Friday, February 02, 2007

Wow! I Can't Believe This Is Texas.

I was just surprised and a little bit pleased that Governor Rick Perry (Gov. Good Hair, as Molly Ivins called him) "signed an order today making Texas the first state to require that schoolgirls get vaccinated against the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer." Read the full article. The vaccine is Gardasil, a product by Merck that prevents human papillomavirus, HPV, as it is commonly referred to.

There has been much discussion over the vaccine on various blogs; in fact, there was just one on feministing yesterday with many people extremely upset over the government's intervention. This is a complex issue because I agree with some of the arguments, i.e. the government is putting the burden of protection on women, forceable vaccination, unknown long-term effects.

The article I've linked to also discusses Perry's ties to Merck, which makes me a bit suspicious as well in that the article says that one of the company's lobbyists in Texas is Mike Toomey, former chief of staff. I don't like such dealings when it comes to government. I like a government that has my best interests at heart.

However, I am also pleased that Perry went against the conservative right who argue that the vaccine will encourage and condone premarital sex and "interfere with the way parents raise their children." My response to that is twofold: It's just a vaccine. You're not handing the girl a dildo and condoms and shoving them at boys. Second, what about other vaccines that children are required to receive? Does that "interfere with the way parents raise their children"? Even if an individual is a virgin at marriage, (although according to recent reports, that is rare) - the disease can still be contracted from the other partner. Wise up. If you care so much about your child, care about their health.

So yea! Texas. I can't believe we were the first.

[Update: Additionally, those parents that would like to opt out of the vaccination may do so by filing an affidavit objecting to the vaccine (AP) so really there should be no reason for such complaints.]

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Satire Is Traditionally the Weapon of the Powerless Against the Powerful

I'd argue, however, that Molly Ivins was hardly powerless. The woman was a force to be reckoned with, and she has died. I am not the wordsmith she was so I will mostly let her own words speak for herself. I must say, though, what I most admire about Molly Ivins and her Molly-isms was her superior ability to state things just as she saw fit.
A friend says I need to rename my blog, Cooky Liberal Ink, and maybe I shall, but at the moment it will remain Feminist Ink because I am a feminist just as much as I am a cooky liberal. I say this, not to draw focus away from this disjointed memorial, but to attempt to emulate what I think Molly Ivins was: a woman who said what she believed and believed what she said.
As she once said, "You can't ignore politics, no matter how much you'd like to." For a long time, I stayed silent because I felt ignorant in matters political, but again Ivins says, "I believe that ignorance is the root of all evil. And that no one knows the truth." So this blog is my attempt to educate myself, my attempt to break away at the lies that cloud the truth.
One of the last columns Ivins wrote was about this war that I desperately believe we should abandon, and the words which she uses are words of revolution, calling people to action: This is our government. We have spoken; we don't believe in this war. Read the rest of the article here. She is correct in that we have a need in this country, a need for a true leader, a need for a true focus on our future. Again, in her words, "It's about political courage and heroes, and when a country is desperate for leadership. There are times when regular politics will not do, and this is one of those times. There are times a country is so tired of bull that only the truth can provide relief."
Molly Ivins was such a leader. She may not have been an elected official, but she was a leader in politics who still retained her southern roots and "was known for hosting unforgettable parties at her Austin home .... [where] her dining table was littered with various awards and distinguished speaker plaques, put to use as trivets for steaming plates of tamales, chili and fajita meat .... 'Well, what else am I going to do with 'em?'" she would say. She was an intelligent, well spoken, humble, funny woman who will be missed by many.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Late Friday Afternoon Humor

In case New Yorkers need a subway map and a pickup line, this article describes new condoms the health department is considering ordering: "an offical New York condom in a jazzy wrapper, perhaps one printed with a colorful subway map or some other city theme."

Prize to the best pickup line.....

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Girls Get Pissed About Girls Gone Wild

Unfortunately, Doug Stanhope, a comedian who formerly worked with Girls Gone Wild creator, Joe Francis, will be in Beaumont, Texas this weekend. I keep hearing about him on the radio, and of course, the announcers are giving away tickets and hyping him up. That's why I was more than pleased this morning to read this article in the Beaumont Enterprise showing area women who are less than pleased about this guy and his association with the videos.

Jennifer Fagen, an assistant professor in the department of sociology, social work and criminal justice at Lamar, said the videos take advantage of young women who already feel a need to fit in with sexual stereotypes. While she's not opposed to women being sexual subjects - that is, acting sexually on their own terms, with their own control - the "Girls Gone Wild" girls often are intoxicated, Fagen said, and that's unfair. "I think (series founder Francis is) taking advantage of young girls who do nothave the capacity to consent," she said.

