Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Women - Know your limits!

This video made me laugh. Especially the part at the end where the husband praises his wife's delicate mind.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

What is Femininity?

I just posted this over at Twisty's place, because that's where I got inspired to make it, but I thought I'd post it here too. It's a collage I whipped up last night (I was in a funky depressed-manic mood, mostly from reading too many news stories that involved women being killed, maimed, or otherwise assaulted) in response to the question: What is femininity?

Femininity is one of those prettyful (and lately, empowerful) labels that society (a.k.a the patriarchy) uses to otherwise strip women of their status as humans. Some women cling to this label to be otherwise validated by men and women (as I used to be, in my insecure teenage days). Honestly, I'm not a great writer, so the collage below is meant to represent what I see when I hear the word "femininity".


(Here is the bigger version).

Take from that what you will.

I added the dumb fantasy part at the top, because to me femininity (as society sees it) is not only a stupid fantasy, but it's a fantasy where the feminine one is stupid (we're supposed to know more about the science of fashion, babies, and relationships, versus actual lab science, because our fragile feminine minds just aren't built for all those complicated concepts). On a side note, my dad told me he used to go to college with a guy who wanted to marry a "stupid woman", because then he would be able to tell her what to think and what to do. (I think he succeeded, and then they divorced just a few years later, unsurprisingly.)

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Blog Against Sexism Day

I have two topics to talk about today, in honor of Blog Against Sexism Day.

I was browsing around yesterday (not necessarily looking for links about misogyny, but you know, they aren't really hard to find on the internet, where the sexists and racists can hide behind the cloak of anonymity), and I found a link to this forum. (A little background information, the forum is frequented by people either working in the medical/pharma industry or looking for jobs or advice about breaking into the industry. So, the people who post here aren't teenage internet goons, they're supposedly professionals, although that certainly doesn't mean that they're not prone to sophomoric behavior.)

The original poster says that she's interviewed many times for a job in medical devices (I'm guessing med device sales), and five times she's been up to the point where it's been her versus another candidate for the job, and every time it's been a guy and he's been chosen over her, and one time it was a guy she knew who was less qualified than her. (She posted twice in the forum, so some of this information came from her second post.) So she was asking for advice on what she could do to break into the industry. Here are some responses she got:

I let them know that I wouldn't back down regardless of what a doc did or said and I had specific examples to share as to what I had done in past circumstances when faced with a challenge.

So pretty much, one woman let her potential employer know that if she were faced with a "challenge" about what another doctor said or did to her, she wouldn't press charges. These good ol' boys wouldn't want to have any unpleasantness, you know.

This is the reason guys get jobs...they don't bitch.

Yeah, sure. "Bitching" is something exclusive to women. Guys never complain about anything.

I'm sorry, I have to laugh!! I would work with guys 100% of the time, if I could. I am here at home with no job due to the female cats out there. I also am turning 60 so I have age as another problem. BUT the women out there are a mess! They whisper, harbor knowledge, want to see you fall, etc. I really need a job and now my name is tarnished to say the least. Men are great, they take it and brush it off and move on.

That was from (supposedly) another woman. As Twisty said, "When women hate women, it is only men hating women by proxy." Women oppress other women all the time, because they themselves are oppressed (just as men are oppressed by the patriarchy).

For better or worse...med device sales are still a male bastion because the job is considered both physically and mentally hard. Women in the pharm industry have made a bad reputation for all women in med sales. Most female pharma reps are preening, pretentious, Barbie doll clones with questionable work ethics (I was a pharma DM for 4 years). Unfortunately this is the dominant view so you'll have to show real ACCOMPLISHMENTS to get hired.

Physically hard? Why, do you have to lug around a heart and lung machine everyday? And if "Barbie doll clones with questionable work ethics" are hired, maybe the ethics of the hiring managers should be questioned. More attractive people probably have an easier time making sales, so it's not surprising that a manager would consider looks over qualifications.
Each Manager wants something specific going into an interview (even if it is all HOT blonds with long legs, men, frat boys, etc).
Oh, each manager wants something different, so it's OK that they openly discriminate against individuals who are qualified for the job but not qualified enough to win a beauty pageant.

Most people know enough to know what racist statements are, but if you substitute gender terms for racial terms, people suddenly think it's OK to be sexist. Or sometimes there is the political equivalent, where people think it's OK to be sexist against someone because they don't believe the same political/social ideas as them (see Ann Coulter criticism from liberal dudes for a good example).


