Tag Archives: feminism

The Feminist Double Standard

When we talk about the influence of feminism on women’s rights, we often enter into the conversation about the double standards women are held to by society. Whether it is in our sex lives, our work/life balance, or our looks, feminists object to any unequal application of restrictive convention on women as a matter of basic principle. And the fact that we women are often judged by our looks over our intellect is a very sore point in that exchange.

So when President Obama introduced his good friend Kamala Harris this week during a DNC event, along with another elected official, many people were quick to call his remarks out as sexist.

“Congressman Mike Honda is here.  Where is Mike?  (Applause.)  He is around here somewhere.  There he is.  Yes, I mean, he’s not like a real tall guy, but he’s a great guy.  (Laughter.)

“Second of all, you have to be careful to, first of all, say she is brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough, and she is exactly what you’d want in anybody who is administering the law, and making sure that everybody is getting a fair shake.  She also happens to be by far the best-looking attorney general in the country — Kamala Harris is here.  (Applause.)  It’s true.  Come on.  (Laughter.)  And she is a great friend and has just been a great supporter for many, many years. ”

What is really wrong here is that, by chastising President Obama for remarking on Attorney General Harris’ looks (as opposed to the same about Mike Honda), we are really imposing a feministic double standard on him. President Obama makes flattering (or not so) comments about the physical appearance of accomplished and good looking people as a matter of habit. And for the most part, those accomplished folks upon whom he has heaped compliment have been men. President Obama is an equal opportunity flatterer.

Obama remarked over Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar’s appearance last year.

“A couple people I want to thank for their outstanding work. First of all, our Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, is in the house.  (Applause.)  He’s the guy in the nice-looking hat.  Not only does it look good, but it protects his head, because the hair has gotten a little thin up there.  (Laughter.)  He is a good-looking guy.”

If President Obama’s comments on Harris’ looks crossed the line, so should comments about every other politician’s looks he has ever made. The fact that Harris is a woman should not render comments or compliments about her looks taboo. Such a rule, in itself, is a double standard. To hold President Obama to a different standard when the subject of his praise is a woman undermines the goals of equal treatment, equal rights and equal opportunity for women and men.

I compare this situation to the flawed logic of me getting offended when my male coworkers fail to censor themselves in my presence. The fact that they would curse up a storm or tell jokes in casual conversation with me shows me that they do not view me in a different light. Some people may think they should watch what they say in front of a lady. But I say, “SCREW THAT! I want to hear the joke about the polar bear walking into a bar too.”

If the President’s remarks about good looking people are evenly uttered about men as well as women, I see no reason to censor the handsome conversationalist for the sake of feministic ideals.

Marissa Mayer’s Disregard for Feminism is Feminist

Marissa Mayer has sure got a lot of haters. It seems every feminist enclave across the internet has had to put in its 2 cents regarding Mayer’s reluctance to call herself a feminist. In a recent interview for the PBS Documentary, “Makers,” Mayer equated being feminist with negativity and having a “chip on the shoulder.” Ouch.

Many feminists and mommy bloggers criticized Mayer’s choice to work throughout her maternity leave, which lasted exactly the two weeks she said it would. Some took the opportunity to reproach her for not fully realizing how important and gushy motherhood is supposed to be. Mommyish straight up called Mayer out for her example saying, “people will use this as ammunition to say that maternity leave isn’t necessary.”

On top of this, the internet is now rife with criticism of Mayer’s move to abolish full-time work-at-home arrangements at Yahoo!. One Feministing contributor calls Mayer’s policies “anti-feminist” adding, “I’ll say it again: I think Mayer’s rejection of feminism is whack and her remote work policy is harmful.” Another article I came across even seeks to criticize Mayer’s get-your-butt-into-the-office policy for contributing to future air toxicity. Seriously?

There is an expectation in feminist circles that female leadership, in turn, foster female development. I counter that expectations of special treatment from women who have succeeded in business and in leadership positions is counter to feminist goals. For all the good feminism has created, there is an equal amount of detriment that can come of the expectation that women who attain great power should act preferentially in the better interests of women entering the workforce.

