Weekly Feminist Reader

South Carolina police bust a sex-slavery ring.
Mexico City holds hearings on legislation to decriminalize abortion.
California law prohibits HIV-positive men from donating sperm, even though the virus can be “washed out” of sperm.
Catholics for a Free Choice filed an IRS complaint against Priests for Life.
What’s life really like for women on active duty in the military?
Glamour explores the issue of opting-out.
In These Times reviews Jennifer Baumgardner’s Bisexual Politics. And our gal Courtney Martin discusses Baumgardner’s theory of “gay expectations.”
Major women’s clothing retailers in Spain have partnered with the government to standardize clothing sizes, and create garments that are a better reflection of real women’s bodies.
Clinical trials in the UK are testing a new brand of emergency contraception called Ella.
Complaints of pregnancy discrimination are on the rise.
Wanderlust with Rhonda is a cross-country bike ride to promote reproductive autonomy and increased access to health care, and to combat negative images of female sexuality.
A Massachusetts woman who self-induced abortion won’t be charged with homicide.
I wrote about the gathering momentum for comprehensive sex ed, at both the state and national level.
How cyberstalking disproportionately targets women.
…and how teen girls are bullied into stripping for webcams.
Shocking research: Women feel bad about themselves after looking at models’ bodies.
The Chicago Tribune reports on crisis-pregnancy centers.
The LA Times corrects its misinformation about Margaret Sanger’s views on race.

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  1. SDstuck
    Posted April 1, 2007 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    On the opt out article:
    The higher up you are the worse you are going to fall. My suggestion is that if your young and successful and think you might want to opt out and stay home at some point you should heavily invest or save in a seperate account. If you never use it you have it for retirement. This would also serve as a safety net if you become seriously ill and can’t work. Leaving work really knocks you off the food chain. That resume of past experience will help so your not working at McDonalds but jumping into where you left off – forget it.
    On the sex slave article:
    I was floored to find something like this happening where I lived. There is an asian guy who has four women who he is doing this to. He freely admitted he had their passports and they work for him. He claims he is helping them get their greencards but that is rather doubtful. This crap is far more common that people think. I told a bunch of people about this and they just could not believe it was happening.

  2. Posted April 1, 2007 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    I wonder how eighty one women would feel about their bodies after looking at Jessica’s book cover for three minutes.

  3. Ismone
    Posted April 1, 2007 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    I noticed that the woman who won’t be charged with murder will still be charged with illegally procuring an abortion, which carries a sentence of up to seven years in prison. I wish they wouldn’t charge her at all, or with some sort of misdemeanor charge involving something with importing prescription drugs, or something.

  4. UltraMagnus
    Posted April 1, 2007 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    I wonder how eighty one women would feel about their bodies after looking at Jessica’s book cover for three minutes.
    Oh give it a rest. Who exactly would you have put on the cover? An obviously *fat* woman? Well then someone would complain by saying “See! Feminists are fat!” or someone would say Jessica’s not representing the “naturally” skinny women, or that she’s setting a bad standard because obesity is an epidemic etc. etc.
    I can bitch that Jessica didn’t put any black women on the cover, wouldn’t do anyone a damn bit of good.
    And I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that the cover might have a bit of irony about it.

  5. EG
    Posted April 1, 2007 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    I’m with you, UltraMagnus. Can we declare a moratorium on talking about Jessica’s book cover, at least for a while? Is there anything that anyone’s going to say about it that hasn’t been said before?
    I tell you what, seeing people turn on Jessica and her book because she wasn’t somehow perfectly in step with their fantasies of a feminist book has done more to make me like the cover than anything else could have.

  6. Posted April 1, 2007 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    I had not commented on the cover, actually, but the article got me thinking as to why I was totally disgusted by it.
    I think she could have picked something other than a woman’s naked body, fat, skinny, black, or purple, to represent ground-breaking theory on women’s rights. I think she could have stepped up to the plate a little more, something a little more original than “sex sells”.

  7. donna darko
    Posted April 1, 2007 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Anyone who criticizes it also has to look at market realities and visit any Barnes and Noble or Border’s women’s studies section. 95% or more of the authors and covers are white.

  8. Posted April 1, 2007 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and just because I dislike the book cover does not mean I am turning on Jessica. There’s a little bit of Dubya thinking to that argument, I suspect.

  9. Posted April 1, 2007 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    The book is called Full Frontal Feminism. What exactly would you put on a book with that title?

  10. UltraMagnus
    Posted April 1, 2007 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    I had not commented on the cover, actually, but the article got me thinking as to why I was totally disgusted by it.
    Really? Then I supposed I made this up on my own:
    I wonder how eighty one women would feel about their bodies after looking at Jessica’s book cover for three minutes.
    Didn’t comment on the cover? Riiiiiight. You were commenting on an article that said women looking at model’s bodies had low self esteem and then you compare that to Jessica’s book cover, making it seem as if Jessica was incahoots with modeling industry to make women feel like shit, even if they’re feminists.
    And you can backtrack all you want but you literally just said you were disgusted by Jessica’s choice of book cover, which is a insult to Jessica because she had to approve it, which is calling into question Jessica herself for the choice she choose to make about her own book.
    The fucking book is called FULL FRONTAL FEMINISM. Full frontal, i.e. nudity. So she’s supposed to put what else on the cover to go with that title? It’s a JOKE.
    I suppose like Anne Althouse you’re also offended by the naked silhouette trucker girls flipping us off as part of the homepage?

  11. Posted April 1, 2007 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    No. EG suggested we give the topic a rest, but prior to my first comment I hadn’t made a conclusion about how I liked the cover of the book. I said “had not”, not “have not”, which refers to a past tense. So, I’m not backtracking, you’re just interpreting incorrectly.
    We can go up and down about how it’s suppose to be a joke or bold statement, but it comes down to the fact that the cover is simply eye-catching. I’m not going into other ways to have made the title valid to a different cover, since there are probably a million and it isn’t even my book to be getting creative with, but I’m just essentially disappointed because it is so unoriginal.

  12. Posted April 1, 2007 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    And I love the Feministing logo. I even have the T-Shirt.

  13. Mina
    Posted April 1, 2007 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    “I wonder how eighty one women would feel about their bodies after looking at Jessica’s book cover for three minutes.”
    I bet at least some women would feel bad about their bodies after looking at *you* for three minutes. When I was an adolescent, I sure felt worse about my body after going to school and seeing how much more normal my classmates looked than I did.

  14. Posted April 1, 2007 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know about that Mina. I suppose they could be frightened of losing their figure in this manner if they don’t follow enough Redbook dieting tips. :P

  15. a_human
    Posted April 1, 2007 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Maybe the book says something about the cover…like in the text.

  16. EG
    Posted April 1, 2007 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    On a completely different note, I had no idea whatsoever that it was possible to “wash” the sperm of HIV-positive men to make it safe for conception. That’s amazing!
    It’s information like that that keeps me excited about what science has to offer.

  17. ArsenicandEarlGrey
    Posted April 1, 2007 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Aw, geez, not the book cover again! I know I bitched about it, and I’m sorry I did…I’m going to buy it no matter because I love Jessica’s writing style, nekkid lady or no. It’s eye-catching at least, and may prompt someone to read the back and throw an abusive boyfriend/kick a Christian upbringing/divorce a mysogynist husband because of it, we never know. Let’s just SHUT UP about the book cover. There are SO many more important things to talk about, as the weekly feminist reader illustrates.

  18. donna darko
    Posted April 1, 2007 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    This is backtracking to the other post but the main reason young women don’t become feminists is because of the stereotype we’re ugly, man-haters, anti-sex, anti-fun and too serious. The cover counters all these myths. This is marketing reality. And anyone who enjoys feministing with its ironic mudflap finger logo should understand the ironic title full frontal… feminism!!!!! instead of full frontal….. nudity. and i’m sure it’s as good as all the writing here. i look forward to checking it out!!!!!

  19. mimo92
    Posted April 1, 2007 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    I for one love the cover.
    As for the crisis pregnancy center: OH MY GAWD.

  20. Posted April 1, 2007 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    i really don’t have beef w/ the cover, per se. it’s tired, but i’m sure she didn’t have much choice in the matter. i get it. whatever. but i do take issue w/ people being so unbelievably rude to one another in this thread. i’m not saying that we should all be sweet lil ladies or anything like that, but goddamn… can’t we at least have some civility?

  21. EG
    Posted April 1, 2007 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    “Unbelievably rude”? You think this thread is “unbelievably rude”? This ain’t nothing. This is brisk disagreement where I come from.

  22. Posted April 1, 2007 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    Whatever term one calls it, it’s behavior that I wouldn’t tolerate in my personal life, particularly if it were directed at me.

  23. ArsenicandEarlGrey
    Posted April 1, 2007 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    I’m with EG…besides, it’s ironic that you call us unbelieveably rude and then say goddamn.
    This is turning into a catfight; let’s talk about something important. Like Spain standardazing clothing sizes; think that would EVER happen here?

  24. Anonymous
    Posted April 1, 2007 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    On South Carolina:
    what is with this “forced to work as prostitutes” bullshit language? what that actually means is “were being held captive and repeatedly raped up to 40 time a day for the financial profit of their captors.” there is already such an unfair stigma around prostitutes, and to put these women in that category of “bad girls” like that really angers me.

  25. Posted April 1, 2007 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    “us”? so now we’re on opposing sides?
    critique of catty behavior = catfight, but catty behavior doesn’t? interesting how quickly ones who don’t conform to the norm are outcasted.

  26. Posted April 1, 2007 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    oh, and that’s god w/ a little “g” so it’s not offending anyone’s particular god. ;)

  27. Posted April 1, 2007 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    g-nite folks.

  28. ArsenicandEarlGrey
    Posted April 1, 2007 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    FeministReview: Actually, in many circles, it’s made more offensive by your use of a non-capitol. I was merely remarking on your assumption that “goddamn” is not an “unbeleivably rude” thing to say. I’m not sure what you mean about opposting sides. I was assuming you WEREN’T calling yourself unbelievably rude, and therefore assumed you were calling “us” unbelievably rude, “us” denoting all of the people whose language did not meet your standards of polite, not “us” in the sense of “us and them.” Thank you very much for calling me catty, though. You, on the other hand, have been nothign short of polite and have not seemed attention-hungry in the least.
    I agree with you, doublefantasy. Sexual slavery is NOT prostitution by any means; it’s like calling slave field labor paid work. By using the term prostitution, whether consciously or unconsciouly, they blame the victims.

  29. Posted April 2, 2007 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    The Ella emergency contraceptive is likely to work even after ovulation (unlike levonorgestrel), and will probably never see the light of day. It’s an anti-progesterone, much like mifeprostone.

  30. Posted April 2, 2007 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    If anyone was truly offended by my use of the word ‘goddamn’ then to them, I apologize. It was not my intention to offend.
    Otherwise, I think the name-calling and ‘tit for tat’ has gone far enough and, as I said earlier, I wouldn’t tolerate this kind of unnecessary rudeness in my personal life, and will not tolerate it on the internet either. I’m finished with this thread. Please don’t continue it elsewhere.

  31. Xana
    Posted April 2, 2007 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    It still bothers me when they call it “bisexual experimentation” when what people are really doing is experimenting with/having a same sex relationship. As a bisexual, it bothers me to always see the word “experimentation” attached to the label as it seems to once again illegitimize this sexual orientation.
    Though, “bicurious” bothers me even more.

