Weekly Feminist Reader

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RIP Dixie Carter, whose Designing Women character was “a confounding woman for those who think liberal politics and feminine wiles can’t coexist.”
Australian Chief Justice Jim Spigelman blames immigrants and “diversity” for sexism. Ah yes, because we all know that white people have never, ever exhibited any sexist tendencies, and an Australia without immigrants would be a feminist utopia.
Obama failed to pass reforms that would have helped millions of low- and moderate-income students attend and finish college.
Is hormone replacement as dangerous as people say it is?
A meditation on dude music.
Looking closer at openly un-retouched celebrity photos.
Pilgrim Soul on her disinterest in the debate over Tina Fey’s feminist bona fides.
Modeling “conscious antidiet” as a way of teaching your daughter to both be healthy and love her body.
On the speculation about the sexuality of women on the short-list to replace Justice Stevens on the Supreme Court.


Musician Baby Dee: “I am really inspired by the simplicity and beauty of love. I am a transsexual — I am a house of mirrors. I am not, by nature, simple… This was a way to allow myself to get into the simplicity of desire that is not accessible to me — to assume the role of the lover and the beloved.”
RaceWire considers the legacy of former L.A. police chief Daryl Gates: “His 14 years as chief, and 30 years on the force prior, lay out all-too-familiar story of policing that targets people instead of actions, and that views some races as inherently more dangerous — and less valuable — than others. In other words, police work as war.”
Erica Jong’s comment that Oprah has “transcended” race actually prove the opposite is true.
“Eco-chic” vagina spray?? Still GROSS.
JK Rowling sticks up for single moms.
Helen parses the results of a project “that asked transgender, transsexual and questioning people to create a message they wanted others to know.”
On the niqab debate and ableism.
Is it really all that surprising that blind men have many of the same ingrained beliefs and preferences about women’s bodies as men who can see?
Check out all the Women’s Health Heroes being featured at Our Bodies, Our Blog.
Chimamanda Adichie on owning stories, telling stories, framing stories.
“When black women say that mainstream publications don’t represent us, it goes deeper than there not being enough pictures of or articles by women of color. It’s about the larger “ethos” of the publication – and yes, I know that may read like a vague cop-out. Let me put it this way: I sometimes read Glamour magazine, I even sometimes like it but I don’t feel like I am the “Glamour woman.”"
Cara on the importance of consent in everyday situations.
Finally, love this fairy tale! (via.)
What have you been reading/writing this week?

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20 Comments

  1. Seamster
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Respectfully, I think that’s an overreaction on the Australia article.
    Quote:
    ‘There are important racial, ethnic and religious minorities in Australia who come from nations with sexist traditions which, in some respects, are even more pervasive than those of the West,” he [Justice Jim Spigelman] said last night.
    So when you say…
    Quote:
    Ah yes, because we all know that white people have never, ever exhibited any sexist tendencies, and an Australia without immigrants would be a feminist utopia.
    It’s weird, because when I first read it you sounded like you were sarcastically implying Justice Spigelman thinks that, but hey! he doesn’t, as clearly shown in the quote, where he refers to the West’s pervasive sexist traditions.
    So… why is that on the reader?

  2. Brett K
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    This week at Radical Bookworm:
    The Male as Male in All His Masculine Male Complexity of Manliness – in which I compare my experiences studying masculinity (awesome!) with the bizarre new “male studies” phenomenon (not awesome!)
    Inappropriate Conversation Topics: A Cautionary Tale – in which I sometimes have trouble deciding whether to be offended or amused.

