February 2010 Archives

Birth Control Summary

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Although birth control has been around for quite some time, avoiding pregnancy wasn't always this convenient. Before the emergence of birth control, there were many other methods tried. Most of them were dangerous for the user or not very easy to use or effective. Discovering the birth control pill was a revolutionary time for women. Giving them the option to be able to control when they wanted to reproduce in a safe way was very liberating.

Planned Parenthood has had a huge impact on the St. Paul - Minneapolis area. Not only does the organization assist individuals in getting the health care they need, but it makes contraceptives easily accessible for many people. Planned Parenthood also does an excellent job on educating the community about many sex related topics, including contraceptives. The advocacy programs that Planned Parenthood provides has people speak out about making sure sexually active individuals be smart and stay safe.

The benefit of birth control has been present for women since the 60's. New research has shown a possible birth control pill for men in the future. Studies have begun to understand the reproductive hormones in the male, which has made this a possibility. It doesn't seem like the freedom for men to control their fertility as well is too far down the road.

There is a lot of information about birth control, and most women are aware of the wonderful benefits that go hand in hand with the pill, yet there are still many people within our country that do not obtain birth control for various reasons. It is important to address the reasons why women do not acquire the pill when they are trying to avoid pregnancy.

It is astonishing to see how much education has an effect on the amount of women who use contraceptives and on the number of children they have. More contraceptives are used by women who have a higher education. As the amount of education a women has increases, so does the age at which she has her first child. It is also proven that the number of children a woman has decreases as the amount of education she has increases.

clear/concise definition with unity


Feminism is obviously a political issue. As on the front of 'Feminism is for Everybody' by Bell Hooks it states, "Passionate Politics" It is something that can be extremely controversial and is something that women have been fighting for for a substantial amount of time now. The thing that strikes me most about the fact that it is a political issue is the fact at how global it is and how it is a battle and it loses steam and gains it in the course of the fight. This is how many political issues go, and the political issue of feminism and 'gender equality' is no different. There is such a wide range of support and interest in the fight for gender equality, and this is what drives the fight and makes is such an issue of legitimate 'politics'. Since there is so much interest in it and since it affects almost every person in the world, it is immediately considered something of politics. As far as it being global, it is emphasized in 'Feminism is for Everybody' that all over the world 'female freedom fighters' have been struggling against the patriarchy and male domination. However, earlier in the reading of 'Feminism is for Everybody' it specifically emphasizes that feminism is not only a female's fight, but a male's fight as well. It says that it effects everyone and is not only a woman's issue in any way, shape or form. It is contradictory statements like this one that lead to fall-backs in the fight for feminism. The feminism fight and political issue needs to create a more clear-cut and concise definition of what their goal is. Bell Hooks states that women of all types are saying that they are so called 'feminists', when they don't even know why they are and what makes them different or defines them as 'feminists'. The movement needs more precision. Just as with politics, issues that do not have precise goals never get the time of day and nothing gets improved. Lastly, as far as global feminism goes. The fact that the feminist movement is so global, is the reason it creates such a boom and can be considered a political issue. However, the global aspect of the movement is also creating segregation among the 'freedom fighters' It is as if the "privileged-class white woman swiftly declared their 'ownership' of the movement, placing working-class white women, poor white women and all women of color in the position of followers". This is wrong and when one thinks of a party's political fights, no party ever makes advancements on their political issues without uniting the political party as one. This is the same with feminism since feminism is a political issue. The fighters in the movement need to unite and make a common goal and then give it their best efforts. Without doing these things the political issue of 'feminism' will never go anywhere and will be at a constant stand-still.

Work: Summary (Nursing)

Tracking the issue of the occupation of nursing helped our group learn a lot more about how all-encompassing feminism is and how deeply entrenched, feminism is in our society. We learned that nursing went through many changes throughout its history and is a constantly-changing dynamic career. We decided to research about nursing in particular because we wanted to explore more about this highly stereotyped occupation and understand how it came to be a feminized job and why.

Through our research, we found recurring statements confirming the fact that nursing is an overwhelmingly female profession. Only about 5.4 percent of the nurse workforce in the US is made up of males. Moreover, male nurses are seen as "anomalies, effeminate, or homosexual" (Journal of Advanced Nursing). These stereotypes re-instate nursing as women's work and in some ways discourage potential male nurses from becoming nurses. These stereotypical views of the nurses may contribute to the shortage of nurses that has occurred since at least 2003. More significantly, men are predominant in the physician health care area, which is somewhat oppressing to females because many times, nurses are seen as subordinate to physicians and since nurses are mostly female, this leads to the conclusion that women are inevitable "inferior" to males. As a result, this issue shows that sexism and feminism go hand-in-hand. As long as sexism exists, feminism will have to exist as well.

On the other hand, looking back at the history of nursing, it is interesting to note that the job of the nurse/caretaker was once a dominantly male occupation during the Roman Era and even during the mid 1800s. It wasn't until 1894 when female nurses started to collaborate and form the Female Nursing Schools in New York and the American Nursing Association(ANA). The ANA excluded men until 1930 and had the goal of keeping men out of military nursing. Looking at the present situation, one can see that the women to male ratio of nurses changed from one extreme to the other extreme, similar to the motion of a pendulum.

Nevertheless, the move towards gender-equality in nursing can be seen through the increase in males in nursing schools. In addition, male nursing students are getting together to raise awareness of existing future male nurses. For instance, a group at the University of Minnesota called Men Enjoying Nursing (MEN) was formed to fight this stereotype that nursing is a job for women only. This group has a significant impact in solving this issue and impacting feminism because it allows men to realize that there are several men in the nursing profession. Also, forming groups like these can eventually familiarize the public with male nurses and can encourage other males to pursue the career of a nurse, which may eliminate the shortage of nurses as well as even out the male to women ratio.

Group Members: Monique Campbell, Carly Knickelbein, Mallory Brothen, Yein Kim

narrow "the political"


I think the term "the political" should be narrowed and specified rather than generalized and broad. According to the book, Feminism is for Everybody, "Feminist politics is losing momentum because feminist movement has lost clear definitions." We have and know these clear definitions of feminism but the problem occurs when they aren't being shared to the public; that is when confusion comes into play. Hooks states that for a person to understand feminist politics, they have to understand the definition of sexism. Most people don't fully understand sexism and if they do, they don't consider it to be a problem in the feminist movement. People are getting their information from unreliable sources that only focus on mainly gender base equality. Hooks also states that politics is being slowly removed from feminism because people are generalizing that there are many different versions of feminism. I believe if feminist politics can narrow their definition, it would be easier for the world to understand what feminism is and what it truly stands for. There wouldn't be the option of thinking that there are numerous definitions for feminism. If feminist politics can be narrowed, a chain affect would occur; the correct and clear definitions of feminism would be shared to the world and a better understanding of feminism would be interpreted.

Has anyone else had access denied?


Hey everyone, just wondering if anyone is having, or has had an issue with accessing certain aspects of the UThink Blog features. At this point, I know I don't have access to most of the features from the dashboard, such as "preferences", "tools", and "design". Also, I cannot access the cumulative list of comments made on my entries (which is helpful for compiling blog info to hand in for grading), found on the right side of the Dashboard page.

Ideas? Suggestions?

Here is an image of what I get when I click on those things I listed above:
access denied image.png

I can't think of anything I did that I shouldn't have...

The Transvaluation of "Shit": a political issue


"When we look at culture through the lens of shit, we end up transvaluing shit. And when we transvalue shit, we transform a culture based on domination of others and exploitation of the natural world."

"The flipside of progress is shit. The concept of shit, in fact, of something both disgusting and superfluous -- and disgusting precisely because superfluous -- is uniquely capitalist; is uniquely the product of a surplus-producing economy. Only within an economic system predicated upon not only the possibility but the exigency of excess, surplus, profit -- only within such an economic and cultural system can there be a concept of uselessness, discardability, flushability."

-- M. Cortez, Scatologist

When Barbara Ehrenreich writes, "Almost everything we buy, after all, is the product of some other person's suffering and miserably underpaid labor," she not only establishes the political significance of underpaid labor - a point she makes throughout her essay - but also of individual, consumerist choices: choices seemingly inconsequential, because their consequences are made invisible (in order for some to freely reap the benefits). In the spirit of Cynthia Enloe, I pose the question: what does delimiting "the political" do? For "the political" just may be as infinite as the questions not asked -and, thus, unexplored: so, rather than speaking of the political importance of "shit" work, perhaps it would be more productive to consider the political consequences of devaluing such work as "shit" (shit work/work shat (?))- situating that which has been situated as worthless at the forefront of the discussion.

shit work.jpg familial capitalism.jpg

The intention of my curiosity on this issue stems from Ehrenreich's discussion at the conclusion of her essay, "Maid to Order," where she illuminates the "consequence-abolishing effect" of constantly being cleaned up after - of regarding oneself as free from recognizing the waste one produces; which does produce an effect (and an affect), that is not inconsequential (or invisible - not to those upon whom it weighs). Shit, of course, is, by definition, an adverse category - on the hierarchy of value, "shit" is by far the lowest variant - and, as Ehrenreich states, those whose livelihoods depend upon the waste of others are expelled from the vault of value: flushed away, as it were, out of sight - out of mind - out of political discourse. What Ehrenreich aims to propose at the close of her essay is a transvaluation of 'shit'; suggesting that Were 'shit' to be made visible, the consequences of individual waste would be made visible as well.

Personal is Political

"In feminist terms, the 'personal is political' refers to the theory that personal problems are political problems, which basically means that many of the personal problems women experience in their lives are not their fault, but are the result of systematic oppression." This theory--that women are not to blame for their bad situations because they experience gendered oppression and massive structural inequalities--is important to contemplate in discussing all topics of feminist debate, including ones of reproductive rights and work equality that we have covered in class thus far.
Within the 'personal is political' debate, one issue I find particularly interesting has to do with what is often called "woman-blaming"--the idea that if only women could stop doing things that conflict with their ability to attain equal treatment within society, behavior that works to perpetuate their own oppression, that many of their problems would go away. From the past week's discussion on domestic workers, a strong argument has been made for this. In "How Serfdom saved the Women's Movement," Caitlin Flanagan discusses "how so many middle-class American women went from not wanting to oppress other women to viewing that oppression as a central part of their own liberation."[pg.111] The outcomes of the professionalization of women in America pinpoints the hypocrisy that has arisen as a result of the struggle for equal representation within the workforce. When it comes to women wanting to make their mark outside the home, the personal has indeed become an increasingly political topic. How they choose to resolve the personal affairs at home has great implications for how, quote unquote, "powerful women" within society are able to positively represent the feminist movement, and (more importantly) how the true status of women in the world is able to evolve and improve over time.

Feministing Event

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I just came across this, and thought it may be something you fine folks could enjoy as well.

Feministing Panel at UofM

Hope your weekend has been lovely thus far. :)

Question 5: 3/2-3/4

Term: the Political

Since we don't have any readings for this week, I thought you could respond to some more open-ended questions that are central to our discussion of feminism, feminist debates, and feminist strategies for social justice. Group A should post their entries by Sunday (2/28) and Groups B and C should comment by Tuesday (3/2) at noon.

How have the feminists that we have read so far defined the political?
What is meant by the feminist idea, "the personal is political"?
How broad (or narrow) of a term should "the political" be?
What makes an issue a political issue?

Make sure to connect your discussion directly to (at least) one of the readings we have done so far.

Work: Local Importance/Impact of Nursing

According to the article "Critical condition: Minnesota's nursing shortage," since 2003 Minnesota hospitals had a shortage of nurses. More importantly, the article stated that every patient added to a nurse's work load increased a patient's risk of dying by 7%. This demonstrates how impacting the nursing issue is in our community. The biggest reason for this shortage is attributed to the lack of nurse educators. There are not enough professors that can teach nursing students to allow them to graduate and become nurses. Many students end up on the wait list to get into nursing schools. Minnesota plays a huge role in the occupation of nursing because schools in Minnesota produce about 78% of the state's nursing graduates.

As expected, women outnumber men by a ratio of 16-1 at a national level. At the U of M, the ratio of nursing students of women to men is 6 to 1. Thus, a group at the University of Minnesota called Men Enjoying Nursing (MEN) was formed to fight this stereotype that nursing is a job for women only. This group has a significant impact in solving this issue and impacting feminism because it allows men to realize that there are several men in the nursing profession. Also, forming groups like these can eventually familiarize the public with male nurses and can encourage other males to pursue the career of a nurse, which may eliminate the shortage of nurses as well as even out the male to women ratio.



Education and Contraception Use

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While we are all probably well informed about the different types of birth control available, many people are not as fortunate. There is a direct correlation between the amount of education a woman has and the use of contraceptives. Just a couple of the sources that prove this are a study done in Turkey and the class Biology 1001 offered here at the University of Minnesota.

There was a study done in Kocaeli, Turkey in which the goal was to examine contraceptive use by women who are sexually active and of reproductive age that live in the city. The researchers doing the study were interested in finding the correlation between contraceptive use and demographics. The results of the experiment show that almost everyone involved in the experiment was aware of at least one method of birth control. The two most commonly reported techniques were intrauterine devices and the withdrawal method. The study stated that both illiterate women and housewives were less aware of modern contraceptives. It showed that as literacy rates for both men and women increased, so did the amount of contraceptives used and the involvement of men in family planning. Overall the study proved that if the education of both men and women increased, so would the use of contraceptives.

Biology 1001 also teaches about some of the statistics related to education and number of children per family. In the class it is taught that as education increases, so does the age at which a woman has her first child. The average number of children that a woman has decreases as the level of education increases.

Both the study done in Turkey and the class Biology 1001 taught at the University of Minnesota show valuable facts on the use of birth control. It is astonishing how much education can affect the number of children a woman has due to the use of contraceptives.

Netherlands, Springer. "Advances in Contraception." 15.4 (2004): 1. Web. 24 Feb 2010. .

To view this article... CLICK

Tracking the Issue: Work -- Historical Background

Women's participation in the workplace got started during the business boom between 1880 and 1920. The rise of big business companies such as DuPont, Sears Roebuck and F. W. Woolworth Co., Armour, AT & T, International Harvester, Pennsylvania Railroad, and even the increase in federal, state and local governments gave women the opportunity to enter the workforce like no other time in the nations previous history.

The rise of big business, industrialization, and urbanization spurred the redefinement of women's role in the American business. However, women still found themselves under the expectations of their roles based on their gender. Their roles were limited to "helpers", secretaries, salesgirls, laborers and clerks.

During the last half-century, women had a revolutionary change in their status in business. This revolution took place between World War II in 1945 and 1995 in which women entered the workforce in even greater numbers then the business boom of late. The turning point of women's rights in the workplace took a significant change when Congress enacted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This legislation made it unlawful for employers, employment agencies and labor organizations to discriminate against any individual with respect to their compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment based on their race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Shortly after in the late 1980's, women owned half of American businesses, and had obtained one third of the nations MBA's. By the late 1990's, women held top positions in companies with over one billion in earnings.

Despite the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the informal oppression of women's rights still exist, which is commonly termed as the "glass ceiling". The glass ceiling particularly affects women who strive for top positions in fields traditionally held by men. This barrier stems from top-level officials organizational bias or negative stereotypes concerning a women's lack of ability and qualification to hold senior-level positions, which originates solely based on their gender.

An article was written by Joan Arehart-Treichel (Psychiatric News May 17, 2002 Volume 37 Number 10 Page 12 © American Psychiatric Association) concerning a study that was done that showed in 1991, 83% of men held positions of associate professor or full professor compared to 59% of women, and 23% of men held full professor compared to 5% of women. In 2001, 214 women held a chair position in a medical school compared to only 115 in 1995. Despite the increase, the 214 chairs were only 8% of all the chair positions in medical schools across the nation. In another figure as of 2001, 117 men held dean positions in American medical schools compared to only 8 women. Despite the legislation striving to provide equality in the professional workforce for women, in relatively recent years the numbers still favor men concerning medical administration professions.

Women in Business: A Historical Perspective

The Glass Ceiling and Sexual Stereotyping: Historical and Legal Perspectives of Women in the Workplace

Group Members: Daniela Duran, Heather Mancini, Justin Petrick, and Abby Wulfing

Birth Control

Why not?
Our group found an interesting article that followed a research study on why women do not obtain the desired birth control in situations where they did not wish to become pregnant and did. Although there is safe and effective contraception available in the United States, there are still many women who don't use it or use it inconsistently when they are sexually active with no desire to get pregnant.
Majority of the women involved in the study did not use birth control. This is an alarming issue when it is known that they were not interested in having a baby. The survey asked all of the women what the reasons for not getting proper contraception were. Most of the reasons fell under the categories of:
-Limited knowledge
-Limited access
-Didn't know how or where to get it
-Too expensive
-Too hard to get or needed a prescription
-Worried about side effects
-Worried about weight gain
-A partner or family didn't want it
-Too hard to remember

Some of those reasons seem to be pretty miniscule when you have such a large consequence. If people are choosing to be sexually active, they should also take the responsible route and use proper contraception.
The United States has one of the highest unintended pregnancy rates among all developed countries. About half of all pregnancies are unintended. That is shockingly high and sad. A lot of these end in abortion. Unintended pregnancies result in negative health and social outcomes for the mother and the child.
Taking into consideration that half of unwanted pregnancies occur when the woman is not using any form of contraception, and another forty percent is the result of incorrect or inconsistent use, it is clear that contraception is necessary if pregnancy is not the goal.
There are many existing reasons for not getting desired contraception, but none of them outweigh the logic of having safe sex. The website/article that we found our information on is very interesting. There are some charts/graphs as well as some very good information.
ScienceDirect - Full Size Table.webarchive


Tracking the Issue: Work -- Our Choice

The glass ceiling is a situation in which employees can aspire to reach higher work positions, which they seem to be within reach of, but are unable to due to some type of barrier. Two YouTube videos below demonstrate the glass ceiling's effects.

This first video explores the Washington D.C. area's higher than average amount of women who have overcome the glass ceiling.

This next video exposes the results of a UC Davis glass ceiling study, which surveyed many California companies.

Group Members: Daniela Duran, Heather Mancini, Justin Petrick, and Abby Wulfing

Tracking the Issue: Work: Preference Theory -- Academic Source

Hakim, Catherine. "Women, Careers, and Work-Life Preferences." British Journal of Guidance and Counselling 34.3 (2006): 279-294. Women's Studies International. EBSCO. Sun. 21 Feb. 2010.

Instead of looking at the glass ceiling in the traditional sense, this article focuses on preference theory. Preference theory is based on the premise that there are three work-lifestyle preferences for women: work-centered, adaptive, and home-centered. 20% of women identify as work-centered and are more competitive, individualistic, and goal-oriented. They are most dedicated to their work and will often forego having children in order to concentrate on their career and social life. 20% of women identify as home-centered. These women's primary concern is their family. They only work outside the home if it is financially necessary. Adaptive women make up the remaining 60% and want to balance both a family and career life. These women want a job, unlike home-centered women, but are not willing to invest as much time and effort. Their values are derived from both work-centered and home-centered values.

While work-centered women are in the minority, the majority of men are work-centered. Work-centered people try harder to get what they want and are most likely to succeed in competitive, lucrative careers. Because of this, men get most of the top jobs. The majority of women in the workforce try to combine work and family. As a result, they are also less likely to ask for a promotion or higher pay than they are to ask for shorter, more flexible hours. These women are also less likely to take jobs requiring travel and irregular hours. This often keeps them from pursuing sales, service, architecture, accountancy, entertainment, public relations, news reporting, airline, and travel occupations. It also keeps them from going after upper management positions, which often deal with inflexible hours and travel. Based on preference theory, one can conclude that it is not society, but a woman's priorities that keep her from or allow her to secure a high, well-paying position.

Group Members: Daniela Duran, Heather Mancini, Justin Petrick, and Abby Wulfing

Glass Ceiling Local

The Glass Ceiling concept in Minnesota is still an issue. Stereotypes still influence our behavior and attitude towards people different from us. These Stereotypes diffuses the issues of equality and opportunity. Since the establishment of Governor's Arne H. Carlson Glass Ceiling Task Force in September of 1994 which was set to study the manner in which organizations in Minnesota fill management positions, there have been findings that women and people of color are not being equally represented in leadership positions. The reasons: women lack the "right" type of job experience, employers do not give flexibility so mothers have to choose between their children and their jobs, stereotypes affect the self-esteem and ambition of children of color and work and therefore many women and people of color do not come out of schools with the credentials and confidence needed to succeed (Johnson). That was in 1995 and now women working full time after 1 year of college earn 80 as much as males and 10 years after graduation the number drops to 69 according to the American Association of University Woman's report " Behind the Pay Gap" (Lee). Just in 2008 in the US 9 percent of female professionals were employed in a high-paying field compared to 45 percent of male professionals and 68 percent compared to 29 percent of men worked in education or health care occupations where paying was lower. Also women without children earned 13 percent more than women with children. The salaries are still not the same and the number of women employed in high positions jobs is still relatively low (High Lights of Women).

"High Lights of Women." US Bureau of Labor Statistics. July, 2009. US Department of Labor, Web. 20 Feb 2010. .

Johnson, Kristine B. "THE GLASS CEILING TASK FORCE REPORT." Office of Geographic and Demographic Analysis. January 1995. Department of Administration, Web. 20 Feb 2010. .

Lee, Roper. "The Glass Ceiling Lives - Pay Equity is Elusive." Women Foundation of Minnesota. August 21, 2007. Web. 19 Feb 2010. .

Link to tables of salaries/number of employment and also by state.

