November 2009

Another Invisible Elephant






I feel like an idiot always pointing out the elephant sitting on the couch and merging with the throw pillows so very well that nobody else sees it. In this case it has to do with the fact that the state of Massachusetts, the Sodom and Gomorrah of all liberalism, has never sent a woman to the U.S. Senate. NEVER.

We don't discuss this, just as we do not discuss the fact that there has never been a female president of this country. Even feminists don't discuss this, except to point out that ofcoursethey'dloveawomanbut...there's something too wrong with the particular candidate.

And it is hard. I admit that. Perhaps Martha Coakley is not the candidate one should vote for. Perhaps Hillary Clinton wasn't the candidate, either. But somehow we manage to discuss all that without really discussing the fact that women are not in power in the highest places of this country. Some feminists argue that focusing on the top doesn't help, that we must focus on the bottom rungs of the society only and help the women there. That way the whole edifice gets turned over.

That would be lovely, except for the fact that the social hierarchies are anchored at the top, not at the bottom. They are like upside-down houses and if you want to dig into the foundations you need to do that at the top of the edifice, odd as it may seem.

Then there's the argument that just voting for women isn't necessarily good for feminism and I agree with that. But note that just voting for liberal guys may not be good for feminism, either, and they should be held to at least as stringent a measuring rod as the women are. I do feel that they get a pass, even from feminists, whereas women are taken apart and checked out with a magnifying glass. Bad choices in the past? Scrap her! No experience? Scrap her!

None of this should be taken as an endorsement for Martha Coakley. My aim is to point out the context in which we discuss female candidates, a context which pretends that the playing field has always been equal and that there is no special value in electing more women in general.

“Too Fat to Graduate”?

woman_working_out

As far as sensationalist headlines are concerned, this one ranks pretty high. But it’s not altogether an inappropriate one to use in describing this story, although I do find it a little ironic that I chose to write about this after Thanksgiving holidays — a time specifically set aside for gastronomic excess.

This morning, CNN’s website featured a story on Lincoln University, a historically black college that has instituted a different take on the physical fitness requirements many schools implement for their undergraduates. Like many private and public institutions, Lincoln requires their undergraduates to meet a certain physical fitness requirement in order to graduate. However, unlike other schools, Lincoln is basing their distinction between “fit” and “unfit” students on body mass index (BMI), and are requiring students who have a BMI greater than 30 to take a special physical fitness class, called “Fitness for Life” that meets three times a week and includes aerobic exercises like water aerobics and Tae Bo.

For those of you who are unaware, BMI is an index used by health professionals to determine one’s general health. It is calculated by entering one’s weight and one’s height into a formula that generates a score can then be compared against what a healthy person’s “expected” score should be. Heavier people would, of course, have a higher BMI than lighter people of the same height. The BMI score can then be categorized against indicators of health:

BMI Categories:

  • Underweight = <18.5
  • Normal weight = 18.5-24.9
  • Overweight = 25-29.9
  • Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater

As a researcher in the biomedical sciences, I can tell you that BMI remains a basic tool in the toolbox of physical trainers and body composition phyisiologists, primarily because BMI is so simple to use. Compared to more accurate measures of determining a person’s body composition (i.e. how much of their body is muscle, fat, etc.), BMI requires only a tape measure and a scale, making it one of the easiest numbers to calculate in the field. In fact, BMI is so straightforward to calculate that free BMI calculators abound on the Internet – here’s one that I regularly use to monitor my own BMI.

But, here’s the dirty truth about BMI that health professionals are loath to reveal: it just isn’t a very good measure for determining a person’s health.

