Weekly Feminist Reader

An 8-year-old Yemeni girl takes her father to court for forcing her to marry a 30-year-old man.
The Guardian publishes an ignorant, hate-filled screed against fat people.
Female leads in blockbuster movies, by the numbers.
Note to Silvio Berlusconi: “Your women are ugly” is not a political argument.
A court dropped charges against an Oklahoma man who took photos up a 16-year-old girl’s skirt while she was shopping at Target, because apparently you can’t be a “peeping Tom” in public.
Philadelphia magazine on 8-year-olds getting waxes. Shudder. (Also file under: Lifestyles of the Children of the Rich and Famous. This is one of those New York Times-style “trends” that only affects the wealthiest 1% of the population, but yeah, has some resonance for the rest of us.)
The case for young women getting better breast cancer screening — not just cervical cancer screening.
An elementary school in Wisconsin has a dress-in-drag day, and conservatives freak out.
A great post over at Bitch Ph.D, “Coming out of the menstruation closet.” And Sara wonders, “Why aren’t [tampons] provided for free in public restrooms, like toilet paper?”
More links after the jump…

On the new STD stats and black youth.
Judd Apatow and Hayden Panettierre collaborate to make a faux-PSA that mocks every woman who’s ever been sexually harassed in the workplace. I know I didn’t laugh.
Mark Rudov on Bill O’Reilly’s show: “[T]here’s no shortage of women who want to put themselves on parade and have men throw money at them. … Girls just love to expose themselves.”
This is incredibly sad and disturbing: An Australian woman’s husband raped her and left her in a burning bedroom, and she told the county court, “I was a real bitch and I know that. It took something as bad as what happened to snap me out of being what I was.”
Dahlia Lithwick reports that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case about whether a person can be executed for rape. (I hope the Court rules against it, and I’d really like to see capital punishment outlawed altogether.)
It’s baaaack! South Dakota anti-choicers are putting an abortion ban on the ballot in November. This time, though, not all of the antis are on board.
GQ laments the fact that “the days of the grateful Russian bride are fading fast.” Barf.
Hugo on how feminist men can resist admission to the “Old Boys’ Club.”
Another abstinence-only-until-hetero-marriage education study confirms what we already knew: It doesn’t work.
On the totally backward Kansas law that lets antichoicers peep abortion providers’ records.
Carmen answers the question, “Why should white people fight racism?”
On the lives of Iraqi women since the “surge.”
A Detroit woman who moved to Africa to raise her grandchildren after her daughter’s death started an organization called 10,000 Girls to help girls teach each other and become entrepreneurs.
Our Bodies, Our Blog has a great interview about the alarmingly high rate of cesarean births among women of size.
A Massachusetts state senator is accused of sexual assault.
Violet Blue on the annual Feminist Porn Awards.
On birth control options for women over age 40.
Actions and Events
Today is the Global Day for Darfur.
Equal Pay Day is coming up! The American Association of University Women is running an “I Am the Face of Equal Pay” campaign. Check it out.
Plus, the National Women’s Law Center is asking you to Blog for Fair Pay on April 18. They also have an action item asking Congress to support the Fair Pay Restoration Act.
A listing of festivals and screenings of The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo.
The U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project is running a Mother’s Day campaign to support working mothers in Colombia.
A cool project, very appropriate this week in light of Saturday’s interview subject: Women Photographers Helping Women Photographers.

Join the Conversation

  • DNE

    “Plus “head honchos” is inherently sexist (note the -os masculine ending).”
    Is this a joke?
    The word “honcho” is actually a loan word from Japanese, a language that doesn’t even have grammatical genders.

  • http://bowleserised.blogspot.com Bowleserised

    “This blog has repeatedly been critiqued for its failure to address the concerns of WOC and its failure to frame things within an intersectional framework.”
    Doesn’t that patronise the WOC who blog here?

