Weekly Feminist Reader

What Danica Patrick’s victory means to young girls who aspire to be racecar drivers.
Last week, coincidentally the Global Action Week for Education, UNICEF released a study showing Afghan girls are excluded from the country’s education system.
The awful Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now adding to his resume of “shaming” male inmates by forcing them to wear pink underwear and denying female inmates abortion access by throwing a few immigration raids into the mix. Last week he rounded up 150 immigrants against even the wishes of the mayor , who said, “That’s not acceptable behavior for anyone, let alone someone whose job is to help make our community safer.”
A good post from secondhandsally on obsession, objectification, and Judd Apatow movies.
Why young women in particular are at risk for pay discrimination.
Menstrual blood could save lives! (Now I’m waiting for the Christian right to come out against this because there are baaaaaabies in that blood… or something.)
A Saudi court ruled that a man had not, in fact, attempted to rape a woman (despite the fact that she leapt out a window to get away from him) because her jeans were found folded on the bed.
Ashton Kutcher is a real asshat.
A plus-size woman will compete in the Miss England pageant. I’m torn between being glad that the pageant is expanding its definition of what beautiful looks like, and still hating on pageant culture as a whole.
Someone has started a cleaning service called Dust Bunnies in which women clean your house clad in lingerie or topless. Endorsed by Time Out Chicago: “The chance to entertain your sexy-maid fantasies while actually having your place cleaned…need we say more?” Sigh.
Christina Ricci: “I think people are learning to actually aspire to be objectified. It’s like the highest form of flattery for teenage girls. The culture we live in right now seems to reward behavior that we used to frown upon. We used to teach our daughters not to be like this.” Well, I agree with the general sentiment, but let’s not veer toward the “gee, everything was great back in the 1950s” mode of thinking, mmkay?
NPR’s News and Notes had a good segment on women’s rights in Sudan.


The Missouri House passed some awful anti-choice legislation
WTF headline: “Are There Too Many Women Doctors?”
How Chris Matthews has profited from him misogyny.
Congress held hearings on one of our personal favorite topics, abstinence-only education.
Sweden considered a ban on sexist ads, but rejected the idea because of free-speech concerns.
How girls bully differently than boys.
There’s some serious sexism in the field of physics.
Actions and Events
There’s an ecofeminist event in NYC on Thursday, May 8. Tickets available here.
On April 19, Angela Shelton Day, people nationwide are encouraged to show up at their local county courthouses to report sexual assault, and others will rally on courthouse steps. Click here to see a list of locations.
On May 17 the Bronx Museum of Art will feature a day performance artists, including the Waitresses, who will stage an “Unhappy Hour,” charging women 77 cents to men’s $1. Plus the young collective the Brainstormers, which will hold a “satiric demonstration” in collaboration with the Guerrilla Girls. And, via webcam, the transnational feminist collective 6+ will create an interactive travel “tourâ€? of Bethlehem. Organized by Christal Brown’s INSPIRIT, teenage girls in Project: BECOMING will create living tableaux from exhibited art works, exploring issues of body image and objectification. And the internet-based GuerrillaGirlsBroadband will enlist “soldiersâ€? at an anti-war “Feminist Recruitment Centerâ€? in the Museum’s lobby. Sounds awesome.

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79 Comments

  1. keric125
    Posted April 28, 2008 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    Um, isn’t Christina Ricci the actress in Black Snake Moan? Hmmm
    And YEAH for Danica Patrick!!! As an avid follower of F1 racing, my husband and I have had many heated debates about whether a woman could ever compete and win at an F1 level. Danica just brought us a little closer!!!

  2. mathgoddess
    Posted April 28, 2008 at 1:41 am | Permalink

    On the topless maids:
    I highly advise people to read 1. Barbara Eirenreich’s “Nickel and Dimed” and 2. Gloria Steinem’s “I was a Playboy Bunny” (dated, but still relevant). What the employers promise and what actually happens to the maids/bunnies tends to be vastly different. Even if some women enjoy the submission fantasy, I can’t imagine they fully enjoy being objectified (and likely harassed, if Eirenreich and Steinem’s experiences are standard) on a daily basis. I’d like to hear a voice from the inside…for *some* reason this never seems to happen.

  3. Posted April 28, 2008 at 1:46 am | Permalink

    I’d like to hear a voice from the inside…for *some* reason this never seems to happen.
    Could be something to do with long working hours and no money getting in the way of computer ownership and usage.

  4. Posted April 28, 2008 at 3:45 am | Permalink

    Damn. This is the first time I’ve wished I had a uterus endometrium to slough.
    And, yes, there is a problem with the “Dust Bunnies” bit. The French maid fantasy is all about having power over someone, and power differences in sex are per se problematic.

