Weekly Feminist Reader

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Despite what the L.A. Times prints, it’s still a major problem on college campuses.
More colleges are assigning coed roommates.
Illinois considers tracking devices for people with restraining orders against them.
The Department of Justice’s inspector general is investigating whether a U.S. attorney was fired because she is a lesbian.
Weight discrimination hits women harder than men.
Minnesota considers comprehensive sex ed — ’cause, yeah, abstinence-only doesn’t work.
Some interesting linguistic history on how we talk about virginity.
Women fight back against poverty.
The Pentagon apparently has a problem with “transporting gay domestic partners.” WTF?
On rape as a weapon of war. (The Senate recently held its first-ever committee hearing on the subject.)
The Navy abruptly changed its policy to allow women to serve on submarines. (Ok, I was belatedly gotten by an April Fools joke. Sadly, the item about the Pentagon and gay partner travel is no joke.)
What have y’all been reading? What about actions/events coming up this week? Leave your links in comments…

Join the Conversation

  • http://tobestalks.blogspot.com Tobes

    One of my fave blog commenters and I are having a disagreement on whether or not feminism has some “deal breakers” …
    I wrote a post and would love your thoughts on this:
    http://tobestalks.blogspot.com/2008/04/exclusive-feminist-club.html

  • http://www.religiarchy.com religiarchy

    I heard a Harvard Professor on NPR the other day who did a study on the tracking devices for people with restraining orders against them. They had a 100% success rate in preventing violations of the orders. Dang.

  • http://impersonated.blogspot.com FeministMe

    I read an interesting article last night (found it on Feministe) by Jessica Hoffman about the discrepancies between the feminism of white women and the feminism of women of color (http://www.alternet.org/reproductivejustice/81260/).
    I am also reading, for class, Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide by Andrea Smith.
    Both are eye opening about some issues that strictly “white” feminism might not always pick up on.
    I think I will try to formulate some blog posts regarding these two.

  • MLEmac

    I would love to see my school have gender neutral housing. Though, the first step would naturally be co-ed dorms. It’s sad that we’re still so far behind the times.

  • http://lifeaftergonzales.blogspot.com Elise

    A pice I just wrote on Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and its current relevancy:
    http://lifeaftergonzales.blogspot.com/2008/04/wake-up-call-margaret-atwoods-handmaids_02.html

  • http://feministmother.blogspot.com Jessica Burstrem
  • http://marnanel.org Thomas Thurman

    It would have been helpful if the virginity article had given some suggestions as to what a person’s initial sexual experience could be called instead. I suppose we could just say “my first time” or something.

  • http://akinoluna.blogspot.com Akinoluna

    That submarine story isn’t real, it was an April Fool’s joke. It’s a fake NYT article on some submarine website, check out the URL.

  • http://akinoluna.blogspot.com Akinoluna

    That submarine story isn’t real, it was an April Fool’s joke. It’s a fake NYT article on some submarine website, check out the URL.

  • Mina

    “I heard a Harvard Professor on NPR the other day who did a study on the tracking devices for people with restraining orders against them. They had a 100% success rate in preventing violations of the orders. Dang.”
    Cool!
    “I read an interesting article last night (found it on Feministe) by Jessica Hoffman about the discrepancies between the feminism of white women and the feminism of women of color (http://www.alternet.org/reproductivejustice/81260/).”
    After reading that article, I wonder how cool Hoffman would find the results of that study on the tracking devices…

  • Mina

    “I suppose we could just say ‘my first time’ or something.”
    Yeah, “the first time I have sex” works for me.

  • Makida

    As soon as I saw that the submarine story was dated April 1st I suspected it was a joke… and by the time it mentioned it had Bush’s approval that made it certain. Which is really sad… it shouldn’t be a joke, and the fact that it is — and that it’s put out as an April Fools’ Day prank, so people are -expected- to immediately get that it’s a joke — it’s really sad.

  • JW

    A nitpicky criticism- saying that colleges are _assigning_ coed roommates is misleading and probably gets lots of people needlessly up in arms. It’s an option that students can choose, but saying “assigning” makes it sound like students are being required to. I think this is how Fox et al will spin it, if they cover this topic, and people will flip out.
    Weekly Feminist Reader is my favorite part of the site- thanks Ann.

  • waxghost

    I’ve been reading bits and pieces of a book called “Pretty in Punk: Girls’ Gender Resistance in a Boys’ Subculture.” What I’ve read so far is really interesting, especially the author’s own statement about how punk gave her the self-esteem to stop listening to all the people who were telling her she was ugly and worthless.
    (And I just stumbled across this knitting book that looks pretty awesome – if only I knew how to knit!)

  • spaceninjamonkey

    Ahh virginity. I remember when I was 13, I was asked by a guy who was 4 years older than me whether or not I was a virgin. I told it was none of his business and huffed off.
    Also, that virginity article linked a ppt slideshow by one of the doctors showing 12 different shapes for women’s hymens.
    It was sooo coool! I had no idea our hymens were so diverse!

