Weekly Feminist Reader

A gunman in Tel Aviv opened fire on a community meeting for LGBT teens.
Women’s rights workers in Afghanistan call for more aid instead of more troops. Guess which one of those things Obama is sending?
The Massachusetts Dept of Public Health just released the results of a survey comparing the health of LGBT residents to hetero and non-trans residents. As Helen notes, is a pretty alarming gap between the health of trans people and cis people.
Bob Herbert weighs in on a question Shark-Fu has tackled in response to the Skip Gates arrest: When is anger productive?
Femininity and masculinity on So You Think You Can Dance.
There’s a new report on how reproductive justice intersects with environmental justice.
Veronica celebrates her momoversary.
Paige Schilt at Bilerico has a moving post about truck stops (Yes — truck stops! Read it.): “When I was a straight, white college student, I used to appreciate places like this as kitsch. That was before I traveled the U.S. with my ex–a gender non-conforming man of color, a non-citizen. Now I sense the undercurrent of violence. I can taste the ambient terror.”
Apparently the White House garden is contaminated by a toxic sludge used as fertilizer during the Clinton administration.
A hundred immigrant detainees in Louisiana are on a hunger strike in protest of jail conditions.
On refugees, rape, and why we need an International Violence Against Women Act.
Kate Harding on Michael Pollan on home cookin‘: “[...] I still can’t help thinking his penis is showing when he describes Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique” — which also debuted in 1963 — as “the book that taught millions of American women to regard housework, cooking included, as drudgery, indeed as a form of oppression.” Funny, I always thought Friedan became a feminist icon because she articulated what millions of women already felt, not because she brainwashed them into believing that repetitive, menial, unpaid labor might not be the best use of their talents.” (Amanda has more.)
Examining the overwhelmingly negative lexicon for aging female bodies.

The repatriation of Rwandan refugees is forcing women to abandon their farms — and therefore their stability — in the middle of growing season.
Rachel on the meaning of “cowboy culture.”
Newsweek discovers polyamory.
Mitsuru Mitsuru on reclaiming the histories of trans people of color.
Cops in Alabama tased and pepper-sprayed a mentally disabled man because he didn’t understand they wanted him to open the bathroom door. “A spokesman for the Mobile Police Department said the officers’ actions were justified because the man was armed with a potential weapon – an umbrella.”
On Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin’s campaign to end the sexual exploitation of teens.
The Bitch Blog pays homage to pioneering actress Nichelle Nichols.
Are you a woman writer? There’s a new social networking site for you, SheWrites.
A North Carolina effort to use billboards to raise awareness about missing women of color needs donations to keep going.
Submit to Sepia, a new online magazine featuring the work of women of color!
And finally, just because this silly story is cracking me up today: “UDF employee hypnotized by relentless hot dog rotation
What have you been reading/writing this week?

Join the Conversation

  • LisaCharly

    I’m a bit rankled by the cowboy culture article. It seems to be implying that there’s absolutely nothing good about cowboy culture, which is incredibly diminishing to the people who are part of this culture, including myself. I was unaware that self-sufficiency and responsibility were such awful traits to have.

  • Ann

    I didn’t take the post to mean there are NO positive aspects of cowboy culture. Rather, I read it as a critical examination, given that, with such events as National Day of the Cowboy, the positive connotations of “cowboy” are already overwhelmingly recognized.

  • http://deeplyproblematic.blogspot.com/ RMJ
  • Renee

    Nappy Hair in the Jolie-Pitt World: Looking at the way those who have internalized racism have attacked Zahara for her supposedly unkept hair. Yep, bad black hair strikes again.
    Nadya Suleman Get Her Reality Television Show: Despite being shamed for having multiple children now that she has found a way to support them it is stilll unacceptable to some.
    Obama Naked with unicorns NSFW: Images of Obama done by an artist in which I invite commenters to express their feeling upon seeing them. I for one have never seen Obama depicted this way.
    Lesbian Kissing Will Destroy The WNBA: The WNBA is struggling to stay afloat and is therefore trying to cultivate a family based fan attendance rather than the lesbian spectators that it currently gets. The moment one begins to appeal to “the family”, suddenly the best interest of teh kiddies becomes an issue.

  • femme.

    The results for trans vs. cis respondents was very upsetting but unfortunately not surprising, but I was really surprised by one aspect of the Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health’s survey: the results for bisexual respondents.
    With respect to overall health, respondents were asked if their general health was excellent, very good, good, fair or poor. Heterosexual respondents had 82.5% responding Excellent or Very Good while gay men or lesbian respondents reported 78.0%, bisexual respondents 73.5% and transgender persons 67.3%.
    Among heterosexuals, 2.3% reported having considered suicide and among gay men and lesbians, 4.4% reported suicide ideation. Transgender persons (30.8%) and bisexuals (7.4%) reported higher rates of suicide ideation.
    As a queer-identified bisexual, this stood out to me immediately. Why did the bisexual respondents report worse mental and physical health than the heterosexual and homosexual respondents? Why did they report less access to a doctor and why did more of the bisexual respondents report experiencing domestic violence?
    I know the main focus of articles about this survey is trans people’s results, with good reason. I was just particularly surprised by the bisexual respondents and have been thinking about it.
    Anyway, Shapely Prose: Beauty. A moving article by Sweet Machine.
    Dear Diaspora: Some Thoughts on Queer Liberation, Feminism, and Pornography.

  • voiceofreason

    I disagree. I lived in Texas for a few months and was amazed and amused by the huge difference between the actual lives of “cowboys” and the way we imagine it. I was also amazed by the dogged commitment to republican politics, even as the republicans were consistently enacting policies that benefited the big agribusinesses at the expense of the family farm and ranch. I think the construction of masculinity (and femininity), as well as the political stance, that’s an intrinsic part of cowboy culture is intriguing and puzzling and a bit out of step with the times.

  • voiceofreason
  • stephielu

    Jonathan Turley has a great discussion of the police use of tasers, and how they often aren’t used by police for the purposes they’re supposed to be used for:
    Video: Officer Tasers 72-Year-Old Great-Grandmother After a Dare

  • that girl

    Re: SYTYCD
    I’m glad BUST tackled that issue. I am a competitive ballroom dancer, and ballroom dancing is crazy gendered. As a follower (I purposely don’t say woman), I’m constantly expected to tell the story that I’m just doing whatever the leader makes me do. The leader gets so much of the credit, yet it’s his “job” to “show-off” the follower, as though she were, as one coach said, “a piece of porcelain.” It’s a constant struggle for me because I really love the sport, but I have so much trouble reconciling my beliefs with the role I’m supposed to play. In reality, I do as much work as any leader (which I know, because I’ve lead in the past) in order to appear that I’m not doing any work. Even though amateur (not professional) ballroom has become much more accepting of same-gender partnerships (or at least 2 women, not so much 2 guys), my friend, a female leader, still gets eyebrows and looks of disbelief when she leads (until she wipes the floor with the competition because she is fantastic).
    I think the important thing about dancing is to remember that you are creating a story; it’s just like theatre. What you see on the floor is not the real world, or who those people really are.

  • LisaCharly

    What I got from the article was that “cowboy culture” was pretty much delusional fantasy land for people who didn’t want to think hard about systems or oppression or politics. Maybe I was just in a bad mood when I read it.

  • ElleStar

    Your analysis of Zahara Pitt-Jolie’s hair was fascinating. Thanks for sharing it.

  • LisaCharly

    Ah, see, I don’t see the connection to Republican politics – the plains states and the Southwest obviously often vote that way, but I see those as two aspects of the culture working in parallel, rather than one causing the other. What I take from “cowboy culture” is a sense of self-reliance, responsibility and honor – ones which seem to be greatly overlooked whenever anyone discusses those regions of the country.
    It’s also interesting to see people claiming that the positive aspects of “cowboy” are over-recognized when all over I see Northeastern and West Coast liberals deriding Southerners and Southwesters as backwards, hyper-religious and careless.
    I don’t know, maybe it’s just because I spend so much time in the feminist/liberal blogosphere and have moved from the Southwest to MA, but I feel like the good attitudes that come from my culture are often just ignored so people can continue to trash on how backwards and delusional “cowboys” and southerners are, as if we are all defined by what color our state turns during an election.
    And yes, most people here are fairly aware that cowboys didn’t live “the life” that is glamorized for them now.

  • Eileen

    I can’t handle the Otty Sanchez story. I think I may not be able to come to any kind of understanding of the issues around this because I find the details so deeply upsetting.
    I wonder though, is this a significant enough event to require so much comment? Beyond being a horrible tragedy for the people immediately involved, and an issue worth exploring for those who provide social services, isn’t it possible that a broader focus has more to do with the public’s morbid curiosity than with anything else? I’ve seen friends hurt themselves emotionally by hyper-focusing on atypical and extreme abuse stories in the news. For most people, what purpose does this serve?

  • Devonian
  • voiceofreason

    I think for many people it is. On the other hand, I lived in a fairly small town that was dominated by an air force base and a christian university, so my experience may be a bit skewed. I didn’t get a terrifically different impression of Dallas, though.

  • http://evilslutopia.com EvilSlutClique

    This week in Evil Slutopia:
    ~Another post about the conservative group One Million Moms – this time we’re talking about their strategy for avoiding “inappropriate content” in summer movies.
    ~We talked about a recent criticism of Katy Perry’s song “I Kissed A Girl” and took a little look back at the controversy over the song and whether it is always criticized for the right reasons.
    ~We responded to a little drama that happened at the BlogHer conference that we just attended in Chicago, where a couple of women were denied entrance to a cocktail party because they had their babies with them.
    ~We talked about the recent tabloid gossip about Disney star Demi Lovato and accusations that she may be cutting herself.
    ~We covered the recent vandalism of “Legalize Gay” shirt displays at a couple of American Apparel stores.

  • nattles_thing

    At Natalie Does New York:
    I wrote about about how sex work has changed my perspective on sex and money.
    I also wrote about the reactions I get when people find out what I do.

  • earwicga

    You miss the point completely. If you were a feminist then you would read the post on community and other posts elsewhere and would see reasons for this terrible event happening. Burying your head in the sand is not a feminist act! Go wallow somewhere else.

  • pepper

    Why can’t I be pissed off about child exploitation?
    I would rather the children were fed off food stamps than pimped out to the world at large. All these new reality shows staring children are disgusting. I remember a documentary/dramatization about the Dionne quints from when I was a child. A quick google search brings up article after article about how much their childhood was ruined by public attention.

  • pepper

    I’m impressed! This blog usually gets awesome posters, confused posters, trolls and fairies but so rarely do we get one of the fabled Feminist Police. Welcome. Make sure to point out all our flaws while you are here.

  • voiceofreason

    Um, that post wasn’t about child exploitation at all. Did you actually read it?