  • joshua

    Bowleserised: That may be a valid critique; I’m not really sure. I certainly see a lot of posts about issues pertaining to non-white women, but it’s possible that there’s a skew. But I sort of think that criticizing a blog for failing to address something misses the point of the blogosphere, where all voices are equal. If Feministing is failing to address your issues, start your own blog — the other readers who agree with you will flock there.
    Of course, it’s totally valid to critique Feministing’s handling of WOC issues. But I don’t think it’s best addressed by coverage of a go-nowhere flame war.

  • kissmypineapple

    You are woefully naive if you think all voices are equal in the blogosphere.

  • BluePencils

    I cannot get over the courage of the little Yemeni girl. Eight years old, repeatedly raped and brutalized, yet she went to a court, all by herself, and asked for a divorce. A court in a very conservative Islamic country. I wouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t the last we’ve heard from Nojoud Muhammed Nasser. I hope she gets an education and remembers what she did as such a young child–she could be a voice for Yemeni and Islamic women. Even now, at eight, she can teach all of us a thing or two about standing up for ourselves.

  • violetfishy

    Ruth Fowler (author of the Guardian article) has not yet made an intelligent point on any of her Guardian articles and they are mainly filled with a “look how controversial I am!” vibe.
    She is usually roundly ridiculed.
    Check out her article on feminism, if you can stand it…

  • Mina

    “This type of arrangement really isn’t a common occurrence in the culture – that’s why the court took up her case so willingly, and why they don’t plan to return her to her family.”
    Either that or it’s a common occurence in a subculture the family’s in and not in the wider culture the court and its judges are in? I don’t know enough about the jurisdiction of the Sana’a West Court to say which.

  • http://bowleserised.blogspot.com Bowleserised

    It’s worth noting that the Comment is Free section in the Guardian is (I think I’m right in saying) largely on-line only, and very poorly paid. It’s all about getting page views.

  • http://thatswhatnicolesaid.blogspot.com/ Nicole Brice

    I watched the fake public service announcement with Hayden Pantierre and Jude Aptow and fail to understand how it is funny. Even if I didn’t understand how horrible it is to mock victims of sexual harassment, I still would not think it is funny. Of course I would think nothing more of Jude Aptow, who mocked other serious problems in Knocked Up and Superbad.
    I like how the article in Philly magazine blames the mothers for their daughters getting waxes. There is absolutely no mention whatsoever in that article blaming the media for only considering airbrushed, blond, hairless, perfect women to be beautiful.

  • fiery_lil’_redhead

    The Nation article – Who really fucking cares why fat people are fat? I don’t understand why people take such a stance on something that is really none of their business since it is not their body. And that ageist comment was really nice too. I wonder how ruth will feel in about 25 when her skin starts to sag.

  • http://thatswhatnicolesaid.blogspot.com/ Nicole Brice

    I watched the fake public service announcement with Hayden Pantierre and Jude Aptow and fail to understand how it is funny. Even if I didn’t understand how horrible it is to mock victims of sexual harassment, I still would not think it is funny. Of course I would think nothing more of Jude Aptow, who mocked other serious problems in Knocked Up and Superbad.
    I like how the article in Philly magazine blames the mothers for their daughters getting waxes. There is absolutely no mention whatsoever in that article blaming the media for only considering airbrushed, blond, hairless, perfect women to be beautiful.

  • deleahrium

    “Rather than being overly critical about what the post doesn’t cover, you could simply include the links for what was missed in the comments.”
    THANK YOU, Crystal! IAWTC
    and on the kid’s “drag” (although I don’t see the point in calling it that):
    “It concerns us when a school district strikes at the heart and core of the Biblical values.”
    Maybe I’m just ignorant of biblical studies, but is dress actually addressed in the bible? If it is, I HIGHLY doubt it is “the heart and core of Biblical values”. Seriously guys? Get the hell over yourselves.
    I wish the school HAD meant to promote transgenderism.

