Weekly Feminist Reader

Why Title IX is about more than sports.
Listen to Jessica on this week’s Liberal Oasis podcast. (mp3)
On whether what you call your partner — partner/wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other — has political ramifications.
Go read Hilzoy’s post, “Why do they stay?,” on women in violent relationships.
Monica Roberts on the term “passing” — what it means in a gender sense, what it means in a racial sense, and why she’ll be using the term “blending” from now on.
Sex workers in Ecuador are building a national labor network.
The Violence Against Women Act is 15 years old!
A police chief in Texas used a taser on his wife.
A recently released documentary on Cindy Sherman illustrates the misogyny still pervasive in the art world today.
Evil Slutopia on the repugnant posters present at the conservative “tea party” demonstrations.
How U.S. immigration policy disadvantages women.
Shark-Fu on Sarah Palin and reproductive choice.
An Illinois court says the governor can’t force businesses to sell the morning-after pill.
Join the Amnesty campaign to stop violence against women in Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
Judith Warner on how anti-gay slurs became “the most potent and feared weapons in the school bully’s arsenal.”
Racist fetishes get their own iPhone app. (More from SarahMC.)
Bird of Paradox has coverage of the Angie Zapata murder trial. (As well as a catalog of previous posts on Zapata.)
Listen to the What Tami Said podcast, featuring AJ Plaid aka The Cruel Secretary, Monica of TrandsGriot and Renee of Womanist Musings, today at 4pm EDT.
How the right is fighting Obama’s pro-choice nominees.
M.Dot wonders at Racialicious, “what if, instead of Rihanna it were Sasha or Malia Obama who was assaulted by their boyfriend? Malia is 11, and in 8 years she could be college student who is dating an R & B star.”
What have you all been reading/writing this week?

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43 Comments

  1. mk
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Writing: A Requiem for Home, because it’s the time of year when I start feeling brutally homesick.
    Reading: A Military Feminist: I’m Not What You Think. (A blog that started, at least in part, thanks to a comments thread here at Feministing.)

  2. Posted April 19, 2009 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for including us! It was painful to go through all of those pictures (and of course we recognize that these images don’t represent the views of everyone who attended these events), but we felt like it was good to show what was out there all across the country, especially in light of some of the comments that we were reading and hearing from people suggesting that these protests were somehow more high-minded or civilized or legitimate than ‘liberal anti-war/anti-Bush rallies’.

  3. Renee
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    What is and isn’t racist: Looking at the belief that whiteness has the right to declare what is and is not racist.
    Judge Mathis: Rape is just part of the game: Looking at a new game in which rape is presented as punishment for breaking the law.
    Of course something is wrong with your vagina: Looking at products that are presented as fixing the faults nature created.
    Is boycotting Jamaica the right move for the GLBT community: Looking at who is harmed when we boycott and why it might cause a backlash.

  4. sherunslunatic
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    I’ve just started a blog analyzing pop-culture stuff through a sort-of academic lens. I’m using it, in part, to wrestle with the fact that a lot of my pop-culture preferences are decidedly unfemininist, something I start to talk about here. I also was very cynical about the whole Susan Boyle thing, over-intellectualized an Old Spice commercial, and completely failed to intellectualize Black Snake Moan at all.

  5. Jessica Lee
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Man, those posters from the Tea Party are priceless. I myself laughed at “scholiast” and “descent”. It makes me all the more happy that they didn’t win the election. :)

  6. annajcook
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Two quick posts this week (been busier reading than writing!):
    1) thoughts on a reductive, sexist interpretation of the new study on China’s gender disparity.
    2) a recent NYT article on children as caregivers.

  7. Posted April 19, 2009 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Like Renee, I also wrote about the LGBT boycott of Jamaica and why the boycott might not be the right answer.

  8. Lyndzi
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    I wrote an article on sexism in the mechanic industry earlier this week after a bad experience I had, you can read it here:
    http://www.altdash.com/ShowArticle.aspx?ID=157
    Thanks,
    ~Lyndzi

  9. ItsJustMe
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    I just started blogging today actually about my first thoughts on feminism since I’m new to this whole thing.
    http://concourseblog.blogspot.com/2009/04/stand-together.html

  10. MzBitca
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 7:36 pm | Permalink
  11. Posted April 19, 2009 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    I like the rest of the world put in my two cents about Susan Boyle and asked if you are an after cancer saint

  12. Seamster
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    I object to the fetish-bashing. This is the most common sort of objection I have to stuff on Feministing: fetish-bashing.
    This is an app that lets (in all likelihood) men who enjoy jerking off to Asian women quietly and privately pursue that. We have the same hope here as we have for all men who consume porn: that they will be able to differentiate readily between porn and reality. If they can’t, it doesn’t matter what sort of porn they jerk off to, there will be problems with how they treat women.
    Really what my irritation comes down to is that you are shaming people for their sexuality.

  13. Posted April 19, 2009 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    I wrote about Corrective Rape in South Africa and an examination of homophobia in South Africa.
    I also wrote about a woman sciencist named Dr. Nubia Munoz, a doctor from Columbia who just won the Gairdner Foundation award for connecting HPV with cervical cancer.

  14. MzBitca
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    To be fair a fetish is often certain things like styles of porn, shoes etc. It is completely derogatory to classify an entire nation of people as a “fetish” It’s very dehumanizing
    An object that is believed to have magical or spiritual powers, especially such an object associated with animistic or shamanistic religious practices.
    An object of unreasonably excessive attention or reverence: made a fetish of punctuality.
    Something, such as a material object or a nonsexual part of the body, that arouses sexual desire and may become necessary for sexual gratification.
    An abnormally obsessive preoccupation or attachment; a fixation.
    If you are attracted to women with asian features it is one thing but to report that you have an Asian fetish is very insulting and shames the sexuality of those who are your fetish as they become an object for your pleasure

  15. Destra
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    I agree.
    I think a lot of it goes back to whether or not you’re a feminist who thinks that porn harms women, or whether you’re a feminist who think that people can distinguish their sexuality with how they view and interact with the world.
    I’m of the second school of thought. People cannot change what turns them on and what they respond to sexually. Liking Asians, or bondage, or men, or feet, or whathaveyou is not a choice. And the day that I condemn people for things that they do not choose to be is the day I hand in my feminist card. What those people CAN control is how they act outside of their sexual preference. Liking Asian features does not mean that you have to assign negative stereotypes to Asians in RL (like, say, assuming that they’re more passive than other races).
    There are people who don’t separate fantasy from RL–who do carry their fetishes on into the real world. But let’s not punish everyone for the transgressions of the few. Those people should be addressed individually. They are the source of the problem, the porn is not.

  16. Destra
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Dude, most guys jerk off to women. Are you saying that they’re insulting women because they’re fetishizing them?

  17. j-doug
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    The fetish bashing bothers me, but it bothers me more when a fetish is referred to as racist. I’m allowed to have whatever fetish I want, race-based or otherwise. In fact, I’m allowed to think and feel whatever the hell I want no matter how offensive it is to other people, so long as I keep it to myself.
    That said, I can understand the misogyny behind the application itself. I have no problem with criticism of pornography, but attacking fetishists and calling people racist for what they think in their own private space and time isn’t feminist as far as I’m concerned.

  18. Feminist Review
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    I have a love/hate relationship with liberal publications, like the New York Times, that discuss progressive issues and at the same time print articles that seem to use stone age mentality to “prove” the differences between women and men…I have a similar love/hate relationship with Ben Karlin’s collection of essays, Things I’ve Learned From Women Who’ve Dumped Me.
    From the moment I laid eyes on the Come for a Cause Kit, it was love, or at the very least lust, at first sight…The Come for a Cause Kit benefits not one, but two organizations. The condoms benefit Planned Parenthood, while the Papillon vibe proceeds go to Living Beyond Breast Cancer. Charity has never felt so good.
    Astra Taylor’s documentary, Examined Life, is fantastically untimely in both its form and content.
    I often felt guilty that I took on a “typical” female character in World of Warcraft. Although I love my character, I constantly feel un-feminist when gaming from such a culturally feminine position. These are the sorts of questions and conversations we are ready to have rather than simply an analysis of the demographics in gaming, and Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat moves us in this direction.
    Don’t be fooled by the somewhat whimsical title of Jayanti Tamm’s memoir Cartwheels in a Sari; this account of a young woman’s life as “growing up cult” couples the childlike innocence of a cartwheel with the feeling of inertia and tumbling.

