Category Archives: Feminism

Society: Rape and “Miscommunication”

Important study.

I just read a paper from the discipline of conversation analysis.  It dovetails nicely with what I wrote in Talking Past Each Other, and I’m going to go through some of the findings (I can’t redistribute the paper itself), and talk about some conclusions.  Long story short:  in conversation, “no” is disfavored, and people try to say no in ways that soften the rejection, often avoiding the word at all.  People issue rejections in softened language, and people hear rejections in softened language, and the notion that anything but a clear “no” can’t be understood is just nonsense.  First, the notion that rape results from miscommunication is just wrong.  Rape results from a refusal to heed, rather than an inability to understand, a rejection.  Second, while the authors of the paper say that this makes all rape prevention advice about communicating a clear “no” pointless, I have a different take.  Clear communication of…

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Art: Naked Man Statue on Campus

There is a life-like naked man statue on Wellesley College’s campus. It’s my alma mater, and it’s a women’s college.

the statue, titled "The Sleepwalker" (source: Jezebel)

the statue, titled “The Sleepwalker” (source: Jezebel)

Media Coverage:

  1. Gawker
  2. Jezebel
  3. Boston Globe (as far as I can tell the media coverage started here)

And I’m not linking to the ridiculous other articles that are really disrespectful.
Do yourself a favor and remember not to read the comments.

Responses from Wellesley College Alumnae:

  1. Gaining Perspective: The Wellesley Debate (a piece written for HollaBack Boston)
  2. The Sleepwalker’s Dream (an art piece inspired by the statue)

And the statue now has a twitter account.

Basically, my 2 cents is this:

  1. the coverage of this event is really rude and disrespectful to the women who are affected by this statue
  2. the statue is in the home of the students and they are the ones who should decide if it stays or goes (no one comes into your home forcing art on you)
  3. and how is it ok to keep forcing an art piece on a person who has their PTSD triggered by it?

I also think that if this was about a piece of art that was triggering soldiers with PTSD it would be an entirely different conversation.

And comments are turned off, because I don’t want to fight with the internet.

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Feminism: Rape and Alcohol

Reminder: Getting Drunk Doesn’t Cause Rape to Magically Appear

“While many victims of sexual assaults are intoxicated, so are victims of other crimes — like robbery — in similar percentages. Further, as many have written, a woman can drink until she’s blue in the face and unless a rapist is present, she won’t get raped. She might have a really bad headache the next day, but she won’t get raped.

But what about men who drink and then get all handsy and don’t know that they’ve raped until they wake up the next morning horrified with themselves? A myth, says Culp-Reeser, who cites research that shows men who already plan on victimizing women will sometimes drink as a way to justify their behavior. Further, men who rape don’t just do it once; they tend to consciously select a victim, deliberately isolate her, and use alcohol to diminish her ability to say no. Alcohol is among the many “tools” employed by rapists who wish to victimize women; it’s not a potion that transforms a carefree college girl into a sexual assault victim.”

Actually, The Link Between Sexual Assault And Alcohol Isn’t As Clear As You Think

some good quotes from this article:

1) “A 2001 research project into sexual assault and alcohol commissioned by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism puts it this way: “Although alcohol consumption and sexual assault frequently co-occur, this phenomenon does not prove that alcohol use causes sexual assault.” In some cases, the researchers pointed out, it may actually be the other way around. The desire to commit a sexual assault may actually encourage alcohol consumption, as some men may drink before assaulting a woman in order to help justify their behavior.”

2) “But the important point to note is that alcohol is just one of many tools at rapists’ disposal — and if alcohol isn’t available, that won’t necessarily stop a rapist from assaulting people.”

3) “And perhaps more broadly, it’s important to remember that sexual assault isn’t actually unique in its relationship to alcohol. In fact, at least half of all violent crimes occur after the perpetrator, the victim, or both have been drinking alcohol. Sexual assault simply fits neatly within that larger pattern — yet we’re much less likely to assume that alcohol factored into an armed robbery, or call on people to stop drinking so they won’t get mugged.”

I was thinking something similar to the third quote (from the second article) the other day. We don’t say that murder victims should have made sure they didn’t drink because it’s their fault they were targeted, because that’s a load of crap.

Sure, there are many things that I can do to keep myself safer, and I do most of those things. I don’t go out by myself late at night. etc. etc. But that doesn’t guarantee my safety. In fact I have seen how it can lull women into thinking they are safe, until they are not, until they are raped by someone they know. While they were trying to “be safe”. The fact is that I can modify my life all day long, it doesn’t make rapists, and sexual harassers, and people who wish me harm, magically disappear. And I think that’s the broader conversation we need to have, why do we keep the onus on women to change their lives instead of addressing the very real problem that rapists keep raping?

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Culture: “Fitspiration” Photos

The 6 Most Shockingly Irresponsible “Fitspiration” Photos.

This blog post popped up on my newsfeed and it’s awesome.
I hate those “fitspiration” photos on Pinterest and Tumblr.
They are so disturbing.
Exercise Anorexia is a very real thing. Let’s not encourage it. geez.
“Strong is the new skinny” is just all kinds of messed up.
And reading this reminded me of when broadcasters were picking apart the bodies of female athletes for not being skinny enough or pretty enough. WOW, they’re at the Olympics, have some goddamn respect.
So you see, it’s not really about being healthy, or strong, or proud of yourself. It’s more shaming of women.
Par for the course.
And I’m having none of it.

Choice quotes:

“Training so hard as to induce vomiting and uncontrollable sobbing is to slowly undermine the basic human judgement of what constitutes challenge versus what causes injury”

“Strong isn’t really replacing skinny; being skinny is no longer enough. Now, ladies, you need to be skinny and ripped. It’s an additional layer of self-loathing  (perfectly suited for hypergymnasiacs), just in case people had started to get desensitized to the omnipresent and psychologically crippling display of corpse-thin women in the media.”

“If your body or your mind says “it hurts” or “I need to stop”—and I’m going to be as clear as I can about this—FOR FUCK’S SAKE STOP. It isn’t even a joint health thing at this point, it’s just creepy.”

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Society: Gender Flipping

Is Gender-Flipping The Most Important Meme Ever? 

In the article they referenced this feminist website called The Hawkeye Initiative. What disturbed me the most about the Hawkeye initiative was how, even seeing the two examples juxtaposed, I still had to work at it to see how unnaturally contorted the female characters were.

My favorite gender-flip thing so far is the cover-flip. Coverflip: Maureen Johnson Calls For An End To Gendered Book Covers With An Amazing Challenge. I love book covers, and I hate the “girly” covers. So it was awesome to see them gender-flipped.

In summary:

“The basic skill to develop, though, is the one that lies at the heart of flipping: asking, “What if?” If I were a woman, would I talk to me at parties? If women told men their complaints were irrelevant, would that attitude be worth worth fighting? If I were writing about a male musician, would I talk about his clothes and his famous exes this much? If I drew Hawkeye in the pose I’m sketching Black Widow in right now, would he look ridiculous? If Trayvon Martin had been a white kid, and George Zimmerman a black man, would the verdict have been the same?

The Hawkeye Initiative and Flip The News won’t make us all into enlightened, thoughtful social justice warriors overnight, but those moments of epiphany and empathy add up. Social change happens slowly – often so gradually, you don’t even notice until it’s all around you.”

I am happy to see this kind of awareness and social change happening around me.

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Feminism: Sexual Assault and Not Understanding Social Cues

“He might be on the spectrum.” But what about me?

“It’s like the sun rising in the east: Whenever the subject of harassment or stalking comes up, you invariably get a bunch of dudes barging in, insisting that the guy who followed you and screamed at you for not paying attention to him, the guy who groped you, the guy who tried to follow you home, the guy who kept looking you up and down when you were wearing a turtleneck at brunch with your friend, the guy who refused to accept the “no” and the “I’m not interested,” the guy who waited for you outside of your place, the guy who told you how the way you look gave him a boner, might have had Asperger’s or was somehow autistic. He just had problems understanding social cues/rules.”

Interesting article. It throws into perspective the excuse of “He’s really a nice guy”. If you have to explain away someone’s experience with a statement like that, I call BS. He may be a “nice guy”* most of the time, but in this instance he was not being “nice”. I think it’s scary how pervasive the dismissal of a woman’s experience of sexual harassment is in this day and age.

*tangentially related to the feminist definition of the “Nice Guy” phenomenon. Posts about that at a later date.

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Film: Girl Rising

Women and Hollywood coverage: “Regal Cinemas Bringing Girl Rising to Theaters

There is this amazing documentary coming to theaters.
And it’s about educating girls.
It’s called Girl Rising.

The best way to improve the status of women in the world is through access in education.
And there are many places in the world where girls cannot get an education.
This movie tells the stories of 9 girls from 9 countries.
Education can change the world.
And it is one of the tools to help women reach full equality worldwide.

Overall it looks like an incredibly powerful movie.
And it’s amazing how many wonderful actresses are behind this project.

The Trailer:

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Politics: France Legalizes Gay Marriage

Jezebel: France Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage, Bien Sûr

After months of intense debate, civil unrest and increasing incidences of anti-gay violence, French parliament has finally approved legislation to legalize same-sex marriage and the adoption of children by same-sex parents. It is the 14th country in the world and the ninth country in Europe to do so.

LA Times: France approves same-sex marriage

Vive la France!

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Culture: Sir Patrick Stewart on Domestic Violence

Jezebel: Sir Patrick Stewart: ‘Violence Against Women Is Learned’

The truth is that domestic violence and violence against women touch many of us. This violence is not a private matter. Behind closed doors it is shielded and hidden and it only intensifies. It is protected by silence – everyone’s silence. Violence against women is learned. Each of us must examine – and change – the ways in which our own behavior might contribute to, enable, ignore or excuse all such forms of violence. I promise to do so, and to invite other men and allies to do the same.

I didn’t know Sir Patrick Stewart had been abused.
What a powerful story, and beautifully told.
Bravo.

Trigger Warning:
In the video below Sir Patrick Stewart speaks about his own experience with abuse in his childhood home.
Beware of triggers concerning domestic violence, violence towards women and children and verbal abuse.

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Film: Oz and Women and Baum

Why ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ Is A Major Step Back For Witches and Women

This was a really interesting article, I didn’t realize what a feminist Baum was. And I didn’t know he wrote so many books.
And the trailer for “Oz the Great and Powerful” is not compelling to me.
It bothers me that the wizard is the center of this movie, and a lot of the points made in the above article are things I was thinking while watching the trailer.
Plus it just seems like more of James Franco being egotistical.
Blah.

EDIT:
From the article on Jezebel: Why Is Michelle Williams in Redface?
Wow, I didn’t realize what a racist Baum was.

So thoroughly disturbing that I can’t process this statement:

“The Whites, by law of conquest, by justice of civilization, are masters of the American continent, and the best safety of the frontier settlements will be secured by the total annihilation of the few remaining Indians. Why not annihilation? Their glory has fled, their spirit broken, their manhood effaced; better that they die than live the miserable wretches that they are.” – L. Frank Baum

I will not be supporting his legacy with my money.

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Culture: Feminism and Sex Workers

I read a really interesting article called “The War on Sex Workers“.

A good summary would be this quote:

“It is not sex work that exposes sex workers to violence; it is our willingness to abandon sex workers to violence in an attempt to control their behavior. Prohibition makes prostitution more dangerous than it would otherwise be by pushing it underground and stripping sex workers of legal protection. The fight over that policy is about more than just strains between generations of feminism. It is about an unholy marriage of feminism with the conservatism and police power that many feminists claim to stand against.”

I found it via an article on Feministe.

I didn’t realize that there are people working against “sex/human trafficking” that are not actually talking about people that are kidnapped and forced against their will. That is completely not the same thing as prostitution. What the hell?

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Misc.: Tumblr

I created a Tumblr!

http://clareminnies.tumblr.com/

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Feminism: Schrödinger’s Rapist

One of the best essays about sexual assault that I have ever read. A classic.

Shapely Prose

Phaedra Starling is the pen name of a romance novelist and licensed private investigator living in small New York City apartment with two large dogs.  She practices Brazilian jiu-jitsu and makes world-class apricot muffins.

Gentlemen. Thank you for reading.

Let me start out by assuring you that I understand you are a good sort of person. You are kind to children and animals. You respect the elderly. You donate to charity. You tell jokes without laughing at your own punchlines. You respect women. You like women. In fact, you would really like to have a mutually respectful and loving sexual relationship with a woman. Unfortunately, you don’t yet know that woman—she isn’t working with you, nor have you been introduced through mutual friends or drawn to the same activities. So you must look further afield to encounter her.

So far, so good. Miss LonelyHearts, your humble instructor, approves. Human connection…

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A Message To Women From A Man: You Are Not “Crazy”

You’re so sensitive. You’re so emotional. You’re defensive. You’re overreacting. Calm down. Relax. Stop freaking out! You’re crazy! I was just joking, don’t you have a sense of humor? You’re so dramatic. Just get over it already!

Sound familiar?

If you’re a woman, it probably does.

Do you ever hear any of these comments from your spouse, partner, boss, friends, colleagues, or relatives after you have expressed frustration, sadness, or anger about something they have done or said?

When someone says these things to you, it’s not an example of inconsiderate behavior. When your spouse shows up half an hour late to dinner without calling—that’s inconsiderate behavior. A remark intended to shut you down like, “Calm down, you’re overreacting,” after you just addressed someone else’s bad behavior, is emotional manipulation—pure and simple.

This article is so true and so relevant to life. Seeing these problems in life and human interaction can be awful, but truth always prevails.

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August 31, 2012 · 11:08

Culture: Sasheer Meets Her Flasher

Chioke Nassor’s Storytime: Sasheer Meets Her Flasher

This is so on point! Love her.

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July 31, 2012 · 16:15

Feminism: Work and Family Balance

Feminism: Work and Family Balance

Feminism: Work and Family Balance

The tagline reads “It’s time to stop fooling ourselves, says a woman who left a position of power: the women who have managed to be both mothers and top professionals are superhuman, rich, or self-employed. If we truly believe in equal opportunity for all women, here’s what has to change.”

The author goes on to remark:

“A similar assumption underlies Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s widely publicized 2011 commencement speech at Barnard, and her earlier TED talk, in which she lamented the dismally small number of women at the top and advised young women not to “leave before you leave.” When a woman starts thinking about having children, Sandberg said, “she doesn’t raise her hand anymore … She starts leaning back.” Although couched in terms of encouragement, Sandberg’s exhortation contains more than a note of reproach. We who have made it to the top, or are striving to get there, are essentially saying to the women in the generation behind us: “What’s the matter with you?”

They have an answer that we don’t want to hear. After the speech I gave in New York, I went to dinner with a group of 30-somethings. I sat across from two vibrant women, one of whom worked at the UN and the other at a big New York law firm. As nearly always happens in these situations, they soon began asking me about work-life balance. When I told them I was writing this article, the lawyer said, “I look for role models and can’t find any.” She said the women in her firm who had become partners and taken on management positions had made tremendous sacrifices, “many of which they don’t even seem to realize … They take two years off when their kids are young but then work like crazy to get back on track professionally, which means that they see their kids when they are toddlers but not teenagers, or really barely at all.” Her friend nodded, mentioning the top professional women she knew, all of whom essentially relied on round-the-clock nannies. Both were very clear that they did not want that life, but could not figure out how to combine professional success and satisfaction with a real commitment to family.”

“Young women should be wary of the assertion “You can have it all; you just can’t have it all at once.” This 21st-century addendum to the original line is now proffered by many senior women to their younger mentees. To the extent that it means, in the words of one working mother, “I’m going to do my best and I’m going to keep the long term in mind and know that it’s not always going to be this hard to balance,” it is sound advice. But to the extent that it means that women can have it all if they just find the right sequence of career and family, it’s cheerfully wrong.”

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Culture: Online, Misogyny is Alive and Well.

Jezebel nailed it, per usual.

The harassment of this woman just trying to express her viewpoint is par for the course for women online. And is proof that misogyny is not dead. Unfortunately. And it is really sad, and numbing, and depressing. Sigh.

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Feminism: It Happens All the Time (via Rookie Mag)

It Happens All the Time

“A private conversation about street harassment, made public. […]

It dawned on us that you can take any random group of girls and women, and EVERY SINGLE ONE of them will have multiple stories of terrible things that were said to them and done to them on the street by strangers, as a matter of course. Just the normal state of affairs when you are out in public, being female. Like, we’re not special. This happens to everybody.”

This is so true, and definitely reflects the stories I heard from the women with whom I took my self-defense class.
Every woman, your mom, your sister, your daughter, your niece, your aunt, your best friend, we all have stories like this.
And we think about these things every single time we walk down a street alone, especially at night.
I had some pretty horrible street harassment happen to me in France (being followed in a car, getting slapped in the face, getting grabbed, getting yelled at, etc.) and I know many women who have had similar experiences.
Street harassment is an epidemic.
You can take self defense in DC at DC Impact, which also has other chapters around the US.
Protect yourself, and lets all stand up to street harassment together.

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