Rhiannon Lucy Coslett, one of the women behind The Vagenda, writes on the phenomenon of the trigger warning.
What would you think if I told you there is an ugly, self-sustaining, omnipotent invisible force that explains everything. It frames every argument, structures language, and every element of human experience.... This article will examine Patriarchy as a theory that is beyond falsifiability. - Naomi J. Chambers
I’ve been thinking about the Bechdel test for films where a film must have a) two or more main female characters who b) talk for five minutes about c) something other than men. It’s amazing to see that not many films pass this test. So, I’m initiating this now (unless it’s already been done…): The Shukla Test, for books, films and television where a) two main characters who are people who of colour b) talk for five minutes without c) mentioning their race. [more inside]
"The Reconstructionists, a collaboration between illustrator Lisa Congdon and writer Maria Popova, is a yearlong celebration of remarkable women — beloved artists, writers, and scientists, as well as notable unsung heroes — who have changed the way we define ourselves as a culture and live our lives as individuals of any gender. Every Monday in 2013, we'll be publishing an illustrated portrait of one such trailblazing woman, along with a hand-lettered quote that captures her spirit and a short micro-essay about her life and legacy."
As the culture evolves, people who benefitted from the old ways invariably see themselves as victims of change. The world used to fit them like a glove, but it no longer does. Increasingly, they find themselves in unfamiliar situations that feel unfair or even unsafe. Their concerns used to take center stage, but now they must compete with the formerly invisible concerns of others. If you are one of the newly-visible others, this all sounds whiny compared to the problems you face every day. It’s tempting to blast through such privileged resistance with anger and insult. Tempting, but also, I think, a mistake. The privileged are still privileged enough to foment a counter-revolution, if their frustrated sense of entitlement hardens.
"When the National Football League locked out its referees’ union this year, it seemed to delight in exploiting the perceived “women vs. labor” split, putting a woman on the field for the first time as one of the replacement refs. Feminists cheered, labor folks groaned, and those of us who are both buried our heads in our hands, angered by the cynical move, wanting to cheer new ground broken for women but having learned the hard lesson that not all first steps by women are progressive. Whether it’s City Council speaker Christine Quinn in New York City blocking paid sick days or Marissa Mayer taking the helm at Yahoo or Shannon Eastin taking the job of a locked-out worker for less money, we have to recognize that some first steps are taken on the backs of workers, many of whom are also women." -- Sara Jaffe writing about mainstream feminism's obsession with the glass ceiling and corresponding lack of attention for working women's issues: trickle down feminism.
The New York Times asks seven 'experts': Does makeup ultimately damage a woman’s self-esteem, or elevate it? [more inside]
Romance novelist Alisa Valdes' recent memoir The Cowboy and the Feminist describes how she found true love by forsaking her feminist opinions in favor of an assertive, independent cowboy (a staunchly traditional ranch manager) who to her embodied the best masculine qualities. Unfortunately, it turns out that the cowboy's masculine dominance turned into abuse, which Valdes described in a post-breakup blog post. Feminist writer Hannah Rosin, among others, was not surprised. According to Salon's Tracy Clark-Flory, Valdes said she took her post, which tends to contradict her book's message, down at the request of her publisher or agent. (via Lawyers, Guns and Money; warning: possible abuse and rape triggers)
In seventh grade, after school let out, Humaira Mohammed Bachal opened her home in Thatta (Pakistan) to 10-12 friends who weren't allowed to go to school, and taught them what she was learning. By the time she was 16 and ready to take her 9th grade exams, (over her father's objections,) she and four other girls were teaching more than 100 students. Now, her sister Tahira, (age 18,) is principal of the school Humaira founded: with 22 teachers serving more than 1,000 kids in a Karachi slum (yt). All in a country where if you are a young girl in a rural area, you are unlikely ever to see the inside of a classroom, and advocating education for young girls can be life-threatening. [more inside]
Gerda Lerner: "In my courses, the teachers told me about a world in which ostensibly one-half the human race is doing everything significant and the other half doesn’t exist. I asked myself how this checked against my own life experience. ‘This is garbage; this is not the world in which I have lived,’ I said."