Group Members Abby, Heather, Justin. Daniela

Academic Source: Nursing

Feminism and Nursing
The source that I read was about how Sarah Palin views mainly feminism, and slightly how it portrays to nursing, but I think she had a lot of good things to say. Palin was part of a generation that was the beginning of women "having it all: an education, a profession, dreams, a successful marriage and family life." Feminism was and still is a big deal in our society. The author also states that all women should be defended from sexism, and ALL nurses should also be defended. It is interesting that she says this while talking about nursing and feminism, as if the male nurses need to be defended from their occupation.
The wisest point that the author makes is when saying that "Leaders in nursing are strong and determined women and men." I noticed that" women" was first in the sentence and "men" was second, although that could very easily mean nothing. The next sentence says that no one wants our personal and past values to get in the way of our healthcare system; whether it is a man or women taking care of you. It shouldn't matter anymore, even if nursing is a female dominated profession.

Group Members: Carlyn, Yein, Monique, Mallory

History of Maternity Leave in the US

As women have come to make up a significant portion of the workforce over the last half century, employers have been faced with the issue of managing employees that assume the responsibility of child bearing. Maternity leave has become a contentious issue among women and their employers.
Many social, economic, and legislative changes have occurred in American society over the course of the past half century that have significantly shaped issues of maternal leave within the workplace. According to a report on Maternity Leave and Employment Patterns from the 1995 US Census, significant factors that have played a role in bringing about maternal rights in the workplace:

According to the report, the first factor influencing the push for maternal rights within the workforce had to do with the changing age and educational characteristics of mothers bearing children for the first time. "Data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) show that first-time motherhood at age 30 over tripled 1960 and 1995, from 7 percent to 22 percent. The educational attainment level of first-time mothers has also increased since 1970, partly because older women, who make up an increasing proportion of first-time mothers, have higher education levels than younger first-time mothers. In 1970, 10 percent of first-time mothers had 16 or more years of education, compared with 23 percent in 1995.[3]census1999 Such a shifts meant that more and more women were delaying childbirth to attain higher levels of schooling and accumulate more years of working experience before they had their first child.
The study goes further to suggest that the development of the women's movement and issues related to the family and the working environment were greatly influenced by this increase in female professionalization. Women of higher education who waited longer before having children stood as a powerful force in demanding better treatment by their employers because they had the professional experience to finally take a stand.

As more and more women entered into the workforce and began demanding better accommodations in the event of pregnancy, many changes began to occur in the work environment related to maternity and employment issues. "In the 1960s, a common expectation for women was that they would leave work upon becoming pregnant. In 1978, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed which prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy or childbirth. This act covered hiring and firing policies as well as promotions and pay levels. Also at this time, changes to the federal tax code in 1976 permitted working families with a dependent child to take a tax credit on child care costs. Both these actions clearly marked the beginning of federal involvement in work-related issues and concerns of mothers. These laws affected both employment practices during pregnancy and net child care costs after the child was born, the latter item strongly related to the affordability of child care services which would enable a mother to return to work."[4]
Child care services however will not resolve the concerns for many mothers returning to work. They hope for more flexibility within the work place and acknowledgement that their roles as mothers did not end once their children were born. Over the years there have been many movements to address the concerns of these working mothers, and prevailing litigation that upholds their rights in court. Currently, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires that women must be given 12 weeks of unpaid leave by their employers with considerable regulations on who is considered an eligible employee.
According to the United States Department of Labor, in 2008 women comprised 46.5 percent of the total U.S. labor force and are projected to account for 47 percent of the labor force in 2016. Of these women, over half of American women with a child less than 1 year of age are currently in the labor force.1
Despite the headway that has been made through the FMLA Act and other legal and social victories, sexism within the workplace still exists and many women continue to express their dissatisfaction with how their maternal leave is managed. Many other countries throughout the world have already enacted policies of maternal leave that demonstrate a greater understanding of the needs of the working mother.


Works Cited:
U.S department of larbor: Quick Stats on Women Workers, 2008

Kristin Smith, Barbara Downs, Marin O'connell Maternity Leave and
Employment Patterns: 1961-1995 November 2001


Academic Source: Nursing

men in nursing

The article I read about nursing and feminism actually had a lot to do with nursing and masculinity. It was about men in the nursing workforce and how they act in a female dominated occupation. The article is called Men in nursing: issues of gender segregation and hidden advantage. The author talked about how women nurses usually obtain nurturing, caring, dependence, and submission traits whereas men obtain contrasting traits such as strength, aggression, dominance, self- control, and objectivity. Men hold a very little percentage in the female to male ratio and men obviously take a different path when it comes to their nursing profession. The author also mentions a lot about how men dominate the physician health care. They would pursue psychiatry because of their physical strength, anesthesiology for their autonomy, and emergency care for their cool- headedness.
I thought it was most interesting when the author said that through-out history, men have not been a big part of the nursing profession and so women have made big gains by themselves, in technology and healthcare, without needing men's help. I took this as semi sexist, but I realized the author wasn't trying for that intention- just making a point.
Lastly, the author stated that "men in the nursing profession continue to be stereotyped as anomalies, effeminate, or homosexual." This is based on the beliefs of masculinity, and is very stereotypical. Some could interpret this as a social control mechanism that re-instates nursing as women's work. I thought that was an interesting concept and I don't totally agree with it.

Group Members: Carlyn, Monique, Mallory, Yein

Academic Source: The Psychology Perspective

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The article "Managers' Beliefs About the Glass Ceiling: Interpersonal and Organizational Factors", by Tina C. Elaqua, Terry A. Beehr, Curtiss P. Hansen, and Jennica Webster, was published in Psychology of Women Quarterly and provides much insight to how and why the glass ceiling is perceived; the study addressed the issues, tested them for reliability and validity, and tries to explain how important it would be if we used this information to eliminate the perception of a glass ceiling.
This article refers to the glass ceiling as "the difficulty of women trying to be promoted into the top management levels" (285). The experimenters performed an elaborate study to attempt to find an explanation for why the top hierarchal levels of an organization appear to be much more difficult for a woman to obtain.
The study consisted of 685 managers at a large Midwestern insurance company, 221 women and 464 men. It was based on observations that led to the hypothesis, which was tested by a questionnaire. The basic hypothesis was that "beliefs about interpersonal and situational variables in the organization were related to the perception that men and women were treated differently overall, which, in turn, was related to the beliefs that a glass ceiling existed" (285).
Since the hypothesis is a mouthful, take a look at this diagram. It reflects how the perceptions of interpersonal and situational issues cause the perception of men and women being treated unequally. This differential treatment being recognized and perceived is then connected to the belief that the glass ceiling exists.
Interpersonal issues are the factors that pertain to the relationships among the people within an organization. These factors include "the role of managers as mentors, the existence of an 'old boys' network in the organization, and the influence that being friends with the decision makers in the organization has on promotions" (286). Situational issues are organizational situations that influence the perception of a glass ceiling. The two main situational issues are the "existence of objective hiring standards and the number of women who have been in the pipeline" (287). With both of these issues present, the sexes can be treated differently in the work place in a number of ways that, cumulatively, lead to the glass ceiling effect.
The study's results showed that the managers' beliefs about specific issues in their workplace indeed were related to their perception of differential treatments and a glass ceiling. The two issues, interpersonal and situational, were proved to be related to glass ceiling perceptions through their relationships with differential treatment. The study showed that situational issues had a stronger effect on inequality in the organization. The difference between the results of the men and women's questionnaires were not significant except for one difference; there was a stronger relationship between perceptions of differential treatment and a glass ceiling for women than for men. This exception could be due to the fact that women are more keen to the issue since it affects them directly.
All in all, this study displayed how certain issues can lead to inequality that fuels the perception of a glass ceiling; the information collected should be used to change and reform the workforce. The interpersonal and situational factors need to be addressed to help break down inequality. Once the inequality diminishes, the glass ceiling will dissipate and the workforce will be bettered. As the article rightly concludes, "In addition to ensuring fair treatment of women, removal of the glass ceiling would enable organizations to have a workforce comprised of the best possible people" (293).

Beehr, Terry A., Elacqua, Tina C., Curtiss, Hansen, P., Webster, Jennica. "Managers' Beliefs about the Glass Ceiling: Interpersonal and Organizational Factors". Psychology of Women Quarterly, 33 (2009), 285-294. Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Web 21 Feb. 2010.

Academic Source: Surrogacy: The Psychological Issues

Edelmann, R. J. "Surrogacy: The Psychological Issues." Journal of Reproductive & Infant Psychology 22.2 (2004): 123-36. Print.
This article was written by R.J. Edelmann with intent to discuss the psychological issues both of the infertile couple and of the surrogate mother. In any case, they found that those seeking treatment for infertility were under a great deal of stress, especially after going through multiple procedures with no success; the author sees this as completely understandable. Edelmann further writes that there is nothing abnormal in the current psychological exams of surrogates -something that may seem a bit odd, since a woman who is willing to let another couple use her body for nine months is generally either desperate for payment or excessively altruistic, especially when the surrogate is completely unrelated and a stranger originally to the infertile couple.
Edelmann goes on to describe societal views of surrogacy, which he believes are generally negative. "It has been suggested that surrogate motherhood raises 'intense feelings of endangering the family and society, evoking adultery and incest taboos and raising legal concerns and theological objections'" It seems that the author advocates surrogacy as a decent method for infertile couples, however, believes that surrogate motherhood is not for couples who want a surrogate for convenience. His research shows that both in a small sample from Canada and the United States that in general, society disapproves of the idea of surrogacy no matter what the case. Edelmann is worried that the societal disapproval will negatively impact the infertile couple seeking a surrogate and may even have a negative impact on the future child.
Motives for looking for a surrogate are fairly obvious - when a couple is desperate for a child of their own and all other treatments fail, that is there last option. The only other way for them to have children is those not of any genetic relation by adoption. Edelmann specifically mentions 'continuing the genetic line' as a reason for seeking a surrogate. He also brings up the idea of surrogacy for convenience; something that he believes would be rare and completely unnecessary and immoral. Women who want someone else to carry their child because they're too busy will still probably be too busy to really devote their full attention to the child born. In general, Edelmann has found that motives to become a surrogate mother are based on the idea that the mother is achieving something for the greater good, all motives are altruistic. In many cases, the surrogate mother already has children of her own and is doing this to help a couple, and at the same time, can make the process much smoother because the knowledge of the positive and negative aspects of pregnancy are already known.
About half of the time, it appears that the commissioning couple and the surrogate mother keep contact, and the other half of the time, the infertile couple are too afraid that the surrogate mother may later try to help raise the child or take the child away. In many of these cases, the infertile couple and the surrogate mother develop a strong relationship and then immediately cut it off after the baby is born. This is one of the reasons that Edelmann believes more therapy would be useful to the surrogate especially. Research suggests though that only 5% of all cases the surrogate ends up deciding to keep the baby.
The main concerns about the child psychologically are that the parents who have spent so much time and effort trying to have a child in the first place may be too overprotective or have exceedingly high expectations for the child, something that would trouble later in life. However, research shows that most children conceived through the new reproductive technologies, including surrogacy, have no differences in family perception or any psychological disorders that were caused by the surrogacy. Only half of all infertile couples that choose surrogacy would ever tell their family, even less would tell their friends and less than seventy percent would tell the child where his/her origins came from, out of fear that the child might feel less of a connection for the parents and try to seek out the surrogate mother. No matter what the case, Edelmann still believes that counseling is absolutely essential for a smooth process and no long term psychological disturbances.

Gender Equality in a Female Dominated Work Field

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When most think of the profession of nursing, the majority will immediately think a 'woman's job' or a field that is predominantly dominated by female presence. This is not a hoax. Today, male nurses only make up approximately 5.4 percent of the nursing force. However, it is thought that the demand for male nurses is on the rise and male nursing will be rising in popularity within the next decade. However, one can conclude that nursing is thought of as a 'woman's job' and is somewhat true in today's world. Why is this so? If one looks back in history, you will find that men have taken the role of 'care-taker'/nurse for an extended period of time and for many events. During the Roman Era there were many 'brotherhoods' who provided care to the sick and plagued during the great plague, 'Knighthoods' were arranged during the crusades and many Knighthoods were there to help the wounded during battles of the middle ages and renaissance time-periods. All of these caretakers were one-hundred percent male. Even during the mid 1800's, during the Civil War, the majority of the military nurses were male. It wasn't until 1894 when female nurses started to organize and Female Nursing Schools were created in New York and the American Nursing Association(ANA) was formed. The ANA excluded men until 1930 and in essence had the goal of keeping men out of military nursing. At this point in history military nursing had been a predominantly male job, had turned into an exclusively female position and would continue on to become the most stereotyped female dominant job. It wasn't until after the Korean War when males were finally accepted back into the field of nursing. Now, one can expect that on all military nursing teams there will be at least one male. It is much more likely to have male nurses in military nursing than in civilian nursing such as you would find in a hospital (RN). As one can tell, because while the percent of RN's in the US today are a mere 5.4%. Whereas in the Army 67% of their CRNA's are mean and 40% of their nurses are men. This is a staggering statistic and helps emphasize that there are male nurses out there, they just aren't in the general locations that the average person could observe such as a Hospital when you go for a check-up. Another big improvement in nursing gender-equality is the increase in male's in nursing schools. Today, approximately 15% of the nursing students are male. This is quite a significant increase from the 5.4% male RNs today. Male nursing is possible for any man, and is definitely on the rise. However, this doesn't negate the fact that nursing is currently and will be for awhile a predominantly female populated career whether one agrees with it or not.

Binion, Gayle. "Baby M, Surrogate Parenting and Public Policy." Policy Studies Review 11.1 (1992): 126-40. Print.

This article very briefly outlines the case of Baby M and the case's ability to cause reform in regards to surrogate motherhood. Baby M, M for Melissa, was born to Mary Whitehead on March 27, 1986. Although the egg was hers, the sperm belonged to William Stern. Artificial insemination had taken place so that William Stern could have a daughter of his own, when his own wife, Elizabeth Stern could not carry a child and ensure the health of the baby or herself during the pregnancy. There was a contract signed by both parties that through several complicated steps, Mary Whitehead and her husband would give up the rights to the child, and William Stern and his wife would be given total custody with no interference.

This arrangement did not go well when Mary Whitehead decided that she no longer wanted to give Baby M up to the Stern's. The first court that they went to gave custody to the Stern's, declaring that a contract should be enforced, and that Mary Whitehead was not a fit mother anyway, after hearing several testimonies from different psychologists that diagnosed Mary Whitehead with Borderline Personality Disorder. This ruling was overturned in another court, and Mary Whitehead was given custody of her child. The courts decided that surrogacy is the equivalent to selling babies, so that Mary Whitehead was not at all obligated to accept the money that was to be paid to her for her child. All in all, the courts decided that for all future surrogacy cases within the state, that surrogacy not be allowed if money is to be exchanged for the child. Each state is unique in its policy.

The article outlines several questions about the case and whether or not the decisions were appropriately made. The questions it answers are: Does the Baby M ruling interfere with the liberty of contract?, Does the unenforceability of surrogacy contracts undermine reproductive freedom?, Does the unenforceability of surrogacy contracts undermine the status of women?, and lastly, in part one of the article, it discusses whether or not surrogacy is really a violation of public policy.

The author, Gayle Binion, attempts to avoid leaning one way or another in her piece and speaks simply about legality and how the law should be interpreted. Overall though, Binion strictly wants rights for women, both the surrogate and natural mother, and she clearly believes that the policy needs to be decided upon as soon as possible.
The second part of this article specifically addresses past rulings in regards to surrogacy, and reiterates the Baby M conclusion.

Birth Control for Men?

According o Science Daily, a new research report came out in December of 2009 stating that men might eventually have the option of taking a form of birth control. Men could possibly gain the same kind of control that women have over their fertility. Women have been granted this benefit since the 1960s, and it seems like a great idea to transfer the same concept on to men. Scientists found out how and where androgenic hormones work in the testis. With this new information they are able to control normal sperm production and male fertility. Understanding these ideas are key points in the process for developing a birth control pill for men.
This recent discovery has another advantage to point out as well. Men who have suffered from low sperm counts and were unable to have children, now may see a new light in the distance. New possibilities have emerged now that androgens have become more revealed. Opportunities to understand how androgens control sperm production will help in both categories of developing treatments for male infertility and possibly male contraceptives.
Although the research has only been carried out on mice at this point, a similar effect is likely to occur within humans.
The pill has been liberating for the woman population since it was developed and the same outcome is now in the future for males. This new research has been able to narrow in on understanding androgenic hormones and has made new hopes for possibilities such as birth control contraceptives, and speeding up the production of sperm for males.


The movie industry-

Women in Hollywood- When we think about some of the major industries in this country we have to include the entertainment industry. Although we have seen strides in the film industry like the acceptance of mixed race couples, gay and lesbian performances, casting men and women of color in leading roles, there are still less women than men in the industry when it comes to the technical side of filmaking. Thinking about work and where women work it is interesting to see how few women are a part of the behind-the scenes in Hollywood.

Janr Fonda Work this interesting article and gives us a little montage of women who have been sucessful in Hollywood. Why is there this issue and why are there less women then men directing major motion pictures?

Surrogacy on a Local Level

Minnesota law is completely silent on the issue of surrogacy. In some states there are laws as to the legality, some saying yes and some saying no while others are completely ambiguous on the issue. The American Surrogacy Center which is a nationwide surrogacy resource has made a legal map of surrogacy in the United States. Minnesota is silent on the issue. There are many countries in the world that have taken a stand to ban surrogacy, including France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, and many others. This issue is very complicated and laws differ as to who has legal custody of the child, the rights of both surrogates and intended parents, and the difference in legality of commercial surrogacy and altruistic surrogacy.

In Minnesota specifically, even though there are no laws specifically on the issue of surrogacy, agreements still occur throughout the state. There are a handful of lawyers that along with offering adoption counsel also offer surrogacy agreement services.

Right here in Minnesota we do have the International Assisted Reproduction Center in Maple Grove specializing in surrogacy services. This center walks surrogates and "intended parents" through every step of the surrogacy process - legal, medical, psychological, and financial. The center itself does not have a medical clinic but employs various fertility clinics throughout the country to facilitate the implantation and other medical related issues.

There are other reproductive centers nearby including:
The Center for Reproductive Medicine and Advanced Reproductive Technologies with Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses open to all fertility issues which does have a gestational carrier surrogacy program.

Midwest Center for Reproductive Health in Maple Grove and other Minnesota cities, which doesn't specify whether or not they include surrogacy services.

Wombs for Rent - Outsourcing Surrogacy?

A popular comedy came out in 2008 called "Baby Momma" about an infertile single woman wanting to have a child. Since she was unable to conceive herself, surrogacy was her choice. The movie is a comedic look at the journey of the relationship of surrogate and donor. In this clip, the character played by Tina Faye is meeting with the woman who runs the surrogacy clinic that she is working with:

"What is surrogacy if not outsourcing?" Tina Faye goes on to ask if she means that her child will be carried by some poor underpaid woman in a third world country. Of course not, right?

Actually, outsourcing surrogacy is a growing business. It is becoming more and more common for couples to go abroad to find their "baby momma." Surrogacy costs in the United States can cost between $60,000 and $100,000 depending on what type of surrogacy it is (gestational vs. traditional). As other industries have found, work and labor come cheaper abroad - as does surrogacy. Surrogacy fees are a fraction of the cost in India than they are here.

This Stanford University project gives an overview of commercial surrogacy and its relation to women's rights, poverty, health and more. Surrogate Motherhood in India

There are undoubtedly heated debates on this subject and recent media coverage on commercial surrogacy specifically in India have been seen from Oprah talk show to Marie Claire magazine. Is it exploitation of the poor or is it rising to meet the demands of the market? Does commercial surrogacy further the subjectivity of women? How far can commercial surrogacy go before it goes too far - "baby farms"? What type of regulation is needed?

Work: "Meet the Fockers"

Our tracking issue is on work and we chose to narrow our topic on the occupation of nursing. I believe the occupation of nursing is a very strong feminist issue; this is because nursing in general is portrayed as a woman's job. I have a clip from the movie, "Meet the Fockers", and it does a very good job in showing how woman are supposedly the only ones fit to be nurses. If you haven't seen the movie, Greg is a male nurse and his father-in-law has a very hard time accepting that. Greg's father-in-law shows his grandson a flashcard of a female nurse before he meets Greg. The grandson now has this picture in his mind that when he meets Greg, he should be a female because the flashcard only had a woman-figure on it. The grandson then laughs when he sees Greg because of the confusion of him being a male. I think this issue on work might tie in with the concept of sexism. Greg is a great example of how we should stand up against the "norms" of our society and not let sexism take over. Greg became a nurse even though he knew he would get ridiculed by the "world". It is people like Greg (even though he is just in a movie) that have helped make a difference in the world of nursing today. It may not be a huge break through, but I know male nurses are more accepted today than they were a few years ago. This is just an example of how sexism interferes with the occupation of nursing, but I know that many other occupations involving woman in their work force, deal with the same discrimination. Any thoughts or comments?!

"Sorry the card comes with one gender"- Meet the Fockers

Group Members: Monique Campbell, Carly Knickelbein, Mallory Brothen, Yein Kim

This is a feminist issue because...


In my creative writing class today, we had a guest speaker. She appeared to be a wonderful woman, and a very good fiction writer. She gave us advice and did pretty regular routine talk for our writing lecture. The thing that caught my attention was that she told a story. Her short story was about how she liked when men read her books. She didn't add the word more after that, but it was intended that she felt more complimented when men read her books than women. Why? She went on with her story to say that EVEN Arnold Schwarzenegger had read some of her work, "and bought ten copies!" It didn't come off as such a brag, but it was such a weird thing to me. "If Arnold Schwarzenegger can read my books, anyone can!" Who cares?

A not so feminist take on stay at home dad's

This is an interesting article that was posted on femimnisting about housework and women. Obviously Dr. Laura has an interesting idea of what a man's role is and as a feminist I think she is way off base. Men, just like women, are and should be responsible for the raising of their children.

Dr. Laura

"Any kind of capital-R Revolution, any redistribution of wealth and power, will be short lived and irrelevant without a fundamental change in our relationships---for social structure is a manifestation of of these relationships, not a factor external to them."
-Excerpt from CrimethInc's Expect Resistance a field manual

Adam Curtis, the filmmaker I mentioned in my previous post has another series of films called The Trap. It's about a lot of things but one of the key ideas is the proliferation of a view of human life that has it's roots in the paranoid days of the cold war. His analysis of how ideas from one discourse can seep into another got me thinking about the ways in which the ideology of capitalism has taken hold of the way in which we view our interactions between people, as well as how we view our interactions between consumer goods.

There's some kind of famous sociology experiment in which a person is asked if they would prefer to be given a gift of $100 while all of their neighbors receive $200 or if they would prefer to receive $50 while their peers get nothing. Of course, the majority of the participants choose to take less money in order to feel special, more wealthy, relative to their peers.

Or to quote an anecdote from one of the Zizek books I've been reading instead of the readings from class (by the way who in the fuck is anonymously mailing me books!?):
"...the farmer to whom an angel appeared and told him: 'I will grant you a wish, whatever you want - only beware, I will do twice as much to your neighbor!' The farmer replied, with an evil smile: 'Take one of my eyes!'"

The concept of the "Slut" then works in the same way. Rather than simply choosing to have sex with whoever they find most attractive, men are encouraged to also seek out someone that refuses to have sex with many others. The whole thing becomes more about beating out the competition than about the actual pleasure of the sex itself (the elimidate factor?). The exclusion of others is just as important as the actual sex.

From the other side of the equation then, the cliche of the jerk boyfriend makes perfect sense. While women are encouraged to pretend that they don't enjoy sex, men are encouraged to pretend that they don't want love. For a woman to be loved by a man who is generally emotionally distant is seen as more of a victory for the woman. The result is men left alienated from their warmer more caring emotions and women more likely to celebrate masochistic tendencies (see: Twilight). Also:

This also has the effect of blurring and confusing female desire. Women are encouraged to celebrate their masochism, and yet they generally don't enjoy suffering abuse.

"I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want,
I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna really
really really wanna zigazig ha."
-Female desire as articulated by The Spice Girls

Obviously, almost all people want both love and sex in their lives, but we are encouraged to act as though we do not to create a false scarcity. It is well known that diamonds are a common stone. "There are really enough diamonds to give each man, woman and child in the United States a whole cupful."-Source The De Beers corporation simply maintains a stranglehold on land where diamonds are found to impose an artificial shortage. In capitalism, if something is rare it's generally considered to be valuable, so we keep ourselves in check (consciously or not) by imposing our own artificial shortages on our romantic lives. Men are expected to be emotional prudes, women sexual prudes. Equality of the sexes cannot exist in a system that operates in this way.

So, what is a man, man?


In addition to the commercials Sara recently posted -- more specifically the Old Spice ad, enticing men to smell, well, like men -- here is another Old Spice ad that more specifically defines what they mean ...

However, I'm still not sure I understand what a 'man' is, even in this context -- or what he is supposed to smell like. I know he is not supposed to smell like a 'lady' -- but the term lady is given no signification, much less a substantial definition. What the ad does clearly communicate is that 'man' and 'lady' are decidedly separate categories, and, one can assume, mutually exclusive states of being, purportedly possessing opposite pheromones that, if trifled with, could negatively effect one's sexuality ...??

He Hit Me (and It Felt Like a Kiss)

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It Felt Like a Kiss, originally part of a theatrical production in London is an abstract documentary on the ways in which social and political power function in the world. The film takes it's title from a 1962 Crystals song He Hit Me (and It Felt Like a Kiss). The filmmaker Adam Curtis, uses the song as an allegory to explore the ways in which people are coerced and exploited by power structures throughout all spheres of life.

River deep montage from the film:

The text at the end of this clip refers to the song playing throughout, which Tina Turner had hoped would be successful enough to launch her solo careeer, in order to escape being beaten by her husband.

The song from which the film takes it's name:

This is the best film that I've seen in years. I'd encourage anyone that's interested to check it out.

Local Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood has had a huge impact on many people in the surrounding area. The organization does a lot to ensure health care, education, and advocacy for everyone.

The fact that Planned Parenthood provides cheap health care for qualifying individuals makes getting protection easier for those who do not have the money to afford it. They offer free birth control pills to some, and otherwise they have different payment options, such as the "Pills Now, Pay Later" program. Planned Parenthood just put out a report on how almost 60% of their patients live in rural Minnesota. The poverty, un-insurance, provider shortages, and simple geography of residents in rural Minnesota all combine to create huge obstacles to basic health care services. Planned Parenthood is able to make life easier for many of these individuals.

Being educated about sex and birth control is the first step in being able to be sexually active and stay safe. Planned Parenthood offers different educational programs for teens and adults in the Twin Cities. They have speakers that inform people on birth control, healthy relationships, sexually transmitted infections, and responsible decision making. Some of the programs involve becoming educated enough about sex and birth control to be able to teach others about it. Getting the correct facts about birth control out to the public is important so everyone knows their options.

Along with the education that Planned Parenthood provides, they have a great advocacy program. They encourage people to get involved and speak out on issues like increasing access to birth control and emergency contraception, promoting comprehensive sex education in our schools, and keeping abortion safe and legal.

Between offering discounted health care to those in need, educating people on sex and birth control, and offering advocacy, Planned Parenthood has done wonders for our community.

For more information on your local Planned Parenthood... CLICK

Some thoughts about the blog as a public site

Hi everyone,

Recently a comment was posted on our blog from someone outside of this class. This comment is an excellent reminder to us all that our blog is public. By public blog I mean that anyone who has access to the internet can read our blog posts and comment on them. It is important to remember this fact as you make your posts (both comments and entries). For me, the fact that this blog is public is a very good thing because it enables us to connect with people/communities outside of this classroom and it extends our classroom beyond the physical class space and even the University. Additionally, knowing that this blog is a public one, encourages us to be accountable for the claims that we make in our posts as we write our blog entries to known audiences (all of us in the class) and unknown audiences (anyone who stumbles across our blog on the interwebz).

In most cases (at least that has been my experience developing and participating in over 15 different blogs), the public aspect of this blog can lead to productive engagements with other bloggers, students, scholars, community members. Blogging can lead to building coalitions with others who have similar goals. It can also help us to gain a critical awareness of a wide range of issues related to feminism or fighting inequality and social injustice. For more on these possibilities, check out this special issue on feminist blogging from the Feminist and Scholar Online. 

Sometimes the public aspect of a blog can generate comments that are unproductive and disrespectful. Instead of providing an invitation for critical engagement they make us angry and attempt to shut down our curiosity about an issue. These types of comments do not fit the spirit of our blog or of the course. For me, the point of the "this is a feminist issue because..." entries and comments is to inspire us to be curious about what feminisms are and how a wide range of feminists might respond to a variety of issues. At their best, these posts and the comments that follow them, invite us to wonder and to question and to learn more about the world (and not from any one ideological position).

question-mark.jpgSo, what should we do when we come across comments that bother or anger us? That we feel are disrespectful or unproductive? That encourage misinformation and that discourage us from talking with each other and learning from each other about our very different perspectives? And that don't enable us to develop any mutual strategies for negotiating our conflicts or our contested issues?

While this might not work all of the time, one thing we can do is to be curious and ask lots (and lots) of questions about:

  • how to engage in debate in ways that open up conversation instead of shutting it down
  • what perspectives get ignored when we frame our debate in narrow ways
  • what questions we could ask and what comments we could make that encourage all of us to wonder (about the world, our own positions) and inspire us to want to learn more about others' perspectives and experiences.
  • how our online engagments (and/or the engagements of others) practice or fail to practice feminist debate, as outlined in my what is feminist debate? handout

Direct Engagements Question 4


The "nanny problem" is an important feminist issue because most of the domestic female workers are hired by people who are in upper-middle class families to do all mothers' roles instead. People hire nannies because many women work full time and do not have time to take care their kids. Nannies do all the house chores and take care of kids all day just like mothers and wives do. After Feminism Movement, many females started working outside like males do and it showed that females are also free to choose between career and family. This movement was held to show that women have equal rights like men have, however it brought other issues to our society. As we know, nannies are most likely females, females hiring other females to work as nanny does not seem right to me. It shows a couple immoral issues. First, it shows that money can do everything. Of course, domestic workers are willing to work because they want to make some money; however, this idea can give bad influences to kids who are raised by nannies. Ehrenreich said that kids who are raised in luxurious livings are more likely to become immature. Also, kids might also think that their parents' do not love them much. As a child who was been raised by a nanny, I wished I could be raised by my mom rather than a nanny. I do not have much memories of being with my parents when I was little, and still wished that I could be more loved by my parents. I am sure it is just not me, but also other kids who are raised by nannies would have this issue in the future. Second, why most of nannies are females? Nannies can also be males. We still have a stereotype like females are more organized and better at doing chores than males do. So if they need to hire nannies, then they should hire male nannies as well to show these two genders are equal.

Different approach to a feminist issue



I was looking online for various advertisements for another class actually, when I ran across this advertisement and it was extremely interesting and definitely a feminist issue Some, would call it anti-feminist in a way, because of the side it takes. However, as i learned in my first week of this class, feminism is not only a woman's issue and it is definitely a male's issue as well. This advertisement definitely emphasizes the opposite point of usual feminist issues. It is emphasizing the strength of woman and it almost portrays women as having more power to the strong men. It is pretty much and literally expressing the fact that women have men on a 'leash'. This is a very recent advancement/issue in relationships. Up until this point, the men usually had the power and were definitely in control. However, today you see more and more relationships in which the women are strong and have the power in the relationship. Some would say that in these relationships, the women 'wear the pants' in the relationship. Many men get ridiculed if they are in a situation like this, but in reality more and more men are in relationships like this. Women are actually gaining more and more power in relationships and the world, such that advertisements such as this can be put out there. This is an extremely strong advertisement and definitely is a feminist issue, because of it's obvious emphasis on the growing strength of women over men in a normally male dominant society.

This is a feminist issue because...

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So I saw this ad during the Superbowl and have been really bothered by it since then. Even when women are nuns and are "desexualized" figures, the media portrays them as repressed sexual beings who have intense desires with each other.

A question about the layout of the blog...

Hi everyone,

I recently tinkered with the layout for this blog. I moved the categories up to the top (on the right hand side) and moved the comments down a little further. I was thinking that it might be easier to access the categories if you could immediately see them. But now I wonder, are the comments too far down? What do you all think--which layout do you prefer? Let me know what you think by commenting on this entry.

See you later today!

Anti-choice and anti-life ...??

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sat_choice.jpgRemember how depressed you were when you read Sara's post not too long about about those anti-choice Billboards in Atlanta targeting Black women? Well, I thought that campaign was offensive enough -- then I read this a few minutes ago...

This is a feminist issue not only because of its anti-choice sentiments (and incomprehensible logic) but also because of what it implies about people with disabilities. Why are children with disabilities presented as punishment? What values, then, does Bob Marshall uphold that allow him to value or devalue human life at his own convenience and by his personal code of ethics -- isn't his argument somewhat paradoxical?

Birth Control-Background


History;leading to the pill

The birth control pill is a much safer means of contraception. Avoiding pregnancy wasn't always this convenient. The oldest methods of attempting contraception are coitus interruptus (the "pulling out" method), barrier methods, herbal methods, and ingesting certain toxins.
Taking a look at a method that is still commonly used today, coitus interruptus is the technique used to avoid most of the semen entering the vagina. This is done by the male pulling out of the vagina just before ejaculation. A similar practice used by the male to avoid pregnancy is called coitus reservatus. This is where the male would grab and squeeze the base of the penis in order to stop ejaculation. Both of these methods are not one hundred percent reliable because of pre-ejaculation and possible timing errors.
Another form of controlling pregnancies was done by means of barrier methods. The oldest known effort using a barrier was preformed in Egypt, which had women inserting crocodile dung or honey into their vaginas. The stickiness of these substances was believed to stop semen from entering the woman. Considering this practice is rather disgusting, it aided in discouraging males from even desiring intercourse with users. Because of this, other vaginal suppositories came into play. Resin, oil, and honey were some of the most common substances applied to the cervix as birth control. These were able to reduce the amount of sperm that entered the woman. One of the barriers that had most success was inserting a cloth soaked in vinegar. Although they did not realize it, the acidity killed the semen. A male barrier that is still used today is the condom. Although it has gone through a transformation, once being made from animal intestines, it is an effective means of birth control.
Some women resorted to herbal remedies to avoid pregnancy. The herbs pennyroyal and tansy were well-known as abortive agents. At the time they did not realize these herbs had high levels of chemicals that poisoned the woman and damaged her organs. Woman would ingest certain poisons knowing their reproductive systems would be disrupted.
All of these methods have flaws and in some cases can be very dangerous. It was clear that women needed a safer form of birth control. The invention of the birth control pill was revolutionary.

For a timeline of events leading to the pill... CLICK.

Strong women characters are portrayed in in all of James Cameron's movies. (Terminator, Terminator 2, Titanic, and now Avatar)
These women speak their minds, do not let themselves become property of men, and even show more physical and mental strength than the male characters. Here is a link to an article from Jezebel. What do you think?

Commercial Surrogacy: Feminist Perspectives


Surrogacy is commonly defined as a hiring a woman to bear a child she turns over at birth to her employer (Karkal online). Feminists are quite divided on the issue. Pro-surrogacy feminists argue that reproductive choice includes the right to sell one's reproductive services; if sperm can be sold, so can gestational services. Anti-surrogacy feminists, on the other hand, argue that pregnancy is too complex to label it a "service." Pregnancy is a physically and emotionally intense event, and surrogate mothers are alienated from their own bodies. Feminist Debra Satz believes that the previous anti-surrogacy argument is too simplistic: "the sale of women's reproductive labor is not ipso facto degrading. Rather, it becomes 'degrading' only in a particular political and social context" (Satz 109). Furthermore, Satz disagrees with the idea that connecting female reproduction and profit alienates women from the beauty and power of pregnancy: an artist may feel an intense emotional connection to his/her work, but still expects to be paid for it. Satz argues the more pressing issue is the fact that mothers could easily be exploited; poorer women, for example, would probably be more likely to become surrogates than their middle- or upper-class counterparts. Surrogacy could also enforce the woman-as-baby-maker stereotype.

Such dilemmas surrounding the (im)possibility of a feminist surrogacy were brought to the forefront in the 1986 Baby M case. William Stern sued Mary Beth Whitehead for custody of Melissa Stern, a child conceived by Whitehead via artificial insemination with Stern's sperm. Although Whitehead had originally turned over the infant to Stern and his wife, Elizabeth, Whitehead threatened to commit suicide unless the Sterns gave Melissa back. The New Jersey Superior Court originally upheld the surrogacy contract and awarded custody to the Sterns on the grounds that Whitehead was an unfit mother. The Sterns' lawyers and expert witnesses argued that White dyed her hair, may have borderline personality disorder, and, worse still, that when Whitehead's interactions with Melissa during scheduled playtime sessions were not optimized for Melissa's maximum intellectual development.

Before the case was decided in favor of the Sterns, over 120 prominent women issued a statement calling attention what they regarded as unfair treatment of Whitehead. "By These Standards, We Are All Unfit Mothers," signed by Betty Friedan, Carly Simon, Susan Sontag, Gloria Steinem, and Meryl Streep, among others, asked those involved in the case to "recognize that a mother need not be perfect to 'deserve' her child" (Frost-Knappman and Cullen-DuPont 312).

Whitehead appealed the decision, and in 1988, the Supreme Court of New Jersey overturned the Superior Court's ruling in a unanimous decision, arguing that it could not support a case in which "a perfectly fit mother was expected to surrender her newly born infant, perhaps forever, and was then told she was a bad mother because she did not" (Frost-Knappman and Cullen-DuPont 312). The court awarded Whitehead and William Stern joint custody and annulled Elizabeth Stern's adoption of Melissa.

This case presents feminists with quite an ethical quandary: did invalidating the surrogacy contract ultimately set a precedent of restriction on a woman's reproductive rights, or did it uphold a basic right of motherhood - the right to mother one's own child?

Satz, Debra. "Feminist Perspectives on Reproduction and the Family." The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Spring 2010 Edition. Web. 10 February 2010.

Karkal, Malini. "Surrogacy from a feminist perspective." Indian Journal of Medical Ethics 5.4 (1997): n. pag. Web. 2 February 2010.

Satz, Debra. "Markets in Women's Reproductive Labor." Philosophy and Public Affairs 21.2 (1992): 107-131. Print.

Frost-Knappman, Elizabeth and Kathryn Cullen-DuPont. Women's Rights on Trial. Farmington Hills: Thomson Gale, 1997. Print.

This is a feminist issue because...


Whenever I have started to think about writing my This is a Feminist Issue Because... I always find myself getting the Christina Aguilera Song Can't Hold Us Down stuck in my head. Although it may be an outdated odd 2003 song, it does have quite the message. The song has a "girl power" idea, but may actually unknowingly contradict itself. She wears a revealing outfit in the music video, but maybe that just falls under freedom of choice. Later on in the song she seems to bash men in a few ways. I understand how empowering women is a good thing, but I don't feel they made the name of feminist a good one by taking their anger out on males. Although some things are unfair in our world between the two genders, it isn't the right approach to be anti-men, as some of our readings have stated. I found the video and lyrics to be interesting once I studied them and thought maybe the class would want to take a look.


direct engagement.Q4. #1


As we all know the people who have nannies are those who can afford and these are the upper middle class people (men and women). The reason being the mother of the house is working in a professional job as well as the husband therefore not playing her role of a wife. Since she is gone most of the day the nanny has to replace her discipline the kids, cook for them, and help them with the home work and so on. Before feminism movement wives were to take these responsibilities and many mentioned by Judy Syfer. When women were liberating they realized, to be equal to men they needed to have less responsibilities like their men and therefore decided to come up with ways of putting the children in others hands. They came up with day care but it was expensive and others wanted their children to stay home thus hired nannies. The wives who hire the nannies end up paying the nannies very low-wage yet themselves were trying to be equally paid as men. Feminists are responsible for the "nanny problem" because feminism as a movement is supposed to address women's inequality but it seems like that is not the case when some women are reaping the benefits while under compensating others to do domestic labor for them which they would have been responsible for in the previous generation.
On Judy Syfer we see how a woman has no say in anything and in Tronto we see women in well paying jobs and hiring others to take their positions so that they can provide for their family. Seriously when I was reading Judy Syfer's essay I got offended because whatever she mentioned is not what women were meant for but I kind of understood why she said what she said because she had to show it in that the way than saying everything she said in a nice way.

Direct Engagement


A domestic worker is the extra help a busy mother wants. To some it is a blessing, a great opportunity to work outside the home if the mother has young children. As with everything, there are pros and Cons with domestic work. One the problems with domestic are moral education. A moral problem with domestic work is the child sees or learns early the different classes of people. In the reading maid to order the quote that shocked me but clarifies this issue is "I wheel my two-year-old daughter in a shopping cart through a supermarket ...and a little white girl riding past in her mother's cart calls out excitedly 'oh look, mammy, a baby maid.'". The child learning environment is at home, when she/he sees someone cleaning, picking up them; they notice that there is someone lower they can tell what to do. "' lower kinds of people for lower kind of work'" Domestic worker is a feminist issue because someone, despite of race, gender and religion, is treated unfairly. In most case the domestic worker is from a minority group. Also, the work is an invisible work because in most case is not company based, a worker normally seeks jobs from friends who work as a maid. Another thing that contributes to the problem is most people don't want to talk about the domestic worker they have. Employers normally referred to them as help rather than a maid or a nanny. Some the challenges to make domestic work visible are to know how many people are working and the wage they are offered. Making domestic work visible in is not something that can be done easily and hopefully with time it will get better.

Direct Engagement 4, Question 2

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The "nanny problem" as described from a feminist perspective is important for feminists because it works to support the patriarchal system that feminism is actively trying to dismantle. It is a feminist issue because it perpetuates sexist and racial assumptions/roles and, more importantly, is a result of the unforgiving capitalist economy that we subscribe to. Housekeeping requires minimal education, as it is a set of activities that all people who live in a house are subject to performing. By hiring out this work, middle and upper class families are able to take advantage of the luxuries provided by their wealth. Ehrenreich, in more words, says that children raised in these situations become selfish and, frankly, a bitch. Ehrenreich says that this is detrimental to the moral rearing of the children, and ultimately works to perpetuate the negative systems in the first place. Feminism as a collective self needs to work to irradiate systems of oppression, and this can only be started through education. Feminists need to make these systems visible, like the invisible work that is housekeeping, and elaborate to the public why they are harmful.

Direct Engagement Q4 - #2


The nanny problem is important for feminists because the job of a domestic worker, most of whom are overwhelmingly female, emphasizes once again that the place for women to be at is in the house. Although the upper-class women are not at the house doing household chores, the fact that they hire other women to do their chores instead of dividing the chores between the wife and the husband confirms the fact that cleaning and cooking are duties of women. Ehrenreich calls this "a symbolic enactment of gender relations" (88). Thus, feminists should address this gender issue in order to eradicate sexist stereotypes.

