Tag Archives: feminism

Feminist Win of the Week: Privilege and MMORPGs

20 May

John Scalzi has a nice piece on heterosexual white male privilege over at Whatever – check it out here. His follow-up article is worth a read, too. I think his massive MMORPG role playing game analogy is an accessible one.




Heritage Keepers Abstinence Education is “Evidence-Based.” Also, Unicorns Are Real

2 May

The Department of Health and Human Services recently released an updated list of “evidence-based” programs for teen pregnancy prevention. Since we have apparently been plopped into an alternate universe where “evidence-based” means exactly the opposite of what it sounds like, the Heritage Keepers Abstinence Education program somehow made the list, despite a glaring lack of support in peer-reviewed research literature.

No surprise about the lack of effectiveness. A few choice quotes from the Heritage Keepers Student Manual, pulled from RH Reality Check’s piece on the curriculum:

  • “Males and females are aroused at different levels of intimacy. Males are more sight orientated whereas females are more touch orientated… This is why girls need to be careful with what they wear, because males are looking! The girl might be thinking fashion, while the boy is thinking sex. For this reason, girls have a responsibility to wear modest clothing that doesn’t invite lustful thoughts.” (Heritage Keepers, Student Manual, p. 46)
  • Sex is like fire. Inside the appropriate boundary of marriage, sex is a great thing! Outside of marriage, sex can be dangerous.” (Heritage Keeper, Student Manual, p. 22)
  • “Cohabitation (when two people live together before marriage) is not like marriage! [Heritage Keepers, p. 30] When couples live together outside of marriage, the relationships are weaker, more violent, less [equal], and more likely to lead to divorce” (Heritage Keepers, Student Manual, p. 26)
  • “One reason may be that when people bond closely through sexual activity, then break up and bond with someone else, and then someone else, it may become increasingly difficult to maintain a lasting bond.” (Heritage Keepers, Teacher Manual, p. 56)
  • Young men are asked to envision their wedding day: “The doors swing open and there stands your bride in her white dress…This is the woman you have waited for (remained abstinent for) who has waited for you…This woman loves you and trusts you with all that she is and all that she has. You want to be strong, respectful and courageous for her. With all your heart, you want to protect her, and by waiting (sexually) you have.” (Heritage Keepers, Student Manual, p. 59)
  • Young women are asked to envision their wedding day: “Everything is just as you have seen it in a million daydreams…” When the bride takes her father’s arm: “Your true love stands at the front. This is the man who you have waited for (remained abstinent for) and who has waited for you…This man wants to be strong and courageous for you, to cherish and protect you… You are ready to trust him with all that you have and all that you are, because you have waited (sexually) you have it all to give.” (Heritage Keepers, Student Manual, p. 49)

Gross, gross, gross, gross. What was the Obama administration thinking? This program drips with dated gender attitudes, unsubstantiated (and often blatantly false) claims about the dangers of premarital sex, heterosexism, and slut-shaming. Even if Heritage Keepers somehow manages to produce scientific support of the caliber expected for other programs on the “evidence based” list (very unlikely), its deeply problematic premise and language choices make it an unacceptable choice for schools or any other public sphere. Punching someone in the mouth may be an effective way to remove teeth, but dentists don’t use it in practice because it’s damaging, unethical, and a generally crappy thing to do. Again, I doubt Heritage Keepers will ever prove its effectiveness in peer-reviewed literature, but regardless of research outcome, I sincerely hope the Department of Health and Human Services recognizes its error and pulls its endorsement for a program that should never have received serious consideration in the first place.

Speaking of Paula Deen… Feminist Win of the Week

29 Jan

I was kind of appalled by Josh Ozersky’s piece in this week’s Time titled “Grease Under Fire: Paula Deen parlays just deserts [sic] into a sweet deal.” And not just by the uncharacteristic typo in the title. (Just deserts?) A few choice quotes (emphasis mine):

It’s probably safe to say that few of her viewers were surprised when down-home-cooking doyenne Paula Deen announced on Jan. 17 that she has Type 2 diabetes.”

The woman just didn’t care; she was going to deep-fry some Twinkies, and that was the end of it. The result, just as our mothers told us, was predictable. ‘Paula Deen was going to have some kind of health problem,’ says New York City chef Franklin Becker… ‘It might not have been diabetes, but it would have been something. If you cook that way, if you eat that way, you’re going to get issues.‘”

“The truth is that Deen has some real questions to answer, and she hasn’t done a good job so far. It’s one thing to be diagnosed with diabetes after you’ve built a career promoting bacon-wrapped mac and cheese and other I-dare-you dishes that contribute to obesity, a risk factor for developing the disease. But Al Roker, speaking for tortured dieters everywhere, asked her on the Today show why she took so long to tell people the news…”

“Paula Deen, after cooking all the wrong things so well and for so long, doesn’t seem to feel any guilt at all.”

Notice any themes? I should note that Ozersky doesn’t paint Deen entirely as a demon, and he admits a grudging respect for what he describes as Deen’s “freewheeling indifference to health concerns.” The issue of Time in which this article appeared also included a quote from chef Anthony Bourdain in the Briefing section: “‘When your signature dish is hamburger in between a doughnut and you’ve been cheerfully selling this stuff knowing all along that you’ve got Type 2 diabetes… It’s in bad taste.'”

