Archive

Archive for the ‘Feminism’ Category

Stop the War on Women

April 8, 2011 2 comments

That’s it.  I’ve had enough.  It’s bad enough that I’ve lived my whole life, half of which has been lived in the 21st fucking century, with outdated, outmoded, misogynistic mores, norms, laws, and principles in action.  That’s bad enough.  But on top of that, instead of seeing that improve with my lifetime, it’s sliding back down the fucking hill!

Our foremothers (yes, foreMOTHERS) didn’t fight the fight for the vote, the right to be recognized as an individual outside of our fathers, brothers, and husbands, the right to make our own choices for ourselves, the right to an education, the right to our own bodies, just to see it slip back away out of our grasps in the 21st century.  Worse, not only are they slowly chipping away at our rights, but gradually the respect we used to garner is slipping away.  It’s disgusting. It’s despicable.  I’m tired of it.  It needs to stop.

It’s bad enough that we are constantly barraged with what we *should* wear and what our hair *should* look like and whether or not we *should* wear makeup and what type of body is the *most* womanly and whether or not to eat a fucking salad on the first date.  What happened to our right as Americans to be ourselves and pursue our own fucking happiness?!  If I want a salad, I’ll have a salad.  If I want a whole chocolate bar, I’ll eat the goddammed whole chocolate bar.  If I want to bench press weights, I will, and I shouldn’t have to worry about being considered not womanly or being “accused” of being a lesbian (like that would be a *bad* thing?!).  I should be able to just be myself and let people appreciate me for me.

I am not a bad member of this country!  I pay my taxes.  I pay attention to what’s going on around me.  I do my best to be a positive element of society.  And what?  I’m bad because I’ve used Planned Parenthood in my day?  I’m bad because I plan ahead because, brothers, we’ve all seen your track record for sticking around and being a fucking man about life if a woman does get pregnant and decides to keep the baby.

Do you know what there’s an epidemic problem of in this country?  It isn’t women being immoral.  It’s men refusing to GROW THE FUCK UP and behave like adults!  What is so fucking terrifying about treating women like equals?  What is so fucking terrifying about letting us have our nature-given right over our own fucking reproduction system?   Is it a fact that a 24 year old woman in Boston has more balls than you do?  Because I can tell you, I’ve stood up for my rights to fuckers like you many many times over the course of my life, and that takes a lot more balls than to tromp on people who are just trying to keep their natural-born rights.  Are you really that much of a pussy that I have more balls than you do?  Let us have our rights!  Better yet, get beside us and *fight* for them!  That’s what a real grown-up man would do.

Donate to Planned Parenthood

Donate to NARAL

 

Advertisements

Women and Feminism in Scifi

Check out my first ever guest post over on the excellent scifi blog, Walker of Worlds–Women and Feminism in Scifi. Thanks to Mark for hosting Scifi Appreciation Month!

Book Review: Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy

February 23, 2010 7 comments

Abstract painting on a book cover.Summary:
Connie, a 30-something Chicana of the 1970s who has led a rough life, enjoys the time she spends in 2137 at Mattapoisett with Luciente.  She believes she is a catcher and Luciente a receiver, which allows her to time travel in her mind.  Luciente tells her there are two possible futures, and they need her and all the downtrodden to fight and not give up or the utopian future of Mattapoisett will be lost.  Connie’s family and friends, however, believe she is schizophrenic and in need of their help.  Who is right?

Review:
I almost gave up on this in the first chapter when we discover that Connie’s daughter has been taken away from her due to child abuse.  Connie blames everything bad in her life on other people–the police, social workers, white people, her brother, etc…  She takes no responsibility for anything.  I was concerned that Connie’s opinions were the author’s opinions as well–blame society for everything and take no individual responsibility.  I was wrong about that, though, and I am very glad I didn’t stop reading.

Marge Piercy’s writing is astounding.  She sets up a complex social situation and leaves it open-ended for the reader to decide who is right, what the problems really are, who is to blame, how things can be fixed.  Unlike most books regarding time travel or mental illness, it is not obvious that Connie is actually time traveling or that she is schizophrenic.  This fact makes this a book that actually makes you think and ponder big questions.

