Category Archives: Feminism

Fifty Shades of Grey – “The book and movie perpetuate the idea that the abuse and sexual control of women is sexy”

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Once your eyes are opened to the patriarchy – the idea that much of society is about men controlling women’s lives, their sexuality and their fertility for their own ends – then you begin to see it everywhere.  If a woman’s role is to bear a mans children for him and bring them up and keep his house then it makes sense to bring women up to see their future role as being to look for a good provider. For some women helping to ‘heal’ a damaged man to make him whole so that they can function as a partnership may seem like a good option – the issue is that it is an unequal relationship which often ends in abuse.  

S&M is a private thing in which individuals ‘play’ or experiment with the proprieties and power balances of their relationship – it doesn’t seem to me that this is what Fifty Shades is about. I worry that it is  telling women that having a romantic relationship with a damaged, controlling man is a good thing when in fact it is often a gateway to an unequal relationship which has a high probability of ending in abuse…

Why You Should Talk To Your Kids About ’50 Shades Of Grey’ – The book and movie perpetuate the idea that the abuse and sexual control of women is sexy By Soraya Chemaly February 11, 2015

One of the great virtues of insomnia, otherwise a deplorable problem, is the found time to do silly things for no good reason. During two sleepless weeks in 2013, I stayed up every night and read the Twilight books and then, for good measure, their fan fiction follow up, the Fifty Shades trilogy. As I read, I vacillated between giggling at some execrable, entertaining writing and amazement that anyone could think these books were transgressive.

It was like eating too much sweet, pink, and airy cotton candy. Then eating some more. Then feeling kind of sick and wishing you hadn’t because of the empty calories. Then being glad you did, because you probably wouldn’t touch the stuff again.

The disturbing thing about these stories, however, was that young teenagers voraciously consumed Twilight and many of them will see Fifty Shades of Grey. A few years ago, many people thought the Twilight books and movies were just fine for early teens because Twilight had “no sex.” Those children, only a few years older, are a prime target market for the film Fifty Shades of Grey and millions have, no doubt, also read the books. Both franchises normalize coercive sexuality and abuse.

If you put them on a spectrum, however, you’d have to start with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Consider the immediate narrative similarities:

Innocent, younger, virginal girl/woman
Damaged, older, more experienced boy/man
Female characters are relatively poor
Male characters are relatively wealthy and their lives filled with luxury
Male characters engage in controlling access to food, clothes
Male characters practice controlling/stalking behaviors such as following, eavesdropping, spying and this is considered a sign of love
Female characters are systematically isolated from their friends and family
Male characters are violent and physically overwhelming
Female character’s love, or the quest for that love, “change” the male character and make him less “monstrous”
Female characters learn to anticipate and “manage” male anger to reduce stress, risk.

There are many ways to interpret all three as portraying strong women, in control of their destinies. Regardless, however, these similarities remain valid, and both subtle and not-so-subtle abuse fills these stories. (Practitioners of BDSM disavow the books’ portrayals, arguing that the depictions do not reflect safe/consensual practices, but are about indefensible sexual and emotional violence.)

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In the case of Fifty Shades, a recent analysis of the books revealed that “Emotional abuse is present in nearly every interaction.” Researchers make a compelling case, and provide backup for it, that stalking, intimidation, and sexual violence (including using alcohol to compromise consent) are pervasive. Anastasia, the protagonist, is described many times as feeling constant threat and described experiencing physical symptoms associated with it (“my stomach churns from his threats”); her identity changes and she becomes quick to “manage” Christian’s anger so that there is no violence.

Continue reading Fifty Shades of Grey – “The book and movie perpetuate the idea that the abuse and sexual control of women is sexy”

US Supreme Court Continues its winning streak of Lunatic Rulings: Since Men Can Lactate, It’s Cool for US Companies To Fire Women for Breastfeeding

Supreme_Court_US_2010by Collier Meyerson

Well if it isn’t father patriarchy ruling his ugly head. Angela Ames is fresh out of options after the US Supreme Court declined to hear her petition to get a lower court’s ruling overturned (the Iowa mom was trying to sue her employer for gender discrimination after she was fired for breastfeeding).