This issue also has moral repercussions. Children living in a house where maids, usually women of a minority group, are always cleaning up after their mess and doing the "dirty work," will begin noticing the white superiority that this hierarchy within the household highlights. As Ehrenreich mentions in "Maid to Order" children may even associate the job of a maid with their race. For example, one white child once said to her mom when she saw a child of color, "Oh look, Mommy, a baby maid" (92). Moreover, as Tronto states, "Children may well come to expect that other people, regardless of their connection to them, will always be available to meet their needs" (40). Simply said, children will become spoiled and stuck-up. They will expect others to always clean their mess for them and will take these things for granted. Feminists should deal with this moral issue by "making work visible," meaning that they should let people realize that the job of a domestic worker is an occupation too, although their workplace is a private home for the employer. Thus, the employer and the other family members should treat the domestic worker with respect as you would your employee in a company.

In some ways, I think it is important to gender-neutralize the term "maid" by employing more male maids. If this term is gender-neutralized, the subordination of women by men will no longer exist because domestic workers will no longer be mostly female. Also, establishing a retirement program through the government and providing bonuses for these workers will also help make household work visible because the occupation of a domestic worker will be treated the same as other jobs.

This is a baby albatross, whose stomach is filled with trash:

"These photographs of albatross chicks were made in September, 2009, on Midway Atoll, a tiny stretch of sand and coral near the middle of the North Pacific. The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking.

To document this phenomenon as faithfully as possible, not a single piece of plastic in any of these photographs was moved, placed, manipulated, arranged, or altered in any way. These images depict the actual stomach contents of baby birds in one of the world's most remote marine sanctuaries, more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent."

How this phenomenon is possible is quite simple: individual consumerist micro-behaviors.

Not long ago, I became interested in the photography of Chris Jordan, whose work critiques American culture and global mass phenomena based on a few apocalyptic-ally jarring statistics -- primarily those related to consumerism and the trash it generates.

He writes of his collection of photographs titled "An American Self Portrait," which depicts the numbers correlating to American consumer reports:

Finding meaning in global mass phenomena can be difficult because the phenomena themselves are invisible, spread across the earth in millions of separate places. There is no Mount Everest of waste that we can make a pilgrimage to and behold the sobering aggregate of our discarded stuff, seeing and feeling it viscerally with our senses.

Instead, we are stuck with trying to comprehend the gravity of these phenomena through the anaesthetizing and emotionally barren language of statistics. Sociologists tell us that the human mind cannot meaningfully grasp numbers higher than a few thousand; yet every day we read of mass phenomena characterized by numbers in the millions, billions, even trillions.

Compounding this challenge is our sense of insignificance as individuals in a world of 6.7 billion people. And if we fully open ourselves to the horrors of our times, we also risk becoming overwhelmed, panicked, or emotionally paralyzed.

This work dauntingly illuminates the effects of individual choices on the environment, and thus, on the rest of the world. Here are a couple examples:

In keeping with the issue I'm tracking, the Prison Industrial Complex, here is a close up of a six panel display depicting "2.3 million folded prison uniforms, equal to the number of Americans incarcerated in 2005. The U.S. has the largest prison population of any country in the world." So what is the connection, then, between consumerism, feminism, the trash vortex, and the Prison Industrial Complex? (prisoners as human waste?) uniforms.jpg

Is there a connection between consumerism, feiminism, pain (both physical and emotional), and the Medical Industrial Complex? (this one depicts "213,000 Vicodin pills, equal to the number of emergency room visits yearly in the US related to misuse or abuse of prescription pain killers.")


Direct Engagement

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Why should the nanny/domestic workers problem be important for feminists? Why is this a feminist issue? What sort of moral education should children be receiving? What contributions can/should feminists make towards that moral education? Why is the moral challenge to make work visible again? What other moral challenges do housework/the nanny problem create?

I think it's important for feminists to take action about household/domestic labor. I was especially shocked by some of the statistics that were in the pieces we read - women do so much more housework than men. Since the household is seen as a private sphere, it's more difficult to take public/government action, which is why feminist activities such as consciousness-raising are especially important. Women should be able to demand that their partners take on an equal amount of housework without feeling pushy or 'bitchy'. Otherwise, women are constantly forced into a position of subordination - they may be powerful figures in their workplaces, but at home, they are cleaning up after someone else. When children see this pattern, I think they are socialized into believing that this is a 'natural' state for gender roles. The idea that you no longer have responsability for your messes gets created when children can see that someone else will pick up after you - the moral statement that this sends is that as long as you are powerful, the negative repercussions of your actions will be dealt with by someone else. This creates a fundamental lack of caring in a relationship - even if people are happy together, on some deep subconscious level, one member of the relationship believes that they are entitled to do better things with their time than clean. I think children, in order to be sent a better moral message, should be given chores and responsability for clearing their own dishes, cleaning their room, etc. I thought the Ehrenreich piece hit the nail on the head with this issue - it's important for children, even from an early age, not to believe that they can 'weightlessly' drift through life and have someone else clean up after them. When domestic work is hidden, there is no check on exploitation - feminists need to create a media movement to bring attention to the lack of equality in domestic labor.

Direct Engagement 4: Question 2

The nanny/domestic workers problem should be important to feminists because the feminist movement is responsible in part for the problem. Striving to have two-career households in addition to a family creates a need for additional care in the form of domestic workers. The moral education children are receiving because of this situation has two parts. The first is that only women are caretakers and that these women caretakers are often of a different ethnicity and/or social strata; the second is that children do not need to learn to be responsible for household chores because a maid or other person will do it for them, as Ehrenreich posits. Children should be learning that responsibilities cannot always be delegated to a poorly paid and disenfranchised woman. "What we risk as domestic work is taken over by immigrant workers is reproducing, within our own homes, the global inequalities that so painfully divide the world," (Ehrenreich, Course Packet, p. 51). The problem with a child's interpretation of the situation is that often the quality of a nanny's work is measured by their relationship (Tronto, WebCT, p. 4). So relationships between the child and the caretaker (in these instances, maids and nannies) is not expendable- without the emphasis on the rapport between children and caretakers, children may or may not take not of the intricacies of the interactions between all those involved- a child may not notice the way a parent ignores the help, or the exchange of money, etc. if the child didn't depend so much on the caretaker. It is a double-edged sword, though, because if a child does not see the work this caretaker does, the child assumes that things magically get done.

Contributions feminists should be making toward changing the moral education are paying fair wages, spending as much time as possible with their kids and explaining to them the role of hired help. As Ehrenreich and others argue, work needs to be made visible.

Other moral challenges housework and hired help creates apart from a child's problematic perception is the disparity between men and women. Where are all the male nannies in this discussion? Shouldn't housework- whether domestic help is available or not- be split evenly between the genders? I understand that the majority of nannies, housekeepers, etc. are female, but if a kid only ever sees women taking care of the home, that sends the message that men are not responsible for keeping up the home. This is a poor representation of gender roles, especially since women have worked hard to find equality in the workplace, and now the workplace has extended into the home.

Latest Sex Scandal">Latest Sex Scandal">Latest Sex Scandal
Tiger Woods, Kobe Briant, John Edwards, Bill Clinton, Silvio Berlusconi, Rafiq Husseini, and now N.D. Tiwari. These names sound familiar? Yes of course they all have cheated on their wives or received sexual favors using their influence or fame. What I continue to be amazed by is how little their behavior phases us anymore. Sure they wind up in the news for a while, but as I recall from the Tiger hype, the topic was presented as more of a laughing matter than anything else. "Well of course he was cheating on his wife"....as if being faithful would have been more noteworthy news. What I'm wondering is why we are letting these figures off the hook! I'm tired of this assumption that it is normal to cheat on your spouse, a mentality that only goes to further trivialize the institution of marriage, objectify women, and affirm male promiscuity. I'm wondering what it's really going to take for this behavior to stop being so disgustingly common that it's acceptable.

The is a Feminist Issue because.....Winter Olympics

I haven't had much of a chance to watch the Winter Olympics, but in my Cultural Studies class an issue was brought up concerning women. As we all know Lindsey Vonn won a gold medal in downhill skiing. It was mentioned in class that during her interview (right after she had won) she was all emotional and could barely speak. When the interviewer would ask her questions, Vonn was unable to actually fully answer the questions due to her crying and over joy of emotion. Instead, the interviewer had Vonn's husband come into the picture and he was asked questions about Vonn's race. It was Vonn's husband that was answering all the questions that Vonn should have been answering. The interviewer was not directing his attention towards Vonn anymore; it was directed towards the husband as if Vonn could only function through her husband. This really frustrated me because it was like the interviewer knew that Vonn wouldn't be able to communicate due to her emotional breakdown, so they saved themselves the trouble with having to deal with Vonn and instead dealt with her husband who was actually "capable" of being interviewed. This portrays that woman can only function through man. I don't agree with it at all but I feel our society doesn't even realize they are doing this; it just comes natural to everyone. What are your thoughts, comments, questions?!

Also, I couldn't actually find the interview online so if anyone can that'd be awesome! Thanks!

Direct Engagement Entry: Question 4: Question Two


Children who are subject to an environment where nannies/domestic workers take care of them and pick up after them and follow whatever duties that another adult tells them to do quickly learn how to stereotype the different working classes. Generally, those who can easily afford a nanny/domestic worker are those who are upper middle class/upper class, while the nanny that works for them are either lower class, or middle class (and haven't had a higher education). I think the healthiest nanny that a child can have to support a moral education is a nanny that is young and still going to school. A lot of college students nanny during the summer and can still teach the value of work to the child they're taking care of without forcing a stereotypical view of the different classes.
I think the only reason this should be an issue at all is because of the children who are in this environment are not learning the values that they should to succeed in the real world where they will not be dependent on anyone else. It is a feminized career, even if TV has seen past it (Alice may be the nanny on The Brady Bunch, but what about Geoffrey from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air???), but that's only because of the way that things used to be with women doing all of the things nannies/domestic workers now do, something that has changed a great deal of time, but still needs more time to completely be forgotten.
Children should be taught from a young age that they need to take responsibility, first by having to clean up after themselves, and that responsibility that is gained from knowing that you need to do things yourself and not depend completely on others is the moral education that children should be receiving. If the nanny takes care of the children only for the things that the children can't do for themselves, then the children learn what work is, and that makes work visible again. Making the job about doing what children need, and not what they'd prefer is really the only thing that feminists can do to make the point clear to future generations what work really is.
The only other problem with nannies/domestic workers isn't so much a moral challenge. Children need to be around their mothers (Notice, I say mothers. Fathers are important as a societal choice, biologically, they're not nearly as important.) to gain the bond that is absolutely necessary for development, if the mother chooses to work so often that they barely ever see their children, the child's not going to develop emotionally, and even physically, and it's going to cause serious problems in adulthood.

Question 4: 2/23-2/25

The Nanny Problem (and no we are not talking about Fran Drescher...):

Group B should post their direct engagements by tomorrow night. Groups C and D should post their comments by Tuesday at noon. For your direct engagement for this week, pick one of the following questions (from Thursday's group activity):

Question One:

...the use of nannies allows upper middle-class women and men to benefit from feminist changes without having to surrender the privilege of the traditional patriarchal family. The hired household worker is an employee, but she is mainly treated as if she were a wife (Joan Tronto, 47).

How are feminist responsible for the "nanny problem"? What do you think of Tronto's charge in relation to Judy Syfer's essay? What connections can you draw between Tronto's claim and the essays by Ehrenreich and Flanagan?

Question Two:

...what kind of moral education does one learn from being in a household in which one adult is so clearly subordinate to others (Tronto, 40)?

To be cleaned up after is to achieve a certain magical weightlessness and immateriality....A servant economy may provide opportunities, however, limited, for poor and immigrant women. But it also breeds callousness and solipsism in the served, and it does so all the more effectively when the service is performed close up and routinely in the place where they live and reproduce. ...The moral challenge is, put simply, to make work visible again (Ehrenreich, 102-103).

Why should the nanny/domestic workers problem be important for feminists? Why is this a feminist issue? What sort of moral education should children be receiving? What contributions can/should feminists make towards that moral education? Why is the moral challenge to make work visible again? What other moral challenges do housework/the nanny problem create?

So I was watching TV this morning and I saw these two commercials, one right after the other. It got me thinking about our analysis of women and housework commercials last week. How is masculinity represented/reinforced in these commercials? What are these commercials suggesting about what it means to be a "real" man and what it might mean to fail to be that man? Why is this a feminist issue? How can we connect it to our analysis of the larger structures/ideologies that foster injustice and oppression in its many forms?

And, I thought I would add this commercial on too--I didn't see it this morning, but was reminded of it when I started thinking about how masculinity gets reinforced in commercials. What are the implied reasons that men aren't wearing pants? Why do they need to wear (the) pants? How might not wearing pants signify failed masculinity? Who is to blame for this failed masculinity?


This is a feminist issue because... male birth control

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The birth control pill was such a booming success in America because the majority of women had gotten to the point where they were fed up with not having any choices of controlling their own reproductive systems. As we watched in The Pill, within just a few years, despite many social stigmas and condemnations from the church, millions of women were steady users of this form of contraception. However, I wonder how well a male version of the birth control pill will be received by the general public. It's an interesting topic to think about: as society becomes more and more comfortable with the idea of sexual responsibility, but also sexual promiscuity, will these pills follow a similar path as their female counterparts? Or are we still at a stage with the mentality that it's the woman's "job" to take the pill because she would be the ultimate one who will have to deal with the after effects? Will it end up being another chore that one sees satirized on family sitcoms where the wife is constantly nagging her husband to take out the trash and take his birth control pill? What do you guys think?

Tracking Sign-up Sheet

Here is a list of your groups from the tracking the term assignment. Remember that blog entries for groups in Reproductive Rights and Work are due next week. You can file them under "reproductive rights" or "work" categories, which are sub-categories for "tracking the issue" located towards the bottom of the category list.

This article found on npr.com proposes a gender-neutral Oscars award show. This is a feminist issue because it is encouraging men and women to be viewed as equals in a work and creative space. Tying in the suggestion of gender-neutral Olympics (I guess we were on the same brain wave) I think a gender-neutral Oscars is different than an equal sports competition. Like it or not, a man and a woman are physically different. Their bodies allow and restrict them in different ways physically. I think a gender-neutral Olympics would encourage men to excel in "masculine" sports and women to exceed in the "feminine" sports. Now acting on the other hand, isn't determined by physical strength, and I don't see the division between the genders necessary. Females have worked in male roles, such as Cate Blanchett in "I'm Not There" and the other way around with Dustin Hoffman in "Tootsie" (I can't believe I just referenced 'Tootsie'). Also, transgenders, would have equal opportunity within this awards show.
Bob Mondello, the author of the article, makes a good point about how Best Director and Best Editor stand alone in categories, so why separate Actor/Actress? However, I found the latter part of the article quite curious. He spends a lot of time listing off how women could beat the men in a gender-neutral brawl, like it would be some sort of competition between the two genders. I didn't like his need to justify the actress's acting skills, and found it almost insulting that he was emphasizing 'girl-power'. Like, we should have a gender-neutral Oscars, and the girls might even beat the boys! Good for you girls! I don't think that justification is necessary to demonstrate the acting skills of women, or to demonstrate that these gender-neutral Oscars "could actually work against men at Oscar time".
I would like to see a gender-neutral Oscars that is legitimately viewing all the artists as exactly that, artists. Professionals, who are incredibly talented and deserve recognition for their work. Not as a man vs. woman awards show, perpetuating the divide between the genders. Do you think this is feasible? What kinds of consequences or reactions can you predict? Would it become a Man vs. Woman trophy tally? Is the art of an actress different from that of an actor? Is it important to keep them separate in order to highlight that? Are there any actors in the crowd who have a strong opinion for/against this proposal?

This is a Feminist issue.....Equality in Sports


Watching the 2010 Olympics I was suddenly curious as to why aren't there any mixed gender competitions. Figure skating is probably the only sport. But why are there Woman's snowboarding competitions and Men's snowboarding if they are competing in the same field? Isn't the Olympics supposed to show who's best of the best no matter gender? They even get scored equally. So why not have them compete against one another. I think this is a feminist issue because there is clearly no equality among gender in sports. I don't think there should be any distinction in sports because everyone trains the same. I feel that when there a Woman's or a Men's category they are not viewed the same therefore there is no equality.
In trying to find a mixed gender sport I found that there is a lot of debate to whether the safeties of women are at risk. I think that in any sport there is a risk of getting injured but it is your responsibility to practice and ensure that you are playing by the rules so you won't get hurt. But accidents happen and in playing that sport you know what you are getting into.
I didn't found many sports that are mixed gender although the UMN has a soccer team that is mixed. I feel that there shouldn't be any distinction in sports and it should be a feminist issue. Maybe next Olympics we will have an equal competition.Do you agree?

Women and Water Exhibition and Events

Hey everybody, the Women and Water event has a lot of stuff going on...art exhibition, dance performance, open mic night, a symposium with great speakers...and more. Here is a link to their schedule for the next month Also visit their website, www.womenandwater.net for more info.

The Brady Bunch's Alice and the Nanny Problem


Here is an entry that I wrote on my own blog this past summer that is connected to our discussion for today and next week: The Trouble with Alice

The entry is about the precarious position that Alice, the housekeeper for the Brady family on the Brady Bunch, maintains within the Brady household/family. Here's an excerpt:

Alice's position as a part of the family is tenuous because she is being paid to be there. She is not an equal member. She is an employee with 8 bosses. If she makes a mistake or disobeys the rules, she won't be reprimanded or given a time out, she will be fired. She will lose her livelihood and her benefits and her living quarters (which, true to form, are right off of the kitchen). Alice's position is also tenuous because she has no real claim on any of the family members. Sure she has taken care of Bobby his whole life, but if she is fired she can't demand to be allowed to have a relationship with him. She has been a mother to the kids (and a sexless wife/secretary to Mike) but she has no rights or legal claim to that position. Lucky for her that she is white and a legal citizen of the U.S. Otherwise her position as domestic worker would be even more tenuous. For more on this, see here and here.

Alice's position is difficult because the kind of work she is doing--cooking, cleaning, drying off tears, counseling heartbroken Marcia, building up Jan's self-esteem, contending with Greg's often failed performances of (hyper) masculinity--is not really considered work. Taking care of others is invisible work that is done by individuals (mostly women) who are invisible as workers. Folding the sheets and watching the kids? That's not work, that's just what women do while men go to the office and design powder puff buildings for BeeBee Gallini.

I came across this article and thought it was fantastic. In summary, this article focuses on ideas to help Haiti get back on its feet by supporting women. Within this article it states that Haitian women head 50 percent of all households within Haiti. The goal of this project is to try and use micro-loans to help jump start the economy within Haiti. This micro loan approach to ending extreme poverty was used within Bangladesh with great success. The object is to loan the money out to women because it has a high chance of directing impacts within the family systems. The idea is a bottom up approach which successfully raised the total household income by 53 percent in three years in Bangladesh, which is amazing!

I really appreciated how this method sees the value of women and the effect that they have upon the future generations of a country. It seems that too often cultures see change as something that is masculine. I suppose that they idea being rescued by the prince in fairy tales perpetuate these ideals within out own culture. I can only imagine what effect these loans have upon a cultures ideals and subscripted social norms. I think that this also has the effect of mixing different cultural ideals, beneficial or not, globally.

Who are...undocumented workers?

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For the next three class sessions, we are discussing housework, nannies, and invisible labor. Central to our discussion are the many women and men who perform the invisible labor that have enabled some feminists to "solve" the housework crisis. A lot of these women and men are undocumented workers. So, who are...undocumented workers?

One way to get at this question is to explore the term "undocumented worker." Why should we use this term instead of the many others that are articulated within the popular media? In her entry, "Stop saying 'illegal'," the Feminist Texican provides a compelling discussion of why "undocumented worker" should be used instead of "alien," "illegal alien," "illegal immigrant," "illegal," "immigrant," and "undocumented immigrant." Her post includes this video by Rinku Sen:

Another way to get at the question of "who are...undocumented workers," is to read about/listen to/watch the stories of undocumented domestic workers (like nannies or maids or gardeners). On Tuesday, we will watch the film, Maid in America about 3 undocumented domestic workers, living and working in the L.A. area. Check out the resource page on the film's website for more information. Here is the film description:

Housekeeper. Nanny. Maid. Surrogate mother. Such are the many roles of las domésticas--undocumented workers who came to America in search of a better life and found themselves scrubbing toilets and setting tables, working long hours for little pay in private homes.

Most have no health insurance, no driver license, no pension and no recourse when it comes to employment injustices. They cook meals they could never afford, clean houses they could only dream of owning and care for strangers' children when their own children are thousands of miles away. Deportation is a constant fear. And still they come to the United States by the thousands in hopes of a better life for themselves and their families.

MAID IN AMERICA is an intimate, eye-opening look at the lives of las domésticas, as seen through the eyes of Eva, Telma and Judith: three Latina immigrants, each with a very different story, who work as nannies and housekeepers in Los Angeles, California. Filmmakers Anayansi Prado and Kevin Leadingham followed their subjects for several years, and their cameras caught some of the most intimate moments of these women's lives, both on and off the job.

And, a third way to get at this question, is to think about how it gets represented in the popular media. Here is just one example from Jezebel that discusses nanny trends, documented/undocumented domestic workers, and labor abuses in the domestic workplace: "Don't You Just Love Your [Insert Ethnicity] Nanny?" This article also provides some great links for more information on the issue of nannies and other undocumented domestic workers.