Now that you're done reading that, here's my second topic that relates to sexism.

Yesterday, I was having a discussion with two feminist colleagues about prostitution. I'm very much against the institution of prostitution (not prostituted women) and the practice wouldn't be so prolific if there wasn't a market for it. We were talking about the legalization of prostitution, and even though I'm against the legalization of the sexual oppression of women, I'm also against criminalizing these prostituted women. I hypothesized that perhaps by legalizing prostitution nationwide (because it is legal in Nevada, I think), the spread of disease could be regulated, and these women could be better cared for and safer (in a brothel versus in a back alley).

However, one of the women pointed out that most prostitutes are under the age of 18, therefore illegal prostitution would still exist, even if it were legalized and regulated. So legalizing prostitution is a red herring thrown to those of us who want to make sure that prostituted adult women are provided with some sort of care. She found a report from a few years ago about prostitution in NYC that reported that "[...] some estimates hold that half the girls involved in street prostitution are between the ages of 13 and 15; many have been reported to start as early as age 11."

The report went on to state "Boys, perhaps surprisingly, are said to constitute up to half the population of sexually exploited youth in the City." I suppose this fact is only surprising to people who consider women to be the "sex class". Boys can be exploited sexually just as easily as girls.


To end on a lighter note, I just got my copy of Shulamith Firestone's The Dialectic of Sex, so hopefully I will have some free time to read it this weekend (even though I missed out on the Shulamarathon at Twisty's page.)

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

My new favorite zinester: Merrydeath

I've been shopping at the local punk junk store (Happy Birthday Mike Leslie, where I also put a couple of handmade things up for sale), and I'm in love with the zine selection. (A bit of background: I didn't grow up in a city, so even after living in one for five years, I'm still getting used to the neat things a city has to offer, like access to underground punk stores and zines.)

I bought both issues of Mine: An Anthology of Women's Choices by Merrydeath Stern. Basically, both issues are collections of abortion stories. They are all pro-choice, but they all present abortion in a different light. Some women were relieved at the experience, some women were torn up emotionally (maybe not so much from the abortion but from the way they were treated), and some women were a combination of both.


Issue #1 had a lot of stories about medical abortion, and a surprising amount of stories about women who had successful abortions without going to clinics (through herbs or performed by midwives). I hadn't really looked into the herbal aspect before I picked up this zine, so afterwards I did my own research (on the internet, so it's a little sketchy) about emmenagogues and other herbs.


Issue #2 was different because Merrydeath tried to get more stories from women of color. The contributors for the first issue were apparently white, and they had better access to abortion services (even if the services were sub-par), so the author tried to get stories from poor women. I noticed that many women had heard about herbal abortions, but they didn't know any definite information. The main issues were illegal abortions and the lack of information on methods to try other than medical abortions (which are costly, and therefore inaccessible to the same people who can't afford birth control).

Both issues were only $2.00, and if you can't find them at your local zine shop, you can buy them online.

I really enjoyed both issues. First of all, they were put together really nicely, with Merrydeath providing a lot of the artwork and the layout (and she also talks about her own abortion in the first issue). Secondly, one thing most of the women had in common was that even though they had friends supporting them through the abortion, they didn't really have many women they could talk to about their own abortion experiences. I always hear about the debate between pro- and anti-choicers, but I never actually get to hear from the women themselves who have to go through this, so it was a refreshing perspective.

These weren't just stories about abortion. The women mostly told elaborate stories about their lives and events that were going on at the time of their pregnancies. The abortions themselves only lasted about 15 minutes, even though that was the main focus of each story.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Teenage Single Mom

Awesome graphic novel that I just finished

Even though right now I don't have much in the way of disposable income, and I am usually pretty frugal, I went to the local comic book store the other day and bought The Amazing "True" Story of a Teenage Single Mom. It was an interesting find, and even though it was $16.00, I decided to treat myself to an hour of entertainment.

I'm going to try not to give away the whole plot, because it is honestly a book everyone should read (and I could even see reading it to kids, although some of the scenes are a little graphic), so here goes: It's a first person perspective of one woman's life as a young mother. She faces not only adversity from being a woman, but also from having made a "mistake" by having sex at a young age. Because as someone told her while she was pregnant, "But someone said I made my bed, so I should lie in it." (Not only her figurative bed, but the bed she is implied to have laid in before her pregnancy.) After her baby, she laid in her bed and dreamed about her future.