  • Jessi

    Maybe I’m just ignorant of biblical studies, but is dress actually addressed in the bible? If it is, I HIGHLY doubt it is “the heart and core of Biblical values”. Seriously guys? Get the hell over yourselves.
    It is actually addressed in the Bible, and is considered a fairly serious crime, but like much of the ‘strict laws’ in the Old Testament, few people take it very seriously anymore. Christians eat shrimp and wear mixed material all the time, right?
    Also, it’s really awesome seeing Hassidic Jews dressed in drag on Purim.

  • sara

    Philadelphia magazine on 8-year-olds getting waxes.
    What does an 8 year old have to wax, anyway?
    More seriously, the contrast between privileged white 8 year olds getting waxes and that poor 8 year old in Yemen whose parents sold her to a child molester is making me cry.
    And Sara wonders, “Why aren’t [tampons] provided for free in public restrooms, like toilet paper?”
    I just wish that they had garbage cans in the bathrooms at my office, so that I don’t have the juggle the used item, the new one, etc.

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

    The hate filled article that the Guardian published is rediculous! I read some of the comments on there and I liked that people stood up to the fact that people who are “overweight,” have battled other issues in life such as a tough family life, a death of a parent/child/loved one or faced other traumas. I also could not finish reading and declined to comment on it. I know many beautiful “overweight,” (quotations because I don’t believe so) people and they happen to be my family or relatives. My cousin was about to model for Lane Bryant years ago. She is a beautiful Native American and African American mix! So gorgeous!!! =)
    Yah for that Detroit woman! Detroit always turns out amazing people in this world despite the negative image that is portrayed of the Motor City.

  • keshmeshi

    Ugh. I hope public restrooms never offer free tampons or pads. Think of the horrible quality of the toilet paper in those things. I’ve been tempted to carry around my own roll of toilet paper to avoid using that scratchy, painful garbage.

  • SaraP

    The anti-fat article (and other that have been posted about here recently) really get to me, mainly because I myself am overweight…despite the fact that I walk the dog every day, eat healthy (relatively speaking…more fruits and veggies than meat or carbs, fruit as a snack as opposed to raiding the vending machine, no sodas, drink water and milk mostly) and don’t spend my day shoveling refined processed carbs into my mouth. I have trained for and run a marathon (and the whole time I doubt my BMI dropped below 30), have low blood pressure, low cholesterol, etc. I just blame it on bad genetics…I inherited my dad’s slow metabolism. Then my super lean brother (who got mom’s high metabolism, lucky bastard) was already showing blood pressure and cholesterol problems before being out of college. So which one of us is healthier? I’m the one more likely to be judged as fat and lazy, unhealthy, and all that. It’s an old cliche, but you can’t judge a book by it’s cover!!!

  • roro80

    The Guardian article, as many have pointed out, is full-on crap. Besides the obviously puke-inducing bullshit about being fat –saying that not only is unhealthy blah blah, but implying multiple times that it’s actually impossible to be cool AND fat at the same time — she also manages to be ageist, bigotted against red-heads, those with acne, and makes clear her disgust for those with eating disorders. What a sorry state — the author of that piece must hate herself so, so much.

  • Luna

    A school in rural Saskatchewan (quite conservative) where my husband taught had a x-dressing day. It was fun. Nothing more. I don’t know why people get so uptight about this sort of thing. FTR, my husband, a high school science teacher, went dressed in one of my dresses (+makeup and curled up hair). He said, “It was kind of hard to get respect while wearing a dress”. I said, “Welcome to womanhood”.