  • EG

    The Department of Justice’s inspector general is investigating whether a U.S. attorney was fired because she is a lesbian.
    I realize that this is horrible, but all I can think of ADA Serena Southlyn saying “Is this because I’m a lesbian?”

  • kissmypineapple

    I like saying that I shed my virginity, b/c it implies agency in the act of having become a non-virgin.

  • http://thoughcowardsflinch.com Jeff

    Nice to see my school quoted as opposing gender-neutral housing. [/sarcasm]

  • Jessi

    http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB120674839234873285-UE84WngUXTpnGXMwg36quJAF3DA_20080429.html?mod=tff_main_tff_top
    Nothing too new or interesting, though it is upsetting to see women saying things like:
    “she’s trying to take on the male persona, and isn’t a woman in the way I want a woman candidate to be.”
    and other sexist comments!

  • Mina

    Here’s one more article on rape as a weapon:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7333844.stm

  • kissmypineapple

    Also: Has anybody seen this post of Cara’s? Utterly horrifying.

  • tinfoil hattie

    Congressional hearings on rape as a weapon of war? Don’t make me laugh. Our own soldiers rape their comrades with impunity. Contractors rape soldiers with impunity. Congress doesn’t give a shit.

  • kemp

    I work in student affairs for a university that recently decided to offer gender-neutral rooms. Students have been working towards this for quite some time, and we’re all quite proud of the university for making the change. However, it has been a nightmare fielding calls from “concerned” parents. The irony is that only one of the calls was from a parent whose child actually chose a gender neutral room!

  • http://snarking.wordpress.com Snarky Amber

    Headline: Wives Do More Housework, Husbands Do Less after Marriage – by Alice Turner
    http://www.efluxmedia.com/news_Wives_Do_More_Housework_Husbands_Do_Less_after_Marriage_16024.html
    Money quote:
    ‘ “It’s a well-known pattern. There’s still a significant reallocation of labor that occurs at marriage — men tend to work more outside the home, while women take on more of the household labor,” said in a statement Frank Stafford, of the university’s Institute for Social Research (ISR), who directed the study. “And the situation gets worse for women when they have children,” he added in the statement.’
    I can hardly see the situation “worse” for women. It’s quite clear that men and women have different preferences and men tend to work more outside the home while women have a tendency of doing more housework. This is hardly a matter of culture but rather a psychological difference which goes far back to the beginnings of mankind and will not go away anytime soon.
    Oh god SHUT UP.

  • livetta

    I had always liked the phrase “making one’s sexual debut” as opposed to “losing one’s virginity.”

  • http://snarking.wordpress.com Snarky Amber

    Oops. I forgot to close my quote. Those words are Alice Turner’s, not mine. Just to clarify.

  • http://snarking.wordpress.com Snarky Amber

    Oops. I forgot to close my quote. Those words are Alice Turner’s, not mine. Just to clarify.

  • ShifterCat

    That’s a good phrase, KMP. “Shed one’s virginity.” As one sheds a chrysalis.

  • http://bluetorch.wordpress.com Bearcat

    Out here in Oregon we’ve got a lot of gender neutral housing–Reed, Lewis and Clark, OSU, and PSU. Even my conservative Willamette is offering it next year.

  • Spider Jerusalem

    Personally, I like the classics, “poppin’ the cherry”, etc. Why? Because I enjoy being vulgar. Honestly, if I’m discussing it, I always just say “the first time I had sex…”. Because euphemism is stupid, unless its being used specifically to make people uncomfortable.
    I’m a little disturbed that Minnesota hasn’t adopted comprehensive sex ed yet, since ALL of my cousins there had kids before they were 16.
    I agree that the link of “assigning” coed rooms is misleading. Girls who have suffered sexual abuse probably aren’t in a hurry to be assigned a boy roommate. I think the link should reflect that the schools are offering it as an option.
    My sister and her friends all have boys’ names. One such friend has a fairly unequivocally male name, such that UCSB assigned her to a male dorm room for her school orientation. I’m a little amused that they skipped right over the “check gender” box on the application and went straight for stereotyping the name.

  • GrimaWormtongue

    I would love it if my stalker had a tracking device. thats an awesome idea. we should do that in all our states. I could finnally sleep at night.

  • Mina

    There’s an article on the effects of outlawing abortion here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7328830.stm

  • http://ojibwaymigisibineshii.blogspot.com/ ojibwayangel

    Interesting on the weight discrimination article. I have always had issues with it on both ends of the spectrum regarding weight. I am often very frustrated with the way woman are treated in any weight. There is scruntiny and criticism no matter what weight she is. I always get this “too thin, your so small deal…” from people. While I have watched people I love very much get criticized for being “heavy.” You must be this perfect BS has got to go! My motto is to love your body despite all this outside garbage thrown at us!

