April 18, 2007

Partial Birth Abortion Ban

Today, the Supreme Court passed a ban on partial-birth abortions, which is the first ban passed on an entire procedure. They did not include an exception that would allow the procedure to be executed if the doctor believed it was necessary in protecting the mother's health. This is disturbing because Roe vs. Wade protected women's right to an abortion, but if the Supreme Court can ban one procedure, what is stopping it from banning all abortion procedures if they deem them "unhealthy" and "dangerous". This is a great infringement on women's rights, and although there are other methods of abortion that work, it's the priciple that one method was banned without exception that is the problem. This story makes me worried and nervous about the furture of abortion rights for women.

Copycat Violence?

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18181333/

Along with the bomb threat that shut down several buildings on the East Bank of campus today, at least two students were shot at the University of Missouri. What troubles me most are the Minnesota student's reaction to the bomb threat, at least the people I've talked to. It reminds me of the readings and our discussion on violence and how as American's we live in a culture of violence. We are desensitized about violence, especially bomb threats and the like. Students are joking around, saying they are glad that they didn't have to go to class and other things of the like. Especially after Columbine, we have had a heightened awareness of the dangers of school shootings and bomb threats, but the increasing prevalence of copycat bomb threats, etc. have desensitized us to the severity of such acts. I am sad, confused, and angry, once again, that these acts and threats of violence continue to invade our everyday lives.

Are you serious?

rapist1.jpg

http://www.contactmusic.com/news.nsf/article/fascinating%20fact%203086_1027400

http://www.youbuynow.com/item/3510

I came across this information at Feministing.com. I am deeply disturbed that Toys'R'Us would endorse, let alone sell, this "toy" in their stores. It is troubling that they are making rapists into toys because young children are heavily influenced by the messages portrayed by Barbie, Bratz, GI Joe, and other popular dolls. I fear that this doll of Rapist No. 1 will tell children that being a rapist is OK, which it most definately is not. Another problem is that children won't understand the reference to the movie, and they may think that American society idealizes rapists, just as they idealize pop stars who also have their own dolls. I think that Toys'R'Us and other retailers should boycott the distribution of this toy, otherwise they are sending horrifying messages to the child population in America.

Virginia Tech

I am very distraught, depressed, and upset about the tragedy that happend at Virginia Tech yesterday. My heart goes out to all the victims, their families, and the survivors. I have no idea what it must have been like for everyone involved in this horrifying event. I feel that more action could have been taken to prevent more deaths and injuries, especially after the first shooting occurred. However, I was not in charge in the situtaion, and I'm sure those in charge thought they were doing the best they could under the circumstances. I have so many issues and problems with the Virginia Tech massacre, I feel the best thing I can do is keep all those involved in my prayers.

April 10, 2007

Amy's O

amys_o_175.jpg

This weekend, I watched Julie Davis' film, Amy's O. I wasn't expecting a feminist treatsie on the male-female power struggle in contemporary relationships, but I was pleasantly surprised at the film's execution. I was then required to write a cultural analysis of the movie for my composition class, so I will post this paper.

