Quick Hit: The Stupidity of Stupak

November 9, 2009

Note: I have no idea when I last posted, nor when I’ll get the chance to again. Turns out I haven’t abandoned you all after all.

It’s all over the feminist blogosphere, and until I get the chance to clear my head (read: the PTSD-induced reactions subside and I can feel safe leaving my house again), here are a couple of You Must Read takedowns of what I like to call the “Throw the (Poor! Middle Class!) Women (of Color)! Under The Bus” Amendment to the “Health Care Not-Really-For-All” Bill.

Pilgrim Soul @ The Pursuit of Harpyness: You Can Put Down Your Champagne Now (a quick overview)

Cynematic @ MOMocrats: The Stu-Pitts of Congress, and Women’s Healthcare From the Waist Up (in depth discussion, with estimated effects if the bill passes)

Meteor Blades @ DailyKOS: 64 Democrats on the Wrong Side of Stupak-Pitts (a list of all Dems who voted for the amendment; a list with demographics and website links is here.)

I’m cutting this off here, sans commentary, because I literally feel like my head is going to explode with rage because YET AGAIN women are the first to vote for Democrats and the last people Dems in office give a shit about.


Will the Voice Of Authority puh-leeeeeze change?

June 13, 2009

**Warning: some slight Doctor Who spoilers, up to the end of Season Three.**

It’s only taken about four years, but I’m finally catching up with Doctor Who. In (very) general terms, the newest iteration of the classic sci-fi series is really making me happy: fast-paced, witty dialogue cavorting along, effortlessly charming the viewer into following, especially in the David Tennant years. I’m now at the end of Season 3, and in spite of some minor details, I am actually quite pleased with the treatment of gender in the show. Both Rose and Martha are intelligent individuals with quite different personalities (not just a cookie-cutter “here’s your female companion”); both are a joy to watch, in spite of the occasionally typical infatuation story lines. Riffs on Captain Jack’s ‘pansexuality’ are entertaining, well-timed, and are treated at times with just enough gravity that the humor in it turns on humanity, rather than some caricature of homosexuality.

But seriously, people. Time Lords are supposed to be* the most intelligent beings in the multiverse, with impressive talents and access to advanced technology. So why is it, in all the possibilities in all the possible worlds, that ALL of the Time Lords are white men?

The easy answer is: we live in a society in which white + male is seen as the default. One could go so far as to say they are the only people who are consistently treated as full human beings. But seriously, O Writers of Science Fiction: How is it that in imagining myriad variety to existence, this old trope keeps popping up?

The Doctor is, in many ways, the embodiment of Male Privilege. He walks into situations with absolute confidence in his ability to fix it, even when he does not know how he’ll do it, or even what the situation is. He does not identify himself to the satisfaction of those who question his authority. He completely ignores many challenges to that authority. He speaks; everyone else (eventually) listens. In one episode, The Doctor must make himself human to escape his adversary, including suppressing all consciousness of ever being a Time Lord. His character is still the same embodiment of privilege, if in a slightly more day-dreaming, less self-confident package. His human persona is a professor at a boys’ school, a position of authority over lesser (in this case, younger) beings. His position has not changed much at all, even if his species has. All his behavior is, of course, treated as Right and Good, as though we silly humans should know our betters when we see them, and when we don’t, we’re chuckled at for the buffoons we are.

Members of the Time Lords’ species have the ability to regenerate their bodies when those bodies are damaged, and those bodies are ostensibly have completely different skeletons (“new teeth”) and muscular systems (“new voice”). Everything about each regenerated Time Lord is new, except his gender and skin color. If his entire body changes, why in the world wouldn’t his skin color change too? There is likely some theoretical* reason why biological sex (and, by extension, gender) is immutable in a Time Lord, but if The Doctor is going to be consistently male and functionally heterosexual (as evidenced by the constant line of female companions), then Time Lords are clearly not unilaterally asexual or non-gendered beings. Biological sex exists; gender presentation does too. So why lack the creativity to play around with those very basic human traits? Why insist on every Doctor (and Master, don’t forget!) being Male and White?

