Mixed Emotions About the Royal Wedding

I’m a woman, raised on Disney princesses and engagement ring commercials, same as you. Happily Ever After was sold to me as more than just a concept, but an end game. And this week the world paid witness to the real-life fairy tale of a prince and princess getting married. The media went ape shit, Twitter crashed, and I desperately sought out an alternative. The whole thing kinda pissed me off.

Don’t get me wrong, I love love, and even at my most feminist I’ll defend a woman’s right to throw a big party, wear a gorgeous white dress and change her name, if that’s what she wants. My wedding was everything I wanted it to be, and every day I appreciate the commitment and permanence of marriage. But I can’t help but wince a little when the world decrees the most important thing, like, ever, a big, fancy wedding. For weeks, devastating natural disasters, killed American soldiers and a drowning economy have been overshadowed by two kids in England getting married. On CNN, the most ridiculous, racist (borderline treason) political campaigns against the President of the United States are glossed over, while a photo gallery of wedding dress contenders takes up half an hour.

It’s this obsession with marriage that irks me. Correction, it’s this obsession with an idyllic wealthy, white man and woman getting married that irks me. I’m not hating on William and Kate, bless them. But when was the last time you saw the media go ga ga over a minority union, inter-racial marriage or gay marriage for that matter? I also hate the force-feeding of Happily Ever After (see, still going on) to women around the world. The global focus on this wedding reinforces the most anti-feminist message around: Get married, ladies, and all your dreams will come true. Not only is this snagging-a-man mission insulting to both genders, but it devalues the greatness of women as individuals. How about all your dreams can come true because you can make them come true, diamond ring or not?

SF Talking Points: Gender Confines

White House To Host Meeting With Transgender Activists: After the harrowing attack Chrissy Lee Polis suffered last week at a Maryland McDonald’s, the very real dangers that threaten the daily lives of transgender people seem to be finally nearing the forefront of American concerns. The White House Office of Public Engagement is planning, now, to host the first ever meeting to focus solely on trans issues. Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, was quoted in a Washington Blade article:

“This is the first president who has allowed trans people — really allowed LGBT people — to bring forward problems and then advocate for them,” Keisling said. “In the Bush administration, we couldn’t even do that. They wouldn’t even listen to us. They didn’t care what our problems were. In fact, they were making most of our problems.”

While, according to the article, it remains unclear what issues will be prioritized, the implementation of federal employment non-discrimination protections is up there on the list for the transgender community.

Still, Texas wants no part of the transgender rights movement, as it were. Even though it was only two years ago that they passed legislation to allow a trans person to obtain a marriage license (with proof of the sex reassignment surgery), Republicans, the taker-backers that they are, have been trying to undo these monumental strides. “The Texas Constitution,” Sen. Tommy Williams said, “clearly defines marriage between one man and one woman.” Furthermore, transgender advocates are worried that this proposal may end up nullifying current transgender marriages.

According to ABC News, Williams claims to understand that gender is not always easily determinable when people are born, and that’s the reason some people later have an operation to change their assigned gender: to have their outward appearance match the gender they inwardly identify with. He said, clearly missing the point, “It is an emotional issue. I can appreciate that.” But he just feels it is necessary to take away transgender marriage rights in order to simplify marriage licensing for the clerks who are having trouble balancing the 2009 law with the 1999 appeals court ruling. Oh, the poor clerks. Let’s just ruin people’s lives so that the clerks won’t have to work too hard, shall we?

What Williams, and those certain politicians who refuse to see things in anything but black and white (or simply accept that other people are capable of doing so) don’t understand is that it’s not an emotional issue. An emotional issue is when your mom can’t make it to your wedding. A serious issue is when you’re not allowed to have one, when you’re not considered a person enough to have the right to marry your partner. [Read more...]

Sex: How Much of a Fantasy Girl Should You Be?

He wanted me to wear short-shorts. Like Daisy Duke short-shorts, half-inch-inseam short-shorts, the kind one could purchase from Victoria’s Secret’s lovely outerwear collection in the mid-’90s. He gave them to me under the guise of some gift — our one-year anniversary, perhaps — but I had not worn them outside our dorm-room walls, likely because they were a bit (go figure) short for my comfort. I would happily wear them at “home,” or in “the bedroom,” both of which equated to our respective campus housing cells, as I did not mind spicing up our nascent sex life. But I did not take it upon myself to go anywhere (where would I go in these, anyway?) with them barely covering my ass in everyday life.

Then, suddenly, he was angry with me. Sulky, barely-speaking, passive-aggressive angry. At first, he refused to tell me why, insisting I should instinctively know. Then, after some seriously frustrating phone conversation — our first conflict in more than a year of dating — I dragged it out of him: He was mad I had not intuited his desire for me to don the short-shorts for Dillo Day, an outdoor music festival at Northwestern University (that is, alas, not as dirty as it sounds). Apparently it should have been obvious by his buying of the shorts and presenting them to me in the early spring that I would then be obligated, by my undying gratitude for said shorts, to frolic in them at the pinnacle of the season.

I told him he was nuts, he told me I didn’t understand his tender feelings. But I moved past it, resigned to sometimes not understanding the love of my life’s every thought.

Or at least I’d thought I’d moved past it.

[Read more...]

On Pap Smears At Walgreens (And Other Republican Blunders)


Hm. Brian Kilmeade and Steve Doocy of “Fox & Friends” specifically said on TV that Planned Parenthood was unnecessary because you could get pap smears, breast exams, and other non-abortion related services at Walgreens. But when I moseyed on over there and asked how I would go about getting my ladyparts examined, the cashier looked at me like I was crazy! But I didn’t want to resort to going to Planned Parenthood — oh no. Glenn Beck said that only hookers go there!

Really though, this is far and away the most absurd and infuriating part about the ongoing war on Planned Parenthood: the blatant misinformation that Republicans have been spreading (whether deliberately or ignorantly) in order to demean the importance of Planned Parenthood and the services they provide. Do those Fox guys even know what a pap smear is? It’s difficult to gauge which is worse — giving idiots a time-slot on a major channel so that they can do nothing but spout mindless, unproductive drivel (especially when the channel knows what a huge influence said drivel has on much of the country), or being a United States senator and just deciding to cite arbitrary, made up statistics in a speech — statistics that are not even remotely close to being near the ballpark of accurate. Yes, we mean you, Senator Jon Kyl — did you really think you could get away with claiming that “well over 90% of what Planned Parenthood does” is abortion, when abortion actually only constitues 3% of their services? Oh, excuse me. That “was not intended to be a factual statement.” Do we need to have a disclaimer every time Jon Kyl intends to lie on the Senate floor?

Sure, this kind of unapologetic ignorance is pure gold for the comedy world, but now and again we have to remind ourselves that this is real life. This is what the Republican party (not all Republicans, but most) has come to: trying to sabotage women’s rights in a sleazy attempt to secure office once again, and resorting to lying in order to get people on their side. Just because it’s well-known now that many right-wingers, whether on television or on Capitol Hill, don’t concern themselves much with fact-checking doesn’t make it acceptable — especially when, with every lie, so much is at stake for millions of women.

[Read more...]

5 Reasons Britney Needs a Feminist Awakening

There’s no doubt that Britney Spears is not a feminist icon. But she could very well be the most important female pop culture figure of our times — which is exactly why it would be nothing short of revolutionary if girlfriend ever managed to escape the poptart prison her handlers have constructed around her during her decade-plus reign to realize her own grand significance. Here, we plead our case to the woman behind the Femme Fatale image. Oh, if only we believed she were reading!

Dear Britney,

Here’s why we need you to get with the F-word:

1. Madonna and Christina. Remember how you once made out with these two in a wildly overhyped menage a girl-on-girl-kisses-for-media-attention? We do. And we wish that Madge and Xtina had been able to somehow pass a little feminism your way while swapping spit onstage, because they’ve certainly got girl power to spare. As much as everyone likes to declare you “the next Madonna” — and as much as we understand why — you’re missing that element of self-determination that Madonna’s had since before she was even famous. (That kiss was her idea — go figure.) While you’ve long denied your sexuality even while selling the heck out of it, Madonna has … well, embraced hers. If you haven’t noticed. Same goes for Christina, who grew up with you on The Mickey Mouse Club and faced the same pressures of growing into womanhood very publicly. She may have been the one who ended up in unfortunate assless chaps, but she never pretended not to know exactly what they meant.

[Read more...]

SF Talking Points: Candie's Foundation Needs To Get Its Priorities Straight, The Toronto Slutwalk

The Candie’s Foundation Spends Seven Times More on Bristol Palin Than On Preventing Teen Pregnancy: “We know that Ms. Palin’s work has had a positive effect on teens,” the foundation said in a statement defending their spending $262,500 on her salary and only $35,000 on grants to teen pregnancy health and counseling clinics. Sure. I mean, the Candie’s Foundation has been around since 2001. Bristol herself probably saw their ads in magazines, back when she began flirting with the idea of sex: full-page photos of other overpaid celebrities next to a page of text warning against teen pregnancy. And that worked, right? Oh. No, it didn’t. So they are not only spending exorbitant amounts on celebrities (or, in Palin’s case, quasi-celebrities) and peanuts on the cause they claim to support, but they chose the worst possible “advocate” of abstinence. I get the whole, “I know how hard it is to go through a teen pregnancy” bit, but come on. First they send mixed messages with their “Be sexy, it doesn’t mean you have to have sex” campaign, and now they push abstinence with a girl whom it clearly didn’t work for.  Bristol Palin even said herself that abstinence is “not realistic at all” — ahem, before she got her gig as a teen pregnancy ambassador. It’s getting to the point where the Candie’s Foundation may be doing more harm than good with regards to teen pregnancy.

Women of Toronto ‘Slutwalk’ Fight Back Against Victim-Blaming: In response to police Constable Michael Sanguinetti’s remark that, “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized” to a group of York University students, Canadian women organized in just six weeks to protest the use of the word “slut” to cast the blame back on women for having been sexually assaulted. As declared on the Toronto Slutwalk website:

“We are tired of being oppressed by slut-shaming; of being judged by our sexuality and feeling unsafe as a result. Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence, regardless if we participate in sex for pleasure or work. No one should equate enjoying sex with attracting sexual assault.”

A subversive name for a protest like “Slutwalk,” though, is bound to generate a negative reaction – particularly from people who believe that “not getting raped” is more important to teach than “not raping.” [Read more...]

What's Impeding the Walmart Women's Lawsuit

Tuesday was a good day for Walmart, but a bad day for the female employees they are notorious for having abused. A total of 1.5 million women are accusing the company of employment discrimination, but Walmart has contended that individually, they do not have enough in common to combine forces for a viable class action lawsuit. So, on Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments from both parties to decide whether or not that is indeed true.

The plaintiffs have two things going against them: 1) their case is being held in the ultra-conservative Roberts court, which has ruled for business interests 61% of the time, and 2) much of their argument is supported by “social framework analysis,” a relatively new branch of sociology, that isn’t being taken seriously by everyone because of its lack of concrete statistics. As Chris Cassidy at Ms. Magazine writes, it was no surprise that on Tuesday, “the case went really, really badly.” [Read more...]

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