It turns out that the label “healthy” has nothing to do with appearance and weight; rather, it has everything to do with cardiovascular health. Folks with a lot of fat tend to carry it in their midsections (abdominal if it’s under their skin around their bellies, visceral if it’s built up around their internal organs), and this fat is directly linked with increased health risks, such as hypertension, atherosclerosis and heart disease. That’s because more fat in your belly area means that you have more fat built around your internal organs, making them work less efficiently. In addition, more fat around your belly indicates you’ve got more fat throughout your body, including fat built up on the inside of your blood vessels reducing their diameters (like a drain slowly clogging with hair), making it more difficult for your heart to pump blood through them.

And really, therein lies the rub: it’s not that the fat is directly making a person unhealthy. In fact, both men and women need a fair amount of fat in their bodies to maintain health — indeed, for women, more than 20% of their bodies need to should be made up of fat to avoid problems with menstruation. Instead, what makes an overweight person unhealthy is the amount of work their heart has to do to keep pumping blood through their bodies, particularly as vessels get blocked with fat deposits. Eventually, their heart becomes too weak to generate the extra force to keep blood pumping away, and it fails.

In other words, folks with high BMIs need to reduce their body fat and strengthen their hearts, in order to stave off the progressive risks of cardiovascular disease. But notice, I didn’tsay that folks with high BMIs need to lose X number of pounds or hit a target weight (or BMI). A person’s weight is a convenient measure of fat, but it relies on an assumption that people have a generally constant (or predictable) amount of weight that is due to muscle or bone — which is untrue — such that any increases in BMI are due to excessive weight from excessive fat.

As all of us know intuitively, some people have large (heavier) bones, and some people have small (lighter) bones. Some people have lots of muscle, and some have very little muscle. BMI assumes a generic percentage of each person’s weight is due to bones and muscles, but it’s quite easy to fool BMI by having non-average bone structure or muscle. Even moderate athletes who do strength training will have more than the typical person’s muscle. Since muscle weighs more than fat, athletes tend to weigh more than non-athletes, and since BMI is blind to what kind of tissues make up a person’s weight, it will classify an athlete as having a higher BMI as a non-athlete of the same height. In fact, a superior athlete like Arnold Schwarzenagger, in his heyday, would have been considered obese (or even morbidly obese) according to the BMI scale. Moreover, a person’s appearance has as much to do with one’s genetics (and age) as anything else; even people with good cardiovascular performance may appear pear-shaped or even have some abdominal fat; the fat alone doesn’t make them unhealthy.

Which is why many of us in the scientific community use BMI with a grain of salt. BMI data are so easy to collect that patients can be sent home with a scale and can be taught to collect the necessary numbers on their own. But BMI is an imperfect measure of health; what we really should be looking at are measures like body fat percentage, which directly measures how much of a person’s body is composed of fat (versus muscle and bone), allowing us to accurately determine a person’s risk factors for disease. Or for that matter, we should measure performance on aerobic tests (such as running or swimming) to determine one’s health. 

Unfortunately, our society’s close reliance on BMI has helped encouraged a weight-conscious culture that associates weight (and therefore appearance) with health, producing an unhealthy (pardon the pun) obsession with losing weight without actually promoting cardiovascular health. Weight loss pills fill the aisles of pharmacies, and gastric bypass surgery and liposuction is abused by dilettantes looking to squeeze themselves into the latest Vera Wang fashion. Even shows like “The Biggest Loser” celebrate shedding pounds, but spends comparatively little time teaching contestants about reducing heart rate, blood pressure, or cholesterol — the true culprits for a larger person’s poor health prognosis.

Which all leads me to the article that prompted this blog post. Lincoln University wants to enroll students with a BMI greater than 30 into fitness classes. These classes will probably promote education on healthier living, but are also an institutionalized fat camp, designed to put students through an aerobic workout designed to help them shed pounds. On the one hand, I believe it is important for students to receive an education on physical fitness in college (and even in high school), and a class that teaches students about exercise and nutrition will help those who need a “wake-up call” about their health and encourage them to for their own fitness. With the obesity epidemic the way it is in America, twenty-something students need to know the grim prognosis if they can’t walk a flight of stairs without being out of breath.

That being said, I think it is completely unjust for Lincoln University to target students with high BMI’s for this fitness class. Even though school administrators have taken steps to address the imperfect measure of the BMI (by taking waist circumference, which will be lower in athletes with high BMIs due to increased muscle mass), the current system of targeting students with high BMIs is just a grown-up version of the same schoolyard antics: let’s all point and laugh at the fat kid. As a society, we’re titillated by the mental image of fat people doing aerobic activity — how else do we explain the popularity of shows like “Celebrity Fit Club”? Mandating that “fat” students take fitness classes is just another way of telling overweight people that they are different, lazy, unworthy, ignorant or stupid, and altogether deserving of our finger-pointing. As a society, we blame the overweight person for being overweight, and in so doing we lose sight of the definition of “healthy”.

We assume that people of “normal” weights don’t need this kind of aerobic training, yet how many of your “normal weight” friends can run a 5K in under 30 minutes? How many eat the proper balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates each day? How many have a systolic blood pressure below 120 and a heart rate below 90? How many of your “normal weight” friends smoke, drink, and engage in other risky behaviours that could compromise their current and future health? How many of your “normal weight” friends lack sufficient upper body strength to perform 20 push-ups?

The bottom line is that all of us have something we can learn from a “Fitness for Life” class, and if Lincoln University wants to promote health in their student body, they should require all students to perform to a certain standard in a physical fitness test, regardless of BMI. If students can’t demonstrate sufficient fitness, then they should be enrolled in the “Fitness for Life” class, again, regardless of BMI. If, as the school states, this new mandated class is intended to promote physical activity in our nation’s youth, than that opportunity should be extended to all students based on their fitness (or lack thereof) – not based on an imperfect, sloppy measurement of health that even health professionals should eschew.

And why does this story hit so close to home? Well, those of you who have followed this blog for some time probably know that I have struggled with my weight for my entire life. Being Asian made it all the worse; all of my APIA female friends were stick figure thin, while I felt alien in my curvaceous skin. The message couldn’t have been plainer: growing up, I simply knew that there was something fundamentally wrong with me. As a child, I was encouraged by my parents to be academic; consequently, I grew up with virtually no emphasis on productive physical activity. I didn’t play a sport, and only through my high school’s physical fitness requirement did I learn how to do distance running. And although I was teased my whole life for being large (or endomorphic, or Reubenesque, or any of those other euphemisms used to try to soften the blow of being called ”fat”), I didn’t know how to make the lifestyle changes I needed. For the first 25 years of my life, I concentrated on trying to tip the needle of my bathroom scale and only ended up running myself in circles. I don’t even want to recount the dark thoughts I had at the bleakest points during my struggle with my weight.

This past January, I found myself at my heaviest and in the worst shape of my life. My turning point was when I needed to walk up a small incline near work to go to a local get-together. The incline, barely more than thirty feet in elevation, caused me to be out of breath. I was only 26 years old. 

From January onward, I decided to make a change in my life, and one that would stick this time. Rather than to focus on pounds, I have educated myself (with the help of an incredible physical trainer friend of mine) on cardiovascular fitness and appropriate nutrition, and I have prioritized physical activity in my life. I learned about heart rate and blood pressure, about the benefits of different kinds of aerobic training, and even started to lift free weights to improve my muscle mass. And yes, now that I have been on a schedule that involves nearly daily cardiovascular activity and strength training, I have lost more than 40 pounds. But, more importantly, I have raised my systolic blood pressure (I was hypotensive and prone to dizzy spells indicating a weakened heart), reduced my resting heart rate by nearly 30 beats per minute (the lower the better), and corrected an anemia that prevented me from donating blood (I am once again a regular blood donor).

And as for that little hill that caused me to start on my physical fitness journey? Let’s just say that last month, I climbed the tallest mountain in Southern Arizona.