The "O" in Power

Americans are fueled by a desire for power, and in American society, power is mainly derived from sex, sexuality, beauty, and money. Women refuse sex to maintain the perception of power, while men seek it out to feel powerful over women. Heterosexual men have more power than heterosexual women who in turn have more power than homosexual men and women. Women undergo dangerous cosmetic surgery procedures in order to better fit America’s societal standard of beauty because they feel they will gain more respect and power in other aspects of life. The more money a person has, the more they can do and buy, and nothing emulates power like a multi-million dollar private jet. In the film Amy’s O, Amy Mandel reflects the subconscious power struggle of individuals in American society through her relationships with Matthew Starr, men in opposition of her, a catholic priest, and herself.
In American history, men have always been more powerful than women. Husbands would work and make money to provide for the family, and wives would stay home, dependent and submissive. In contemporary American society, women also leave the home to work. Women no longer have monetary dependence on men, and some women even make more than their male counterparts. This eradicates monetary power from a relationship. Amy and Matthew are both successful in the business world. Matthew implies that Amy is more successful than him by commenting on her owning a house whereas he only rents an apartment. However, both partners are monetarily successful, so money is not the prevalent power struggle in this relationship.
From Amy’s perspective, the underlying struggle is one for sexual power. She spends a significant amount of time primping in front of the mirror to make her self sexually desirable, but then denies herself sexual pleasure even after almost having an orgasm in public due to an erotic fantasy. She feels that once she has sex with Matthew, he will gain the power in the relationship. Amy even states, “The primary difference between a man and a woman is that man gets his self-esteem when a woman says yes and a women gets hers when she says no? (Amy’s O). Assuming self-esteem is directly linked to the perception of power, Amy is maintaining her power by denying Matthew sexual pleasure, even though she wants it herself. In American society, teenage girls are taught that denial of sexual pleasure makes men desire them more and men will lose interest as soon as girls have sex with them.
At the beginning of the movie, Amy is confident in her appearance. She doesn’t think she is fat, otherwise she wouldn’t eat marshmallow filled cakes all the time. However, after she and Matthew have oral sexual intercourse, she starts doubting her beauty and self-worth. She admits to a priest that she is scared Matthew will lose interest in her now that he has achieved his sexual conquest. She reverts to her insecurity that Matthew doesn’t want a relationship with her but only put in the effort because he wanted sex. Another time, she worries he hasn’t called her because he saw her butt. Immediately after a sexual experience with Matthew, she loses all self-confidence and reverts back to primal worries that appearance is the deciding factor of relationships.
This concern with physical appearance is prevalent in American society, where ninety-five pound women with large breasts and perfect skin are the epitome of beauty.
It is clear in Amy’s O that many men do not approve of Amy’s book. One man verbally attacks her in a lingerie store, another man tries to shoot her during a speech, and her own father claims if he wasn’t her father, he would try shoot her for telling women they don’t need men. In American society, heterosexual women only have more social power than homosexuals of both genders. Therefore, when men feel their power is threatened by a woman, they react by calling her a lesbian to reduce her status in society. Someone thinking Amy is a homosexual is an attack on her personal power, which is the most offensive insult. This is exemplified when Jerry Hegemen, a talk-show host, accuses Amy of being a lesbian. Amy quickly replies, “I don’t think I’m a lesbian because when I fantasize, I fantasize about sucking [a penis]? (Amy’s O). One can assume Amy was extremely offended by Jerry’s accusation because she broke other less important social norms (publicly speaking about sexual activities is generally not accepted in American society) in order to defend her heterosexuality.
Amy’s relationship with the priest reflects another yearning for power. She goes to confession to get reassurance and support of her book, life, and actions; the approval of another leads to self-confidence, which directly affects one’s perception of their own power. However, at the beginning of their relationship, Amy becomes aware of another power available in this relationship: sexual power. Amy has pornographic fantasies about “the thought of seducing a celibate man away from his allegiance to God? (Amy’s O). Amy is pleasured by the though of being able to draw a man away from God, mostly
because it means she has more powerful appeal than God. However, as her relationship with Matthew progresses, the dynamics of Amy’s relationship with the priest changes for the worse. Amy abandons her quest for sexual power over the priest as she now has a more direct struggle for sexual power with Matthew. More importantly, the priest’s growing jealousy towards Amy’s relationship with Matthew denies her the one thing she wanted most: reassurance. As their meetings in the church confessional progress, Amy’s brow changes from relaxed to tense, and she smiles less; both changes in expression suggest frustration and disappointment. The growing negativity becomes too much for Amy to handle when the priest states, “You have a unique talent for having bad taste in men? (Amy’s O). She tells him that their sessions have become too negative, meaning she is no longer getting the support she needs. Consequently, her self-esteem is waning, which means she feels less powerful. Americans are uncomfortable when they feel powerless, so Amy, like any typical American, did the only thing she could to salvage what little power was left for her in the relationship: she said no and ended the relationship on her terms. Since she made the aggressive action instead of being the passive recipient, she felt more empowered by the experience than the priest did.
At the end of the film Amy gives a speech. She states she’s “had a physical orgasm, but not a mental one, where you let someone inside and you really see yourself? (Amy’s O). Amy realizes sexual power does not only encompass the physical act of sex, but that one also has the power to decide whether or not to let someone else into their lives in a physical and emotional sense. Sex and love is not only about who has the power of attraction or conquest; it is also just as much about who is powerful enough to
let go of some less significant personal powers. Amy claims it takes a powerful person to admit he or she needs more in life; she says compromise is the greatest form of power one can have. Amy begins her speech by announcing she lied to those who read her book because she was young and didn’t understand love. Amy’s transition from a naive power-hungry American to one who realizes power takes many forms represents a metamorphosis many Americans have achieved but many more have not. Power and pleasure can work together; pleasure does not always have to be sacrificed for an acquisition of power, and compromise leads to the formation of a stronger person.

So Much For Mutual Understanding...

http://www.arabnews.com/?page=1§ion=0&article=94779&d=10&m=4&y=2007

Is marital rape still rape? This is a question to which many countries in the world would answer "no". Especially in Saudi society, where speaking of sex is a social taboo, there have been increased instances of women filing for divorce due to marital rape. If these women, who know and understand Saudi culture (they know sex is a taboo subject) are distressed enough to cross that threshold and speak out about their private lives, isn't this a subject that should be adressed more thoroughly not only by Saudi society but by all other societies as well? According to the article, “Wives are forced to enter into unwanted sexual activity with their husbands and are even beaten for not responding." That sounds like rape to me. Whats more appalling is that the men in this society don't feel this constitutes a problem. The article reveals: "42 percent of married Saudi men say they do not have sexual problems. Meanwhile, 93 percent of married women surveyed said they were experiencing sexual problems."

This article makes me feel frustrated, sad, and angry. To me, marriage is a bond that symbolizes mutual respect, understanding, and love for both partners. Consequently, marital rape is a direct violation of this covenant. Even if Saudi society has different views of marriage than I do, which is probably true, no man (or woman) ever has the right to violate another woman's (or man's) body just because he feels like it or wants sex. Even if Saudi society views wives as the property of husbands, that raises other problems. Most people (and animals, for that manner) do not engage in sexual activities with flatware, lamps, or sofas, which are other forms of "property". In that case, women can not be seen as property and must be acknowledged as human. Human beings have the right to choose whether or not to engage in sexual intercourse or any other sexual activities. Without much knowledge of Saudi culture, I am not qualified to interpret their cultural norms, but in any case, people are people, and although cliche, "one should treat others as he/she wants to be treated." I doubt any of these Saudi men would like sex to be forced upon them.

April 1, 2007

What's the Price for "Stardom"

This is something I found on Feministing.com. I think it is absolutely hilarious because these girls aren't acting- they believe what they're saying. They think what they are doing *empowers* women, but in reality it only degrades women and sets a standard that says,"slutty = success".

What's even more funny is that the groups name is the "Pussycat Dolls". First of all, pussy is a deragaotry term for vagina, and the word doll is not only condescending to women, but it takes away what little humanity is associated with these girls. They are in fact dolls- manufactured by the music corporations to fit stereotypes and fill every teenage boy's fantasy.

And remember, as long as your hot, you can be as dumb as roadkill.

Equal Rights?

http://www.slate.com/id/2162464?nav=tap3

This is an article about women in the Military, specifically the Army. The article addresses the issue that sexual assault is a huge problem on Army bases, and that there is a correlation between these rising statistics and the lack of privacy given to women in the Army.

This is disturbing to me because these women, just like the men, are risking their lives to protect our country, but because these women have vagina's, they have to utilize a buddy-system to decrease the chances of sexual assault. On the other hand, testosterone-filled men also need to have a buddy-system so that one man will hopefully talk the other out of sexually assaulting a woman officer.

Both women and men overseas have voluntarily forfeited their abilities to engage in sexual acts, but because men have penis's, they are able to TAKE what they want, whereas women in the Army must be fearful and cautious even in their own beds.

I am disgraced by this article, as military personelle have always been revered as honoralbe and having integrity. This is like a slap in the face to all of those who wholeheartedly support our military, even if we do not support the war.

They're Our Bodies

http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=local&id=5161172

This is an article/vido about how in California and Deleware have not approved the "sperm washing" procedure that "washes" HIV out of an HIV-positive male's sperm. This procedure is revolutionary as it allows couples comprising of an HIV-positive male and an HIV-negative female to concieve their own children via artificial insemination with little to no risk of transmitting the disease to the mother or the child. According to the article, there have been no known transmission of HIV due to this procedure.

What bothers me is that California and Deleware's state laws are prohibiting couples from using this relatively safe procedure to concieve their own children. Although there is a chance the procedure can transmit the disease, it is much safer than the alternative: sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse between and HIV-positive and an HIV-negative person almost always results in the transmission of the disease, and not only does it put the mother at risk, but it puts the child at risk as well.

Some people may argue that whoever contracted the HIV virus was irresponsible, and therefore should not be allowed to concieve children anyway. However, just as Mr. Hartmann in this article/clip, some people contract the dieseas through blood transfusions. Therefore, the attack on personal responsibility is faulty and ignorant.

I am once again frustrated at how our society allows legislation to attempt to control our bodies and personal choices. Whether it's abortion, the death penalty, gay marraige, and now concieving children, the law-makers in our country attempt to control choices far beyond the realm of legally right and wrong to what is morally sound and unsound.

March 6, 2007

A D**k in a Box? HOW DID YOU KNOW?!

My friend sent me this SNL clip today, and although I though it was hilarious, I had some problems with it. First of all, what girl in her right mind would like to receive a “dick in a box? as a gift? Not only is it a cheap gift, a man can reuse his “gift idea? with any girl, AND it’s implying that all women will be content just as long as she’s sexually satisfied. Justin Timberlake is going to show you you’re special by giving you his penis in a box. I, personally, would rather have something personal, it’s the thought that counts, right? And jewelry isn’t bad… I understand that this is a SNL skit, and it is just for fun, games, and a few laughs, but isn’t there a problem that people think demeaning women to sex-craving whores? In the end, I realize the skit was so stupid it’s funny, but the implications it provides makes it lose all the laughs.

Sack of Bones

skinny3.gif

I was watching TV over the weekend, either VH1 or MTV (it was that weird time during the day when nothing is on) and on came a commercial that made me sick to my stomach. There is a little girl, probably 10 years old, saying things like “You’re ugly?, “fatso?, “fatty?, “nobody likes you?, etc. Then the camera pans out and you see that the girl is actually taking to her reflection in the mirror. Then, in print, something along the lines of “1 in 10 ten-year-olds has tried dieting? (don’t quote me on that, but it was some statistic that was way too high).

What is our society coming to that ten year olds feel they are too fat? THEY ARE STILL GROWING. True, not everyone grows out of their “baby fat?, but is being a stick figure at ten worth malnutrition. Of course, the media is at fault, once again, for this one. Why wouldn’t a little girl want to be skinny and pretty when all of her celebrity role models are paper thin? Thanks to Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Richie, and Mary-Kate Olsen, eating disorders have been publicized as the cool way to lose weight and ultimately become deathly skinny. How are young girls supposed to be comfortable with their bodies when they are attacked by billboards, magazine covers, actresses, and TV stars that are all beautiful, thin women. Even ugly and overweight people are made fun of in movies and TV shows. I remember in one of the skits in the show All That, the kids called a kid Pizza Face, alluding to terrible acne. The media is instilling a “skinny or nothing? belief in the minds of young children everywhere, and I’m sick of it.

February 22, 2007

Evolution of Who?

feminism.gif

I was actually looking up images for a biology presentation when I came across this picture, and I found it to be painfully truthful. Over time, men have “evolved? in many facets of life. For example, from hunting to farming to earning money to buy food, men have evolved in their methods. On the other hand, women have always been seen as the home-maker. Even in our changing society where more women are present and respected in the professional world, they are still expected to clean the house, take care of the kids, etc.

One thing I find to be contradictory is that the cartoon depicts men changing over time. True, the methods and ways of which things are done by men have changed, but men are still seen as dominant and women as submissive. The problem is rooted in society, for society frames and enforces gender roles. The cartoon accurately portrays men’s ability to branch out and participate in new facets of life, but women are still restricted by the social structure of the “submissive woman?.

