Why Some Newsrooms Are Hotbeds of Sexism

witw-logoDiscussion of sexism in media has been heating up again — this time, it’s about the folks who bring us the news, not just how women are portrayed in said news. First we had that magazine cover that hailed a “new golden age” for print media, and featured only white male editors. Now we have a public pissing match between The New Republic and Politico over who’s slightly less sexist. The Daily Beast’s Women in the World investigates.

Do You Have To Be Coupled To Give Good Dating Advice?

AA046999“Why should I take dating advice from you? You’re single.”

This is a comeback I’ve heard many times for the six years I’ve been writing my advice column, And That’s Why You’re Single.  Apparently, in order for a woman who writes about dating to be taken seriously, she needs to have a man to trot out or cite as evidence that she knows of what she speaks.

My answer to this pointed question is quite succinct. I don’t need a man in my life in order to practice common sense and critical thinking. People throw the fact that I’m single (as far as they know) in my face to try and discredit me.  This one query reveals quite a bit about the person posing it. Namely, that they consider a woman’s ideas and opinions invalid unless she has a man by her side to validate them.

This question isn’t really a question. It’s an attempt to minimize my thoughts. The point of the inquiry is to shame me. Apparently, a woman who isn’t constantly looking for excuses to talk about her relationship is considered suspect.  [Read more...]

Links for Sexy Feminists: Men’s Rights Activists, More Steubenville Fallout, Keeping Dads Involved, and more

Death to the Patriarchy: Jezebel’s inimitable Lindy West succinctly breaks down why everything MRAs rail against are symptoms of patriarchy, not feminism.

Continuing the Steubenville Dialogue: A U of Rochester econ prof put up a thought experiment about “reaping the benefits” of a passed-out individual on his blog, which upset quite a few folks, understandably. Meanwhile, an awesome male feminist starts a dialogue with teenage boys on how to not rape girls. And a queer-friendly blog has some great thoughts on why the silence of a female partner should not signify her consent.

Involved Dads: Iceland requires dads to take paternity leave, and having Dad help out so much in the early stages helps gender equality, both for the household and across the small country.

Dating Dan: A well-intentioned, self-aware man with Asperger’s and OCD searches for love, raising interesting questions about self-disclosure for all of us who have “issues.”

Exotic Dancing: The Frisky offers an anonymous expose of what a dancer deals with at a high-end strip club.

Links for Sexy Feminists: NY Times editor calls sexism on writer, women anchor and moderate debate, and more …

Wow, if this isn’t evidence that having women in positions of power makes a difference, we don’t know what is: New New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan took author Jennifer Weiner’s side in a Twitter dust-up with Times writer Andrew Goldman for being a sexist both in print and on social media. Read more at Jezebel.

Speaking of non-sexy-but-brilliant Halloween costumes, we love The Frisky’s idea: Be Workout Paul Ryan!

We didn’t get to post about this last week, so we’ll take this moment to say: This Wisconsin anchorwoman’s on-air response to a viewer comment criticizing her weight is inspiring. You’re awesome, Jennifer Livingston.

Reminder: Watch the Tuesday debate on PBS. Not only is it the least-annoying place (no crawls, minimal crazy commentary) to view it, but it’s also the only all-female anchoring team hosting. With Candy Crowley moderating, you can have an all-lady night.

The Pakistani girl who was shot last week by the Taliban for speaking out about girls’ education has been airlifted to Britain for emergency care, The New York Times reports.

Sexy Feminist Smackdown: Eric Benet

We start this post by reminding you who Eric Benet is, something we were forced to do when engaging our partner in a discussion about his latest round of douchebaggery. He’s the guy who married Halle Berry and cheated on her. A lot. Because of “sex addiction,” something we know Dr. Drew is very serious about but oftentimes sounds to us like the infidelity equivalent of “irreconcilable differences.”

