Feminist Reads

Various things to check out this fine Tuesday:

Barbie has cankles: Christian Louboutin is the latest designer to create a signature Barbie, but he’s redesigning her feet because he says her ankles are too fat. Yes, Barbie is now too fat for the fashion mainstream.

-Outsourcing Pregnancy: Doree Shafrir covers the issue for the Daily Beast, and Arlie Hochschild offers a must-read, in-depth take in the American Prospect.

-Domestic Abuse and Insurance: Kaiser Health News does some great investigating into domestic violence survivors being denied health care coverage.

-The Edge of Edgy: Toddlers in fetish wear? For real?

-Femimint Hygiene: Never thought I would get to type this phrase, but: Vagina Mints. Ladies, here’s a good rule of thumb: If you’re with someone who doesn’t want to come near your vagina unless you pump Lysol up it, spray flower-scented perfume on it, or stick a mint in it, they probably don’t deserve to be near your bits in the first place. Vagina mints are, under no circumstances, a good idea.

-Pre-Existing Stupidy: An insurance company denies coverage to a breastfeeding baby because he has the pre-existing condition of obesity. I say that baby is just fat because he’s lazy, and this denial will probably shake some sense into him and make him go on a diet. God bless America.

Pepsi is Disgusting: And it’s not just the taste that’s offensive (although seriously, who are you Pepsi drinkers? Yuck). The company now has a phone app that helps you “score” with chicks — by breaking them down into 24 different stereotypes, and helping you keep a “Brag List” about girls you’ve banged, which you can send to all your friends via Twitter.

-Any Given Sunday: Is there such a difference between football and dogfighting? And, perhaps a more loaded question, but is it irresponsible for parents to allow or even push their kids to play football?

-Against Meat: I’m a former pescatarian (I didn’t eat any meat except fish for 11 years) turned unapologetic foodie. This piece by Jonathan Safran Foer about vegetarianism, ethical and environmental responsibility, culture and what we give up when we give up meat (and the trade-off for what we gain) really struck me. His honesty about food was refreshing — while a vegetarian diet can be rich and enjoyable, it just isn’t as rich as a diet that includes meat; giving up meat isn’t just about giving up taste, but for some of us feels like a severing of memories — and he still makes the case that vegetarianism is worth it.

Anyone else read anything good this week?

37 comments for “Feminist Reads

  1. me and not you
    October 13, 2009 at 10:33 am

    “Is there such a difference between football and dogfighting?”

    Because football is consensual and dogfighting is not, would be a very significant difference. Pushing kids (especially in that “mommy and daddy won’t love if you don’t play football” way) to play isn’t really that great, especially give the chance for injury, but forcing kids to do something that they don’t want is generally not a good idea–even if its something ‘good for them’, they’ll probably come to resent being forced to do it. Not to mention, I don’t think that kids football tackles nearly as hard as NFL does, if it tackles at all.

  2. Tom Foolery
    October 13, 2009 at 10:50 am

    “Is there such a difference between football and dogfighting?”

    I remember wondering this myself, back in 1999 when Kevin Dyson missed winning the Superbowl for the Titans by a single yard and after the game was electrocuted to death by Titans owner Bud Adams.

    Oh wait, that didn’t happen.

  3. October 13, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Because football is consensual and dogfighting is not, would be a very significant difference.

    How is dogfighting universally not consensual? “Consent,” when it comes to animals, is a little trickier of a concept than with humans.

    And Tom Foolery, the opposition to dog-fighting isn’t just because the dogs are electrocuted afterwards.

    Let’s all read the articles before we comment.

  4. Tom Foolery
    October 13, 2009 at 11:04 am

    And Tom Foolery, the opposition to dog-fighting isn’t just because the dogs are electrocuted afterwards.

    Let’s all read the articles before we comment.

    I realize that, of course; I read the article, despite the New Yorker’s tendency to go on and on in the defense of the indefensible. But I’d say the murder of non-performers is a pretty major difference, no?

  5. October 13, 2009 at 11:51 am

    That toddler fetish wear project offends me.

    If these folks are BDSMers, it’s almost certainly a shot in the fight between folks who do BDSM for its own sake and those who are into it because they want to be outre (that’s a one-sided characterization. I’m standing by it.)

    If they are not BDSMers, then they are profiteers trying to make money by hurting and further stigmatizing my community. Leaches. Parasites. Scum.

  6. October 13, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Thomas: I agree, to a point. It offends me also, but it’s the sexualisation of children which bothers me the most. Though I am appalled at the way they’re making the BDSM community look :(

  7. shah8
    October 13, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Many people watch football for the bloodsport aspects. It’s also a sport with a house union that is notably lackadasial about their player’s retirement, pay and safety. There is a culture of masculinity and toughness that encourages players to disregard their own well-being past any sensible limits. Right now, there is an investigation by the NFL about the injury of a rookie running back James Davis which was serious and happened under fishy cirumstances. Lots of we didn’t see nuttin’, the guy was working with other young guys to get better and this accident just happened, Mangini didn’t see nutink, didn’t hear nutink, and certainly didn’t approve of nutink.