  5. lizadilly
    Posted April 28, 2008 at 3:55 am | Permalink

    sgzax I am so with you Re: Ashton Kutcher’s ridiculous failure to write anything the average person could relate to. I mean what circles does he run in that label-dropping is actually an issue that needs to be addressed via editorial?

  6. sabo10
    Posted April 28, 2008 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    It’s interesting that the research on menstrual blood took place in Japan, where (so I’ve read) menstruation isn’t perceived as a “curse” or “dirty.”
    Uh… not really. If you buy sanitary towels at the convenience store (tampons are difficult to buy outside Tokyo/Kanto region), they will wrap them up tightly in a brown paper bag and then another plastic bag so no one ever knows your menstruation shame. Refusing the bag for the sake of the environment just confuses the clerk.

  7. Mina
    Posted April 28, 2008 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    I just saw this article and sadly now wonder if it’ll be used to badmouth rape victims reporting rapes: http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Top_News/2008/04/27/was_woman_raped_on_telephone/5602/

  8. Misspelled
    Posted April 28, 2008 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Apparently the number of doctors in Italy who refuse to perform abortions is on the rise:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/23/world/europe/23fbriefs-RISEINDOCTOR_BRF.html?ref=europe
    70%. Not sure if that’s news to most of you here, but it made me say “holy shit!” out loud.

  9. pull_rank
    Posted April 28, 2008 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Idiot college newspaper fun.
    An article actually entitled Please, Have the Kid, We’ll Deal With It: http://www.volanteonline.com/media/storage/paper468/news/2008/04/23/Opinion/Please.Have.The.Kid.Well.Deal.With.It-3342540.shtml
    Then the editor assures us that it was all just “sarcastic.” But, just so you know, “If you are a moral individual and you believe fully in your heart the tenets of liberty, than aborting an unborn child (regardless of the stage of birth) is absolutely wrong.”: http://volanteopinion.wordpress.com/2008/04/26/the-abortion-debate/

  10. Michele
    Posted April 28, 2008 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Dress how you want to be treated??? (Ashton Kutcher) Ugh! Not only is that an awful statement, but that could also be at the discretion of the man and his opinion of how she’s dressing and wants to be treated. So, if I’m not dressing to Ashton’s standards, I can be treated like shit??? Sure! What an asswipe!

  11. sepra
    Posted April 28, 2008 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Just FYI, the woman who made the Arizona comment lives in Arizona… so she was taking a shot at her own state there.
    (I must admit I do that a lot being from Indiana, but if someone seriously hates on the state, then I get super-defensive).

    I think I get super defensive about this because I was born and raised there, and pretty often there would be some person that just recently arrived (and by recently, I mean in the first five years) taking pot shots at Arizona without seeing all the good there. All I hear about is how they wish there would be cold/snow/begonias/grass/anything else that doesn’t happen in a desert. So, it doesn’t really matter to me where someone is living at the moment. I dislike people making blanket judgements about Arizona.
    Sorry for the thread derail, I just wanted to explain where I’m coming from.

  12. faerietails
    Posted April 28, 2008 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Re: Ricci, why do people assume she’s stuck on 1950s nostalgia? She says “!e used to teach our daughters not to be this way.” For all we know, she was talking about the second wave. That sounds more in-line with the context of the rest of her statement than the 1950s does…

  13. Rock Star
    Posted April 28, 2008 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Unitari, I couldn’t agree with you more. Isn’t there a gigantic difference b/t someone who is being paid for it, and someone who is doing it as part of a mutually beneficial relationship (and I don’t necessarily mean long-term relationship, I just mean in the sense that no one is paying someone else, usually a woman).

  14. Rock Star
    Posted April 28, 2008 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Oh my Godric (Gryffindor), pull rank. That article was fucking horrific. It makes me want to apply for a visa, buy an expensive round trip ticket, go to the states, and punch him in the face. Not that violence solves anything, of course.

  15. marileec
    Posted April 28, 2008 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    sepra: I agree with you 100%! I was born and raised near Lake Havasu, and have lived in Phoenix for the last (almost) 8 years. It’s amazing how people will move here and then immediatley start complaining. Drives me batty.

