Weekly Feminist Reader

Sarah Haskins does the Super Bowl shuffle.
After divorce, men’s incomes increase while women’s decrease.
Gazan women tell their stories.
A group of women in Mangalore, India were attacked for simply being out in public “indecently dressed.” Jill has video, and Ultra Violet has a powerful open letter to the local government.
Kenya’s transgender community has recently faced several human rights violations.
Veronica started a new natural hair blog, for chemical- and color-free ladies. Her intro post is here.
Harriet’s Daughter adds an inauguration caveat: No, not everything has changed. (Yup, that racial barrier is still there…)
The good news about women and children in the economic stimulus package.
Jean-Paul Gaultier used a 51-year-old fashion model in his recent runway show. Fashion models “are not just 14-year-olds,” Mr. Gaultier said later. “There are no [age] barriers to beauty.”
A woman in the UK had a friend paint her portrait after she had a mastectomy, and the portrait is now being shown in the Louvre.
Cara posted a great video of Andrea Gibson on “living in our stupidly gender-obsessed culture when you present your gender ambiguously.”
The glass ceiling in politics, writes Jamelle, is created by “barriers of perception, entry and access rather than barriers to electoral achievement. Which means, to me at least, that we should spend less time kvetching about Caroline Kennedy, and more time doing the difficult work of recruiting more women candidates, and encouraging women’s political ambition.
In areas with longer average commutes, married women are less likely to participate in the workforce.
Push is the story of Precious Jones, an obese and illiterate teen whose mother and father are sexually, physically, and emotionally abusing her.” It won accolades at Sundance, and is currently looking for a distributor.
Ashlee Simpson smacks down the media for criticizing her sister’s body.
When it comes to enjoying pop culture that contradicts your personal beliefs, Tami asks, “What I want to know is : Where’s your line? I mean, what separates the offensive comedy you abhor and that you tolerate and find hilarious? What criteria does a slightly sexist song have to pass to make it on to your iPod?”
Connecting the dots between climate change and unsafe working conditions for women.
Debating what the Palin phenomenon says about feminism.
Sara at F-Words is (understandably!) skeptical about MTV’s ability to execute a new version of How’s Your News?, a show produced by people with developmental disabilities.
Juliana at Bitch reviews Tool Academy, a VH1 show in which “women drag their truly terrible boyfriends through a relationship boot camp in hopes of turning them into nice guys.”
How can The New York Times simultaneously debunk and reinforce the crack-baby myth?
I concur with MzBitca’s take on Nadya Suleman, who just gave birth to octuplets. That this was her choice and she seems very happy, so that’s that. (Rachel at Rachel’s Tavern offers a different view.)
TransGriot on black LGBT history.
Get Involved
A reminder: Check out our calendar for upcoming events (and add events that you hear of)!
Breastfeeding and Feminism Symposium: Registration and Call for Abstracts
Submit to the Down Under Feminists Carnival.
Encourage a young woman you know to apply for Running Start Young Women’s Political Leadership Program for High School Girls.
As always, leave additional links in comments!

Join the Conversation

  • uberhausfrau

    i know you gals have little control over it, but as im reading this, the banner ad says “hey jennifer, your leg hair is so long you could braid it. – pete”
    *sigh. loves my leg and body hair. partner does too*

  • SaltyLilKipper

    Jessica Simpson made her career on being thin and beautiful. I don’t have any sympathy for her now that she’s chunkier and people don’t think she’s hot anymore. I’m sick of celebrities promoting a certain beauty ideal for years and then trying to invoke size acceptance when they start getting older and putting on weight.
    There isn’t anything wrong with being fat, Ashlee. There’s also nothing wrong with having a big nose.

  • Renee

    Starting a Feminist Dog lover uprising: A little satire about the penchant for feminists to be into cats.
    Manitoba Doctor Refuses Treatment to Lesbians: Looking at the ways homophobia and racism intersect in medicine in Canada.
    Fist black mayor Charles Tyson forced to resign due to racism: Even though he received racist threats on his life people are still saying he is playing the race card, so much for post racial
    Who Has The Good Hair: Looking at the ways black hair is problematized and how this effects the lives of black women.

