May 17, 2006
Carnival of Feminist XV
Thanks to everyone who nominated posts, and special thanks to Natalie, who organizes and oversees the carnival.
Feminism, Friendship and Fun
Carnival is supposed to be a time of pleasure and fun, so this carnival begins with a post from Mind the Gap!, pointing out that Fun Is a feminist issue:
Fun is also a feminist issue because it builds friendship. And friendship is a feminist issue. Friendship among women and their male allies is radical because women are not really supposed to be friends with one another, and they're certainly not supposed to be friends with men on equal terms. In refusing to compete and sell each other out for the attention of men, we work to break down patriarchal norms.
The post was generated as part of Blog for Radical Fun Day, the idea of Brownfemipower. On Woman of Color, she writes about her fondness for the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (which contains both feminist and uh, not-so-feminist elements) and lists all the blogs who participated. Definitely check this out!
In the spirit of feminist friendship, Pomegranate Queen creates a blog Forum for Women and Trans Writers of Color to share written work for purposes of critical feedback and support, called Securing our Writing.
Here's to feminist fun and friendship--I hope you enjoy this carnival, and find some new friends here.
Issues within and Surrounding Feminism
Is self-censoring built into feminism, wonders Becca, "with its emphasis on non-hierarchical power dynamics and discomfort with power generally - it all comes down to not wanting to piss anybody off or be a bad person by hurting others, which then comes down to another set of rules for women to follow in order to be good," and if so, what are the implications for art?
At a forum on HIV/AIDS, Artemis of One Woman Army discovers women who espouse feminist ideals but are still afraid to answer yes to the question, Are You a Feminist? Meanwhile, Niobum writes that she feels snubbed and shunned by feminists for reasons having to do with class, while Nubian at blac(k)ademic argues that "it is naive to claim that gender oppression outweighs racial oppression, or that racism is more oppressive than sexism" and suggests we dispense with the oppression olympics.
And on Women's Space, we find a list of the all-too-familiar ways even "Feminists take care of men (and the world as created and envisioned by men, really)."
Misogyny, Either Subtle or Overt
A major task within feminism is combating misogynist rhetoric and practices, and these bloggers take it on.
Verbify shows how an editorial by Rabbi Schmuley Boteach supposedly detailing "The Price of Disrespecting Women" is actually "a piece that reeks of good old-fashioned woman-hating". Grab a bottle, stick around for the comments Verbify analyzes and play the Radical Feminist (tm) drinking game with her--you'll need something to get you through all the more-misogynist-than-thou vitriol Boteach's editorial elicits from readers.
How does footbinding still figure in Asian communities? Jenn at Reappropriate responds to "Deranged and Cranky" Asian American Males who perpetuate "The act of Binding" through "the claim that if the Asian American Woman hopes to remain 'down with the community,' she should subjugate her own identity and autonomy in order to aid the Asian American Man in reclaiming his virility." Laura of I'm Not a Feminist, But... lists the actions that demonstrate male hatred of women.
Speaking of Misogyny, it upsets the Center of Gravitas of Gay Prof, who discusses its presence in a senior male colleague who instructs female students to "check [their] vaginas at the door" (!) and the new Burger King ad (as well as in jokes about women's bodies told by gay men).
Witchy-Woo muses on the fact that even public buildings aren't constructed to accommodate the needs of women--not enough toilets! Feminist Law Prof wonders if there's a male equivalent to the term Heathers.
Andrew Isreal Ross of Air Pollution critiques queer politics from a feminist perspective, arguing that an examination of attitudes towards domesticity reveal "the potential gendering of sexuality and gender themselves: that sexuality (read: male) is liberatory while gender (read: female) is constraining."
And I argue with a student who defends homophobic and misogynist insults applied to straight men as not insulting to women or gay men, because from the perspective of a straight white man, "the words themselves don't even matter."
Women and Intellectual Endeavors
Name an important French female mathematician who entered the field in the 18th century. If you can't, you're not alone--and it's not because there isn't one; it's because she's rarely acknowledged. Read about Unitari's efforts to get her department to recognize women mathematicians.
Now name a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize who was lesbian and disabled. On Disabilities Studies, Temple U, we can learn about a bill introduced in the California state legislature "that would add 'sexual orientation' to the list of identity categories to be presented without discrimination in school textbooks"--disability being one of those already included.
Suzie Lipscomb reports on a Conference in honour of Meeto Malik, a scholar whose work explored "gender, religion, syncretism, violence and colonialism."
Motherhood and Reproductive Rights
Sunday was Mothers Day in the US. History News Network provides a history of the War against Mothers Day, which actually "originated to celebrate the organized activities of women outside the home."
Paula Martinac of Dementia Blues ("Funny/sad ruminations by a baby boomer on having two parents with dementia") writes about mother/daughter friendships: "maybe there is a generational thing going on - that baby-boomer mothers have fostered different relationships with their daughters than they had with their own mothers. Indeed, maybe there's a healthier and more enlightened approach to parenting among baby boomers that allows daughters to grow into adult friends. Imagine that!"
Miliana encourages some very reductive scientists trying to determine, based on a sampling of 29 graduate students at UC Santa Barbara, how women determine whether a man will be a good long- or short-term lover and/or father, to Put The Theory Down Gently and Back Away From This Idiocy Slowly.
Redneck Mother discusses efforts to educated ballpark honchos who hassled a nursing mom to the fact that Texas law "states that a woman may nurse anyplace she is authorized to be." RM concludes, "I think prudes are set off not just by the sight of a woman nursing but by the sight of a lone woman using her breasts for their intended purpose without a man around to supervise things."
Clare of Ink and Incapability writes about the condemnation being heaped upon Britain's youngest mother, a twelve-year-old girl who conceived when she was 11; the father of the child this child is carrying is 15. Clare includes a quote from the British press: "The problem to this social ill, rests at the disintegration of the family unit. How unsuprising it was to read that the girl comes from a broken home, drinks and smokes! The fact that the mother is not ashamed of this reflects the shocking apathy some strata of society have towards teenage pregnancy... "
And, did you know? Russia's population is in decline. Commenting on a plan by Mad Vlad Putin to encourage Russian women to bear more babies, Twisty Faster asks, "Gosh, was there ever a social crisis that couldn't be solved by governmental commandeering of women's uteruses?"
Apparently not. Because meanwhile, back in the US, embarrassed by the appalling child mortality rate (seven deaths per 1,000 lives births, a rate higher than that of almost all industrialized nations) in the world's richest, greediest country, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has issued new federal guidelines asking that "all females capable of conceiving a baby to treat themselves -- and to be treated by the health care system -- as pre-pregnant, regardless of whether they plan to get pregnant anytime soon." Rebecca Traister of Salon's Broadsheet offers a spot-on analysis of this astonishing article in the Washington Post. As Traister points out, the crappy infant mortality rate has something to do with our crappy healthcare system, and has a racial component: "The infant mortality rate among black women is 13.5 per 1,000 live births, as compared with 5.7 for white women." But hey! Someone has an idea! Instead of fixing broken healthcare and economic systems, let's tell women to think of themselves as wombs with legs, all the time. (A subscription is required to read Salon and its blogs; if you don't subscribe, at least read the Post article and see just how important the rest of you is compared to your uterus and ovaries. Note added 18 May 06: Better yet, read the actual report from the CDC, which the WaPo neglects to mention includes the recommendation that we "Increase public and private health insurance coverage for women with low incomes to improve access to preventive women's health and preconception and interconception care." You'll find plenty to upset you in the report, but it's not as glib and clueless as the WaPo article suggests.)
Women and Aging
Dr. Diana Blaine discusses the Signs of Aging--one of which is realizing how conditioned we are to "lash out against difference"--and considers how best to deal with people who attack her for teaching feminism. Auntie Hattie offers a primer for older women on How to Succeed in the Academic World when No One Wants You to.
Sue Richards of My Menopause Blog discusses some of the lessons available to us--and how to approach them--as we enter the Good Ship Menopause. On Exponent II, we find an anonymous account of how being 50 seems "to offer an odd mixture of power and invisibility that suits me just fine."
Violence against Women
Thursday, May 11, was the third anniversary of the murder of Sakia Gunn, "the 15-year-old African American lesbian from Newark whose killing ignited a movement and led to New Jersey's first bias-murder prosecution." Professor Kim compares the (relatively sparse) attention to her death in the national media, especially in contrast to the memorialization of Matthew Shepard, also the victim of a hate crime.
Megha at Days in a Wannabe Punk's Life analzyes so-called honor killings (as in, what's honorable about murdering women?)
How do you have the rape conversation? Antheia of Mad Melancholic Feminista explores "the struggle that many women face when trying to decide who to confide in about their abuse. Who do you tell first? Second? Do you tell anyone? How do you tell them? I remember grappling with these questions, terrified of the reactions that I would receive from friends and family. Terrified because these reactions, at least in part, shape how you will ultimately view the abuse."
"What does living as a woman imply?" Soopermouse asks on I Hate People. "That the whole society is built on the fact that you and each and every other female needs to be kept in her place, in order for the penis wearers to thrive."
Marketing Women to Women (so they can better market themselves to men)
Ever wonder what special accommodations you need to make if you are lucky enough to be the girlfriend of a West Point Cadet? Angry Brown Butch finds a website that tells you just that, and experiences "Temporary insanity induced by overdoses of heteronormativity, patriotism, cutesy flowery background images and bad clip-art."
Halfway between Ca Mau and Sai Gon we find a response to women's magazines. The entry notes that women's magazines are now more "inclusive": "If you're skinny, and accord with their notion of perfect, product-selling beauty, they won't care what your skin colour is. Isn't that admirable?" Rac analyzes the anti-feminist content of a particular women's magazine, noting that its stories try to seem like they're about empowerment, "as if the speaker has not already conformed to every paradigm of female sexuality in contemporary culture." Photographer Christi Nielsen (I am a huge fan of the self-portraits she posts on Just about to Get Skinny) sums up the suggestion from a friend that she "check out the newest craze of exercise videos... pole dancing and lap dancing" by wondering what such videos could be titled: Existing for the Male Gaze: How to Perfect Your Body and Slut Yourself Up All in less than 10 minutes a day!
Feminism and Religion
Are boys and girls taught differently at religious schools? Natalie at Philobiblion writes about misogynist instruction at the all-girls church school she attended, and worries about the consequence of the government's encouraging the development of religious schools.
A documentary entitled The Beauty Academy of Kabul makes "the point that building self-confidence was the first step for many women to begin to regain their rights," writes Misajane, who notes that "Sometimes when we're studying social change, we forget the importance of self-confidence," particularly in relation to feminism. Martin at Salto Sobrius reflects on issues of modesty and psychological comfort with relation to headscarves worn by Muslim women and bikini tops worn by women who don't want to be topless at the beach, arguing that it's a misstep to ban things like headscarves, because a more important issue is that women "have access to education and jobs and the freedom to make their own life decisions. Never mind the shawls and bikini tops – are women allowed to ride bicycles, go to university, participate in sports, work outside the home?"
Women and Art
Jennie Rosenbaum is interviewed about her work, which "frequently center around us as women and the pressure we as women put on ourselves and each other. the body issues, the fear, resentment, and the power and abandon we sometimes let ourselves feel."
Ever notice any difference in how women and men are depicted in art when they're holding a book? Go to Earmark for commentary on the gender of reading.
Women and Comics
We return to the issue of radical fun via comics, a topic that generates a lot of feminist thought. Ragnell originally started her blog, Written World, to write about comics, but found lots of feminist topics creeping in; at this point she has resolved that on her blog, The Feminism Will Continue Until the Stupidity Dissipates. Monkeycrackmary offers readers a chance to say how they'd like to see female characters portrayed in comic books.
Somer credits a Wonder Woman pop-up book with shape her views on gender, and Melchior del Darién from Mortlake on the Schuylkill wonders at the paternalistic treatment of Power Girl. Kalinara of Pretty, Fizzy Paradise analyzes the sexist premise of the character Venom.
Sarah the Alert Nerd takes issue with a post from a man issuing edicts on what kind of comics women read, how women feel entering comic books stores--actually the guy issues edicts on almost everything, so that the Alert Nerd finally advises him to Shut Up, while another guy, Gordon of Blog THIS, Pal! begins to understand: there is an anti-female conspiracy going on, since "it just seems like comics are being written towards a more misogynistic, cynical audience. The message is simply - no girls allowed. And if you are female, you're either a cheating traitor, a useless appendage, or - worst of all - cannon fodder."
Thanks for stopping by! I had a great time putting together this carnival and hope you enjoy it too. Please leave comments here and on individual blogs about your favorite posts.
Posted by holly at May 17, 2006 12:01 AM