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SF Gate reports:

Ames was nursing her new baby and wanted to continue by pumping and storing breast milk at work. Before her first day back, she asked a Nationwide disability case manager where she could express milk and was told a lactation room was available. But when she showed up at work on her first day she found out she couldn’t use the lactation room because she hadn’t filled out required paperwork for access, according to court documents. Ames was never told about the paperwork before her day back at work.

A company nurse directed Ames to a wellness room for sick employees, but the space was occupied. She returned to her desk where her direct supervisor approached her and informed her that none of her work had been completed while she was away. He warned her that she needed to work overtime to complete everything in two weeks or else she’d face disciplinary action.

Ames was then handed a piece of paper to craft a resignation letter so she could “go home and be with” her children, even though all homegirl was trying to do was pump a little of that white for her new baby.

I’m not a legal expert or anything but it sounds like a slam dunk suit, right? Apparently not. Ames’ case was thrown out by a trial court which, according to Raw Story cited “that breastfeeding-related firings aren’t sexist because men can lactate, too.”

Continue reading US Supreme Court Continues its winning streak of Lunatic Rulings: Since Men Can Lactate, It’s Cool for US Companies To Fire Women for Breastfeeding

Wonder Woman’s complex, contradictory origin story

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Wonder Woman is riddled with contradictions: sexless, yet sexy; strong, yet vulnerable; a feminist hero created by a man BY HELEN LEWIS PUBLISHED 22 DECEMBER, 2014 – 15:57

“A great movement is now under way – the growth in the power of women. Let that theme alone or we drop the project.” These stern words were written by William Moulton Marston in 1941 as he submitted his first script for a new superhero. Her name was Wonder Woman.

In the seventy-odd years since, successive editors, writers and directors have found it impossible to “let that theme alone”. A strong, independent, explicitly feminist action hero is still too radical for the business-minded comics industry.

It doesn’t help that Wonder Woman has quite the glass ceiling to smash with her Lasso of Truth. Although superhero movies now dominate the box office, there is still a dearth of female characters – even 2012’s The Avengers, directed by a geek feminist, Joss Whedon, had only Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow next to seven male leads. And she was the only one in the poster sticking her bum out. Despite a blizzard of comic adaptations, Wonder Woman will have to wait until at least 2017 to get her own feature film.

As Jill Lepore’s lovingly researched study demonstrates, Wonder Woman is used to such slights. The character soared in popularity when invited to join the “Justice Society” of superheroes during the Second World War. However, this bold traveller from the land of the Amazons, who had incredible strength and resourcefulness (as well as bullet-stopping bracelets), was promptly installed as . . . the Society’s secretary. She spent the war sighing about having been left at home while her male counterparts went off adventuring.

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Continue reading Wonder Woman’s complex, contradictory origin story

An Illustrated Guide to Feminism

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by Katherine Fritz  Posted: 12/15/2014 9:21 am EST 

I posted an article on my personal blog recently that received feedback in the comments section. It questioned my definition of feminism as “simplistic.” I had cribbed mine from Merriam-Webster and Google:

Feminism (n): advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

“Of course I used a simple definition,” I wanted to argue. “No one will understand me if it’s complicated. You have to crawl before you can walk.”

I thought for awhile about how best to respond. I thought for awhile about why I believe in the power of simple definitions. I thought for awhile about how the word “feminism” has a really bad reputation, and about how a major source of negative stereotypes seems to stem from a lack of understanding about the meaning of the word.

And then, I drew some pictures.

… OK, I drew some admittedly terrible pictures. Using that old standby of artists’ mediums, the paintbrush tool on Microsoft Paint. (Hey, I only said I was a blogger. I never claimed to be an artist).

I don’t know that much. Frankly, I’m not sure if I even got it right. I’m not a feminist scholar. I’m just a blogger who cares.