What Marissa Mayer has done with Yahoo!’s new work arrangement is two-fold. It serves to weed out inflexible and under-productive employees, as well as inject efficiency and freshness into an ailing business. Yahoo! has been on the after-burner of innovation; and playing catch-up for years. For all the complaining coming from journalists and bloggers (who likely do not work in STEM fields to begin with), there is plenty of circumstantial evidence of the effectiveness of face-to-face collaboration as compared to remote interactions.

In essence, Mayer’s  elimination of remote work arrangements is an action feminists should embrace. Mayer didn’t come in and go, “Oh. I am the boss now, so I’d best ensure my policies are family and woman friendly, or I might offend someone.” No. She said, “I am the boss now, and I am going to turn this company around, entitlements be damned!” She pulled a punch; and didn’t sweat the fallout. Mayer has a reputation for making decisions based on statistical evidence. And in top Mayer-form, she made a tough business decision, proving she has just as much business chutzpah as any other Fortune 500 CEO on the beat.

If that’s not feminist, I don’t know what is.

The Superbowl, Beyonce and Sexism

During the Super Bowl every year, feminist bloggers and tweeps take to the intertubes for the opportunity to analyze – not the game itself, mind you, but – the commercials that fill the gaps between squashed third down conversion attempts. These women and men, for the most part, are not looking to enjoy the commercials for the art of ad making. No way. The real point is to ferret out and expose the sexism embedded in every single ad.

Tide-loving Baltimore Ravens fan = sexist assumption of women’s role in the home.

Audi kiss the prom queen kid = he didn’t get consent sexual assault guy.

Two Broke Girls pole dancing = ARE YOU FRIGGIN’ KIDDING ME???!!!

Go Daddy beautiful (dumb) model and nerdy (smart) man = WHOA! That one was PRETTY SEXIST. And pretty freaking GROSS, by the way.

Super Bowl commercials – commercials in general – tend to scrape the bottom of the barrel in the feminist thought department. (Except for this pretty awesome Best Buy commercial featuring the always rib-tickling Amy Poehler.) What I didn’t expect was for one of these femi-tweeps to disrespect one of the richest, most successful women in the entertainment industry today.

Beyonce1

Really, dude?

Wow. Not only does this woman’s tweet completely belittle and disregard the image that Beyonce has nurtured through her hard work and dedication to excellence, the follow up purports that somehow football is different from other sports because the MALE players try to dominate each other. THAT right there – that’s sexism.

This woman conveniently ignores two factors. The first is that ALL contact sport is based on violence (at some level) and physical domination. I played soccer for 13 years. (And softball for 7 years before that.) Personally, there was not a game I played in where I did not attempt to intimidate, out-muscle, out-foul, out-jostle, and generally demoralize my opponents. The desire to physically dominate ones opponents in sport is not a gendered trait – it is a human trait! The desire to win is innate to sport in general. And life without sport is a prison camp.

The second inconvenient truth? Describing Beyonce’s performance as nothing more than “spreading their legs” is insulting and just plain sexist. Even if this tweep were implying that the Super Bowl big-whigs would only allow a female act on stage that included scantily clad women doing suggestive dance moves, she would be highly mistaken. While I didn’t see The Boss take off his clothes (though I would not have complained). Nor did the Rolling Stones or Tom Petty. And even Madonna - though fully clad – had half-naked humans of male and female gender on her stage – fun for everyone!

The real fact is, Beyonce is a feminist role model who has used her body to create a BRAND that has made her MILLIONS of dollars, landed her a Super Bowl halftime show, and allowed her to sing for the President of the United States on several occasions!!! The fact that she looks absolutely spectacular in a lace-trained leotard is secondary to the fact that – at this point – she answers to herself, she makes her own rules, and she didn’t need a man to make her fortune for her.

Except her papa.

Because we all need a man for something.

Wanted: Party Pal. Must be Hilary Clinton

AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Soldier for women’s rights (HUMAN rights!) across the globe. Crusader to end violence against women. Influential voice in the struggle for feminine equality. Secretary of State by day. Dance floor diva by night. She’s a bird. She’s a plane. She’s Hilary. And she knows how to throw down!

