Monthly Archives: June 2011

Is this what a feminist looks like? And why do we care?

Kate Beaton, who does the great webcomic Hark! A Vagrant! did this great comic on strong female characters. The image at right is just a snippet — you should check the whole thing out.

I love her stuff in general, but I love this bit even more because it gets to what I’m feeling about the whole “SlutWalk” phenomenon. Honestly, I’m torn.

Don’t get me wrong — the message behind the SlutWalks is great. The cop who told women to “not dress like sluts” if they wanted to protect themselves from rape was an idiot, and he should really be chastising the people who think rape is acceptable under any circumstance, not potential victims of rape. And I love that these SlutWalks fire back at the old “Feminists have no sense of humor” line. And hey, it’s great that there are people standing up for my right to dress like, and be, a slut — although that’s pretty much a theoretical benefit at the moment, as no one in S.G. is really set on jumping my bones (or me theirs). Still, it’s nice to have the option, I guess?

But once you get past the surface, it starts to get a little ridiculous. Huzzah, I can prance around in panties and a bra! This is what a feminist looks like! And if that’s your thing, great. But honestly, if I go up to Toronto, I’m probably going to be wearing a parka. It’s not because I’m bowing to pressure from The Man, it’s because it’s really fricking cold there, and pasties look uncomfortable, and I have to believe that fishnets chafe. It’s great that we have the right to dress any way we want, but what the hell is making us “want” to dress like porn stars? Can’t I embrace my (thus far, theoretical) sexuality in jeans and a t-shirt? Do I have to put everything on display to prove that I’m a strong, powerful woman? Isn’t part of feminism the idea that I’m NOT a dress-up doll for men to look at or project their fantasies on?

Same thing with the “This is what a feminist looks like” campaign. On the one hand, I love it — it’s busting the ridiculous stereotype that feminists are all ugly women who can’t get a man. Anything that makes feminism more palatable to the vast majority of “I’m not a feminist, but…” girls out there is a good thing.

But for christ’s sake, why the hell should we care what a feminist looks like? Why are we even talking about it? Do we talk about what a Republican looks like? What an anti-choice bigot looks like? What a socialist looks like? (The good people of S.G. will say a socialist looks remarkably like our current president, but that’s another story.) No. Because 1) those movements are about ideals, and 2) those movements are made up of quite a lot of men. And men can look like whatever the hell they want. But women are supposed to have ideals and passions and causes while still spending approximately 18 hours of the day staying thin and having perky boobs and making sure we’re physically attractive.

Look, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good, but I wonder why we’re still buying into the idea that a feminist has to look like anything. A feminist can run around in a push-up bra or in a muu-muu. She can be fat or thin, expertly coiffed or messy-headed, a “slut” or a “prude,” covered up or letting it all hang out. Who cares? As long as the world is focusing on what a feminist looks like, is it paying attention to what a feminist thinks? What a feminist does?

So yeah, it’s great to have SlutWalks and Strong Female Characters who revel in their own bodies and own their sexuality. But when the hell are we going to get to the point where looks really aren’t everything? When will “what a feminist looks like” be irrelevant? Is anyone having a protest march for that? Or are we all afraid of being told that we’re not pretty enough, or sexy enough, or slutty enough to have an opinion?

The evolution of the beauty queens

Gah! Care2 had this snippet on how most of the contestants in the Miss USA pageant (which, shockingly enough, I didn’t watch) said that either evolution shouldn’t be taught in schools, or that it should be taught with creationism. And I was prepared to chuckle a little and say “Oh, silly beauty queens,” and then move on with my life. But then I clicked on the link to the original Washington Post story, and that story had this video, which shows everyone’s answer to the question:

So many of them talk about how lots of people “believe” in evolution. IT’S NOT A BELIEF. IT’S NOT AN OPINION. IT’S NOT A PERSPECTIVE. IT’S NOT ONE SIDE OF THE STORY. IT’S ACTUAL SCIENCE. IT’S OBSERVABLE FACT.

Evolution is a theory the way gravity is a theory. In science, “theory” doesn’t mean “this is what I’m guessing is happening” — that’s a HYPOTHESIS. Theory means “what we’ve observed and what is supported by the evidence and what makes all the stuff we know hang together” — in other words, a once-hypothesis that’s undergone rigorous testing until proven correct. Yes, our understanding is evolving as we learn more, but belief has nothing to do with it.

Miss Vermont is the only one who actually says that it’s science. Everyone else — even “Science Geek” Miss California — talks about “believing” in evolution. You don’t “believe” in evolution the same way you don’t “believe” in gravity. It’s science. It just is.

