Welcome to Monday ~ August 8th 2011

Welcome to the Monday round up, my fellow feminausts! I bring you a list of articles that caught our eye over the last week, from falsity in advertising to scientific proof that the clitoris is nice. Yes, its been a week of revelations here in the world of feminism.

As always, don’t shoot the messenger; we don’t necessarily agree or disagree with these articles, we’re just interested in the debate. If you violently agree or disagree, why not write a response and send it on in to us?

News and Politics

The Victorian Government has declared that low wages have no connection to gender. As it turns out, women earn less because they don’t demand the correct amount of economic compensation for their work. You know, unlike men. That’s right, nurses, teachers and administrators; you earn less because you lack self-esteem.

“I’m not a feminist but…” has to be one of the more annoying sentences in the English language. Ria Carmicheal sets out a Short History of Feminism and why it continues to be important in Australia today. (Also she gives a shout-out to feminaust, thanks Ria!)

A great article about how a throw away line can result in fear and anger for the woman you are trying to “compliment”. Memo to all; yelling out things at someone walking down the street is not nice and it does not show that you are a caring person dedicated to appreciating beauty and sexyness. In fact, it’s the opposite. You prove to that woman that she is not safe walking down the street, but is a sexual object designed for your pleasure no matter where she is. Here’s another article on the politics of male-female interaction in public spaces, one that delves a bit further into the ambiguities that the simplest of interactions can have if a sleazy moron is involved…

The international implications of America’s obsession with abortion politics. A really interesting article in Foreign Policy in which Mara Hvistendahl argues that with the development of reproductive technologies, the centrality of concepts of “choice” is no longer the best paradigm to explore and/or understand access abortion, and the politics around abortion. I’m not sure I agree – the ability to choose when or if I pop out a mini-Panther seems pretty fundamental to me – but it’s a thought-provoking article about other philosophical positions that are important to the debate.

Free contraception for all American women. HUZZAH, now, when is this coming to Oz? I chose this particular article because it has perhaps the best line ever in it, from Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski, who argues the measure takes the US “one step closer to ending the era when simply being a woman is treated as a pre-existing condition”.

Women in power in non-western countries; are they feminists simply because they challenge the status quo? How do we take into account traditions of wealth and power in such countries? And, one might add, how do we address these questions without falling into traditional western assumptions about the status of women and the rich in non-Western countries? Particularly in countries like Pakistan where the Western media and politicians tends to act as if they ‘know’ precisely the cure for their current predicaments.

Some dubious statistics about women, and some equally dubious journalism, analyses at Dawn Chorus. Mel Campbell focuses on both the state of journalism, and on the representation of women in the media today. Guaranteed to make you depressed about the world, until you realize that so long as we have writers and thinkers like Campbell, we have some hope!

Beauty

Women will only purchase from photo-shopped models, apparently. None of this reality for me! Last week I linked to some discussion of the banning of several make-up ads in the UK because of excessive retouching. David Gianatasio believes this ban is silly, because no one wants to see a non-retouched Julia Roberts. Oh and anyone stupid enough to not know its retouched deserves to be ripped off, or something.

Lipstick and pedophiles. Some time ago, Heather wrote a great article about how underage girls wearing lipsticks does not turn men into pedophiles. She’s written a great follow up, and the feminaust team has a response in the works as well. The basic argument that Heather makes? That the act of young girls wearing nail polish does not create pedophiles. That’s right, men, there is not a latent child rapist in you, just waiting for temptation to bring him out. That being said, just because the over-sexualization of 12 year olds does not justify or create pedophilia is no reason to not be concerned that 12 year olds are being used to sell me anti-wrinkle cream…

High heels and feminism; its way too easy to feel (or be told) that four inch heels and fire-engine red lipstick disqualifies one from being a feminist. Autumn Whitefield-Madrano, who also writes the brilliant blog “The Beheld”, wrote this for feministe on the connections between beauty and being a feminist. Conclusion? I can continue to own seven different versions of ‘cherry red lipstick’ and call myself a feminist. Which is good because honestly I REALLY LOVE my lipsticks….

Science

Scientific proof that women get turned on through stimulation of their nipples, vaginas and clitorises. REVELATIONS! What’s new about this is the study of the area of the brain that responds to the various areas of stimulation, and the discovery that when the female clitoris is stimulated, the area of the female brain that lights up on an brain-mapping-technology-whatsis is broadly the same area of a male brain that lights up when the penis is stimulated. Which one would kind of assume, did it really take us this long?

And scientific proof that both men and women find images and videos of naked people engaging in hanky-panky sexy. Who’d have thunk? This article also argues that there is no evidence that viewing porn is ‘harmful’, a tricky claim I think: watching people have sex is one thing, but not all porn is made safely or with the full free choice of those involved.

Culture

Speaking of porn, here’s a link to a really interesting podcast by Katie Morgan and Cassie Young on the Smodcast network. Both are now-retired porn stars in the US who loved their job, and the podcast is devoted to answering listener’s sexual questions, and recounting the experiences of both women in the porn industry. It’s challenging listening if you are inclined to think all porn is exploitative, because both these women made deliberate choices to undertake it, and in the end? They both say they loved the experience. Listen to the first two podcasts in particular for Katie’s story about her journey from homeschooling and being married at 18, to porn stardom and the sense of empowerment that gave her.

Can’t touch this. That’s right, an MC Hammer joke. There’s a new drama out in the US called “The Playboy Club” that appears to be based on the idea that being a bunny gave some lucky women a lot of power in the 1960s , because the men can’t touch, but they want to (put on your playboy bunny ears and reach your truly empowered female nature. This has totally been my experience). Which is great, because this means that I become truly empowered when I tell my dogs to stop chewing my shoes which happens about three times a day. All joking aside, its an interesting discussion around work that trades on a women’s sexuality; from empowering to exploitative, there is a wide range of opinions throughout feminist circles. I think I will skip watching the show though, in the name of not popping a freaking fuse when Hugh Hefner says that the bunnies of the 1960s were the most powerful women in the world……

The power of giving up on trying to be “normal”. Identity is tricky, whether its sexual or otherwise (for example, sometimes I’m a “jogger”, and sometimes I’m a “tasty warm donna occupier”). Shoshie asks at the end of this article if she is just insecure and strange, but its absolutely not – she hits the nail on the head when she comments that “heterosexuality” is the assumed default identification of everyone. If one wants to move away from that identity, or even to understanding their heterosexual identity as more than simply “default”, it’s a difficult journey.

Enjoy the links and please, let us know what you think of them.

Photo used under Creative Commons license, taken from Flickr user Gemma Compton

4 thoughts on “Welcome to Monday ~ August 8th 2011

  1. Such great linkage here, and I’m honored to be among it (and to have found Feminaust, which I’m looking forward to reading more of!). Thank you for the shout-out, and for the excellent reading material. I’m particularly enjoying the breakdown over at The Dawn Chorus. (And, of course, the MC Hammer reference.)

    • Thanks Autumn! Glad you found our site useful and our terrible sense of humor acceptable….. :)
      Please keep up the great work over at The Beheld! It’s a great read

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