AFP/GETTY IMAGES

 

I want to party with Hilary. Seriously, I need someone to show me the ropes. And when we get tired of talking about beer, boys, and housekeeping (which will take about two seconds), we can move on to career choices, improving maternal health, equal education and foreign policy.

Hey girl! I’ll clear my book. Just send me an Outlook meeting notice.

NuclearGrrl:

I really love reading Christiane Amanpour‘s insightful commentary about the Middle East, especially with regard to women’s rights and parity. If the subject interests you also, do take a few minutes to read this Q&A with Christiane.

Originally posted on Amanpour:

Q&A with Christiane Amanpour
by Samuel Burke, CNN

Christiane Amanpour will host a new daily foreign affairs program on CNN International starting Monday, April 16. Showtimes at Amanpour.com

What’s the next phase for women’s rights in the Middle East?
I think that is the key question we are all looking at as we see these unfolding democracies in former dictatorships where Islamists are now the rising powers. The most important gauge of this will be whether women’s rights will be enshrined in the new constitutions, along with other minority rights. Will women who took very prominent parts in taking down the dictatorships, get the rights that they sacrificed and risked their lives for in countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and today in Syria? One of the most important things to recognize is that for decades the UN reports have explained why the Arab and Muslim world is far behind…

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Faking #Antichoice

Once again my favorite(?) feminist periodical has failed me. Ms. Magazine came out today

with a blog article railing against a bill recently passed by the Arizona legislature. The bill sitting on notoriously antichoice Governor Jan Brewer’s desk would ban abortion after 20 weeks except in the event of a woman’s imminent death. As if women don’t have enough to worry about, now the Arizona legislature wants to ensure a woman is on her death bed before she can make her own medical decisions about her body. But the editors at Ms. have once again stepped out of the realm of journalism into the funhouse halls of sensationalism.

The Ms. Magazine article “NEWSFLASH: Arizona Law Says Life Starts Before Conception” claims Arizona lawmakers are trying to declare life begins before conception by defining the gestational age of a fetus by the date of a woman’s last menstrual period.

This is the second article in a week Ms. has released that is based on complete hogwash. Gestation is widely measured within the medical community from the date of a woman’s last menstrual period. If you are a woman reading this, just try to remember the last time a doctor asked you, “When did your ovaries last release an egg?”

Human pregnancy comes to full term in 40 weeks starting from the last menstrual period. Just ask WebMD:

Baby: Your baby is still just a glimmer in your eye. Although it’s confusing to think about a pregnancy starting before your child is even conceived, doctors calculate your due date from the beginning of your last cycle since it’s hard to know exactly when conception occurred.

Or ask the Mayo Clinic:

It might seem strange, but you’re not actually pregnant the first week or two of the time allotted to your pregnancy. Yes, you read that correctly!

Conception typically occurs about two weeks after your period begins. To calculate your due date, your health care provider will count ahead 40 weeks from the start of your last period. This means your period is counted as part of your pregnancy — even though you weren’t pregnant at the time.

Even better yet, go ask a freakin’ doctor! Seriously! Call one up!

I am as prochoice as it gets. I’m a clinic escort for goodness sake. But portraying common, medically accepted practice as antichoice subterfuge to make your point reeks of “prolife” deception and is straight up dishonest journalism!

Embattled Birth Control?

On August 1st, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced historic new requirements for insurers on services for women that should be covered by new insurance plans at no cost (i.e. – without a copay). To determine what medical care would be covered, the Institute of Medicine was charged with reporting to the DHHS what services and screenings for women are needed to fill gaps in recommended preventative care. In the IOM report, “Clinical Preventative Services for Women, Closing the Gap“, the committee defines preventative services as,

measures—including medications, procedures, devices, tests, education and counseling—shown to improve well-being, and/or decrease the likelihood or delay the onset of a targeted disease or condition.