I couldn't have said it better myself. Plus, I'm glad that area girls aren't as excited about the videos as mainstream media would allow you to think. Girls Gone Wild did make an appearance in Beaumont several years back, and girls were EXCITED about it. That's why I like hearing that not all the younger generation in Texas thinks this way.

I also like that Stanhope made himself look, well, not so bright:

Stanhope said he finds the videos exploitative but also said they feed on a society that already degrades women. He pointed to laws that prohibit women, but not men, from going shirtless, as restrictions that encourage women to feel shameful about their bodies. "It was a lark," he said. "I just went out for a week's worth of nights and made fun of dumb chicks at last call."

I think Dougie here just wants to see some boobies. Good thing Beaumont just finished a Hooters eatery.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

WASP-y Men of the Square Table

As if we didn't already know white men are the most privileged demographic in America, Miller decided to throw it in our faces a bit more with their new Man Laws ad campaign. Just in case you didn't know what a "real" man is, these guys are here to tell you. Spouting such crap as "A real man never asks for help opening his Miller" and listing violations from across the country, Miller is just reinforcing gender stereotypes. The commercial itself shows a group of white men (with maybe one token black guy) sitting at a square table, completely isolated from the outside world. The cowboy's chick comes to the window, scantily clad, and all the guys excuse him because, you know, the only thing more manly than sitting around dictating social policy with other men is getting some. So that's ok.
A better Miller commercial and ad principle in general: NOT LIMITING AND DEFINING YOUR CONSUMER BY SUCH NARROW MARGINS. But, you know, what do I know? I'm just a woman.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The American Dream: Have It All, Do It All, and Still Have Perfect Hair

I just realized this morning that I had abandoned my daily dose of Slate so I clicked over there this afternoon and found this little gem. In the article about the Today show extending its time by an additional hour, author Troy Patterson point out that the Today show will simply extend its third-hour programming into its fourth hour. The first two hours, apparently are devoted to "news." (I use the term lightly, these days). The next two hours are more like "a lifestyle magazine."
This is not the salon of Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira, with
its intrusions of politics and war, but rather a romper room for the ceaselessly
jovial weatherman Al Roker, the peerlessly blow-dried correspondent Natalie
Morales, and Ann Curry, who shucks off the newsreader's role she inhabits
earlier in the show to help prepare easy meals.
I, for one, watched quite a bit of the Today show this past summer when I didn't have to be at work until 10 a.m. I worked out in the mornings, came home to shower, and blow-dried my own hair while watching the various pretty people they parade onto the Today show. I should beashamed of myself, I know. It's interesting, though, to see how they package the show. As Patterson puts it, the show preaches that "despite the odds, the postmodern homemaker can have it all."
This is just such a dangerous assumption. I mention this book quite a bit, but The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women by Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels, discusses this issue in depth. It's the rise of the super mommies: women who work and are successful, still spend ample time with their children, are a perfect size 6, exercise daily, cook homemade meals, still have time to spend with their husbands, have a great sex life, and do all of the above while wearing a brilliant, Crest Whitestrips smile. This is what society's "feminism" has turned into - the freedom to do what you like, as long as you meet xyz and abc criteria. This, I believe, is why we still see so many angry anti-feminists; they see the freedoms that women enjoy without seeing the pitfalls women encounter to this day.
Patterson mentions in his article that Al Roker recently had a spot with the editor of Men's Health on Balancing Family and Work, which I think is laudable in that it wasn't yet another ploy telling women that if they only did more chores before going to bed or upon waking, they would have so much more time to spend getting ready and enjoying the mornings with their families (you know you've seen that kind of thing). Check out every women's magazine; you'll see something along those lines. So I do give props where they're due, but as Patterson points out, the Today show is aimed at the homemaker, and in this day and age, that is still a predominantly female role.
You just have to love that title, too: The Perkiness Never Stops. It's oh so scary.


Over the next few weeks, I will be working deliriously in order to finish The Thesis. I attended a thesis workshop yesterday afternoon, during which someone from the graduate office hands out various forms and information, tells you about all the deadlines, scares you to death, and then sends you on your way, worrying about the fact that you will not, in fact, graduate. My favorite part of the whole workshop: I was handed a one-page listing of Common Errors in Grammar. I am a graduate student in English; should I be offended?

