Category Archives: Feminism

Stumping for Marriage: Bundles of Joy?

In a recently published study, Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers  assessed the subjective happiness of women and found that despite greater opportunities, higher wages and increased education, their perceived feelings of well-being have decreased steadily over the last 35 years. In addition they identified a widening gap in the levels of subjective happiness experienced by men and women.  This finding touched off a flurry of responses and rebuttals, in the attempt to determine whether we really are unhappy and if so, why.  Among the popular hypotheses for female misery was the stress of motherhood due to the disproportionate role of women in child-rearing, along with the lack of supports within society for those who are struggling to balance parenting and careers.

Did all this depress you? Need a pick me up? Then maybe you should forget everything you just read and go pop out a baby instead of popping pills.

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Uh, It Didn’t Exist Because it’s a Stereotype.

Over at The Root, Rebecca Walker interviews Erica Kennedy, the author of the new book Feminista. Walker asks Kennedy to explain what a “feminista” is, to which Kennedy responds:

I never felt comfortable calling myself a feminist because that word has so many negative connotations. The stereotype of the hairy, man-hating woman is just that—a stereotype, a caricature that no longer exists. And there’s a reason that woman no longer exists. Because we’ve proven ourselves. We know we can play with the big boys. We don’t need to beat the drum anymore.

A “caricature that no longer exists”?  Caricatures by definition do not exist, but are exaggerations of things that perhaps do. The myth of the man-hating feminist was (and is) such a widely held belief due to the deliberate distortions of opponents of the movement (example: bra-burning, that universal shorthand for those supposedly rabid, misandrist female hordes in the 1960’s, never actually happened) in their attempts to marginalize it, essentially Jesse Jacksoning feminism and placing its baseline somewhere in the ideological vicinity of Andrea Dworkin. They were apparently very successful, as seemingly every conversation about feminism in the mainstream media involves someone distancing themselves from those crazy, hirsute radicals.

Maybe she’d be more inclined to embrace “feminism” if she wasn’t  further encumbering it with all those “negative connotations” in the first place.

Book of the month: Quicksand by Nella Larsen.

from barnesandnoble.com

Referred to as a “tragic mulatto tale,” an accurate description, yet one that has never interested me, Quicksand by Nella Larsen is about the most frustrating black female lead I’ve ever read–Helga Crane. She’s a woman whose eccentricities today, I imagine, would be imitated and fawned over. Her described beauty would be put on magazine covers and her style called things like “classic” and “funky,” “retro” and “vintage.”

But really Quicksand is about female sexuality and identity, and the desire to express those things without compunction. It’s also about passion and security, and pitting those two elements against each other, as literature often does, as if they can’t naturally exist together. Can they?

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Your Monday Random-Ass Roundup: Nuts about ACORN

Today in my office, a pimp and his prostitute came looking for advice on where to score some blow and advice on how to fill out their W-2s. When I told them what they could do, they accused me of encouraging them to engage in public masturbation. I hope Beck and Co. don’t get hold of the video:

pimp

It’s hard out here for a pimp. No, really. James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles (not pictured above) risked their lives, limbs and a camcorder to infiltrate the den of “thug criminality” that is the largest organization of poor and working families in America.

This is a time for us to appreciate their deep commitment to maligning ACORN, which clearly is an issue of utmost importance in these most troubled and divisive of times. I am sure their hearts and motives are pure.

Now if we can, let us move forward and consider some of the news of the weekend:

1. As always, if you want to learn something new or interesting or possibly infuriating about health care reform, reading Ezra Klein is essential. (Blackink)

2. Are pregnancy, bunions, acne, or receiving therapy or counseling pre-existing conditions that might allow health insurers a reason to deny people coverage? Of course. Best health care system in the world, eh? (Blackink)

3. Officially, according to a U.S. Census report, the Bush years were full of fail. h/t John Cole. (Blackink)

4. Go with your first instincts, Roxanne Wilson. (Quadmoniker)

5. Massachusetts might appoint an interim replacement for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the late Ted Kennedy by the end of the week. (Blackink)