The good Doctor has only one regeneration left, if Wikipedia is to be believed. How about something slightly different for a change? The role requires a British actor; Britain isn’t just made up of the native Gauls and Norman French anymore. How about letting the next person to play The Doctor to be of Indian or Pakistani descent, or descended from immigrants from anywhere else in the world? How about letting the Doctor be a woman for once? The Voice of Authority is virtually always the old (white) man in western social reality. Why does some of our most creative fiction have to fixate on that too?

==x-posted at The Geek Side==
*Read: bullshit

Late term abortion provider shot to death in KS

May 31, 2009

Okay, folks, this is merely a preliminary to something I will blog more extensively on when I have slightly more material to work with.

As it is, Dr. George Tiller was shot to death in the lobby of a church today on his way to worship.

He was the only late-term abortion provider in the state of Kansas, and probably for a radius of a couple hundred miles. I understand that many women came from surrounding states for Dr. Tiller’s services, and that both Dr. Tiller and his clinic were persecuted for providing these health care services to women. They were taken to court numerous times, and Dr. Tiller was just cleared two months ago of the 19 misdemeanor charges most recently brought against him.

Dr. Tiller had been shot and injured once before for providing abortion services.

And yet, no one gets shot in the U.S. for refusing women birth control. No one.

RIP, Dr. Tiller. I hope there is someone as courageous as you to fill your shoes, for the sake of all women in the American Midwest.

Mind The (nonexistent) Gap

May 27, 2009

In the comments thread to this post, good ol’ Goggler dirtyrose left us a message clearly crying out for a good rant:

The View just did a segment about a study claiming that women are more depressed now than they were in “the good old days” of the 50s (which is a misconception and never existed the way people remember it…). It was some of the most anti-feminist crap I’ve ever heard and I was SHOCKED by it.

Crowfoot responded with the following, just as clearly crying out for a blogaround:

That stat is familiar – I think Shakesville had a post about that? Or was it Tiger Beatdown? In any event, if that statistic is actually true (which I have serious concerns about), do you think that it might be because while we are constantly told we’re all equal and shit, we’re still actually treated like meat-socks and/or children, but we can’t complain about that because we’re all so apparently equal and shit so we must just be over-sensitive. Also, we’re almost all of us working full time and still doing the lion’s share of the housework, so more exhaustion? Maybe?

As a compromise, I provide for your reading pleasure a blogaround of rants:

Tiger Beatdown did, indeed, cover this gem, in a typically hilarious post titled “IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Tales of the Backlash,” which begins thus:

Greetings! Are you aware of how sad – so sad! So prone to bleak despair! – all women now are, due perhaps to progress? Well, we are. Sad, that is! I read a study about it! It was full of SCIENCE. I even wrote about the SCIENCE, for The Guardian’s Comment is Free! Observe.

You may notice that the last word there is a quote; this is because Sady actually wrote at The Guardian but I loved her her Tiger Beatdown intro too much, so I quoted that one. Click either link (or both!) for the full-frontal Sady Awesome.

However, Crowfoot was right about Shakesville, too: SKM covered it in “Mini-Brooks Minds The Happiness Gap” — way to pro-actively steal my title-pun, Shakesville! A salient quote:

Douthat begins by accepting the premise that women’s happiness is falling worldwide. He then moves on to speculate about why that might be. First, he whips out the old high school debate tactic of bringing up the explanation he does not believe in order to shoot it down:

Again, maybe the happiness numbers are being tipped downward by a mounting female workload — the famous “second shift,” in which women continue to do the lion’s share of household chores even as they’re handed more and more workplace responsibility. It’s certainly possible — but as Wolfers and Stevenson point out, recent surveys actually show similar workload patterns for men and women over all.

I have not paid $5 to download the working paper, so I do not know if Wolfers and Stevenson do in fact claim that workloads are equal for men and women, or if their data are convincing. But notice that Douthat breezily dismisses the very concept of a second shift, without feeling the need to argue his point.

Incertus also did a great job for addressing the fact that a “happiness gap” doesn’t obviously stem from feminism as its cause, and in fa, in “Liberated Women Are Sad.”

