Category Archives: Feminist Fridays

Feminist Friday: Emma Watson, HeForShe and the UN

It’s really, really nice when women my age publicly refer to themselves as feminists.

I don’t know about the other millennials out there, but my peer group seems to be plagued with apathy posing as nonconformity. People my age refuse to call themselves liberal or conservative; Democrat or Republican; political or non-political. I guess they are under the impression that not taking sides is noble and enlightened, instead of uninformed and cowardly. I think my generation is either afraid of offending somebody or is simply convinced that speaking up really doesn’t matter. I, for one, know that my so-called feminist rants and liberal agenda can be off-putting. Occasionally, I do try to reign it in. But most of the time I just go for it. As Emma Watson recently asked, “If not me, who? If not now, when?”

As you can see from the preceding clip, Emma Watson of Wingardium Leviosa fame addressed the United Nations earlier this week. She was speaking on behalf of a new campaign that is striving for gender equality: HeForShe. There is so much I love about her speech. The way her voice quivers and wavers, so you know she is nervous and actually gives a shit. Her personal examples of the way gender has repeatedly hindered her and her friends. Her self-deprecating manner as she implores her audience to take her seriously, even if she is only the “Harry Potter girl.” But–more than anything else–I appreciate how she argues that women and men will never really be equal if they do not work together.

I include myself when I say that many feminists and gender activists often ignore or forget men. In my case, it is so easy to only hear the Todd Akins, Mitt Romneys and Rush Limbaughs of the world, that writing off all male input seems to be the best way to preserve my sanity. But that is not right. Because, to paraphrase Gloria Steinem, gender is a prison for women and men. Just like it is unfair to govern a woman’s body and to pay her only 75% of what she should be earning, it is unfair for men to be embarrassed for being their children’s primary caregivers or for wearing something “feminine.” Especially if it is this guy. HeForShe is laudable because it recognizes both sexes as valuable assets for feminism.

And, even though it should not have to be said, Watson and her cause make plain that feminism is NOT anti-men. Giving women power is not the same as stripping men of theirs. I want to say thank you to Emma Watson for being the rare young person to take a stand.  And I’m a little bit in love with her for being the rare young woman who knows what feminism means and is more than happy to give it her support.

(Images #1 and #2 courtesy of facebook.com) 

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Feminist Friday: “Modern Office with Christina Hendricks”

You know what really pisses me off? Stupid “rules” of etiquette that we are socialized to believe are natural laws of propriety. For example, I loathe the fact that it is “impolite to discuss money.” There is no intrinsic nastiness linked to talks about economy, taxes, disposable income and salary. A bunch of assholes a long time ago just decided to compare economic dialogue to bad manners and, voila, asking questions about your earnings was suddenly off-limits.

Here’s the truth: The U.S. is one of the most technologically advanced, rich and innovative countries on the planet. It is also probably the most backwards of all the industrialized nations. That is why there is such a huge disparity between the privileged and the poor, the haves and the have-nots,  the Koch brothers and the voters. From an early age, we are programmed to believe that anyone in our country has the ability to transform from Dick Whitman to Don Draper. But we also learn–in a more implicit manner–that money is something that classy people never talk about.

Look, I’m not saying that you should ask every passer-by in the grocery store what he or she makes in a fiscal year. That’s weird. But I am indicting the idiotic norms that prohibit us from learning about economic inequality and what constitutes an honest day’s wage for an honest day’s work. Being ignorant about how your paycheck stacks up against your counterparts’ is exactly how women still only make about 75% of what men earn. Like Joan Harris and Peggy Olson are our co-workers. We’re so afraid of offending somebody that we unwillingly let ourselves be exploited. If we don’t know the nature of the injustice, there is nothing we can do to rectify it.

In honor of my philosophy, check out this Funny Or Die clip from August 6, 2014:

http://FunnyOrDie.com/m/93go

Because, really, which is worse? Pointedly asking what your co-workers earn or living like it is still the ’60s? Honestly, if our employers cannot provide us with basic workers’ rights then we should be able to drink on the clock. Sounds like a trade-off to me.

(Image #1 courtesy of funnyordie.com; #2 courtesy of blog.emilyslist.org; #3 courtesy of dailymail.co.uk)

Feminist Friday: “We Asked 22 Women Why They Take Birth Control And These Are Their Answers”

As I shared with you on the Fourth of July, I am not at all happy with the recent Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision. And, as it turns out, I am not the only one who is pissed off. There have been plenty of articles, op-eds and political analysis about how five old dudes endangered the reproductive rights and freedoms of all American women. But I have found none as poignant, honest and relevant as this piece of photojournalism from BuzzFeed: “We Asked 22 Women Why They Take Birth Control And These Are Their Answers” by Lara Parker, Candace Lowry and Alison Vingiano. The three writers asked 22 of their coworkers why they went on the Pill and took photographs of the women with their written answers.