  19. sarah
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    Hope? sure. But is just ‘hoping’ that they can differentiate realistic? Not so much.
    AND it’s racist to call a like or preference for Asian women a ‘fetish’. If she was white, would it be a fetish? or just porn?

  20. sarah
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    It’s insulting because it’s racist.

  21. vaseline
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    A fetish is something that causes sexual arousal even though it’s not a sexual thing.
    When we are talking about heterosexual men jerking off to women in general, that’s not ‘fetishizing’. They are jerking off because they are thinking sexual things. The focus is on a woman’s naked body and the thought of having sex.
    When someone is even more aroused because of the person’s race, that’s a fetish. Because race itself is not sexual AT ALL. It’s ethnicity. There’s nothing naturally sexual about it.
    And honestly, I could see why someone would find that degrading. It’s sexualizing an entire group of people because of their race.
    On the other hand, I understand that people can’t really help the sexual thoughts they have. So, it’s not as if having a fetish makes you an asshole, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be potentially offending people.

  22. Suzy Q
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    I wrote a piece titled “Misogyny and the Murdering of Transsexual/Transgender Women”
    I mention Jessica Valenti and something she said in it.
    http://womenborntranssexual.com/2009/04/18/misogyny-and-the-murdering-of-transsexualtransgender-women/
    More over I tackle how it starts with religious misogyny, misogyny in socialization of masculinity and the tolerating of bullying in schools.
    I am angry at the defaming of Angie Zapata during the trial of her alleged murderer. She is being turned into the guilty party. Then another transwoman was murdered outside a club where she worked this week.

  23. Destra
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    How is jerking off to women racist? Race does not enter the picture.

  24. PamelaVee
    Posted April 20, 2009 at 12:42 am | Permalink

    those tea party signs were nothing short of blatantly racist. There wasn’t ONE black person there in those photos, which should say something, but there were many signs using racism and incorrect race-based assumptions against black people to get their point across.
    and Hitler? COME ON. REALLY?

  25. Rachel_in_WY
    Posted April 20, 2009 at 12:46 am | Permalink

    I wrote In the grip of a patriarchal picture, on how we interpret animal behavior through a patriarchal lens, and
    The zero-sum construction of masculinity.
    I loved this Note to the Secessionist Texans, and this Fact or Fiction? Kids today are fat because they’re not getting enough PE. Junkfood Science is quickly becoming one of my favorite blogs.

  26. wax_ghost
    Posted April 20, 2009 at 1:22 am | Permalink

    Reading a series about narcissists that everyone should read so that they can avoid them: http://somuchmorethanamom.wordpress.com/?s=narcissist

  27. JetGirl70
    Posted April 20, 2009 at 1:41 am | Permalink

    How does pedophilia fit into that list? And even if people who are turned on by children never molest a child, isn’t their consumption of child pornography, if involving actual children, problematic?

  28. sarah
    Posted April 20, 2009 at 1:55 am | Permalink

    No. It’s racist to call a like or preference for Asian women a ‘fetish’. If she was white, would it be a fetish? or just porn?

  29. Destra
    Posted April 20, 2009 at 2:09 am | Permalink

    Ah, I was waiting for someone to bring this up.
    Obviously, using children to film pornography is terrible. It’s a form of child abuse. Laws are in place to keep this type of porn from being produced. I know that disliking pedophilia is so ingrained into our society. It makes us uneasy at even the possibility that someone might act on their fantasies. That still doesn’t mean that we should condemn the men and women who are attracted to children. Nay, we should only condemn those who use child porn (it encourages the production of more), or those who molest and rape children.
    Now, this is all based off of my original base that we as human beings can separate fantasy from reality. And that porn, by itself, is not the cause of further harm. (I do, however think that the porn out there is too limited/skewed and that in turn harms society). If you subscribe to the other school of thought, that people cannot separate fantasy from reality, or that porn/media can influence how we act, then you will probably come out the opposite end of this discussion.
    When it comes to drawings of kid porn, I’m still mostly ok with it. It squicks me out something terrible that I can’t rectify with my logic (that humans can keep separate their sexual fantasies from reality). From what I remember, in the US (I’m not sure if this is fed law, or state) even drawn porn with characters who look under 18 are illegal.