That’s not to say that I’m done — far, from it. The biggest change in my life is that I now look forward to the physical activity that I have incorporated into my daily schedule. I am motivated by fitness goals, and I celebrate my fitness milestones however private they may be. For the first time in my life, I am within “normal” (or athletic) ranges for weight, body fat percentage, hip-to-waist ratio, and heart rate, and I finally feel in control of my own health.

Yet, I am still a curvy girl, and I probably always will be. But I bet you this: I could probably run rings around several of the extra-skinny girls who go to my gym, many of whom are so fixated on the “thin is in” mentality that they can’t maintain a two-minute sprint on the treadmill and refuse to perform any strength training with anything heavier than a 2lb-weight. Those girls might be thin, but they haven’t spent much time improving their health.

Which leads me to the biggest lesson I learned this year as I got into shape: no amount of name-calling, finger-pointing, or social mockery will help an obese person get into shape. In fact, the last thing an overweight person needs is ostracization; you simply cannot shame a person into getting fit. Frequently, overweight people are saddened, embarassed, or frustrated by the health risks associated with their obesity. They aren’t overweight because they don’t care about their health or their appearance — they are overweight because they don’t know what they can (or should) do to fix it. Meanwhile, those who indulge in name-calling and giddy pleasure over insulting the “fat” people amongst us do so out of insecurity — because every person suffering from low-self-esteem feels better if they can make another person feel even lower.

If we’re going to overcome the obesity epidemic in America, we need to divorce health concerns from superficial appearance, and focus on educating America — all of America — on what they can do to get (and stay) healthy. We should make everyone want to get in better shape by supporting, not berating, those who aren’t. But, we must also remember that overweight people must choose to make a change in their lives. That choice cannot be made for them, neither by Lincoln University administrators nor by overgrown schoolyard bullies.

But I do guarantee this — if you’re contemplating making that change, take it from me: it was the best choice I ever made for myself.

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What We Missed.


Advocacy Group Decries PETA's Inhumane Treatment Of Women I love the Onion. That is all.

Some stats on domestic violence at RollingOut.com giving light to the impact of Rihanna and Chris Brown.

Please read Chally at Feministe on the chilling Maguindanao Massacre.

Disgusting statistics about food and starvation in the United States.

A must-read at the Nation about how to save journalism.

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Review: Soulless, book one of the Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger (Orbit, 2009)

When I first laid hands on Gail Carriger’s Soulless (Orbit, 2009), I began to wonder if the book had been written specifically to irritate me.

1. To start out, the novel is urban fantasy. Already we’re on bad terms.

2. Also, there are vampires.

3. Too, werewolves.

4. And romance!

5. In case that’s not enough, Carriger mixes in a Victorian setting and a hint of steampunk. Neither of these inherently annoy me, but combined with items 1-4:

6. The novel is heavily weighted down by trendy genre elements.* In my experience, this usually leads to books that are poorly constructed, badly integrated, and the literary equivalent of a chess club stereotype wearing star-shaped sunglasses – trying much too hard to be cool.**

Soulless should be like combining salmon and chocolate while I, in this metaphor, am an ichthyophobe with no sweet tooth. However, it appears that skilled chefs can pair salmon and chocolate. And sometimes a novel that’s full of everything wrong can go terribly, tragically right.

Soulless is the first book of the Parasol Protectorate, with the next book, Changeless, due from Orbit on March 30, 2010. The novel begins when a young Victorian woman, Alexia Tarabotti, finds herself alone in a library with a vampire. For any other unmarried miss, this situation would be frightening. However, Alexia has no soul which means that vampires can’t eat her and, in fact, her touch temporarily turns supernatural creatures into humans.

There are three types of supernatural creatures in Carriger’s universe: werewolves, vampires and ghosts. Werewolves come in packs, and vampires come in hives, but somehow this vampire doesn’t seem to come from anywhere. Alexia gets caught up with the Bureau of Unnatural Registry, or BUR, in helping to investigate this strange appearance as well as a number of strangely coincidental disappearances.

In the interview at the back of the book, Carriger reports having asked herself, “if immortals were mucking about, wouldn’t they have been mucking about for a very long time?” She considers the cultural implications of supernatural interference: “Those absurd Victorian manners and ridiculous fashions were obviously dictated by vampires. And, without a doubt, the British army regimental system functioned on werewolf pack dynamics… [and then I] realized that if Victorians were studying vampires and werewolves (which they would do, if they knew about them)… technology would have evolved differently. Enter a sprinkling of steampunk…” (p. 364)

In my opinion, most traditional urban fantasy fails because it doesn’t consider the long-term, global ramifications of its conceits. This isn’t helped by the fact that a great deal of urban fantasy poses a secret underworld filled with werewolves and vampires (or fairies and elves) who covertly affect the real world. Small-scale stories revolving around this conceit can be fine, but secrets are difficult to keep, and many stories pose so many supernatural events of such import that it strains credibility to believe that magic could remain a secret. Buffy – to take an at-hand example – made a joke of it. But non-humorous texts are out of luck if they want us to believe that people die every night from vampire bites and yet no one ever notices.

Carriger’s world is one in which vampires and werewolves are fully integrated. They interact with and affect politics and society, and in turn are affected by them. For instance, there’s a post specifically designated for a werewolf to advise the Queen, but simultaneously the alpha werewolf is constrained by high society mores.

Soulless also benefits from the fact that Carriger doesn’t seem to have approached the elements of her book as disparate. As she says, Victorians investigating magic lends itself to steampunk; one genre element follows from another, creating the sense of a fully integrated world.

The novel’s action-oriented main plot takes place against a Jane-Austen-like background. Alexia, the product of her mother’s first marriage to a – gasp – Italian, is a spinster with a number of unflattering traits, such as her blunt speech and tan complexion, all of which make it clear she’ll never find a proper English husband. Nevertheless, she falls in love with one of the country’s most eligible bachelors, the werewolf alpha Lord Maccon.

No, wait. She doesn’t fall in love with him. She can’t stand him. No, I’m sorry. I mean, he can’t stand her. Wait. He’s in love with her – that’s it. It’s just that he’s strong and manly, but also messy and uncivilized. While she’s proud and intractable, but also busty and tenacious. Wait, are we reading Pride and Prejudice with Werewolves?

Soulless’s treatment of romance in its early chapters is the novel’s only major misstep. The text improves once Lord Maccon and Alexia acknowledge their romantic feelings – although there is one awkward, late-chapter sex scene that occurs in the middle of an action sequence, which could have been dramatically shortened while still serving its purpose as a release valve for romance and humor. But the early romantic sallies are winceably cliché. As soon as a male character gazes upon the heroine with a passage like–

Miss Tarabotti might examine her face in the mirror each morning with a large degree of censure, but there was nothing at all wrong with her figure. He would have to have had far less soul and a good fewer urges not to notice that appetizing fact. Of course, she always went and spoiled the appeal by opening her mouth. In his humble experience, the world had yet to produce a more vexingly verbose female. (p. 8-9)

–we readers know where we’re headed. We don’t need tingling near her abdomen or stirring he can’t explain, interspersed with fury! at his lack of manners and yet–! to guide us along the way. Carriger so facilely avoids other clichés that it’s a shame this one mars the text.

Overall, though, the Austen elements are charming. Carriger’s Victorian voice is sharp and funny. Witty observations provide a plethora of humorous clashes between action sequences and rigid etiquette. The descriptions of Victorian fashion are very nice for those readers with a weakness for bustles and lace, and I suspect I’m not the only one since the book is marketed with a Victorian dress-up doll flash game.

If there’s one weakness the Victorian voice lends itself to, it’s the underdevelopment of Alexia’s mother, step-father and sisters, who play the compliant foils for unconventional Alexia. Their insipidness is fine at the beginning of the book, but grows less convincing as their roles increase near the end. Still, this is a small complaint and easily remedied. Hopefully Carriger will toss them a few lines of character development in one of the sequels.

