Here's an old school response to sexism that unfortunately is still relevant today.
"A lost D.H. Lawrence essay in which the famed author issued a major takedown to a misogynistic contemporary has been found in a library in New Zealand."
Lawrence was the author of classic novels such as Lady Chatterley's Lover and Women in Love. Regarding the newly-discovered essay:
"Lawrence wrote the piece some time in late 1923 or early 1924 in response to an essay published in Adelphi, a literary magazine ... That essay, which ran under the byline 'JHR,' was a viciously misogynistic treatise called 'The Ugliness of Women.' Its author argued that 'in every woman born there is a seed of terrible, unmentionable evil: evil such as man — a simple creature for all his passions and lusts — could never dream of in the most horrible of nightmares, could never conceive in imagination. ... No doubt, the evil growth is derived from Eve, who certainly did or thought something wicked beyond words.'"
Here's an excerpt of Lawrence's enlightened response:
After the recent Comedy Central roast of actor James Franco, Sarah Silverman admitted to having her self-esteem take a hit as the roast devolved into jokes about her "advanced" age. She discusses her reaction during an interview on W. Kamau Bell’s Totally Biased.
"Me being old, first of all, at the roast? — completely took me by surprise … Because it's personal, that is just so woman-based. I wasn't even the oldest one on that dais. I'm the same age as fresh-faced new star W. Kamau Bell! I feel like it's a part of, as soon as a woman gets to an age where she has opinions and she's vital and she's strong, she's systematically shamed into hiding under a rock. And this is by progressive pop-culture people! You know what I mean? It's really odd! I feel bad that it cut me. Because I should be like this about it (brushing her hand off her shoulder). I feel like your joke is that I'm still alive. My crime is not dying.
And I feel like, I just did this special and it made me think of something I said, which was — to so many women, especially when I watch Real Housewives — (muffled, through gritted teeth) which I watch, I wish I didn't, but I do — I just want to say, 'Your heartbreaking attempts to look younger is the reason your daughter doesn't dream about her future!'"
Watch the interview here:
The Christian Science Monitor looks beyond the "pro-life" rhetoric to the actual financial impact on women and children due to efforts to end abortion:
"Members of the pro-life movement spend countless dollars and hours on rallies and lobbying without providing adequate financial and emotional support for women to actually maintain pregnancies. And the majority of women who have abortions cite not being able to afford a child as one of the main reasons for their decision. ...
"So while pro-life Americans spend millions of dollars on events geared toward making abortion illegal, there were 1.16 million women who came to the conclusion in 2009 ... that they could not carry their child to term – many of them because of money. ...
"The Guttmacher Institute’s statistics show that abortion rates are higher in countries where it is illegal and procedures are often unsafe. Even more disheartening are statistics ... which showed that women who sought abortions and were turned away (because they had passed their state's gestational limits) were three times more likely to fall into poverty than women who obtained an abortion. ...
"A woman’s decision to have an abortion often stems from a very real and legitimate fear that she will not be able to care for a child. Pro-life supporters and activists spend incredibly large sums to take away that decision, but do not provide the equivalent practical support women need to have a baby. Is that really a fight for life? Or just a fight for a long sought-after political goal? It’s time the pro-life movement focuses its resources more on helping women and babies, not gaining legislative power that ultimately will do little to protect the unborn."
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a renowned Nigerian novelist. She gave a powerful presentation at TEDxEuston entitled "We Should All Be Feminists". This is an excerpt from her speech:
Watch the full presentation here:
No matter how accomplished or how talented a woman is, her appearance is always treated as relevant. Here's one example. BBC tennis commentator, John Inverdale, had this to say about France's Marion Bartoli who just won Wimbledon's women's singles title:
"I just wonder if her dad, because he has obviously been the most influential person in her life, did say to her when she was 12, 13, 14 maybe, 'listen, you are never going to be, you know, a looker. You are never going to be somebody like a [Maria] Sharapova, you're never going to be 5ft 11, you're never going to be somebody with long legs, so you have to compensate for that."
Bartoli took this powerful swing in response:
It’s time to declare independence, to separate ourselves from the bad habits, the stifling expectations, and the negative messages that no longer serve us (assuming they ever did).
It’s time to declare independence from media messages that tell us we’re ugly if we don’t look like the “flawless” images of celebrities on the screen and in the magazines. It’s time to stop buying into the manipulation and stop wasting time trying to chase an illusion that doesn’t even exist.