  • Furiousfemale

    I’ve been hearing about the Jessica Simpson story all week on the radio on my way to work. Boy it really pisses me off. Most women are closer to a size 8 than a size 2, it’s not a big deal. Female celebreties can’t seem to win when it comes to their weight, if Jessica Simpson were to suddenly drop back down to a size 2, the media would feign concern about her health because pseudo concern about stars and eating disorders seems to sell these days, but that pseudo concern never changes a damn thing. Even pregnant stars can’t escape this, because how dare they gain weight like every other woman does when they’re pregnant

  • Furiousfemale

    I made a similar point to my husband last night when we were watching (of all things) “Meet the Spartans” because there was a spoof of Tyra Banks telling people to kiss her fat ass and it made me think of when she was in People and did that show promoting body acceptance. While body acceptance is a good thing, the point I made that it was ironic that Tyra Banks ran with this because of her career as a model and other show America’s Next Top model. Not only did they tear down the contestant’s weight, but her entire profession promotes an unrealistic ideal that most american women cannot reach. Now the tables turned and she realized all the BS that media puts out about women’s bodies. HOw many stars have to gain weight and call BS on this treatment before people stop buying the issues of Star and US weekly etc that take part in it?

  • Allytude

    About the Mangalore pub story, I wrote about it on my blog.(http://virtualityforreal.blogspot.com/2009/01/am-i-glad-i-left-that-place.html) And one of the comments I got was “you can either run away or do something about it”. But what is a woman to do? Protest? Or approach the police. There is a law in place you know- nothing is enforced. It is a situation of helpless anarchy that has been forced upon us- and we cannot do much about it. As women we fight battles all the time- just to be accorded a human dignity- why? Can we just live like human beings and not have to labor for each breath we take or apologise all the time.

  • childfree_feminist

    As far as the octuplets story goes, I’m with BritGirl on this one!

  • EvilSlutClique

    This week we wrote about how old people are apparently no longer allowed to have good sex.
    We got called “morally void” for defending sex workers (stay tuned for more on this subject in February).
    We celebrated Barack Obama’s signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act (yay!)
    And the Republicans have some good news and bad news all their own).
    We also did a monthly wrap-up: A look back at January 2009

  • nightingale

    Good point.
    However, I’m happy that someone is saying that it’s okay to gain a few pounds as you get older, because so many people say the opposite and the less we let them get away with that, the better. Jessica Simpson isn’t our enemy, and no matter how much she supported that culture I dislike to see it turn on her. Also, I imagine (because I’m not into this area of pop culture) that a lot of young girls read and respect Ashlee and this might help them.

  • llevinso

    I don’t recall ever reading any comments from Jessica Simpson where she criticised other people’s size. Sure, she works in an industry where she has capitalized on the fact that she has had big boobs and a small figure, but I don’t see why now we have to shame her for that or aren’t able to sympathize with her when people slam her for gaining a few pounds. We can still point out how wrong it is for people to point their finger at her and call her fat. That’s like how most of us completely disagreed with Sarah Palin’s ideas but we could still admit when people said sexist things about her.

  • myheartisagapinghole

    I heard this piece on NPR this morning, entitled “Despite Odds, Women’s Movement Persists in Iran”.
    It includes commentary from Azar Nafisi, author of _Reading Lolita in Tehran_. Every time I learn more about Iran’s history and the current situation of women there I get this knot in my stomach. What if that happened to us, here in the U.S.? What happened to that whole generation of women? What is happening to them now?

  • MomTFH

    I have to disagree about the octuplets story, but more as a future practitioner. I have no problem with women having as many children as they want, but there were medical interventions involved. If there were a number of embryos transferred that are above the standard of care, which is based on a significant increase of risk to the mothers and the embryos-fetuses-future babies, then this is a medical ethics issue.
    Medicine is not ordering off of a menu. Yes, it is a slippery slope telling women what to do with their reproduction, but health care practitioners should be able to refuse to perform medical interventions that are unsafe and elective. I don’t care if she had 6 kids, declared bankruptcy, was single, etc. and had one or two embryos transferred. It is the unsafe nature of a extreme multiple pregnancy I have a problem with, and that it was definitely cause by a medical practitioner.

  • MomTFH

    Oh, and as for my own link, I wrote a letter to my senator complaining about his sponsoring an amendment to the SCHIP bill trying to reinstate the Global Gag Rule.
    (And a twitchy typo fix: In my post above, in the last line, “cause” should say “caused”.)

  • ellenrose

    Over at our blog Pink Scare …
    – Arvilla laments that the apparent existence of Dating a Banker Anonymous (DABA) helps the New York Times play up the “oldest and lamest gender stereotypes.”
    – LN blogs for choice, and discusses the diversity of reproductive choices that people in her life have made.

  • AngryFeminist_16

    Shameless self-promotion:
    I’ve been writing a lot about feminist stuff. http://misanthropicslut.blogspot.com/

  • SaltyLilKipper

    I’m not shaming her for having large breasts and a small waist, I just can’t say I feel sorry for her when the exclusive beauty culture she supported and benefited from turns against her. She made millions off of it while her body was working in her favor. Those millions depended on the exclusivity of the current beauty standards and the rest of our sexist culture. It just seems hypocritical for her or her sister to turn around now and say it’s wrong to be so critical of women’s bodies. Her body is what she based her flippin’ career on!
    Our bizarre beauty standards and fatphobia are wrong. That said, I just can’t say I feel sorry for someone who capitalized on sexism only to have sexism bite her in the ass later.