But it is a start. A definition is a very good place to start.

I hope it will help.

Continue reading An Illustrated Guide to Feminism

Forget Ukip – why the Green Party could decide the next UK General election and why that’s important for Women

Caroline Lucas, the only Green Party MP, tells Sophy Ridge how the ‘muesli-munching sandal-wearers’ have got the established parties looking nervously over their shoulders

Caroline Lucas says there is still too much 'willy-waving' in Parliament

Caroline Lucas says there is still too much ‘willy-waving’ in Parliament By Sophy Ridge 12:39PM GMT 01 Dec 2014

Away from the blokey rabble-rousing of Ukip, there is another quieter political revolution in going on. It’s younger, more female and left-wing – and almost the exact opposite of Nigel Farage’s party.

The Green Party is on the march (well, perhaps a leisurely stroll).

While Ukip supporters are older, more male and more working class and the Greens’ disproportionately middle-class graduates, what unites them is their distrust and anger with Westminster.

 The Green Party’s standing in the polls has trebled since the beginning of the year – from two to six per cent according to YouGov – and they have occasionally leap-frogged the Lib Dems.

That’s not enough to storm Parliament, but activists once dismissed as muesli-munching sandal-wearers have got the established parties looking nervously over their shoulders.

Well, for starters they are the only mainstream political party dominated by women rather than men.

The leader of the Greens is a woman (Natalie Bennett). Their one MP is a woman (Caroline Lucas.) Two out of the three Green MEPs elected to the European Parliament were women (compared to 55 per cent of Labour’s, 32 per cent of the Conservatives’ and 29 per cent of Ukip’s.)

If there is a political glass-ceiling, the Greens seem to have smashed straight through it.

To find out why and how, I turned to Caroline Lucas – the first elected Green MP and former party leader. In my experience, Green party candidates and activists often live up to the stereotypes of scruffy students and frizzy haired do-gooders. But the Brighton Pavilion MP is different – no-nonsense, elfin-featured and steely.

Needless to say, when it comes to women she says: “There’s a huge problem with Westminster. It’s all about grandstanding, competition and willy-waving that puts off women – and probably most men too.

Continue reading Forget Ukip – why the Green Party could decide the next UK General election and why that’s important for Women

Women with actual PhDs review ‘sexy PhD costume’ on Amazon

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by Matthew Champion

OK, OK so Halloween is thankfully over for another year but this is funny enough to publish in November, and it’s not exactly like costumes can’t be bought at other points in the year.

The Delicious Women’s PhD Darling Sexy (sic) costume looks as ridiculous as it sounds, but it prompted an amazing Amazon review bomb… by actual women with PhDs or studying for them.
Here are some of the best:

Sleeves are too short & have no stripes. Costume does not feature a hood. This is a “sexy BA” at best.

Alyssa Picard

Like all lady Ph.D’s, I frequently ask myself: “How could I be sexier?”

Delicious costumes has come to my rescue! I can now lecture in my 5 inch gold spiked heels and “barely there” regalia while giving nary a thought to the male gaze and it’s implications on the prevalence of rape culture in our society.

I fully expect my chili pepper rating on RMP to go through the roof once I begin to greet my students in this costume. Hopefully I can keep my post structural hegemony’s from engaging in some wardrobe malfunctions. Then again, who cares?

I’m sexy! Forget about the 7 years I spent sweating out a dissertation and engaging in innovative research!

SEXY!!!!

Dawn Rouse

As a lady PhD student, let me say how much of a relief it is to see them accurately describe what we wear every day. I don’t care if it isn’t proper PPE, how else will we find husbands if not for our degree in sexy? Bravo to Delicious costumes for supporting women’s education in letting us know that we’re only as smart as our skirts are short.

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When I left my nursing job for graduate school, I was so distressed. I mean what was I going to wear? There were plenty of sexy nurse costumes that I could wear to honor my accomplishments in that profession, but after I attained my PhD there was something missing. I was better educated, but not sexy. Until now. Thank you, Delicious Costumes, for filling the void. You’ve given women like me who have worked our asses off earning our degrees a way to show our asses off, too. Keep it classy, Amazon.

