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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Aw PETA, Really?

My student showed me this ad today.  As the owner of 2 dogs and 2 cats, I support the fair and ethical treatment of animals.  However, using a metaphor of sexual violence to encourage vegan-ism is appalling.  Why is this being done on the backs of women?  Further down their page you will see http://www.bwvaktboom.com/Tips.aspx This provides tips for women on how virile their vegan boyfriends will be.  I just don’t get it.  And what is this trend of progressive or so-called good organizations (PETA, Susan G. Komen) either being just plain stupid in their marketing or not thinking about how their decisions will affect those who support their work?  Who is on their PR or marketing teams?  Maybe they should fire all of them and make some job opportunities for progressives who get the big picture and don’t believe that promoting violence against women is the way to promote not eating meat. 

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Oppression Renamed

As I’m making the slow drive to New Hampshire last Friday to see one of my besties home from Switzerland, I am listening to the “breaking news” on NPR about Obama’s plan to allow ALL women to obtain birth control in the year of our Lord, 2012. 

In a political move called compromise, the President bows slightly to the right and instead puts the onus on the insurance companies to cover the costs of women’s birth control.  If you haven’t followed the story, a quick recap:  Obama wanted to give all women in the U.S. birth control coverage under their health insurance no matter who was funding that insurance.  Previously, if a woman worked for a Catholic owned (or other religious affiliated institution)  organization, they could set up the health insurance to only provide services that did not conflict with their religious views and beliefs. 

The compromise forces insurance companies, who are contracted with these religious institutions, to cover the birth control so the organization won’t feel as if it’s “religious freedom” is being messed with.   The outcry by bishops was all the rage that Friday as I drove slowly toward Rt. 3 North.  And this outrage was expressed soley as Obama messing with religious freedom, the very foundation of our country.

Hmmmm.  So let’s break this down.  We are forcing the Catholic Church, the majority of whose female members USE birth control, to allow insurance companies to provide this birth control. I didn’t hear any women complaining about this.  The only people whining on the radio where men who felt that their religious freedom was being called into question.  Statistically speaking, Catholics are also the highest percentage of any religious group to get abortions.  (I wonder if this is connected to their inability to obtain birth control).

I am very uncomfortable with the term “religious freedom” being used in this matter.  For me, religious freedom allows anyone in this country to practice whatever religion they choose.  It does not, however, allow an institution like the Catholic Church to supersede federal laws providing equity for the protected class of women in this country. 

And lastly, because you know I could really drone on and on about this topic, I ask when will the Catholic Church and some of these right wing fundamental organizations come in to the 21st century and realize that controlling one’s family size and fertility should be in no way connected to anything religious?  This is an economic issue and one that speaks to the very core of women’s equality.  If a woman is not allowed to choose when and if to have a family she cannot be considered equal. 

This whole topic is ONLY a debate because it lies on the backs and belly’s of women.  I keep thinking this issue of reproductive rights will be resolved in my lifetime, but as I add 43 to my birth years, I am amazed at how now we are pitting reproductive rights opposite religious freedom.  It’s time the male leaders of the Catholic Church step back and leave women’s bodies out of their doctrine. 

And while I am not happy with Obama’s compromise, I have to give him credit for actually giving a damn that women weren’t getting equal coverage in birth control.  He’s the first one to take this on and that itself is worthy of note.

If You’re Not a Feminist, Then You’re a Bigot by Gloria Allred

I happened upon the funny video “Sh*t White Feminists Say” and after it finished, saw the Gloria Allred video come up in the feed on the side and clicked on it. She is basically saying that feminism is  about human rights and social justice and if you’re not for those issues, then you are against human rights and social justice, making you a bigot.

I really like her comment dismissing “we’ve come a long way” in that we need to be looking at a vision to where we should be rather than what we have accomplished. But what is amazing to me about this video are the comments below it. My first question is, if you were anti-feminist, why would you even spend time watching a video about feminism? Why is there such vile hatred for someone working for social justice? The descriptors below her include comments like “cunt” and “I don’t think she swallows.”

What does someone’s sexual acts in bed have to do with their politics? Who are these people cruising You Tube and making random comments on these videos? Furthermore, the comments about humanism are also frustrating. If one is to look up the definition of humanism, it is “an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns, attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters.” It is more about being an atheist than being someone for equal rights.

I guess I shouldn’t be so astonished, in this day when a backlash against women seems to be clearer than the one Susan Faludi wrote about in 1992. A new documentary that is sweeping Women’s Studies Programs and Women’s Centers, Miss Representation demonstrates how little women are represented in the news, in the mainstream media, in children’s books and in movies. And when they are represented, they are depicted as female bombshells with no brains, characterized only by their supposed beauty. This film is also promoting DOING something about the lack of women. Their tagline “You can’t be what you can’t see” makes sense.

For this year’s Superbowl their blog promoted a #NotBuyingIt campaign where people could tweet their dislike of commercials that were sexist. The biggest offender so far is GoDaddy. I’m glad something is finally being done about this in a pro-active way, but those few followers of my blog know I’ve been harping on this representation piece for years.

Maybe I’m just starting to become old and jaded a week before my 43rd birthday. Maybe I’m becoming tired of feeling like it’s always three steps forward and two steps back. Maybe working at university means I’m always educating the same group of students year after year who come to me with the same cultural biases and brainwashing. Maybe change isn’t happening fast enough for my lifetime and I don’t want to die wondering if we’ll ever get an ERA.

But I promise to try to keep writing, even though once a week is clearly a challenge for this blogger. And for today, I’m with Gloria Allred.

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critical reflections on my feminist praxis: activism, motherhood, and life

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Providing weekly critiques of theatre, film, books, politics and pop culture from a feminist perspective.