She struggles through menial jobs to scrape out a living, and she ends up leaving her situation with a guy who turns out to be abusive. Then it is revealed that she has been around abusive people her whole life, from her mother (who didn't want anything to do with her and let her sister raise her), to her sister's husband (who almost raped her), to her baby's father (a random man who raped her after her sister kicked her out for fighting back against her husband).

But in the end, it's a story of hope (or else she wouldn't have been able to write this book), and it has a happy ending. I haven't given away the whole plot, mind you, because there are a lot of details and events that happen in her life. Also, the graphic novel is worth reading because the pictures are very interesting (the rapists and abusers in her life slowly turn from normal looking people into monsters). Whenever I read stories like these (see A Child Called "It" too), I always think it's so amazing that these people were able to overcome such hardships and tragedies to become the people that they are today.

The book at least one issue familiar to feminists: women who have babies (especially young mothers) and are unmarried are very publicly judged and people just assume that these "sluts" just got what they deserved. Of course, having a baby before marriage is wrong, because it fouls the property that only the husband can rightfully claim on his wedding night. (After marriage, babies turn from "mistakes" into "blessings".)

I'm a bit brain dead from my work schedule to offer much more than this short review, but this book is definitely worth a read, and I'll be keeping it around in my library and probably lending it out to friends.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Evil Lib-ruls and Feminazis

It's funny to think about how strongly feminist (and mostly liberal) I am, considering the fact that my parents are both conservative Republicans and listeners of Limbaugh. Today I talked to my dad, and he mentioned that there is going to be a "conservative response" to The Daily Show. (I did my own searching and found out about The 1/2 Hour News Hour here. Yeah, Faux News is pretty much a staple at my parents' house, so I'm not surprised that the show is broadcast from there.)

Of course, I reminded him that when he listened to shows that vilified liberals and feminists, he should think of me, his own flesh and blood, and remember that I'm not a bad person, nor am I an unreasonable person. I told him I was the kind of person that Rush Limbaugh would hate, and he didn't believe me.

I don't really have much to say about this, I just hope that I provided enough of a human link for my parents to realize that when they listen to that crap on the radio and TV about what feminists and liberals are really like, they think about me, and they realize that it's not really true.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Upcoming Events

I'm still not used to living close to a city (OK I'm an hour away from Boston, but that's a lot closer to a major city than where I grew up), so I only recently started taking advantage of all the neat things that happen during the weekends. I already have a couple major events that I want to go to this March:

1. MFA screening of China Blue on Saturday, March 8. It's a movie about a blue jeans factory in China, and it focuses on the lives of the women and girls who run the machines. It looks really interesting because it doesn't just focus on the bad factory conditions, but it also looks into what these people are actually like. On a funny note, the guy who made the movie also made a fake propaganda film about the factory to appease the guy who runs the company (who thought that the footage was going to be used in a positive light).

2. Wheelock College's conference about pornography, pop culture, and feminist theory, March 23-25. I get to meet so few actual feminists who know something about theory, so that's one reason I want to go. The other is because I'm not so familiar with the debate on the pornification of culture (hey go easy on me, I have two jobs, I don't have time to research everything). It sounds pretty darn interesting, and I hope that I can meet some people to discuss theory with.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


I read a post lately at Feministing about the so-called IWF denouncing feminism for making girls and women "sluttier" and saying how feminism promotes a "hook-up" culture. And I've been watching mainstream news more often than I would've liked this past week. If they're not discussing Anna Nicole (and by "discussing", I mean showing pictures of her barely concealed bosom and of the contents of her fridge), they're discussing the effect that Britney, Paris, and Lindsay (so infamous we no longer need to use their last names) are having on young girls, based on the fact that they party a lot and don't wear panties. (No underwear? Alert the media!)

I've heard many times how feminists are the ones responsible for women becoming "sluts". (Unlike men, but hey, I wouldn't want to cramp a playa's style.) Here's a thought: if more money was spent on adequate sex education, if parents didn't get offended at the mention of the word "vagina", if teenagers (mostly girls, but I know boys also have insecurity issues) were talked to earlier about sex and respecting one's body, maybe they wouldn't feel the urge to let just anybody touch them. Maybe if girls were taught that "the first love is self love" (something a friend of mine once found in a fortune cookie), they would feel more comfortable touching their "dirty" parts.