Feminist historian Gerda Lerner has passed away at 92. An original member of the National Organization for Women, Lerner was a pioneer in the field of women's history, teaching what is thought to be the first women’s history course in the world and later establishing the first women's history graduate program in the United States. She led a fascinating life. [more inside]
"Reading comments on any article about pantyhose, you’d think we were talking about the Gaza strip, not flimsy tubes of nylon. Trends come and go... But there’s something about pantyhose that’s oddly divisive." Autumn Whitefield-Madrano on The Beheld with Hosed: Conservatism and the Return of Pantyhose. [more inside]
Ever played Monopoly? Then you've played a board game that was designed by a woman (it was, under its original title, "The Landlord's Game," the creation of Elizabeth Magie). Want to play more board games designed by women? Let's go! [more inside]
On misogyny in comedy: Why women are a "problem".
Instead, your article suggests that women should be focused on making one shitty dude's life better.
If a man finds himself attracted to a woman who doesn't conform to this list (more on the specifics of the list in a minute), does he not count as a man? What if she's "perfect" for him? What if she makes him feel like a whole person for the first time in his life, but she just happens to have chunky ankles? What does "perfect" mean then? What does "hot" mean? What does "the One" mean? What we're setting up here is an impossible cultural standard that excludes...well...100% of women. Because literally no one is that weird Frankenstein's Monster-with-Benefits that your art department put together. In her typical masterful style, Jezebel's Lindy West reminds us that being a perfect woman is no excuse for being actively harmful to humanity.
"Older parenthood will upend American society." "Is waiting to have kids a big mistake?" "Why do women believe they can delay children for so long?" "Older men are more likely than young ones to father a child who develops autism or schizophrenia, because of random mutations that become more numerous with advancing paternal age."
Victoria's Secret has a new line of feminist-friendly underwear: PINK ♥s Consent. Except not really -- it's a hoax site created by FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture. The internet's response has been tremendous.
As the conversation about the state of games criticism continues, there is a site that acts as a platform for some of the best writing in the field by theorists, critics, and independent developers: Nightmare Mode dot net. [more inside]
I am BUSY today, far too busy for a rant, but then I felt one coming on, and was worried I might end up with a migraine if I tried to stifle it. You know how it is. So let’s talk about sexism in history vs. sexism in fantasy. [more inside]
The Hairpin's Jia Tolentino holds three interviews with virgins. (Trigger warnings on the second and third stories.)
Women's rights are for men? Arguments for expanding women's rights on the basis that men will benefit have a long history. Two well-known examples from the US: During the struggle for women's suffrage in the US, one of the arguments put forth was that
women deserved the vote because they were different from men. They could make their domesticity into a political virtue, using the franchise to create a purer, more moral "maternal commonwealth." This argument served many political agendas: Temperance advocates, for instance, wanted women to have the vote because they thought it would mobilize an enormous voting bloc on behalf of their cause, and many middle-class white people were swayed once again by the argument that the enfranchisement of white women would "ensure immediate and durable white supremacy, honestly attained."A similar argument crops up in debates over coeducation at formerly all-male liberal arts colleges history of coeducation at US colleges, where "[s]upporters of coeducation often argued that the presence of women would have a civilizing effect on male students," and the decision by administrators to admit women was often based on largely economic concerns. [more inside]
"It’s really simple. I just want as many guys as possible who have an opinion about how they see women treated in culture whether it’s an observation about the news or speaking up about how they feel when their wife comes home and tells him about an instance of gender discrimination." - Comedian Jen Kirkman on why she started MA'AM: Men Against Assholes & Misogyny.