Here’s mine, just for posterity:

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I really enjoy these photos because they explain this issue in a way that our politicians will not. Deciding to go on the Pill does not necessarily have anything to do with sex. And–to be quite honest–even if it does, that is no reason to treat it as taboo, risque or immoral. In any case, these women demonstrate how that heinous Supreme Court decision does not just pass judgment on the sexual lives of women. It also endangers their health and makes clear that one crazy family’s religious beliefs mean a hell of a lot more than freedom for millions of women.

Check out the piece here: http://www.buzzfeed.com/laraparker/we-asked-women-why-they-take-birth-control-and-these-are 

And here are a few of my favorite answers to the journalists’ question:

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And now, before I say goodbye for today, let me leave you with the wise words from the Women & Women First Bookstore ladies of Portlandia:

“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”

(Images 1 and 2 courtesy of yours truly; Images 3,4,5 and 6 courtesy of buzzfeed.com)

Feminist Friday: “The Eggs and Us”

Hello, my fellow patriots! Welcome to Feminist Friday: Independence Day Edition.

This is the time of year we celebrate our country’s revolt and ultimate freedom from England by stuffing our faces with hot dogs and allowing small children to handle flaming sticks. I kid! I kid because I love. As surprising as it might seem to some pundits and various other douchebags, progressives and liberals (like myself) are not automatically anti-America or unpatriotic. On the contrary, I love my country. I’m not pointing out its flaws to be bitchy; that’s just a perk. No, I’m doing it because I want to make my country better, a place that reflects my own values. A place that is safe for women.

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More than anything else, I respect America’s goal to give every citizen freedom. I say “goal” because this principle only works in theory. In practice, women, racial minorities, the LGBTQ community, the working class, students, non-Christians and many others do not have the automatic freedom that our leaders keep harping on about. Usually, I feel somewhat optimistic about all of this. I think Hey, it’s 2014! Sooner or later we will all wake up and demand justice and equality for everyone. Unfortunately, two recent Supreme Court decisions have dampened my faith in America and its dedication to women’s rights and freedom. It’s hard to be all USA! USA! USA! when future employers are completely within their rights to deny coverage for my contraception, and it is possible that going to a Planned Parenthood clinic (for a variety of reasons) would result in verbal and/or physical abuse.

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But just when I am tempted to sit in my room and cry because two major decisions that affect me and every American woman have been disproportionately influenced by five old, saggy white guys, I remember Gail Collins. She is an op-ed columnist for the New York Times and one of the few journalists who balances wit with biting political analysis. She and Nate Silver got me through the last election, but that is neither here nor there. Her June 27, 2014 column is entitled “The Eggs and Us: The Abortion Wars Rage On” and discusses the now-defunct buffer zones and the then-upcoming Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision.

Read it here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/28/opinion/gail-collins-the-eggs-and-us.html?emc=eta1&_r=0 

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Here are some of the best tidbits if you are too lazy (shame on you) to read the whole thing:

  • “…this [buffer zone] decision came from people who work in a building where the protesters aren’t allowed within 250 feet of the front door.”
  • “…the Greens [of Hobby Lobby] draw the line at anything that they believe might endanger a fertilized egg, like Plan B, or IUDs. Many scientists would disagree with the Greens’ theory about how contraceptives work, but it doesn’t matter. Religion trumps.”
  • “Once again, we are reminded that men do not get pregnant.”

If you are also ready to start picketing the Supreme Court due to their increasingly shitty choices (from 250 feet away, of course), then I highly recommend reading this and all of Collins’ future op-ed writings. She covers current events and contemporary politics in a sensible, funny, never-bitter style. You should also pick up a copy of When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present. It will piss you off, inspire you, and inform you about our women’s amazing strides and devastating failures throughout the past 54 years. It totally changed my life.

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That’s all, folks. I hope you have a wonderful Fourth of July! Appreciate all of the opportunities that the United States has given you. And never stop reaching for the equality and freedom that you were promised and deserve. I’m gonna Google Obvious Child for the twentieth time.

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(Image #1, #2 and #5 courtesy of plannedparenthoodaction.org; #3 courtesy of harvardmagazine.com; #4 courtesy of yorkblog.com)

Feminist Friday: The Bechdel Test

In my Communication Research and Methods class, I unwittingly utilized the Bechdel Test. For my final project, I conducted a content analysis of the conversations between the women of Bridesmaids. I was interested in the media’s depiction of female friendships and thought that the dialogue between female characters would be the best indicator of their bonds. (For those of you interested in my amateur study, here it is: my final research paper.)

While my goal was to dissect women’s relationships in film, I actually ended up conducting a category-specific Bechdel Test. For the record, Alison Bechdel–author of Fun Home and Are You My Mother?–first featured the rule of thumb in her long-running comic, Dykes to Watch Out For.

As Mo explains, there are a precious few movies that feature a.) at least two women that b.) talk to each other about c.) something other than a man. They’re three simple guidelines, but you would be shocked at how few texts meet them. And I’m not talking about meeting them throughout the entire movie; sometimes there isn’t even one scene where a couple of ladies talk about politics or books or work or their families. That’s pretty fucking scary.