This is a feminist issue because... Gender neutral restrooms

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I work at the GLBTA Programs Office here at the U, and one of the major we are working on is known as the Transgender Commission, which works to create change and equality for people of all gender identities and expressions. Gender neutral restroom access is one of the many things that the commission is working on perpetuating throughout campus. James Nord of the Minnesota Daily wrote an article about the work. Click here to read the article.

This is a feminist issue because it is addressing the concerns of transgender identifying people, those with chronic illnesses, people with disabilities, and those who are made uncomfortable by gender-specific public restrooms.


This is a feminist issue because... omg, boys

I've been doing some babysitting recently and one of the girls is hitting the "preteen" stage where Seventeen magazine is the holy grail. She was reading off to me different sections of the latest publication out loud, when she got to the dating section where they have this part called "Hot Guy Panel." Girls were sending in questions from across the nation on things which they want guys' advice.

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Now, I'm all for share and tell, but my god, really? It is clear that Seventeen isn't the only magazine that has sections of this sort. Editors and authors basically tell girls and boys alike how they should act in order to get the girl or guy. They say what to wear, how to act, what to say, what not to say, and "most importantly," act like yourself, but come on, how are you supposed to act like yourself when you're wearing clothes you don't like and acting in a way you don't normally act?

I think the real problem is that magazines like this separate the genders in a way which almost makes males and females out to be two entirely different species to be tamed and captured. In the end, this type of analysis that's supposedly to help one gender "understand" the other ends up perpetuating the patriarchal system where men act one way and women act another. What do you all think? Are there any magazines out there which are completely void of sexist articles/ads/pictures? If not, how would it be possible to stay afloat in a patriarchal, capitalist society as a viable publication without falling into the clutches ofthe very things we oppose?

This is a feminist issue because...

I read this book called, "Fat is a Feminist Issue" by Susie Orbach because I am a feminist who is part of our anti-woman culture in now days. The author's thesis is that having a weight problem or a compulsive eating problem is a response to the culture which women are placed. In one chapter, Susie talked about how compulsive overeating and anorexia nervosa are paralleled. While many people would argue that these are two separate, completely opposite disorders that have nothing in common. However, both are a response to the culture that women live in, with one being a rejection of that culture and the other being an over exaggeration and obsession with that culture.


Does doing more housework help reduce breast cancer? Today I mentioned that a study was done a few years ago that suggested that women who did more housework reduced their risks of getting breast cancer. I did a little more digging tonight and found the following:

Here is how BBC News reported on the study back in December 2006.

And, here is an excerpt from a feminist response in Bitch Magazine:

Science has the capacity to surprise and amaze us, but sometimes it's more satisfying when you can jump up and say, "Yes! I knew it all along!" Which is why articles touting the awesomeness of traditional gender roles are an evergreen subject in the science pages.

A 2007 study from the American Society for Cancer Research journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention titled "Physical activity and breast-cancer risk" found fame in such headlines as the BBC's "Housework cuts breast-cancer risk." That's not to mention the 2006 study on housework and cancer in Canadian women, the 2005 study on housework and cancer in Chinese women, or the 2004 study...you get the idea. [See "Home Is Where the Cardio Is," Bitch no. 27]

The reality? Being physically active seems to help prevent cancer, and the researchers behind the recent studies have been counting housework as physical activity. Housework, sports, and active jobs all had significant effects in reducing cancer risk, and the authors think the key may be frequent, low-impact exercise.

An author on several of these studies, Christine Friedenreich, told the Calgary Herald that in past studies, researchers counted jobs like construction work as physical activity, but not housework--and it turns out that domestic tasks are, duh, hard work.

This means that many women are getting more exercise than they (or their doctors) had realized. That should be good news for them--but instead, the message imparted by the news reports is, "Get back into the kitchen! That's all the exercise you need!"

It's worth noting that one of the study's sponsors, Cancer Research UK, answered questions about the 2006 study on its website, pointing out that for many of the older women in the study group, housework was their primary form of exercise. The organization went on to address charges of sexism directly, making sure to mention a related 2006 study that found housework cuts the risk of bowel cancer for both men and women, concluding, "There's absolutely no excuse for men to dodge the dusting!"

This excerpt comes from a longer article, "Mad Science" about the problematic ways in which scientific studies get represented and misrepresented in popular media articles. Check it out. What do you think about her analysis?

FYI: The linking of choice to consumerism and the ability to buy more products is referred to as the "cult of choice consumerism" in Summer Wood's article. This was the term that I was trying to remember in class today.

Some housework commercials to think about...

Here are a few commercials involving women and housework that we will be discussing in class today.

First, a classic commercial from Calgon. Think about it in relation to the Enjoli commercial. How are women represented in these commercials? What solutions are they given for dealing with the stress of managing their various labors? How are those solutions different now? How are they similar?

Now, here are some commercials form 2009. How are women (and "women's" labor) represented in these commercials? Why/how are the mops gendered? What relationship does the woman have with their cleaning supplies? What do we make of this relationship?

As I was reading my biology textbook a couple of days ago about evolutionary mechanisms, I ran across, what I would consider, a feminist issue. I was reading about sexual selection and more specifically about intersexual selection, which is when animals of the same sex (mainly male-to-male) compete with each other for the other sex (female). For example, fiddler crabs have enlarged claws to fight against other males for the female and peacocks have colorful and long tail feathers to make themselves attractive to the females. This immediately caught my attention because I realized that females have a lot more freedom to choose their mate than the males do. However, I began pondering about the concept of choice we had discussed and about why the females had more mating choice than males? Is this morally or ethically correct?

Another point that caught my attention was the fact that attractiveness and beauty was heavily emphasized on the males. In our society, beauty is more highlighted in women and sources such as the media depict the importance of physical beauty in women. We are culturally taught that women have to take care of their appearance more than men and have to look "pretty." It was interesting for me to see almost reverse feminism in nature. It seems to me that non-human female animals have significant power and authority in the issue of mating, which directly contradicts the struggle humans had for the reproductive rights of women.

........ideal vs reality

women are not given the option of what to look like by the media. They are not given the opportunity to look how they want. The reason why am saying this is because every day on T.V all we see is"perfect images" of women. It be could about women who lost some kind of weight or skinny women in a commercial which probably does not go together. Even a woman making a commercial about chocolate which is indeed what makes many go over weight will look thin. They try to tell us what an ideal body looks like verses the reality. Media tries to portray that being overweight is a bad thing and being skinny is a good thing that brings happiness. Take a look at the fashion industry, almost all of the girls or women are beyond thin. The people in power who are mainly the rich are behind this "ideal" body image. Women are portrayed according to their images instead of their thoughts and their hard work.
This reminds me of reproductive rights that we talked about in class. Women should have the choice of their body whether they want to be thin or fat. It is not as bad as the reproductive rights but media has a big effect on women, there are more anorexic women than before. If the media portrayed the other side of women instead of their image there would be fewer suicides due to low self-esteem.

Direct Engagement 3: Group C: Sarah Mainz


Housework according to these authors is viewed as woman's work. The troubling fact is that although what these women are doing is in fact "work" their efforts are deemed unimportant. The women in these scenarios are not given vacations or wages. They are forced to work hard and in return, they are forced to work harder and longer. As Friedan points out in her article in the 50's and 60's women were treated as slaves to their husbands or boyfriends. The were raised to view life as nothing more than preparation for marriage and babies. In order for these women to be happy they had to find a mate, and in order to stay happy they had to produce children and keep that man happy. It was out of the question for women to work outside the home, and as stated by Friedan women didn't want to. Society brainwashed them to believe their worth was in their femininity and beauty. Too much intelligence was seen as un-lady like, high career aspirations were uncommon and considered weird and manly. Oh how things have changed, and yet still seem to stay put.
Some how housework became devalued among our society. It is not seen for what is is: back breaking, tedious, smelly, work. It is seen as lady-like and unimportant in the realm of males. Too often males perceive housework still as something they simply are not interested in and something they only do because their wife is nagging them. People do not tend to notice housework until it is no longer taken care of.
Housework is a political issue because until it is debated, argued and shown with outrage nothing will change. Man has been oppressing women for centuries and it was not until women stood up and fought for our rights did they come. It is unjust for women to be expected to stay home all day, clean the house, drive the kids around, make lunches, do the laundry, make dinner, and do all this with a smile. It is a joke to me that this was ever the case for women. I have been lucky enough to grow up in a time when being treated as if that is unacceptable to me, and is against the way I was raised. This quote from Wages for Housework expresses this idea perfectly, "This crime of work and wagelessness brands us for life as the weaker sex and delivers us powerless to employers, government planners and legislators, doctors, the police, prisons and mental institutions as well as the individual men for a lifetime of servitude and imprisonment." Women have been oppressed for too long and used as workers for men, no longer will that be tolerated, no longer will women allow for us to be the weaker sex.
This is a feminist issue because labeling one realm of work, as strictly women's work is unfair. Especially when that work is housework and the hard work goes unpaid. How could what may be deemed as "slave work" be anything but a feminist issue? Women are put into a box and forced to believe that they are only happy when they are pleasing their man; and in order to please the man they have to give up all their dreams and ambitions to be his wife.
I agree that this is a feminist issue, because expecting any one race or sex to be one thing because it is easier for them to fit into that box is wrong. If women are doing housework they should be paid a wage. The only problem is, who will pay them? The government? That will never happen. The government for one is run mainly by men, and for two paying homemakers for their contributions to society serves no greater goal to the people running the show. It is true that women who are homemakers are there to raise proper children, have a warm, cozy home that helps their husbands feel relaxed after a long day working, therefore keeping him sane at work the next day. So really these women are doing this country a favor, and should there for be compensated generously.

Direct Engagement- Question 3


Housework to many, is not real work at all. In my opinion, housework can be just as difficult, or even more difficult than having a career outside of the home. According to Friedan, women felt a sense of loneliness and dissatisfaction when having to work at the home. Women "made the bed, shopped for groceries, matched slip cover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured cub scouts and brownies and lay beside her husband at night." Housework is defined as work done in and around the house to keep things organized and neat.
Housework is considered to be devalued as a job in most aspects. Housework is more so a priority than a job, especially since a housewife does not get paid. The flyers make a good point saying that the government should pay housewives, because of all the work that they do. I wonder if this though, would make more housewives in the world and men mainly go out in the community and work. Most women would love to be able to stay home during the week with their children, take care of their house, and even get paid for it. It causes for an interesting debate.
Most commonly, women are the spouse to stay at home and take care of the house (as I have mentioned several times above). It has always been that way: men make the income and women take care of the house to make their husbands happy. The debate between housework and women is most definitely a feminist issue. It seems like it always has been. It's a feminist issue because in the past, women were expected to stay at home and make their husbands happy. It has been passed on to the present, and men still agree that this is an okay situation. Maybe it is...maybe it isn't.

Virginity Auctions


This is a Feminist Issue Because...

A 19 year old woman in New Zealand is said to have sold her virginity in order to pay her college tuition. Thousands of people viewed her ad and 1,200 people placed bids before she closed the bidding at $32,000. I think there is a lot of feminist conversation to be had surrounding this issue.

It's problematic that something as intangible as virginity can be sold for such a large amount of money. Only in a world where a woman's "purity" is fetishized could something like this happen; can you imagine a young man trying to sell his virginity? Something tells me he wouldn't have been as successful. A woman's first sexual experience in the context of patriarchy is a Big Deal. We really want to believe that she is fundamentally changed after her virginity is lost. It also provides evidence that women within a patriarchy are considered property: taking a woman's virginity is traditionally akin to taking ownership of her (think weddings - the bride is traditionally assumed to be a virgin).

We could also talk about whether she is being victimized or making an empowered choice. By Googling this story and others like it I found people talking about both sides. Some feel that she is using the system against itself because she understands that her virginity doesn't actually have anything to do with morality and that "losing" it has no impact on her character. Because of this her decision is seen as a symbolic "screw you" gesture to the patriarchy; which is enhanced by the fact that she's using the money to get an education. The other side sees the situation in a more victimizing light, wherein the patriarchal society has duped the student into believing she was making an empowered choice, but in reality she was doing exactly what society largely wants women to do: lie down for a man.

I can see both sides, but I'm leaning towards the latter because I really believe that this ubiquitous obsession with virginity is outlandish and foul. What does everyone think?

Source: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123342088

Direct Engagement #3


"Why I Want a Wife" really said it all. A housewife is supposed to be a lady by day but a sex slave by night, if he's in the mood, of course. A housewife is to cook, clean, shop, take care of their child(ren), mend, bear as many children as her husband desires, stay faithful to him even if he strays from time-to-time, and basically treat her hardworking husband as a king, catering to his every whim and not bothering him with honey-dos or asking him to contribute at all to the upkeep of the house or help raise their child(ren). Her purpose in the marriage is to put her needs after her husband's and child(ren)'s. Not only that, wives are supposed to put their men through college by working, while juggling all of these preordained responsibilities, if they marry before he has finished his schooling. Once he is in the work force, she is expected to quit her job and focus on her household duties. This makes the housewife dependent on her husband to provide for her. If a wife is not up to her husband's standards, he can just replace her with a younger, hotter model who is willing to fulfill such duties. The household responsibilities of a wife are valued as far inferior to any job outside of the home. Her husband's job, no matter what it is, is much harder than trying to raise a bunch of kids, keep the house clean, cook, and still be up for sex whenever her husband wants it.

It is particularly clear in the "Wages for Housework" flyer that it is a political issue because housewives perform duties that benefit society. This is a feminist issue because women are negatively impacted by this. Their skill set, if divorced or widowed is low. This also makes it harder for women, themselves, to divorce their husbands, because they will have a hard time supporting themselves (especially if they got a Ph.T.). These expectations make it harder for women to become career women, not having as many women in certain fields. It could be discouraging to be in an all or mostly male class, especially with studies showing that men are more confident and feel a greater sense of entitlement (I forget where I read this, sorry). As Friedan points out, there are also psychological problems associated with such marriages. I found it interesting that many psychiatrists found "that, in their experience, unmarried women patients were happier than married ones" (201). Clearly such a lifestyle does not appeal to or satisfy every women.

I personally like the idea of being a housewife, minus the having children part. I do not really see this as a feminist or political issue anymore (except for possibly generations older than mine). Women are entering universities and colleges at greater rates than in the past, and I'm not entirely convinced that the wage gap is even relevant anymore. Men typically work more hours per week than women and go into careers with higher wages (sciences, technology, engineering, etc.).

Direct Engagement: Question 3 - Work and Equality


Broadly speaking, the various authors seem to define housework as everything involving the work of child bearing and upbringing as well as the labor necessary to maintain a home: "They baked their own bread, sewed their own and their children's clothes, kept their new washing machines and dryers running all day. They changed the sheets on the beds twice a week instead of once, took the rug-hooking class in adult education, and pitied their poor frustrated mothers, who had dreamed of having a career" (Friedan 199).

With respect to the value of housework, I found interesting the slight difference between the opinions of Nicole Cox, Silvia Federici, and the Wages for Housework fliers as compared to that of Friedan. I think that for Cox, Federici, and Wages for Housework, the problem was the devaluation and resulting depoliticization created by housework, whereas for Friedan, the problem was the seeming lack of fulfillment. For instance, Friedan says, "It is no longer possible to ignore that voice, to dismiss the desperation of so many American women. This is not what being a woman means, no matter what the experts say. For human suffering there is a reason; perhaps the reason has not been found because the right questions have not been asked, or pressed far enough" (201), i.e. for Friedan the idea of meaninglessness takes precedence. Yet for Cox, Federici, and Wages for Housework, the problem seemed to stem more from a sense of depoliticization through devaluation: "For not to see women's work in the home is to be blind to the work and struggles of the overwhelming majority of the world's population which is wageless" (4). That is to say that Cox and Federici see the problem as a more political issue and a more global issue. Thus, in contrast, Friedan views housework as a problem indicative of the necessity for women to find meaning in life, whereas Cox and Federici view the problem of housework as a political oppression and disenfranchisement.

In this sense, I think that Cox, Federici, and Wages for Housework are taking the correct approach. They utilize a discourse calling for political empowerment, and the reason I think this is more useful than a simple indictment of meaninglessness is because political enfranchisement is more pertinent to the general human condition. That is to say the problem of meaningless or lack of fulfillment isn't a problem limited strictly to women, it is a 'problem' that has been the center of much philosophical discourse and continues to be so because of its elusiveness. Thus, in my opinion, political enfranchisement is a tool that allows women to contribute to the general search for meaning and comprehension of the human condition. And thus, this issue should of necessity be a political one.

This is a feminist issue because... "settling" for a man.


Lori Gottlieb has created a stir with her new book, "Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough." She encourages women to really think about what they want in a partnership - changing "tall, smart, handsome, funny, good with kids, loves dogs, cries every time he sees Casablanca" to "loving and intelligent." Of course, marriage isn't for everyone, but if it is for you, Lori encourages women to have realistic expectations.

The realistic expectations part of this seems logical, and there are clearly some problems with the idea of sacrificing happiness just for the sake of being married - but I was mostly interested by the double standard this book drew my attention to. I think this is an example of one of those rare double standards which benefits women instead of men. If I ever heard one of my male friends describing what he "wanted in a woman" as "funny, caring, great cook, awesome body, loves cats, super sexual, wants kids", I would be offended. It would sound objectifying, as if you were comparing every women and deciding which ones were good enough for you. But hearing that exact same list come out of a woman's mouth would sound normal - having high standards and "knowing your needs". One of the great things that the feminist movement has done is made people more aware of objectifying statements and comments. Sadly, this standard is rarely applied to women. Women can objectify men just as much as men can objectify women, and I think it's important to be aware of that possibility and guard against it.

What do you think? Should "settling" for someone be encouraged? When do these lists cross the line from a set of standards to a mental checklist?

Direct Engagement: Housework


Though the readings may vary slightly, most define housework as anything done within the sphere of the home and family. To quote Betty Friedman, "She made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, [and] lay beside her husband at night." The Wages for Housework flier suggests that housework extends even to childbirth and a smile. The housework affects the family, as the mothers were expected to bring children up to be good citizens. Housework was seen (and to some still is) as the extent of the world of the American woman. A commodity, housework is necessary to the flow life, yet should not restrict the lives of the women who were/are being forced to do it.

Women have always been the ones forced to do the housework. As Friedman states, young women in the 1950's and 60's strove to be the typical suburban housewife, "concerned only about her husband, her children, her home." Children should be raised to be productive members of society. Homes should be orderly so that its inhabitants can focus on humanistic advancements such as studying, experiencing art, finding time for oneself, etc. People should eat well so as to avoid obesity and the diseases that may accompany it. However, women should not be the ones forced to raise the children, clean the house, and cook the food. Spouses need to adopt a system of equality, one in which the housework is shared, children are raised by both parents, and meals are not the responsibility of only the woman. This way, women are free to advance themselves in the realm of academia, or find time to simply relax and have no worries. She should be able to devote the same amount of time to these things as does her spouse-- no less.

For the Wages for Housework authors, housework has to be seen as a political issue. The government was the one encouraging women to breed, telling them when to stop, and ordering them to take on a second job, or when to focus on the home. In order for women to feel fulfilled, they need to have equal opportunities as men to follow whichever path in life they so choose. This right must be protected by law.

As Friedman states, "We can no longer ignore that voice within women that says: 'I want something more than my husband and my children and my home.'" The issue of housework must be a feminist issue because women are being subjugated to spending their lives as housewives, lacking the opportunity to seek fulfillment in other arenas of life. Government needs to work hand in hand with feminists to ensure that women are afforded their inalienable right of being able to pursue happiness that comes from areas other than the home.

Direct Engagement #1

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The "problem that has no name" that Betty Friedan writes about seems very much to be alive and well today, albeit in a different form. The conventional world, its wisdom, 'experts,' and various cultural artifacts that make up the girth of 'official American culture' fill our heads with ideas of progressive linear time in which all the big battles have been won and 'practical equality' achieved, reminding us of the 'power' we have as consumers to choose all the various aspects of our largely predetermined lives. The hyperactive flickering of commercial images, movies that are practically advertisements for McDonald's or NIKE (for example, Mac and Me, 1988), and silent corrosion of reforms from the 30's and 70's send us into a desperate frenzy, busy choosing and buying all manner of commercial packages governing everything from our health care, education, food, to designer products, sex fantasies, and even our political rights. Even our presidential elections are far more akin to junior high popularity contests than anything concerning the vast political machine that shapes the lives of humans and nonhumans alike. Friedan wrote, "She was free to choose automobiles, clothes, appliances, supermarkets; she had everything that women every dreamed of," (CP pg. 38), referencing the substitution of consumer choice for real political choices. The same goes on today. People say that it's easy to take 'a shot at the system,' because everyone supposedly has economic opportunity that opens up their 'choices' in the consumer world. Few question the system that allows them these 'choices,' built upon hidden masses of slave labor, out of sight and mind, built upon extremes of advantage and disadvantage, upon the racism and colonialism, perhaps more overt in yesteryears, that is said not to exist today. In the face of this massive denial, that what exists only needs a tune up, things like housework often seem hardly to be political issues. The markedly skewed distribution of domestic labor is seen as fair by many couples, something that is a logical product of the 'choices' they both made (thank goodness we have the power!). We seldom reflect on the larger economic and social products of domestic labor: perpetuation of economic imperialism, production of human capital, perpetuation of the profits of various conglomerations, indeed, perpetuation of a system that sits on a cushion of exploited labor, puts on a happy face, and gives some 'people' around that world some 'choices.' Domestic labor is a political issue, as everything is. It is in the 'domestic sphere' that we envision the 'private,' 'personal,' aspects of our lives that touch everything else. Even the term 'domestic' is allowed to sit comfortably and strangely silent; unexamined are its oneness with the political public, the desperation of privatized relationships, and it contact with 'other' Other layers of exploited labor. "Be the change you want to see in the world," Ghandi said, now a widely available bumper sticker, book mark, motivational quote-a-day calendar, or whatever you choose. Indeed. I think real political choice begins with creating communities based on people consciously creating and preserving possibilities of being that don't necessarily go hand in hand with the profits of their life insurance provider.