If I become too engrossed in my own turmoil throughout this process, feel free to point out my narcissistic ways - or just send me a bottle of wine or some chocolate.

Monday, January 22, 2007

I Defer To Those With Much Better Posts...

Click this link to be linked to other great links with great thoughts on great posts about great people who are pro-choice.

I know that sounds as if I make light of this topic. I don't. Read them. They're great, thought-provoking, and well written.

Blog for Choice Day

Blog for Choice Day
Originally uploaded by jenniek_ns.

Wow. I didn't realize how difficult it would be to do this until I just faced the empty text box. Difficult because I was raised Catholic and until several years ago was anti-choice. In fact, I still don't like the idea of abortion. Several years ago on my college campus, however, there was a group of pro-lifers with enormous photos of aborted fetuses. I was nauseated and disgusted. More than that, though, I felt assaulted. Who were these people who came on campus, assaulting students with images meant to manipulate and incite people? I was mad, but more than that, it made me think about abortion.

In a perfect world, I guess, there would be no abortion. Women wouldn't have to worry about getting pregnant if they had no desire to be. Women wouldn't be raped or abused. Women wouldn't be treated differently at a job if they had a child. Men would also be responsible, physically and financially, for that child. Women would have a support system if they decided to be single mothers.

But we don't live in a perfect world. I can't say as to whether or not I'd ever have an abortion. I've never been pregnant.

But mostly, and to echo because they put it so eloquently, I trust women. I trust myself to know whether or not I am making a good decision or a bad one. I trust the women I know to make the best decisions for themselves. I trust women. I trust that if a friend gets pregnant, it is her body, her choice, her decision to make. I trust that it may be an easy decision or a difficult one, but it is one that she alone can make.

Addendum: I never stated why I particularly am pro choice. I am pro choice because if I were pregnant, whether it be by a boyfriend, a one-night stand, a rapist - my life as I know it would end. And at 25, I don't know that I like this ending.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Woman's Marriage Bed - How Many Evils Has It Brought On Mankind

I don't blame you if you don't catch that one. Medea - Euripides. I'm knee deep in thesis work so excuse the lack of blogging lately. If anyone has a great passion for Medea and wants to chat, let me know. It's an interesting, disturbing text - well before she takes the sword to her children.

Violence in women - Topic for today. I watched the CBS Evening News last night with Katie Couric, and she discussed the "disturbing trend" of girl fights. Girl fights have increased by 24% apparently since 1995, while boy fights have decreased by 18%. (Notice no exact numbers were given so the increase doesn't necessarily mean there are more girl fights than boy fights, simply that there are more girl fights than there used to be. Also notice, this does not include inter-gender violence.) Viewers were warned that there were going to be "upsetting" images flashed across the scene.

Note: I'm not attempting to discount the horrible fact that these girls are taping fights where one girl is targeted and beat up by multiple others and then posting these tapes on the internet. However, there was a discussion last week at about how the media helps to propagate gender differences, and I think this is yet another way it is done.

Having said that, the author of the book See Jane Hit (Garbarino) appeared on the news, stating that for once, girls are realizing that they don't have to follow such gender-specific guidelines.
"It's very clear that girls are being told, 'Even good girls hit,'" Garbarino
told CBS News. "It's not surprising that some of them are taking that to
dangerous extremes."
Girls are no longer being told, "Nice girls don't hit." Part of me wonders if this trend is in response to that. These girls are growing up in a generation that is more aware that girls don't have to like pink and sit quietly in the background and let boys answer all the questions and get into the playground fights.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

With, Let's Face It, A Bit Of A Crush Now Really

I agree with This guy, Spain's Justice Minister, is extremely crushworthy. You can read the full article here, but when the Saudi government wouldn't allow women journalists into a men's only university, he refused to appear. Instead, he sent his speech while voicing his disapproval.
Muy impresivo. I have several feminist male friends, and I appreciate them all. However, I also know that it's pretty rare to find such a man who will stand up for women's rights. It's so much easier just to let it slide or give the speech, but Fernando Aguilar did not. I, for one, am glad.

Friday, January 12, 2007

So There is a Purpose for Girl Babies After All

But only when it is realized that the men won't have any women to marry. This article is interesting. I guess all those years of privileging the male do have drawbacks. These guys better hold off on the soy as well, or China could really be in for trouble.

Please, please sense the sarcasm, and don't send mean comments...

I Think It's a Clue!

Nancy Drew
Originally uploaded by Flame's.