  16. faerietails
    Posted April 28, 2008 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    sepra, why does that other person necessarily have to be a transplant making remarks about az?
    i’m a texan, born and raised, and i’ll make disparaging remarks about my state (hell, i’ll make disparaging remarks about my entire country) when i see fit. doesn’t mean i’m not proud to be a texan, or that i hate texas (i actually miss it dearly right now), but hell…if the shoes fits… *shrug*

  17. marileec
    Posted April 28, 2008 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    faerietails: It’s not the occasional disparaging remarks people make (we all do it, regardless of where we’re from), it’s the … “OMG, where I’m from is SO much better than Arizona. I mean, ARIZONA?! I’m from *insert city/state* and we’re just so much better than Arizona because *insert stupid reason*.”
    I am the modd over at azjournal @ livejournal and we get it a LOOOOOOOT. People move to Arizona (without researching, it seems) and then they complain about it. Constantly. “There’s nothing to dooooo.” (Lies.) “There are no good restaurants!” (Lies, again.) “It’s UGLY AND BROWN!” (More lies.) “OMG, it’s HOT!” (Duh?) “There is no public transportation!” or “The public transportation STINKS!” (It’s not perfect but I’ve used it EVERY DAY for the last 8 years just fine; we’re just a spread out city which makes public transportation difficult). And most people forget that we have Flagstaff and Sedona and Kingman and the Colorado River, etc.
    It’s mostly people who come to Phoenix that complain. They ignore the awesome restaurants we have, the great art culture, the music, the sports, the vast outdoors, and just sit indoors and complain and constantly compare to where they came from. It’s painful.
    Also, I’m avoiding work, sorry for babbling. ;)

  18. Sara
    Posted April 28, 2008 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t think the Ashton Kutcher article was so bad. It’s a male insight on the type of women he finds attractive and he gave some good advice. Don’t wear too much perfume, because that offends every person you meet, not just a male. I would pass that advice to any of my friends. Trash talking other women is also unattractive to everyone, not just men. I’d love if women could stop doing that. Selfishness, bradn dropping, all these things are good advice fro any woman to be a respectable person in everyday life and I’m sure they do make her a more attractive woman to men too. There are so many worse “Be attractive to men” stories out there, this one was much less harmless and a lot more useful.

  19. AnnaRose
    Posted April 28, 2008 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    “On the other hand, it’s really hot when you’re dressed up but wearing a cheap little bracelet. It shows you don’t take yourself too seriously”.
    Yeah, that’s bad. Maybe because now I don’t take myself so seriously, I should wear my cheap little bracelet while I sign up to work as a Dust Bunny. Thanks a lot Ashton. Need your gigantic house cleaned?

  20. noname
    Posted April 28, 2008 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    AnnaRose – I don’t get it. He shouldn’t have a jewelry preference because he (presumably) lives in a big house? And what does that have to do with topless maids?

  21. sgzax
    Posted April 28, 2008 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    I hear you, AnnaRose. I mean, most women work to support themselves. Many work to support their families. Even if you get over the insulting inanity of this man offering advice on how to be the kind of woman he likes, how is “don’t brag about your Prada bag” going to be of any use to… most people in the fucking world? On this thread we’re also talking about the implications of sexually exploitive work, but I’ll bet the women considering topless toilet scrubbing as a life choice are not the same ones thinking, “Hey, I’ll wear this kicky cheap bracelet with my Versace and maybe Ashton will notice me.”
    To unpack it a little for you noname, I just really hate the rich. I hate that they don’t even recognize the advantages they have most of the time and I hate that they often seem to think that they really worked for what they have.
    Because the kind of work that gets you a Prada bag is almost never as hard or demeaning as the kind of work that pays for a new muffler on a ten year old car.

  22. AnnaRose
    Posted April 28, 2008 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    It’s true; besides Aston’s comments being useless to most people, it’s degrading and insulting that if you don’t take yourself “seriously”, who will? Certainly not Ashton Kutcher. How does wearing equal a “cheap little bracelet” equal not taking oneself seriously? I think it might be the opposite, because money in this case is not literally being pissed away.
    One demeaning image, signified by a bracelet, meets another demeaning image, this of scantily-clad women cleaning, of “service” to others, both tied up in the old adage of power and money. Put the two together and you’ve got one degraded image of womanhood. Sad.
    However, deconstruct those concepts in a forum like this one and a little bit of feminist ground is gained.

  23. AnnaRose
    Posted April 28, 2008 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    It’s true; besides Ashton’s comments being useless to most people, it’s degrading and insulting to say that, “It shows you don’t take yourself too seriously”. If you don’t take yourself “too seriously”, who will? Certainly not Ashton Kutcher. How does wearing equal a “cheap little bracelet” equal not taking oneself seriously? I think it might be the opposite, because money in this case is not literally being pissed away.
    One demeaning image, signified by a bracelet, meets another demeaning image, this of scantily-clad women cleaning, of “service” to others, both tied up in the old adage of power and money. Put the two together and you’ve got one degraded image of womanhood. Sad.
    However, deconstruct those concepts in a forum like this one and a little bit of feminist ground is gained.