Direct Engagement: Wages for Housework + Betty Friedan

Housework is constructed through the various readings for this week as work done in the domestic sphere--that is, work that is done to ensure the health and well-being of the family, specifically the breadwinner and the children (who may or may not be future family-breadwinners). This housework is unpaid, and unmarked by wages and therefore capital, but as Cox & Frederici insist, housework is essentially a part of capitalism and is essential to production. They suggest that housework supports the person (near always the husband) who participates in measured, waged work, who daily goes out into society to produce and perpetuate the movement of capital. Housework also supports the children, who will either be participants in waged work or the supporters of waged work in the future.

The tasks of housework are extremely broad, each adding up to create an enormous sum total. Importantly, a female homemaker is assumed to perform these tasks. The authors of the 'Wages for Housework' fliers define the tasks in easy-to-understand language. They proclaim, "[women] have scrubbed and polished and oiled and waxed and scoured until [their] arms and backs ached" (flier 2). Women have been in charge of "childbirth" and "dirty toilets" and "cups of coffee", and teaching children the proper way to behave. This work is essential in bringing up families to meet societal standards ("good families" are expected to wear clean clothes, have pristine houses, manage their children, eat healthy home-cooked meals, etc.)

Cox and Frederici lament that this work is unmeasured by wages and therefore devalued, although it has tremendous social value in addition to supporting the movement of capital in the professional world. They propose revolutionary measures, not only to assign wages to housework, but to eventually overthrow the capitalist system that demands the sacrifice of human lives to the attainment of capital.

Freidan is markedly less revolutionary in her chapter "The Problem That Has No Name"; she does not propose to overthrow capitalism, but she does wish to expose the unhappiness and dissatisfaction that many women in the 1950's felt as their lives revolved around housework and family support. All of the pieces we read for this week aim to deconstruct the nuclear family structure and critique it as a unit of capitalist production and normative social group--they aim to expose the unsatisfying aspects of devoting one's life to housework, though Cox & Frederici are decidedly more revolutionary in aim. To these 3 authors, housework is absolutely a feminist issue, as it is women who are traditionally expected to fulfill the role of hardworking housewife. The power relations and dissatisfactions that can come from a breadwinner/supporter family structure can leave both roles unfulfilling, demanding a critique of this structure and an analysis of patriarchy and capitalism's roles in defining it.

In honor of Single's Awareness Day (also known as Valentine's Day, National Buy-Hallmark-Cards-and-Inordinate-Amounts-of-Chocolate Day, or Huge Marketing Ploy), I purchased the movie "He's just not that into you." The movie is based off a book by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. The book "debunks many of the myths that women create about men and dating," according to Denise Mann, author of the WebMD feature article "He's Just Not That Into You! Harsh words from the best-selling dating book may set single women free."

Excuse me? Why are single women not free? I found this article a little off-putting. This is a feminist issue because both the film and the article imply that there is some oppressive force women are dating under- and that oppressive force just happens to be women. Throughout the article, Mann implies that the myths women create are making it harder for them to successfully date men. It puts the blame for whatever heartache a woman is feeling back on the woman. What about men? Surely they have some misconceptions about dating and have created some myths that are not serving them well. But there isn't a movie about a clueless guy getting dumped and staying single. "He's Just Not That Into You" is a popular book and a popular movie, but when people draw attention to it because it will "set women free," that sets feminism back. Women still don't earn the same wages for the same work, there is no shortage of reproductive injustices, and apparently now, women are terrible at dating and accepting rejection as well.

Women and Water Rights

We are facing a global water crisis:* 18% of the world's population lack access to safe drinking water, and 42% lack access to basic sanitation. More than 2.2 million people die each year from diseases associated with these conditions. As water scarcity grows, so will these numbers. By 2025, it is estimated that two thirds of the world's population will live in areas facing moderate to severe water stress.
As women play a central role in water provision and management, women must be central in planning for the future. A focus of WWR is to examine how the inclusion of women in the management of local, regional, and global water resources. would improve the social, economic and environmental results. WWR will emphasize how the arts both reflect and alter societal attitudes leading to cultural and economic change.
if you want to check out more about this event go to Water Rights: Rivers of Regeneration

Supermom, Supermodel, Supermotivated


Housework is paradoxically regarded as both vital and trivial in both feminist circles and greater society. According to The Wages for Work campaign, housewives have "scrubbed and polished and oiled and waxed and scoured" without appreciation. They have also "brought our children up to be good citizens" and "raise[ed] the next generation of workers for you [you likely being patriarchal societies and governments]." Housework is a political issue because it stratifies: women, especially stay-at-home women or women from lower classes, can be kept in subjugated roles because those with more empowered identities believe that housework is all that such women are good for. It is not equitable to force certain groups of people to perform tasks, simply because more empowered groups don't feel they should have to.

Emphasizing the drudgery of housework can be a double-edged sword, though. Our emphasis on originality can cloud our judgment, implying that tedious, repetitive activities are less important or deserve less praise than completely novel undertakings. In "The Problem That Has No Name", Betty Friedan speaks of women who "feel empty somehow ... incomplete." Even if we are too desensitized to empathize with feelings of emptiness, surely we recognize the urgency of modifying a social structure that could lead a woman to say, "I feel as if I don't exist."

Being socially coerced into hard, tedious, repetitive labor day after day would almost certainly leave a person feeling frustrated and disheartened. But I feel that the issue is not as simple as building new machines to make housework get done faster, or getting more women into professional employment, although this is definitely a step in the right direction. The Friedan quotes indicate that in addition to being tired and frustrated, the women interviewed didn't feel appreciated in their roles as mothers and spouses. Since women as a group won't be able to escape identities of mother and spouse/significant other, I don't think putting on 8-hour Enjoli and being supermom, supermodel, and supermotivated at work will solve the problem. We need to appreciate housework for what it is: skilled, challenging, important work. Due to its very nature, and more than probably any other undertaking, if housework stopped, so would civilization.

This is a feminist issue because...legalized prostitution.


This is a feminist issue because...legalizing prostitution.
Here is a website that focuses on the pros and cons of many different topics. This specific article focuses on legalized prostitution. I personally believe that prostitution, as well as drugs and many other things society considers inappropriate, should be legalized. I'd like to address each of the ten arguments:
1) The argument that prostitution is not a victimless crime is specifically based on the idea that pimps are a necessary part of prostitution. Prostitution is victimless when a woman is willing to sell her body and she does so by her conditions. Setting up a prostitution service that is similar to an escort service would make it very easy for men to pick out a woman (or a woman to pick out a man, prostitution is NOT just women selling their bodies) that is WILLING to do whatever fantasy a man is looking for based on a simple profile.
2) In this case, I partially agree with the con-side. Some women (or men) may see prostitution as a last resort for money and not want to do it, but have to. There are a lot of jobs that degrade men, women, and children because of their economic status, at least prostitution offers something that can be pleasurable to the woman and the man involved.
3) Morality is just perspective. Legalizing prostitution wouldn't force anyone to take part in it. This is similar to legal abortion, many people find it immoral, but no one is forced to take part in it.
4) If prostitution is legalized, the demand for women (and men) can be met in a safe and willing manner. However, legalizing prostitution would not have an effect on the ever growing human trafficking problem in regards to children.
5) Women (and men) would feel more comfortable talking to the police if something violent or illegal happened to them while taking part in prostitution if they didn't fear for becoming the criminal themselves, rather than the victim.
6) HIV/AIDS prevention needs to be taken in every sexual situation. Legalizing prostitution may even help to enforce safe sex by using condoms. If women (or men) choose to have sex without condoms or have sex with condoms but still believe themselves to be at risk, then if prostitution were legalized, they should have to be put off of work for a certain time or make their clients aware of the risk. Unfortunately, too many people don't want to find out if they're positive or not and will not risk what they want by telling their partners whether or not they're positive.
7) For the pro: I think logically that Dr. Cundiff's research would stand to be correct. For the con: Women have always been seen as objects for men, before prostitution ever began, the blame for rape cannot solely be place upon prostitution. However, against both of them, in most cases, rape isn't about sex, it's about power and control, so it really can't be compared to prostitution at all. The current system (the illegal one) set up for prostitution just makes it easier for rapes to be committed because women (and men) make themselves vulnerable.
8) Unfortunately the con is right in this case, the majority of society puts their morals in front of their rights.
9) Legalizing prostitution would not just be for women or men in poverty, many people like having sex on a regular basis and don't have morals to hold them back, why not get paid for it? I also think the mention of men being treated badly by other men specifically when it comes to prostitution is just offensive. Women want to enjoy sex too, no one is saying that a man has to sleep with another man to prostitute themselves, men should have the right to prostitute themselves to women who want sex as well.
10) By legalizing prostitution, no one would be able to keep children from getting hurt by the human trafficking system, because legalizing prostitution would not mean legalizing child prostitution, that would be legally unacceptable because of the different laws regarding age. As far as this argument goes, I tend to agree with both women, since both women have had that experience. However, if prostitution were legalized, women and men would have the right to choose whether to be involved and choose to leave the career if they didn't like it.
Women should have the right to do whatever they want with their bodies (so should men, and equalizing rights is what the feminist movement is about); if a woman wants to make her body available so she can get money, she should be allowed to do so. Although many believe this is immoral, morality has nothing to do with the law. Legally, prostitution would help the government because it can be a legitimate career that would have taxes attached just like any other job.

Who is...Betty Friedan?

Next week we are reading an excerpt from Betty Friedan's feminist classic, The Feminine Mystique. But, who is Betty Friedan? For more information on her, check out this interview from PBS, or skim The Feminine Mystique via amazon.com, or read this great obituary (she died in 2006) by Katha Pollitt, or watch this early youtube clip from 1964:

Question 3: 2/16-2/18


Next week we start Issue #2, Work. This set of questions is for Group C. Please post your entries by this Sunday (2/14). Comments from groups A and D are due by Tuesday (2/16) at noon.

The Politics of House(work)

According to Friedan, Cox/Federici, Syfer, and the flyer (Wages for Housework) what kind of work is housework? How is it (de) valued in relation to other forms of work? Who does (and/or should do) the housework? Why is housework a political issue for the authors? Why is it a feminist issue? Do you think it should be a political and/or feminist issue? Why or why not?

Bonus Question: Watch the following commercial from the 1970s for Enjoli perfume:

What types of labor/work is this women expected to perform--as a supermom, wife, woman, etc? How have these expectations changed since then? How have they stayed the same? How are a wide range of women-as-workers represented in commercials now? How is labor around the house represented on commercials (who does it? what jobs do they perform? how is it valued/devalued)?

Thanks, Michelle for posting the link in the previous entry. I am embedding it in this entry, along with the original commercial it is responding to:

First, the original Dodge commercial:

Now, the feminist response:

Regarding Our Super Bowl Ads Discussion

Hi class,

I just saw this posted and wanted to share it in response to the discussion we had on Tuesday after the Super Bowl. This particular ad directly addresses the Dodge advertising campaign, but could be said to respond to many of the Super Bowl ads in general.

What do you think?

Have a great weekend,

Quick Guide for Due Dates

So, Melissa asked if I could put together a quick guide for the due dates. I have added it to this blog, under the "About" section at the top, right hand side (here). Let me know if I missed any assignments or dates. If you have any questions or comments, please post them as comments on the "due dates for the assignments" page.

This is a Feminist issue because...the Right to wear a veil

In feminism there is a big talk about choice, liberating women, and granting women the right to control their own bodies. Recently, there has been a big talk and debates about whether or not to ban the veil in France. If women in this society are allowed to use birth control and women are fighting for women's equal rights, then why can't Muslim women in France have a choice to wear a full veil? Some may believe that the veil and hijaab is a sign of oppression and that a Male authority is forcing them to wear it, the veil in Islam is completely voluntarily. If this is the case, then why are there so many women wearing the veil in a country where it is not the norm. It shocked me to read in an article in the New York Times where Mr. Sarkozy said 'that the veil is "not welcome in France because it is contrary to our values and contrary to the ideals we have of a woman's dignity."'. The idea of woman's dignity is something truly open and depends on cultural and individual view; however, how can a woman's dignity be granted when she is denied the right to express her faith. Coming from a Muslim background and Faith, this maybe a bit bias; however, this is an issue that I truly care about. This issue is a good example of the idea of liberty and equality. In the reading killing the Black body, Robert says, "liberty stresses the value of self-definition, and it protects against the totalitarian abuse of government power." How can liberty in France exist if a woman cannot express her faith? The importance of this issue does not only effect Muslim women, but it also effects other women who have a passion for their faith whether they are Jewish, Christian, Hindus. In the article in the New York time it says "Since 2004, head scarves and other signs of religious affiliation have been banned from public schools by a government". In end of the day, it goes back to if a woman can't choose and doesn't have a choice in what she wears or how to express her faith, then what rights can there be for a woman. Here is the Link to the article in the New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/27/world/europe/27france.html

The Business of Being Born

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Hey all, here's a link to the website for the documentary I was talking about today, The Business of Being Born. I searched a little bit and couldn't find a site where you could watch the full movie, but here's the trailer if anyone is interested. If you do want to watch it, I'd check Netflix. I'm almost positive they have it ready-to-watch. If not, the library system (university or public) is a great option.

I seriously recommend watching this documentary. It's only about 90 minutes, and is really eye opening, whether or not you want to have kids. If anyone does end up watching it, let me know what you think! (NOTE: There is some nudity in the film. Just FYI.)

Aurora Center

As I talked about in class today The Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education on campus has some great opportunities for volunteering! Something that we are doing which is new is a Men Against Gender Violence Group. I would like to invite all the men in our class as well as any other men that you think might be interested to attend these mtgs! I am posting a link to The Aurora Center and if you have any questions about how to get involved and help end gender violence let me know!


Next Week's Readings

The syllabus has the correct readings for next week. As a reminder, here they are:
(note: all of the readings are available on our WebVista site, even those listed as part of the Course Packet)

16 Two proposals for (house) work equality

• Friedan, Betty. "The Problem That Has No Name" (CP)
• Syfers, Judy. "Why I Want a Wife" (http://www.columbia.edu/~sss31/rainbow/wife.html)
• Cox, Nicole and Silvia Federici. "Wages for Housework: A Perspective on Capital and the Left"
• Flyers on Wages for Housework

18 The Nanny Problem

• Ehrenreich, Barbara. Excerpt from "Maid to Order" (CP)
• Flanagan, Caitlin. Excerpt from "How Serfdom Saved the Women's Movement"
• Tronto, Joan. "The Nanny Problem"

These readings should be completed by class time on the date listed.

Announcements from yesterday's (2.9) class


Here is the Group Activity handout that we did yesterday. Did you like the format? How about the guiding questions? Too many? Too few? I would really like to hear what you all think. You can post comments to this entry. I thought I would do my own 5 minute free-think. Here it is:


I am not sure how well it scanned...Anyone else want to post their free-think drawings/images/words?

Here are some announcements:
Position papers for reproductive rights are due next Tuesday (2.16) You will hand in your blog folders for the first time on Feb. 25 instead of Feb. 11. Remember tomorrow's reading. See here, if you have forgotten the schedule.

Let me try to post the link again...

Reproductive Rights

Thinking about our class discussions today I thought that this might be of intrest. We have talked a lot about choice and what it means. When women are not given accurate information or made to feel guilty about making a choice that is best for them is it really a choice they are making or is someone else making it for them?

Men's Rights Is a Feminist Issue


Ever since I saw a Men's Rights group interviewed on FOX News, I've been cruising the blogosphere searching out just who these people are and what issues they represent. What I have found has mostly made me roll my eyes, but I cannot deny that the feelings these men present about often only perceived issues are strong and sincere. Most websites I've been to have been sexist, racist, and homophobic, not to mention dripping with the circular faux-logic of 1950's McCarthyism. They are typified by straight white males who appropriate black and/or queer male issues, willfully remain ignorant of women's issues so they can live in a fantasy world in which women have superior rights, and generally ignorantly support neo-con political agendas that are disadvantageous to most of the men who identify with them. This is not to say that men do not have legitimate issues, but many of these angry men tend to misdirect their anger not towards their oppressors, but towards people who are usually even more disadvantaged than they are, partly having been misguided by ample media propaganda. Although these groups have had little to contribute in the way of real social change, they did get me thinking about feminism and who feminism tends to focus on: women. Webster's definition of feminism is the fight to win equal rights for women in the existing system. Working with this definition does a few different things. Along with focusing on reforms that often have detrimental effects rather than fundamentally altering a society that doesn't work for anyone, it assumes that men just have all the rights that they should have, or that men have no justice to fight for, their battles being already won. I am not saying that women should have been fighting men's battles when they were fighting for the right to vote, but many issues effect men as much as they do women. If feminism's ultimate goal is justice and a focus on gender, this does not only apply to women, and a gendered focus only on women also does a disservice to the movement by leaving men unmarked. I am not saying that women should put their issues by the way-side in favor of the "greater good," but I am saying that men are worthy of feminist attention, and not simply because there are male feminists. Part of breaking down the stereotype that feminism is a "woman" thing means embracing male issues and holistically examining men's roles in a patriarchal society.

This is a feminist Issue because...

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A feminist issue is women's health care rights. In my class "health psychology" we talked about how unequal health care is in regards to women. Mostly because most drugs are tested on male subjects to see how well it works and they are not even tested on women before they go to market. Take for example a pill a large majority of women these days take: Prozac. This is a pill taken by far more women than men, yet it was studied and formulated for a man's body, more importantly a white man's body. Which is "assumed" to be the same as women and all other races. I think it is clear that men and women's bodies are fundamentally very different. We have different levels of hormones, our bodies need different levels of nutrients etc. So why then is a pill that is mostly marketed for women is tested solely on men.

Another thing about health care I find disturbing is the fact that Viagra was okayed right away and they keep finding newer and better ways of making the pill to fix the male libido but they have yet to come out with a pill for women! The most insulting part is that it is well known that women are the ones who tend to have low libido and therefor don't enjoy sex as much. So how hard would it be to create a pill marketed to increase a woman's sex drive. Also there is the whole birth control issue. How hard would it be to create and market a birth control pill for MEN! make them take a stupid pill everyday. It shouldn't be a woman's sole duty to take birth control. Sure men put on a condom (sometimes) but they could come up with a pill, and I actually heard that they did, to cut off the tails of the male's semen. Therefor rendering it incapable of fertilizing the egg.

Superbowl Numbers



This is a link to an article written about some of the numbers that appeared in the superbowl. I though this would be of intrest to the class since we have been talking about advertising in the superbowl!

This is a feminist issue because...

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Last year I was really big into the television show American Idol. I was watching one night and a girl came in front of the judges, ready to sing, and with only a bikini on. She was a good looking girl, with a mediocre voice. She passed through the first round, but not all of the judges were fond of "bikini girl" (new nick name known nationwide). The female judges didn't want to pass her on, and the male judges were very pleased with her "singing" and were glad to pass her on to Hollywood. Once in Hollywood, "bikini girl" made it to the second round, and then was booted from the show. All four judges finally came to realization that she wasn't really a singer at all. I was appalled to see that she made it through even the first round, which is why I think this is a feminist issue. The males saw a good looking female/ body, and immediately praised her. I personally thought it was degrading, but of course the "bikini girl" did it for that certain attention... and it worked. Later on in the season, one of the judges actually came onto the stage in front of everyone in a bikini- of course as a joke towards "bikini girl." Most thought it was funny, I thought it was insulting. "Bikini girl" made a name for herself, and also brought forth a feminist issue that is interesting to analyze.

The Jersey Shore as Anti-Paternal Violence Advocate?



I am embarrassed to admit that, after not regularly watching TV for three years, the show to bring me back to Boob-Tube Bliss was The Jersey Shore. I know - take any negative noun and add "-istic" and JS fits the bill - materialistic, chauvinistic, unrealistic, etc, but I can't seem to turn it off. Well, after watching the fourth episode of tanned, gelled, dolled-up goodness, I wasn't quite as ashamed to admit I've fist-pumped with the best (or worst) of them.
About 35 minutes into the online version of "Fade to Black", the Jersey Shore "family" is getting drinks at a bar; some less-than-desirable guys start giving the family trouble and taking the shots they're buying. One of the guidettes, Snookie, calls the undesirables out on it - "Why don't you buy your own drinks?" she asks. The situation escalates and Snookie gets punched in the face - so hard she is knocked off her stool.

How the hell is this a feminist issue you may ask? I think it's a feminist issue for two reasons: First, MTV did a praiseworthy job handling the video coverage of the violence. Instead of zooming in, the video during the punch was completely black - we only have audio. When the video does return, it is of the undesirable getting beat up by the rest of the family and Snookie crying. Immediately following this segment, a PSA message appears on-screen: "Violence against women in any form is a crime." Below the statement are phone numbers and websites for loveisrespect.org.

As a social justice activist, I was glad MTV didn't go for the goriest, most disturbing video coverage they could - I think they handled it in a professional manner that exposed the disturbing event for what it was. My only quibble: The wording of the PSA came across as somewhat narrow-minded in terms of gender and sexual orientation: "If someone you know is being abused by a boyfriend, family member, or total stranger, please call 911...." What about male domestic violence victims? Or Lesbian/Bisexual women? Although my appreciation for the professional and sensitive way in which MTV handled the situation keeps me from being as upset as this person who posted on loveisrespect.org, I can understand his/her viewpoint:

"Just so you guys know after they showed the footage a message appeared talking about how violence against woman is a crime. Did you forget about men? Violence against ANYONE is a crime."

