March 5, 2010

"I want my words to fracture the images in your head, and leave more questions than answers."

Since 1996, women across America have been performing Eve Ensler’s play “The Vagina Monologues.” They are mostly hilarious, sometimes sad, and almost always relateable. Already knowing her work, I recently watched a documentary that Ensler made in 2003 titled, “What I Want My Words To Do To You.”

It was filmed in New York State’s Bedford Hills Correctional Facility and it chronicles Ensler teaching a writing workshop for the women in the facility. Admittedly, I went into this documentary with a certain set of expectations about what I was about to see and hear. And, once again, to my surprise Ensler far exceeded my expectations! These women are captivating and articulate about their experiences.

They write in beautiful, thoughtful and unique voices about prison, their crimes, and the social issues each one has encountered. Their stories are told/performed by Glenn Close, Marisa Tomei, Mary Alice, Rosie Perez, and Hazelle Goodman.

February 25, 2010

Another Facebook Gem….

In line with my previous post about facebook groups, this one popped up recently: “Reasons when it is acceptable to punch a woman in the face.”

Here is their list:

1. talking too much
2. disagreeing with anything you say
3. burning your food
4. not washing up
5. being on her period
6. being on her period and still coming to see you
7. talking bout other guys….even her dad
8. taking off her make up
9. leaving the kitchen
10. leaving the bedroom
11. refusing a threesome
12. telling you to stop pushing their head down… when
they give you head
13. not knowing the offside rule
14. not knowing the offside rule after being told too many
15.not allowing you to have sex with their mum/sister
16. killing banter
17. out drinking you
18. making stupid baby noises
19. being on either team Jacob or team Edward
20. refusing anal
21. breathing
22. when your football team looses
23. wanting attention during a cod session
24. asking you to make her a cup of tea
25. thinking their in control of the relationship
26. when ur angry and need something to hit
27. when you wanna try out your new kung fu move
28. wearing clothes indoors
29. asking you to go down on her
30. when they fish for compliments
31. when they make you watch chick flicks
32. expecting to get paid for
33. trying to help make this list (foook u becky)
34. having an opinion
35. crying for no fucking reason
36. weighing more than you do
37. calling you a woman/pussy
38. giving you a stupid nickname
39. forgetting to shave
40. not swallowing
41.having a 4 finger bucket
42. taking more than 20 minutes deciding what to wear
43. being taller than you
44. bitching about people you dont even know
45. looking at you funny
46. complaining that she’s cold…. wear a hoodie bitch
47. being a feminist
48. asking you to finish her off once ur finished..
49. calling the police when you hit her…bitch should learn
50. for being a woman..
51. saying they love you
52. when she is in range
53. When she reads this and wont have sex with you for
54. When she asks to be and admin
55. bitching about facebook groups…. get back in the
56. when you got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t 1
57. Whenever she talks without being questioned
58. when she sends you a friend request…. i don’t want to be your friend, but you can go make me a sandwich 😛

1. when she’s pregnant…..punch her in the stomach

How about #33?! Becky, I would really like to give you some relationship advice!

I’ve actually heard men say things like, “Well, if she hits me first then she wants to be treated like a man.” Or, “She just wouldn’t stop antagonizing me.”  We saw a very good example last year when Rihanna became the poster girl for domestic abuse. Unfortunately, her celebrity didn’t lend a hand to constructive and progressive movement on domestic abuse which is the leading cause of physical injury to American women between 15 and 44! Most of the media coverage consisted of talking heads insisting on giving Chris Brown a break and lengthy argument about whether or not she provoked him. Provocation or not domestic abuse is never excusable because he is (a) male (b) provoked (c) inebriated or (d) famous. When we continually normalize and excuse domestic violence it makes people like the guy who created this facebook page (who I’d venture a guess may be a fan of Chris Browns) think that it’s ok and humorous to abuse and degrade their partners.

Additionally, men who do not participate in this kind of behavior have to step up and become role models for the young men who only have the Chris Brown’s and Howard Stern’s to look up to. Jackson Katz stands as a leader in advocating that domestic abuse is not a woman’s issue (for older posts including Katz, click here and here). If 4 million women are abused per year then the chances that it will affect someone you know are very high. The chances that your girlfriend or your sister or your mother has been abused are very high; that isn’t a woman’s problem…..that’s a national crisis.

