Monday, July 30, 2007

Unborn Fetuses Now More Important Than Women

Hmmm. It is unbelievable that an unborn fetus has more respect and humanity than a walking, conscious woman. If you ask
me, those same pro-life advocates -- who are obviously religious in their reasoning -- are so caught up in the patriarchy of Christianity that they cannot even see the marginalization of women. Meaning, the religion appears to tout men as the dominators, and women as unimportant. Maybe the followers of Christianity believe that because a man's sperm created the fetus that he is in charge of its life, and sees it as more upstanding than the woman's belly in which it resides...

More, it is incredible to watch these avid naysayers stand idly when asked such (obvious) questions.

Thank you Nikki for sharing.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

News Roundup

A bit of a news roundup:

A radio show in California gave Aerosmith tickets away to “dudes who look like a lady,” and “ladies who look like dudes.” No real problem with creating a themed contest, but I must say that one line in the news station’s coverage truly irks me, as it perpetuates a negative perspective on transgender women and men: “The freaks do not just come out at night.” More, the contestants went so far as to apologize to their parents for stepping out of their pre-designed gender role, and donning a skirt.

Questioning whether or not the Golden Ratio (a mathematical formula that creates identifying ideals within structural perfection) creates clear gender roles – while also setting societies beauty standards in place. This begs the question: are we a sexist society, or is it all based on scientific (un)realities?

Finally, the National Education Association is moving towards adopting legislation that would create a safety net in the country’s schools:

• Call for the NEA to lobby for hate crimes legislation
• Boost the NEA website to "include all resources" devoted to homosexual causes
• Push for sexual orientation training to be a requirement for earning a teaching credential.

Really, the inclusion of these principles is pretty great. The only issue being left out is the curriculum of the coursework. It would be valuable to ensure that students read stories/watch films/hear lectures that include more flexibility than the heterosexual ones that I experienced while in school. Maybe young people who bond with an LGBT character in their readings will be able informed in the real world.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Can't We 'Evolve' Past Sexist Ads?

Some say that my hometown (Pittsburgh) is in the mid-west, which also means that a lot of folks believe that the city is backwards or behind the times. Well, a recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette appears to smash that perception.

The article states how all of Pittsburgh’s local TV affiliates have canned a new Trojan ad, which depicts a bar full of pigs (males), and one human woman. As a certain hog and the lady are getting more intimate, the piggy jumps up and heads to a condom-dispensing machine. Upon retrieval of the latex, he too turns in to a human.

Pittsburgh has decided to not run the ad because it is inappropriate, which is very different than the recent slew of stations that are choosing to not air ANY condom ad because it talks about the "immorality of contraception." And while I agree that it is necessary to display ads that show viewers the importance of safe sex (against STDs and unwanted pregnancies), I also agree that by this pig ad is not the right way to go about it.

The ad reinforces the notion that all men are pigs. I would be just as outraged if a commercial was aired depicting women as a dog on a leash (or a group of baby chicks perhaps). The Trojan ad is harmful in other ways as well. It appears to say that men can only rid themselves of the pig spell if they approach a woman (who is of course up to society’s standard of beauty) – meaning all homosexuals are out. It also seems to say that a man is still a dirty, mud-wallowing pig if he is not white.

That being said, I do believe that we should be careful in what we DO advertise. In Pittsburgh one can still watch America’s Next Top Model, or a Viagra ad, or watch a commercial that zooms in and out on a greasy carton of McDonald’s fries. It is important that we send messages that reflect ALL realities, which means making condom ads available for our viewing pleasure (education)…just as long as we are not perpetuating sexist, racist ideals in the process.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Letter to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editor

We all live under deadlines. Lawyers have to collect evidence in time for trial, writers have to submit edits in time for publication, and rape victims have to secure their future in time before conception.

However, unlike lawyers or journalists, women who have been raped – or involved in any situation where unprotected sex took place – have to jump through hoops to get the needed tools to ensure her deadline.

Why? Because people don’t have their facts right.

In Post-Gazette columnist Ruth Ann Daily’s piece, “Abortion Advocates Rhetoric is Absurd," she points to the erroneous Emergency Contraception myth that the pill aborts fetuses.

She said: “Though some faith-based organizations refuse to use the ‘morning-after’ pill in any circumstances, including rape, most do use it if doctors can determine that fertilization has not yet occurred. But if a woman's egg has been fertilized, there are now two patients involved, the woman and her fetus, according to Roman Catholic theology.”

Actually, Ms. Daily, you are wrong. There are not two patients involved in emergency contraception debates. According to the U.S. Department of Human Services Office on Women’s Health, EC does three things: keeps the egg from leaving the ovary, keeps the sperm from meeting the egg, or keeps the fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus (womb).
What it does not do, however, is work if the woman is already pregnant.

Short definition: emergency contraception does not abort. Thus, there truly is only one victim in these circumstances: the woman who (if raped) is traumatized, scared and in need of a solution. She has a five-day deadline (as that is how long sperm can survive in the vaginal canal), and folks such as Ms. Daily continue to make it difficult to live within that time frame.
In fact, her own rhetoric is what causes absurdities in society, such as the refusal by pharmacies to dispense a pill that is nothing more than a heavy dose of hormones; a super strong birth control pill, as stated by the U.S. Department of Women’s Health.

While the abortion debate may rage on until the end of time, it is vital that emergency contraception be left out of those conversations. The two – EC and RU-486 – are not one in the same, and it is the media’s responsibility to not simply meet their deadlines, but rather, get their facts straight before going to press.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The consequence of being fed up with Paris.

Oh my F'n goodness.