Thoughts anyone?

Direct Engagement 2...


Choice is the opportunity to select between more than one option pertaining to ones life. Sometimes the best choice is to chose nothing at all. I think that the right to choose is one of the most fundamental right for feminists, along with being given the opportunity to chose for oneself. You can give someone a right to chose, but still suppress them by limiting what they have to chose from. I think that the fundamental right of "choice" makes this individual "right" prominent in all other "rights". Choice liberates oppression, and again as I stated that opportunity is critical as well. If one doesn't have the same opportunities as everyone else in society, I would think of it as more direction...hence a small form of oppression, rather then a choice. Choice relates to all facets of society, religion, food, hobbies, tradition, holidays, culture, birth control, politics, just as it relates to all aspects of a feminist such as work, reproductive rights, dress, sex, partners, relationships, etc. I believe this is the single most value that has benefited the feminist movement the greatest. I cant help but to recollect reading "Killing the Black Body" by Dorothy Roberts of how a large number of women were given hysterectomies without their consent. I was outraged by reading that this actually happened. This is such an inhumane way to treat an individual and I totally disagree with it. This is what I explained, they were giving the choice to have sex and have a baby (and in one specific case a young woman was given a hysterectomy because she was promiscuous), but they were not given the choice when they went in to have the baby delivered and were forced to have a hysterectomy or be discharged from the hospital. This is a case where the oppression was the women not being given the same choice as everyone else. However, I do think that some choices should not be allowed, such as the mandatory castration of sex offenders. I would be for that to this day in my strong opinion. However, my whole point is that it is alright to regulate some choices as a society to protect people from themselves, just don't do it based on the reasoning of their sex, religion, race, etc. Then it becomes oppression. (sorry it was late, the due date on the sheet said the 9th and despite the class conversation it completely skipped my mind).

The Meaning of Liberty

This article raised some excellent issues in the difference between liberty and equality. I don't think there are many people who could argue with Roberts distinction between the two. Most definitely our society has prized our individual freedoms, and our right to not be dictated to by the government as one of its highest values, but this does not mean that everyone has the same access and opportunities to really have what would qualify as freedom.
I looked into several issues that Roberts mentioned to discover examples of government coercion of Black women concerning their reproductive rights, and found a website that mentions cases from the past 15-20 years. Many of these examples may no longer be current, but it is shocking that all of them have happened so recently. http://academic.udayton.edu/health/05bioethics/98ludwig.htm#Walker
Here is a recap of examples I found: The government has provided unlimited funding for Norplant, while restricted funding through Medicaid for its removal. The government, through the Dept. of Human Services, has mandated offering birth control to women who have used state and federal subsidy programs during their pregnancies, and also to families applying for aid. The government has limited welfare for families who have more children while receiving aid, unless the pregnancy was a result of failed birth control. And finally, judges have coerced women to use Norplant as a condition for probation or to receive a reduced sentence.
The issues that Roberts raises are justified and important, procreation is a human right. However, I still questioned her stance on child abusers and women giving birth to children while addicted to crack. Most definitely it is necessary to address the social conditions that perpetuate these situations rather than simply penalize these women, but as someone with an adopted brother who suffers from Fetal-Alcohol-Syndrome, I know firsthand the damage that these choices can do to the child, and the family of the child. Where is the balance between the woman's reproductive right, and the future of the child she brings into the world? I am not talking about children with disabilities. I view FAS as something different because its cause is directly related to a repeated decision on the part of the mother to put her child at risk. I see the point that Roberts is making that no matter what a woman does, reproduction is a human right that cannot be dictated by the government. I am absolutely against any distinction made of the basis of race or conditions perpetuated by policies that are racist and uninterested in equality, but are there any limits, and should there be limits when one human right directly violates the human rights of another? Who gets to trump?

This is a feminist issue because

The first national convention of the tea party movement is the current event and an example of feminist issue because including Sarah Palin the former Alaskan Governor and many women from east coast to west coast involved in the movement and explored their concerns about the country and how the Obama administration handle the country. I think that this is an important issue for feminist analysis because Sarah Palin involved and made her speech in the tea party movement.I think that as a woman, she is trying to challenge Obama in 2012 election.

blog author - Ye
Reference and more information go to

Last week I was watching the television show Four Brides on TLC when a statement by one of the grooms struck me by surprise. The show involves four sets of couples that are getting married. The four brides, who do not know each other, go to all of the other weddings and rate them. The couple with the highest rating wedding wins a free honeymoon. During the show in the vows right before one of the brides said "I do" the groom said, "You swear to be careful, punctual, and responsible in all your household duties." The bride responded with "I do" and they went on to enjoy the rest of their wedding day. I thought it was absolutely horrible that a woman must swear to uphold such standards for household duties in order to wed. While this wedding was of a different culture and it was apparently part of tradition, I still was in awe that such vows still exist.

Direct Engagment


Choice is the fundamental right of the feminist movement. Choice encompasses all feminist issues, the choice to marry, the choice to work or stay home, and the most known choice, reproductive rights. It is, perhaps, the most controversial issue in our nation today. The mere mention of the word 'abortion' conjures strong reactions among almost anyone you meet. Fundamental issues of any movement change. They change to reflect the pressing concerns of the time. In the early 20th century, suffrage was the cornerstone of the feminist movement, it was the essential issue. In the 1960s, it was challenging social gender norms and liberating women.

Dorothy Roberts argues that the contraceptive movement and reproductive rights are products born out of racism. She asserts that these are merely another means to oppress blacks in America. It is understandable, why blacks may distrust the establishment after centuries of oppression and betrayal, but reproductive rights are about liberation, regardless of color. At the end of the day, it is the choice of women to use contraception or have an abortion.

Deciding who gets a vote or a say on the topic of abortion is a hotly debated issue. It should not be an issue. Women are and should be the masters of their bodies. Reproductive rights are the fundamental issue, because it is essential for the liberation of women. Education and literature concerning reproductive rights should be freely distributed, so when the occasion arises, women are prepared to make the choice that best suits their life.


I don't think I could describe what choice is better than Allison Crews in her article "And So I chose." The last paragraph explains what being pro-choice means to her, and I couldn't agree more. I think choice is the most fundamental right for feminists. Without choice our only option is to submit to the white supremacist capitalist patriarchal system that tells us what we should do with our bodies, our choices, our lives. I think there are other rights that feminists need to work for, but nothing is more important than our right to choose. First and foremost, if women cannot choose what to do in their private lives, then how are women supposed to fight for other rights in the public sphere? I do not think there should be any limits to our ability to choose. Like Crew listed for almost a full page, there are really no limits to the decisions we can make. I liked when Loretta Ross said, "Despite government and moralistic pronouncements, women perceive their reproductive decisions as private... Even when the law, the church, or their partners oppose their decisions, they tend to make the decision... for themselves." No matter the limits that are set by the governments or the church, women always have the ability to take matters into their own hands. Each woman individually should always be in control of setting limits or no limits for herself.

What bothered me the most while reading these articles was all the talk about family planning as means to control population growth and to also hinder crime rates in neighborhoods of color. I find it disturbing how some think forced sterilization and contraceptive use will in turn eradicate crime rates. Instead of spending all this money on "controlling the population," I feel that this money could be better spent getting to the real root of the problem, and that problem is not the existence of that race. Perhaps if the government could provide better sexual education programs, better education in general, a better welfare policy and a livable minimum wage, these would help reduce crime, while at the same time empowering not only women and people of color, but the whole population.
I apologize for the rant.

Choosing Motherhood...

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Dorothy Roberts focuses on the intersections of racial inequality and reproductive rights in chapter 7: The Meaning of Liberty. Here she proposes that liberty not only be viewed as a negative right protecting us from governmental harm, but that liberty should instead extend beyond this and serve to address social inequalities.

What is of primary concern is not just having the right to choose, but having access to the necessary resources in which to make an informed choice. Restrictions on welfare benefits in regards to procreation encourage temporary or permanent sterilization and in effect certain women "are penalized because the combination of their poverty, race, and marital status is seen to make them unworthy of procreating" (305). So the issue of choice here is not just whether or not women have access and means to birth control and/or abortion but also if they will be supported in motherhood and if they will valued in society.

The reproductive rights debate in this country seems to be always centered on the right of women to decide to have an abortion or to use birth control methods. To think of reproductive rights in terms of the right to motherhood is an all together different concept. I was not aware of the fact that often women on welfare are essentially coerced into preventing pregnancy and will not receive more benefits with more births. That a woman potentially has this to weigh in regards to her decisions of becoming a mother echoes of involuntary sterilization.

Direct Engagement


For a woman, the choice to get pregnant, go through with a pregnancy, or put up a child for adoption is quite a weighty decision. While I fully believe that every woman should have the right to choose exactly how to carry out her reproductive life, I also agree with Crews that this right includes the right to have all the facts. Knowledge about reproduction should be made public and easily accessible for everyone, and I also think it should be taught in schools. Women should have the right of choice, but this right comes with a responsibility to know the facts and the impact of whatever choice is made.
When it comes to the choice the article "On Language" discusses on how women choose to balance their family life and their career, I also believe women need to be well informed early on in order to make the best decision for themselves. In my generation many girls have been raised to believe we can "have it all" when it comes to family and work. However, there are sacrifices in the home a woman must make if she chooses to be a career woman, such as putting children into day care. A woman must decide if she is willing to make such sacrifices in order to maintain her career before having children because once she makes the choice to start a family, there is no turning back.

Direct Engagement


I've always taken the idea of choice for granted. In today's consumer culture, there are millions of different stores, restaurants, sizes, styles, and heck, even brands of bottled water to choose from.
But it is apparent that the same cannot be said about matters involving reproductive rights. Crews outlines very effectively how quickly "choice" can turn into others forcing their opinions onto you, no matter towards which side they may lean. However, Crews also hits home how important it is to have choices, and not only choices, but also adequate information and resources to learn and carry out certain choices. Her description at the end of the essay about which rights a woman should have really encapsulates the meaning of choice for me.

The only problem I had with her points was the part about the right to "deliver alone in our home, catching our babies with our own hands." I think this is definitely a limit for me in the right to choose. I believe that home births without a properly trained physician standing by are reckless. It's one thing to risk your own life, but to risk the life of the child that you have chosen to keep and care for (or give up to adoption for someone else to care for) is an entirely different matter.

I also think that while reproductive rights is an incredibly important topic, there are more fundamental ones for feminists. In "Kililng the Black Body," Roberts expounds on the concept of the word "liberty," explaining that liberty should stretch across all races and cultures. While she is directing her statements toward issues of reproductive rights, I think she hits upon a very poignant issue. Having the liberty to control your own body is a very important right, but there is an underlying issue that is more basic and essential - the acceptance of the entirety of humanity. It is impossible to move forward with instilling the ideas of reproductive rights into society if they lend themselves to further entrenching racism into society.

Also, since we're on the topic of things involving or potentially involving babies, I thought I'd share:
Picture 4.png

This is a feminist issue because...

I was reading The Onion the other day, and I came across this article. For those of you unfamiliar with The Onion, it is a satirical newspaper somewhat akin to The Daily Show or The Colbert Report. This article isn't necessarily the best article in The Onion--for a really good (read: sadly accurate) article, check out the one about Haiti--but it made me think about a couple of things.

The title of this article is "Bald Eagle Tired Of Everyone Just Assuming It Supports War," so hopefully that gives you an idea of the premise of the article. So far so good, yet the opening paragraph reads:

Frustrated by the widely held assumption that he unequivocally endorses the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, a bald eagle said Monday that his thoughts on the conflicts were far more nuanced than many Americans might expect. [emphasis added]

Granted, this article acknowledges that this eagle is simply a bald eagle (as if this eagle were the one they happened to interview); I, nonetheless, started to think about the idea of gender normativeness a little more than I have before. It's interesting that the English language has no effective neutral identifier. Some languages do a better job of this than others. For instance, French possessive adjectives are gender neutral, yet the French personal pronouns still differentiate between gender. I also know there are some languages that do not differentiate gender at all.

Anyway, there are a couple of reasons why I found this train of thought interesting. The primary reason is because languages and linguistics are both big interests and passions of mine, but, more importantly, after reading bell hooks's Feminism Is for Everybody, I began to better understand the idea of a precondition for the realization of feminism. Thus, I began to contemplate the idea of language alteration, or even reinvention, as a precondition to feminism. I think that because of my interest in linguistics and languages, I tend to be more sensitive (read: potentially oversensitive) to the implications of language. Nonetheless, the question I have been hinting at is this, "Is a 'feminist' (or gender neutral) language a precondition for the actualization of feminism or not?" Your thoughts, please.

The other train of thought to which this article lead is the debate about the correctness of gender normativeness in certain instances. My initial question for myself as I was reading this article was why did they choose for the eagle to be male? And I suppose to some extent it is justifiable insofar as all things military seem to have a masculine aura. For instance, the job of a soldier seems to be something fit for a male. As a general rule, males are bigger, stronger, et cetera. They're more "suited" to the job of a soldier. This argument in the context of biology seems to have some merit, yet is such reasoning really justifiable? It is said that the role of "mothering" is "suited" for the female. It is said that normal household duties are "suited" for the female. One could argue that there is a (slight) difference between these two arguments because one is predicated upon biological reasoning, whereas the other is predicated upon "tradition." Nevertheless, this difference is slight. Is it dangerous to engage in such reasoning because the former has the potentiality of justifying the latter? This then, of course, begs the question must all ideas of normativeness be thrown out? Your thoughts, please.

Direct Engagement


what a complicated, multi-faceted, and politicized word. When I hear the word "choice", reproductive rights immediately pop into my head. But after reading the article "On Language" from Bitchfest, choice becomes so much more complex. Jervis and Zeisler explain how choice has become to mean not merely a decision, but a decision that has been "swayed by underlying socioeconomic forces", such as the decision to work or stay home.

Bringing the topic back to choice, the word is indeed most strongly correlated and associated with abortion rights, which is probably why that issue first came to my mind; but over the years, "choice" has been highly politicized and has had an "uneasy relationship" with the ideology of feminism.

The way the meaning of choice becomes politicized boils down to negative and positive connotations; "choice" avoids addressing the word abortion, it is open to personal interpretation, and can therefore "unite" different political parties.

The politicization of the word can be attributed to its weakness, though. By leaving the definition open, it led religious leaders, boyfriends, and parents to think they were "rightful participants in making the abortion choice". The word choice should stay in the realm of reproductive rights to preserve its feminist meaning and importance.

I believe that the right to choose is the most fundamental right for feminists. Without having control of our own bodies, the power shift is enormous and equality is non-existent. By coming up with a concise, feministic, non-politicized definition for "choice" the issue of reproductive rights will become more clear; maybe the right to choose will not be seen as a dividing factor, but as a necessity to equalize society.

screen-capture-26.png image via Jezebel

I stumbled across an article via Jezebel the other week, which discussed a recent editorial written in Canada's National Post publication. In it, the editorial author discusses the trend of college women's studies programs changing their name to "gender studies" programs to be more inclusive, but they assert that "we are pretty sure these angry, divisive and dubious programs are simply being renamed to make them appear less controversial". WHAT.

The editorial's author makes several references to the "radical feminism" found within these programs, and states that the programs have "done untold damage to families, our court systems, labour laws, constitutional freedoms and even the ordinary relations between men and women." The author implies that affirmative action policies and the critique of male/female power relations are practices that destroy society by rendering it unequal and unfair, skewed in the direction of female privilege.

I thought that this was really interesting and relevant, even though the article is talking about college programs, laws, and social relations in Canada specifically. It would seem that similar things are occurring in the United States (with the University of Minnesota's own Women's studies program becoming the "Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies" department)--the criticism of these programs seems to be a form of feminist backlash, and a sign of the fear that social change can inspire.


In this article, South African's discuss President Zuma's recent unprotected sex in a country with rampant HIV statistics, the birth of his "love child" with a woman who is not his wife, and his practice of polygamy. The questions raised are: what is the line between respecting cultural tradition, and doing away with traditions oppressive to women? How public should President's sexual behaviour be? What kind of negative effect has his unprotected sex had as far as setting an example for South African's young men? Has he undermined his government's campaign to curb the transmission of HIV?

This is a feminist issue because...Coerced Reproduction

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This is domestic violence to the extreme, and honestly, I was surprised to find this happening in our current society. In many cases, men are stereotyped to not want children, but the violence that is taking place according to this article, shows that this stereotype is clearly not correct. Instead, men are beating their partners if they don't become pregnant. The fact that this is happening most commonly in teens, an age in our society that has become one that is (generally) free from planned pregnancies, is even more shocking. Women have been able to hold on to their right to choose not to get pregnant for a few decades now, and the fact that men are now reverting back to the thought process that women shouldn't have the choice to not become pregnant is dangerous to the feminist movement. What action do you think should be taken to prevent this from continuing? Do you think this has just started to occur or some women have just never had the choice to not be pregnant? When regarding the law, cases like this that are reported can only be charged as domestic violence cases, or possibly rape if the woman did not want to have sex to begin with, do you think there should be new laws that specifically criminalize forced pregnancy? (Are there any at this point that I'm personally not aware of?) Other thoughts?

The above video is from f.r.e.e. (find. rescue. embrace. empower.) international, an organization dedicated to helping human trafficking victims.
Human trafficking, especially underage, has gathered some media attention this weekend, with reports by CBS, CNN, and The Miami Herald, among others. These sources bring up the alarming increase in sex trafficking this weekend, due to the Super Bowl, with estimates of four to five times the normal amount of prostitution. There are volunteer efforts to help traffickers, passing out cards to prostitutes, advertising an alternative to "the life," offering help, hope, and a phone number. These volunteer groups include: Klaas Kids Foundation, Kristi House, and StandUp For Kids Miami. Also, the Miami-Dade Police Department is working with the FBI's Innocence Lost Task Force to combat the trafficking that the Super Bowl has attracted.
What makes this a feminist issue? Do you think that human trafficking can be stopped (in the U.S.)? If so, what changes (social, economical, ideological, etc.) would need to happen for this to work? Would legalizing prostitution in the U.S. help reduce trafficking, by having the government regulate it, or would this encourage trafficking?
As a side note, Miami-Dade Police Department has an interesting 14-minute video addressing human trafficking, specific to Miami.

Over the years, the fashion industry has taken flack for its showcasing of shockingly thin models. Women's groups and health groups alike have lambasted the industry as the cause of the destruction of self-esteem of young women, along as acting as catalysts for women to develop eating disorders--approximately 10 million women suffer, according to the National Eating Disorders Association.

However, the fashion industry seems to be taking steps to correct their damaging practices. Any-Body.org published an article about bloggers, designers, and magazines that are using plus sized models in their new line, issue, etc. Any-Body asks the question as to whether these images are liberating to the plus-sized population, or are they simply objectifying a group of people by publishing envelope-pushing images? In my opinion, women of all sizes should be made to feel good about their bodies, and thus the fashion industry should eliminate the terms "normal" and "plus-sized" and simply use a mix of women of all sizes for their shows, shoots, lines, etc.

Take a look for yourself...


Choice? What Choice?

I posted this image on my trouble blog way back in October. It reminds me of the discussion of choice in the Bitchfest article. What does the "freedom of choice" mean here? What does using freedom of choice to sell a product do to the meaning of choice as a feminist right/goal/value?


Check out this article that I just found via feministing. What would Dorothy Roberts say about this issue? How does it connect to her discussion in Killing the Black Body? Spend some time on the website, Too Many Aborted. Who runs the site? What is their message? Why are they posting the billboards? Also, check out their discussion/critique of Margaret Sanger here. How do their arguments differ from Robert's?


Position Paper Handout

Here is the position paper handout that I distributed in class on Thursday. Please read it carefully and bring your questions to class on Tuesday. You can also post your questions as comments on this entry.

This is a Feminist Issue Because......


New York City Plans to Topple Public Housing Towers

This is a feminist issue because it directly deals with the quality of life of middle to lower income families. In once sense, the demolition of these towers is a positive move for the city because the cites will be turned into future apartments that will be designed for middle income families as well as the creation of suburban neighborhoods where apartments once stood. The down turn for this is that it is removing low cost housing options from the neighborhood and in-turn narrowing the accessibility options for low income housing. It is also interesting to consider the possibility that the new housing complexes might have the same number of housing options for middle and low income housing. Its seems as if this issue could either benefit or harm the potential future residents. It is also sad to see how the time lost in the planning and decision making state is costing the project a lot of time and money. It is clear that their is a lot of indecisiveness wrought within this endeavor.

Direct Engagement Question 2

hp_naral_logo.gifWhat is choice? Is the right to choose the most fundamental right for feminists? Are there other rights that are just as important? Should there be limits to our ability to "choose"? Who gets to decide those limits? Focus your direct engagement on how some or all (Roberts, Ross, Sayce/Perkins, Crews, Bitchfest) enage with these questions.

Note: You do not have to answer all of these questions or use all of the readings. This direct engagement is for Group D. Groups A and B will be commenting. Members of Group C must post their "this is a feminist issue because..." examples.

ISSUE #1: Reproductive Rights

killing_black_body.jpgHere are the notes from my brief introduction to our first issue from class on Tuesday (2.2). I will try to post these for each issue. They will be filed under the category, The Issues.
For the next two weeks, as we explore reproductive rights within feminism, we will closely examine (and call into question) a treasured valued within feminism: the idea of Choice. The idea of choice--the freedom to choose, the freedom to be who we want to be and to have the power to make the kinds of decisions that we want to make, regardless of our gender, race, class, etc.--is central to feminism in general, and most central to feminist organizing around reproductive rights.