    Sport is just kinda wierd about this, but then after all, it *is* a kind of ritualized conflict. The mayans and other meso-americans were more honest about tying the game to a dance with death and killing the losers at the big game.

  8. October 13, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    PharoahKatt, I agree that all sensible people should be horrified by the sexualization of children. I just thought that someone should bring up the other perspective, which is the within-that-community perspective, one that if I didn’t say it might go unsaid.

  9. October 13, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    I did read the advertising piece by Jonathan Safran Foer earlier and found it interesting, if only that he is bringing up his children vegetarian, as am I.

    But, I can only disagree with this statement:
    “while a vegetarian diet can be rich and enjoyable, it just isn’t as rich as a diet that includes meat”

    To me, a ‘rich’ taste can NEVER involve the flesh of dead animals. I guess uncooked blood tastes sickly, but totally don’t get it. I suppose it depends on why one is vegetarian I suppose…

  10. October 13, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    On the New Yorker article – lots of people are pushed/coerced into careers that end up hurting them because they have no other alternatives, and I’m definitely sympathetic to that. But since most professional athletes choose (to the extent that anyone can really and truly, voluntarily ‘choose’ a career in this society, anyway) their careers with full knowledge of the potential risks involved, I don’t think professional football falls into that category; so I don’t understand the comparison.

    Oh, and Earwicga is right. I’m assuming that ‘richness’ refers to smell, flavor, and/or texture, none of which requires meat. Lots of mock meats have the exact same texture/consistency as ‘the real thing’, and anyone with a working knowledge of spices can create a savory meal from just about anything. It’s pretty simple.

  11. October 13, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Re: the richness of a meat-inclusive diet — I don’t think Foer (or I) was arguing that vegetarian diets can’t be rich. But, having been a vegetarian, I do think it’s fair to say that a diet which includes meat has a much wider variety of options when it comes to flavor. You can’t replicate the taste of, say, a really fresh and amazing toro sashimi with non-meat products. An amazing, rare steak cannot be duplicated with fake meat. No, vegan cheese does not taste or act like the real thing. No one is saying that vegetarians or vegans can’t eat well, or that delicious food has to be meat-based. Of course you can make a savory meal from just about anything. But certain really incredible tastes and flavors are meat-based. That doesn’t mean that other incredible tastes and flavors aren’t, but I think it’s ok to admit that not eating meat does force a lot of us to give something up. It’s gotta be ok to admit that a vegetarian diet is more limited, flavor-wise, than a diet that also incorporates meat.

  12. catfood
    October 13, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Literally, yes, if your diet excludes any particular thing (like meat) it will have fewer flavor options. That’s tautological.

    But realistically speaking, people who eat a lot of meat–or any–often (not always) don’t bother trying an incredibly wide selection of foods that many (not all) vegetarians feel motivated to check out.

    Strictly speaking, I as a vegetarian miss out on meat items. But meat-eaters miss out on things too, unless they are exceptionally adventurous.

  13. Cha-Cha
    October 13, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    On the pepsi thing: I called and complained, feel slightly better. Called 914-532-2000. Asked for Customer Relations, then hit 0 when the option menu comes up.

    Talked to a very nice man who seemed surprised by how vehemently I felt about things but, once I explained, said that he was inclined to agree and would pass it up to his superiors.

    I mean, who knows, right? But it felt better than not calling.

  14. peanutbutter
    October 13, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    Any diet is reduced by removing options from it. That would be as true as removing meat as it would be removing vegetables, or some other class of food.

    However, I think “richness” is in the eye of the beholder. I can think of a good number of very rich meals that do not have meat in them.

  15. October 13, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    Baribie has fat ankles! Give me a break. He might make beautiful shoes, but Christian Louboutin just dropped a notch in my esteem.

  16. October 13, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    Absolutely. I completely agree :)

  17. DAS
    October 13, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    No, vegan cheese does not taste or act like the real thing.

    It tastes close enough to the real thing that I, as a milk allergic person who has had accidental cheese consumption, took a long time to get to the point where I could feel comfortable eating the stuff (I now love it — I love being able to mac & cheese, etc.).

    As to fake meat, some of it is quite good, but generally not like the real thing. The interesting exception is that I find fake seafood (not fake fish) and much fake pork (excepting fake ham and fake bacon) to be superior to the real thing!