  • Barbara

    The Gaurdian Article:
    First, someone who openly admits to being discriminatory and hateful in the first sentence of her article should never be allowed to be a journalist or be published. Way to further prove your ignorance: discrimination based on age is ageism not oldism just as racism is not blackism or hispanicism (etc.) and therefore you would be a weightist not a fattist.
    Next, the discussion of obesity always bothers me for exactly this reason: rather than adressing those whose wieght is ACTUALLY threatening to their health and giving those people legitamate medical asvice- anyone who does not fit societies mold is shamed, and insulted. The Miss England Finalist? I clicked on her link since i hadn’t heard of her. And was shocked to see that this so called “fat, lazy… poster girl for ill-health” looked alot like me. I am not unhealthy, she is not unhealthy. Actually I fit the author’s requirements for healthy living.
    She even discusses how she is against acomidating those of different sizes in ambulance equipment. She said that they should have to change- literally loose weight or DIE.
    And finally lets get down to it- she never ONCE mentioned a male example of fat, never used a male pronoun. This isn’t about her being disgusted with unhealthy living at all. This is about her dislike of women who defy societal standards of beauty, women who can openly love their bodies, and therefore- her (and society’s) need to value women only for their looks and the need to otrasize them if they don’t meet ridiculous requirements.

  • ShifterCat

    Others have addressed the myth that fat=unhealthy and thin=healthy far more eloquently than I could, so I won’t rehash it. But one of the many points I think the anti-fat fanatics miss is the impact of class on unhealthy living. A lot of food that is terrible for you is cheap and fast, whereas a lot of healthy food is more expensive and takes time to prepare — a fruit bar costs more than a chocolate bar. Also, a shocking number of people don’t have any knowledge of basic food preparation.
    So the minimum-wage slave gets a 15-30 minutes to dash out and wolf down some food, and is exhausted by the time she gets home. Whereas higher-wage-earners have the time and energy to find good food, prepare it (or pay someone else to), and then go to the gym later.

  • fiery_lil’_redhead

    I forgot in the Guardian article that she mentioned something about redheads. Was it anti-redhead???? I refuse to go through the article again. But fuck that! I love being a redhead and we rock!

  • http://girlythoughts.wordpress.com judgesnineteen

    Y’all, there’s a big difference between not covering, say, an article about a particular rape case, and not covering an issue happening currently in our very own blogosphere. The first is one example of sexism among many, too many to cover, though all are important. Of course it’s ok to pick and choose. The second is an issue of white feminists – not crazy antifeminists, but *people like us* – being unfair *within the feminist movement*. If you don’t believe in the feminist blogosphere, maybe you can at least believe that we’re part of the feminist movement together and that the voices of Feministing and Pandagon are louder than the voices of most other people who contribute to the feminist movement by blogging. Since this is an issue ABOUT US, calling into question whether or not white feminist bloggers (know any of those?) are racist and/or pay enough attention to women of color, it sends a clear message to not cover it here. (As I’m writing, it has already been covered, thus my problem is with some people on this thread and not Feministing itself, late though they were). Since it’s not the fact that we don’t know, but the fact that Feministing had not yet admitted that sometimes white feminists are racist and pledged not to overlook women of color, a commenter providing the links would not have rectified the problem.

  • http://girlythoughts.wordpress.com judgesnineteen

    Ah, I read the middle of the comments (I have a bad habit of reading just the beginning and end and then catching up *after* I comment) and saw Ann’s note. So I retract the “late though they were.”
    joshua, the problem with Seal Press’s response was that it showed some white privilege. I do understand Feministing not wanting to touch that, as long as they bring up the larger issue, but I also think it was evidence of a real problem rather than just a stupid comment that caused a flame war. To me, the problem is in the entitled assumption that white people don’t have to work to include women of color, WOC have to come to us. A commenter at Feministe also found it entitled that they tried to start a discussion on someone’s blog after the blogger has said f- them. Personally I think that has more to do with wanting to defend yourself than with being so privileged that you think you’re always welcome to chat. But anyway, that’s a point of view.