It does not occur to him that the freedom to be honest and complain is actually a part of that revolution he’s talking about. “Being unpleasant” and “being unattractive” are heavy weaponry when used against a group of people who must make their way in the world by being pleasant and attractive, as opposed to by their intelligence, strength, and hard work. A woman in the 60s who sat down and said, “my life is unfulfilling and I am unhappy,” would have to deal with the consequences of “being that way.” A woman today has less to worry about. It’s even (almost) fully acceptable today (in certain circles) to complain about how motherhood sucks and having children ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. This is a case where freedom equals the ability to mention that you’re unhappy.

Now, Shakesville gave the hat tip to Language Log, a blog that I follow gleefully and which was my first source for this lovely story. “The happiness gap is back” features a collection of links on the topic, as well as the following graph and accompanying question:


And I’ll ask a simple question: What fraction of graphically and statistically literate people think that the right way to describe the data summarized in that graph is “In postfeminist America, men are happier than women”?

My final impression: gee, anti-feminists sure don’t need much to get all riled up, do they? We must be doing something right.

No place is safe.

May 21, 2009

So, I’m now working, like…three? Four? Four ridiculously flexible part-time jobs, which require, like, an hour of schedule-wrangling for every hour I work. So I’m busy. But the money’s flowing in, so that’s good.

I was buying myself some pick-me-up candy (Laffy Taffy!) at the gas station the other day, and when I drove up to the building I saw this in the window:


(I went inside to take the picture.)

Anyway, the transcripts:

Sign 1: BITCH PARKING (but that’s Ms. Bitch to you) – All other will be Nagged beyond belief


Who needs a madonna/whore dichotomy when you can have a bitch/princess dichotomy instead? With pepto-bismol pink for all!

Also, really, Ms. Bitch? It’s, um, not the 80s anymore. “Ms” isn’t some weird new crazy-bitchy-feminist thing. Almost all the women I know go either by “Ms” or by “Dr.” But I suppose a princess would never insist on being called Ms — no, she’s either Miss Princess or, even better!, Mrs. Prince Charming.

The invocation of Nagging would be annoying even if they didn’t use the Totally Random Capitalization to emphasize it. A woman, even a Ms. Bitch, can’t threaten anything serious; the most power she has is the power to Nag. Truly, to be a Bitch is a terrible thing.

But wait, what’s this?


Sign 3: Got Bitches? – PIMP (emblazoned on a shiny, shiny goblet)

But now it seems like men want Bitches! Or at least, the PIMPs do. Do Bitches turn into something nice when a PIMP acquires them? Actually, I’m not even sure about the part where the PIMPS have “got” their Bitches. Did they get them at the store, or something? Is that why we can compare them to milk? Do they go in the cups? The shiny, shiny cups. With rhinestones. And hot pink leopard print.

I’d make a joke, like, “Are we sure this isn’t the PRINCESS cup?” except that, by implying that these PIMPs are deserving of ridicule because they are feminine, I would be cheapening my main point, which is that they deserve ridicule for wishing to own Bitches, as if Bitches were something to purchase or consume, like milk. Also, it would make me a big ol’ hypocrite. So instead I’m going to ask, why would the sort of man who wants to declare his own PIMPitude and ownership of Bitches nevertheless choose to declare this aspect of his personality with something that is, well, pink? Is the femininity supposed to somehow neutralize the misogyny of the rest, to make the whole thing “satire” or “a joke” so that it can reasonably be displayed in public? Misogyny and femininity, going together like matter and antimatter to make nothing. (Except don’t those explode?)

Or is there some other subtext that I’m missing?

I’m not sure. I am, however, sure about this one:


Sign 4: NOTICE: Sexual harassment in this area will not be reported. However, it will be “graded.”

Yeah, this shit is 100% reprehensible. The idea of a “safe zone” for harassers is absolutely terrifying to me. Sexual harassment is almost never reported as is– propagating the idea that it shouldn’t be reported at all only makes people’s lives less safe. Also, making sexual harassment into a joke, like it’s no big deal and never scary or hurtful for its victim, is, uh, bad. When the joke is that sexual harassment shouldn’t be avoided, but rather, scored, and presumably practised for improvement? That’s… worse.