Parents tend to take the "I'll Tell You When You're Older"or "Ask Me Any Questions You Want" approach when confronting their kids with the issue of sex. The problem with the first approach is that kids are naturally curious, and telling a child that you won't talk about something until they're a certain age makes it a taboo subject and lets your child know that there certain subjects that they can't get information from you about, even when they're the "right" age. The second approach appears to be more open, but honestly, what questions is a child going to have about sex? If you want your child to understand more than just the general mechanics, you have to be the one to volunteer the information. Otherwise, they will find out elsewhere, whether it's from their friends or someone who is having sex with them.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Man in the Box

It's my fourth day in my new job and already I'm "out" as a feminist. I've kind of joked about it, and I haven't been as abrasive about my views as I might normally be around people I'm more comfortable with, but it's work, so I've learned to tone it down for the sake of getting along with my coworkers (I'd rather fight my battles when my job security is better).

Anyway, I brought up the fact that I was feminist, and that launched one of my dudely coworkers into a tirade about how feminism has chipped away at the spirits of men, so that they're only shells of their former, glorious selves. To illustrate his point, he drew a square on the board. He pointed out that men used to be able to do whatever they wanted, so they had all the room they wanted in this square. Then feminists came along (at this point he shaded 1/3 of the square) and told men they couldn't behave in certain ways. Then more feminists came along (and there goes another 1/3 of the square) and men were even more restricted in how they could act, until finally (everything but a small portion of the square is shaded at this point) men were only able to behave according to a small amount of behaviors.

I'm not sure exactly what his point was. Men are restricted as to how to behave? You mean they can't just go around treating their wives as slaves-with-benefits? Maybe he was referring to the "good ol' days," where dudes could be dudes, and girls could be virgins or sluts. I tried to point out that stereotypical dude behavior was mostly enforced by other dudes ("Dude, I'm not gay or anything!"), but my point was lost. I don't know why people can't understand that feminism does not seek to immasculate men, but rather to liberate them from patriarchy. It was interesting that my coworker chose to use a box to represent how guys have been allowed to act within society, because he probably didn't realize that the box represented patriarchal values.

And on to a separate, but important, issue: the whole vulva vs. vagina thing really bothers me. The vulva contains all of the external parts of the female reproductive system, and the vagina is simply the passage between the cervix and the hymen. But why do we refer to the vulva as the vagina? Perhaps because the patriarchy values the vagina most of all. Not only is it the passage from the womb (the battleground of the woman, where the patriarchy seeks to control entrance and exit), but it's also the passage to dude-hood, whereby a dude transitions from a boy to a man, simply through sticking himself inside. The clitoris? Pubic mound? Labia? These things are of no concern to a dude, they just get in the way of his groin spasm (unless he's one of those modern dudes who measures his manhood by how often he can make his woman fake it).

The urge to correct people when they say "vagina" and they mean "vulva" is really hard for me to control. It's only slightly less annoying than, say, when people say they "could" care less versus they "couldn't" (and I've gotten in the argument before with people convinced that they actually *could* care less about something).

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

For that "disinfected" feeling

I was on one of my rambling internet searches the other day (you know, the one where you start searching for a recipe using blackberries and somehow you end up reading all about american flag bikinis?) when I found this gem:

Lysol Douche Love Quiz
(Yanked from the Museum of Menstruation.)

Charming, huh? That was an ad for alternative uses of Lysol in 1948. I'm not too shocked that the medical profession view douching as "necessary" for a woman to retain her "youthfulness", but the website mentions that douching with Lysol was recommended "several times a week". I wouldn't even wash my most calloused skin with Lysol, never mind my more delicate regions.

Modern medicine has changed, but age old practices like douching still exist, especially in regions where people don't have access to good healthcare. Even women who don't douche on a regular basis, or at all, are still told that the douche is for "cleansing," and the US Dept. of Health and Human Services estimates that 20-40 percent of women still practice douching (which is absurd, considering the fact that the vagina, like the nose, is a self-cleaning organ), with at least half of those doing it once or more a week. The region inside the vagina is actually acidic (to prevent infections), and the best way to clean the vulva* is actually to use a more acidic soap (like Nature's Plus Natural Cleansing Bar, which also works great for the rest of your skin because the acidity helps slough off dead skin).

*Note that I said "vulva," not "vagina." The vulva is the external female genitalia, often confused with the vagina, which is actually just the region inside between the hymen and the cervix. It's best not to use any sort of cleaner on the sensitive membrane inside the vagina, but for the vulva, the acidic soap works the best. It's a bit of a peeve of mine that "vagina" is such a mainstream word people use when they actually mean the "vulva," but I'll save that discussion for later.