Credit: Time

Ozersky’s article – and the implications of Bourdain’s quote – really bother me. The language is damning and weight-shaming, and it conveys a poor understanding of how Type 2 diabetes works. The tone is unattractively gleeful – how funny is it that this woman got diabetes? – and the utter lack of compassion makes me cringe. The self-righteous grousing about Deen’s unwillingness to immediately disclose her diabetes diagnosis is also inexplicable to me. Does Bourdain have a blog somewhere in which he lists all of his health problems? Couldn’t find it, but I guess it must be out there somewhere. There’s also an implicit assumption that Deen eats exactly as she cooks on TV. Do you honestly think this woman has time to make homemade fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits every night? Do you know how long that stuff takes to make? I joked about eating peanut butter pie at Paula’s house in my last post, but I am fully aware that she’s a celebrity with a TV show, guest judging gigs, book deals, a magazine, speaking engagements, and a business empire. I doubt she spends a ton of time at home, much less making gravy from scratch when off air.

I could go on, but I think Susan over at Persephone Mag does a much better job than I could of addressing the problems inherent to the current media dialogue around Paula Deen’s illness. Check out her excellent takedown here: http://persephonemagazine.com/2012/01/takedown-paula-deen-abetes/

If that doesn’t constitute a feminist win of the week, I don’t know what does.

Feminist Win of the Week: The Where Do You Stand? Campaign

16 Jan

I get really, really sick of sexual assault prevention campaigns that are targeted toward women. My undergraduate residence hall required me to participate in a certain number of educational events each year, and one of the annual events offered was always a women’s “rape prevention” seminar led by our university’s chief of police. The seminar focused on what we ladies were supposed to be doing to protect ourselves: keeping our keys between our knuckles when we walked around at night, keeping our drinks with us at ALL TIMES when at bars or parties to avoid potential roofies, wearing modest clothing, and carrying a rape whistle. Complimentary rape whistles were passed around, we applauded politely, and we left  with the comforting knowledge that we were now immune to rape.

Not. Women’s “rape prevention” is an idiotic, dangerous concept that perpetuates victim-blaming, makes women (and men) less likely to speak up after being sexually assaulted, and impedes prosecution of rapists. The vast majority of sexual assaults on women are not stranger rapes; they’re committed by men that women know and trust. Baggy clothes and a hand over your drink aren’t going to do you a lick of good if a rapist is already inside your house, sitting in his usual place on your couch. As a society, we need to spend less time and resources teaching potential victims how to “avoid” rape, and more time and resources teaching men how to recognize sexual assault and how to prevent it. Most men who commit sexual assault don’t consider themselves rapists afterward (check out the stats here); a “rapist” is someone who roofies drinks or attacks women in dark alleys, not someone who decides that a woman is radiating nonverbal come-hither signs and is playing hard-to-get by saying no. Men live in a media culture permeated with the idea that guys are supposed to take the lead when it comes to sex and that a woman’s “no” is most likely an eventual “yes.” I don’t know why we continue to be surprised by the depressingly high sexual assault rates in our country when we do so little to teach men how to appropriately initiate and respond in sexual situations and help their friends do the same.

That’s why I’m really loving the new Where Do You Stand? ad campaign over at mencanstoprape.org, which urges men to recognize and stop behaviors associated with sexual assault. These posters model specific bystander interventions that inform young men what they can do, implicitly convey what types of behaviors are unacceptable, and portray the modeled interventions as actions fit for men with strength, self-confidence, and integrity. This isn’t the first ad campaign Men Can Stop Rape has produced, but it’s by far my favorite. Men Can Stop Rape also offers trainings and action guides for college campuses interested in expanding on the materials in a systemic way. Props to an excellent organization for a much-needed campaign. I would love to see these posters plastered all over my town.

Feminist Win of the Week: “Binge Drinking, Straw Man Arguments, and Rape Prevention”

22 Dec

Check out this great piece by Feministing’s Zerlina on victim-blaming and her own experiences with rape: http://feministing.com/2011/12/22/binge-drinking-straw-man-arguments-and-rape-prevention/.

Zerlina does an especially nice job of addressing the problems inherent to the concept of “rape prevention.” Definitely worth a read.

Worth Checking Out: World Pulse

7 Dec

I was recently introduced to World Pulse (www.worldpulse.com) by a friend who has been working through the organization to improve women’s access to education and healthcare in her hometown in rural Uganda. People, World Pulse is cool. It’s a self-described worldwide media and connection network devoted to helping women find a global voice. WP offers training and resources to grassroots women journalists and provides online and printed forums for their stories. Women from over 185 countries use PulseWire, an interactive community resource, to connect with other women, find jobs and resources, and start new programs and businesses. The World Pulse Action Center (http://worldpulse.com/action), described as a “global bulletin board,” lists requests for volunteers, mentors, tutors, investments, and donated items or services. If you’d like a way to generate significant positive change for women all over the world  but don’t have the funds to make significant donations, the Action Center provides plenty of meaningful opportunities to share your talents or time without making financial commitments (although those are welcome too). I’m inspired by World Pulse and the women who make their voices heard on its forums, and if you take the time to check it out, I bet you’ll be inspired too.

Feminist Win of the Week: Response to “Put Me in Charge”

22 Nov

A friend in my program recently got me hooked on Persephone Magazine (http://persephonemagazine.com/), and I’ve been consistently impressed with the blog’s fresh take on feminist issues, politics, entertainment, and everything in between. Yesterday, contributor Malyksha wrote a fantastic response to an incredibly small-minded, arrogant, misguided piece of writing (to put it mildly) that has been circulating the internet lately. Check out her post here: http://persephonemagazine.com/2011/11/put-me-in-charge/


%d bloggers like this: