Weekly Feminist Smorgasbord: Shame-Free Sex, Katie Roiphe (Eye-Roll), and Twilight

  • To paraphrase Rachel Maddow, this is the Best New Thing this week. Maddow introduces us to the OWS “bat signal”:

At no point does she address how not fun and amazing sexual harassment is for people whose intersecting identities make them a target for harassers who want to exploit their lack of institutional power. The workplace Roiphe is commenting on is some fake workplace, in which sexual harassment never goes too far, never impedes anyone’s ability to do their job, and never creates collateral damage for those employees least able to fight back. She does not see fit to address the cost levied against the targets of sexual harassment, who are likely to see their creativity, productivity, and standing within the company deteriorate.

I said, “Considering the fact that my son is hungry, and he’s sick, and the fact that it’s not illegal, I don’t find it inappropriate … And the judge said something to the effect of ‘It’s my court, it’s my decision and I do find it inappropriate.'”

  • Raise your hand if Bella, the protagonist of the Twilight book and movie series, makes your feminist soul writhe in pain! GOOD magazine offers fans of young adult fantasy fiction a list of “what to read instead of Twilight.”

GOOD magazine's awesome "no charts" serve this topic well.

  • But Sarah Blackwood at The Hairpin has another view on the series in her piece “Our Bella, Ourselves.” She argues that Bella’s passivity and the “gothic” depiction of her pregnancy in the series “has the potential to revitalize a number of our larger conversations about feminism, especially those related to sex, pregnancy, desire, and autonomy.” She writes:

Gestation, birth, and motherhood are gothic emotional and physical states in which many of one’s most carefully considered intellectual stances and commitment to autonomy are challenged and often dismantled. Even more importantly, these are topics not much talked about in young adult fiction aimed at teenaged girls, which means that, perhaps in the name of empowerment and feminism, we have omitted a major aspect of women’s lives from the very narratives through which girls come to deepen their understanding of how to live in the world.

  • Here’s your new desktop background: Benneton’s new “UNHATE” campaign. Check it out.
  • Victory for a Roma woman who was forcibly sterilized in Slovakia and has been awarded €43,000 as a result of her human rights appeal. This is a huge step forward for global reproductive justice, as it is the first time Strasbourg’s European Court of Human Rights has taken up a case of forced sterilization.

Some links!!: Mother’s Day stories, a sweet zine, and how to deal with anger

The U.S. Maternal Healthcare Crisis: 14 Numbers You Need to Know
Science & Sensibility: “Mother’s Day is May 8. At Amnesty International USA, we’re honoring mothers by fighting for maternal health — sending Mother’s Day action cards to U.S. and international decision-makers, hosting events and more (sign up at amnestyusa.org/mothersday).  Amnesty is also launching a One-Year Update to our groundbreaking report, Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA. From that update, here are 14 numbers you need to know.”

When We Hated Mom
The New York Times: “Contrary to myth, “The Feminine Mystique” and feminism did not represent the beginning of the decline of the stay-at-home mother, but a turning point that led to much stronger legal rights and “working conditions” for her.”

The Greatest Hits in Contraceptive History
Mother Jones: “Pretty much since the beginning of time, people have looked for ways to control their own fertility—from jumping backward seven times after sex, to using elephant or crocodile dung as suppositories, to drinking mercury and donning reusable condoms. And for just as long, there’s been a veritable crusade against (mostly) women’s efforts to control reproduction. From the book of Genesis to the 21st Olympiad, here are some noteable moments in the war on contraception.”

“The PIC (Prison Industrial Complex) Is…” Zine
Chicago PIC Teaching Collective: “This publication is offered as a gift. The topic is tragic and deadly serious. However those of us who worked collaboratively to create this zine envisioned it as a crie de coeur and as something to be shared. We expect that those who care about issues of justice, equality, and humanity will use it as a teaching tool and as an organizing tool. ”

Anger Management: On Emotion, Oppression, and Being Productive
The Canonball Blog: “What is the correct way to express anger? How can you express your anger and still have productive conversations? How can we support each other in expressing anger? Lorde’s answer: people of privilege need to learn how to listen. “If we listen to the content of what is said with at least as much intensity as we defend ourselves against the manner of saying.”

Happy Mother’s Day: On Choice and Childbirth in the U.S.

I’m writing this Mother’s Day post through a fog of a nasty sickness, so I can’t guarantee it will be as polished as I intend. My hope is that it will make a modicum of sense! I am here on this day to write about the issue of childbirth, choice, maternal healthcare and the violations that are rampant in the U.S. regarding all of these things. I want to open the conversation up about an aspect of women’s choice that I have not heard discussed even once in mainstream feminist circles: The choices that women should have to decide how and where they want to have their babies.

Yesterday, with my throat too sore and my brain to busy to sleep, but my body too sick and tired to do much of anything I came across the documentary “Pregnant in America: A Nation’s Miscarriage” on netflix, available for instant view. Despite the fact that the average childbearing age in the U.S. is 29.4 years old, and I am a mere 25 years old, I can think of a dozen women around my age who are my good friends who have kids (many of them have more than 1 by now) or are pregnant. And that is just off the top of my head! “Why the heck not, I thought. This will be illuminating if nothing else,” so I watched it. And mind = blown, a little bit.

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So Far This Week: Osama’s death, the GOP and rape/abortion, the history of rainbow pride, and more!

Hey hey hello there! I was trying to wait until the end of the week to post links, but all of a sudden this morning I already had so many. Here are some the news bits that have caught my eye so far this week. Enjoy! – Katrina

In Search Of Meaning: Osama Bin Laden and the Dancing Americans
Mondoweiss: “Those of us that know history did not begin on September 11th have been resisting the abrasive, suffocating encroachment of imperialist and reactionary elements on our lives and identities, building up to the present moment of revolution: between Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and the rest of the region, Arabs, Muslim or otherwise, are fighting to end the age of US puppet regimes on their own terms. One cannot help but wonder what “victory” the United States can claim in the murder of Osama Bin Laden on Pakistani soil.”

The GOP’s Stealth Plan to Redefine Rape
Mother Jones: “While they’ve amended their legislation, which faces a floor vote in the House on Wednesday, Republicans haven’t stopped trying to narrow the already small exception under which federal funding for abortions is permissible. They’ve used a sly legislative maneuver to make sure that even though the language of the bill is different, the effect remains the same.”

White House to Host First Ever Trans Meeting
Note: This meeting happened days ago, but I wasn’t able to find any analysis/commentary/news on the meeting itself. But it happened!! 
The Washington Blade: “‘This is the first president who has allowed trans people — really allowed LGBT people — to bring forward problems and then advocate for them,’ Keisling said. ‘In the Bush administration, we couldn’t even do that. They wouldn’t even listen to us. They didn’t care what our problems were. In fact, they were making most of our problems.'”

Detroit’s Financial Martial Law Hits Home for Teen Moms
Colorlines: “Now, with all 5,466 of Detroit’s public school teachers getting laid off, Catherine Ferguson is on a list of schools to be either turned into charter schools, i.e. sold to and remade by a company with its own agenda, or closed. When students got wind of the impending closure plans, they made the decision to protest; community organization BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) lent support, police were called in, and the day went downhill from there.”

Claiming Rainbow Pride
Bilerico: “In this paper, I will provide a historical context for the [rainbow] flag’s creation, as well as critique the rhetoric used when telling this history, searching for what or who it might leave out. Taking South Africa as a case study, I will present some discourses around how certain people are erased from gay and lesbian visibility, space, and politics in Cape Town as a result of intersectional identities and oppressions. My aim is to open a door for discourse that more deeply questions whose history we take up as queer people when accepting the symbols (and politics) handed to us at first ‘outing.'”

Norway is Best Place to Be Mom; U.S. lags
Jezebel: ” A worldwide study shows that the best place to give birth is Norway. … The US ranks 31st out of 164 countries on Save the Children’s Mothers’ Index. Its maternal mortality rate is 1 in 2,100, the highest of any industrialized country (that’s 15 times higher, for instance, than the mortality rate in Greece). Child mortality is also relatively high, with 8 out of 1,000 children dying before the age of five.”

‘Don’t You Talk About My Mama!’: Black Women Writers and the Reconstruction of Motherhood

‘Don’t You Talk About My Mama!’[1]:
Black Women Writers and the Reconstruction of Motherhood

by Anne Louise Cranwell

My thesis project was inspired by my love for the work of author Toni Morrison.  After reading Beloved for the third or fourth time, I could not get the main character, Sethe Suggs, out of my mind.  I thought about Sethe’s roles as mother and slave and how the latter institution determined the parameters of the former.  Sethe developed a way of being a mother to her children that denied slavery’s ownership of her body.  She defined motherhood for herself even as her racial identity prohibited such a proclamation. Continue reading