Links for Sexy Feminists: Trayvon’s Friend, Feminist Slurs, Shaving, and more

Feminist or Not?: A male photographer documents the changing role of the sexes in Spain by photographing men in women’s clothes. The premise could certainly be read as feminist, except that he states on his website that he’s concerned about “men’s sense of loss of reference.” Concerned? Weigh in in the comments!

International Dress: An Indian American woman on proudly dressing in her salwaar kameese and dupatta.

Language Games: A fun romp through the dictionary to learn the origins of some common slurs for women.

Moral Abortion: We love this piece by a rabbi about how his Judaism causes him to see abortion very differently than the Christian right.

To Shave or Not: One woman’s take on the age-old feminist debate.

Lesbian Blues: A charming piece on the queerness of 1920′s blues singers.

Hard to Get?: Why playing “the game” plays into the patriarchy’s hand. And an interesting take on rape culture uses an analogy with banks to turn the tables on guys. On the lighter side, we love this excellently written parody on the “pickup artist” movement.

Women Travelers: Which leads us to this fine perspective on being a solo woman traveler.

Trayvon’s Friend: The star witness for the prosecution fell victim to some tired stereotypes about African-American women. Meanwhile, she has already suffered the devastating impact of being the last person to talk to her friend when he was alive. Crunk Feminist Collective gathers some nice notes in solidarity.


Female Condoms: Sexy and Empowering or ‘Ew’?

Dr. Donna Espeut takes on the female condom debate in this guest post.

For some of us, male condoms are the go-to, dual-protection method, even though there are other options in our cache of safer sex tools. Female condoms, on the other hand, get little or no love. A recent piece on Jezebel.com suggests that this case of unrequited love is justified. (Tracie Egan Morrissey writes, “female condoms are just ew.”) However, here are four reasons why we should stop giving the female condom the cold shoulder:

 

1. It adds a dash of empowerment to our safer-sex pursuits.

Of all the methods designed to prevent both pregnancy and STIs, only the female condom bears the distinction of being completely woman-initiated and woman-controlled. A lubricated and soft hypoallergenic sheath with a flexible ring on each end, it fits in with our diverse sexual repertoire. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when used correctly, a female condom’s effectiveness in preventing pregnancy is 95 percent, compared with 98 percent for male condoms. Female condoms also cover more of the external genitalia than male condoms, offering better protection against herpes and other STIs. Those of us who have grown weary of negotiating male condom use every time we have sex might therefore find a welcomed bedfellow in the female condom.

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Wither Paternity Leave in the Contraception Debate?

With a struggling economy and the explosion of debates about abortion and contraception, family leave for workers has not been at the center of campaign dialogue. Nonetheless, the issue of paid parental leave should be more important than ever to families in an era in which women are often primary breadwinners. Imagine the dilemma of a young couple thinking of starting a family, but whose budget and expenses center around the potential mother’s employment. Do you hold off and hope for the husband to advance to a more secure financial position in which you might be able to leave work? Do you try for the child now, and try to piece together sick days with help from family and friends? Or do you try to negotiate a better option with your employer, who, in most US states, has no legal obligation to provide any paid leave to start a family?

The issue of parental leave has received attention around the world, and US laws lag well behind most countries. In fact, earlier this year, Forbes reported that the US was one of only three countries in the world, along with Papua New Guinea and Swaziland, not to offer paid maternity leave. In addition, the US fails to provide any guaranteed leave (paid or unpaid) to fathers, while more than 50 countries worldwide guarantee new fathers paid leave.  The most important piece of legislation governing parental leave, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), applies only to women, and has important exceptions for businesses. For example, businesses with fewer than 50 employees are exempt, and employees must work within a specified radius of the workplace. Guaranteed leave is limited to 12 weeks during the year, and it is unpaid. Although the law has since been amended, the substantive components remain largely unchanged, and it continues to be the defining national legislation on the topic. Although states such as California and New Jersey have made inroads to state specific laws, in most places protections beyond those guaranteed by the FMLA are left to employers’ discretion. As a result, most new mothers and fathers struggle to balance the demands of a new family with the needs and financial necessities of the workplace.

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Links for Sexy Feminists: Contraception, the male gaze, porn on planes, and more …

Chris Piascik sums up the contraception/Planned Parenthood debate in a drawing: “If this doesn’t describe out of touch with Americans, I don’t know what does.”

Jezebel’s Lindy West gets transcendent picking apart a douchey Globe and Mail piece: “Titled ‘Why men can’t—and shouldn’t—stop staring at women,’ the piece attempts to make a reasoned argument for why the male gaze isn’t creepy (in fact, men are doing society hella favors!), but instead reads like an episode of Law & Order: SVU (one of the ones where Liv uses her sexuality as a weapon and it backfires and Elliot has to rescue her).” Her evisceration only gets better from there.

We heart mentoring young feminists: And we kinda want to take this debate workshop that Ms. talks about here even though we’re grown women.

An interesting women-in-tech mini-controversy: Two recent semi-public sexist incidents in the overwhelmingly male programming industry prompted a swift and decisive outcry — refreshingly, not from feminist agitators, but from the industry itself, as reported by blogger Brian Curtin. This seems like good news — if one company is so quick to denounce another for “hiring women to bring you beer,” that means lots of these places genuinely want to welcome women to their high-paying, in-demand ranks.

Yeah, we’re gonna have to support a no-porn-on-planes rule: We’re neither prudes nor Miss Manners, but it just seems rude to peruse porn when you’re crammed into those tiny seats so close together. YourTango has more on one women’s crusade against such antics.

 


20-somethings Not Using Contraception: One More Reason to Support Planned Parenthood

Debate has raged aplenty recently over teen pregnancy — and whether girls are getting knocked up just to get on TV’s Teen Mom (even though studies say the show’s companion series, 16 and Pregnant, is more likely to scare kids into contraception, and teen birth rates are dropping). But there’s another concerning, if less scandalizing, birth rate that’s on the rise: that of 20-somethings who have unplanned pregnancies.

Yes, they’re technically adults, and they don’t have to walk through high school halls with swollen bellies. Sometimes, they have jobs, and maybe even apartments, which helps a little. But among unmarried women in their 20s, a full 7 out of 10 pregnancies are unplanned, according to The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy — which means their own future plans are cut short, their relationships with the fathers are often forced, and their babies are affected by it all. Especially at a time when many 20-somethings are still living with their parents and undermployed, at best, this fact is almost as serious a problem as teen pregnancy.

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