Ariel Meadow Stallings (creator of Offbeat Mama and Offbeat Bride) on liberal bullying: "...what's the biggest challenge we deal with every day? The challenge that has my editors second-guessing every post and quaking in fear, just waiting for the awfulness to begin? It's attacks from our fellow progressives... Increasingly, I've started recognizing this kind of behavior for what it is: privilege-checking as a form of internet sport. It's a kind of trolling, with all the politics I agree with, but motivations and execution that turns my stomach. It's well-intended (SO well-intended), but when the motivations seem to be less about opening dialogue about the issues, and more about performance, righteousness, and intolerance for those who don't agree with you… well, I'm not on-board." [more inside]
"The experiences of women may not be easy to portray in the aggressive world of videogames. If such a game is made - and I hope it is - it will be because its creators demanded to be heard. It will be created because women made it." (Source)While the vast majority of video game titles are designed primarily by men, women have been a part of video game development since the earliest arcades. Here are some of their games: [more inside]
"I wish to dispel the notion that women are “more emotional.” I don’t think we are. I think that the emotions women stereotypically express are what men call “emotions,” and the emotions that men typically express are somehow considered by men to be something else." Jen Dziura in The Gloss: "When men are too emotional to have a rational argument."
I Was A Teenage Sexist - "Girls – the ones we think of as “cool” – don’t trust other women, women who play by gender “rules” that the rest of us cannot quite understand. The most important things those women can seemingly do are spend money on clothes and appeal to the opposite sex. Meanwhile, we ourselves don’t feel particularly female. We only feel like people. It’s a tough fall. People intuitively detect that attitude, go out of their way to remind you that you’re not fooling anybody. You are a woman, and you will only ever be a woman." [more inside]
Can I Buy You a Coffee? "Harassment isn’t once. Harassment comes from a lifetime of dealing with people constantly doing things to you, whether you wanted them or not, at random intervals. You learn not to trust people. And what might have been pleasant, once, as an isolated incident, starts to feel pretty oppressive when it’s something you deal with on a weekly basis. It changes you, and then guys call you bitchy when you don’t feel like playing along and pretending this is just about the coffee."
On the 40th anniversary of the release of "Free To Be... You and Me," a three-part piece in Slate examines the genesis and impact of this influential album and its accompanying TV special.
The fight for feminism, as explained by dudes who totally get it. (featuring one of my favorite comedians, Guy Brannum)
The 14 year old Pakistani diarist and feminist activist Malala Yousafzai (ملاله یوسفزۍ) has been shot in the head in a targeted attack by the Taliban [NewsPakistan] [AFP]. She is presently in hospital, and in a stable condition. The attack was in apparent reprisal for passing her diaries regarding the Taliban's ban on female education to the BBC in 2009 [original BBC diary story], but also her continued activism and pressure for women and girls' rights. The attempted killing is part of a wider conflict over women's rights within Pakistan, and Pakistani feminism in general tends to be bound up with religion and the shifting boundaries of having to argue against both the patriarchal government and the Taliban itself.
"But I say, you have to put your ego aside and play by the rules so you can get to the top and change things."
Female executives at Twitter, Yahoo and Google discuss work/life balance at the top of the tech industry, how women should negotiate at work, and whether women view job satisfaction differently than their male colleagues. [more inside]
In February, PBS and AOL launched Makers, a video archive containing personal stories and anecdotes told in the first person by women, many of whom have sparked groundbreaking changes in American culture. [more inside]
Caitlin Moran: On a mission from god to reclaim feminism, or an excuse to crash a lot of cars and have a lot of fun
At 16, she published her first book, started writing for Melody Maker, and won the Observer Young Reporter Of The Year competition, and they gave her a column. At 17, she "skipped ship" over to The Times, and has been writing there since. U2 filmed a video in her house at 18, when she was co-presenting on the short-lived Naked City program, interviewing Björk, Iggy Pop, and others. Caitlin Moran won the British Press Awards' Columnist of The Year award in 2010 and Critic and Interviewer of the Year in 2011, and Glamour Magazine's Writer of the Year award in 2012. The last award was in large part for her book How To Be a Woman, her mission from God to reclaim feminism, though it was more in the lines of The Blues Brothers: crashing a lot of cars, and having a hoot. The "British Tina Fey" talks about contemporary sexual issues such as slut walks, pop culture, clothing and women, abortion, having the sex talk, and why "it's actually technically impossible for a woman to argue against feminism".