Not that you’d know that in S.G. The school board here is too terrified of pitchfork-wielding parents to take a stand in favor of kids receiving a real (sane) education. So we get to learn the “theory” (see above, rinse and repeat) of evolution side by side with creationism, aka Intelligent Design. Bring up the fact that evolution is proven science in biology — a science class, last time I checked — and the teacher just looks nervous and tries to change the subject. It’s not because she doesn’t “believe” in it, or that there are too many “perspectives” to cover. It’s that she knows if she so much as suggests that little Faith McBiblethumper absolutely and without a doubt has a monkey for an ancestor and wasn’t personally hand-tailored by God himself, Mr. and Mrs. McBiblethumper, pillars of the community who also happen to own half the town, will have her head on a tastefully decorated pike.

I love you, evolution — I just wish you were happening a liiiiittle bit faster. Le sigh.

I♥NY

Jon Stewart vs. ‘the most consistently misinformed media viewers’

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Jon Stewart?

Chris Wallace rejected the premise, arguing that Fox News viewers “aren’t the least bit disappointed” with what their preferred network does. Stewart’s response was an important one.

“In polls,” Stewart said, in a surprisingly angry tone, “who are the most consistently misinformed media viewers? The most consistently misinformed? Fox. Fox viewers. Consistently. Every poll.”

Wallace then changed the subject.

via Political Animal – The ‘most consistently misinformed media viewers’.

God knows the “consistently misinformed” part is especially true here in S.G., where Birtherism still runs rampant, “Obamacare” is still maligned because of those death panels we’ll all be facing once we join AARP, Creationism is still championed because Evolution is just a “theory,” after all (double your stupid, double your fun!) — and one leading light in the community recently petitioned the school board to teach Sarah Palin’s version of Paul Revere’s ride.

Get me out of here!!

When Art Imitates (Pro-)Life

So, the LA Times had a post about a couple of anti-abortion movies looking for distributors despite Hollywood’s well-documented liberal bias. I’m going to try to contain my eye-rolling that in one, the evil abortionist is named Dr. Reaper, and in the other, the anti-abortion doctor is named Dr. Wise. Christ, the last time I saw symbolism that ham-handed, it was when I was forced to read “Young Goodman Brown” in English. (In Hawthorne’s defense, it was a long time ago and… You know what, screw it, nothing justifies a line like “My Faith is gone!”)

But what strikes me is this quote from Kenneth Del Vecchio, who wrote “The Life Zone”: “The clear message I’m sending as the filmmaker is that abortion is evil… Generally speaking, filmmakers, executives and actors hold very liberal points of view and this isn’t a topic that’s of interest to them. But I don’t care what Hollywood thinks.”

The implication here is that Hollywood is peddling abortion to the impressionable masses, and the combo deal at the multiplex now grants the recipient a bathtub-size soda, enough popcorn to choke a horse, and a 50-percent-off coupon for babykilling.

And you can sure see that pro-abortion, kill-the-fetus spirit in Knocked Up… No, wait, that didn’t happen. Well, in Juno… Nope, not there either. Hmm. Research time. To the internet!

Turns out almost every mainstream Hollywood movie or TV show that depicts unwanted pregnancy ends with the woman choosing to have the baby, OR with her having to pay dearly for it physically and/or emotionally if she chooses to terminate. You have to go back to Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982 –that’s 29 years ago) for an instance of a movie abortion that didn’t scar the woman (or the poor, beleaguered man forced to provide services to the wanton slut) for life. So yeah, clearly Hollywood is allllll about peddling abortion!

Here’s the thing, folks: Teenagers have sex, no matter how many adults tell us not to. They always have. And I’m not saying that’s always a good thing — let me tell you, there are plenty of people in my class who should not be passing on their genetic material to future generations — but it happens. And sometimes — especially when all knowledge of and access to contraception is blocked — someone ends up pregnant.

And when that happens, I can tell you that a hell of a lot of the pious, pearl-clutching parents of our lovely burg discover a bit of wiggle room in their stance on abortion. The whole school knew that our head cheerleader didn’t suffer from a recurring case of stomach flu last year after she and the quarterback knocked boots at the Homecoming dance. Three months and one sick day later, praise Jeebus, she’s miraculously cured!

And those girls aren’t skulking off, shame-faced, to some back-alley clinic to “take care of things.” Nope, mommy and daddy pack up the Range Rover and drive them to a discreet doctor, because they don’t want their darling daughters to “throw their lives away.”

Meanwhile, these same parents are advocating for this billboard to go up on the side of town where their maids and gardeners live. Because if any of those girls — you know, the poor, brown ones — get knocked up, well, its their own damn fault for being such irresponsible sluts, and they have to live with the consequences of their actions. And besides, they don’t have futures to throw away, right? Their future involves pushing out more babies and cleaning our houses in order to (barely) support them…just like God intended!

