Weekly Feminist Reader

Internationally, girls are more likely than boys to be malnourished, suffer poverty, face violence and be refused an education.
There are 25 shelters nationwide that serve homeless queer youth.
A new novel is about two sisters who separately deal with domestic violence.
Leonard Nimoy: Size-positivity crusader.
Are Katie Couric’s ratings low because she’s a woman? (Answer: No.)
Japanese women are getting curvier, and clothing makers are changing their sizes to accommodate them.
There’s a new musical about Grace O’Malley the “Pirate Queen.”
Is a male version of the IUD — reversible, nonhormonal, long-term contraception — in the works?
Chlamydia: Not good. Let’s hope that vaccine comes through.
A new study shows confident, assertive women are more likely to be harassed.
A group of conservative Chilean parliamentarians are seeking to roll back the country’s progressive emergency contraceptive policy.
A high-school girl who was sent to the principal’s office for saying “That’s so gay” sued the school district, saying it was a violation of her First Amendment rights. The judge recently sided with the district.
Introducing the Butch Cookbook.

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32 Comments

  1. UltraMagnus
    Posted May 20, 2007 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    The article on Nimoy was interesting. It’s funny how when he made the erotic book of Jewish women no one billed it as a “fetish” but loe (low?) and behold he makes an erotic book of plus sized women and people start wondering if he has a “fetish”. Ugh.

  2. Posted May 20, 2007 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    I always thought that it was “lo.”

  3. Posted May 20, 2007 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    He (Nimoy) doesn’t necessarily find them sexually attractive. “But I[Nimoy] do think they’re beautiful.”
    I almost like the article, but I hate how artists and society and general like to take fat women and make them something outside of what ‘normal’ women are considered to be, less than that, existing in a different realm. Like, a thin woman can be beautiful and sexually appealing, but fat women are beautiful in a different way, as humans, because we were not considered human before. And we are not sexual, like normal female humans. We’re some other kind of human.
    I also dislike how references are always made to various African nations and less civilized areas of the world where the weight is considered a sign of fertility and wealth, which is almost just as demeaning as the sub-human treatment overweight women experience in traditional Western culture. “Their husbands can afford to feed them well.” What a step up in the world.

  4. Thomas Thurman
    Posted May 20, 2007 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    It is “lo“, yes.

  5. Posted May 20, 2007 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    And a butch lesbian cookbook? What the fuck?
    Earlier this year I lived with my gay best friend and my closet-lesbian friend, Sylvia. One night, Casey made traditional red beans and rice while Sylvia made lemon custard cake. I, the ‘femme’, was scolded for burning the bread before washing the dishes as punishment.
    And I’m not that bad of a cook. I just don’t work well under pressure. But I am capable, God damn it.

  6. UltraMagnus
    Posted May 20, 2007 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Lo it is! I will turn in my English degree forthwith!
    ikkin,
    I cannot speak for Nimoy but I *hope* he was trying to say that fat women are human just like skinny women are and should be treated as such. But then obviously there are different interpretations that can be taken away.
    And the “husbands can afford to fee them” line I thought was a big sexist as well because it still deal in the realm of MEN having control of what is considered attractive for *their* women, not the women having agency for themselves.
    Though I will admit I am guilty of using other cultures as examples when I try to make points about how it’s mostly society that influences what is found “attractive” in women and not some biologically inherent thing (aside from that damned hip/waist ratio which does seem to be universal).
    When talking about size though, I usually point out that it is the nations wealth, not the individual that plays into what is “attractive” i.e. when the nation is poor, larger women will be found attractive because it’s harder to attain, when the nation is wealthy, skinner is attractive because it displays “discipline.”
    Another example when we worked in agriculture people who were pale were attractive because it meant they didn’t have to work outside, but once we became an industrial nation those who could play outside and get tans held the standard. It’s fascinating to read about.