The future world of Mattapoisett is of course the reason this book is considered a classic of feminist literature.  In this society it has been decided that all of the bad dualities of have and have not originate from the original division of male and female, so they have done everything they can to make gender a moot point.  The pronouns he and she are not used, replaced with “per,” which is short for “person.”  Women no longer bear children, instead they are scientifically made in a “breeder,” and then assigned three people to mother it.  These people can be men or women; they are all called mother.  In the future of Mattapoisett, women are allowed to be strong; men to be gentle, and that is just the tip of the iceberg of the interesting, thought-provoking elements of Mattapoisett.

At first I was concerned that this book is anti-psychiatry, but really it is just pro-compassion.  The reader is forced to observe the world from multiple atypical perspectives that force a questioning of world view.  More importantly though it helps the reader to put herself into another person’s perspective, which is something that it is easy to forget to do.  To me the key scene in the book (which doesn’t give away any spoilers) is when two people in Mattapoisett dislike each other and are not getting along.  The township gets them together and holds a council attempting to help each person see the situation from the other’s perspective, as well as to see the good in the other person.

What I’ve said barely touches the surface of the wonderful elements of this book.  I absolutely loved it, and it is a book I will keep and re-read multiple times.  I highly recommend it to all.

5 out of 5 stars

Source: PaperBackSwap

Buy It

Movie Review: Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

November 9, 2009 3 comments

I love horror films, and I’d been meaning to watch this classic for quite some time.  Netflix is so good for making you finally get around to seeing movies you’ve always meant to see.

posterrosemarysbabySummary:
Rosemary and her actor husband move into a new apartment despite protestations from a friend that the building has a bit of a history of odd things happening.  Their new neighbors are a friendly, elderly couple.  In fact, Rosemary finds them to be a bit too friendly, but her husband likes them and insists the friendship be kept up.  Soon Rosemary is pregnant, but there is something odd about her pregnancy she can’t quite put her finger on until it is too late.

Review:
This is the type of horror story I love.  Something sinister lurking in the background of the main character’s life.  Everyone around her telling her she’s the crazy one or that she’s paranoid with only the main character and the viewer seeing what’s really going on.  This gives such a different scared vibe than the more typical, oh we’re in a scary hotel room for one night ahhh.

The cinematography has that classic 1960s feel that I personally love.  Maybe there’s a technical term for it, I don’t know, but it’s that awkward shot.  Instead of every shot being perfectly clean cut like in modern films, the actors aren’t always in center and focused.  People are off to the side.  It gives almost a mockumentary film feeling without any of those staged interviews.

Mia Farrow’s acting is truly excellent.  Her facial expressions show the wheels turning in her head even when other characters are in the room with Rosemary.  You can see how Rosemary senses something is wrong, yet she isn’t sure what exactly.

Ruth Gordon, playing the elderly neighbor woman, also offers up an excellent acting job.  She plays to perfection that horribly annoying elderly woman who everyone else finds delightful but you just want to stop touching your throw pillows.  It may seem like an easy part to play, but it is a fine line to walk, and she executes it perfectly.

I think what kept me from loving the movie as opposed to just really liking it were the odd dream sequences.  These too have a classic 1960s feel, but not in a good way.   They feel fake, and jerked me out of the world I had been sucked into.  I think most of the dream sequences could have been done without.

There is no way to discuss the social commentary this movie makes without giving away a massive spoiler, so let me just say that women’s agency is central to the plot of this film and is one of the main reasons I liked it.

If you enjoy horror, 1960s cinematography, or subtle social commentary, you will enjoy this film.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Netflix

Buy It

The Problem With the Twilight Series

October 23, 2009 15 comments

This week there’s been a bit of internet commentary that librarians can be a bit elitist when it comes to books.  They’re saying that librarians scorn the likes of Dan Brown and attempt to force-feed works like Catch-22 to patrons.

Now, I personally know some librarians who harbor a hatred of Dan Brown, but I also know that they bought multiple copies of The Lost Symbol for their library.  Similarly, I’m a librarian, and I read my fair share of “trashy,” easy literature.  Hell, I’m currently reading the Sookie Stackhouse series.  Given these facts, I’d prefer it if the commentators said *some* librarians try to force patrons to read what they want them to read.  There probably is one out there somewhere who does that.  What really pisses me off, though, is the people who’ve accused me of being elitist due to my loathing of one particular series.

I’m looking at you Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer.