6. In an e-mail sent to friends and supporters last week, Van Jones made his first public comments since resigning from the White House. Said Jones: “Of course, some supporters actually think I will be more effective on the ‘outside.’ Maybe so. But those ideas always remind me of that old canard about Winston Churchill. After he lost a hard-fought election, a friend told him: ‘Winston, this really is just a blessing in disguise.’ Churchill quipped: ‘Damned good disguise.’ I can certainly relate to that sentiment right now. :)” (Blackink)

7. D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty is cutting federally funded child care in the poorest wards of the District. Making it more difficult for single mothers to bring in money (or inviting child neglect cases) seems like a counter intuitive way of addressing city budget issues, at best. (Shani-o)

8. Something we probably won’t see in any campaign brochures from Texas Gov. Rick Perry next year: Texas remains first in the nation in rates of uninsured residents and uninsured children. Upholding family values and rebuffing creeping socialism … I love my home state. (Blackink)

9. Also related: Perry is not a very smart or honest man. (Blackink)

10. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) backed off prior claims that President Obama is a socialist because, uh … he’s not one. (Blackink)

11. Among those at the Values Voter Summit this weekend, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee was the clear choice for 2012 Republican presidential nominee. The 600 voters said abortion was the most important issue in determining their choice. What else is there to say about that? (Blackink)

12. Also at the Values Voter Summit, the chief of staff for Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma made the case that: 1. we should trust the sexual instincts of prepubescent boys; 2. bigotry against homosexuals is fine by him; and 3. “all pornography is homosexual pornography.” Video here. Sigh … Michael Schwartz and his ilk are almost completely beyond ridicule. (Blackink)

13. So rather than resort to ridicule, Amanda Marcotte moves the conversation forward to talk about some of the very real problems with porn. Which don’t include making boys turn gay. (Blackink).

14. Don’t you love links about porn? Yes. Well, here’s another: “The awkward truth, according to one study, is that 90 percent of 8-to-16-year-olds have viewed pornography online. Considering the standard climax to even the most vanilla hard-core scene today, that means there is an entire generation of young people who think sex ends with a money shot to the face.” Whoa. (Blackink)

15. Feminist Finance speculates on where she’d be if she hadn’t rejected all the “dudely money advice” she’s received over the years. (Shani-o)

16. BitchPh.D puts out a call for volunteers for the 40 days for CHOICE campaign. (Blackink)

17. For John and Elizabeth Edwards’ sake, I hope his former aide is lying about this: “Mr. Edwards once calmed an anxious Ms. Hunter by promising her that after his wife died, he would marry her in a rooftop ceremony in New York with an appearance by the Dave Matthews Band.” Please let that be a lie. (Blackink)

18. Let us mourn the death of American civility with Jude at First Draft. (Blackink)

19. Bruce Bartlett remembers Irving Kristol, father of neoconservatism. (Jamelle)

20. According to Marcus Buckingham at the Huff Post, women have grown increasingly unhappy as they made professional and social progress over the past 40 years. There’s a lot to digest in the provocative piece, and I get the feeling something is missing from this analysis. I need someone smarter than me to fill in the gaps. (Blackink)

21. After six years, Leslie Bennetts says The New York Times is finally attempting to set the record straight about the “Opt-Out Revolution” – well-off women who quit their careers to become full-time mothers. (Blackink)

22. Crooked Timber highlights a recent op-ed in The Chronicle of Higher Education that points out the problem of poor, black and Hispanic students choosing to go to less-demanding college institutions and an overreliance on standardized tests. (Blackink)

23. Colorism isn’t just the purview of black folk — it exists in the South Asian community as well. Sepia Mutiny notes a campaign that’s attempting to address the fear of darker skin. (Shani-o)

24. After charges were dropped last week against five men accused of raping a Hofstra University freshman, Amanda Hess parses some of the many problems of living in a rape culture. That includes false rape accusations. (Blackink)

25. In case there was ever any doubt, Andrew Sullivan has major pull. (Blackink)

26. While I was watching the Giants thump the Cowboys and the season premiere of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” apparently Neil Patrick Harris and the Emmy Awards were putting on quite the show. (Blackink)