  • llevinso

    I would agree with you if she had been out there promoting that thin and whatnot is the ideal beauty all those years. But in fact she was not. She just happened to fit that ideal for a while and thus it helped her career. Actually when her sister started out in the biz she was a bit heavier and Jessica would defend her and say the same kind of stuff that Ashlee is saying about Jess now. Same with her nose.
    I just think that the way you are phrasing your comment seems to suggest that if a woman has worked in the entertainment industry they are not worthy of our sympathy in this matter and I just cannot agree.

  • Logrus

    If you like hard rock then it is impossible not to like Led Zepplin’s songs like “Whole Lotta’ Love” but it’s pretty overtly objectifying.
    Same goes for any devotee of standup comedy, Lenny Bruce was funny and able to make unfunny concepts funny.
    Art and artists who excel do so in unsafe ways and often express concepts and ideas antithetical to your own in a way that still makes them enjoyable.
    I’m a cooperative anarchist, but I read a lot of Heinlein who always vacillated between fascism and corporatism. But his writing was still enjoyable for a fan of the genre.

  • Gopher

    She probably wouldntve been able to be as famous as she was, or at least thats what she mightve erroneously believed at the helping of her father and other handlers.

  • Gopher

    (forgot to add)…..if she was a larger size. Those responsible for her endorsement might not have publicised her as much.

  • Gopher

    Similar to Afghanistan. The women in Kabul used to be similar to American women in the 70’s. They were wearing short skirts, challenging old constructs of female identity,educating themselves for employment and getting ready to have a say in their own society.

  • ShifterCat

    I read an excerpt from Push in The New Yorker several years ago — actually, I’m not sure whether it was an excerpt, or if what I read was a short story which was later expanded into a novel. Either way, it was excellent.

  • baddesignhurts

    word. we don’t let anyone else off the hook with “i choose my choice!”, so why are we doing so with this lady?
    to me, it’s really evident that she got some unethical medical care….according to her mother, the woman is mentally unstable and “obsessed” with having children, which a competent fertility doc would have caught, just as competent, ethical plastic surgeons don’t continue to operate on people they know to have image disorders. not to mention, the transfer of that many embryos is, ahem, ILL-ADVISED. (apparently someone related to the case said the woman transferred three that then “split”, but none of them have been reported to be identical, according to what i’ve read.)
    i’m sorry, i can’t imagine any circumstance in which a woman raising 14 children essentially alone is mentally healthy. and i can’t see how it’s possible for her to be there for that many kids. seems to me she is filling a void in herself the way some people do with alcohol or drugs or sex or serial monogamy, and in any of those cases, we don’t throw up our hands and pat those people on the back and say, “it’s your choice, do what you want!!!” we encourage those people to seek the help they need and try to reform the system that contributed to that void in their hearts in the first place.

  • Feminist Review

    Excerpts from a few Feminist Reviews of the Week:
    AIDS Sutra: Untold Stories From India: Negar Akhavi has masterfully edited multiple voices and rhetorical devices to show us how HIV and AIDS have affected Indian society. Half the contributors traverse the deep faultlines of misogyny, poverty, and religious hierarchy. The other half shows what it’s like in India in the time of AIDS to be faithful wives and daughters-in-law (and HIV-infected), poor and low-caste, overburdened healthcare workers, cast-off and orphaned, and non-heterosexual.
    College Girl: While reading, I couldn’t help thinking Natalie might have benefited from taking a Women’s Studies course. Perhaps instead of throwing around words like “slut” and “whore” and buying into the idea of sex as a form of “leverage” in relationships, she could have stood up for herself a lot sooner. Instead, she keeps quiet about unwanted sexual attention from her roommate’s boyfriend, and caves to her own “boyfriend” when he pressures her into performing oral sex despite her protests.
    One Fifth Avenue: I prefer not to make New Year’s Resolutions. However, there is one that I intend to make and keep. I will never read a “chick lit” book again. For years, the vapidity of this genre has enthralled millions of women and kept the printing presses running at publishers’ establishments. I frankly refuse to even glance through something of this standard ever. I read One Fifth Avenue on a whim. A college friend suggested it to me after I admitted that I had never watched Sex and the City. “It’s Candace Bushnell, you’ll love it!” she exclaimed.

  • Feminist Review

    How’s about giving credit where credit is due on that UltraViolet link folks?

  • Feminist Review
  • Tsunade

    The link about the lesbian lady discriminated against by the mean doctor upset me. What further annoyed me was how the article emphasized blame on foreign physicians with different cultures. Homophobia breeds in Canada too, for one thing. Second of all, Manitoba is hurting badly for more physicians. They really can’t afford to discriminate based on where they come from or their religious backgrounds. If they’re qualified, let them practice.
    This is one of the downsides to socialized health care. Even shitty doctors get paid.

  • Cicada Nymph

    I kind of had that initial response at first because I do think Jessica Simpson worked very hard to make her appearance conform to those standards and used her conformity to those standards to make a lot of money. However, (and despite the fact that she annoys the hell out of me) I do have sympathy for her because though by “playing the game” she helps to keep it running she had and has an enormous amount of pressure on her to look a certain way and keep her body at a certain weight and I agree that if she had not I don’t think she would have had the same level of success. At the beginning of her career when she was very young and not at all heavy she was told to lose weight. I can’t state that I, myself, if faced with that kind of pressure and scrutiny at her age would not also have succumbed or used my image when I could to further my career. Maybe now that she is a little older and wiser she is beginning to do what is healthy and right for her and “see the light” and I don’t think that means we should turn on her now; I think that means we should be supportive. Tyra, on the other hand, I don’t feel quite the same way about because while she talks about body acceptance she still is in charge of a show for models where the majority fit the stereotype of being tall and thin and some have been called “too heavy”.

  • llevinso

    Oh I think that was very well put Cicada.

  • homebird

    Whoa. That’s a very slippery slope you’re proposing. The poster whose blog you linked to is saying that people don’t have the “right” to have the number of children that they want. Ok so maybe she didn’t make the most responsible decision, maybe she is putting her needs ahead of the children she is having. But if you say it’s OK for restrictions to be put on how many children a woman CAN have you are opening the door to women being told they HAVE to have children. Is that really what you want – to be told what you can and cannot do with YOUR body? All women have the right (RIGHT) to control their own bodies that means terminating unwanted pregnancies as well as having as many babies as her womb will hold if that’s what she wants. My body my choice cannot be selectively applied just because you don’t agree with the choice.

  • homebird

    Must say I don’t quite get your “off the hook” bit. As we’re assigning blame then why didn’t her mother get her treatment for her “obsession” that began in her teens?
    I haven’t been on Feministing long but I’m assuming that there have been numerous conversation about the “baby glorification” in our culture. So it’s not really all that surprising that a sister would be swayed by it. Your and MOMTFH’s call for doctors to be more ethical means the doctor is making the decision for the woman. You want to make restrictions, based on one of the rarest of cases, that could domino down to affect all women. Please re-think this position.

  • h2o_girl

    Session at World Economic Forum focuses on girls:
    And just, ugh:

  • doubleb

    Do her rights create a responsibility in society to care for all of her children? This isn’t a case of her making reproductive decisions that affect no other person. She has no ability to pay for any of the tremendous costs that were involved in keeping her and her children alive through this ordeal, and she almost certainly won’t be able to support all of these children with even the basic necessities of life, much less give them the attention and upbringing that they deserve. That means that her decisions are now affecting the community from which each person must sacrifice in order to pay for her excess. They in turn have the right to regulate her behavior if she expects to glean the benefits of their support.

  • baddesignhurts

    um, restrictions? i didn’t advocate that she be under any legal restrictions. (maybe her doctor should, though.) i think this woman has some mental issues that should have been caught, and that an ethical medical provider would have declined to treat her, or at the very least not transfer 8 embryos….you know, first do no harm, and all that. honestly, this case should fall within the bounds of malpractice in my eyes because of the absolutely ridiculous risks taken with this woman’s health (not to mention her children), and to act like i’m all of a sudden infringing on women’s rights to bear their families the way they want to is pretty offensive. this lady has the right to do whatever the hell she wants with her body, but we have basic standards for medical care in this country. just because no one died in this situation (thank whatever you believe in!) doesn’t mean that this was a good idea.

  • Kat

    I remember hearing quite a bit about how Jessica Simpson was “too big” earlier in her career and was pressured to lose weight by her record company so they could market her better. She lost 15 pounds or something like that from her first cd to her second. She also did interviews during Dukes of Hazard where she mentioned she was working out 2 hours a day for the role.
    Seems to me like those beauty standards were biting her in the ass the whole time. Maybe she finally just had it. I can’t see how you can pin the blame on her.

  • keshmeshi5

    Sure, if they’re qualified, let them practice, but make it clear that they are not to impose their own values on their patients.