The minute I say I hate this seriese, people accuse me of being elitist.  Judging it for being “light” reading.  They’ve even told me something is wrong with my taste when 40 million other people love it.  Well, you know what?  My problem with Twilight has nothing to do with the writing style.  Like I said, I’m reading Sookie Stackhouse.  I like romance novels, and they aren’t exactly known for their Shakespearean style.

My problem with the series has nothing to do with the writing style.  It’s the content.  I’m sure many of you have heard teen girls say how they’d love to have an Edward all their own.  The problem with this is that Edward is an abusive boyfriend.

Let’s start with the fact that Edward stalks Bella.  He repeatedly watches her sleep at night from her window without her knowledge.  This is how the relationship starts.

It progresses further.  Once they’re dating, he tells Bella who she can hang out with.  He verbally abuses her, saying things like “I’ve seen corpses with better control,” “You’re utterly absurd,” and “You are a terrible actress–I’d say that career path is out for you.”  In a health relationship, a significant other is supportive, loving, and on your side.  Even if s/he disagrees with you, s/he expresses this disagreement without attacking who you are as a person.

Let’s not forget the whole plot sequence in which Edward first threatens then attempts to carry out suicide because he claims he can’t live without Bella.  This is abusive, because people should be in a relationship out of love, not fear the other person will harm himself.

Bella doesn’t only fear for Edward’s life, she’s also legitimately afraid of him.  Some people would say this is because he’s a vampire, but that’s no excuse.  She should feel safe with her boyfriend, not afraid.

I’m not saying abusive relationships shouldn’t ever be in a book, but Meyer presents this as a good thing!  Edward is supposedly Bella’s knight in shining armor, but he is controlling, possessive, and demeaning of her.  She is afraid of him, but she loves him so supposedly that’s ok?  No.  It’s not ok, and it is not  ok that Meyer is glorifying this in her books.  Not ok at all.

The themes I hate in the book go beyond the abusive relationship being glorified, however.  When Bella and Edward break up, there are four nearly blank pages in the book.  These are supposed to represent how empty Bella’s life is without Edward.  Yes, let’s tell the teenagers reading this book that their entire life is their romantic relationship.  This is obviously an unhealthy perspective.

Meyer also demonizes sex.  I’m not saying books should swing the other way and tell teenage girls it’s cool to go suck a new dick every night, but Meyer is totally on the sex is evil side of the fence.  First there’s the fact that Bella wants to do it with her steady boyfriend (*gasp* the horror), and Edward insists they wait until they are married.  It’d be fine for them to wait until they were married, if it was what they both wanted.  However, Edward looks down on Bella’s desire to sleep with him and insists waiting until marriage is better.  No.  Waiting until marriage isn’t “better,” it’s just “an option.”  An option among many options, and one that I feel leads to impulsive young marriages and divorce or a life-time of misery, but I digress.

Then, when they finally do get married, having sex with Edward seriously injures Bella.  Apparently having sex with a vampire in Meyer’s land is like having sex with a marble statue.  That sparkles.  So now teenage girls are not only being told sex before marriage is evil, but also that sex is scary, and it really hurts!  This hearkens back to the days of old when engaged women were told by their mothers that sex with their husband was something to “be endured” for the joy of having children some day.

Speaking of children, the last plot theme that I hate in Meyer’s series is that Bella becomes pregnant with a fetus that is literally eating her alive and killing her, yet she chooses to bring it to term anyway.  This is, naturally, glorified in the series.  Because we want to tell our girls that it’s better to die giving birth than to abort and save your own life.  What the hell, Meyer?!  Making a choice like that is, essentially, suicide.  She knows she’s dying.  She could stop it.  She chooses not to.

So in one series Meyer glorifies abusive relationships and suicidal behavior and demonizes sex.

I am horrified that a FEMALE writer wrote such a misogynistic series.  I am also saddened as it is evident that Meyer has internalized the harmful patriarchal culture she grew up in.  She’s a self-hating woman and doesn’t even realize it.  Unfortunately, she’s now helping to spread that internalized misogyny to the next generation of young women.

This is why I hate Twilight.  It isn’t because I’m supposedly an elitist.  It is because I am a feminist.

Female Genital Mutilation

October 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Today while perusing links posted on twitter, I came across this story on Newsweek.  Now, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is no new topic to me.  We actually covered it in one of my sociology-type classes in high school.  This article though made it re-hit home akin to the way it did the first time I learned about FGM.