February 17, 2010

Courtesy of Facebook: "Killing your hooker so you don't have to pay her"

Filed under: Gender,Sexuality,Violence — Tags: , , , , — Lani @ 4:51 pm

I understand that facebook groups are mostly just a joke as is the actual act of joining one. Nothing more than a way to send a message. For example I recently joined the group “I don’t care about your farm or your fish or your mafia. So, stop asking.” Of course, I only joined hoping that a select few would stop inviting me their freaking farms! I understand it’s all in jest.

But what about this one: “Killing your hooker so you don’t have to pay her“? My mouth dropped open when I saw this joke posted on their page: Q. Whats the difference between an onion and a hooker? A. You don’t cry when you are chopping up hookers. Or how about this one: Q. What’s the difference between a lamborghini and a pile of dead hookers? A. I don’t have a lamborghini in my garage.

At some point gender-based violence has to stop being a source of amusement. It breeds action - and no matter how funny the joke or the group – those actions are not funny.

Click here for Feministe’s discussion of the same group!


February 10, 2010

Do these shoes look good with my knee brace?

Whether we’re discussing the legitimacy of cultural traditions as in the age-old examples of Chinese foot-binding & the corset or the modern use of elective plastic surgery, the Muslim head scarf or the burka – fashion is a contentious and contradictory place for a feminist to find herself at play. I’ll admit to owning more than a few pairs of heels despite my knowledge about their not only misogynist, but classist and racist, history. They make my legs look long, lean and pretty. What’s the problem?

Well, according to your doctor, there are many including: osteoarthritis, knee injury, bunions, hammertoes, and let’s not forget one “health risk” listed on the always veritable Wikipedia (please note sarcasm ;): “they render the wearer unable to run.” Wow. I am compelled to write a blog simply based on why that is a health risk for women.

In an interview with the Australia based “Today Tonight” supermodel Abbey Lee Kershaw dismisses the interviewers’ questions about the industry standard of thinness. However, she does note that the excessive and dangerous use of extremely high heels has to change. Kershaw herself had to have knee surgery at the age of 21 due to a fall in a pair of these . The theme for the last couple of seasons has been an architectural design which has lead to some pretty outrageous and, needless to say, impractical footwear.

Despite my love of the illusion of long, fabulous legs & the art that is involved in creating said illusion, I think that it’s time we call for change in the use and abuse of the women in fashion. Even if that’s simply by choosing a nice pair of ballerina-style mary janes…..

May 12, 2009

Porn and hate crimes

Filed under: Gender,Media,Sexuality,Violence — Tags: , , , , , — Melanie @ 9:41 am

Following an article at the Washington Post on hate crimes:

The number of hate crimes involving race and religion declined in the United States last year, leading to a slight drop in the overall total, but incidents related to sexual orientation and ethnicity showed increases, according to federal statistics released yesterday…

Crimes against Hispanics also increased for the fourth year in a row, the ADL said, with 595 incidents reported in 2007, compared with475 in 2004.

“While we welcome the fact that reported hate crimes declined slightly in 2007, violent bigotry is still disturbingly prevalent in America, with nearly one hate crime occurring every hour of every day of the year,” ADL director Abraham H. Foxman said in a statement.

Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez explores the role of porn in these racially specific hate crimes:

There are 4.2 million porn sites on the Web, totaling more than 400 million Internet pages. An astounding 25 percent of all search engine requests are for pornography. Pornography profits each year exceed the profits of NBC, ABC and CBS combined.

And yet no one in the rising-Latino-hate debate has thought to look at this sector of the media for indications of violence and hatred toward Hispanics, and Hispanic women in particular. Except me. Because I’m practical like that, and I’m not afraid to go there. Or anywhere, really.

Rape of Latinas Popular on the Net

I’ve been keeping tabs on the popular free porn site, which is essentially the X-rated version of YouTube, and have found a very disturbing trend.