Even movies that seemingly depict women coming together to rid themselves of patriarchy sometimes reveal themselves to be complete bullshit. Not to rain on everyone’s The Fault in Our Stars parade (okay, maybe I want to), but I have to disagree with non-feminist Shailene Woodley‘s stance on The Other Woman. She says, “[It] looks really good because I think it’s really neat that it shows women coming together and supporting each other and creating a sisterhood of support for one another versus hating each other for something that somebody else created.” Yes, it is so refreshing to see a movie where three blonde, white, privileged women band together to destroy an idiot guy. Especially when taking revenge by, oh, I don’t know, succeeding in life is so boring and sensible.

Even though I am biased because I think that the film looks like total garbage, I do have some evidence to back me up:  “‘The Other Woman’: When Terrible Movies Happen to Funny Actresses” by NPR’s Linda Holmes. Despite Woodley’s assertion (which we should all listen to) that this movie is all about the sisterhood, Holmes found that these three sisters aren’t doing it for themselves; the movie failed the Bechdel Test.

I can’t say it better than Holmes, so I won’t. She writes, “Yyyyyyyup. That’s right. The Other Woman is 109 minutes long, and at no time do any of these women — including Carly and her secretary, who only know each other from work — pause for a discussion, even for a moment, of anything other than a series of dudes: Mark, Kate’s brother, Carly’s father, the secretary’s husband, Carly’s other boyfriends. It is truly, no fooling, all they talk about for 109 minutes.”

Let’s all pause for a moment and weep about the current state of feminism in the media, for Cameron Diaz’s and Leslie Mann’s terrible agents, and for the fact that someone thought it would be okay to let Kate Upton act.

Now, a call to action. Please take some time and watch films or television series where there are two women. Who talk to each other. About something other than a man. We can do it!

Here are a few suggestions:

Have a productive weekend!

(Image #1 courtesy of strategylab.ca; #2 courtesy of rookiemag.com; #3 and #5 courtesy of dykestowatchoutfor.com; #4 courtesy of theotherwomanmovie.com)

Feminist Friday: “The Muscle-Flexing, Mind-Blowing Book Girls Will Inherit The Earth”

I recently moved into my first apartment, and I am ridiculously proud of it. I painted on my own, bought some functional-yet-cute furniture at IKEA (the Holy Grail for ex-college students everywhere) and covered up my beige carpeting with a beautiful kilum rug. But I didn’t truly feel at home at my new place until my book shelf was put up and stocked with assorted novels, memoirs, textbooks, short story collections, graphic narratives, anthologies and some childhood favorites. My room was not really mine until my books materialized:

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(Just an observation: this is much more impressive in person, but enjoy the glimpse into my real life.)

The joy of a nice book shelf and library will always trump Kindles and iPads. You can’t love digital literature the way you cherish a tangible, broken-in tome (she said, writing from a laptop). Luckily, I am not the only person who feels this way. Maybe civilization isn’t in a rapid free-fall after all…

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National Public Radio‘s Linda Holmes wrote about the special connection between young women and reading yesterday on Monkey See, NPR’s pop culture blog. The post is called “The Muscle-Flexing, Mind-Blowing Book Girls Will Inherit The Earth.” As someone who has read about more experiences than has actually lived them*, it was wonderful for me to hear about the passion that young women have for strong characters and good stories. Check out the post here:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2014/06/05/319064976/the-muscle-flexing-mind-blowing-book-girls-will-inherit-the-earth 

And, for God’s sake, please keep reading real books. Don’t give Amazon anymore power.

(Image #1 courtesy of yours truly; #2 courtesy of npr.org; #3 courtesy of metafilter.com)

*Don’t judge me

 

 

Feminist Friday: “Jennifer Lawrence and The History of Cool Girls”

As you know, we cover a lot of outcasts, rebels and lone wolves on this blog. That’s why I’ve decided that this week will be dedicated to to the anti-Outside Girl, a.k.a. the Cool Girl. Those of you who are familiar with Gillian Flynn and her impossible-to-put-down novel, Gone Girl, will already know who and what a Cool Girl is. For anyone else, let’s use Flynn’s description to get the ball rolling:

“Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.”

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This archetype is the subject of Anne Helen Petersen‘s February 28, 2014 BuzzFeed opinion piece entitled “Jennifer Lawrence and The History of Cool Girls.”  As you can see from the following image, Petersen identifies several Cool Girls from various decades including Lawrence, Clara Bow, Carole Lombard and Jane Fonda.

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Petersen delves into the Cool Girl persona and how hard it is for women to maintain it. In addition to pinpointing exactly why we all love Jennifer Lawrence (besides all of this), Petersen chronicles the rise and fall of other women who fit the mold and the double standard that they fall victim too. And she asks the necessary question: Is the Cool Girl just giving people what they want to see? Check out Petersen’s essay here:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/annehelenpetersen/jennifer-lawrence-and-the-history-of-cool-girls

For further context, please watch “A Chick Who Can Hang” on Inside Amy Schumer and read this recap about the episode by The A.V. Club‘s Kate Knibbs.

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(Image #1 courtesy of en.wikipedia.org; #2 courtesy of my Mac’s screenshot function; #3 courtesy of cc.com)