It’s time to declare independence from the belief that having the perfect body will make us worthy of love and respect. We’re already worthy of love and respect in the bodies we have now — no amount of weight loss or plastic surgery will increase our value.
It’s time to declare independence from dieting, from deprivation, from seeing food as the enemy. The American weight loss industry makes nearly $60 billion a year trying to convince us that we’re not good enough — if diets worked, would these companies be this profitable? It’s time to stop contributing to their false sense of hope.
It’s time to declare independence from body loathing, from looking at our bodies with disgust instead of love. It’s time to appreciate all of the amazing things they do for us — the jiggly arms that give great hugs, the flabby thighs that carry us through the park, the droopy breasts that fed a child, the wounded heart that still knows how to love, the exhausted brain that still manages to tell our lungs to breathe.
It’s time to declare independence from the oppressive labels of virgin or whore, straight or gay, feminine or masculine, and all the shades in between. Our number of sex partners do not define us. Our sexuality does not define us. Our gender identity does not define us. These traits can’t possibly define what kind of person we are or what’s in our hearts or our minds. Any attempt by others to claim otherwise is an attempt to control us, to police our behavior, and to shame us so that they don’t have to examine their own ignorance and fear.
It’s time to declare independence from the belief that women can bring sexual assault upon ourselves based on how provocatively we’re dressed, how flirty we act, or how drunk we get. The only ones responsible for rapists' behavior are rapists themselves. We have the right not to be blamed when others hurt us, and we have the right to feel safe in the world.
It’s time to declare independence from legislators who think the female body should be controlled by wealthy, middle-aged, white, Christian, conservative men. Our bodies belong to us — it’s time to declare our freedom to make our own decisions about them. Because if we cannot, then we are truly not equal citizens and this country is not as free it claims to be.
It’s time to declare independence from spending so much time, energy, and money trying to fit into someone else’s idea of who they think we should be. It’s time to put ourselves first, to focus on our own desires and do what we think is right. It’s time to trust our own instincts and make ourselves proud.
It’s time to declare independence from shame, from the belief that we’re not good enough, not beautiful enough, not thin enough, not smart enough, not clever enough, not sexy enough, not pure enough, not feminine enough, not worthy enough. It’s time to declare that we are already enough — that we are perfectly imperfect exactly as we are.
It’s time to declare our independence from any force that tries to hold us down — including those forces that limit us from within.
Ryan Gosling discusses the controversy from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) regarding a scene in the movie Blue Valentine in which his character performed oral sex on Michelle Williams' character. Due to this scene, the MPAA tried to give it an NC-17 rating instead of an R -- a rating which would spell death in theaters. The MPAA eventually backed down after pressure from the Weinstein Company (they purchased the indie film after it received buzz at the Sundance Film Festival). The quote below was part of an interview which inspired the popular "Feminist Ryan Gosling" "Hey girl" memes and resulting book.
Watch the interview here.
About the song:
"'Empowering young women … it’s a concept that is near and dear to my heart,' says Bareilles, who recalls terrible experiences in middle school. 'I love seeing those girls [in the video] just kind of be themselves on camera and be free and liberated.'"
She also said that "the lyrics were inspired by a close friend who is struggling with coming out. 'There's so much honor and integrity and beauty in being able to be who you are,' Bareilles explains about her motivations. She wrote the track with Jack Antonoff of Fun., who explained that there's a 'need for a civil rights anthem,' which is what they're calling the pop song."
Grave of Leonard Matlovich (1943-1988) -- Vietnam War veteran, race relations instructor, & recipient of the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. From Wikipedia:
"Matlovich was the first gay service member to purposely out himself to the military to fight their ban on gays and perhaps the best-known gay man in America in the 1970s next to Harvey Milk. ... His tombstone, meant to be a memorial to all gay veterans, does not bear his name. It reads, 'When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.'"
... nor will I allow others to treat me as if this is all I am:
- - a uterus
- - a collection of body parts
- - a vagina
- - a piece of ass
- - a pair of tits
- - a victim
- - public property
- - a virgin
- - a whore
- - a "before" photo
- - a body to legislate
- - a sexual object
Artist uses Photoshop to remove Barbie's & Bratz dolls' makeup:
“Dolls heavily influence the way that young girls want to look. And so, in my opinion, less is more. I hope that my work inspires toy companies to give dolls a more natural look. If the dolls look good without makeup, what's the point of putting makeup on them in the first place?"
