Feminism Friday – The Blog

Reflections of a young feminist… and much more!

Mad Minutes: Gay Marriage May 27, 2009

Filed under: LGBTQ — feminismfriday @ 1:41 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

I hate that this is even a debatable issue. Gay marriage is a human rights issue, not a matter of personal opinion.

There are a number of quotes related to this cause that are becoming very well known like; “If you don’t agree with gay marriage, do not marry a gay person”. It gets the point across that these are human rights not straight people rights. In other words, it really doesn’t hurt people to have gay marriage exist, however, it certainly does when you deny people a right another group of people has access to. That is blatant discrimination!

The fact that you are religious does NOT give you the right to spread hate under the guise of freedom of speech. You are a bigot! Hate crimes and related comments should not be covered under the US constitution in any situation.

This post is a result of the Prop 8 decision being upheld by the California Supreme Court and because of Miss California’s response to Perez.


Transitioning to a New Family May 25, 2009

I am the neice of a trans man. My new uncle has given me permission to share his story with whom ever I choose, he is not ashamed of his life or decisions. Quite frankly, neither am I. I could not be more happy, and have felt this way from the moment I was informed that this change would be going on. I was excited because I had seen some of the stuggles this person had gone through in their life and things sort of made sense now. I was instantly overwhelmed with the feeling that things would go much better for them now.

My uncle had books and pictures for the family to check out if they were interested, some were a bit graphic for my grandmother but nothing really shocked me. At the time, I was a student in a feminist/anti-oppression college program and I had also been spending a fair amount of time in the LGBTQ community. I was a bit concerned for how my uncle would be accepted by others as he lives with his two children in a small town and is also a long-time member of the Canadian military.

At the time when he told me of his decision, the process had not really started. There was no binding of the chest, merely the person I had grown up knowing as my aunt, dressed as per usual in stereotypically male clothing with a short hair style. Since then, he has started taking hormones and binding as well as changing the spelling of his name to a more masculine or gender-neutral spelling. This has made it easier for most of the family, who are not always so open-minded, to accept some of the changes. Overall, I like the new spelling of the name and the expression that a name can in fact be gender-neutral.

Side Note: Originally, he had intended on changing his name to something entirely different, something very male. I am not sure for the exact reasoning of sticking with the same name, but I know there was some resistance from my mother as well as other family members at various points along this journey. I however, do not feel that someone elses discomfort should be a reason to give into their wishes, to appease them while ignoring yourself, but this may not have been the only reason for the decision in the end.

I must admit, sometimes, I screw up with pronouns. I seriously never do this when making a comment about the larger trans community. For example, during a workshop on feminism where the topic comes up, I answer a few questions about the process and correct people who use the wrong pronouns in discussions. But for some reason, when it comes to this person who is in my family, I often screw it up. Part of this is because it is still new. The name and pronoun change has only been official for about a year, maybe not even that long. Another part of it is because I had always called him, Aunt … , thus gendering him even before the use of he vs she. I can say though, that when I screw up, I always correct myself. I can only imagine how difficult it was for my uncle’s youngish children to remember to call him dad instead of mom as they always had.

So my first question is, why do we do this? Teach children with the most basic words used to describe family relations that there is a concrete difference between boys and girls. Mom/Dad, Aunt/Uncle, Grandpa/Grandma, Niece/Nephew and so on….

My second question is, how do you explain physical differences between male and female bodies to young children, say for sex-ed type purposes, without ignoring the fact that some people may have physical appearances that do not match their gender identity?

I am reminded of a story out of the states last year where a teacher returned from summer vacation a different gender than the one they left for summer vacation as. However, I have been unable to find a link to the story. I think it is important that children take that opportunity to learn to love and be open-minded as opposed to learning hate.

Related: The Elementary Teacher’s Foundation of Ontario has recently released a press release calling for the teaching of LGBTQ issues in elementary school.

*** Cross-Posted at the Feministing Community ***


Does Feminism Still Matter? May 22, 2009

I found this great list of the top reasons why we still need feminism in 2009. Thanks to the Blog Against Sexism Day site, which was March 8th aka International Women’s Day.

  • Women are still underpaid. Women earn only 77 cents to every dollar earned by men. (Former MA democratic Lt. Gov. Evelyn Murphy is doing great things to shake this up…check out www.womenaregettingeven.org) Also, can 1 million women against WalMart be hallucinating? This is serious!
  • Women are still massively underrepresented in the sciences. Despite substantial gains in the number of women pursuing graduate degrees in the sciences, women currently earn only 20% of all PhDs in computer science, less than 27% in physics, and only 17% in engineering. Studies show that women in science experience discrimination and double standards (sorry Larry Summers, but its really true.)
  • There are too few female tenured professors. Despite the fact that women have been at least half of all college undergraduates since 1978, women represent only 36% of all tenured faculty nationwide, and only 13% of doctoral granting universities boast women presidents. Many women in academic settings report discrimination.
  • Women are underrepresented in corporate leadership. Women have made up more than 40% of the workforce since 1977, and are currently almost 50%, yet only 9 women are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.
  • Too few women lawyers make partner. Women have been 40% of all law school students since 1995, and over half since 2001, but are only 15% of partners in law firms nationwide. Many female lawyers attest to double standards and discrimination.
  • Media: Stereotypes Abound!
  • Men still dominate the airwaves, music industry, film industry, etc, and are most decision makers and critics (often with a silent or not so silent male perspective.) Women make up only 11% of the national experts on Sunday morning political talk shows, and only 6% to 7% of the repeat guests. No major record label is headed by a woman. Most major film studios are headed by men, and nine out of ten music videos are produced by men. For the most part, women need to be sex objects and to be young to be successful in music and to some extent, films, TV. (Men,not so much…can you say Sean Connery? Harrison Ford? Woody Allen? David Letterman? Larry King?.) Women are chosen/allowed to direct only 5 – 7 % of major Hollywood films, and rarely are nominated for or win major awards for directing (despite some very talented female directors out there.) This is not just Hollywood insanity….it’s workplace discrimination.
  • Women are poorer. Women constitute about 70% of the world’s absolute poor – those living on less than a dollar a day. In the United States in 2004, there were 20.1 million women living below the poverty level. Worldwide, women’s access to resources and education still lags behind boys/men due to double standards.
  • Slavery still exists! Women and girls are the majority of the 800,000 to nearly 4 million people trafficked (bought and sold as property) internationally every year.

Mad Minutes: Hypocritical Politicians

Filed under: LGBTQ — feminismfriday @ 11:57 AM
Tags: , , , , , , ,

While I cannot wait to see this movie, actually I am a documentary junkie, the topic is a bit upsetting to me.  Check it out!

(Maybe that could become another feature of the site, my reviews of documentaries or at least a monthly suggestion of one or two to watch. If you are trying to gain publicity for your video I cannot promise much but I am willing to watch anything and give some feedback publicly, leave a comment here. Maybe call it DocJunk?)

It infuriates me that these politicians are so anti-gay publicly and then are actually living a gay lifestyle in private. This is school-yard bullytactics and I certainly do not see how it falls under the rule of law.

For a happy follow-up check out this kid who is rallying for gay marriage rights;

*** Thanks to the 92nd Edition of Carnival of Liberals for linking to this article ***


Being a Feminist on a Diet…

Is this okay? Did I just admit to some horrible faux-pas in the world of hard-core feminists. Am I allowed to not be okay with the current shape of my body? Will I be struck down in a god-like move by Nellie McClung or some similar historical feminist for watching what I eat and working out in an attempt to loose at least 15 pounds?

Why do I feel bad about my body? I am not sure, as I know my partner loves me the way I am and would love me at any weight. It may be a bit about being around all of my skinny girlfriends but really and truly, I think it is about the way I feel about my body. However, I do not live in a vacuum, in fact I used to be a part of the very industry I am about to criticize. That is right another attack on modeling. No surprise right?!

As a former model I actually have knowledge of how little I look like myself once I am in front of the camera, and how I change even more once Photoshop gets involved. I have never been ashamed to let other women know that my thigh was likely slimmed down in this photo or that. I stopped modeling and went back to a healthy weight – literally a 22 BMI from a 18/19. But now I am almost at 25, my age and my BMI are about to meet again. So on that level I should at least not gain anymore weight if I am to believe all the hype about healthy BMI’s which I am inclined not to.

So why do I feel some form of guilt every time I think about restraining and not having that extra cookie or piece of bread? I actually feel as if I am abandoning my cause and letting the patriarchy control the way I feel about my body. I feel as if I am leaving all my plus-size, curvy and gorgeous women behind.

And on that note, I feel like I am leaving the old me behind. See I have been here before, here and much heavier in fact. And I was never happy then! Not just because of my weight but because I was withdrawn and anti-social. Looking back I wonder how much of this was because I felt ashamed and influenced by the media to look a certain way. However, I can feel myself starting to pull away again now.

I miss having the relative freedom of being a student in a big city walking from place to place, taking your sweet time and yet never seeming to be late. I hate that I am now tied to working two jobs in a small town, always rushing to get from one place to a next, never having time to walk the distance to the next destination. Downtown may seem small but when you try to get from one side to another you still discover it takes you about an hour, which means loosing money and being late for work – not an option. However, I cannot deny that being to broke for a car, got my ass to walk from place to place, making weight gain something I had no need to be concerned about. (For more on how poverty makes people poor – check out this article in the Washington Post).

So I make enough money now, barely, to pay the bills mostly on time, pay the rent, and own a used car that I paid less that $2000 for. But I have no time to workout, no time to get out during the day and enjoy, no time to ensure I cook the most healthy meals, and barely enough time to get to the grocery store anyways. See small town businesses also have much shorter hours, no 24 hour grocery stores, we have one 24 hour gas station that doesn’t even sell milk. WAIT… I got way off track!

This is about feminism and loosing weight, dieting, exercising. But I guess that is a great example of how things intersect. Nothing exists in a vacuum and therefore there are external influences on how one behaves and interacts with others. I guess what I am concerned about is the fact that I am concerned about my weight and body image. If, I, a beauty industry insider and hard-core feminist can be swayed by the misogynist view on women presented in fashion magazines, what hope do our young women have? Why should we expect our youth to not diet and love their own bodies, as the Dove ad suggest, if we cannot do it ourselves?

I want to be a role model for young women and so I have committed to myself, and now to the world, that I will only loose weight if I can do it easily with a focus on being active, balanced and super healthy! I will not go on a diet, I will get toned by getting out an enjoying nature with a run and treat my body as a temple deserving of better than the junk I have been feeding it. I am going to find a way to be a feminist who loves the way she looks in the mirror and the way she feels inside.

And contray to what the title may have you believe, I will NOT be a feminist on a diet!


Abortion on “The View” May 19, 2009

So yesterday was a holiday up here in Canada – Victoria Day. So I had the day off from work and as a result I had some time to watch daytime television, primarily “The View“.  Most of the time I watch this show because of the controversy that is created as a result of the different political opinions from each co-host. And yesterday’s show was no exception…

The topic found its way to Abortion. Quite frankly I cannot even remember how it happened only that it was during the first segment in a week full of Hot-Topics (my fave episodes for sure!). As a note, the second segment talked about the pregnant 66 year old women, and most of the opinions were the same as they were in the first, which I will now elaborate on further.

What you are likely aware of if you have ever seen about 5 minutes of The View is that Elizabeth in staunchly Republican and extremely Conservative in her line of thinking and political decision making. As a result, she is, as she would likely claim, obviously “pro-life”. She believes that women have abortions out of convenience and that it is always an easy decision for them. When other members of the panel argued that maybe it wasn’t such an easy decision she used it as a reason to deny all women access to legal abortion. She seems to be the type that believes it is only slutty, non-monogamous, career-hungry women who do not use birth control that ever receive an abortion.

Then we have Joy and Whoopi, who most viewers would likely guess are pro-choice, and I think we can guarantee this after yesterday’s episode. Whoopi was primarily concerned with keeping choice for women who are poor or unable to afford to raise a child. Joy went a step further by arguing that she in fact is pro-life and that those that call themselves pro-life should actually refer to their cause as Anti-Choice since that is what it is really all about. Pro-choice people do not advocate anti-life, in fact very often abortion activists are really concerned with all aspects of reproductive health including full-term pregnancies.

To me, none of this was particularily surprising. I have come to know the panel as; 2 democrats, 1 republican, 1 person who is usually confused, and 1 person who tries to remain neutral but is obviously liberal minded. What surprised me was the news that Sherri had herself had an abortion at age 17. She claims that she went to Planned Parenthood upon discovering her newly pregnant state, where she says she was slightly pressured into making a decision to abort that she was having second thoughts about.

While I cannot comment on the specific nature of Sherri’s experience, and in fact she should be allowed to define her own “herstory” however she chooses. I would suggest that most Planned Parenthood workers are excellent people who provide information and allow clients to make uninfluenced decisions. Either way, Sherri mentioned that she has dealt with a great deal of guilt as a result. However, Sherri clarifies that despite some second-thoughts and guilt she is pro-choice as she does not want to go back to when abortion was illegal, back to a time of coat-hangers and back-alleys.

Half of Elizabeth’s response to Sherri’s story should be further explored… She asked if it was possible if the guilt resulted from the stigma or judgment surrounding the procedure? (I think a likely possibility!) OR if it really was about women regretting their decision? So what do you think?

For further reading on this topic I highly recommend Jennifer Baumgardner’s – Abortion and Life. As well as checking out my previous post on Pregnancy Care Centres.

*** Cross-Posted on the Feministing Community ***


Mad Minutes: Anti-Choice Feminists May 14, 2009

I would like to take a quick minute to get something off of my chest… Anti-choice feminists do not exist! In fact, they CANNOT exist.

Feminism is about one thing; choice! True choice that is informed and free of barriers to access. If you believe that one possible and legal choice is no longer valid for women or for all people then you do not believe in choice. If you do not believe in choice, you cannot be a feminist.

In my personal experience, those feminists who claim to be “pro-life” are actually “pro-choice” they are just adamant about their own refusal to ever have an abortion, while still respecting the decision of other women to undergo the procedure. Remember the Daily Show’s Samantha Bee video at the RNC with all the use of the word decision to refer to Palin’s daughter’s “choice” to keep the baby. I think you get the point!

Choice is the main thing that separates feminists from non-feminists. Are you in or out?

(Considering starting a new sub-heading called Mad Minutes – for stuff that is short and easy to post/discuss but is currently getting me fired up! What do you think?)