  • Mina

    “as far as the waxing article goes…im pakistani and therefore, very hair and when i was young i begged my mom to let me wax my arms. she let me (after years of pleading) when i was in sixth grade.”
    Maybe I can sort of relate. I wish my mom had recommended shaving at first instead of just recommending bleach, telling me the Italian and Jewish girls were hairy too (they sure didn’t show it in class), and telling me I was just white (leaving me even more confused about whether the bullying that ensued was sexism or racism or what) when I was 10.
    Trying to fit in with other girls instead of getting bullied and having kids ask if I “should have been born a boy” was really difficult even after I started shaving, since kids remembered my blonde beard and moustache from before and since my breasts never grew bigger than AA cup (while the rest of my body filled out too much for me to “get away” with having almost no breasts).
    “i realize that the hair is very specifically part of who i am and my culture…i wouldn’t devalue that for anything.”
    Cool! Thank you for saying this! Honestly, before I read your post, I didn’t know of any cultures that accepted being a hairy woman.
    As for me, it’s part of me and my ancestry but from what Mom said it’s not part of her Iranian culture (part of our genotypes, part of our phenotypes, not part of the beauty-standard stereotypes there that say women shouldn’t show body hair).

  • Mina

    “If you don’t believe in the feminist blogosphere,”
    Nitpick: shouldn’t that be the feminist blogospheres, plural?
    Or did I miss Anglophone feminist blogs and other feminist blogs crosslinking enough to form one blogophere together instead of separately being an English-languge feminist blogosphere, a Spanish-language feminist blogosphere, etc. (there is so much more out there than what I could read even if I did have time!)?
    Neither would surprise me.

  • http://rachelraes.blogspot.com Rachel Rae

    I would like to boycott any salon that waxes eight year olds, I wonder how common this practice on young girls is, hot wax and ripping off hair seems an abusive thing to do to a child.

  • http://profoundsarcasm.blogspot.com Liza

    “What does “women of size” mean?”
    Exactly what it sounds like. Larger-framed women. Personally, as a “woman of size,” I don’t like that term. It makes it sound like some sort of disability to me, and I’d rather just acknowledge my weight as what it is: a purely physical description. I’m fat.
    That’s not self-deprecation. It’s a physical description. Fat isn’t bad, it’s just fat.
    That said, I understand our need for a term like “woman of size.” We are a group that is frequently and openly targeted for discrimination and humiliation, and we need an all-encompassing name to band together and fight it. And I suppose whoever thought of it felt it needed to be a euphemism, something that won’t frighten people and doesn’t have a stigma around it.
    And society is harder on large women than it is on large men. I’m not saying life is a cakewalk for a big guy, but it’s not nearly as bad as it is for a big woman.
    (I don’t know how to make a text link, HTML doesn’t seem to work for me here…sorry)

  • Mina

    I just found this article by Lucy Williamson, BBC News, Jakarta. Before, I knew about migrant workers being abused, but not about this method of abuse:
    “…It is the first time Indonesia has tried anyone on a charge of sending migrant workers to Iraq unwittingly.
    “But Nur Harsono, from the organisation Migrant Care in Jakarta, sayshe has regularly presented the police with dossiers of similar cases and that there needs to be a change of attitude among officials here.
    “The problem, he says, is that migrant workers are often leased out to other agencies in different parts of the world, and obtain visas to third countries while out of Indonesia…”

  • Katie

    “An 8-year-old Yemeni girl takes her father to court for forcing her to marry a 30-year-old man.”
    That girl has so much courage to go into a court and plead her case. I don’t even know if i really knew what court was when i was eight. She even said that she didn’t know what marriage really was . . ugh so disgusting. I’m glad they are actually taking some action to help her, but they need to do more than that. They need to work on fixing the laws that allowed that to happen.

  • Mina

    “‘An 8-year-old Yemeni girl takes her father to court for forcing her to marry a 30-year-old man.’
    “That girl has so much courage to go into a court and plead her case. I don’t even know if i really knew what court was when i was eight.”
    I knew what court was when I was 8…and I knew I couldn’t go to a court unless I called 911 or Mom or Dad gave me a ride.
    The fact that she was able to go to court by herself isn’t to be taken for granted. Whether she lived within walking distance of more than just other homes or was able to take mass transit to court, kudos to the people who built her community in a way that made it possible!