Other characters are created quite well. Alexia, for instance, is a fun and well-portrayed heroine, full of vigor and flaws. She, her friend Ivy, and their friendship are memorably captured in a few sentences: “Ivy Hisselpenny was the unfortunate victim of circumstances that dictated she be only-just-pretty, only-just-wealthy, and possessed of a terrible propensity for wearing extremely silly hats. This last being the facet of Ivy’s character that Alexia found most difficult to bear.” (p. 33) Lord Maccon and his assistant, Professor Lydell, are good characters as well, although Lord Maccon is at times brushed in with slightly-too-broad romantic strokes and could use a little more development within his archetype. The best character is the vampire Lord Akeldama, an outrageous gossip-monger with a penchant for gaudy attire whose underlying intelligence and immortal weariness are deftly revealed as the novel progresses.

In the end, Soulless is not a profound novel. It imparts no revelations about the human experience. I don’t expect it will change anyone’s life or that I’ll remember the plot intricacies in ten years. But it was a fun, adventurous romp that diverted me for a few hours. I might even read it a second time. I will certainly pick up book two of the Parasol Protectorate and I look forward to meeting Alexia Tarabotti again in 2010.

*It seems possible that Carriger began writing with the intent of forecasting what tropes would be popular a few years down the line. If this is the case, kudos to her for guessing correctly.

**It should go without saying that any of these things can be done well. It’s just that while 90% of everything is crap, I find these tropes to suffer from even worse odds. Nevertheless, here are some successful examples: Octavia Butler’s Fledgling (vampire), N. K. Jemisin’s “Red Riding Hood’s Child” (werewolf), Benjamin Rosenbaum’s “The Ant King: A California Fairy Tale” (urban fantasy), and Paula Guran’s anthologies of romantic fantasy which contain Coates’s “Magic in a Certain Slant of Light,” Parks’s “Moon Viewing at Shijo Bridge,” and Copley-Woods’s “Desires of Houses” (romance). Michael Swanwick is famous for combining disparate genre elements with strength and grace, and I was recently impressed with new writer Tina Connolly’s “Moon at the Starry Diner” for successfully condensing an epic plotline and several incompatible tropes into a short story.

Sympathy for The Devil: The Political Function of Caring More about White Men than Everyone Else

[image of album cover is from here. NOTE: Slaine is not a feminist or profeminist band. They are an entirely white male Swiss hardcore band who pride themselves on not being political. (That they don't see how being european white non-Jewish, heterosexual men is political is not surprising.) To see what the musicians look like, go here. And let's see if the US and UK MRAs go after them for

The Lush


My company Christmas party is coming up soon. I had arranged to go with one of my female friends in the office since neither of us have dates. Some of the guys in my office were teasing me about going out with a group of people afterwards. I told them I would if someone else drives. I don't like drinking and driving.

One of them offered to pick me up at my house and I said, No way!! My husband has been following me. He won't admit to it, but he certainly seems to be there at odd times and snooping around.

Another guy jumped in and joked that he could just pretend to be the gardener (he's Mexican). Still another said that's bullshit. He better not start anything with me. I've seen him out. He proceeded to tell me about seeing my husband out with a tall, ugly, blond, who spilled her drink on him.

I can't believe what a hypocrite my husband is. Really it should be no surprise at this point. But nearly every day he tries to make me feel bad about the alleged lovers he thinks I've had since we've been apart. Now I see that he's just been trying to make himself feel better.

What was telling is that I am not jealous about him being with another woman. I'm mad about him being such a hypocrite and trying to make me feel bad.

And, I'm wondering what a "sober" guy is doing out at a bar with a woman that sounds like a lush.

Read Courtney on the Wapo Next Pundit Competition

As usual she brings it with personal experience and feminist authority in her measured, thoughtful and generous way.

Being a part of the WaPo's contest didn't change how I feel about the value of training women to enter public debate in greater numbers. It did, however, remind me of just how deeply the gender imbalance on op-ed pages is rooted. It's not all about submission rates or saying yes when producers call; it's also about old, tired, and stubbornly persistent perceptions of gender and authority.

Reading the comments that amassed following my writing throughout the three-week experience and, especially, after my video appearance, was a sobering reality check about how far we still have to go in changing cultural mores on who gets to speak about "political issues" and how they get to speak about them.

Please go read the rest.

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Anti-feminists are still telling lies

If you need your daily dose of disgust, head on over to Men's News Daily to check out Paul Elam's charming article, "The Myth of Women's Oppression." In it, he so ignorantly compares women's oppression to the oppression faced by people of color, deducting that since women were never lynched or made into actual slaves on plantations, clearly our lives are a walk in the park.


Women were never oppressed to begin with. Not even close.

I’m no historian, but I did attend some history classes before I finished middle school. So, by the time I was 13, I knew what oppression was. And lucky for me I was 13 in a time when people still knew what it wasn’t.

Oppression has some pretty obvious tell tale signs. Like torture and death; like bullwhips and chains; gas chambers and death camps. Oppression is a roadmap of scars on the back of a field hand that was purchased at an auction. It is the rope that gets strung over a tree branch in broad daylight and used to choke the life out of someone convicted of being the wrong color.

Getting through the rest of this steaming pile of garbage was a task for me, as my stomach began churning and I thought I was going to vomit all over Paul Elan's sickening words.

Go post your comments and tell Pauly that he needs to actually meet a feminist before publicly trashing them. My comment went something like:

Are you serious? You base "oppression" solely off of whether or not someone was PHYSICALLY abused? You have an extremely warped view of oppression.

But if we want to go by your definition, let's look at the grossly high rape statistics. Yes yes, men are raped too, but not nearly as often as women are. Why is this? Because of deeply embedded stereotypes that women are weak playthings to be used and abused.

And let's pan out a bit and look at women globally. If you are a woman in the Middle East or in Africa, you have a shitload to worry about. Perhaps you were forced to live underground after surviving a rape because your family was so ashamed of you that they kicked you out, or maybe you have no choice but to undergo genital cutting, in which your clitoris is cut or removed or your entire vagina is sewn shut to ensure that you do not experience any type of sexual pleasure until you are forced into marriage. Or maybe you live in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where you constantly have to worry about you or your daughters or your sisters or your friends being raped endlessly and left with unwanted pregnancies, STDs, or a torn vagina. For these women, I'd say feminism is pretty damn important.

And as far as the "the older rules for men" go... do you honestly believe that all men follow these "rules"? Touch her in the wrong way and you're a dead man? That's a nice rosy picture... but let's get back to reality.

You have such an incorrect view of what feminism is. Methinks you have never experienced an ounce of oppression in your lifetime, unless you count the big bad feminists stomping all over poor little you.

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New Baltimore law would stop Crisis Pregnancy Centers from misleading women

2642_65376686679_26183911679_2004123_7939188_nOn November 16, 2009, the Baltimore City Council took a giant step forward for women’s rights when they passed legislation on a 12-3 decision to stop Crisis Pregnancy Centers from misleading women into their services. The law, which still must be signed by the mayor of Baltimore, “would affect four centers in the city, requires counseling centers to post signs in English and Spanish stating that they do not “provide or make referrals for abortion or birth-control services.” (LA Times)

Members of the council hope that if and when this bill passes, other cities and states will take up similiar initiatives. If approved by the mayor, this would be the first law of its kind in the United States. “Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, a Democrat who sponsored the bill, called the vote a victory for women’s well-being. She cited a study by an advocacy group indicating that women have been misled at pregnancy centers that provide counseling, clothing and food for expectant mothers — but not abortions.” (LA Times)

