Weekly Feminist Reader

Newsweek profiles Dr. Leroy Carhart, and spotlights what it’s like to be one of the country’s few remaining later-term abortion providers. Carhart on Tiller’s killers: “We have to realize this isn’t a difference of opinions. We need to fight back.”
An interesting take on Mad Men from Michelle Dean: “I find it really problematic as a show to recommend to people who aren’t feminists, or who aren’t, at the very least, what I would call ready for a serious discussion of gender roles.” Plus, a great post on Mad Men from Shark-Fu’s sister, Crystal Merritt — an ad woman herself!
Amber Rose poses for a series of photos for Complex that reference some notable photos of Grace Jones. And Naomi Campbell plays a wild African queen in the September issue of Harper’s Bazaar. As Tami said on Twitter, “Will the black women=animal, exotic meme ever die?”
The New York Times surveys the state of women in combat. I think it downplays the ways in which the military’s refusal to formally acknowledge women in combat roles has had negative repercussions for the women themselves. (It’s hard to demand better services — services in the field, PTSD and other health services at home, etc — when, on paper, you’re technically serving in a limited role.)
On the vitriol spewed at Harriette Harman and Hillary Clinton this summer.
A socially-conscious video-production class in Chicago created a video on rape culture “to spread awareness and get people thinking about how and why rape happens.”
Colbert takes on hormone replacement therapy and Wyeth pharmaceuticals.
In an incredibly cruel review of the new JCPenney in Manhattan, the Times even manages to fat-shame the mannequins.
Jesse at Pandagon dismantles the “Whole Foods Health Care Plan.”
Abortion coverage in health reform is getting a lot of press these days, but what about pregnancy coverage in our current health system? It’s deplorable.
Sexual harassment is a crime of power, not passion, Latoya points out.
Can community gardens have an impact on crime rates?
Internet rumors say that Lady Gaga came out as intersex. Lisa at Questioning Transphobia says really, it’s none of our business. Sady has more. (Plus a bonus comment from Gaga herself on gay culture.)
What are you reading/writing this week? Leave links in comments…

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38 Comments

  1. Renee
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    True Blood Time Bomb: Break down on last weeks episode including discussion of whether or not eternal virginity is necessarily problematic.
    First the Burka and now The Burkini: Ce’st viva la difference dans France: Looking at how the banning of modest swimming suits in France is discriminatory and targets Muslim women.
    Soup Kitchens and Life Lessons: My son accompanied his friends to a soup kitchen for lunch. Gay Man Released After Falsely Imprisoned For 21 Years: Looking at how homophobia lead to the panic conclusion that children had been molested at a daycare.
    Trans Women in Male Prisons: Cruel and Unusual Punishment: A woman is being subjected to rape and physical assault because she is being housed in a male prison and the state is dragging its feet on getting her SRS surgery.
    Naomi Campbell Plays African Queen:How do you make a Black woman appear attractive when the world privileges Eurocentric beauty? You turn her in to the exotic wild African “other”. This posts looks at the pictures taken for Harpers Bazaar recently.

  2. Posted August 16, 2009 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Thanks again for the shoutout this week!
    This week in commentary at Deeply Problematic, I:
    - examined partner privilege and issues of safety,
    - wrote on Joan Holloway and Christina Hendrick’s construction and the erasure of beautiful fat women
    - considered thin privilege and the word fat, and how I can own my thin privilege and find more comfortable language.
    -analyzed a news article’s construction of rape as “sex”.
    - thought about the phrase “get raped” and how it reinforces victim-blaming.
    - meditated on the conflation of feminism and cooking, and inaugurated Tasty Thursday with a recipe for garlic tomato grilled cheese.
    - reviewed the New Riders of the Purple Sage
    - covered two tasering incidents: one in which a 76-year-old was tasered during a parade, and a case in which a mother was tasered in front of her children.

  3. RMJ
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 3:21 pm | Permalink
  4. kataphatic
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    This last week over at Kataphatic, my new Fat Liberation Theology blog, I wrote three posts:
    In Hi I’m Katie… and I’m a foodaholic, I examine the problems with conflating “food addiction” and “emotional eating” with chemical dependency.
    In a short post called What Gives You Hope? I discuss a new comment I recently received on a post I made about two years ago.
    Finally, I quoted and elaborated on some of my favorite parts of Linda Bacon’s keynote speech at the recent NAAFA conference in Linda Bacon on Thin Privilege, etc.

  5. voiceofreason
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    That JCPenney review was ridiculous. Talk about swimming in privilege.
    I enjoyed these posts by Rachel Appropriation: Anarchist Edition and Don’t Touch Your Icky Bits.
    Also at Shakesville this post The Terrible Bargain We Have Regretfully Struck and at Stuff White People Do Mistake Non-White For Service Workers/

  6. Renee
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the link love this week

  7. Alex Catgirl
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    I have not seen a piece that beat down middle america to such an extent in a long time….YES!.
    USELESS Joe and Susie Sixpack have no problem dishing out abuse, NYC being one of their favourite targets, but when one of the natives(wannabe native in this case) gives them a taste of their own medicine, they cry like babies. F them.
    People focused on the obese part, it’s not not meant to shame obese people directly, everybody talks in code(birthers hate having a black man as president)
    It’s directed at mindless, mediocre, suburban america, which as a group is obese, and their utter lack of fashion sense.
    The little digs about a more family friendly Hot Topic, or how much polyester clothing they carry, etc.

  8. katemoore
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Because obesity and not conforming to some nebulous idea of “fashion sense” (and how much, exactly, do you propose people spend to get this Fashion Sense? Which rich men should I make the check out to?) totally invalidates one’s personhood.

  9. katemoore
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    Seriously. You’re just as cruel as the writer of the JC Penney’s article. I hope you don’t treat people in real life the way you treat them online, but I suspect you do. Nobody deserves cruelty. NO ONE.

  10. EKSwitaj
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Egg Babies – a story about a time when I started to see how class privileges could shape even the smallest of experiences.
    Writing Violent – in which I reflect on why I’ve been writing fiction through the eyes of some pretty terrible characters of late.

  11. Gnatalby
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 6:54 pm | Permalink
  12. nattles_thing
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 6:57 pm | Permalink
  13. B. Peregrine
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 8:05 pm | Permalink
  14. another constellation
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Hey there. I’m glad you liked the Lady Gaga piece, but I actually wrote it– Lisa was just kind enough to link me. You can see the original here: http://shrinkingphallus.wordpress.com/2009/08/07/breaking-news-lady-gagas-genitals-are-not-our-business/

  15. FilthyGrandeur
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    i wrote about slut-shaming on the t.v. show Monk.
    a little Fuzz Therapy for your week.
    and I share a smile-inducing video i found of a dancing lady traffic cop.

  16. Alex Catgirl
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    It’s 2009, women are beginning to dominate the fashion industry as women are buying their own nice clothes and prefer to buy from other women.
    Nice wardrobes are not cheap, but then again neither are broods of suburban soccer kiddies, super-sized homes out in stupidia, SUVs,tithes and offerings to mega churches etc.

  17. era4allNOW
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    For those of you who might be interested, Dr. Carhart called NOW asking for help on Aug 28 & 29 against a large protest & ‘training’ that Operation Rescue and two other anti-choice terrorist groups are holding outside his clinic on those days to “Keep It Closed”. Kansas NOW and Nebraska NOW are organizing pro-choice advocates against them in support of Dr. Carhart. I am trying to organize individuals from Illinois, and I know many other surrounding states are as well. He needs as much help as he can get against these groups.
    If you can possibly make it to counter-protest, or are interested in supporting someone else to go, please go to Kansas NOW’s website (ksnow.org). Even if you are not in Kansas, they will connect you to your local organizers for the event. NOW is the time for action!!

  18. Posted August 16, 2009 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Checking in with RH Reality Check:
    Not All Trees Are Meant to Bear Fruit: Laura Scott on Living Childless by Choice
    I don’t remember exactly when I realized I didn’t want children, but by the time I was in college, my decision was resolute. It wasn’t a choice I recall laboring over, nor was it something that came as an epiphany. I simply didn’t see myself pregnant, giving birth to, or raising kids. According to Laura Scott’s newly published Two is Enough: A Couple’s Guide to Living Childless by Choice, I am far from alone.
    Demanding the Right to Reproduce: Voluntary and Forced Sterilization in America
    The latest attempt to sink health care reform bills under consideration in Congress comes as no surprise. Anti-abortion advocates are pressuring the administration to exclude one of America’s most controversial surgical procedures from the federal plan. At the same time as this story broke, another White House related reproductive rights issue was also hitting the news: Obama’s appointed Science Czar, John Holdren, wrote a book in support of forced sterilization as a means of population control. Which story do you think has received more press? Both issues are critically important to discuss. Rebecca Kluchin’s new book explores a thirty year period of US history in which eugenic and neo-eugenic ideas were used to justify forced, coerced, and freely chosen sterilization, providing much-needed historical context for a topic that is still alive. In it, Kluchin shines a light on why it’s high time to make room at the reproductive rights table for more than one conversation.