(*FOREHEAD SMACK*)

Pawlenty chokes

Former Minnesota governor and GOP presidential contender Tim Pawlenty has been ever so proud of himself for coming up with a cunning slam on the assumed front-runner in the nomination race, former Massachusetts governor Mitch Romney, on the Sunday talk shows:

“Obamneycare” — priceless! He’s saying Mitch Romney is just like that socialist Kenyan Barack Obama! Ooooh, burn!

So naturally, the world at large expected Pawlenty to trot out the term at every opportunity, or at least mount a serious attack on Romney, at last night’s GOP debate. But then Pawlenty realized that Romney was standing right over there. And, like a small furry animal who senses a fox out hunting, he froze:

I love Romney’s expression during this exchange. He’s mentally picking his teeth with Pawlenty’s tiny, tiny bones. And Pawlenty? He just rolled over and exposed his belly to the Alpha Dog.

If these people stumble over each other, I can’t wait to see them dissolve into puddles of quivering goo when they’re actually confronted by Obama’s debating skills. Good luck in 2016, folks!

We interrupt these political rants…

… to tell you that Super 8 is fantastic. Go see it. Now.

Weinergate

I think we can all agree that Anthony Weiner is an idiot. In fact, he’s one of a long line of political idiots. And no matter how much I agree with his politics, I can’t ignore his idiocy. He’s a schmuck.

But here’s the thing — I kind of don’t care. As far as I can tell, all of the sexting was consensual, and everyone involved was an adult. There’s the question of what kind of asshole opens his wife up to that kind of humiliation, and that’s not something I can answer. If I were married to him, he’d be experiencing a very different kind of crotch shot right about now. But I’m not his wife, and I don’t know what sort of rules their relationship has. Not every marriage is built on monogamy.

“But Leah,” you say, “aren’t you always howling with rage when a conservative politician gets caught with his pants down? What kind of a double standard do you have? If you hate Mark Sanford for flying down to Rio (okay, it was Buenos Aires) to rendezvous with his mistress, you’ve got to hate Anthony Weiner for sexting. Otherwise, you’re a hypocrite!”

But that word — hypocrite — is why I don’t think Weinergate is on the same level as Sanfordgate or Craiggate or any of the other Conservative Politiciangate sex scandals. Because Weiner never ran on policing morality. He doesn’t sponsor bills that punish women who get pregnant or raped, or LGBTQ couples who want to marry. He seems to think that what goes on in peoples’ bedrooms is their own damn business. And because he does that courtesy for me, I’ll do it for him.

So yes, he’s an idiot. And yes, I’m pissed — mainly because it seems absurd to me that these guys are so deluded by power that they NEVER think they’ll get caught with their pants down (literally). But this brand of idiocy? I don’t know if that impacts Mr. Weiner’s ability to do his job. So no, I don’t think he should resign. I think he should do everything in his power to make things up to his wife, but I don’t think he should quit his job. And it’s not because I hold him to a different standard than I do conservative politicians. It’s because I hold him to the same standard that he hold his constituents.

Sarah Palin supporters attempt to change history

Ah, Sarah Palin… where do I even start? By now you know about her ridiculous version of American history that had Paul Revere trash-talking the British like a bellicose Red Sox fan:

And you probably also know that she defended her remarks, refusing to acknowledge that she was dead wrong. When Chris Matthews on Fox News called her on her flub, she said “Part of Paul Revere’s ride… was to warn the British that were already there, that ‘Hey, you are not going to succeed. You’re not going to take American arms. You are not going to beat our own well-armed persons, individual private militia that we have.'”

And that’s Doh!-inducing enough. But it gets worse: Some Palin supporters have apparently been trying to rewrite the Wikipedia article on Paul Revere to support her version of events. They are literaly trying to rewrite history to make it more palatable for their bespectacled demigod. Check out the discussion page of the Paul Revere entry to see the argument.

And, as an added bonus, take a look at this brilliant HuffPo gallery of Palin quotes as enacted by teen girls. Because seriously, she sounds younger and brattier than most of the airheads at my school — and that’s saying something.

Egyptian general admits ‘virginity checks’ conducted on protesters – CNN.com

“We didn’t want them to say we had sexually assaulted or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren’t virgins in the first place,” the general said. “None of them were (virgins).”

via Egyptian general admits ‘virginity checks’ conducted on protesters – CNN.com.

Just off the top of my head, there are four things wrong with that statement:

  1. Are they really saying women who aren’t virgins can’t be raped?
  2. Isn’t a forced “virginity check” a kind of sexual assault?
  3. Were the men protesting asked to prove they were virgins?
  4. Why the hell would the anyone protesting have to be a virgin in the first place? What does that have to do with anything?

Seriously, WTF?