  • What does it mean to have the power to choose, to be pro-choice, to be in control of our own reproductive destiny?
  • How do we understand choice?
  • Who gets to choose? What are the choices we get to make?

colorofviolence.gifThe readings for today and next week allow us to explore these questions and to look at:
  • How the movement for choice has sometimes come at the expense of certain women and
  • How there has often been a fine line between policies that work to broaden the choices of women in terms of reproduction and policies that serve to further regulate the bodies and behaviors of women  

We looked at:
  • Foundational rhetoric about choice and control over one's own body (see Sanger)
  • Birth control and the production of the pill (see the Pill)
  • Disturbing link between birth control and population control--is it choice or coercion? (see Roberts)

Next week we will look closer at the idea of choice-what it means for feminism, how it is understood, what the underlying implications of promoting choice are, etc. Next Tuesday, we will examine a wide range of feminist reflections on "choice" and then on Thursday, we will look at some recent feminist blog entries that discuss current, as in right now, issues related to choice. The point of our critical exploration is not to challenge or reject the idea of choice, that is the belief in the fundamental right of women to have control over their own personhood--in body/mind/spirit. All of these readings that we will be discussing in the next two weeks believe that this is still an important goal. Instead, the point of our critical exploration is to investigate the ways in which this belief has been realized within feminism and the limits of that realization.

Direct Engagement

The article by Margaret Sanger was very interesting to read because it showed the power of birth control and how essential it is to women's liberation. I believe that her article does indeed link birth control and eugenics in a rather interesting way. She clearly advocates for the availability of birth control for women, and for men to share in the responsibility of considering birth control. I do not believe for a moment that Sanger's intention with this article was to communicate a selective breeding protocol by advocating birth control. Rather, she looks to birth control as a method to improve the quality of life for all women who choose it. Sanger clearly states "Even as no one can share the suffering of the over burdened mother, so no one can do this work for her. Others may help, but she and she alone can free herself". Being a mother takes enormous amount of energy and this energy has to come from some place. Sanger is advocating for the use of birth control to enable sexual freedom as well as the freedom to choose whether or not a woman puts her energy into being a mother. The consequences being that women who are not able to manage having a child, or do not whish to have a child may keep their choice and still be sexually free.

Sanger puts a strong emphasis on men to join in the responsibility of birth control and the decision to have a family. I believe that this is in direct response to the preconceived notion that women must bear the role of the family caretaker. This is not a negative role for women to fill, but women must have the choice of this lifestyle. If women are continually forced to play the role of family caretaker and creator without option, then they are being subjugated. The true dangers of viewing this article as promotion for eugenics are rather simple. First it would indicate that Sanger is promoting class segregation, and secondly it could be viewed as a minority suppressor. This does not seem to be the intention of Sanger within her article. I believe that she is advocating positive ideologies by providing women and subsequently men with sexual choice and freedom. "Woman must have her freedom- the fundamental freedom of choosing whether or not she shall be a mother and how many children she will have".

Who is...Loretta Ross?

One of the readings for next week is Loretta Ross's "The Color of Choice." It comes from the great anthology, The Color of Violence: The Incite Anthology. In the essay she discusses reproductive justice and Sister Song. Check out her biography/bibliography on the Sister Song website. Also, check out this youtube video on reproductive justice:

Planned Parenthood Superbowl Commercial

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Julia mentioned yesterday in class that she liked breaking up all of the text of our blog with some images. I agree--the design for this blog is fairly basic. So, with that in mind, I thought I would post the Planned Parenthood Superbowl Commercial here:

If you want to post youtube clips, but don't know how, see my How to Blog, a primer (scroll down to # 13). Also, Ava asked yesterday in class about making text into links--it's in this blog primer too--#11. By the way, thanks for asking, Ava. I am sure there were many other people in the class with the same question.

Pro-Life Superbowl add

Here is the link the the Pro-Life add


You may have to click on the link on the page that comes up. Hopefully this works and can spark some good feminist debate!

Superbowl Ad


This is the link to the Planned Parenthood Ad that may be in the superbowl.

A great event...

Come check out Michelle's lecture this Monday!


Direct Engagement

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Sorry this is kind of late, the assignment sheet said Thursday by noon would still get full credit.

Margaret Sanger was the mother of the birth control movement and is responsible for the freedom of choice of millions of women today. Sanger largely based her push for birth control on the notion that women ought be able to choose their own destiny and not be "involuntary motherhood slaves" (Sanger, 210). Sanger always held to the fundamental principle that birth control be "voluntary and educational" (Sanger, 215) and denied claims of sterilization stating that if there were sterilization of criminals, she herself would fall victim. The way that Sanger gets her named linked with eugenicists is that she advocated for certain "unfit" women to use birth control to delay pregnancy. For the most part her claims weren't based on genetic fitness as most other eugenicists did to promote their racially charged agenda, but rather Sanger's "guidelines" for birth control use focused on the readiness of a mother to have a healthy baby that can be raised in a stable home (Sanger, 215). Sanger never called for these guidelines to be mandated or for sterilization. Even Roberts who claimed that birth control was racially motivated makes claims such as Sanger "fram[ed] her campaign in eugenics terms" (Roberts, 73) but rarely gives explicit examples of these terms. When she does, they are either taken out of context or never used on a basis of racial control but rather health concerns. Linking Sanger with eugenics is unjustified.

Hi class!

Just thought I'd give you a heads up about the following commercials, set to air during Super Bowl Sunday, an unlikely--but strategic--platform to air all kinds of political view points. In this case, look out for Tim Tebow's ad, funded by Focus on the Family, and the response by Sean James and Al Joyner, funded by Planned Parenthood, seen


What do you think about having these discussions on television's biggest day? What kinds of conversations might they create, or inhibit? What kinds of discourses are the ads employing, and why? What, if anything, has been left out of their arguments, especially in light of what we've been learning? Are they successful in delivering their argument? I'll look forward to hearing your reactions after the game!

Your TA,

Sanger, Roberts Engagement


The problem with promoting birth control alongside eugenics is that such an agenda relies upon socially conditioned notions of normality, acceptability and legitimate personhood. For instance, how we determine who counts as fit or unfit (as Alexander Sanger points out, Margaret Sanger herself would hardly have passed as fit). By appealing to eugenicists, Sanger may have helped gain support for what she believed to be a cause promoting justice for (certain) women, but at the expense of further reducing or denying other people of their personhood. Forfeiting, even undermining, feminist ethics in the name of "justice" for women to gain favor with oppressive power structures compromises potential feminist movement and further reinforces hierarchical structures, accepted by society at large as natural. What the case of Margaret Sanger potentially illustrates is that in order for feminist movement to implement justice properly, feminist activists must consider who they're benefiting, and at whose expense. Margaret Sanger may have initiated open-mindedness about reproductive rights, but her progress was a deterrent for many - for one woman's emancipation can be another's oppression. Since feminist movement seeks justice for all women, how feminist agendas instigate change must not only consider who benefits, but also acknowledge who suffers. Since feminism opposes social hierarchies, feminist movement ought not rely on their own hierarchical priorities.

Direct Engagement


In most feminist circles, Margaret Sanger is still championed as the pioneer of birth control, and the first hero of women's reproductive rights. It is hard to deny her massive contribution to the movement, or wonder what birth control would be like today were it not for her efforts. However, her underlying eugenic agenda in promoting birth control has cast a shadow on her achievements and has led to her being somewhat discredited among certain feminist groups, specifically those of color. The American Birth Control League focused in on communities of color in hopes of substantially curbing reproductive rates in these areas. Public promotion in these areas endorsed birth control as an affordable way to control family size, and often painted it as a way for lower class minority families to partake in a new, cutting-edge, high class movement. However, internal documents and project scopes directed at sponsors and other upper-class affiliates claimed the aim of the campaign was to work towards "sterilization of the insane and feebleminded and the encouragement of this operation upon those afflicted with inherited or transmissible diseases," (Roberts, 73). Placing birth control clinics in predominantly black communities through programs like The Negro Project clearly facilitated this goal. It was Margaret Sanger's selective view of women's reproductive rights that have tainted her image as a feminist activist as well as the overarching goals of the reproductive rights movement as a whole.

Direct Engagement

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There are many consequences regarding birth control with eugenics, but I would say more from a social standpoint we find the consequences. The downfall of eugenics occurred when "reformers began to use it as a program of social control,
promoting government intervention and coercion in human reproduction (211)". I think more so than anything else, the idea that people would think that this was a tool to "breed selectively" would deter them away from the use of birth control. Although, since Sanger's breakthrough, our society has changed a lot, but there is still some misinformation that birth control is trying to glorify a white race. I think that this goes completely against what Sanger stood for, as she was trying to help women and eliminate some of the patriarchal ideas and wanted the most out of her childbearing. In fact, Eugenics at that time was not only "scientific" but also much more respect-able than birth control (213). This I think is the key because if they spread the idea of eugenics, then it would be easier to advocate birth control eventually, and the women of this time were looking for that kind of support. Even though Sanger's views were a bit controversial, because she did advocate her goal of "the elimination of the unfit", she expressed that this was merely a voluntary practice, she was not trying to push this on others and create a whole new race, but rather "She asserted that a woman is best judge of whether and when to bring a child into the world." She was concerned about the well being of the women, and for women's rights most of all, so I agree with Alex Sanger when he stated that there was no motivation to eliminate these women. I really liked the last paragraph where he stated, "She wanted every child
to have the chance that hers did--poverty combined with having too many
children were the root causes of racial degeneration, not heredity or ethnicity
or race. Her emphasis on childbearing served to reinforce the notion that
the fertility of the poor, and by extension that of the black race, was a proper
subject of social and governmental control. The dangers inherent in this view
are still with us." I think that this argument was a matter of each individual woman's choice more so than anything else.

Direct Engagement


Margaret Sanger wanted to give women autonomy over their own capacity to be a mother. Women were being so bogged down with children in the early twentieth century that their health suffered as a result. For an average woman, having the responsibility of caring for ten or more children meant having very little financial resources to give herself and her children the care they needed to live to past middle adulthood. The only trouble is that when she first went about giving information on birth control to women she ended up in jail.
The government, a very patriarchal, christian-conservative and sexist institution at the time, banned the use of birth control because it was guided by the teachings of the christian (read: catholic) church which taught that marriage was essentially an institution where a man protected and earned money for his wife and in turn had the right to have sex with his wife whenever and however he wanted. If a child was conceived, it would only mean more work for the mother, the man would be able to get reprieve from the hassles of the house when he went to work each day. To get back to the point, Sanger knew she had to approach the topic of birth control in a different way, and it is highly unfortunate that the new way had devastating impacts on minority women at the time.
The racist movement of eugenics was taking hold in the United States the same time Margaret Sanger was finding no luck in getting birth control to women. Sanger decided to jump on the eugenics bandwagon so that people would finally except birth control. For the white men of the country, birth control was seen as a way to reduce the population of the poor, African-American, Native American, southern and eastern European and Latino races so that "strong, intelligent white people" could dominate the planet. What started our for Sanger as a movement to promote voluntary motherhood had brutally changed to a movement for population control by the 1940's. Birth control, coupled with the eugenics movement, had more scientific credibility and refuted the notion that it would raise levels of sexual promiscuity- instead it would raise the population levels of white supremacists.
The new birth control movement had horrendous consequences for our society. Doctors who were paid by the government performed hysterectomies on black women and children without their consent. It was Margaret Sanger's own idea that black doctors and nurses would run the clinics where these hysterectomies were being performed so that the patients wouldn't think it was a "plan for extermination". Institutionalized individuals were also subject to systematic sterilizations just for being poor, mentally handicapped or for committing minor crimes.
What started out as being a respectable feminist movement to liberate women of all races, classes and creeds ended up being a disastrous movement of systematic extermination of minorities from our nation. Not only that, but white women were again subject to extreme sexism by being viewed by white men as only responsible for bring more white children into society. It was almost impossible for a white woman to get a hysterectomy for fear that insufficient amounts of white babies were being produced. Margaret Sanger may have started out with good intentions, but she let her need for power to get out of control.

Direct Engagement


"Birth control is a woman's problem. The quicker she accepts it as hers and hers alone, the quicker will society respect motherhood" (Sanger 139). As Margaret Sanger said, birth control is a woman's problem and she must find a way to control it, a woman's freedom was not based on choosing a husband it was in having control over their bodies. While a woman was forced to raise her children she was controlled because she did not have a decision and she was enslaved by her motherhood. Men claimed that it was their bearing too but women must accept the conditions the government and religion impose upon them. Sanger fought for reproductive rights because she saw how women suffer by this lack of control over their bodies but at the same time it was hard to express her opinion about the subject since it was intended to a more eugenic audience. By linking the promotion of birth control with eugenics her audience becomes now that of power. There is a risk because now her audience is going to have more control over the subject leaving most women again powerless. But it was a start; at least it got the general public thinking and opened their curiosity.


(I have as of yet to figure out how to post this as a link... for now just copy and paste and the article should come up. sorry.)

This article is trying to access whether or not the fact that women are under represented as part of the World Social Forum indicate a gender bias, and if so how that translates into women's issues being sufficiently addressed.

Other than being focused on the gender representation issue, the women interviewed instead highlight the strengths: they were able to "more effectively articulate (their) feminist views and discourse" as they networked and were able to address many other social justice initiatives. Also, it is said that WSF breaks with traditional liberalist notions of obtaining power and there for aims to be more inclusive. While not all women's issues are given priority, they have been given voice in addressing other topics of concern.

Including feminist voices in the WSF does not necessarily indicate including women. And I'm not sure how we exactly determine the feminist stance of the overall forum, but what is important is that richness of diversity and an ability to think critically about women's issues as they relate to economic, social, and environmental topics. This "infiltration" and ability to "think globally" I think will ultimately strengthen the issues that feminist organizations focus on while broadening understanding.

Direct Engagement

Margaret Sanger fought for the rights of woman to use birth control freely without discrimination, thus giving woman reproductive rights. It was an amazing break through because previously during the 1800's, woman were denied these privileges to use birth control. I don't believe Sanger fought just for the use of birth control; she related birth control with many other issues to help stimulate the feminist movement. For an example, in the reading, Margaret Sanger claimed, "that birth control would improve marriages, family life, and one's sex life." She made a list of conditions that advised people how or when to use birth control; woman should not have children until they have finished adolescent, a new couple shouldn't have kids until two years into their marriage so they can have time to mature, etc. She tried to make it clear that birth control had a lot more meaning and depth to it than just a way to prevent children from being born. Lastly, Sanger spoke about how she thinks woman are the best judges to decide whether they are ready to have children or not. With letting the woman decide when she's ready to have children, Sanger then determined that the children would be healthier and better cared for than if the woman didn't have a choice. Through Sanger's actions I believe she is teaching us not to be narrow minded when it comes to issues involving feminism. The more evidence and information we can give about an issue, the more respect it will get in return.

Direct Engagement

Margaret Sanger made a highly controversial decision in using eugenics to promote birth control. Correlating the issues had dangerous consequences, and there is much argument surrounding her intentions behind the linking. Roberts states, "But this was a warped conception of women's liberation, for it was an exclusive liberation in the service of racist social ends" (76). While Sanger may be using this loophole to see her ultimate goal of widely available contraception come to fruition, it compromises social groups outside white upper-class. For the white upper-class were promoting themselves as the ideal race. This link of eugenics and birth control may have been an influential jumpstart to the necessary availability of contraception however, the women's movement is convoluted with the support of an oppression. The fundamental idea behind Feminism, as the movement toward the end of sexism, exploitation, and oppression directly conflicts with eugenics. Consequently, portions of minority groups, men and women alike, viewed the promotion of birth control as an effort of white supremacists to eradicate their race. Perhaps Sanger was manipulating the system by making birth control an issue the patriarchy could support, which was a political move and in hindsight, sacrificed her reputation for the cause. Sanger still has the linking of birth control with eugenics associated with her, and it has kept her from the being considered a hero in many spaces.

Question 1


This is the first time I have written on here, so I hope I am doing this right?

Whereas I have always had the understanding that Margaret Sanger was the pioneer of birth control with complete intentions to better the life of women, some people appear to have other views. There is the belief that Sanger was in favor of eugenics; the idea of breeding selectively with hopes to improve the human species. Some believe her Planned Parenthood organization was put in play to restrict certain races and classes within society from reproducing. Margaret Sanger is accused of having the desire to control reproduction by introducing birth control. Multiple people are considered to be "unfit" to reproduce, or at least less fit than others to have children. By trying to have control of who can and cannot reproduce, sometimes it seemed that abortions or birth control was almost forced upon people to make them unable to procreate. Having any intentions of trying to contain "inferior" people is completely ridiculous in my opinion. Because this weeding out occurred as a possibility, obviously controversy has tagged along with it. In reality, I don't believe Margaret Sanger was trying to eliminate other races but rather give women liberation. She was trying to help women and give them sexual freedom.

Direct Engagement


Birth Control was initially created to liberate women and give them reproductive rights and the rights to their own bodies. This was a right they had been denied for much of the 19th century, and it was unfair. This was the whole idea of birth control and it was something that was greatly needed. However, as birth control became more widespread, it became used as a tool of social control and was becoming linked with eugenics. That is it was being forced upon women who society wanted to cleanse themselves of. Many black women, immigrants, etc. were being practically forced to take it in order to improve society and regulate their reproduction. Basically, they would do their best to inhibit the reproduction of anybody they didn't feel was improving the quality of society. Another example would be people who are not intelligent, inferior in any way. Those people would be encouraged to use birth control in order to not taint society. This is how birth control became a 'social tool' and was very much associated with eugenics at times. I believe that birth control is completely necessary and needed to evolve. However, this apparent 'dark side' of birth control is astonishing and is not what birth control is mean to be. Birth control is meant to be a way to liberate women and give them reproductive freedom and control of their own bodies, not control society. In addition, Theodore Roosevelt stated, "Willful sterility is, from the standpoint of the nation, from the standpoint of the human race, the one sin for which there is no atonement." This is not expressing reproductive freedom and it is hard to believe that our own president would say that nationally. This just shows how much things have changed and what advancements the feminism movement truly has made.

Course Packets are in!

You can pick up your course packets at Paradigm copies. There are 14 readings in the packet. The rest of our readings will be available throughout the semester on our Web Vista site.

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Handout on feminist debate for today (2.2)

Here is a handout on feminist debate that I will be handing out and discussing in class today. See you this afternoon.

Cynthia Enloe and curiosity

The following is an excerpt of a longer post about Enloe's essay on my blog, trouble. Click here for the entire post.

image006.jpgIn her promotion of curiosity, Enloe wants to encourage/inspire/entreat us to be curious; to never stop thinking and paying attention and, most importantly for me and my thinking about feminist virtue ethics, to care about the world. What is really cool about her brief essay is that her framing of a discussion of curiosity participates in that very effort. Instead of merely telling us that curiosity is important (for feminist thinking or as a way to connect all of her essays), she asks us to think about why we need to be convinced of that in the first place. Why, she wonders, aren't we curious about the world? Where does our lack of curiosity come from and who is invested in preventing us from asking questions and wondering about the world? By focusing on our lack of curiosity instead of on the value of curiosity, Enloe creates an opportunity (much like "labor made cheap") for investigation. Maybe writing "Feminists lack curiosity" instead of "Feminists value curiosity" on the blackboard would be followed by, "Why do they lack curiosity?" or "Why did we stop asking questions?"

One more thing...In my feminist debates class, we recently read bell hooks' feminism is for everybody. Hooks uses the phrase "white supremicist capitalist patriarchy" instead of just patriarchy (see my class blog entry for more information). In contrast, Enloe continues to emphasize "patriarchy," which she describes as "the structural and ideological system that perpetuates the privileging of masculinity" (4). Later in the essay, Enloe suggests that patriarchy is only one of many forms of oppression and she encourages us to investigate, "How much of what is going on here is caused by the workings of patriarchy? Sometimes patriarchy may be only a small part of the explanation. Other times patriarchy may hold the causal key" (7). Yet, even as she recognizes other forms of oppression and their connections to patriarchy, she still wants to separate out patriarchy and focus on it. So does one of these phrases, hooks' "white supremicist capitalist patriarchy" or Enloe's "patriarchy," encourage more curiosity and require more (potentially productive) effort? What do you think?

The addition of women to the military seems like a great stride towards gender equality, yet once in the military world many female soldiers are treated as anything but equal. Sexual harassment occurs across the country affecting all kinds of women, but the military is a special case which I think deserves special attention because the military system is inherently based on hierarchy. These women often face the prospect of standing up against their superiors, which is not acceptable under normal circumstances.

Although, the article "A Peril in War Zones: Sexual Abuse by Fellow G.I.'s" states that the military is changing the way in which it handles cases of sexual abuse, coming down more harshly on sexual predators. At least the ones that are reported that is. Not only do victims of sexual harassment risk outstepping the military hierarchy, but in order to report such an offense they must put themselves before the mission at hand. This was the part of the article I found most intriguing. Soldiers are rewarded for putting themselves in danger in the name of completing the mission they were assigned to and defending their country at all costs. So should this "country-before-self" mentality justify women having to endure sexual harassment? According to a report released this month by a pentagon task force, "predators may believe they will not be held accountable for their misconduct during deployment because commanders' focus on the mission overshadows other concerns". Personally, I believe the men who are creating this problem in the first place are the ones who should be reprimanded for hindering the task of their unit, not the women who stand up against it to defend themselves and put a stop to it.