  19. Feminist Review
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    State Quarter Necklace: While twenty-five cents doesn’t get you more than a Ring Pop or a Wacky Wall Walker in the States, on the streets of Kolkata I can get a kati roll and a cup of cha with that loot…And the thought of wearing a symbol of American economic imperialism around my neck in a place where millions are starving…well, let’s just say I won’t be wearing this chain around my neck until I’m back on US soil.
    The Time Traveler’s Wife (book) / The Time Traveler’s Wife (film): Shortly after I started reading The Time Traveler’s Wife, I found out that there was a movie coming out, and was interested in seeing how the two would compare…I was curious as to how Henry and Clare’s interwoven story would translate to the big screen, and if the problems I had with the book would be present in the film.
    The Mosque in Morgantown: Asra Nomani fights a personal battle with an established mosque community in her hometown for the right to pray alongside men at congregations. But Nomani’s anti-extremist impetus for change is best described as misguided.
    District 9: While always unacceptable, racial stereotypes definitely don’t belong in a movie with an anti-xenophobia message. However, that did not deter the filmmakers from presenting extremely negative images of sub-Saharan Africans. Every black person in District 9 was either: 1) an unthinking toady of white authority figures (Mandla Gaduka), 2) a violent criminal, 3) a believer in witchcraft and superstition, or 4) some combination of 1-3.
    Julie and Julia: What I especially loved about this film was the random, unexpectedly hilarious dialogue that popped up every now and then. In one kitchen scene, Julia, who we have seen for more than an hour in her prim, silk two-piece suits, bursts out that the cannelloni “are as hot as a stiff cock!”

  20. Feminist Review
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    This week from Bitch Magazine’s blog
    Is CouchSurfing.org Safe for Women?
    Since 2004 CouchSurfing.org has provided a way for budget travelers to connect with people across the world to take advantage of free hospitality—from a place to sleep to acting as a tour guide to simply meeting for a coffee. But do the site administrators go far enough to ensure its members aren’t sexual predators?
    Mad Men, I Love You, But Your Fans Are Freaking Me Out
    I, too, think that there is a lot of feminist merit in Mad Men – more on that in a second post this weekend, and I’ll have thoughts on the premiere next week, it’s gonna be a Mad Men heavy guestblogging experience – but I find it really problematic as a show to recommend to people who aren’t feminists, or who aren’t, at the very least, what I would call ready for a serious discussion of gender roles.
    Breastfeeding is Best for Baby… But for Babydolls?
    Are the US media objections to Spain’s Bebé Glotón further evidence of American’s sexualization of the healthy, natural, and nurturing relationship between mother and child?
    Why Aren’t You Watching Nurse Jackie?
    I am just about the only person I know – and certainly the only feminist – who has been religiously watching Showtime’s Nurse Jackie…Nurse Jackie is the closest thing to an unqualifiedly feminist television show airing anywhere at the moment.

  21. Feminist Review
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    It’s unbelievable that France has taken to targeting Muslim women in this tirade of new banning laws. I wonder what the spark was that lit the fire. Any ideas?

  22. Gender Across Borders
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    I think it has something to do with the fact that France has the highest number of Muslim immigrants in Western Europe—and that many Muslim immigrants in France lead a separatist life from the main French culture. It might also have to do with France’s constant persistence in “maintaining” their culture.

  23. Posted August 16, 2009 at 9:58 pm | Permalink
  24. Femanon
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been writing about the experience of taking time to be single, breaking away from the idea that I have to either be with a guy or trying to get one, being shamed and called a shallow bitch for dumping my boyfriend. Specifically, today I contemplated whether a girl is a bitch if she has standards and doesn’t just date any “nice guy” who shows interest in her.
    http://singlechoice.blogspot.com/

  25. tmmoney
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    Just watched ‘Hear Us’ video about four women taken during the Zimbabwe elections in 2008 who were tortured and beat. Made me wonder how often women are targeted in political violence, and their stories don’t often make the news. http://hub.witness.org/hearusstandwithus

  26. Tara K.
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    One form of hate is not superior to another. This is all very close-minded and accomplishes nothing.

  27. GREGORYABUTLER10031
    Posted August 17, 2009 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    French Muslims “lead a seperatist life” because of the racism of their White French fellow citizens
    France brutally exploited half of Africa through colonialism for 130 years, and French slave traders kidnapped hundreds of thousands of Africans for 200 years before that – one of the legacies of that is a persistent and virulent anti Black and anti Arab racism in France.
    Since most Muslims in France are Arabs or Black Africans, French anti Black and anti Arab racism often takes the form of bias against Muslims.
    This racism forces French Muslims into segregation – and then White Frenchmen use this as an excuse for even more racism!