Words fail me.

But no worries, everyone, these signmakers are totally not sexist or anything! (Like, where did you get that idea?!) I mean, look: GURLZ RULE!


By… humorously decapitating a Generic Dude stick figure. By slapping him? Because the world is a zero-sum game, and for a “girl” to “rule” she has to violently attack men. While wearing a skirt, to mark her as the Other kind of person, you know, the sex class, whatchamacallits, girls.

….That’s almost like saying that women are human!

Also note that this sign is on the lowest rack of the stand, and was turned toward the wall until I rotated it for a picture. Whereas the first two were aimed out the window at incoming customers…

I think I’m going to stick to my current form of slightly-cheesy wall-adornment:


Yeeeah. That’s the ticket.

I’ve got one of these on my closet wall. Jealous? Damn right you are! I have a tin Rosie the Riveter lunchbox too, and I used it to bring my lunch to school through all of high school. I should bust it out again; my life should have more Rosie in it.

Because these days, it takes a Ms. Bitch like Rosie to convince me that We Can Do It, and to give me any hope at all. The rest of the world seems to hold a dissenting opinion.

I would call this navel-gazing about my fat except the fat is in the way of my navel

May 14, 2009

Well, actually, I can see my navel (and my feet) pretty OK. That is one of the reasons I am currently in the throes of an Oh Noes Identity Crisis regarding that all-important lady-question: am I fat?

I’ve been inspired to examine my own privilege after having read Sady’s excellent post on such over at Tiger Beatdown: It’s Time for Another Installment of: WHAT KIND OF PRIVILEGE DOES SADY HAVE?

A similar “MEANDERING PRIVILEGE-BASED NAVEL-GAZING AHOY” disclaimer applies here, I think.

I’ve been having this internal debate, lately, wherein I attempt to asses my status re: Being A Fatty. On the one hand, I do not look like the Headless Fatties that are the face of the Ooga-Booga Obesity Crisis. I am a lot smaller than that. On the other hand, I am basically a walrus, compared to the fellow students I interact with on a day-to-day basis. A walrus with, like, three bukkits. (Apparently reading Sady affects the tone of my writing, lol.)

So, the ways I feel like I escape sizeism: I always feel welcome shopping for clothes wherever I feel like shopping, and while items in my size are often sold out, they are at least stocked in the first place, and when the store employees inform me of the lack they never even seem to suggest that I am too big to expect to find things in their store. If people think of me as being lazy, unhealthy, or unclean, it’s more likely to be based on the symptoms of my depression than on my weight (though weight may contribute). I certainly don’t have trouble fitting in most seats– amusement park rides, chairs in classrooms or at public events, public transportation– they’re all basically comfortable for me. I technically meet the standards of a Big Fat Fatty for airlines, since my thighs will touch the next person over, but since they are unlikely to think of me as a Big Fat Fatty I’m not facing a real risk of being thrown off a flight.

And yet, I seem to be really pushing the boundaries. Chairs with built-in desks are something of a crapshoot– occasionally not a problem, but sometimes the desk squashes my lap or the seat is too narrow, and it’s difficult for me to get in and out of them and uncomfortable to remain seated, and they can ruin an otherwise fun class. My thighs touch those of the person next to me when I fly, enough that I could technically be booted off and forced to buy two seats. My boobs do not fit into 80% of shirts, and clothes shopping in general is a headache as the cheap, trendy stuff consistently fails to scale up properly to accommodate for my curves. People assume that I am dieting. That’s actually the most annoying– people offer me “skinny” mochas, they recommend the “low-calorie” granola fruit tart over the cheesecake, they bring me splenda when I asked for sugar, they praise me when I order a salad, or make “knowing” jokes, like, “yeah, those calories, gotta watch ’em.” I am not in on this joke. I do not diet, and never have, and yet people look at me and instantly assume that I am splitting my dessert with the whole table, that I might want to substitute a light pesto for the creamy alfredo, that I want their advice on what lifestyle chaaaange totally worked for them.