The services recommended by the IOM include common sense stuff:

  • well-woman visits;
  • screening for gestational diabetes;
  • human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing for women 30 years and older;
  • sexually-transmitted infection counseling;
  • human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) screening and counseling;
  • FDA-approved contraception methods and contraceptive counseling;
  • breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling; and
  • domestic violence screening and counseling.
Well, unless you live under a rock or are completely unconcerned with women’s reproductive issues, the fall out from the release of these new HHS guidelines has been epic. Both for it’s greatness, and for it’s sheer moronic misogyny. As expected, the National Women’s Law Center, Feminist Majority Foundation, National Organization for Women, NARAL, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America (P2) have all come out in support of the new guidelines. Representatives from many organizations are commending the HHS for actually listening to and implementing the recommendations of real medical experts and scientists. Some of the reaction has been beyond epic, such as this Bollywood-inspired song and dance routine made for Planned Parenthood:
Any feminist woman knows the depths of Bill O’Reilly’s misogyny. But he feels he continually needs to remind the world how low his opinion of women. On his awful, bias-as-hell show back in July, O’Reilly spoke to a fake liberal woman and a conservative woman about the HHS’s mandate for insurers to cover birth control. (Any liberal who was asked the question as he stated it would have pointed out that O’Reilly’s description of the regulations was inaccurate.) The conversation was completely biased, as O’Reilly asks “liberal” contributor Leslie Marshall if the government should pay for “everybody’s birth control…in the world”. Even leaving out the fact that O’Reilly misrepresents the DHHS requirements (that private insurers pay for birth control for private policy holders, not the government!), he goes on to insult every female birth control user by saying they are “to blasted out of their minds to use it anyway”. Since O’Reilly doesn’t care to actually engage women in a substantive manner, he obviously doesn’t know that the 56 million women who use highly-effective birth control don’t take it when they are “blasted out of their minds”. In addition, he attacks the “health care deal for the ladies” talking to Lou Dobbs, saying we ‘all’ will have to pay for this. Someone should call him up and explain how, we are all ALREADY paying for it!
Although the regulation includes an exception for religious institutions, the Family Research Council argues that the regulation “undermines the conscience rights of many Americans.” Um, yeah, he must mean the less than 1% who don’t use any contraceptive method whatsoever. (I argue that women working for religious institutions should not be subject to their beliefs if not shared, and should have an alternative option for contraceptive coverage.) A spokesman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, says “pregnancy is not a disease, and fertility is not a pathological condition to be suppressed by any means technically possible.” Someone should let him know that no one said pregnancy was a disease. But there are,however, many conditions and diseases associated with pregnancy, many of them fatal for the pregnant woman. Oh, but wait, the Catholic church doesn’t care about the pregnant woman. I forgot.
The arguments against prohibiting cost sharing for preventative services only gets more ridiculous. Stephen Colbert can state it much more hilariously than I. And Jon Stewart breaks it down on the Daily Show. The arguments of opponents to this mandate are not rooted in science or medicine. They are solely rooted in religion. The catholics say the rules are “messing with God”. Other conservatives say giving away free birth control will result in rampant promiscuity. And conspiracy theorists argue that free birth control is just the first step in the government’s assertion of complete control over the reproductive lives of the citizenry for population control purposes. Um, communist China anyone?
These arguments become especially irreverent when you consider that of women of reproductive age who do not want to become pregnant, 99% use a contraceptive method other than natural family planning, and two-thirds of us take a highly-effective method (i.e. – sterilization, the pill, IUD, etc.) regardless of our religious beliefs. And these conservative, anti-choice pundits seem to forget about the fact that not all women using contraceptives are unmarried young people, contraceptive use helps breastfeeding women breastfeed longer by helping them space their pregnancies and increases the socio-economic status of women who are consequently able to delay pregnancy, preventing unplanned pregnancy reduces the need for abortion, couples are less likely to separate after a planned pregnancy than an unplanned pregnancy, contraceptives help prevent the spread of sexually-transmitted infections and HIV, and some women are prescribed contraceptives for reasons other than pregnancy prevention (such as endometriosis). I could go on, but I think I made my point.
The DHHS will be taking public comments on the new regulations through the end of September. Personally, “unrestricted, unlimited sex, anytime, anywhere” sounds pretty damned fun to me. (I hope my husband is up to the challenge!) Plus, I am TOTALLY DOWN with becoming a 4-star General in Obama’s Army of Flesh Thirsty Young Sluts! And, seriously, who would compare domestic violence counseling and breastfeeding advice to getting a pedicure? Oh, wait…