  32. annajcook
    Posted April 2, 2007 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    From Courtney Martin’s piece on Jennifer
    Baumgardner: Higginbotham, now 35-years-old and a writer herself, thinks the distinction is critical: “If you have feminist expectations, you might be focused on switching pre-existing roles–like, okay, you’re the guy but you’re going to wash the dishes and I’m the woman, but I’m going to make the money. If you have gay expectations, you don’t switch roles as much as rewrite them. You are off the map.”
    Haven’t feminists argued for generations that we must go “off the map” in terms of gender expectations in order for true feminist change to happen?? It doesn’t seem like this idea is particularly unique to same-sex relationships. (Or automatic to them either).
    And the characterization of feminism as about “switching roles” seems shortsighted. It buys into the stereotype of feminism as just another set of rigid expectations for women and men, which may be more “equal,” but will not be revolutionary.

  33. nausicaa
    Posted April 2, 2007 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    That Glamour article is dynamite — who knew the ladies’ mag was a feminist stronghold?? I can’t help but think that one essay like that outweighs a thousand issues of Ms., just because of the greater audience it will reach.

  34. Vervain
    Posted April 2, 2007 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Sheesh, I take the weekend off, and look what happens.
    If there’s anyone left on this thread who didn’t wilt like a lily at the sight of all that contentiousness and norty language that’d like to discuss some of the articles, I’ll throw out these observations:
    Re: “Gay Expectations”
    I hated with this whole premise! Maybe I misread the author’s intent–maybe she was just trying to puzzle out why otherwise straight women are more willing to “experiment” in college–but that wasn’t the message I got from either link. “Gay expectations”?!? I think (as Ann was quoted saying) they are feminist expectations–you know, expecting to be treated like a person by your SO.
    If our male SOs fail to do that, we’re, what, supposed to just shrug, give up on men entirely and turn to women instead? Why not try encouraging men to see women as peers by working toward eliminating sexism in our cultural attitudes and upbringing? Sure, it’s not easy, but that’s no excuse to just give up. Where would women be today if the suffragists had adopted that attitude? Not voting, that’s for damn sure.
    And then there’s this fun quote: (emphasis mine) “Higginbotham, now 35-years-old and a writer herself, thinks the distinction is critical: “If you have feminist expectations, you might be focused on switching pre-existing roles–like, okay, you’re the guy but you’re going to wash the dishes and I’m the woman, but I’m going to make the money. If you have gay expectations, you don’t switch roles as much as rewrite them.”
    This quote reveals a staggering ignorance of feminism, IMO. The suggestion that feminists want to switch roles with men and trap them in the kitchen like June Cleaver drag queens is ridiculous and offensive. Nothing annoys me more than people who make claims about feminism when they obviously know nothing about it. And I’m not talking about whether or not you majored in women’s studies, I’m talking about the basic, bottom-line concept. Hello, EQUALITY? My understanding of feminism is not a pack of Amazons fighting to overthrow the evil male oppressor so they can take his place. If it were, I’d have never gotten on the bus. Sheesh.
    Finally, the whole “gay expectations” concept seems to be to be based in the erroneous assumption that all gay relationships are somehow egalitarian utopias by default, which is utter bullshit. We all grow up with the same societal influences and come with the same baggage, regardless of who we fancy. Fantasizing that gay relationships are somehow “better” strikes me as coming from the same sort of “grass is greener” thinking that assumes all Latin people are more “passionate” and all black men have huge cocks. Please.
    I may be misreading the point of this; I’m bisexual myself (for as long as I can remember, not just since college) and it irritates the shit out of me to be compared with “experimenting” and “bicurious” straight women who have convinced themselves they’re being rebellious just because they’ve absorbed the porn mythos of the “sexy lesbian”. I think it’s true that an openminded person can choose to be bisexual, but some of us are born that way, and for us, people like that are the reason we get dismissed and not taken seriously as a group. Some of us aren’t just “experimenting” or just “lesbians in denial”, and it’s damned annoying to be told otherwise by people who assume we are.
    Re: Spain and Standard Sizing
    I think this is brilliant, and I really wish they’d do it here. It wouldn’t solve ALL our problems, but it would make shopping a hell of a lot easier.
    Apologies for still more norty language. I’m rather surly today.