  7. annajcook
    Posted May 20, 2007 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    Re: “that’s so gay.”
    Every since I was in middle school, I’ve been trying to point out how NOT-cool this use of the word “gay” is, to little or no avail.
    While I applaud the school for raising awareness among their students about it, their approach seems kinda klutzy. Do they have a clear school policy? I wonder how selective they are in cracking down? Why was one girl singled out and sent to the principle’s office? Or was she just the one who chose to sue? The article wasn’t clear.

  8. Feliza Navidad
    Posted May 20, 2007 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Did the “that’s so gay” girl get singled out by the school? Hard to say. I don’t think that the article is very clear about that, either. Maybe they were trying to make an example out of her–but then again, maybe it was just that she got caught and others didn’t. We wouldn’t necessarily say that a burglar was being “singled out” because he or she got caught while their accomplice did not. But again, I’m not sure.
    Any-who… is it just me, or do all the ignorant douchebags out there seem totally insistent upon undermining the relevance of the first amendment? What I mean by this is when guys like Joe Francis justify his predatory behavior by citing the first amendment. Or when a teen girl is angry about getting punished for using a phrase that (while not necessarily intended to refer to homosexuals) is still hateful and inappropriate, she says the punishment violates her first amendment rights. Idunno–my understanding was that the first amendment wasn’t established so that we as free citizens could say and do fucked up things. I thought it had something to do with being able to air our opinions whether they are government-sanctioned or not.
    Am I wrong? What do you guys think?

  9. Posted May 20, 2007 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    “[Nimoy] doesn’t necessarily find them sexually attractive. “But I do think they’re beautiful.”"
    Why on earth did the writer feel the need to add that at the end?!

  10. SarahS
    Posted May 20, 2007 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    This totally belongs in the reader: Joss Whedon opining about women, violence, and othering in a post called “Lets Watch a Girl Get Beaten To Death”.
    http://whedonesque.com/comments/13271

  11. Posted May 20, 2007 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    We Slashdotted Whedonesque.com!

  12. Alex
    Posted May 20, 2007 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    When talking about size though, I usually point out that it is the nations wealth, not the individual that plays into what is “attractive” i.e. when the nation is poor, larger women will be found attractive because it’s harder to attain, when the nation is wealthy, skinner is attractive because it displays “discipline.”

    I entirely disagree. In the wealthier nations, skinnier is attractive because it means you’re rich. Or rather: it means you aren’t poor. The poor are more likely to be overweight than the rich. (Or rather, poor women are more likely to be overweight than rich women. Rich men are allowed to be fat. Source.)
    You can see the same phenomenon in the popularity of tanning. Up until this century, work was something that happened almost entirely out of doors. Therefore: if you work, you have a tan. The primary indicator of wealth, and therefore of beauty, was pasty white skin. Nowadays, however, work happens indoors, and rich people go get tans on tropical beaches. Therefore, suddenly and in defiancy of centuries of opinion to the contrary, being tan is attractive and being pale is unattractive.
    I think if you look at just about any culture, ‘unnatractive’ means ‘whatever the poor look like’.
    [/socialist ranting]

  13. roymacIII
    Posted May 20, 2007 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    Alex, I’m not sure why you say that you entirely disagree when all it looks like you’ve done is explained the exact thing that UltraMagnus is talking about in slightly different terms.
    You say: In poor areas, it’s unattractive to be thin because poor people are thin. In rich areas, it’s unattractive to be large, because poor people are large.
    UltraMagnus says: In poor areas, being larger is seen as attractive because it’s harder to attain. In rich areas, being thin is seen as attractive because it takes effort.
    You’re explaining it in slightly different ways, but the message is exactly the same: beauty standards are frequently based on rich people not wanting to look like poor people.