“Feminine stereotypes historically have haunted women scientists, including Rosalind Franklin, a co-discoverer of DNA. In his 1968 account 'The Double Helix,' James Watson, one of the genetics pioneers who had relied on Franklin's work, unflatteringly recounted Franklin's lack of lipstick and her unwillingness to dress in a more feminine manner. But the idea of combining 'beauty and brains' may represent progress of sorts. Two decades ago, Teen Talk Barbie was telling young American girls, 'Math class is tough.' The Miss Rikei Contest stands directly opposed to that message, as does Ebbel Angle's encouragement of young girls who want to become princess scientists.” (LiveScience.com)
They avoid the treacherous edges, they navigate the contradictions as best they can, they do everything they’re supposed to to stay inside the box. And what’s the prize? Noah Brand and Ozy Frantz on the "man box".
"The Creepicus Complainicus, of the genus “Saddest Panda.” His cry is 'Why won’t someone just touch my wiener?'" Captain Awkward addresses the perrenial case of the creepy dude and the development of the proto-rapist. [more inside]
Sofie Peeters, a student in Belgium has sparked controversy with her film about being intimidated simply for walking down the street. [edited to add: English subtitles version] [more inside]
Molly Paxton, Carrie Figdor, and Valerie Tiberius have a new paper in Hypatia quantifying the gender gap in philosophy (pdf). [more inside]
Two writers discusses race, class, feminism and its intersections in this wide-ranging discussion about what feminism can mean for women of colour. Refreshingly substantive.
Billy Joel has now officially endorsed - The Longest Time (Coral Triangle Edition), by the Barber Lab Quartet [more inside]
In July 2007, NPR published a two part series (direct links: 1, 2) about a four year old uninvestigated rape case at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Sparked in part by a 2006 report (pdf) from Amnesty International that included a startling statistic: "One in three Native American women will be raped in her lifetime," NPR's investigation led to the reopening of the case and Congressional hearings. In February 2011, Harper's published an update of sorts: Tiny Little Laws: A Plague of Sexual Violence in Indian Country (Via)
"I had always assumed that if I could get a foreign-policy job in the State Department or the White House while my party was in power, I would stay the course as long as I had the opportunity to do work I loved. But in January 2011, when my two-year public-service leave from Princeton University was up, I hurried home as fast as I could." Anne Marie Slaughter, the former policy director for the State Department and professor at Princeton University, has written a nuanced essay for this month's Atlantic Monthly, about the feminist generation gap and work-life balance at the top levels of government and academia: Why Women Still Can't Have It All. [more inside]
"And finally, Mr. Speaker, I'm flattered that you're all so interested my vagina, but 'no' means 'no.'" After this pointed observation, Michigan Representative Lisa Brown (D) was subsequently barred from speaking on a bill about the retirement of school employees. Twitter responds. Meanwhile, many remember a similar kerfuffle over the word "uterus" in Florida last May.
This story could be called "The Quest for a Personality" -- or "15 Guys in Search of a Feminine Identity" -- or "How Miss Virginia Slims Got to Be the Kind of Girl She Is."
From UCSF's Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, "How an Agency Builds a Brand--The Virginia Slims Story." [more inside]
One thing I am going to do differently as a parent is go easy on the ‘save sex for someone special’ rhetoric with my kids – both with my daughter and my son. Feminist and mother Blue Milk on the downside of encouraging young girls to "save themselves."
Model Behavior: A Laurie Penny essay on gender presentation, anorexia, neoliberalism, capitalism, queerness, gender, drag, media, America's Next Top Model, and a few other things.