  • http://genderacrossborders.com Gender Across Borders

    Marketing Masculinity: It’s amazing to how gender infects every part of our lives. I was reminded of this at work…
    In Kenya, another list…another burden for women?: On the heels of the much talked about Waki List, another list has surfaced to the ire of increasingly cynical Kenyans…
    Indian Supreme Court Rules Against Forced Abortion: The Indian Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of a young woman who became pregnant and didn’t want to get an abortion…
    Global Feminism in the News, August Edition: The Women of Afghanistan: This month saw considerable news coverage for Afghanistan (including this post by fellow GAB author Maria). July was the deadliest month for American and British troops since…
    In History: María Lionza from Venezuela: I came across a central figure of a Venezuela indigenous religion (a mix of African and Catholic religions– similar to Santería) called María Lionza, in a fictional book that I just finished that takes place in Venezuela…
    Japanese Masculinity and Two-Dimensional Girlfriends: Recent online discussion of a New York Times article about men with “pillow girlfriends” has largely ignored the role of the construction of masculinity in the development of what the Japanese call moe. The men who turn…
    Oppression, Masculine Power, Duality, and Kant: This post is strongly related to this post and its comments. I have decided to present the ideas in this post as a series, incorporating the ideas presented in reader comments as I go along…
    Justice, Women, & the Indian Army: On July 25th, the Kharkan camp of the Border Security Force (BSF) molded its name in history by inducting its first batch of 178 female members, according to the Times of India…
    Blowing the Whistle on Nicaragua: Amnesty International released an extensive report this week on the horrors of human rights abuses happening in Nicaragua. These abuses are on account of a law, almost unparalleled in its harshness…

  • pepper

    Yes, I did. You can’t get around the exploitation by pointing out all the money the children will make.

  • Eileen

    Oh no! My card has been revoked!

  • dhsredhead

    http://yoginiforuganda.blogspot.com/ This isn’t news, but a awesome cause.

  • aniri

    Thank you for your post on Zahara’s hair. I feel steam coming out of my head every time i read comments about her “undone,” “nappy,” “messy” hair. It’s makes my blood boil. Your analysis is right on. I wish I could repost it as a response to every disgusting comment.

  • Naught

    That article is entirely apologism for child exploitation. Why would you accuse voiceofreason of not having read it, when it’s obviously not true?

  • stephielu

    I think many of the issues surrounding the Sanchez story are of significant interest to feminists. The way we discuss this kind of thing in our culture, and media coverage of it, is reflective of how we view mental illness as well as mothering.

  • uberhausfrau

    if anyone is interested, they should check out the cowgirl museum and hall of fame in fort worth. i get misty-eyed being around such awesome women – even if it’s just artifacts.

  • Gesyckah

    I like how the first comment about Zahara’s hair exposes the assumptions that some Black people have about how White’s manage their hair. “She is not White you have to take care of her hair.” WTF??? Like White people just don’t take care of their hair. And of course the next comment out right calls Angelina a lazy whore.
    This is another way that envy and contempt for White women are spread throughout the Black community. But the self-hatred is the worst because of the emotional, physical and financial crippling.

  • Unequivocal

    Now, now. That really isn’t fair. Obviously earwicga knows something about Eileen that the rest of us don’t. Her post makes it obvious that she has additional information beyond this comment that conclusively indicates that Eileen doesn’t identify as a feminist.
    Go on earwicga. We’re all ears.

  • stephielu

    I didn’t get the sense that she was trashing on how backward and delusional cowboys are. But I thought that this take on the libertarian political stance that’s common in cowboy country was awesome:
    Sometimes life isn’t fair and it’s terribly complicated and hard to sort out and requires careful attention to detail and nuance. Sorting this stuff out and trying to be fair and inclusive requires some hard work and tough choices. And retreating into cowboy culture can be a means of denying these realities.
    I assume this means there are also other ways of escaping from the hard work of overcoming systemic oppression and creating a more fair and inclusive world, but retreating into the simple “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” mentality is one of them.

  • kendraj
  • savannahm

    I interpreted that comment as meaning “she is not white, you have to take care of her hair DIFFERENTLY.” Since most black girls have to spend many many more hours taking care of their hair than white girls–even white girls who obsess over their hair will not have spend as much time on it as black girls who obsess over their hair–this comment makes sense.
    More importantly: Do you really have to make this about black people hating white women? This is not about you, not about attacking white people. This is about destructive beauty standards for black women, and even how one’s own community contributes–and you can’t even hear that without somehow condemning them for ‘hating’ white people?
    Then, talking about their poor ‘self-hatred’ just comes off as extremely condescending and superior–thank god YOU aren’t a black woman so that your life won’t be ruined by your mental problems!
    Please think more carefully before posting and try to understand where the poster is coming from, before having a kneejerk reaction of protecting yourself (needlessly, i might add). Comments like this are why black women don’t always feel welcome on feministing or reject the identity of “feminist.”

  • Feminist Review

    Girl, is that your whole blog this week. ;-P You know I’m just messin’ whicha!

  • Feminist Review

    From <a href="“>Bitch Magazine’s blog this week…
    Woman in Assam Stones Eve Teaser, in case you need a reason to smile today, find out how one tiny woman responded when harassed by a massive army jawan in Assam
    Kicking Ass and Taking Names: An Actress Spotlight on Tura Satana, Tura Satana is an actress with a larger than life biography. She was born in Hokkaid?, Japan in 1935 to a silent movie actor and a contortionist
    The New Era of Girl Sure Looks A Lot Like the Old Era of Kiddie Porn, Hudson Jeans calls 17 yo Georgia May Jagger the “new era of girl.” Does this era include condoning the commodification of a teenage girl’s sexuality? Cuz (unfortunately) that’s not exactly new. It is, however, disgusting and sleazy.
    Stories for Girls: An Interview with Lizzie Skurnick, Page Turner chatted with Skurnick about how feminism bleeds through the pages of The Cat Ate My Gymsuit, why she’s actually the anti-nostalgia woman, how the YA novels really did make her a teenage feminist, and her mission to create a literary teen canon.
    Meanderings on Miss Moral Beauty, For the judges of Miss Moral Beauty, beauty is something that is (and should be) located beyond a woman’s physicality, and instead of focusing on a woman’s body, they believe one should determine beauty by a person’s thoughts and actions. Pretty feminist-y… right?

  • Feminist Review

    This week Feminist Review gets film-y
    Boy Interrupted airs tonight on HBO. From a very early age, Evan was practically entranced by the idea of death and taking his own life. He was put on Prozac when he was five and spent a great deal of his young life in a psychologist’s office. Evan attempted suicide for the first time when he was in elementary school. When he was also fifteen years old, Evan committed suicide by jumping from his bedroom in New York City.
    Girls Rock! follows a group of campers through the entire camp experience: the first day’s meet-and-greet; the drama surrounding choosing band-mates and names; and the fights, friendships, and indescribable bonds and breakthroughs that happen throughout the week. Viewers get to know specific campers through in depth footage of their home lives and candid interviews. They are simultaneously charming, annoying, demanding, and lovable, which is to say that they are real girls who are still growing into themselves.
    Lumo: One Young Woman’s Struggle to Heal in a Nation Beset By War is a documentary, named after its central character, of an African woman healing from a rape endured by military men that left her with a medical condition called fistula, a tear in the wall between the vagina and bladder caused by violent rape. It left her incontinent and uncertain of her chances to birth children. Like so many women who bear the heaviest and agonizing brutality in war-torn countries, rape is the most barbaric and common war crime committed against African women. While others think of terror in the form of bombs, missiles, and heavy artillery, Lumo recognizes rape as the most treacherous act of war, which claims the lives of so many women and leaves them in unspeakable suffering.

  • Gnatalby
  • TeenMommy

    I’m sorry, but people don’t hate on Nadya because she makes unorthodox choices. They hate on er because, based on all available evidence, she is mentally sad and unwell and has taken advantage of every system (parental, medical) around her in ways that hurt others. Now she’s created eight people (in addition to the ones she already had) for a reality show? Should she be allowed to do it? I don’t know. Should we respect it? No.

  • TeenMommy

    Thanks for posting those links about Otty Sanchez. Especially the secod one. The Feministing comment thread mentioned in that one deeply disturbed me as well.