  14. UltraMagnus
    Posted May 20, 2007 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    Thanks roymacIII, I was just reading Alex’s post and going, “Um, that’s pretty much what I said,” especially this:
    You can see the same phenomenon in the popularity of tanning. Up until this century, work was something that happened almost entirely out of doors. Therefore: if you work, you have a tan. The primary indicator of wealth, and therefore of beauty, was pasty white skin. Nowadays, however, work happens indoors, and rich people go get tans on tropical beaches. Therefore, suddenly and in defiancy of centuries of opinion to the contrary, being tan is attractive and being pale is unattractive.
    Alex, if you’d read all of my post I brought up that point as well.

  15. dinogirl
    Posted May 20, 2007 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    Wow, the Joss Whedon article is great SarahS. Anyone who hasn’t been, read it!

  16. Posted May 20, 2007 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t had time to read all the articles yet, but I’d like to comment on the article re:Katie Couric.
    I live in the US but I strongly dislike the news reports on US stations. I usually try to get BBC news on PBS. The difference in tone & what is covered is so different.
    When I do watch network news, I usually watch NBC b/c I read a story that said of the big 3 (ABC, CBS, & NBC) that NBC was the least biased in its reporting of the war. I’ve caught Katie Couric’s news reports a couple of times & I loathe them. She’s the anchor but she seems relegated to reporting on “soft” news when that’s not what I care about. Then, I just got really pissed about her interview with John & Elizabeth Edwards. As someone who lives with a chronic disease that has a good chance of killing me, I thought her attitude was really offensive. What, are my parents/loved ones just supposed to put their lives on hold b/c I’m sick? & I’m I supposed to just live in a sick-bed?
    Seriously, get a clue, CBS.

  17. Posted May 20, 2007 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    I also wanted to comment on the “that’s so gay” questions.
    I went to school two towns over from Maria Carillio High School, they were actually one of our rival schools. I can attest that the reason that girl was punished for her use of the word gay like that is because she was caught. CA schools, at least the Bay Area ones like MC and my own, Casa Grande, had VERY clear standards and policies about these things. My own little brother got in trouble similarly, for calling one of his best friends “gay” in jest. At which point, I told him “I told you so” and reminded him how tasteless using the word that way was :P Who knows if it got through.
    ANYWAY, point being, she should have known damn well it wouldn’t be tolerated if overheard by a teacher, and yes, the schools do punish for this across the board.

  18. Alex
    Posted May 20, 2007 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    UM: Apologies. My reading comprehension suffers before I have coffee.

  19. Posted May 21, 2007 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    The article on gay, homeless teens made me really sad. I wish that there was something I could do.
    And the Butch cookbook? WTF. I’m straight, but I based on that description, I find the whole t hing to be pretty damn insulting to just about everybody.

  20. onesong
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    morning ladies,
    i just read that japanese women are getting curvier article, and i was wondering if anyone else was totally disturbed by the implication that curvier automatically means sluttier? it seems to me that a better point would be that along with a westernized diet japanese women are absorbing westernized concepts regarding what’s sexy.

  21. Barbara P
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    I always thought that the women more likely to be sexaully harrassed were shy and/or did conform to gender stereotypes, at least in the sense of being non-confrontational. I also thought that was true for people who were bullied/harrassed in a non-sexual way.
    I’ve only known personally of one serious case of bullying that didn’t happen to be sexually-charged, and the victims were not all women. Instead, it seemed very much based on who was inclined to take shit and to what extent. The most put-upon victim did happen to be a woman, because she really needed the job, it was a fairly low-paid receptionist position. Plus, as far as I know (since I had left the company before she even arrived), she wasn’t exactly the type to stand up for herself.
    When I was at that company, the same perpetrator had once tried crap with me, but my initial reaction was very clearly “take-no-shit”, and he never tried again.
    I honestly figured that this would be true for sexual harassment as well. So while I wouldn’t assume this study is totally false, it does surprise me somewhat.
    Probably sexual harrassment manifests differently in different contexts, and that there is no particular way a woman could act to avoid it in all situations.

  22. annajcook
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    ANYWAY, point being, she should have known damn well it wouldn’t be tolerated if overheard by a teacher, and yes, the schools do punish for this across the board.
    Thanks for the insider perspective mara jade :) . You cleared up some of my confusion.