Mary from MN

After spending 6 years earning my PhD – hot summers of field work, battles with my advisors – I was looking forward to marching for my hooding. First, this costume does not come with a tam but with a mortarboard. Everyone knows that mortarboards squash my up-do and do not show off my hard-earned boobs properly – it’s just too straight and hard, and trust me, boys, that doesn’t always work. Secondly, this set of regalia is just too long. It covers my ass almost completely, and how is any self-respecting fellow PhD man (much less a student) supposed to find me attractive if he can’t scope out my ass? I mean, I have standards, you know. And C), I wanted to be able to coordinate it with my Ravenclaw house colors, but the blue on this is ALL WRONG. And fourthly: FABRICS, people. It’s not even WORSTED polyester. I might as well just shop at Kohl’s. All that work for NOTHING.

The Science Chick

I’m another lady PhD, and there’s no way this 34” bustline would ever fit a REAL woman. And there’s no way a REAL PhD would ever be caught in a mortarboard. We wear velvet tams, which are like the sexiest thing ever.

And why doesn’t it come with fishnets? It needs to come with fishnets. Give us fishnets and you got something.

J Elizabeth Gunter, PhD

How on earth did I ever survive the drudgery of earning 4 degrees in 10 years with 96 more academic credits than I needed to graduate with a PhD in clinical psychology with a specialization in neuropsychology while raising a child, running a home AND working without being able to don such a fetching ensemble to wear during my daily 40- mile commute? Because you know – all those degrees, specialty training in neurocognitive functioning, along with the 6-figure income I earn as a specialist, and Mensa membership just aren’t sexy enough by themselves. I’m not a complete woman if I can’t also trivialize all the time, money and effort it took to get to where I am today unless I can also show my ample cleavage and my backside. I’m actually kind of sad that you haven’t insulted highly educated women with a similarly themed really skanky piece of lingerie, but if you’re going to do it, the least you could do is do it right – really low cut with blue velvet bars and a tam.

Sharna L Wood PhD “drsharna”

I have to admit that this costume is very accurate for the humanities departments (especially philosophy). Also, some of my colleagues from computer sciences wear such robes on daily basis (both genders, so it is not only for delicious women). However, I have to say that this costume is not accurate at all for anyone trying to pass as a Ph.D. from the life sciences. For starters, the skirt is way too long. Also, the scarf should be silver, not gold. Anyone with a Ph.D. will recognize you as an impostor.

Original Article

Link to Amazon

Why Patriarchal Men Are Utterly Petrified of Birth Control and Why We’ll Still Be Fighting About It 100 Years From Now

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Why  Men (Particularly US Conservatives) are fighting a rear-guard action against one of the most revolutionary changes in human history. By Sara Robinson October 13, 2014

When people look back on the 20th century from the vantage point of 500 years on, they will remember the 1900s for three big things.

One was the integrated circuit, and (more importantly) the Internet and the information revolution that it made possible. When our descendants look back, they’re likely to see this as an all-levels, all-sectors disruption on the scale of the printing press — but even more all-encompassing. (Google “the Singularity” for scenarios on just how dramatic this might be.)

The second was the moon landing, a first-time-ever milestone in human history that our galaxy-trotting grandkids five centuries on may well view about the same way we see Magellan’s first daring circumnavigation of the globe.

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But the third one is the silent one, the one that I’ve never seen come up on anybody’s list of Innovations That Changed The World, but matters perhaps more deeply than any of the more obvious things that usually come to mind. And that’s the mass availability of nearly 100% effective contraception. Far from being a mere 500-year event, we may have to go back to the invention of the wheel or the discovery of fire to find something that’s so completely disruptive to the way humans have lived for the entire duration of our remembered history.

Continue reading Why Patriarchal Men Are Utterly Petrified of Birth Control and Why We’ll Still Be Fighting About It 100 Years From Now