  35. EG
    Posted April 2, 2007 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Vervain, I know it’s been said many times, many ways, but you rock.
    Anyway, yes, I too was very disappointed at that ignorant dismissal of feminism, and the accompanying utopian view of same-sex relationships. I wouldn’t have expected such a two-dimensional cariacature of feminism in an article about Baumgartener’s work, and I’m disappointed.
    The statement that “there’s no chart or blueprint” for same-sex relationships–I just don’t buy it. It almost sounds as if Baumgardener and Higginbotham think they invented lesbianism. There have been same-sex relationships and depictions of them in the media for quite a while now, and while such depictions aren’t as prevalent, or perhaps as rigid, as those of heterosexual relationships, there are indeed models and charts for how gay and lesbian couples negotiate their lives together. And some of those models are positive, and some of them aren’t, but it’s not as though being with a woman means striking out into a Brave New World never before explored. It almost sounds like teenagers who think they’re the first people EVER to have sex.
    Being polyamorous is in many ways still without charts or maps, but I’m not at all convinced that there’s some kind of inherent connection between polyamory and bisexuality. The most stable polyamorous relationships I know of are among straight people.
    Also “I’m the woman, but I’m gonna make the money.” I…didn’t realize that was a choice, these days. That kind of statement is coming from a place of immense privilege.

  36. EG
    Posted April 2, 2007 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Baumgardner deals with this tension by recasting feminism as both a crucial lesson and a phase, “a stage of development … like puberty.� She values the time she has spent in women-only spaces and relationships. However, she suggests that dwelling in a sense of oppression ultimately “fetishishes male power, making it larger than it is.�
    There’s a real problem with this passage–more than one, actually. Does Baumgartner really think that feminism = women-only spaces and relationships? Certainly that’s part of feminism, but what about, well, political activism? And the rhetoric here, that drawing attention to the way patriarchy structures our lives, not “male power” itself, is the problem, is reminiscent of victim-blaming–if you girls would all just shut up about your problems, there wouldn’t be any problems.
    I mean–feminism is a phase, an early and irritating phase, like adolescence, that we should just grow out of? I’ll grow out of feminism when it’s achieved equality for women. I’ll be a post-feminist in the post-patriarchy.
    Baumgardner notes that feminism has too often downplayed the pleasure of personal sexual expression and display.
    I find this statement incredibly ignorant as well. Certainly there have been puritanical strains of feminism, as with every social movement in this country, but let’s not confuse the media representation of feminism with, you know, feminism. It’s no accident that second-wave feminism came hot on the heels of the sexual revolution and the discovery of the Pill. In the early days of second wave feminism to be “liberated” was used as a nudge-nudge-wink-wink term connoting a woman’s sexual freedom. It’s been feminism that has promoted and allowed women to express their sexuality–just read Ellen Willis or Angela Carter. Personal sexual expression has always been an integral component of feminism.
    “It’s the tragic part of being gay (or thereabouts) that I don’t want any part of, honestly….It’s not so much that I am afraid of it. It’s more that tragedy is not the whole story and, like focusing on back-alley butchers to justify abortion rights, it’s over-told.â€?
    The mind boggles. Oh, I’m sorry, Ms. Baumgartner, are you bored by thinking about how many women have suffered and died because they were denied their rights? Is it not all ponies and rainbows? You want all the goodies without having to think about the negatives? According to the New York Times, 88 women died from botched illegal abortions in Mexico last year–and that’s the reported number. She may feel that’s negligible. I don’t.
    I agree that, as Ellen Willis writes in No More Nice Girls, that feminism should keep as its guiding avatar the image of joyful, happy women, but claiming not to “want any part of” negative realities is utopian bubble-ism to the highest degree.

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