  3. leeraloo
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    I think I posted this on a “What We Missed” post a few days ago, but it’s worth posting again…
    I go to Ball State University, and last week we had a big uproar because the campus police sent out a safety alert when two women reported that a man drove by on his bicycle, groped their bottoms, and then taunted them. The student response to this was disgusting, and a Facebook fan page for the perpetrator was created. He now has around 12,000 fans, I believe. The president of the university had to send out an e-mail condemning the unnecessary glorification of the groper. I wrote about it, and got quite a few nasty comments from my fellow students when my blog post got linked on his fan page. Apparently I just “didn’t get the joke” about this, and I’m a “sexist feminist” because I thought it was sexual assault.
    Anyway, here it is: http://leeraloo.wordpress.com/2010/04/08/university-of-sexism-the-revolting-response-to-the-ball-state-ass-grabber/

  4. kandela
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Totally agree. It’s worth reading the article, because it’s content isn’t accurately depicted above.

  5. MaggieF
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Celebrities releasing unretouched photos doesn’t challenge beauty norms, it enforces them. It doesn’t say “you don’t need makeup or photoshop to be pretty.” It says, “I don’t need makeup or photoshop to be pretty.” It’s exactly like the whole “size 2 isn’t fat!” thing. Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson are conventially beautiful on their own, and having them release (professionally photographed) unretouched images just rubs that in our faces. And the article above pretty much nails it on the head: they aren’t exactly embracing candid paparazzi photos of themselves.

  6. MLEmac28
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    As if J.K. Rowling didn’t already have my undying love. :)

  7. Miriam/Heddy
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    That “conscious antidiet” has a name. It’s HAES, and it’s something anyone who’s read anything in Fat Acceptance will have run into time and again.
    That article, while good, would have been better if she’d not written it as if it was an innovative idea that nobody’s ever written about before.

  8. kayfem
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    I just read Erica Jong’s article over at HuffPo, and, well, wow. Not only is it atrociously written and littered with grammatical errors, it reeks of privilege, bitterness, and entitlement. It’s hard for me to believe that Erica Jong even produced this humiliating piece writing. My respect for her just plummeted.

  9. Posted April 18, 2010 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    The column about dude music speaks to me.
    I think many men simply have a hard time seeing women as role models, contemporaries, or influences. But this hasn’t always been the case. Todd Rundgren, for example, was very vocal about his admiration of Carole King and Laura Nyro. His music reflects this.
    I myself have an admiration for the contributions of women in music as well as all kinds of art, which sadly sometimes causes discomfort in other men as to why I would lift up the insight of a woman as an inspiration.
    As for what I wrote about, here is a column where I suggest that sometimes the personal isn’t the political. I would ask that those who read it in totality, knowing that I am not condoning victim blaming at all and merely making a larger point.
    When the Personal and the Political Don’t Mix

  10. April
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    More TED love– this one is on why science denial is dangerous.
    http://ethecofem.com/2010/04/16/more-ted-love-why-science-denial-is-dangerous/
    What is your experience dating while you, or your partner is a feminist?
    http://ethecofem.com/2010/04/12/dating-while-shes-feminist/

  11. watery-memories
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Re: A meditation on dude music.
    I read this post several days ago. The author makes a lot of valid points in the post, but a commenter pointed out some sexist generalizations made by the author and asked if the music debate could continue without the use of them.
    For example, some of the problematic statements made by the author:
    “I hate guys who are in bands”
    “One summer I made a wonderful friend who happened to be dating a guy who, magically, did not hate women”
    “generalizations are fun”
    “You want a poster child for the “feminists hate men and they are sooooo very mean” contest? I’m it!”
    In the comments, when the sexism was pointed out, the author tried to backpedal by saying that her sexist generalizations were just jokes. Sound familiar?
    The author and main blogger of the site responded to this commenter’s justified criticisms by twisting her words and deleting her posts, making it seem as if she was a troll, not a feminist concerned about hypocrisy. I posted one respectful comment in agreement, and my comment was deleted. Apparently, if you disagree with the blogger, she will delete your comments, even if your arguments are valid and civil.
    Conclusion: I lost all respect for that blog. I want to warn other people to stay away. You won’t find intelligent discourse there.