“Currently, there are an estimated 2,593 CPCs nationwide, most of which are affiliated with one or more national umbrella organizations.” (Ms Magazine) These umbrella organizations are often religiously based and many of the nationwide CPCs, including all four of the centers located in Baltimore receive funding from religious organizations and maintain a strong anti-abortion stance. Unfortunatly, with a name like “Crisis Pregnancy Center”, many people are mislead about the services that are offered. In fact, many studies have been made and documented following would-be CPC patrons going into these centers and being bombarded by anti-choice employees who guilt the woman into keeping her eventual child. While the centers in Baltimore claim they are very upfront about their services, this law would only further protect patrons who are approaching a CPC for the first time.

Opponents of the law are really scraping the bottom of the barrel for excuses to strike the legislation down. “The thing that’s most disappointing about it is not the particular signs that are put up or the particular bill itself, but the message that it sends,” said Maryland Right to Life legislative director Jeffrey D. Meister. “This is the first time in the United States that any elected body has chosen to vote to condemn pregnancy centers.” (LA Times)

Funny how a law that demands transparency and openness from an organization…is simultaneously “condemning” them as well. The only message being sent by this legislation is that Baltimore will no longer allow CPCs to guise themselves under the misapprehension of helping women in crisis. The legislation in Baltimore is set to be approved by the city mayor in the next month. Hopefully, we can rely on Baltimore to set a national precedent and stop these CPCs from lying to women and guilting them into a religious anti-choice agenda.

ABC OK with a man who beat a woman, not OK with a man who kissed a man

Last week ABC canceled Adam Lambert's scheduled appearance on Good Morning America after he *shock* *gasp* kissed another man during his 11pm performance at the American Music Awards. But the network is going ahead with an interview with Chris Brown, who beat his then-girlfriend Rihanna (the link is to a New York Post story - the publication has a terrible track record on a lot of issues, and even they seem bothered by this move).

Does ABC understand the statement this choice makes? Their actions say that a man who is known to have abused a woman deserves a chance to tell his story, but a man who who has kissed another man and received simulated oral sex from a man in a theatrical performance does not. Basically, this programming decision suggests the network thinks it's worse for them to be associated with gay male sexuality than with a straight male perpetrator of relationship violence.

Regarding the cancellation of Adam Lambert's appearance, an ABC insider told the New York Post:

"He was not canceled over a gay kiss. He showed himself to be unpredictable on live TV."
Bullshit.

I'm particularly disgusted by the explanation for why ABC is giving Chris Brown access to such a public platform:

The top ABC insider added: "Chris Brown's interview was booked way before Adam Lambert took to the stage. It is to give him a chance to respond to Rihanna's interview..."
Talk about taking the media obsession with giving two opposing views on a story way too far. I'm pretty sure I got more of Chris Brown's story than I needed to hear from his public "apology." No, I don't think a man who beat a woman should be given a "chance to respond" after she is brave enough to tell her story. I have no interest in another pseudo-apology as part of the ongoing campaign to save Chris Brown's career.

ABC has at least decided they will not give Chris Brown the chance to perform a song. Of course, a performance would have just been the most obvious way the appearance served as an advertisement for Chris Brown's music. He still gets the platform of an interview on a major network, which will now also be shown on 20/20, to put himself in the public eye.

Adam Lambert, on the other hand, lost his chance to promote his career on ABC the moment he locked lips with another man during his AMA performance. Lambert actually has some valuable things to say to a mainstream TV audience about reaction to his performance. His voice should be heard in this moment, but ABC is more comfortable tacitly supporting the homophobes who want Adam Lambert silenced.

You can contact ABC to let them know how you feel about this decision here.

Since ABC won't give him the chance to speak on their network, let alone perform again, I'm including the music video for Adam Lambert's "For Your Entertainment" after the jump (hey, isn't that the guy he kissed at the AMAs rubbing up on Glambert toward the end of the video?)


Via.

Lyrics can be found here.