27. I’m finding myself agreeing with Alyssa again: you should definitely get down to your nearest newstand or bookstore, pick up a copy of the latest New Yorker and read Ta-Nehisi’s piece about MF Doom and hip-hop. And, like her, I might quibble a bit with a few parts of the feature. Then again, we’re both from the South. (Blackink)

28. Harry Allen asks if Kanye is doomed to become “the next O.J.”? At the least, Kanye’s “victimization” of Taylor Swift has drawn out some of the bigots among us. (Blackink)

29. Nearly four-fifths of NFL players are bankrupt or struggling financially within two years of retirement. The Business Insider looks at some of the reasons why. (Blackink)

30. And because I’m from Houston and hate the Dallas Cowboys, I really enjoyed this:

Feel free to drop some links that would be of interest or chat among yourselves. Let’s hope we’re all in for a great week.

Deuces.

…And Counting.

The Duggars are having their 19th child. I told two people at work about this, and both independently responded, “ew.”

I grew up in Arkansas, where the Duggars live, and have had my share of encounters with, shall we say, non-mainstream Christians. The Quiverfull movement is its own special brand of weird, but I’m not sure it’s really all that different from the reasons other people have children, even normal amounts of them.

I do disagree with the notion by Double X’s Lauren Bans that Michelle Duggar had no choice in becoming a breeder. She introduces it at the end of her piece, almost as an afterthought, and I’m not sure where it comes from. As her co-blogger, Noreen Malone, pointed out, Mrs. Duggar chose to join the movement. There are all sorts of ways cultural forces work on oppressed groups, and just about every non-white and non-male in the South can count themselves among them, but I don’t see any hegemonic forces working on Mrs. Duggar to have dozens of children.

I know plenty of women who don’t believe the things about women that I believe about women, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re deluded. At some point, women are allowed to choose that their role in life is producing babies, right?

When ‘Opportunity’ Knocks.

I have no commentary on what comes below except to say *headdesk*. Repeatedly. From the Curvature:

alves

Trigger Warning

Three years ago in B.C., Canada, a woman woke up in the bed of the man in the image to the left. She was bleeding and bruised, and though she remembered going out for a night on town, she didn’t remember how she got in this bed, or what had happened to her. Medical examinations determined that a man had vaginally penetrated her, and also found sedatives in her system.

The man’s name is Fernando Manuel Alves, and he pleaded guilty to sexual assault in the rape of this woman. He was initially charged with sexually assaulting three other women, and administering a noxious substance, though those charges were eventually dropped.

Despite pleading guilty, though, to the rape of a woman who has described since feeling the loss of both her will to live and ability to feel safe, Alves is not going to spend a single day in jail. No, instead, he received a 9 month conditional sentence, and placement on the sex offender registry.

Why, exactly, is Alves not being sent to jail for his violent crime, when non-violent criminals are sent there all the time? Well, that would be the point of particular interest:

In sentencing, the B.C. provincial court judge said Alves was not pathologically dangerous but had committed a crime of opportunity.

The judge ordered that Alves be placed on the sex-offender registry for the next 20 years but that he not spend time in jail.

Yes. Seemingly, since the judge felt the need to express as much during sentencing, Alves is not going to jail because he is believed to be not pathologically dangerous. And the way we know he is not dangerous is because his crime, his rape, was one of of opportunity.

One can only assume that when a rape is called a “crime of opportunity,” the “opportunity” in question is a woman being in the rapist’s presence.

That’s right. According to that judge, a woman’s mere presence means she’s presented an opportunity to any man in the vicinity to rape her. Go read the rest of Cara’s post. Send it to your friends — especially the ones who think it’s a woman’s job to protect herself from all the men out there who only rape when given the ‘opportunity’ to do so.

People, ‘Mad Men’ Is Not Feminist.

[from feministdonut, cross-posted from The Feminist Texican.]

Over the past month or so, I’ve been seeing all kinds of articles on what a feminist show this is.  Much as I lovelovelove the show (”Mad Men” and “Project Runway” are pretty much the only times I turn on the TV each week), every time I read one of these articles, I want to scream, “Stop projecting!

[Possible spoilers after the jump.]

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