  23. Posted May 21, 2007 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    I would like that Joss Whedon article a lot more if he hadn’t decided to glorify and reward a violent and vicious would-be rapist punk in his own “feminst” series.
    And if he’d ever been able to write out a strong woman character without killing them.
    In fact, I would like all of Whedon’s work a lot more (and I do like it) if that were true.
    But that’s me.

  24. SarahS
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    Ben-
    Really? When did Joss kill Willow? Or Zoe? Or Kaylee? How about River, Dawn, Inara, Faith, Kendra, Melaka, Kennedy, Amy, or Illyria? As far as I know, they are all still alive and still very strong.

  25. EG
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Kendra died in the finale of Season 2, which is how Faith got called. Willow was humiliated and turned into a pathetic drug addict, smacking down the smart girl for pursuing a kind of power that wasn’t physical. Dawn never struck me as that strong a character. Faith was a “bad” girl whose turn toward evil was prefigured by her sexual wantonness. Kennedy was two-dimensional. Amy was turned evil for no apparent reason whatsoever in a move that threw all character consistency out the window.
    I loved Buffy, especially the first four seasons. But Wheedon’s work has real problems with portraying strong women without punishing them dreadfully, and has even worse problems portraying sex in anything but the most negative way.

  26. sunflwrmoonbeam
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    I saw the Pirate Queen in it’s pre-Broadway run in Chicago, and unfortunately it’s not even remotely feminist. Yes, it stars a woman who is a fascinating a powerful historical character. However, the musical focuses almost entirely on her love life, with the most character development occurring in her love interests. Moreover, they barely touch her political achievements whatsoever. I’m a huge Boublil and Schonburg fan, but Miss Saigon was more woman positive than this, and that’s saying something.

  27. Posted May 21, 2007 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    I’m loving the Buffy season 8 comic, but yeah, Joss has some issues with the womens.
    EG, you summed it up so awesomely. Buffy 1-4 are my faves. I mean, sleeping with a guy makes him turn evil? Has anyone else read the comic & seen what happened when someone had sex with someone else? (Don’t want to give away spoilers). Daaaaamn.
    I’m more sympathetic of Spike b/c I think his attempted rape of Buffy was written very out of character–for me, at least, it just came totally out of left field & was a way to have him gone for the finale. & seriously, Ben, why are you hating on the punks? Spike did a lot of good things & he didn’t even have a soul guilting him into doing it. Remember when Glory tortured him & he told her the key was Bob Barker?

  28. EG
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    I’m totally with you, Moxie! I’m loving the comic too, and I hadn’t even realized until you posted that the art was so feminist! I’m a little concerned that we’re at issue 3 of a 4-issue arc, and I don’t see how Wheedon is going to tie up all the plot threads he’s teased out, which reminds me a bit of some of the TV seasons not really resolving all of the issues they bring up.
    And I’m glad to see that somebody else thought that Spike’s attempted rape was so weirdly and radically out of character. It just didn’t make any sense–Angel was the abusive sexual predator. Spike was evil, but even at his most evil, he was always, deeply, passionately in love with and concerned for the well-being of his girlfriend–he was never a sexual abuser. It was a radical failure of writing and character consistency, in my opinion.
    I kind of liked the whole sleeping-with-Angel-makes-him-evil arc, because it so beautifully and perfectly represented, metaphorically, what some women, including, well, me, experienced the first time they had sex–that the guy completely changed his tune and acted like a real prick afterwards. Where it became too much for me was with Parker, and then with the evil Buffy-Riley sex episode, where their evil sex-having unleashes the demons of the haunted frat hous, and then the horrible, evil S&M sex that symbolizes Buffy’s utter degradation, because we all know that if sex is evil, then kinky sex is SATAN HIMSELF, and then after Willow and Tara spend the entire day having sex, Tara gets shot and killed!
    And don’t get me started on the whole arc whereby we’re supposed to blame Buffy for not “needing” Riley and thus forcing him to cheat on her with vampire prostitutes. Blech. I still have a bad taste in my mouth from that arc.

  29. Moxie Hart
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    And I’m glad to see that somebody else thought that Spike’s attempted rape was so weirdly and radically out of character. It just didn’t make any sense–Angel was the abusive sexual predator. Spike was evil, but even at his most evil, he was always, deeply, passionately in love with and concerned for the well-being of his girlfriend–he was never a sexual abuser. It was a radical failure of writing and character consistency, in my opinion.
    Seriously! Drusilla & Spike’s relationship was one of my favorite relationships on the show–I loved the dichotomy of them both being evil creatures yet being able to care so deeply for eachother.
    OmG, I HATED Riley with Buffy. Riley started out with some potential as a character. I like the first few episodes that he was in, like the one where Buffy accidentally hits him with the pile of books. I liked that he was smart, & he remembered Willow instead of Buffy (I thought maybe there’d be a Riley & Willow relationship). But then, as the relationship progressed, he seemed to get dumber & dumber, & more aggressively masculine until *BAM!* he’s letting vampire women suck on him (I’ll leave you to make what you will of that sentence).
    I always kind of wished that if they were going to make Willow be the big bad in season 6, that they went all the way & Buffy had to kill her. That, or being unable to defeat her at the end of season 6 & make her the big bad for season 7. I always hated that magic=the DRUGS storyline.

  30. EG
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Oh my God, Moxie, are you my secret sister? Because I completely agree with everything you just said! I too thought we were being set up for a Riley-Willow thing, and I hated the stupid magic=EVIL DRUGS arc, especially because we knew for the past few years that magic=intellectual power (Willow the bookish nerd finds power through study) and that magic=lesbian sex, and both intellectual power and lesbian sex are good things, and then all of a sudden magic is evil and addictive and will SUCK OUT YOUR SOUL!
    I also hated the way that Willow had to be sent away for a year and feel really awful and not be fully accepted and trusted because she killed a rapist-murderer, but when Andrew knifes his best friend at the behest of the Worst Evil Ever (which I never got and thought was kind of dumb anyway), all he has to do is squeeze out a few tears before he’s absolved.
    (Also, I totally dug Darth Willow telling off Dawn for being so whiny and irritating!)
    I always thought it would have been more interesting if Willow hadn’t become a Big Bad, but had had a legitimate falling-out or disagreement with Buffy that set the two at odds, and maybe Buffy would have had to think about whether she herself had become the Big Bad.

  31. Moxie Hart
    Posted May 22, 2007 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    It just came so out of left field that MAGIC=EVIL. I mean, jebus, magic helped save the day in major ways in seasons 2, 4, & 5, but then it’s suddenly bad.
    I was so in support of Willow killing Warren–the dude was a psychopath & Buffy certainly wasn’t dealing with him (Though it was *nice* seeing him again in vol. 3 of the comic). Darth Willow *lollerskates* was kind of awesome, I like when she starts telling the truth about everyone. Don’t get me started on Dawn, I loathe her. Michelle Trachtenburg used to be so cute on Pete & Pete & in Harriet the Spy, but she was ghastly on Buffy (Although, I’ll admit that she got better season 7).
    You might want to check out my blog, I discuss Buffy a lot in it; http://dru-plus-spike.livejournal.com.

  32. vagabnd
    Posted May 23, 2007 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    i clicked on the hyperlink under butch cookbook, and while I support gay/lesbian rights, isn’t the distinction between butch and femme just rehashed gender stereotypes being enforced between a woman and a woman rather than a man and a woman? How are these distinctions made, and why is the woman who is called femme the one that seems to do the traditional chores that women in the 50s did? The cookbook was for the butch who lives alone, or for the femme that isn’t in the mood for cooking. I’d find that sexist if we were talking about men here. That the man would only do the cooking if he didn’t have a ‘lady’ to do it for himself.

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