  30. Destra
    Posted April 20, 2009 at 2:16 am | Permalink

    If you went out looking for porn of only white people, then I would classify that as a fetish.
    I think what you’re saying is that a lot of “normal” porn features white women, and that any divination from that is often a special sub-category. Making white the norm. Which I agree with, but this doesn’t address what MzBitca was talking about: that masturbating one section of the human race due to their features is insulting to them.

  31. Destra
    Posted April 20, 2009 at 2:24 am | Permalink

    I can see people being offended by this type of porn too. But logically speaking, if someone can’t help how they feel, should you really be offended by it? I’d say no. But then again, if you can’t help how you feel, then those being offended can’t help how they feel either. Sorry, a little circular logic late at night.

  32. Gopher
    Posted April 20, 2009 at 2:26 am | Permalink

    I read the article about ‘what is and isnt racist’ and appreciated the thing sit had to say but I;m confused by an apsect of it. I agree that the associations of watermelons and black people is racist (and stereotypical) i do not know where it came from. I looked it up on the internet and couldnt find where it originated from. Does it have something to do with Southern stereotypes invented in the 1950′s?
    The pictures featured were highly offensive. How someone cant see it as racist is beyond me.

  33. Gopher
    Posted April 20, 2009 at 2:30 am | Permalink

    Youre objectifying and creating imaginary elaborations revolving around the fetishization of the chosen race. Youre othering the person to make them seem more exotic .

  34. Gopher
    Posted April 20, 2009 at 2:32 am | Permalink

    “It’s sexualizing an entire group of people because of their race.”
    And perpetuating stereotypes that co-relate to the fantasy.

  35. Destra
    Posted April 20, 2009 at 2:53 am | Permalink

    A ha. This is where the mis-communication is. I agree with you that making “normal” porn mean those with white people and making any porn with other races a sub-category is wrong. Totally agree with you on that point. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s wrong for a person to be sexually attracted to one race or look at porn featuring that race.
    When it comes to the objectification point, that’s a whole nother can of worms. I’ve addressed this point in my other comments.

  36. Pantheon
    Posted April 20, 2009 at 3:31 am | Permalink

    On the iPhone app, a separate issue is this– does Apple allow porn to be sold on the App store? I would think not (or does it have a safesearch vs adult option?). I’m assuming this app doesn’t include actual hardcore porn, but just scantily clad photos. So where should Apple draw the line? Should it allow sales of porn apps, with an age restriction? Or should it disallow anything that seems to have a sexual purpose?
    As for the racism issue, I can’t decide whether its more racist to prefer Asian women in the first place, or to say that preferring Asian women counts as a “fetish,” a statement which seems to imply Asian women are somehow not women that you would normally be sexually attracted to.

  37. meeneecat
    Posted April 20, 2009 at 4:43 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately the comment section for Judith Warner’s column at the NYT “Dude, you’ve got problems”…But I really felt the need to respond to the first comment that I read there…which in my mind only exemplified part of the problem with both the phenomenon of gay-bashing in schools (using “gay” as in insult) and the connection to misogyny…Of course the author makes the connection between homophobia and misogyny quite clear, pointing out that just like being called “girly” or a “girl” several decades ago, “fag” and “gay” are similar in that they all serve the same purpose: for boys “to “police” one another’s behavior and bring it back to being sufficiently masculine when someone steps out of line”.
    Anyhow, this commenter seems to imply that women, and lesbian women specifically are not challenging patriarchy (and are apparently complicit in the misogyny to which we are targets of) He mentions that he is also gay, makes a few other very valid points but then says:
    “lesbians don’t challenge the patriarchy the way gay men do, because straight men assert their right to desire and act on their desire of all women, whereas gay men actually unavoidably step outside that paradigm.”
    So Dear commenter #1 on NYT blog, I’d like you to take a look at your own male privilege and try to better understand the connection between misogyny and homophobia. Yes it’s true that gay men don’t desire women…but by this logic gay women also challenge patriarchy because we likewise don’t desire men. (so, yea, this argument that lesbians don’t challenge patriarchy given your reasoning, doesn’t really make sense to me)
    While I’m sure that there are many gay men who are constantly fighting patriarchy and misogyny…it seems that you might not be familiar with a major gripe that LBTQ women often have with gay men. It’s the fact that many gay men AREN’T allies in fighting the patriarchy and misogyny. We, LBTQ women are fairly aware that the two forms of oppression need to be seen from the perspective of intersectionality, along with race, class, etc. So why do you forget about the importance of fighting misogyny along with homophobia (likewise why do white LGBTQ and straight cis feminists forget about the importance of fighting racism with misogyny)
    Homophobia and misogyny are so closely linked and the connection is very obvious when it comes to the particular sort of homophobia directed at gay men; homophobia and gay bashing, again serves as a “policing” mechanism among the male population to maintain the extremely narrow definition of masculinity. Many of us have always maintained that homophobia cannot be eliminated unless misogyny is also wiped out along side it.
    We have, pointed out to our gay brothers that it is wrong and counterproductive to want to hold onto your male privilege while expecting that your LBTQ sisters join in with you as equals in the fight against homophobia. If we expect to be allies toward a common goal, than we expect you to understand how important it is that we also fight against misogyny. The connection cannot be denied, and it is in all of our best interest to fight against all these forms of oppression…they are all connected and they all effect us. To say that lesbians don’t fight against the patriarchy (simply because of our sexuality) is just dishonest and insulting.
    (so yea, I just wanted to point that out…If I can’t reply to this issue on the NYT blog, than I will bring the issue up on this blog!) Thanks for listening to my rant.