Day after day, week after week, month after month, videos claiming to depict the rape of Latina maids or Mexican women seeking green cards, etc., have appeared in the top five videos of the day, often in the No. 1 spot, with high ratings from the site’s users.

Often, these videos depict women crying, begging for mercy and enduring unwanted anal sex. (The popularity of Latinas in these videos is all the more alarming when one considers that Latina actresses comprise less than half of 1 percent of all TV and movie roles in the United States.)

It is no coincidence that as hate toward Latinos and immigrants rises, Hispanic women are being presented in a very popular, profitable (and, we pretend, invisible) media outlet as the ideal rape victims.

For recent posts on porn, click here and here

May 10, 2009

Forget the flowers: Support working mommas and families

Filed under: Event,Gender,Politics,Violence — Tags: , , , , , — Melanie @ 1:20 pm

I love Stephanie Coontz and I’m glad she blogged on the lack of childcare today.  Lets not even begin talking about maternity leave in this country.

Family values? Valuing the family means supporting families across the country.

Here’s a thought for a Mother’s Day gift that would go beyond the complimentary flowers passed out by restaurants and the complementary speeches churned out by politicians every May: Affordable childcare that is operated in accord with high-quality national standards.

It’s a gift long overdue. In 1971 the House and Senate overwhelmingly passed a Comprehensive Child Development Act to provide quality child care for working parents. The bill mandated extensive training for child care workers and strict standards, written and enforced with extensive input from parents. But on December 9, 1971, President Nixon vetoed the bill, declaring that publicly-provided child care would be “a long leap into the dark” that might weaken American families.

Since then, American families have indeed taken a “long leap” into an unanticipated world. Forty-five years ago, just 14 percent of working women who bore a child returned to work by the baby’s first birthday. Today, 83 percent of working moms do, 70 percent of them at the same hours they worked before the child’s birth.

March 12, 2009

What Chris Brown can teach us

The bottom line is that Chris Brown’s assault on Rihanna the eve before the Grammy’s is a teachable moment.  The couple has been a media staple as a couple and individually as mainstream musical icons.  No matter what we think about the media and it’s passion for celebrity lifestyles, the media’s coverage helps construct reality and influence public opinion on a range of issues.

In the same way the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson brought domestic violence to the forefront, Chris Brown’s violent assault reminds us that domestic violence can happen to anyone at any time.

Our society’s tolerance of women being battered is glaringly obvious from the statistics:

  • 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime
  • One third of female murder victims are killed by their intimate partner
  • Men’s violence against women is the No. 1 cause of injury to women—surpassing even car accidents.
  • Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to police.

Yet women stay in these relationships . Do they have some sort of mental illness? No, Smith tells me. It’s a social behavioral problem on the part of the victim and the abuser, not a psychiatric disorder. “The crux of the problem is that violence is something the perpetrator uses to get control of the other person. [An abuser] may also isolate the woman from her family and friends so she feels like he’s the only one she can rely on.” Of course, financially strapped women, especially those with kids, might have a hard time breaking away, and some justifiably worry that they’ll be killed if they do. Rihanna doesn’t seem to be in this situation, but Smith says it’s often hard for a woman to simply break the emotional bond with the person she’s still in love with.

There has been a growing awareness of domestic violence in recent years. One men’s organization, A Call to Men, is working to change men’s attitudes through education. The group sent out a press release saying that “possibly much of what [Chris Brown] has learned is unfortunately, from the collective body of men, which continues to teach our boys that male dominance, control, privilege, and entitlement is the correct way to behave.”

As stated above, the couple’s rumored reconciliation is another teachable moment.  Oprah has taken this event and utilized her own celebrity and access to the cultural mainstream to send strong messages about the prevalence and pattern of domestic violence and the danger of reconciling with one’s abuser

“And also, love doesn’t hurt. I’ve been saying this to women for years: ‘If a man hits you once, he will hit you again.’ “

Oprah clearly understand the power of both Chris Brown’s and Rihanna’s actions and their influence and impact on young fans.

“It makes me so sad that I said to the producers, ‘I want to do a show about it this week dedicated to all the Rihanna’s of the world,’ ” Winfrey said, citing a statistic that one out of four women in the country are battered.