    Interestingly, I am a more observant Jew than I was growing up (in a relatively secular household). So now when I go out to our local vegan, kosher chinese place, I’ll be with people who say things like “I dunno if a pork cutlet really tastes like this”. And I can say “well, pork cutlets taste exactly like that!”. People who’ve never had pork really have no idea how bland it can be. Sometimes the vegan substitutes are richer than the real thing, actually!

    But there is nothing like a nice, juicy steak. And I do miss (now that I roughly keep kosher) good bacon and ham.

  18. October 13, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    I saw that vegetarian article somewhere else and I really can’t relate. I don’t have any emotional issues stemming from the fact that I used to eat hamburgers. Maybe five years or so after quitting meat I did eat some stuff I used to like a lot when I was little, and it just grossed me out and killed any nostalgia I had. If I had embarked on a diet that would keep me from eating pizza or poutine maybe I would feel differently(though I eat dairy maybe once a week and I’m trying to cut back.) Yeah, you can’t fake meat, but then I’m not interested in that in the first place.

    I’ve never thought the whole world should be vegan, but I definitely think people in this part of the world eat way more meat than they need to. I don’t know, I was raised on a diet that while not totally vegetarian, was very veg friendly a lot of the time, people seem to generally think that if there isn’t a big chunk of flesh at the centre of your plate that it’s not a meal. Most people don’t seem to explore other options, that’s all that needs changing.

  19. B
    October 13, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    This may not be the best place for a question like this, but since we’re on the topic of vegetarian/veganism…

    I find the sustainability/environmental arguments for going veg very compelling. (I also find the inhumane treatment of animals very compelling, as an aside.) But I wonder, are meat and cheese substitutes any more sustainable than the meat and cheese? I imagine the processing and transporting and many steps involved in creating these products is not environmentally insignificant. My gut feeling is that it’s not really that great to eat the substitutes either, so as I am starting to move toward veg/veganism I don’t really even think of these products as options for my meals. Can anyone point me toward a website or resource that might address this?

  20. The Amazing Kim
    October 14, 2009 at 4:45 am

    I don’t know about vegetarian diets being less rich. It gives me a great excuse to skip straight to dessert:

    “Oh the only veggie meal they have here is garden salad. What a pity. Suppose I’ll have to get the mars bar cheesecake as a main, then.”

    (And it really helps if you grew up with people who boiled meat and vegetables until grey.)

    But ja, it’s an interesting piece.

  21. October 14, 2009 at 5:14 am

    I’m trying to figure out where I had first read that Jonathan Safran Foer article… And I know I have definitely read the first paragraph somewhere.

  22. October 14, 2009 at 7:38 am

    But realistically speaking, people who eat a lot of meat–or any–often (not always) don’t bother trying an incredibly wide selection of foods that many (not all) vegetarians feel motivated to check out.

    I suspect that is closely related to one’s heritage, and not one’s individual sense of adventure. In some parts of the world, the climate is such that the growing season is shorter, and the variety of fruits and vegetables that are grown there is much smaller. These days, a lot of food at the grocery store is imported, and people (if they can afford it) have access to more fruits and vegetables than they had a generation or more ago. Even so—people tend to retain the practices of their families (when they can).

    Think about it—people tend to eat what they’ve grown up eating. Tastes can change, but few people willingly abandon a diet that they experience as visually, physically (y’know, taste, texture, smell, no stomach upset, etc.), and emotionally pleasureable. It’s been my experience that the so-called more “adventurous” eaters (like myself) grew up on a diet of great variety.

    Just sayin’. Meat eaters from (or whose family came from) southern climates eat lots of veggies. It’s a “both/and” for us. ;-)

  23. lilacsigil
    October 14, 2009 at 7:47 am

    I have to say, going vegetarian for a few years really enriched my diet. I tried all kinds of things I’d never tried before, and, even though I now include a small amount of meat for reasons of health and food availability, I eat a much wider variety of foods than I ever did before. Vegan replacements for animal products are not the same as that animal product, and you’re setting yourself up for disappointment if you expect a one-for-one replacement. If you enjoy the food for what it is, it has the same range of delicious to boring as any kind of food does.

  24. October 14, 2009 at 8:16 am

    It was posted on Jezebel, too. My other comment’s in the moderation queue. I just wanted to add that a lot of vegetarians never branch out either, they basically eat a carnivore’s diet but substitute cheese or tofu burgers wherever they used put meat, it never surprises me when those people fail/go back. So yeah, if I ate like that I’d probably feel like I was denying myself.

  25. October 14, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    “On the pepsi thing: I called and complained, feel slightly better. Called 914-532-2000. Asked for Customer Relations, then hit 0 when the option menu comes up.”

    For anyone who has not yet heard: The Pepsi app. is being pulled.

