Friday, December 31, 2010

Feminist Does Not Mean Pro-Choice

I didn't want to do this. I'd much prefer to never mention the subject of abortion because of it's polarizing nature. Because there are very few people who are apathetic on the subject. Because there are very few people who can read about the opposite point of view and not get riled up. But I was reading a blog post by a conservative feminist and the majority of comments that followed claimed that the basic definition of feminism is being pro-choice.

Excuse me?

I take issue with this statement for 2 reasons. One is because I am pro-life (although atheist, for the record), and the other is because the term "feminist" is already considered a foul term. Recruiting women to the women's movement is already an impossible task, and now feminists want to not only alienate half the country, but even denounce some of their own? I don't see the point.

I understand the argument. That, to some, being pro choice means having complete autonomy and thus without said autonomy we can never be equals. But that's assuming everyone sees the issue with the same eyes. Abortion is such a hot debatable, political topic because it is NOT universally construed. So how can an issue that barely has a definition of its own be used to define a completely separate idea?

I am a feminist because I do believe women have the right to own their bodies. That sexual and physical assault are all too commonplace and unrecognized. That all humans are equal in every sense of the word. That the issues women face on a daily basis all over the world are rarely given the attention they deserve or need. That the media favors masculinity over femininity and the very definition of feminine has been distorted and bastardized to keep women feeling inferior. That we are all capable of changing the world and the subjugation of women.

I am a Feminist. And I am Pro Life.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

If this doesn't make you angry....



then what will?

Taken from BlogHer.com

Hooters is Dangerous to Women, Children, and Owls
December 28, 2010 1:00 pm by Suzanne Reisman in Feminism

Looking for a great place to take the feminist family for a holiday meal, plus pick up some hilarious gifts for the kiddies? I’ve got the perfect place - Hooters. Seriously! According to Hooters Facts, 32% of Hooters management is female. Plus, they’ve donated $2 million to the V Foundation for Cancer Research in honor of “former Hooters Calendar Girl and manager, Kelly Jo Dowd, who passed away from the disease in 2006.”

As if that’s not enough, Broadsheet reported that the chain offers a “kid's menu, high chairs, booster seats and all sorts of merchandise for little tykes -- like... an "I'm a boob man" onesie and a "Your crib or mine?" bib.” (The kids’ menu in Arizona charges $2.59 for burgers and hot dogs and $59.95 for liver and onions. Soooo funny.) At some locations, kids even eat free on Sundays. Practical and hilarious, right?

What’s really great about Hooters, though, is that it also functions as a purveyor of “adult” entertainment. While the children drool over their tender chicken strips (made from breast meat?), the adults have their own fun. Several chapters of the National Organization for Women in California think there’s something fishy about this. As Broadsheet notes:

Hooters is described in official business filings as a provider of "vicarious sexual entertainment." NOW points out that the chain has "used this designation as a way to avoid compliance with regulations against sexual discrimination in the workplace." The official employment manual warns that a waitress is, as NOW paraphrases, "employed as a sexual entertainer and as part of her employment can expect to be subjected to various sexual jokes by customers and such potential contacts as buttocks slaps."

I think this is rather clever. (It sure beats the New York NOW chapters protests of the botox tax as discriminatory toward women because we need plastic surgery to stay competitive in the discriminatory workplace.) Of course, when feminists get all clever in order to achieve something positive, the world gets all mad. (Actually, the world gets all bent out of shape when feminists try and do anything, but that’s another story. Haters just sit around waiting for something to hate on.) If you want to read many rants about how feminists are horrid people out to deprive the world of the good fun that bouncy tits and tight asses provide, I suggest that you google “national organization for women hooters.” It is ugly out there.

Shannon Drury of the Minnesota NOW blog, Minnesota Feminists Speak Out! defended the actions of the California branches. In an amusing and thoughtful post, she concludes, “This suit is about the rights of Hooters workers to expect a modicum of protection from harassment and employment discrimination. Hooters uses legalese to protect itself from liability–I applaud California NOW for turning the tables back on them (waitressing pun totally intended).”

Honestly, Hooters grosses me out. I know that there are people who enjoy it, but in general I prefer my food to be served to me by people who are fully clothed and can breathe somewhat easily. (For more details on the Hooters attire, I highly recommend this insightful post from Princess Melissa about her day squeezing into a Hooters “uniform.” The description of the pantyhose is priceless.) I hate the fratty-sneering-isn’t-this-all-just-fun? attitude. As a buzzkill feminist, I don’t find it fun at all.

But it’s not just the vapid sexism that I oppose. The more I think about all this, the more I hope that animal rights activists will join the campaign against Hooters. What is with that poor little owl forced to leer at women nonstop in their stupid logo? He looks completely stressed out. Does he ever get to close his eyeballs for some rest? Aren’t some owls endangered species? The chain doesn’t even bother giving their mascot a name on their homepage, which is terrible. He’s just another body to use to sell their products. (Further research uncovered his identity as "Hootie the Owl," which is the type of lazy name someone gives when they don't care.) I think I am going to call him Woody to honor his roots and form a new organization, Save Hooters Little Owl Now, Girls! (SHLONG). SHLONG’s logo will feature Woody clinging to an erect branch with his talons.

