Daily Feminist Cheat Sheet

Lupita on cover of People

Lupita Nyong’o became the third black woman –and the first dark-skinned woman — to be named People’s “Most Beautiful” person of the year.

Emma Stone FTW.

Chelsea Manning’s legal name change was granted, although she’s still fighting for access to trans health care.

23 ways feminists have made the world better.

A heartwarming display of solidarity in response to victim-blaming at Vanderbilt.

Thanks to the reauthorization of the VAWA, tribal courts can now prosecute non–Native Americans accused of domestic violence.

An interview with the only abortion provider in North Dakota.

Yeah, I’d get pretty excited about a two-woman presidential ticket.

Read Justice Sotomayor’s dissent.

Tagged | Leave a comment

“You can’t self-help away deeply-ingrained structural discrimination.”

The Confidence Code book coverJessica has a good piece in The Guardian today on the gender confidence gap and the new book The Confidence Code which “argues that what’s truly holding women back is their own self-doubt.” As Amanda Hess has noted, this book is part of a genre that’s enjoying popularity right now — one that she describes as teaching women how “you, too, can become a successful blowhard.”

As Amanda notes, it’s worth questioning if we really want to be imitating the attributes of overconfident high-achievers. And it’s also debatable if that’ll even work. The confidence gap, Jessica argues, is a reflection of a culture that gives women no reason to feel self-assured.” So you can “fake it ’til you make it” all you want, but real change won’t come until the culture shifts.

In girlhood, starkly-divided toy aisles teach us that engineering, electronics and science toys are for boys, that the futures for which we should be preparing are those of the Barbie Dream House variety. Adolescent girls – especially girls of color – are given less teacher attention in the classroom than their male peers. A full 56% of female students report being sexually harassed. Sexual assault on college campuses is rampant and goes largely unpunished, women can barely walk down the street without fear of harassment, and we make up the majority of American adults in poverty.

The truth is, if you’re not insecure, you’re not paying attention. Women’s lack of confidence could actually just be a keen understanding of just how little American society values them.

While encouraging women to have more self-esteem is not a bad idea generally, there’s no evidence that being more assertive will change the way women are perceived in the workplace. Confident women at work are still labeled ”bossy” and “bitchy”, to their own detriment – unless they can “turn it off”. And despite all the gains women have made, most Americans – men and women – would still prefer a male boss. While Kay and Shipman give a nod to ambitious women who are judged more harshly than their male peers, they seem to have no solution – other than putting the onus on women to change.

For example, when Kay and Shipman talked to young women participating in Running Start – an organization that trains college-aged women to run for public office – they heard from one woman worried about being labeled a “bitch” if she was too assertive. Another spoke up about the difference between going to an all-girls school – where everyone raised her hand – and her current school, where women didn’t speak up in class.

Kay and Shipman’s response is to bemoan “what a waste of energy and talent all this agonizing can be”. But where they see agonizing, I see identifying discrimination – a first step in taking action to end sexism. In the 1970s, this kind of consciousness-raising sparked a new wave of feminism. Now, decades later, women are perplexingly being advised to turn inward to solve external problems.

I think that last point is really key. As we discussed during the whole Ban Bossy debate, instilling more confidence and leadership skills in women and girls is good. It only becomes a problem if we pretend that these individual empowerment efforts are all it takes to end gender inequality. So yes, go ahead and work hard to try to unlearn the self-doubt instilled by a sexist society — but, far more importantly, talk about that shit. With everyone, all the time, until it stops being so hard.

Maya DusenberyMaya still finds it easier to speak up in class on the internet.

Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The personal is political, and also personal: Why choosing to date within your race isn’t racist

I fear that I’m about to wade into all kinds of messy territory, but alas, that is the work of feminist critical thinking. This morning I came across a Slate piece by Reihan Salam about why expressing a same-race preference on dating websites is racist. I beg to differ. Salam’s main argument comes down to this:

“There are good reasons to question the moral appropriateness of strong same-race preferences and their close cousin, in-group favoritism. In The American Non-Dilemma, Nancy DiTomaso argues that persistent racial inequality in the United States is not solely or even primarily a reflection of racism and discrimination. Rather, it reflects the fact that whites tend to help other whites without ever discriminating against or behaving cruelly toward blacks and other nonwhites. As long as whites tend to dominate prestigious occupations, and as long as they control access to valuable social resources like access to good schools, the fact that whites, like all people, will do more to help family, friends, and acquaintances than strangers will tend to entrench racial inequality, provided that white people choose to associate primarily with other whites. DiTomaso observes that while Americans place very high value on the idea of equal opportunity, virtually all of us seek ‘unequal opportunity’ in our own lives by leveraging our intimate relationships to achieve our goals, including our professional goals. Yet most of us don’t see the help of family and friends as an unfair leg up. This kind of ‘opportunity hoarding’ is accepted as par for the course.”

Interracial dating is not the ultimate manifestation of an anti-racist society, nor is it a walk in the park for the people in those relationships. For those who want to date outside of their race, it can mean damaging relationships with their families, becoming a target for discrimination, or being asked ridiculous questions like these. And in case some of you are thinking, “They shouldn’t  let the ‘racist’ actions and ides of others stand in the way of their diversity-tolerance-and-unity-building love,” I’m here to politely remind you that this isn’t Romeo and Juliet. These are people’s lives. I’m not sure about you, but if I knew dating a white girl would be grounds for me to lose my job or get kicked out of the house, I’d go ahead and pick from another dating pool. I’ll take “bills paid and a roof over my head” for $800, Alex.  Read More »

Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Student kicked out of her prom for wearing pants

Shafer Rupard

Shafer Rupard’s red skinny jeans got her kicked out of prom.

Ah, the prom. That awkward night of teenagers dressing up and pretending to be adults remains one of our most long-standing and universal rites of passage. As such, it often seems to reveal a lot about how far we have — and haven’t — come in breaking down traditional norms around gender and sexuality. For every trailblazing trans teen who runs for prom king, or cross-dressing boy who wins prom king, or gay boy who wins prom queen,  you’ve got teachers lobbying for LGBTQ-free proms and lesbian couples prohibited from attending or sent to a fake prom instead.

The latest tale of gender policing at prom comes from Cherryville High School in North Carolina, where high school senior Shafer Rupard was kicked out of her prom for wearing…pants. Read More »

Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Your Daily Poem: Eileen Myles

Ed. note: For National Poetry Month, we’re highlighting one feminist poem each day in April. See the whole series here.

Today’s poem is “An American Poem” by Eileen Myles.

Read More »

Tagged , | Leave a comment
158 queries. 0.498 seconds