Although changes in our society are starting to become more prevalent (ex: more stay at home dads and working moms), they are not occurring at a degree that will inspire a broad social shift in the ways genders are constructed by our society.

The realizations I gained from this cartoon make me feel sad and frustrated, but at the same time, I feel more motivated to break the glass ceiling that has been showing women what we could reach, but is not letting us reach it.

February 20, 2007

A Delightfully Pleasant Car Commercial...

Yesterday night, as I was watching Prison Break on Fox, one commercial really stood out to me. It was an advertisement for some kind of car (maybe Chevrolet, but I’m not 100% sure). Anyway, the thing that stood out the most was that a woman/wife was driving the SUV, and the man/husband was in the passenger seat admiring their little girl.

In most car commercials I’ve seen with both a woman and a man in the car, the man is driving. I think that this commercial is reflective of the gradual gain in power women are achieving in our society. Although wages are still not equal for women and men, more and more women are becoming respected professionals in fields that were originally dominated by males (doctors, lawyers, etc.). To have a woman driving when there is a capable man ready to do it is suggesting a shift in sex-based power.

Secondly, the way the father is lovingly admiring his young daughter is reflective of the growing role fathers now have in raising their children. It is now more common (though, not commonplace) for fathers to have more integral roles in child-rearing other than providing financial security.

Thirdly, the couple’s young daughter is in a pink car seat, with a pink tutu and a wand… the family is most likely returning from a dance recital or performance of some sort. This reflects our society’s construction of (and dependence on) gender differences between little boys and little girls.

Two delightfully progressive points made in a commercial selling a car is not bad, especially by our society’s standards. Kudos to the car company that made this commercial.

February 18, 2007

Sex and Power

kids.jpg

In the movie Kids, directed by Larry Clark, there is a scene where one of the boys says something along the lines of: “Girls love giving head, it’s the only time where they feel they have some power.?

I was offended and upset by this comment. In the context of the movie, the teenage boy says this, and then it cuts to a scene with a bunch of girls talking about sex. The girls say how they hate giving head. The boy’s misconception, though, offended me. I am in a very secure relationship with my boyfriend, and we are mutually invested in the relationship. In fact, in all the relationship’s I’ve had, there has never been a sexually-linked power struggle. Although, I don’t deny these power struggles do occur in relationships, to say that all girls like giving head because it makes them feel powerful, and suggesting that unless we are performing oral sex, we are powerless, is rude, insulting, and wrong.

Satire?

http://womensspace.wordpress.com/2007/02/10/rape-only-hurts-if-you-fight-it-white-men-and-freedom-of-speech/

John Petroski wrote this supposed “satire? on how rape benefits society. I personally am disgusted and insulted that he could go so far as to say, “Take ugly women, for example. If it weren’t for rape, how would they ever know the joy of intercourse with a man who isn’t drunk?? I am so angry; I am almost at a loss for words. As a rape survivor, I find this article particularly disturbing…

First of all, ugly women are not the only ones who get raped. There is no understanding a rapist’s mind, but I find it hard to believe that as a rapist is choosing his victim, he is thinking, “Well, this girl is ugly, so I’ll be doing her a favor while I satisfy my needs.? I am a pretty girl, and I do not think that the man who raped me cared what I looked like. His only intention was to take advantage of who he could. Unfortunately, that was me.

Second of all, Petroski says, “No self-respecting man would rape in the first place, so ugly women are guaranteed a romp with not only a sober man, but a bad boy too, and we all know how much ladies like the bad boy.? Not all ladies like bad boys, and to say that ugly women want sober, bad boys to violate their bodies is completely out of line.

Rape is a sensitive subject in our society, as I’m sure it is in others. His ridiculous attempt at a satire was not funny, and it did not inspire positive social change (like satires are supposed to). Aside from the obvious disappointment I have in Petroski, I am even more disappointed at the editors of the paper for printing this article. One of the people in the chain of command should have had the common sense to not print an article that attempted to justify rape at the expense of ugly women and prisoners.