This video clips makes me ask whether folks can actually believe how utterly sexist and gross MSNBC's Mika's co-horts are?


First, they SMELLED a Paris Hilton story script (the actual paper it was printed on) -- as if the balled up tree-product was an actual woman. And as if they have any right to stick their noses on another person.

Second, they say that Mika is fighting a mousy comment made by her father -- as if a woman (who is obviously intelligent) needs to be angry to prove that she has an agenda, a goal, or a (gasp) a reason for waking up in the morning. They allude to an idea that many who fear strong women point to: that having a clear head means that a woman is stepping out of her role of demure servant, and that she must be slammed back to subservience.

Finally, the men completely mock her decision to be a upstanding journalist (we can't have a woman making big media decisions, now can we?) by still showing the Paris clip.


Sunday, July 8, 2007

Planned Parenthood Protesters

Yesterday I attended an orientation at Planned Parenthood, as I will embark on my volunteer journey at the downtown Pittsburgh office this upcoming Tuesday.

I arrived at the intersection of Smithfield and Liberty Avenue about 10 in the morning, dressed casually, head high, and ready to meet my fellow advocates. Then I saw it.

The poster was massive – I would say six by six in size. I could barely see its holder, but that did not matter. Its message was clear: choose life. A fetuses’ head squinched between a pair of metal tongs; blood everywhere. It is a scare tactic. A way to get passerbys to hate those patronizing the building directly behind the protesters; and a way to get those who are arriving for an abortion procedure to carry the baby to full term.

As I walked closer to the entrance of the building, I realized that the religious shouting, and comments about being a murderer, came from three men. They stood there, eyes pleading, telling women who walked near the Planned Parenthood building to forgo their choice, and instead, follow the word of god (who they also believe is a man). Um. Who in the world do they think they are? These men have no idea what these women are going through. They don’t know what it feels like to be a woman, a mother, pregnant, or on the verge of emotional breakdown. They don’t have estrogen running through their bodies; they pretend they have never made a life decision, and most importantly perhaps, they believe that their word as men is far more commanding than that of the woman herself.

It pains me to think that women could be turned away from their choice to abort because a trio of men told them what to do with their bodies. And no doubt this happens. I can only imagine the emotional roller coaster one must face as she wakes up on the morning of her procedure (in Pittsburgh, the law states that a woman must wait a full 24-hours from the initial counseling appointment to have the procedure done). This, of course, is compounded by the underlying reasons for the necessity of the abortion: rape, incest, age, economics and so on. Trying to balance out all of these factors must be incredibly intense. And while Planned Parenthood assured us volunteers that the organization lauds itself on double and triple checking ambivalence of its patients, women coming to the clinic should not have to be faced with such gruesome photos – blown up WAY beyond actual size.

You see, the Supreme Court allowed for legislation that includes a ban on second (or third) trimester procedures. Thus, the aborted fetus is tiny. It is not full term; it is not capable of living on its own. It is not a child. These blown up posters tell a different, often misleading, story. I find it incredible, especially because a man stood behind this pro-life propaganda. Luckily, the City of Pittsburgh passed an ordinance that creates a 200-foot neutral buffer zone in front of the clinic. No one can cross the line and scream about the injustices, or advocate for rights. I like that. However, 200-feet is still a bit close for comfort…

I imagine that I will run in to these folks quite a bit during my summer tenure here in my hometown. My mission in life is not simply to argue my point, and therefore cut out all opposes. In fact, I enjoy the varied opinions of our world. However, I do not enjoy seeing the rights of ones own body overruled. Our choice to take part reproductive battles is exactly that: OURS. I hope to one day engage in discussion with the protesters – reminding them that just as they have the democratic right to hold signs and scream, women have the right to hold their own reigns on life.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

In the news...

I just wanted to point out the reprimandation women face in other countries as they fight for their rights. In Iran, a woman who protested the country's discriminatory laws was sentenced today to not only THREE YEARS in jail, but also TEN LASHES.

In France, a woman who is "sometimes mistaken for a man," was kicked out of a restaurant after a customer complained that there was a male in the ladies restroom. Ok, this is a important topic because what we are talking about here is fitting in to molds – if one does not look female enough (what ever that means exactly), or if one does not look male enough (what ever that means exactly) -- and if one does not, then they have the chance of being discriminated against. This article is very topical, and only mentions this issue in passing, and in fact it seems to perpetuate other problems. First, it mentions the eatery, but uses a reference to margaritas as its identifying marks. It seems a bit insulting that an important issue such as gender discrimination is juxtaposed next to the fact that "[the] Caliente Cab Company, a Mexican restaurant [is] known for its enormous margaritas." More – and this most certainly the more important aspect of the coverage's flaws – the headline of the article points to the woman's sexual orientation. The fact that she got kicked out for her looks has nothing to do with the fact that she is a lesbian. To me, this is yet another example of the ways in which the media exploits lesbians as a titillating way to sell stories.

This little blurb highlights the ways women resemble crocodiles and porcupines when they don't live up to societal expectations: having smooth, shaven legs.

Just like a similar post about all-women hotel floors, an Italian beach's idea to only allow women access to the sand has latent repercussions. First, this makes ALL men look like dogs, and any feminist would rather support an equal opportunity space where both sexes can live comfortably. Second, this article, once again, focuses only on the heterosexual gaze. Third, by "giving the women their own world," what they have done is further marginalize and ostracize women. Having single-sex anything reminds many that women are too weak to fend for themselves, or that men are too promiscuous to lay next to a woman on the beach. And of course, the beach’s biggest slap in the face: "The lifeguard must be a man," the article points out. "You clearly need a man to save a woman in the sea."