If people can’t work for justice for Hooters Girls than I hope they will at least find the decency to rally to Woody the Hooter Owl’s aid. We have to start somewhere. I'm taking a stand with SHLONG.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

16 and Pregnant

I don't think any show better illustrates the vast differences between males and females than MTV's reality series 16 and Pregnant.

In fact, the inherent differences between the two genders are so great, it's a wonder we're all able to get along at all. One of the biggest obstacles to equality is our ignorance to these disparities. We shouldn't waste time trying to change how men are, but trying to integrate our needs into their ways, and the same goes the other way around.

I wonder how different the families in 16 and Pregnant would be if they were not so ignorant of these problems and solutions.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bridalplasty

"'Bridalplasty' brings together engaged women who are seeking complete image transformations before their big day -- they want the dream wedding AND the dream body to go along with it."

"Bridalplasty" will be the first American reality show to have participants compete for plastic surgery. There have been shows about people having plastic surgery, but in "Bridalplasty," it's the prize -- pushing the limits of medical ethics.

Under the American Society of Plastic Surgeons code of ethics, "We're technically prohibited from giving procedures away as a prize for a contest. It totally undermines the doctor-patient relationship," says Dr. Gayle Gordillo, associate professor plastic surgery at Ohio State University. "The ethical and social implications of this [show] are frightening."
~ABC News

Frightening? Understatement of the century. Not only do these women (who are of course all gorgeous to begin with) want plastic surgery (usually liposuction and/or breast augmentation), their fiance won't get to see their bride's new look until they wed them at the altar. I admit, I watched the series premiere. I had to, in order to justify my stance that this show defines the media's stance on women.

Here are just a few of my gripes about this show, and topic:

(1) the whole premise - fairly self explanatory why it's abhorrent. Women competing for boob jobs to impress their future husbands? seriously? first of all, boob jobs can inhibit your ability to breast feed. so that future family you may desire? your kids will lose the benefit of breast milk. nipples can lose some of their sensation, so that boob job is literally only for your husband. and if you're planning to marry someone who doesnt think you're beautiful as you are, you might want to reconsider the whole marriage plan.

I sometimes watch shows like I Shouldnt Be Alive, or I Survived, and I saw an episode once about a woman who was attacked by a mountain lion. Her face was mutilated, and although reconstructive surgery certainly helped, the scars of course remained. Her husband stayed at her bedside throughout the surgeries and when it was all over, and the bandages were removed, and she was provided a mirror, she started sobbing. Her husband gently brushed her face, and said "You are so beautiful". That's the kind of man I want to marry.

(2) What kind of fiance would allow their wife to go on such a show? Allow is a strong word, because it might insinuate that a woman needs her mans permission, but I'm talking about without a fight. If my boyfriend wanted to leave me for however many months so he could compete for a head to toe plastic surgery makeover, and not come back to show his face until i put a ring on his finger, I'd tell him he was out of his mind, and if he wants to leave, he can just not come back. Isn't love enough anymore?

One woman on the show is engaged to a military man (I don't remember what branch), and he had been overseas for months when she left for the show. He returned to the states while she was filming, and production flew him out so they can reunite for a night. They talked about how much they missed each other, and all that, and then he left, and she stayed. In the confessional she said how she had waited for him, and she knew he would wait for her.

I'm not sure if waiting for your husband to return from serving our country overseas at war is quite comparable to waiting for your wife to make a fool of herself in order to get a boob job on national television....Go home and be with the person you love. Just the way they are.

(3) When the women first appeared at the house in which they would live during the competition, they met with the plastic surgeon to discuss what they wanted to change. These interviews were then replayed for the whole house, so every girl could see what everyone else wanted done. When meeting with the surgeon, the women invariably asked for some sort of liposuction, usually on their stomach. The MD then went on to show them where ELSE they could take some fat off, and all the other work they would probably want done. Apparently the low self esteem that prompted the appearance on the show wasn't low enough for the doctor. You want a skinnier stomach? Honey, have you seen your legs? We're gonna have to suck some fat off those too! It's absolutely appalling to see a grown professional man prey on a woman's insecurities the way this doctor does. And as noted in the opening quote, this is not at all how a patient-doctor relationship should be. He should have his license revoked for appearing on the show.

The fact that these interviews are played for everyone on the show furthers the insanity of the show. Skinny woman after skinny woman who said they wanted smaller stomachs (and were told they needed smaller arms, legs, backs, etc), forced the others on the show to show the same incredulous face in their personal confessionals. eg, "Nancy"'s so skinny! If she wants liposuction, how fat must she think I am?! And thus, every woman, despite their beauty is left feeling worse than when any of this began.

Every part of this show not only preys on the contestants' insecurities, but furthers them. This is not a mindless reality show about people doing ridiculous things for cash prizes. This is a show that almost makes fun of body dysmorphic disorder (a type of chronic mental illness in which you can't stop thinking about a flaw with your appearance — a flaw that is either minor or imagined. MayoClinic) in that it pretends that plastic surgery will help self esteem. In reality, all the surgery in the world won't help these women to love themselves.