Last night, I finished an absolutely wonderful book: Melanie Rehak's Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her.

I had picked it up when I was taking an independent study last year in Women's Lit. Of course, I was broke then and working feverishly to put out nearly 50 pages in research papers so I wasn't able to pick it up. But, now it's in paperback, and it's marvelous.

It's really a biography of the two women behind Nancy Drew, and it juxtaposes Nancy with her writers and the backstory of how it all got started. Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, daughter of the man who created the idea of Nancy because girls were less interested in "niceties and more about being brave and adventurous", picks up the business after her father's death and becomes instrumental in Nancy's success. Mildred Wirt, an intrepid young woman from Iowa, begins the stories and becomes Carolyn Keene, and the series became the most endearing and well-beloved in juvenile fiction. Rehak discusses the reasons behind this as well as the women themselves, who were much like independent Nancy Drew.

Rehak opens her book with the line, "Grab your magnifying glass, because this is a mystery story." I personally was transported back to the days when my mother would beg me not to read in the dark, as I could not put the book down. Rehak does a wonderful job in marrying history, non fiction, and bits and pieces from the actual novels to create a book that is extremely readable and enjoyable.

What's best - it points out what we as girls dreamt of: being independent, brave, and intriguing. As one critic put it, once the television version of Nancy tanked for slightly altering the characters: "You don't make a female character strong by playing her opposite a buffoon. You just make her strong..."

I think that may just be the best clue of all...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Because Apparently You're Only a Real Blogger When You Post a Pic of Your Pet

Don't judge me because I own the most adorable little dog you've ever seen. Yes, she's precious. Yes, she's a Yorkie. No, she's not yappie. Amazingly enough, if you raise them not to be yappie, they're not. Simple as that. But since I am constantly seeing pictures of cats and other bloggers' pets, I figured why not? Plus, it still relates to feminism. I get judged because I own a cute little dog. Really. I know. You feel so sorry for me, right?

Just for Fun

I wish they had a more expanded selection, but this website is still pretty fun.

I'm on a roll today.

This, This Right Here

This article is partially why I'm a feminist. In one of the many feminist blogs this past week, someone posted a comment that women are much to quick to call a man a stalker these days. I can't find the comment, but the commenter said that excessive phone calls are just a sign of "interest."

Having been the victim of - count it - more than one stalking episode, let's just say STOP IT. If I state that I am not interested, the phone calls need to stop (especially when I didn't give you the phone number in the first place). If a woman doesn't know who you are and you follow her, it's not ok. It's not healthy interest.

Healthy interest: speaking to a woman. Asking for her phone number (instead of finding it through alternative means or asking a friend). Introducing yourself. Knowing when to stop.

I think it's an interesting dichotomy that women are considered "crazy," "psychotic," and "deranged" so easily but men are "showing interest." Bull shit. It's scary, and it's wrong. And, as the chief of police in my city has told me, as he was part of the sex crimes division, this behavior typically escalates. In lesser instances, it causes women to screen each and every phone call. In other cases, it causes women to constantly check over their shoulders and walk to their vehicles with mace in hand. In sad and horrible instances, such as the linked article, it can end in murder.

Think about it the next time you dismiss stalking as "showing interest."

Take it off, take it all off

I honestly don't know how I missed this article in the Beaumont Enterprise today. Thanks to an anonymous friend for the tip. It covers the new craze of strip aerobics and the arrival of such exercise in southeast Texas. I can't quite wrap my mind around this one.

As the teacher of the class at World Gym says, "It's about doing something for yourself and feeling sexy," said Henson, who has taught the class about five months. "It's OK to move your body and have fun."

Ah, ok. And even some of the students have said that it has given them a better perspective on their own bodies, learning that regardless of looks, women can feel sexy, placing the emphasis internally instead of externally. I guess something that does that is pretty darn great.

I'm sure there are many opinions to the alternative, but in this era of self-loathing, the results of the class sound pretty good. Of course, I'm not sure that this is the way to go. Any takers?


Also, as an aside, feministe had a really great post and thread yesterday regarding self image. Since self image is something that I think both women and men are so screwed up about, it may interest you.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

If you have any information...

