Month: December 2012

The Better Bombshell: Writers and artists redefine the female role model

It’s been an interesting year for gender politics. Anne-Marie Slaughter had everyone buzzing with her Atlantic article, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” the online version of which had record-breaking page views and which sparked a multitude of articles, blog posts and commentary from fourth-wave feminists and male social conservatives alike. We’ve had women in positions of influence, who wouldn’t be where they are today were it not for the feminists who came before them, making public statements against feminism, like Yahoo CEO Melissa Mayer, who just this year became the youngest CEO in the Fortune 500 and, more recently, Billboard’s Woman of the Year, Katy Perry. Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men launched the Fox-fueled hysteria over an imminent “war on men,” which we might dismiss with an eye roll were it not for the alarming number of elected officials, most of them male, some on the national stage, bloviating views and proposing vagislation that would take us back decades.

Holiday Redux

Christmas, for those of us who celebrate it, is over, along with many of the other December holidays. New Years is yet to come. How were your festivities? Mine involved an iPad from Santa, so that was fun, and lots of wine. And I just started watching Homeland (not even through Season One, so NO SPOILERS in the comments please!). What did you all get up to?

A bit of holiday advice

This list is (mostly) for folks who celebrate the upcoming holidays, and are fortunate enough to have people and resources to celebrate with; if you don’t fit that group, skip to the bottom. If you do fit, then even if your family are your favorite people and you look forward all year to the holidays, you still may find useful hints here.

Too sexy? You’re fired.

An all-male court in Iowa decided that a dentist in that state didn’t violate sex discrimination laws by firing an assistant who was by all accounts excellent at her job, but also pretty. The woman, who is significantly younger than the dentist, saw him as a mentor and was not sexually attracted to him and did not behave flirtatiously or inappropriately at work. The dude, though, is a religious guy who kinda had a boner for this lady, so instead of keeping himself in check, he fired her. And then said it was basically her fault because she sometimes wore tight shirts.

This is just a very good plan from the NRA to prevent further mass shootings.

The NRA held a press conference today detailing their plans to prevent more mass shootings in the United States. Mass shootings now happen with some regularity, and your standard run-of-the-mill shootings where only one or two or three people are hit happen daily. The NRA’s response? Put armed security guards in schools, and create a national database of mentally ill people (what this database will be used for is unclear). A few thoughts:

Why the Good Men Project debacle matters.

I know I’ve been beating this one into the ground, but it’s been bugging me. I took a few days to think over why I’m so hung up on this, and what I came up with is basically: These narratives enable rape. There are numerous studies that show adherence to rape myths (men who commit rape are just confused, women bring rape upon themselves by sending “mixed signals,” acquaintance rape is just a miscommunication) actually increases rape proclivity. So when articles like the ones at GMP are published, they not only enable rapists or would-be rapists to justify their behavior, but they increase their propensity to rape. It’s not “just” starting a conversation when you send those kinds of messages. What I also found in the research is that when men with already-high acceptance of rape myths either see or believe that other men are coercing women into sex and perceive that sexual coercion is common, they interpret that as “normal” and are then increasingly likely to do the same thing. So publishing an unrepentant rapist? That makes the men who are already likely to assault even more likely to see their actions as normal and justified. These aren’t just “conversations.” This is playing with women’s bodies and our physical safety to get page views. And that’s why I’m so pissed about it, and so hung up on it. Over at the Guardian I detail why “we’re just starting a conversation” isn’t a good reason to write about sexual assault in a way that perpetuates rape myths. The GMP editors may have been well-intentioned at the beginning, and I’m even willing to accept that their defensiveness is a result of feeling attacked (although as an aside, some of them have had really obnoxious MRAs who I banned from Feministe long ago do the “heavy lifting” of going after me on Twitter, but that’s another story). But I hope they read this column and the linked research and see why this is important, and why good intentions and “just starting a conversation” don’t outweigh the serious damage done when you publish what they published. A bit of the Guardian piece:

How Women’s Health and Social Media Won 2012: Retrospective

“Gentleman and ladies, your hard work paid off. Tonight we demonstrated to the other party what happens when you sneer at rape survivors, birth control and equal pay for equal work.”

By all accounts, it shouldn’t have ended like this. The president running for re-election was supposed to be an enemy of American values, waging the real “war on women” by giving out free contraception on street corners, encouraging girls to become sex objects by sleeping with hundreds of men and covering themselves in venereal disease, having abortion after abortion as their birth control inevitably failed them, until they no longer had any respect for their own bodies or lives – thus destroying the Christian work ethic that once made America’s economy great. And that was on top of Obama’s takeover of healthcare, bailouts for the billion-dollar abortion industry, and attacks on religious institutions that believe they have a right to discriminate against the healthcare of female employees.