Someone once told me they wanted a breast augmentation. As they were, she was at least a cup size larger than me. I asked her what she was trying to say about me if you thought her boobs were too small. She, of course, tried saying it was just about making herself happy, and that she just wasn't comfortable with how small hers were, but mine were fine. When I see girls skinnier than me crying that they're too fat, or their breasts are too small, am I supposed to just write it off? Luckily I'm comfortable enough with myself (though God knows it took a hell of a long ride to get here) to brush off such insecurities, but many people are not.

With shows like Bridalplasty, the media is not only preying on the contestants, but on all Americans. When gorgous women fight to change their looks because they believe themselves to be too ugly, the rest of America wonders where that leaves us.

I watched one episode of this show just to have enough material to rightfully hate it. If this is where American gameshows are headed, then call me old fashioned. I'll take Let's Make a Deal any day of the week.

You don't need plastic surgery to be beautiful, or feel beautiful, or to have the perfect wedding, or to be the perfect bride. Healthy and happy is far more appealing than a plastic mask on an uncomfortable body.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

No, Khloe, it's NOT liked being raped

I don't know what's worse: the existence of the Kardashian's fame, or the uproar over the new airport security measures. While I haven't yet personally experienced the TSA's newest encroachment on personal space, to be honest, I think having to remove my shoes every time I fly sounds like more of an inconvenience than a pat down does. and regardless of anyone's personal views on the subject, I can guarantee that such a measure does not even closely resemble "being raped in public."

A pat down done by security officials in order to ensure the safety of the nation does not quite elicit the emotional and physical duress that comes from a sexual assault. I'm sure that even Khloe Kardashian is aware of that. And while no one believes that the two are actuallycomparable, making such insensitive remarks isolates victims and their supporters. If the only way we talk about rape and sexual assault is when we are doing so in jest, then the gravity of such crimes and their effects will never be embraced.

Whether the pat downs and "x-ray machines" are too invasive or not is irrelevant. As someone who purchased many a one-way ticket in the past, I've done the special screening more often than not, so I could honestly care less about what security does to me. I've had women pat my shirt down, telling me at each point what they're doing and why. I believe the act of being sexually assaulted would be somewhat more traumatizing.

I'm friends with too many guys to not be able to withstand the worst of off-color humor. There are few topics at which I cringe. Not surprisingly, one of those is sexual assault. Someone asked me once why it didnt bother me to say or hear the term murder in reference to anger, whereas using the term rape to mean something completely unrelated to rape (eg that exam just raped me) is entirely unacceptable to me.

When society starts viewing sexual assault as the prevalent, underreportered, tragic crime that it is, then I can accept any kind of line blurring. Until that day comes (if it ever comes), nothing is like being raped in public. Except rape itself.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Modern Feminist Movement

I've often considered myself an "anti-feminism feminist," and most people who know me from my women's studies class at UConn would probably consider me anti-feminism period. The truth is though that, as mentioned in a much earlier post, I believe ignorance is the biggest threat to the women's movement, and to the egalitarian humanist movement in general.

For example, the belief that men and women are born the same is incorrect. Nature versus Nurture allows for people to develop differently because of genetic differences as well as environmental differences. Meaning men and women are different from as early as our time in the womb. This does not mean we are unequal, and knowing these kinds of facts will help, not hinder, our progression to true equality.

Falsities of any kind prevent not only the truth from reaching the masses, but once the truth comes out (and it often does), those that spoke the lie lose all credibility.

Any statistic should be taken with a grain of salt. Too often, all that we read or hear is taken at face value. One Snapple cap fact says "80% of all statistics are made up" (or something along those lines. Perhaps not made up, but too often studies are misinterpreted to fit the desired conclusions, or words are twisted to make an exaggerated point.

I recently started reading Christina Sommers's Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women, which at the surface looks like anti-feminism rant. In reality, it exposes all the false stats that make up the feminist women's movement. The origins of stats regarding domestic abuse, eating disorder fatalities, and the wage gap (among others) are exposed and how the true numbers are twisted to make women appear more oppressed than we are are the main subjects of the book.

Her point being, of course, that we don't need false evidence to prove our inequality. We should rely on the truth. We shouldn't segregate ourselves through angry hate-filled rants or rallies. We shouldn't isolate ourselves by blaming our isolation on men.

Rape and domestic violence are still a huge problem in America and abroad. There is nothing false about that. These are causes we all can unite against, men and women alike, and they are causes that do not need inflated numbers to signify the damage they do to those they afflict.

Change the war on feminism by changing feminism itself. Prevent feminist backlash by avoiding ignorance and avoiding falsifications.

There's only room for truth on the road to justice.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Domestic Violence

My oldest sister sent me an email regarding news of a recent domestic violence fatality.

Help support those in need by donating to shelters for abused women. Help end the violence.

Crazy Yankee Chick (my eldest)'s plea for help