  • TeenMommy

    Thanks for linkingto your blog. I love reading about the perspectives of sex workers.

  • earwicga

    No problem!

  • Gender Across Borders

    Haha, not quite but a lot of activity has been going on at GAB :)

  • WomenThrive

    For those of you interested in getting the International Violence Against Women Act passed, please go to http://www.womenthrive.org/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=133 to sign the petition and tell Congress to pass IVAWA!
    for more information on IVAWA: http://www.womenthrive.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=366&Itemid=121

  • Mina

    Before I begin, I know that properly quoting you requires including the URLs you included! At the same time I’ve had comments of mine stopped by the spamblocker when they had 3 or more URLs, so of the 3 URLs I should include here I’ll leave out the ones you already posted on this page. :/
    “…Kate Harding on Michael Pollan on home cookin': ‘[...] I still can’t help thinking his penis is showing when he describes Betty Friedan’s ‘The Feminine Mystique’ — which also debuted in 1963 — as ‘the book that taught millions of American women to regard housework, cooking included, as drudgery, indeed as a form of oppression.’ Funny, I always thought Friedan became a feminist icon because she articulated what millions of women already felt, not because she brainwashed them into believing that repetitive, menial, unpaid labor might not be the best use of their talents.” (Amanda has more.)…”
    That’s a big disappointment, especially after I liked Pollan’s The Botany of Desire : A Plant’s Eye View of the World and The Omnivore’s Dilemma : A Natural History of Four Meals for (among other things) not having that sort of thing. I mean, it annoyed me enough in Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle : A Year of Food Life page 126-127 too (I’d still recommend her The Bean Trees : A
    Novel and Pigs in Heaven : A Novel, though!). Don’t either of these authors remember that there was so much more to the movement for women to have more non-housewife ways to earn a living? For one example of why it was important (and still is):
    From a letter signed “Name withheld” in Ms., October 1987, quoted at http://www.dailyreckoning.us/blog/?p=180#comment-677 :
    “Six months ago I too was a self-described ‘happy homemaker.’ I baked bread, grew roses, played with my toddler. Then I woke one morning and found my husband ( and our car, our stereo, our checkbook, etc.) gone. I was COMPLETELY surprised; I had assumed he was as happy as I was!
    “I had to immediately find a job (which pays a third what his does); arrange for day care: try to scrape together enough money for food, mortgage, and utilities.
    “Housewife is NOT a valid career option because you have no control over your own life. If you lose your husband you can’t go down to the employment agency and apply for another one!”

  • Mina

    “…It’s also interesting to see people claiming that the positive aspects of ‘cowboy’ are over-recognized when all over I see Northeastern and West Coast liberals deriding Southerners and Southwesters as backwards, hyper-religious and careless…”
    Which is inaccurate and unfair. I’m a Northeastern liberal myself and I don’t like those jerks around here stereotyping the states between the coasts either!

  • Mina

    “Your analysis of Zahara Pitt-Jolie’s hair was fascinating. Thanks for sharing it.”
    I agree!

  • Gesyckah

    …*Is Black and obviously has some kind of internalized racism issue(s)*
    Well, the comment did literally say “She is not White you have to take care of her hair.” There was no “DIFFERENTLY” there. Sorry for actually taking a different racial perspective than my own on. This always happens when I comment on race stuff on Feministing. What would happen if people didn’t assume the racial/size/sexual orientation identify of strangers over the internet? BTW, I wear my hair natural.
    …And you did literally say “Most Black girls HAVE to spend many many more hours taking care of their hair”. I thought the point of the post is that we don’t have to; we can accept it the way it naturally grows with only moderate, healthy grooming and create our own standard for what is “good” hair.
    But you know, you are completely free to attack people for being privileged Whities whenever issues of race come up on Feministing. I can’t imagine why you’d feel that the community isn’t accepting of you…
    But I’ll let it go and continue to fight racism (along with homophobia and xenophobia) from within the Black community.