For those who don’t know, FGM is a cultural practice in which some part of a little girl’s genitals are cut off.  This can range from the least severe of “circumcising” her clitoris to the most severe where the clitoris and inner and outer labia are cut off and the vagina is then sewn closed with only a pin-sized hole left for urinating and menstruating.  To top it off this procedure is most often done in people’s homes with dirt floors by the elderly women of the community who use unsanitized knives and sometimes even shards of glass to perform the procedure.

Why is this done to these little girls?  Because their cultures perceive women’s sexuality as evil and dangerous.  Because if the woman gets actual pleasure from sex, she will be less subservient to her husband and more likely to leave him.  Mainly though, it’s that they think a woman’s genitals are evil and must be cut off.

To put it really lightly:  THIS IS FUCKING WRONG.

A basic human right is the ability to have an enjoyable sex life if you so choose, as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else.  Can you imagine if you knew you were completely incapable of ever having an orgasm?  Can you imagine what an affect that would have on your relationship?  It is a scientific fact that when a woman orgasms oxycontin is released in her brain causing her to bond with her sexual partner.  These women don’t even have that opportunity.  It was cut away from them.  It gets worse, though.  According to the victims in the article, sometimes the procedure is done so poorly that the woman is left with painful scar tissue, thereby making it not only not pleasurable but also painful for her partner to touch her.  This isn’t a case of a woman making the choice to abstain from sex.  It’s a case of a woman wanting to enjoy the pleasure others take for granted, but she can’t because of what was done to her as a child without her consent.  Honestly, Sila talking about her love for romance novels being marred by the fact she couldn’t have even a little bit of the pleasure the main characters have broke my heart.

Apparently though, there is some hope for women who had this atrocity committed against them.  The Newsweek article states that there is a new medical procedure that can at least partly restore the female genitals.  According to the article, this new surgery was discovered due to the work to discover genital restructuring for gender reassignment surgery.  NATURALLY, this surgery is deemed “cosmetic” by American insurance companies, leaving these mostly immigrant, poor women having to pay for their own reconstruction surgery.  This is akin to telling a burn victim her reconstructive surgery is cosmetic.  It is WRONG.

Well, Dr. Bowers of the hospital where Sila got her surgery won’t stand for it.  Dr. Bowers knows what it’s like to feel that your genitalia doesn’t match who you are.  She is a transgendered person herself, and she performs the procedure free of charge for these women.  Dr. Bowers says, “you cannot charge money to reverse a crime against humanity.”  Dr. Bowers is a hero.

Of course in an ideal world, Dr. Bowers wouldn’t need to perform this surgery on women, because their genitals wouldn’t be mutilated to start with.  I REFUSE to kowtow to political correctness and say “it’s a part of their culture.  We shouldn’t condemn it.”  It is WRONG, and I will keep saying it is WRONG until no more little girls are mutilated.

If you would like to help a woman who is a victim of FGM, please visit the nonprofit Clitoraid’s website.

Click here for more information on FGM.

In Response to Catcalls and Car Honks

September 23, 2009 3 comments

I don’t know exactly what you’re thinking when you catcall me or honk your horn at me.
Maybe you think you’re paying me a complement.
Maybe you fantasize that I’ll respond with a flirtatious gesture.
Maybe you like seeing me jump in surprise or flinch in nervousness.

But I am telling you right here right now:

I do not consider it a complement.
I do not appreciate you scaring me with a honk of a horn.
I do not like looking around trying to see an accident only to see your laughing face and wave as you drive by.
I do not enjoy your invasion of my space as you lean into me to whisper thinly veiled aggressive comments.
I do not savor needing to quickly decide whether to pretend I didn’t hear your yelled comment or respond by telling you to leave me alone.

I know you do not think it but:

I have a right to walk the streets of my city without being scared by a man in a car with a horn who thinks he’s all that.
I have a right to walk the streets of my city without having my space aggressively invaded by a man who thinks I should naturally enjoy him hitting on me.
I have a right to walk the streets of my city without being harassed

Regardless of what I’m wearing.
Regardless of how hot you may think I am.
Regardless of how much you enjoy making women uncomfortable.

This is mine, and every other woman’s,  right.  I would like you to respect it immediately please.

Note: I don’t mean this to be a poem; this just happens to be the format it came out in.