Anyway, this guy we all forgot about wants us to remember him. So how does he do it? By exploiting women’s insecurities. To promote his new R&B album, “The One,” he’s selling t-shirts that divide women along colorlines. Not just black, white, Asian and Hispanic, which could actually be empowering, but specifically degrees of blackness among African-American women. For about $20, women can order “BRAND NEW” tank tops that read “Red Bone Girl” or “Chocolate Legs.” There are a lot of reasons why this is annoying and offensive. Here are our top three:

1. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating a woman’s uniqueness, even her skin tone. But when put into terms such as “coffee and cream, thick and lean,” as Benet does in the song, and, “I like ‘em light skinned/lighter than a feather… I’m high and my girl is high yella,” as Lil Wayne does on his cameo, it promotes comparison and competition. Intra-racial racism is a deeply damaging force rooted in rape and slavery. Let’s not pick on that scab.
2. This is not the equivalent of the “I’m a Carrie,” “I’m a Samantha,” t-shirts that were everywhere during the Sex and the City era. Black women aren’t going to buy these, dude.
3. Looking at the whole song/album, rife with adjectives for women such as “honeys” and “devilis,” we’re reminded that so many male artists resort to these lazy, insulting terms in their lyrics. Is it so hard to buy a dictionary and talk to some real women about how they like to be wooed?


‘Thinking Gender’: WWII Sexism, Female Slave Owners and the Feminism in Salsa Dancing

Salsa dancing in Taiwan. Sexism in the SS. Dowry deaths in India. Child activists in the abortion wars. Mayan women writing plays critical of the patriarchy. Female architects and textile makers. Female coal miners. Female slave owners before and during the Civil War.

All these subjects, and more, were part of the 22nd annual “Thinking Gender” conference, held at UCLA. Organized by the university’s Center for the Study of Women, the conference hosted more than 120 scholars (mostly female) from around the world. There were four sessions, each with five panels apiece. In short: A whole lot of gender relations talks to cover. Here are some of the highlights:

Gender Stereotypes

“Dirty Work: Women and Unexpected Labor.” The labor in question referred to everything from prison guards to coal miners, and this panel was well worth attending because it was both interesting and discomfiting. The first scholar to present in this panel was Shelly M. Cline, a history student from the University of Kansas. Her paper was on gender discrimination in the SS, particularly against women who guarded prisoners in the Auschwitz death camp. “The state asked them to do a man’s job, but didn’t offer them an equal partnership,” Cline said, going on to talk about how, as a result of being treated badly by their male colleagues, many of these women took out their frustrations on prisoners in increasingly terrible ways as a way to try to get respect from the men. (That is not to say, Cline added, that these women’s actions were any more brutal overall than their male colleagues’.) When WWII was over, and the Allies put these women on trial, they only won equality by being given punishments as severe as the men.

[Read more...]

News for Sexy Feminists: Saudi Sexism, Sleep Issues, TV’s Feminism for Men

Women in Saudi Arabia are once again being forced to hide the fact that they are, in fact, women. The state already requires women to cover their heads–and often faces–whenever they are in public. Now, Saudi Arabia’s Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (founded in 1940 to enforce Islamic law, which essentially means brutalizing women with sticks for infractions such as an exposed ankle or eye contact with a man) is requiring women with “tempting eyes” to cover them in public. First of all, what the hell does that mean? Doesn’t everyone have tempting eyes? Second, are you serious? Dear UN Human Rights Council: Ahem!

The Samuel L. Jackson narrated “Go the Fuck to Sleep” became a viral hit with frazzled, frustrated parents. But perhaps they should be reading it to themselves. A new Norwegian study reveals that poor sleep among women is a top contributor to chronic illness and pain, namely, fibromyalgia. Among study participants, even those with occasional trouble getting to sleep had double the risk of developing the musculoskelatal condition that affects the joints, muscles, tendons and other soft tissues–so you’re basically miserable all the time.