  38. Posted April 20, 2009 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the shout-out!

  39. SarahMC
    Posted April 20, 2009 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    You think men who are “into Asian chicks” just happen to find Asian women more physically attractive than all other women?
    On the rare occassion when an Asian fetishist interacts with a living, breathing, Asian woman, he can’t help but project his ideas about what Asian (East/Southeast Asian to be specific) women are like onto that woman.
    Because he’s not attracted to individual women who happen to be Asian. He’s attracted to the stereotype of Asian women – that they are diminutive, eager to please their men, sexually submissive. And I know a lot of Asian women are sick of being treated like delicate little Lotus Flowers by clueless, racist men who think Asian women exist to satisfy men’s fantasies.

  40. Gnatalby
    Posted April 20, 2009 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    I wrote about how gay men are depicted as ‘bros rather than as lovers on tv.
    http://theboozetube.wordpress.com/2009/04/20/st-gay-of-the-perpetual-chaste-bro-hug/

  41. MomTFH
    Posted April 20, 2009 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    I wrote about vaccination legislation.
    I also did a little navel gazing.
    And, last week, I was annoyed yet again how changes in the birth rate are always examined through a distorted racial and ethnic lens.

  42. Seamster
    Posted April 20, 2009 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    A lot of people replied to this, which makes me happy.
    Some points:
    First, I have no idealistic problem with talking about a white-woman fetish. Once there are iPhone apps that specify “pretty white women only,” I think that will be a relevant way to discuss it. For now, I think there is a very real difference between how (let’s say white, mainstream American) men who are primarily attracted to white women think of their sexuality and how those who are primarily attracted to East Asian women think of their sexuality, and that this difference lines up pretty neatly with the fact that there is only a “white woman fetish” for black men (this is an impression based on observation, not study).
    Second, on racism. Yes, differentiating on race is a bad thing for a job, because we as a culture have decided that it is not true that a white person does a job better than a black person, and it is true that jobs should be awarded based on merit. (I believe these things as well.) In porn, race is relevant to job performance, because there are people whose sexualities involve race.
    Yes, that is racist that their sexualities involve race. But their sexualities also involve sex and gender, and we don’t call them sexist. Just as men who watch porn of women need to separate porn from reality, men who watch porn of Asian women (amputee women, twinky men, burly men, women dressed as schoolgirls, etc.) need to separate porn from reality.
    Sorry, this hasn’t been a very good explanation. I’m trying to make a statement about how porn is an expression of people being messed-up, and sometimes it seems messed-up, but when we try to decide which messes we like and which we don’t, it’s hard to make rules, because these messes are actually people’s sexualities, and before you know it you’re telling women they can’t masturbate to rape porn. So we make sure no people get harmed in the production (this includes making sure no animals or children are involved), and beyond that trust the viewers instead of trusting the censors.

  43. ShifterCat
    Posted April 20, 2009 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    I Googled racial stereotypes +watermelon and got this.

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