  28. GREGORYABUTLER10031
    Posted August 17, 2009 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    So, being fat and not dressing like a 7th Avenue fashionista makes you a bad person?
    That is a seriously distorted world view, Alex Catgirl!
    There are a lot of good decent people out there who weigh 200 pounds and wear payless shoes – and a lot of truly vicious and evil folks who weigh 100 pounds and wear Manolos!
    In other words – judge not, lest ye be judged!

  29. katemoore
    Posted August 17, 2009 at 3:00 am | Permalink

    NOT EVERYONE CAN AFFORD NICE GODDAMN CLOTHES.
    Can you step away from your privilege, PLEASE?

  30. Claudia
    Posted August 17, 2009 at 3:18 am | Permalink

    Hi, everyone! I’m an intersexed individual that also wanted to comment on Lady Gaga’s press-smear on Queers United. I have recently started writing a blog to raise awareness about intersexed individuals’ experiences, health, and mainstream media perception. If you are interested, please view my comments at the link below!
    http://fullfrontalactivism.blogspot.com/

  31. zp27
    Posted August 17, 2009 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    I can’t buy anything because I am drowning in student loans. No fashion sense, no SUV. What does that make me? I shop at Target-am I a huge loser?

  32. FrumiousB
    Posted August 17, 2009 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    I can’t believe I’m about to discuss Lady Gaga’s genitals, but I just want to point out that given her age, if she had been born with ambiguous genitals (a problematic term, I know), she would probably have been assigned a sex at birth and been given surgery to make her genitals look female. It’s only in very recent times that intersexed babies have started to be left alone.

  33. cato
    Posted August 17, 2009 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Dunno, am I the only one who finds the Mad Men article a bit problematic in itself? The author says that the show has “a lot of feminist merit” but that it’s so well hidden that she is uncomfortable with anyone watching it who is not “ready for a serious discussion of gender roles” (as determined by?).
    She refers to her grad school experience and writes that “as someone who is unusually interested in questions of gender, I can certainly see that the writers of the show have that in common with me”. Implying that only someone with her background can see that? That, unless you can see it, and more importantly, articulate it and have a proven deep interest in gender questions yourself, you shouldn’t be exposed to the multi-faceted women’s roles or ambiguous/uncomfortable depictions of sexual power play that is (part of) Mad Men? This just rubs me the wrong way.
    If the show really has feminist merits, it should ‘work’ on people who are not feminists. I’d even venture to say that many people who talk about the episode where “Joan got sort of raped” may be clear about the fact, but uncomfortable about stating it outright – rape on TV is still rare, there’s a taboo around talking about it, etc.
    Finally, as an aside, what’s with this special insistence on the female characters – I actually think that both the men and the women on the show get to have unusually detailed, multi-layered, and complicated personalities, and I love that about the show.

  34. fatima
    Posted August 17, 2009 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    “…many Muslim immigrants in France lead a separatist life from the main French culture”
    uhh it’s called SEGREGATION. but thanks for putting the responsibility in the hands of muslim immigrants for their own oppression.

  35. Gender Across Borders
    Posted August 17, 2009 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    I was not condescending in any way when I said that Muslims lead a separatist life in France. I agree with both you and Gregory Butler, that much of that has to do with racism and the French pushing Muslims out of mainstream French culture. But it is a fact, that many Muslims in France lead a separatist life, probably because of those aforementioned reasons.
    In addition, it also has to do with France’s history with religion: the fact that they have barred all religious symbols from public schools.
    Please read http://genderacrossborders.com/2009/06/22/burqa-sign-of-religion-or-subservience-a-deeper-look-into-frances-secularism/ for more info about France, Secularism, and the Burqa.

  36. Gender Across Borders
    Posted August 17, 2009 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    I was not condescending in any way when I said that Muslims lead a separatist life in France. I agree with both you and Gregory Butler, that much of that has to do with racism and the French pushing Muslims out of mainstream French culture. But it is a fact, that many Muslims in France lead a separatist life, probably because of those aforementioned reasons.
    In addition, it also has to do with France’s history with religion: the fact that they have barred all religious symbols from public schools.
    Please read http://genderacrossborders.com/2009/06/22/burqa-sign-of-religion-or-subservience-a-deeper-look-into-frances-secularism/ for more info about France, Secularism, and the Burqa.

  37. voiceofreason
    Posted August 17, 2009 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    This is true, depending on where she was born. I have a friend who was born in Germany with “ambigious genitalia” and she was left intact.

  38. Lisa
    Posted August 17, 2009 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    This comment makes me sad for you.

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