TIME’s James Poniewozik writes about the best new feminist characters on TV–and they’re dudes, citing Will Arnett’s character in “Up All Night,” one of our faves as well. But more importantly, Poniewozik writes, “Having more new sitcoms created by women is the best way to get more interesting and varied male characters on TV.” Fascinating point and we couldn’t agree more. If you look at the most dynamic casts on TV today — “Nurse Jackie,” “30 Rock,” “New Girl,” “The Office,” “The Good Wife” and (yes, still) “Grey’s Anatomy,” you’ll se one thing in common: Women are running these shows, or at least writing a heck of a lot of the episodes, in the case of “The Office.” Now that’s must-see TV.

Speaking about “The Office,” executive producer Mindy Kaling does a pretty awesome job of describing what it’s like to be a Sexy Feminist in this new interview with A.V. Club. Is there any wonder we’ve named her one of the leading ladies we’d love to see as the next Julia Roberts?


What Everyone Thinks of the Coverage of Dominique Strauss-Kahn's Rape Case…Including Feminists

There’s a good chance Dominique Strauss-Kahn isn’t guilty of raping a hotel maid, at least according to actor and economist Ben Stein. He’s not alone though. Many of France’s journalists and politicians have expressed the same apprehension — so many, in fact, that French feminist groups have gathered to rise up against the sexism ingrained in their incredulity.

The prevailing attitude in the United States is that Mr. Strauss-Kahn is guilty. The evidence is stacked against him, and he has long had a reputation of being aggressive toward women. In an article published by the American Spectator, though, Ben Stein (whom you may recall as Ferris Bueller’s economics teacher: “Bueller?… Bueller?… Bueller?…”) has offered up multiple reasons why former International Monetary Fund head and alleged rapist DSK could very well be innocent. For one, Stein asks: “The prosecutors say that Mr. Strauss-Kahn ‘forced’ the complainant to have oral and other sex with him. How? Did he have a gun? Did he have a knife? He’s a short fat old man.” Oh, so, because he wasn’t armed, he couldn’t possibly have raped her. That makes sense. From now on, if an alleged rapist did not have a knife or a gun, we might as well just throw the case away!

He goes on to assert, “In what possible way is the price of the hotel room relevant except in every way: this is a case about the hatred of the have-nots for the haves, and that’s what it’s all about. A man pays $3,000 a night for a hotel room? He’s got to be guilty of something. Bring out the guillotine.” So then, as soon as he stepped foot into his luxury suite everyone began plotting against him. “This guy thinks he deserves a hotel room like this? He thought wrong! The question is, what can we convict him of? Rape? Perfect!”

Finally, “In life, events tend to follow patterns. People who commit crimes tend to be criminals, for example. Can anyone tell me any economists who have been convicted of violent sex crimes?” Jon Stewart had a field day with this one, and came up with a list of all of the economists who have indeed been convicted of violent sex crimes. Hilariously, he concludes that, “Economists are the rapiest profession going”. (Watch the clip here.) [Read more...]

SF Talking Points: Magazines That Lower Our Self-Esteem, Florida's War On Women

Why People Keep Reading Magazines That Make Them Feel Bad About Themselves: A new study has shown that people aren’t necessarily just plain masochists because they’re drawn to beauty and fitness magazines with thinner/more muscular models on the cover. Indeed, in the experiment conducted by Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, associate professor of communication at Ohio State University, participants would only dwell on pictures of fit models if the content beside the pictures was comprised of tips on how to improve their own bodies. So not only do magazines pop our already pretty flaccid self-esteem balloons without remorse, they sneakily add insult to injury by suggesting that they hold, somewhere within their hundreds of glossy pages, the secrets to attaining that Hollywood bod on the cover — in 5 easy steps! When really, it’s impossible, because not only do they not know who they are promising “sexy sculpted legs in 10 minutes” to, the ideal body on the cover was photoshopped.

Speaking Of Photoshop, First Unretouched Makeup Ad Released: Make Up For Ever put together an ad with a super thin, pretty, blonde and unblemished model without taking the final step of perfecting perfection with Photoshop. They just used professional lighting, professional makeup artists, professional everything, and had an impossibly flawless-looking girl wear the makeup. Hooray? I hate to be skeptical of progress, even if the baby steps made were terribly small. And I suppose we can’t expect them to pull an average lady off the street and tell her to do her makeup herself with Make Up For Ever and then take a picture of it  (which would actually probably convince me to buy the product, though I don’t know about anyone else). But the “progress” we are getting doesn’t really feel like progress at all. As Jos over at Feministing writes, “In fact, pointing out the ad wasn’t retouched serves to make this unattainable idea of beauty seem more real.” And it seems more like a gimmick than something that Make Up For Ever is actually behind.

Florida’s Recent Anti-Woman Offenses: Republicans in the Sunshine State are trying to pass a record 18 bills that attack abortion rights — including, but not limited to, a requirement for women to have an ultrasound, that they must pay for themselves, before getting an abortion. Another bill proposes getting rid of federal funding for abortions except in cases that threaten the mother’s life. Tough luck for victims of incest or rape.

Also in Florida, a mailer was sent out reviling mayoral candidate Rose Ferlita for being “Unmarried. Unsure. Unelectable,” and describing her as “an unmarried woman with a suspect commitment to family values,” while her opponent is a “dedicated family man with two children.” Since when do spouses and children have anything to do with one’s abilities as a politician?! Julie at BUST sums it up: “The simple misogynistic logic being: woman with career goals = unmarried ballbreaker = lesbian = unfit for office.” I mean, who knows if Ferlita even is a lesbian? Maybe she just didn’t want to get married! (And if she is, I’d like to point to female, lesbian Prime Minister of Iceland Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir who is doing a pretty damn good job over there — much better than many of the “family men” around the world.) Strangely, Ferlita is a Republican candidate and the organization that sent out the mailer has been linked to Democratic candidate Scott Maddox; it seems that Democrats were trying to reach Republicans on their level by using the rhetoric they usually use against Democratic candidates. In other news, politics suck.

SF Talking Points: Abortion Provider Tells All, Reality TV + Charlie Sheen = Not A Great Combination For Women

The Scoop On Abortion Providers! In an excellent article in The Hairpin, Dolores P., abortion provider trainee, answers basic questions about her profession with extensive, funny, and often quite intimate responses. First, she cites two reasons for having gone into the field.

“I went into healthcare in general because of a bunch of shitty gynecologists growing up who told me, for instance, that “when you” (me) “have sex with so many people” (I, like, halved the real number) “so young” (18) that “none of them care about you” (me). I figured the most direct way to ensure that there wasn’t a total asshole at the bottom of the table was to do it myself.”

Also, she embraced the job because of the sad fact that the number of abortion providers is in severe decline. Right now there are fewer than 2,000, only 2% of ob/gyns perform half of all abortions, and the number of abortion providers has declined 37% since 1982  — but what I didn’t realize before reading her article is that many of the ones that still exist are either approaching retirement or likely to quit soon because of how dangerous the job has become.

“I am lucky to be training in a liberal Northeastern state: the biggest impact of “antis” on my training is that I have to bring my lunch every day because it’s not really a good idea to go outside more than you have to.”

I mean, even in a liberal Northeastern state it’s risky to go outside for lunch? Dolores P. doesn’t seem at all unnerved by this, and maybe I’m just green to the world of abortion providers, but it seems even more profoundly awful hearing this from their side — not just in another news bit about crazy, violent protesters issuing threats. It’s sad. Though it’s been said, I can’t reiterate it enough: Killing an abortion provider does not make you better or more moral than they are. And providing abortions is not, at all, immoral. Dolores P stresses against this (obviously) — there are many reasons why women get abortions, but in most cases, it’s because they didn’t feel they were in a position to adequately care for a baby. And, seriously, what’s worse — terminating the pregnancy of a woman with children already (65% of women who get abortions are already mothers) so that they can continue to take care of themselves and their families, or killing a doctor? Though, she also emphasizes the importance of avoiding “abortion hierarchies.”

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