I recently have heard of an alarming story that occurred at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. The following text is from a friend, Ofelia Adame. She posted this on her myspace last month:

"Thought you guys might want to know about this since it probably will not be in the news.Yesterday (12/11/06) around 12:30 in the afternoon, a woman was found at the bottom of the Library's 3rd floor landing. I know this because a classmate of mine was the person to discover her. My classmate had been studying with a group in one of the rooms on that floor. Two adjacent rooms were occupied when this happened. Both rooms did note loud noises coming from the stairway but they said that it seemed to sound like people running up and down on the stairs. Both rooms assumed people from the opposite room were the culprits. Eventually, my classmate went the bathroom (as we know the stairway doors are located right next to the woman's restroom) and, looking through the staircase door window as she passed it, saw a purse lying on the ground. Upon further investigation she discovered the woman at the bottom of the steps.It looked as if she had fallen from the 3rd floor and landed between the 3rd and 2nd floor staircase, which later on proved to be false. She was unconscious when she was discovered. After a bit of time she gained consciousness momentarily and pronounced that she had been attacked. Her attacker had grabbed her from behind and dragged her to the 3rd floor landing and raped her. Once he was finished he then threw her down the stairs. She suffered a broken shoulder, arm, 5 broken ribs, and a concussion. It is suspected that the attacker was hidden on the stairs out of sight, as anyone who has taken the stairs knows that there is a space there that someone could easily hide in unnoticed.While the woman was receiving medical attention, students noticed a suspicious man lurking around the book stacks. Someone walked over and made eye contact with him and he quickly pulled his cap down over his eyes and headed to the elevator. The campus police were notified of this as the suspicious character seemed to get in line to check out a book. The police then said they would let him check out the book and get his name from the circulation desk. With one person in front of him, he suddenly walked out of line and exited the library and got away, unquestioned.I've been told that this is the third rape to occur in the Library staircase this year but it seems that these stories have been kept out of the media. I guess it would be bad PR."

I have since contacted all news outlets, searched websites and archives and been completely unable to find any information on this assault. I am currently on the phone with the Lamar University Police Department who confirms that there was an incident in the stairwell. Lieutenant Baddey (sp?) told me that a girl was in the stairwell on the fourth floor and felt someone touch her left shoulder but before she could turn to see, she fell down the stairs to the second floor. This differs quite a bit from the story I have heard thus far. However, I will continue to dig to find out the truth behind this incident.

On one hand, if the girl simply fell, I feel badly for her and hope she recovers. If, on the other hand, she was assaulted and raped and the university is covering it up for the sake of bad publicity, rest assured, I will cover it here.

In the meantime, if you have any actual information related to this event, please email me or leave a comment. Thanks.

Friday, January 05, 2007

But Mom, I Promise I'll Clean It Up

My apartment is a wreck. However, an article in today's Houston Chronicle tells me not to be worried about my apartment's state of disarray. Abrahamson and Freedman, authors of A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder "claim that if you're the type of person who is moderately disorganized — that is, you tend to scatter things, mix things around, let things pile up, do things out of order, be inconsistent and wing it — you're probably more efficient, resilient, creative and in general more effective than someone who is highly organized."

Well, of course, I am. I'll have to read the book (I'll add it to the list of many) and then let you know what I think, but at the moment, I am reminded of two young boys rapidly shoving clothes and toys under the bed and in the closets and then pointing to their Crayon drawings on the walls in their bedroom.

My favorite Crayon is cerulean. I'm about to go to town on the walls of my cubicle as my desk is also a wreck, and I have not felt the least creative today...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

don't take my word for it

"the new feminism"
Originally uploaded by beavers abroad.
take theirs.

ignorance is no longer a good excuse.

Rockabye baby

Pandagon is my new favorite blogs - ok, one of my new favorite blogs, but this post is just one of the reasons why.

They link to a book Wake Up, Little Susie by Rickie Solinger, which is now on my wish list as I am poor after Christmas. The book discusses reproduction and mental illness in women - which is exactly what my thesis is about. So read up, friends, it's good stuff and makes you think long and hard about the plight of women.

This, of course, leads me to an aside. The more vocal I have become in my beliefs lately, the more strange looks I get from family and friends. I understand what they're thinking - I am a twentysomething white woman. Do I really have it that bad? Yes and no. But in true feminist spirit, the more correct answer is - Yes, it is bad, and until all women have the privileges that I do - and more - I will continue to educate myself and others as much as possible. This isn't the Brangelina pact, 'I won't marry until everyone can marry' (although I like the idea, but just as all the other celebrity couples, they have been over-commercialized), but it is called solidarity. Solidarity - something I believe we are too much without these days.

So I apologize for the aside but not the meaning and sentiment behind it. Have a great day. And check out Pandagon.