Links for Sexy Feminists: Rape debate rages, Phyllis Diller dies, and more …

It Was Rape: Feminist author/filmmaker/all-around cool chick Jennifer Baumgardner needs your help. Click here to help fund her It Was Rape documentary, which will explore “how denial allows rape to thrive.” Alas, this project is all too timely with the misinformation being spewed by Rep. Todd Akin, who thinks “legitimate rape” somehow doesn’t cause pregnancy. (You may remember Akin from the debate over “forcible rape,” in which he conspired with our illustrious VP candidate Paul Ryan to distinguish that kind of rape from, um, the other—nonexistent—kind.)

YourTango Explores the Tricky Territory of the Money Talk: When should you bring $$ into the <3 equation? We don’t know, so their guess is as good as ours.

Jezebel Profiles the 24-Year-Old Who’s Willing to Die for the Anti-Abortion Movement: Lila Rose says, “I’m all in for this cause.”

Phyllis Diller Dies: The Grande Dame of comedy, who gained fame in the ’60s through several appearances on Bob Hope specials, was 95. Read more about her at Examiner.com.

The Single-Sex Class Trend Is “Rooted in Stereotypes,” ACLU Report Says: The organization says the idea is based on “discredited science” and calls for reasonable alternatives to be offered.

 


FemiNoshing: Living in a Food Desert

I moved into my first apartment when I was 27. I had just graduated with my master’s degree and gotten my first full-time job as a reporter. I was finally a grown-up, albeit a grown-up with high expenses (student loans) and a low salary (I worked for a newspaper). That low salary meant the apartment I could afford wasn’t in the most affluent part of town, but it was spacious and it was cute, with hardwood floors and high ceilings and lots of windows. And my hood wasn’t in “the hood” — that was a few blocks west, with its occasional gunfire and circling police helicopters. A few blocks east, the real estate prices soared, and so did the number of nice cars and golden retrievers.

Still, my neighborhood was nicely eclectic, with renters and homeowners, families, singles, and empty-nesters. Multiple languages could be heard from windows and yards as you passed, and every race seemed represented. Every year during Pride Week, my neighborhood was the hub of the parade. We had three churches, a branch library, an elementary school, and a firehouse (where the firefighters grew their own herbs and were always happy to share their recipe for chicken piccata). We also had an arthouse movie theater, a dozen restaurants (including a KFC, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell), at least three hipster coffee houses, numerous  boutiques, two Pilates and yoga studios, and a pot dispensary (which also offered high colonics).

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She's the Boss

So 2009 pretty much sucked, economically speaking. While things are admittedly improving, it’s unlikely that most of us are currently willing to chuck our desk jobs to, say, set up that cross-country riot grrrls reunion tour that we’ve always dreamed of.

Then again, why not? In these uncertain times, some girls are shrugging off the shackles of safety to embark on new business ventures.

Michele DeKinder-Smith, author of See Jane Succeed: Five Types of Female Entrepreneurs, says there’s a good reason younger women are turning away from the corporate-ladder career path to take chances on their own. “When you’re young, your living expenses aren’t that high yet,” she says. “Therefore a smaller income is okay because your needs are smaller.”

In addition, the current climate might even be advantageous for ladies looking to start a business. “Many entrepreneurs have found success during the economic downturn because other businesses and industries are hunkering down and becoming very conservative,” she says. “If you’re aggressive, this could be a window of opportunity.”

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Is Selling Our Bodies a Last Resort or a First Instinct?

A California teacher made headlines this week after she joked to her class that she may take up stripping after she loses her job.

While I don’t think she should be accused of developmentally harming her students, I can’t help but wonder—and worry—whether women too often think that the only way out of a financial jam is to prostitute themselves somehow, be it through stripping, sex work, or even looking for deep-pocketed dudes to buy them drinks and meals (because we all know that doesn’t come free for long).

Are women’s bodies their greatest commodities, or are we just so used to seeing them exploited that it doesn’t seem all that bad? The answer troubles me.

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Sexing It Up for the Bad Economy

It used to happen every six months or so. I would be on my way home from the restaurant where I work to make ends meet, smelling of salsa and coffee and the tequila I didn’t drink, and wondering how over the past 14 hours of horror I hadn’t even made $100. And then it would come to me, this pleasingly simple thought: Maybe I could be a stripper. I would try to chase it away with cautionary tales of prostitutes in fishnets on the side of the highway in the dead of winter, but the thought would amble back with the easy confidence of a Clint Eastwood movie. “Not a prostitute,” it would say, “a stripper. An exotic dancer, if you will.” Then the thought would pull out its secret ace, a bone for my vanity to gnaw on: “Come on now, you’re a pretty girl…”

The sexualization of women is so commonplace, that if most of us got a call from Maxim to pose in our underwear, we probably wouldn’t mind. Some might even consider it a compliment. Stripping may strike some as less classy than being on the cover of a magazine, but essentially you’re still getting paid to be hot and nearly naked. In our current culture, sex appeal has attained a status that no other quality shares. So the thought of making money from it, especially in these tough times, may become increasingly appealing. And as Maxim seems to have misplaced my phone number, stripping is what I think about as my bills pile up. Since our economy formally began its downward spiral, I’ve started to have those thoughts almost once a week. And you know it: I’m not alone.

“With raunch-culture ever on the rise, sex appeal isn’t just one of the many cards a girl can play; it’s the ultimate trump, no matter how smart or talented she is.”

Applications in every job market have skyrocketed since this time last year, but unlike so many other industries, most strip clubs don’t have hiring freezes. They are doing better than ever. The New York branch of Rick’s Cabaret International Inc., an operation of upscale gentlemen’s clubs (one that’s publicly traded on NASDAQ), now gets an average of 40 to 50 job applicants per week, up from 20 a week this time last year. But the company also reported a 58% increase in total revenue from 2007’s last quarter to 2008’s. During that same period, the number of unemployed rose by 3.6 million in the United States. Disposable incomes are definitely shrinking, but sex is selling better than ever.

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Why Vanity Keeps Us Poor

Wanna save an extra $5,000 a year? Become a man!

Seriously, I could be rich (or at least get richer faster) if I gave up my beauty routine. Currently, my daily self-prepping involves the following: shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, face wash, toothpaste, body lotion, face moisturizer, blusher, a bit of glimmer for my cheeks, eyeliner, mascara, lip gloss, and perfume. And I’m a basics kind of gal. Most American women also add in regular salon and spa stuff like spray tanning, waxing, highlights, haircuts, manis, pedis, microdermabrasion and Botox.

When I asked a few men about their morning beautifying rituals, the picture was slightly different: Deodorant, for sure. Shampoo, lotion, and shaving cream, most likely. Hair gel, maybe. Even the most metrosexual of men spends a fraction of what women spend to just bathe and beautify. It’s no wonder women — even corporate-climbing women with male-equivalent incomes — are more financially unstable than their male counterparts. Of course it’s important to note that men still make more on average, than women, but the women most likely to be shelling out a lot for products — that is, urban professionals — are also the ones closest to parity with their male counterparts.

Quite simply: It costs more to be a woman.

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