Category: feminism

“I Touch Myself” Becomes Breast Cancer PSA

Posted by – April 16, 2014

The Divynyls’ Chrissy Amphlett died of breast cancer last year and she wanted her best known song to do some good. The song of female desire is now a song of self-care:

= why women rock, pt. 8010.

Sports T

Posted by – April 12, 2014

All the boldface is my own.

The first evidence of this new policy in action was published last year in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Four female athletes, ages 18 to 21, all from developing countries, were investigated for high testosterone. Three were identified as having atypically high testosterone after undergoing universal doping tests. (They were not suspected of doping: Tests clearly distinguish between doping and naturally occurring testosterone.)

Sports officials (the report does not identify their governing-body affiliation) sent the young women to a medical center in France, where they were put through examinations that included blood tests, genital inspections, magnetic resonance imaging, X-rays and psychosexual history — many of the same invasive procedures Ms. Semenya endured. Since the athletes were all born as girls but also had internal testes that produce unusually high levels of testosterone for a woman, doctors proposed removing the women’s gonads and partially removing their clitorises. All four agreed to undergo both procedures; a year later, they were allowed to return to competition.

The doctors who performed the surgeries and wrote the report acknowledged that there was no medical reason for the procedures. Quite simply, these young female athletes were required to have drastic, unnecessary and irreversible medical interventions if they wished to continue in their sports.

I’m angry, frustrated, and even a little surprised. At this level of things, they couldn’t find anyone who knew anything about the relationship between T and clitorises? How does a large clitoris have anything to do with competitiveness?

As a friend just asked, are they seriously saying that having a larger clitoris makes women run faster? People use it to steer or catch the wind? What?

The whole article is here.

Sir Barbie

Posted by – March 17, 2014

Hello my geeky feminist readers – check this out:

It’s a kickstarter by my friend Jim Rodda, who is exactly the kind of guy you’d expect to create armor for Barbie.

So donate, & help Barbie kick some dragon ass. He’s at $2536 & I want to see him hit his goal of $5k before the week ends, so get the word out.

Why Hygiene is Education

Posted by – March 16, 2014

There’s an awesome article up at Jezebel called “What Life is Like When Getting Your Period Means Being Shunned” that goes into detail about the nature of “red tents” – that is, the practice of women removing themselves from the family home while they’re menstruating.

But then this line just screamed at me:

“They had struggled for years without toilets, but when they began to menstruate, it got too difficult. It was easier to drop out.”

Because this is one of those examples of why *just* providing girls with an education doesn’t always work. There is all the other stuff – expectations of them doing chores at home, concerns about chastity, desirability, finances, sexual harassment and violence, but over and above that, there is the simple issue of hygiene.

The quote in context:

The specific health impacts of poor menstrual hygiene have been little explored. Anecdotally, the use of unhygienic menstrual protection has been linked to reproductive tract infections such as bacterial vaginosis and vulvovaginal candidiasis, as well as secondary infertility, urinary tract infections and anaemia. Yet a 2013 survey of existing research literature found that evidence to support any link between poor menstrual hygiene and these conditions was “weak and contradictory”. “Raising awareness regarding menstruation and hygienic practices,” the authors wrote in their conclusion, “has remained largely a neglected area in terms of research, despite its increasing popularity amongst public health organisations.”

There are other costs. A PlanIndia study in 2010 found that 23 per cent of Indian girls dropped out of school permanently when they reached puberty, and that girls missed school for an average five days a month each for the lack of decent sanitation or menstrual products. Their schools had no toilets or disgusting ones, or there was no privacy. They had struggled for years without toilets, but when they began to menstruate, it got too difficult. It was easier to drop out.

We know already that better-educated girls are less likely to die in childbirth or of HIV/AIDS, are more likely to use contraception, are more likely to know about good child nutrition, and generally have a better chance of a healthy and productive life. As such, any sign that school dropouts are linked to menstrual hygiene should have government officials in education, development, empowerment and health rushing to build safe toilets and talk loudly and frankly about periods – if they weren’t as hampered by taboo as those women in their petticoats performing rituals to right imaginary fault.

I’ve been teaching feminist theory this past winter and so am always thinking about why it is that so many people seem to think feminism is now unnecessary or unneeded. And while I am astonished that anyone could say that kind of thing about women in the global north — especially with these misogynist politicians passing draconian rules and laws – but the global south still faces other issues.

A Real Doll

Posted by – March 7, 2014

Lammily’s a doll based on the average measurements of a 19 year old woman, taken from the CDC’s data.

Go help fund the making of this doll! Awesome.

Pussy Riot Assaulted

Posted by – February 19, 2014

Trans Inclusive Feminist Article

Posted by – February 18, 2014

Well done, Tina Vazquez. Well done, Bitch Media.

It has been said that feminism has failed the transgender community. It’s hard to disagree. Trans women have been weathering a storm of hate and abuse in the name of feminism for decades now and for the most part, cisgender feminists have failed to speak out about it or push against it.


Although some of us have, of course.
& Some of us have been here for quite a long while.

Pussy Riot

Posted by – February 7, 2014

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Video Archive

AND they’re funny. The 2nd half is here.

Jailed for Life for Stealing a Coat

Posted by – December 27, 2013

There’s something very wrong going on.

A shocking new study by the American Civil Liberties Union has found that more than 3,200 people nationwide are serving life terms without parole for nonviolent offenses. Of those prisoners, 80 percent are behind bars for drug-related convictions. Sixty-five percent are African-American, 18 percent are white, and 16 percent are Latino…

Go read the full article/interview on NPR.

This kind of issue is exactly why feminists have been using intersectional analysis for years now – to look not just at gender and how it oppresses people of all genders, but how race, class, and other axes of identity cause one person to go to rehab and another to be sentenced to life in prison – for the same “offense”.

I don’t know where to start to fix it, but I’m very pleased that the ACLU did this study – the full title of which is A Living Death: Life Without Parole for Nonviolence Offenses – so that maybe we can start to examine how and why we are imprisoning people for life who did so little wrong.

Vaginal Knitting

Posted by – November 29, 2013

I can’t really say how much I love this.

(via Gawker)

Girls.

Posted by – November 21, 2013

Women Are Not Outside For Your Entertainment

Posted by – November 13, 2013

..seen on Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, some time around the 10/19/13..

bell hooks + Janet Mock

Posted by – October 13, 2013

This makes me so, so happy.

American Women Dying Younger Than Their Moms?

Posted by – October 9, 2013

This is upsetting but important reading: American women are dying at younger ages than their mothers.

For some Americans, the reality is far worse than the national statistics suggest. In particular, growing health disadvantages have disproportionately impacted women over the past three decades, especially those without a high-school diploma or who live in the South or West. In March, a study published by the University of Wisconsin researchers David Kindig and Erika Cheng found that in nearly half of U.S. counties, female mortality rates actually increased between 1992 and 2006, compared to just 3 percent of counties that saw male mortality increase over the same period.

“I was shocked, actually,” Kindig said. “So we went back and did the numbers again, and it came back the same. It’s overwhelming.”

Kindig’s findings were echoed in a July report from University of Washington researcher Chris Murray, which found that inequality in women’s health outcomes steadily increased between 1985 and 2010, with female life expectancy stagnating or declining in 45 percent of U.S. counties. Taken together, the two studies underscore a disturbing trend: While advancements in medicine and technology have prolonged U.S. life expectancy and decreased premature deaths overall, women in parts of the country have been left behind, and in some cases, they are dying younger than they were a generation before. The worst part is no one knows why.

No one knows why.

Worse yet is this:

Other researchers have pointed out the correlation between education rates and declining female health outcomes. The most shocking study, published in August 2012 by the journal Health Affairs, found that life expectancy for white female high-school dropouts has fallen dramatically over the past 18 years. These women are now expected to die five years earlier than the generation before them—a radical decline that is virtually unheard of in the world of modern medicine. In fact, the only parallel is the spike in Russian male mortality after the fall of the Soviet Union, which has primarily been attributed to rising alcohol consumption and accidental death rates.

“It’s unprecedented in American history to see a drop in life expectancy of such magnitude over such a short time period,” said Jay Olshansky, the lead author of the study. “I don’t know why it happened so rapidly among this subgroup. Something is different for the lives of poor people today that is worse than it was before.”

It’s horrifying that this is the case in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but yes, let’s shut down the government because poor women need pap smears.

The Wage Gap, 2013

Posted by – October 2, 2013

Do you really need more information than this to believe it’s still true? Check the article out, then.

This New Pope

Posted by – September 19, 2013

I’m liking him more & more every time he speaks or does an interview.

Pope Francis, in the first extensive interview of his six-month-old papacy, said that the Roman Catholic Church had grown “obsessed” with preaching about abortion, gay marriage and contraception, and that he has chosen not to speak of those issues despite recriminations from some critics.
An Interview with Pope Francis

In remarkably blunt language, Francis sought to set a new tone for the church, saying it should be a “home for all” and not a “small chapel” focused on doctrine, orthodoxy and a limited agenda of moral teachings.

And that’s after he was asked about gay priests and said “Who am I to judge?” Kind of mind-blowing, and a welcome change.

A Trans Inclusive Feminism.

Posted by – September 16, 2013

It was the principle of the thing.

I’ve been doing this work for more than a decade now, so if you’re indecisive, I’m going to say this: there are no doubt trans women who are jerks, misogynists, and who carry around a fuckton of male privilege. But they are NOT all trans women, and they are not jerks BECAUSE they are trans.

Cis women can be jerks, too, but we’d all rather not have people’s opinions and policies decided based on their behavior.

Anyway. I don’t think of what I do as fighting transphobia. What I think I do is practice an intersectional, trans inclusive feminism. & That is all.

There are many, many ways a woman arrives at “woman”. Trans is just one of many paths.

Your Own Ethics, or Someone Else’s

Posted by – September 11, 2013

The essential issue with a surgery that people get to eliminate or “westernize” the epicanthic fold in their eyelid isn’t dissimilar from too many other arguments about similar surgeries: do you get bigger breasts to fit in, to feel happier, to get ahead? Then what’s wrong with it? If a trans woman gets Facial Feminization Surgery again, so she can fit in, and not to “as trans” as she might otherwise, then what’s wrong with it?

Long ago I decided that unless I were in a similar situation, I couldn’t judge and won’t judge. People make what decisions they do for themselves.

The financial argument – the ‘how dare someone spend that kind of money on vanity?’ kind of critique – also strikes me as a moot point. Every single day people in the industrialized nations spend money on stuff when other people need malaria netting for their beds and clean water.

So where do you end up? I don’t know whether to focus this issue on the marginalization and orientalism that contribute to the kind of discrimination Leo experienced or on the aesthetics and our absurd beauty standards:

The truth is more complicated, if you ask Jiang: “There is a difference between looking more like a white person and looking less like your race,” he believes. “At the highest echelons of beauty, the categories all begin to look the same. We’re all trying to achieve racial transformation, but in a homogenized center ground. My personal view is that there is a white, idealized version of beauty associated more with Western beauty ideals. The argument is whether it’s coincidental or constructed.”

There are two major ways of thinking about it, for feminists: on the one hand, that no one who lives in a culture with all of these intersected oppressions can possibly make a choice out of their own free will (and that a feminist, in rejecting these oppressions, will reject any decision that compromises her ability to resist patriarchy/beauty standards/sexism/etc, OR, that every individual has to make choices based on personal agency and the ability to recognize systemic oppressions and choose to do something to circumvent or resist them.

So which is it? Is he grabbing the bull by the horns or being gored by it?

Personally, I find the epicanthic fold beautiful, and always have.

How To Look At Women

Posted by – September 7, 2013

I thought this was great – one dad’s planned conversation with his son the first time he sees his son look at a woman sexually.

There are two views regarding a woman’s dress code that you will be pressured to buy into.  One view will say that women need to dress to get the attention of men.  The other view will say women need to dress to protect men from themselves.  Son, you are better than both of these.  A woman, or any human being, should not have to dress to get your attention.  You should give them the full attention they deserve simply because they are a fellow human being.  On the other side, a woman should not have to feel like she needs to protect you from you.  You need to be in control of you.
Also, this:
Let’s be clear: a woman’s body is not dangerous to you.  Her body will not cause you harm.  It will not make you do stupid things.  If you do stupid things it is because you chose to do stupid things.
Good, no?

#notsoblurredlines

Posted by – September 3, 2013

I admit that I think the unrated version of the original is kinda hot. There, I’ve said it. Not all of it – there is way too much objectification of women in it, of course – really, a mini stop sign on her butt? – but naked women + clothed men, in my opinion, isn’t necessarily sexist. The lyrics are problematic, too, although there are no actual threats or even suggestions of assault. Theoretically, the narrator could hate “blurred lines” exactly because he’s respecting what the woman is saying when she’s saying no. BUT: I find it sexy because all the women are gorgeous and all the men are handsome, dress well, and can dance. There are parts that are playful and almost sweet.

My finding it personally sexy, in parts, doesn’t mean it’s not sexist bullshit, too. Just that sometimes politics & sexuality create blurred lines all their own.

Anyway, I love this, too, & it’s equally hot, in my opinion:

Also, this.