But is that a sizeist assumption or a sexist assumption? I don’t remember things being that much different when I was only 115 (the year I stopped eating) as opposed to my current “zaftig” 170 (or wev– haven’t weighed myself for a while.) I think women of every size are probably subjected to the same basic assumptions that no matter how thin you are, you’re trying to get thinner. Plus, I don’t think men deal with the same expectations or assumptions regarding dieting at all, which suggests sexism as the motivator. But I also think it’s gotten more pronounced as I have gotten bigger, and that I am bumping up against some prejudices that I never risked facing when I was thin-but-not-thin-enough; I wouldn’t have been at-risk for being thrown off an airplane back then, for example. And a lot of the moral panic surrounding “childhood obesity” seems to be very much a gender-blind demonization of numbers and BMIs as the be-all and end-all of health, which suggests sizeism. I guess intersectionality strikes again!

But to get back to my navel-gazing, it seems that the answer is that sometimes I am totally in on the Thin Privilege party bus, since people don’t picture people who look like me when discussing Those Fatties, but other times I am totally about to die of my own fat, when an object or space is forced to reckon with my actual physical size as opposed to the size people think of me as being. Except that even then, based on the particular thin privilege I am attempting to access, I might measure up differently. Which is weird. I’m not used to my oppression being conditional.

Well, I guess I can prevent people from knowing I’m gay (in theory, anyway) and therefore piggyback on some straight privilege, but that doesn’t make the gay parts of me less oppressed. (More clearly: I can access the “privilege” of marriage by marrying a dude, but that’s not exactly a meaningful access.) But I can’t prevent people from noticing that I’m a woman, because, well, did I mention the part about my boobs totally not fitting into any shirts? Whatever the rules are for women, they always apply to me– if women can’t join the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, I can never join it. It won’t happen that one person things I’m man enough to join, since I’m pretty butch compared to the hyped-up stereotypes of ultra-femininity, while another things I am clearly unfit, since I have no hope of measuring up to the glorified media images of men. I’m not a man, so I can’t join, period. And sometimes sizeism can seem frustratingly nebulous in comparison, at least from the point of view of an in-betweenie; I can never tell if someone else considers me to be “fat” or not. Mostly, when people say anything, they say I’m “not that fat,” which, uh, doesn’t help.

Except that sizeism isn’t all subjective. Clothes and chairs and hospital beds and stretchers and blood-pressure pumps are all made with a fixed size, and that cute dress on sale isn’t going to decide that I don’t look that fat, and suddenly fit. It’s the size it is, and I’m the size I am, and often those are irreconcilable facts. Which makes sizeism about a lot more than just fighting people’s silly attitudes towards each other’s bodies. It’s about being prepared to actually accommodate the different sizes that people’s bodies come in.

I was hoping to find a way to separate, conceptually, the general you-are-never-thin-enough fat-hatred that all women face from the extra-sucky treatment that “actual” fact people face, but that seems like an impossible idea, even if there was a remotely non-ridiculous way to distinguish who even is an “actual” fat woman as opposed to someone who is “just” not-thin-enough. And when I’ve still got this many scare quotes around the ideas I’m trying to articulate, after this much navel-gazing… I think it’s time for me to call it a day and try to do something useful instead.

Does anyone have further thoughts, or maybe some helpful links from more-brilliant writers who have already grappled with these ideas? Comment away!

WTF: Sexism in Advertising

April 20, 2009

Out of fracking Nowhere:


I fail to see what this has to do with the product sold. Oh, wait. STOPPING TRAFFIC. It is necessary to have an image of a woman in bondage gear showing her ass to the camera because THAT WUD SO STOP TRAFFIC THEIR TRAFFIC CONES GET IT?!!!

Don’t worry, guys: I hate you right back.

P.S. This was a Google ad on FAILblog.

ETA: This just in: Advertisers dig a chick with NO SPINE.


ETA2: Tennessee Guerilla Women has a post up just now on misogyny in car ads. Even if all men don’t hate you, the ones in advertising certainly do.