  24. Posted April 29, 2008 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    Does anyone else think Ashton Kutcher probably didn’t even write that piece of crap? It’s got ghost writer all over it. Which kind of makes it even worse.
    Here’s a link -
    why I’m a feminist
    I write for news ltd in Australia and it’s my blog for this week.

  25. rhowan
    Posted April 29, 2008 at 2:01 am | Permalink

    “how is “don’t brag about your Prada bag” going to be of any use to… most people in the fucking world?”
    Of course, his article was written for Harper’s Bazaar… their “Best Buy of the Day” is a $350 Vera Wang skirt. The article is obviously aimed at people who can afford to own (and obnoxiously brag about) ridiculously expensive luxury items.
    Mind you, even after granting him that concession, the tone of his article is still off-putting. This is the quote that bothered me: “Women who wear big blingin’ stones don’t look like they have a lot of money; they look like they have a lot of someone else’s money.” What exactly are you trying to say there Ashton? Because it sounds like you’re saying they look like gold-diggers or dare I say it prostitutes. But maybe I’m wrong and he’s just saying they look like they don’t appreciate the hard-earned value of a dollar? (Nahhh)

  26. Spider Jerusalem
    Posted April 29, 2008 at 3:05 am | Permalink

    About the Dust Bunnies thing, and the various responses to it:
    1) My former employer has a friend who runs a business like this on her own. Because she wants to be naked and she wants to clean stuff and get paid for it.
    2) My husband and I both clean stuff while naked. We hate clothes.
    3) I’m a switch. Does that mean I have to become a Domme full time just so I can balance out whatever societal karmic scale you’ve decided defines mores? I like having him on top and hitting me sometimes, and sometimes I like hitting him.
    4) I agree that this isn’t the most sex-positive website, but for sex-positivity, I go read the Slog.
    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Christina Ricci’s statement, and I don’t think she was referring to the 50′s housewife. I think she was referring to the 90′s-era trends towards self-assertion.
    Why would someone watch Apatow movies after Knocked Up?
    And Chloe Marshall is just brave for going into this knowing the kind of international bile she was going to draw. She’s not overlarge, but the amount of vitriol towards her has been MASSIVE. I feel like I’ve been watching this story for months. On the other hand, I worry that she won’t be that good at…whatever else it is she does, and lose the competition on that.

  27. Spider Jerusalem
    Posted April 29, 2008 at 3:07 am | Permalink

    About the Dust Bunnies thing, and the various responses to it:
    1) My former employer has a friend who runs a business like this on her own. Because she wants to be naked and she wants to clean stuff and get paid for it.
    2) My husband and I both clean stuff while naked. We hate clothes.
    3) I’m a switch. Does that mean I have to become a Domme full time just so I can balance out whatever societal karmic scale you’ve decided defines mores? I like having him on top and hitting me sometimes, and sometimes I like hitting him.
    4) I agree that this isn’t the most sex-positive website, but for sex-positivity, I go read the Slog.
    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Christina Ricci’s statement, and I don’t think she was referring to the 50′s housewife. I think she was referring to the 90′s-era trends towards self-assertion.
    Why would someone watch Apatow movies after Knocked Up?
    And Chloe Marshall is just brave for going into this knowing the kind of international bile she was going to draw. She’s not overlarge, but the amount of vitriol towards her has been MASSIVE. I feel like I’ve been watching this story for months. On the other hand, I worry that she won’t be that good at…whatever else it is she does, and lose the competition on that.

  28. sepra
    Posted April 29, 2008 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Thank you, marileec, for saying what I was trying to get across.
    And when someone says “I love the state I live in” rather than “I love the state I’m from”, it spells transplant to me. I could always be worng, it’s just the way I took it.

  29. marileec
    Posted April 29, 2008 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    No problem, sepra. As an Arizona native, I hear it all the time. It’s one thing to make jokes about where you live or where you’re from, but people move here and then tend to compair Phoenix to where their from, forgetting that Phoenix is unique and of course it’s not like where they are from. And then they complain about stupid crap without actually knowing what they are talking about. As soon as they say, “Arizona has no culture!” (Really? We’re the Wild Wild West for a reason, people!) Or, “There’s nothing to DO in Phoenix!” (Really? Um, last time I checked we had tons of live music, some great restaurants, a huge art culture, lots of places to hike, etc.) Or, “It’s UGLY!” (Wow, then why did you move TO THE DESERT if you find the desert so ugly?! And what about Flagstaff and Sedona?) Etc. etc. I know that they are then just talkin’ out of their ass and not giving Arizona (usually Phoenix itself) a chance at ALL.

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