  12. cato
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    On the study about blind men, you ask why “ingrained beliefs” in blind men should be surprising. Well, it’s likely true that being blind doesn’t keep all such “beliefs” away from you. But not seeing daily TV, magazine and ad representations should indeed shelter your idea of beauty somewhat from outside influence.
    If you have to come up with an experiment to test if higher exposure to a normed ideal alters your standards of beauty, this seems really a pretty good way to do it. Higher exposure does not mean that the low-exposure group (blind men) has to have zero exposure, just less of it. So yes, I think it is notable if a blind person finds the same thing beautiful as a seeing person, _especially_ in the case of physical attractiveness, where it is often argued (as you implicitly do yourself, after all) that the standard is not an inherent preference but due to “ingrained beliefs”. Could you explain why you dismiss this finding so out of hand?
    To me it is not even obvious what “ingrained beliefs” people have about the hip-waist ratio. The article said that the preferred ratio seems to be independent of overall weight.
    I can’t help but think that you would have reported on the study differently if the result had been that blind men do _not_ prefer one ratio over the other and that only seeing men are conditioned in that way.

  13. beckyinshanghai
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    Totally agree with you Seamster and think feministing is being very unfair here.
    Embracing diversity whilst combating sexism is a difficult issue for many countries at the moment and it is something that needs to be talked about, not ignored for fear of sounding racist.

  14. Joce
    Posted April 19, 2010 at 1:23 am | Permalink

    I agree with you. I think Spigelman’s point was more that cultural sensitivity shouldn’t change the way we apply the law to individuals in cases of honour killings and violence against women.
    It is problematic to assume that all Muslims (f’ex) are culturally predisposed or accepting of violence against women. It is equally naive to assume white Australians would never commit such acts, but i think the article has been misinterpreted.

  15. BuddhaBaby
    Posted April 19, 2010 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    from the meditation on dude music:
    “And people believe, they believe with all their hearts, that they are entitled to their opinions when it comes to art, even if those opinions are stupid.”
    ummm.. yeah. they are. people are entitled to their opinions about anything (including art) no matter how misinformed or warped by ingrained sexism those opinions are. and its probably a lot more constructive to try to help make people aware of the biases you perceive in their opinions than to call those opinions stupid.
    sounds to me like she was hanging out with snobby assholes. any real music fan doesnt care about the gender of the artist.
    /hope i can make it to santa rosa, ca in june to see one of my all time fav artists – lauryn hill
    /i think le tigre sucks, but then again i pretty much hate that whole genre. hope that doesnt make me sexist

  16. Antigone
    Posted April 19, 2010 at 4:19 am | Permalink

    Yeah I agree with Seamster. I love feministing, but this summary isn’t fair to Speigelman. He could have a racist attitude, but this wasn’t shown in his speech. His actual speech (rather than The Age summary) seemed like a pretty fair take on the issue: cultural traditions should be respected, but not where they are used to support violence against women.
    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/when-laws-clash-with-culture-20100415-shfy.html

  17. GalFawkes
    Posted April 19, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Have you read Fear of Flying? I used to love it and now I don’t anymore. In part it’s because I remember one line about the Indians “punjabbering” away and I was like o.O
    This is passing over other criticisms I have.
    So that’s when I got a whiff of her racism for the first time. I’m not surprised in the least.

  18. cmb
    Posted April 19, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    you know i’ve heard that several of the first nation tribes were very egalitarian. maybe if white people hadn’t immigrated to the north american continent it would be a feminist utopia!

  19. Anonymous
    Posted April 19, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    This is a good point. I would go even further and say the focus on retouched versus unretouched photos is just another way to reinforce body image obsession in women’s minds. There are far, far fewer “unretouched” photos of men circulating around, and whatever stars release them are not seen as “heroes” of any sort, to the same extent. This is because men are not bullied nearly as much into worrying about their appearance. We don’t need to expand the definition of what is beautiful. As women, we need to be able to leave beautiful behind, at least most of the time, just like men do, and think of other things first.

  20. LadyPolitik
    Posted April 20, 2010 at 3:57 am | Permalink

    Actually, I don’t like the fairy tale because the workers are brown and black people with no faces.

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