Saturday, October 15, 2011

News that gives Erica emotional whiplash

Here's a quick taste, readers, of what's been in the news here these last several days. Some of it is wonderful; some of it is worthy of a double facepalm. Most of all, it illustrates NAW's continued insistence that sexism and discrimination continue to be complex issues that we can't let slide. In order from angriest to happiest:

In France, Tristane Banon's criminal case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn for attempted rape has been dropped due to the evidence available. Under French law, the available evidence would support a sexual assault case but not a rape case, and the statute of limitations for the former is much shorter than for the latter. In effect, Mme. Banon's case disappeared because she didn't speak up soon enough. While DSK now faces a civil suit in New York for the incident with Ms. Diallo this year, and possibly faces one in France from Mme. Banon, this is now two instances where someone who at best displayed extremely dubious judgement about sexual behaviour is walking away from any sort of punishment. And please don't tell me that resigning from the IMF is punishment- if he can't keep it in his pants, whether consensually or nonconsensually, he's not in enough control of himself to run such an important organization.

Next in the list comes from the Associated Press via the Daily Mail, which reports on Dr. Pepper's recent advertising debacle. Or at least I'd call it a debacle, though the public seems more curious than incensed. In essence, Dr. Pepper has started marketing another "lite" version of its soda to men- by claiming that "it's not for women," using violence in TV commercials, and creating a men-only Facebook group to celebrate its exclusive new blend. I'm not sure which makes me angrier: that the advertising promotes aggression, machismo, and "hardness" (no more "dainty tan bubbles" - we've moved on to "gunmetal grey packaging with silver bullets"), all to the exclusion of anything remotely feminine, as being the key to manliness; or that this whole advertising scheme had to go through hundreds of people, from marketing specialists to test groups, before it ever hit the public, and somehow no one thought it'd be a bad idea. In fact, the executive vice president of marketing for Dr. Pepper- who is male, shockingly enough- says that "he's not worried that [women will] be offended by the campaign." Oh really? Dear Dr. Pepper: here's my reaction to that. It looks like two middle fingers.

On a brighter note, Amber Miller has challenged public notions of pregnancy, "handicap," and activity by running a marathon during her last hours of pregnancy. While most people in the West probably think that people who are 39 weeks pregnant should be sitting and relaxing- as may be most comfortable!- Miller's experience is just one of many examples of people legitimately getting physical while pregnant or in labour. I say legitimately because Miller had the all-clear from her doctor before running, and while I don't think pregnancy is a disability, I also think we should acknowledge that it can change a person's ability to be active safely (preeclampsia being a very real concern). But what Miller demonstrates is that the physical dangers of pregnancy don't have to dominate a pregnancy experience- we continue to be whole human beings throughout pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood.

Finally, three women shared some glory during Nobel Week as they were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The three- Ellen Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakul Karman- represent efforts made in Liberia and Yemen to achieve equality and justice for women in those countries. There's some controversy around Ms. Sirleaf, who is currently the president of Liberia, but the overall message is pretty cool: women's rights are essential to a lasting peace in any nation. Even better? None of these women represent international aid organizations who are trying to "fix" a given country's attitudes towards women. Instead, they are all fighting to achieve justice in their home countries- something that a lot of Western feminists tend to forget to do. Can you say exciting?

That's all for now, though the news never stops and I generally don't either. Keep your eyes peeled for feminist-related news, and if you have anything that you'd like to see discussed here, please pass the link along to


  1. Here is some news for those in the Utah area.
    Jean Kilbourne will be speaking at Snowbird Ski Resort, east of Salt Lake City for the Prevention Research Institute.

  2. Jean Kilbourne is great. I wish BYU would get her to speak here - her message wouldn't even offend more conservative BYU-ians the way other prominent feminists would.