  • FrumiousB

    Feministing readers 9and writers) might enjoy the book _Virgin: An Untouched History_. The author is social-neutral in her discussion, eg, she acknowledges that “virgin” typically refers to a female, but doesn’t go into why that is or what the ramifications are. I particularly liked her discussion of bleeding during first intercourse for women and how this has become the normative experience even though not all or even most women have this experience.

  • http://piotrek piotrek

    Congressional hearings on rape as a weapon of war? Don’t make me laugh. Our own soldiers rape their comrades with impunity. Contractors rape soldiers with impunity. Congress doesn’t give a shit.
    Posted by: tinfoil hattie [
    Well, in the case I know there was no suggestion that the rapist were motivated by ethnic prejudice or other “eapon of war” motivation. So outside the scope.
    And one should also add that rapes are only a small fraction of what would otherwise be illegal activity in “Law-Free-Zones” created by our government. If I had to guess, massive fraud would be most significant, followed with murder, and only then, rape.

  • LadyTess

    http://edition.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/04/06/texas.ranch/index.html
    More than 200 women and children have been removed from a Texas ranch that’s home to members of a polygamist sect, but authorities have not identified the girl who called them with allegations of abuse.

  • LucyBell

    I am so outraged by the “April Fool’s Joke” on women and submarines. My husband is on a nuclear submarine and we have had this discussion on numerous occasions. His point of view is, Why not? Other countries do it. I also have female friends in the Navy who complain about the limitation, career-wise, that not being able to serve on subs poses- all things discussed in the so-called “article.” It is not a joke, I don’t find it funny, but I know that many of my sexist Navy friends will find it hilarious. Ugh.

  • caiis

    My previous post is held up because it has too many links, but I just wanted to add that there are BABY BIBS for sale that say “I put the sensual back in non-consensual.”
    http://www.cafepress.com/buy/rape/-/pv_design_prod/p_2182013.140246407/pNo_140246407/id_20049621/fpt_fXcq__DB__aCXDa_qz0X_VOD_eah__lS/opt_/c_10651/pg_1
    Here is an infant bodysuit that says “A friend hugs you. A best friend rapes you in the hallway.”
    http://www.cafepress.com/buy/rape/-/pv_design_prod/pg_1/p_storeid.238927296/pNo_238927296/id_25814451/opt_/fpt_fXcq__DB__aCXDa_qz0X_VOD_eah__lS/c_10651/

  • person
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  • caiis

    Ann,
    Is there a reason why the comment I left earlier today with a lot of links (one of which was a CNN clip) hasn’t showed up yet?
    I will repost it if there is some sort of problem, please let me know.

  • Mina

    A couple more articles:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7270568.stm
    “…So as yet there are no countrywide figures for acid victims, let alone insurance or rehabilitation schemes for them.
    “However, a pressure group, the Campaign and Struggle Against Acid Attacks (CSAAAW), has been launched in the southern Indian state of Karnataka to increase awareness…”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7337145.stm
    “…Italy has almost the lowest rate of female employment in the European Union – just 46 percent of Italian women have jobs, and the figure is even lower in the south of the country.
    “Italy’s minister for European affairs Emma Bonino believes that getting women into work would help revive the country’s economy…”

  • Mina

    Another article, this time on women putting aside a part of tradition while preserving another part – literally:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7337562.stm
    “Years of neglect have left many buildings in Stone Town, the historic capital of the Indian Ocean island of Zanzibar, close to collapse – but now a team of women builders are trying to put that right…
    “…And there are some who say women should not be working there at all…
    “…’My family are happy that I’m doing this job,’ says Asha Mussa Ramadhani, another of the women plasterers.
    “‘They think it’s good work and I’m earning the same wage as the men. I think the men are annoyed because we are taking their jobs.
    “‘I am the only one who is earning money in the family. It is god’s will that I work here.
    “‘I’m also happy because I’m helping to repair Zanzibar Stone Town and make it look nice again’…”

  • Mina

    Has any other nation has a national cabinet with more women than men before?
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7344383.stm
    “Spain’s Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has unveiled his new cabinet, which for the first time includes more women than men.
    “The former housing minister, Carme Chacon, one of the rising stars of Spain’s Socialist party, becomes its first ever female defence minister…
    “…Nine of the ministers are women, and eight are men; when the prime minister is included, the cabinet is equally divided by gender…”

  • Mina

    I also just saw this:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/fashion/main.jhtml?xml=/fashion/2008/04/13/efmags113.xml
    “…Fashion magazines are manipulating images of skinny models to make them look ‘fatter’ than they really are.
    “The move is a response to critics who blame images of so-called ‘size zero’ models for the rise in eating disorders in young girls…
    “…But Susan Ringwood, the chief executive of the eating disorder charity Beat, condemned the practice. ‘Altering models’ bodies to appear fuller-figured proves that the industry acknowledges there is a serious issue with projecting images of very thin models, but [it is] missing the point,’ she said. ‘They should be using naturally healthy models in the first instance, instead of having to make them look that way.’…”