See more at Bust Magazine.
The media's treatment of women as sex objects is a ubiquitous fact of life. Advertisements, fashion spreads, comic books, movie posters -- nearly everywhere you look, women are shown in various stages of undress and posed in positions that make them look vulnerable, submissive, and sexually available. Conversely, men are depicted in positions of power or dominance, e.g., standing while a woman is reclining, being fully clothed while she's undressed, etc. These differences reinforce inequality between the sexes. Really, how powerful can a woman feel when she's half-naked and awkwardly contorted?
It's an interesting social experiment to see what happens when men are placed in these typical "female" poses.
The image below features two Vanity Fair covers: the top one with fully-clothed fashion designer Tom Ford, along with a nude Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johansson; and the bottom one is a Vanity Fair spoof of their own cover with a fully-clothed Paul Rudd and a pretend-nude Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, and Jason Segel. In a separate issue, Vanity Fair also did a photo spread with comedians Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, and Tina Fey, but posed them as typical sex objects. As Entertainment Weekly asks, would it be "... just as uproarious if some of those ladies vamped ironically in body stockings[?] ... Men being objectified is so silly as to be hilarious, but it’s better if funny women are also hot."
Here's a similar set of images showing nude female models huddled together and then one with the guys from the "Jackass" TV series and movies:
The following "men-ups" were created by photographer Rion Sabean to parody classic pin-up poses. According to Rion, his work focuses on "... gender and sexuality, wherein I attempt to bring light to the scrutiny and judgments of a society that defines human beings under rigid, antiquated terms."
Artist Paul Richmond created a similar series from a gay male perspective. "I began the Cheesecake Boys series to rectify the inequalities in the underwear-flashing art genre known as pin-up," said Richmond.
Here's Richmond explaining how he came up with the concept, along with more examples of his work:
Fantasy author Jim Hines parodied women's poses on the covers of fantasy novels by trying to replicate the poses himself. (He also did a series posing like the men on romance novel covers). "... [M]ost of these covers are supposed to convey strong, sexy heroines, but these are not poses that suggest strength. You can’t fight from these stances. I could barely even walk," said Hines.
Do these images look ridiculous? Silly? Maybe even homoerotic? Once men are placed in the same sexualized poses that women are traditionally seen in, it becomes clear how absurd -- and sexist -- these poses truly are.
"In the survey, Jane Smith and Dan Jones are pitted against each other in a race for Congress. Both have similar backgrounds, and after reading their bios the survey respondents prefer Jane slightly, 49-48.
"Then they read a second story. In one version of the story, there's no physical description of either candidate, and Jane's lead stays pretty much the same. In a second version, there's a neutral description of Jane's appearance. Suddenly she's 5 points behind Dan. In a third version, there's a positive description of her appearance. Now she's 13 points behind Dan. A fourth version that contains a negative description has about the same effect.
"In other words, any description hurts Jane. And any non-neutral description, even a positive one, just kills her. This is why even a complimentary comment ... is both inappropriate and damaging in a professional setting. It primes people to think of a woman's appearance, and that's apparently enough to keep them from thinking about her actual qualifications. You will be unsurprised to learn that this effect is strongest among men."
Read more at Mother Jones.
There are 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system, 115,000-130,000 of whom are eligible to be adopted. With all the "pro-life" rhetoric we hear, where's the moral outrage about their lives? Many of these children aren't the "popular" kinds to adopt (i.e., healthy, white infants), but instead are older kids, or racial minorities, or they have disabilities or were victims of abuse.
Instead of protesting a woman's right to make decisions about her own body & her own life, instead of protesting outside of abortion clinics & treating women's personal healthcare decisions as if they're fair game for public scrutiny ... why don't those who claim to be "pro-life" direct all this energy onto making sure children who are already born get loving families? Why don't they adopt or foster children themselves (especially the harder-to-place kids)? Why don't they advocate for gay adoption? Why don't they stop supporting abstinence-only sex education (which has been proven to be highly ineffective) & minimize the number of unwanted children in the first place? Why don't they protest against legislation that cuts funding for food & services for poor children?
Because if you ignore all of the above & merely want to outlaw abortion, you're really not "pro-life" -- you're just pro-birth.Sources: