thoughtful and thought-provoking feminist scholar. Collaborating with you on Not Another Wave has been a great experience, and was the perfect way to reconnect me to a broader community of feminist critique when I moved. Thank you for being part of this, for putting up with my sporadic unavailability, and for challenging me to keep thinking. I'm looking forward to seeing where we can take Not Another Wave next!

Men: The Ultimate Minority?

from Emily

I came across this delightful (but crude - be forewarned) segment on the Daily Show last night:
Samantha Bee sheds light on the difficulties of being a man in America. Airdate - 02/03/2010

Now, obviously the Daily Show interviewed some narrow-minded idiots, which makes for fantastic comedy when we watch their own words disprove them. Take, for instance, the man who insisted that when pharmaceutical-running men hire attractive female sales people, in order to appeal to a predominantly male doctor clientele, this is somehow a sign of women oppressing men. Or the film bit where a group of men tossed a ball back and forth, complaining about their wives. They look stupid, so we laugh. But an increasing number of white, middle-class men are voicing these complaints. Just look at the first few comments on the Daily Show video, or this recent article a friend sent my way:

So, I have a few questions:

1 - Why do so many men feel this way?

2 - How much validity is there to their claims?

3 - Why do they blame sexism against men on feminists, when feminists are some of the biggest advocates for de-stereotyping men?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

This Week in the News

First off, The Onion offers us an enlightening explanation behind Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Next up, Lori Gottlieb, an author best known for her belief that settling for a less-than-perfect man is better than never marrying, mentions feminism in an MSN lifestyle interview:
A Q&A with author Lori Gottlieb, whose new book "Marry Him: The Case for Mr. Good Enough" is coming out. Here, Gottlieb asserts that feminism has no place in love, dating after 40 is hellish and details why marriage should always be the endgame.

The reference to feminism happens briefly on page two, but here's the chunk of text where she discusses it:

Lori: I think feminism is great and I'm all for it, but we take the ideas of being self-sufficient and not depending on anybody and we apply them to our romantic lives. But it's antithetical to the whole idea of being in a relationship, which is about interdependence, it's about being with someone, it's about vulnerability, it's about all of these things that feminism is not. Still, a lot of us applied these feminist ideas to dating, but feminism never said apply this to your dating life — it wasn't about that. Feminism said: You should have equal opportunity in the workplace; you should have these opportunities that were previously closed off to you. But it never said: "If you want to be with a guy, that's really needy and dependent." Feminism never said there's anything wrong with wanting a man! But people ...

LI: Um, "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle"?

Lori: Well, I think our generation, the third wave, never said there's anything wrong with wanting a man. In fact many, many stay-at-home moms I know consider themselves feminists. There's all different ways to live your life, and then there are feminists who have very high-powered careers and are married and have kids all at the same time. So I just think the problem is, when this Atlantic article came out, people said, "If I have a daughter who grows up like you and wants a man half as bad as you ... "

LI: " ... I would have failed."

Lori: Yes. And it's like, what is wrong with wanting to be with somebody?! I think we put men off in a lot of ways. We have these attitudes that are very off-putting when you're trying to get to know somebody in a romantic context. And the whole: "Are you good enough for me?" Think too that's added to the "I don't need you" and "I don't think you're good enough for me." And it's really hard to meet a man like that.

But let's look at Lori's main two arguments -

1) feminist ideals exclude social interdependence and are thus destructive in relationships.

2) feminists only ever meant to apply feminism to the workplace and education, never to relationships!

I BEG her pardon? First off, feminist ideals most certainly do not, across the board, exclude interdependency. Do feminist ideals discourage codependency? You bet your cute little nose, they do. Codependency is a serious problem. When women define themselves by their relationships with men, that is a problem. When women think that they are incapable of functioning as adults or of being happy without a man, that is also a problem. But women must and should have close, healthy relationships with many people, men and women alike, and heterosexual women are most likely to be happy if they're at least open to interdependent relationships with men who are respectful, kind, and compatible with them. As a feminist, I am highly concerned about domestic relationships, and Lori has unfortunately revealed her own ignorance about feminism. Considering how reasonable her message is (don't turn a man away because of his height or hair, or because he snores...) it's really too bad she's tearing her own authority down like this.