Sitting at the table with Winfrey, Gayle King echoed her friend’s sentiments while she also weighed in about the pop stars’ relationship.

“My thing about this is, if you guys want to get back together, I’m okay with that, but at least take some time,” she said. “I’m so worried that she’s sending the wrong message to the fans. And him, too.”

On her website, Oprah, posted “A Parent’s Guide to Teen Dating Violence.”

The media and it’s celebrities can influence us for better or worse.  I hope more media outlets and media figures utilize this tragic moment as a reality check and a teachable moment for young fans.

Sadly, the coverage by Cosmo Girl! was severely lacking in depth.

This is some pretty sad news to start the week off with, but it is certainly worthy of talking about. Perez tells us that Chris Brown was arrested after a pre-Grammy party on Saturday night for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend Rihanna. Apparently the couple was arguing in their car when it turned physical and she ended up at the hospital in tears with “contusions and bites.” Brown turned himself in to police the next day, posted $50,000 bail and was released. Both he and Rihanna backed out of the Grammy’s the day of. That is just so sad (we even named them one of the Best Couples of 2008), arguments with your significant other should never turn violent. We wish Rihanna the best and for Chris to get help.

The rest of the “article” discussed the Grammy’s various performers.

December 14, 2008

Sexist themes in advertising…more of the same

Bondage, rape, sluts, girl on girl, cum shots…women don’t fare well among the stereotypes.

Read full article by Alex Leo here.

December 5, 2008

Bleak situation for women in Russia

A report on NPR this morning discussed the dangerous scenario that many Russian women face today: human trafficking, forced prostitution, sever beatings at the hands of their captors and husbands.  As indicated in the report by Anne Garrels, “According to government estimates, one Russian woman dies at the hands of her husband or partner every hour, but police don’t respond.” And, in reliably crude fashion, women are blamed and experience secondary trauma or revictimization in the criminal justice system.  The recent film, “Eastern Promises,” examines the global sex trade and it’s ramifications.  Jarring and disturbing.


Russia has become a prime source, transit point and destination for trafficking in women — what the U.N. defines as abuse of women involving force, fraud, coercion and deception.

While numbers are impossible to pinpoint, a new survey suggests at least 90,000 women currently living in Russia have been the victims of trafficking. But the Russian government has done little to deal with the issue.

The Russian city of Chelyabinsk is just the kind of place traffickers look for women — on the edge of Siberia. It’s remote, relatively poor, and the women have white skin, which is prized in Asia and the Middle East. So far, given the lack of government action, traffickers have been able to operate there with impunity…

…There is no government assistance for the victims — the very young women the Russian government needs if its goal to improve the birth rate can be achieved. This reflects a bigger problem — there is a lack of help for all abused Russian women. According to government estimates, one Russian woman dies at the hands of her husband or partner every hour, but police don’t respond.

Under pressure from women activists in Chelyabinsk, the local government has finally set up a crisis center to deal with domestic abuse. It wasn’t easy, and the center is understaffed. It can’t offer 24-hour service, there’s no shelter, and psychologist Inna Martynov says police are more often a hindrance than a help.

“Police blame the women,” Martynov says. “I just had a case where the police made it worse, and I had to deal with secondary trauma as a result. We have not been able to build good links with the police.”

She fears that with the growing economic crisis in Russia, women will be increasingly at risk, more may be tempted to take potentially dangerous jobs abroad and more may be victims at home. She also worries the fledgling crisis center, already overwhelmed, will be cut back.

To listen, click here.

November 12, 2008


Filed under: Gender,Media,Sexuality,Violence — Tags: , , , — Melanie @ 10:49 am

The women at Feministing posted (click here to access video) the following about the virtual geisha you can buy and, apparently, beat up:

This is just so unbelievably disturbing. A new Japanese augmented reality (AR) software program features a “virtual girlfriend” that literally allows you to hit her with a paddle her until she cries.

All she seems to do is sweep the floor until you undress and paddle her until she cries herself into a fetal position, in which then you give her a teddy bear so she’ll become happy again.

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