  26. October 14, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    I find those outsourcing pregnancy articles deeply disturbing. It seems the pinnacle of exploitation

  27. PrettyAmiable
    October 14, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    The goal of this is to educate and not to pitch a product, but I recently did a project on (and met with the owner of) Match, Inc, maker of MatchMeat products. If anyone is curious about trying their lines (and from what I know of the company, it’s really “her” lines), they currently sell in the Midwest in Whole Foods and Dierbergs, and have just shipped to NYC’s D’Agostino stores. You should be able to find it in the cooler section by the butchery in WF and Dierbergs, and it might actually be thawed in the D’Agostino stores. Basically, it’s meat alternatives that are designed to mimic the taste and texture of actual meat. It needs to be prepared the way meat does – meaning you would need to add your own spices and such because otherwise it’s horrendously bland. Currently it comes in lots of ground flavors (think chicken, beef, two kinds of sausage, and I want to say crab… I’m missing one).

    Anyway, this is essentially as close as you’re going to get to meat without animal slaughter. (As an aside, I’m not a vegetarian). I definitely recommend trying it (and would love to know what you think and would for sure be willing to pass your thoughts on to Allison Burgess), but I will say this: it’s SUPER pricey. It should be in NY for about $8 a pound, maybe 6 or 7 in the midwest depending on where you are. They sometimes do taste testings which might be a neat (free) alternative.

    But yeah, it’s vegan, it’s in the process of getting kosher-certified, etc.

    Just a thought in the spirit of the posted article. Keep in mind that I haven’t actually tried the product; I just researched it. I don’t actually know how to get to my nearest WF.

  28. October 14, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    […] But the company has been in the news for far less feminist reasons. PepsiCo’s new iPhone App for its Amp Energy drink features […]

  29. October 15, 2009 at 3:33 am

    I’d love to be vegetarian, but my body just doesn’t allow for it. I have great difficulties in absorbing iron, so I need to take extra strength iron tabs from the pharmacy (not just the regular iron vitamin pills you get from the local supermarket), regular red meat and iron rich veges that don’t block iron absorption (spinach is out, parsley is in). If I don’t do this, I dip down dangerously below the healthy range of iron. It’s scary! I get all tired and shit, start sleeping for hours and going pale.

    I would like to posit that Barbie does not have cankles. Barbie’s feet are too small, so it makes her tiny ankles look thick by comparison. Barbie’s feet morphology has ALWAYS bothered me, even as a kid. I’d stare at her ankles and feet and think, “But human lower legs just don’t LOOK like that!” They’re so much more elegant and structured than that. But there’s a good reason why Barbie has stumps for feet – so her clothes don’t get caught up on them! I had a beautiful Jem doll when I was a kid (Stormer, I still have her, she’s the best!) and whenever I tried to dress her in clothes, I would go through the frustration of having them get caught on her wonderful huge feet. I really loved the big feet on the Hasbro fashion dolls, and the lovely natural breasts and full hips. I looked at those dolls, even as a child, and thought, “Yeah! Women actually look something like that!”

    … I’m a little passionate about fashion dolls. I liked collecting them, and I’d still collect them today if I had scads of money and a whole room to devote to it. Instead I play The Sims 2.

  30. Sheelzebub
    October 15, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Ew, troll stink. Someone get the Lysol.

  31. October 15, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Got it. Sorry that comment went through.

  32. Dana
    October 16, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    OK, I’m being forced to actually share the computer so not reading the whole thread so just… what??

    How is dogfighting universally not consensual? “Consent,” when it comes to animals, is a little trickier of a concept than with humans.

    I am extremely curious to know your logic. Dogfighting is about as consensual as anything you can talk a small child into doing.

    Dogs have prey drive. Dogs also have the drive to fight other dogs to defend territory. Humans breeding dogs to never, ever give up and then fighting them until they are seriously injured, cannot be consensual.

    Dog fighting, “done right”, is not the worst thing in the world IMO. Dog fighting should be people breeding dogs to be game, then training them to be fit and strong. They are well-socialised and favourites are kept as pets post-career.

    But it is still producing animals to injure each other for your own gratification, and culling them if they’re not good enough/when they’re too old. And that’s best case scenario.

    Dogs do not have an awareness of self. How the fucking fuck can you say they can consent to anything?!

  33. October 17, 2009 at 1:06 am

    Dana, my point was that animals don’t have the ability to express consent in the same ways that humans do. The best we can do is discuss what’s “natural.” For dogs, it is “natural,” to a point, to fight. It’s not necessary “natural” to be owned by a human, or to be sterilized — yet we do that anyway. Formal dog-fighting, of course, is horrific and wrong, but it’s no less “non-consensual” than dog ownership.

    My point, again, is that “consent’ is awfully tricky when it comes to animals.

  34. October 17, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Vagina mints are, under no circumstances, a good idea.

    But what if your vagina dentata needs a little freshener between meals and doesn’t have a toothbrush?

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