  • Mina

    “Yemeni child bride gets divorce” by Rachid Sekkai,
    BBC Arabic.com, available in English at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7351336.stm
    “…The girl, Nojoud Mohammed Ali, took a taxi to a judge’s office on her own, after running away from her husband…
    “…Nojoud told the court she had signed the marriage contract two-and-a-half months ago on the understanding she would stay in her parents’ house until she was 18.
    “‘But a week after signing, my mother and father forced me to go and live with him.’…
    “…Her father, Mohammad Ali Al-Ahdal told the court he felt obliged to marry off his daughter after receiving repeated threats from the would-be husband and his entourage.
    “He said was frightened because his oldest daughter had been kidnapped several years earlier and had been forced to marry her abductor…
    “…Shatha Nasser says the judge annulled the marriage instead of granting a divorce, to stop the husband trying to reinstate the wedlock.
    “‘We are grateful to the judge’ she explains. “Had it been someone with strong traditional views, Nojoud could have been sent back home.’…
    “…’Nojoud is living happily with me [her maternal uncle, Shu'ee Salem Attabi'ee] and my eight other children. She is looking forward to going back to primary school as soon as possible.'”

  • Mina

    more news, from someone at the BBC in “Soyuz spacecraft lands off-target,” 19 April 2008, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7355912.stm
    “A Russian Soyuz spacecraft has returned to Earth, but came down more than 400km (250 miles) away from its planned touchdown point, say Russian officials.
    “On board are Yi So-yeon, South Korea’s first astronaut, Yuri Malenchenko from Russia and American Peggy Whitson…
    “…Ms Whitson now holds the record for the cumulative length of time spent in space by an American at 377 days, the US space agency Nasa said earlier.”
    I’d mentioned Yi before at http://feministing.com/archives/008757.html#comment-138464 , but now that they landed safely and Whitson set a new record…

  • Mina

    BTW, I just saw an article about another girl escaping rape and marriage in Yemen.
    From “Child bride gets divorced after rape, beatings” by Paula Newton, July 16, 2008, http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/07/15/yemen.childbride/index.html :
    “SANAA, Yemen (CNN) — Nujood Ali is 10 years old, but she already has been married and divorced. It was an arranged marriage in which she said a husband three times her age routinely beat and raped her…
    “…Her parents said they thought they were putting her in the care of her husband’s family, but Nujood said he would often beat her into submission.
    “Nujood then turned to her family for mercy.
    “‘When I heard, my heart burned for her; he wasn’t supposed to sleep with her,’ said Nujood’s mother, who asked not to be identified.
    “But, initially, she also told her daughter she could not help her — that she belonged to her husband now.
    “Nujood’s father, Ali Mohammed Ahdal, said he is angry about what happened to his daughter. ‘He was a criminal, a criminal. He did hateful things to her,’ he said. ‘He didn’t keep his promise to me that he wouldn’t go near her until she was 20.’…
    “…In Yemen, there is nothing new or extraordinary about Nujood’s story because children have been married off for generations. The country’s legal minimum age for marriage was 15 till a decade ago, when the law was changed to allow for children even younger to be wed.
    “But what is most unusual is that this young girl took such an intensely private dispute and went public with it.
    “Nujood said she made up her mind to escape from her husband, describing how on a visit to her parents’ home she broke free and traveled to the central courthouse across town and demanded to speak to a judge.
    “‘He asked me, ‘What do you want?’ And I said, ‘I want a divorce.’ And he said, ‘You’re married?’ And I said, ‘Yes,” she recalled.
    “What unfolded in those few days in April gripped the country on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.
    “Nujood got her divorce, but based on the principles of Islamic Sharia law, her husband was compensated, not prosecuted. Nujood was ordered to pay him more than $200. The human rights lawyer who represented her donated the money…”
    (even some of the comments were disgusting, like claiming that it’s God’s will because she was married and old enough to menstruate)