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Friday, 27 April 2012

The US War on Women

By: Liberate Zealot

I'm attending the marches in DC tomorrow and plan to live tweet and post pictures and a write-up afterwards.

Tomorrow is the National protest Unite Against the War on Women.  For the last several years the GOP has been rolling back and fighting against the rights of women in this country.  For many of us the most obvious signs of the war on women are the repeated attacks against abortion, contraceptives, and Planned Parenthood. There's so much going on at the local, state, and national level that it's nearly impossible to keep track.  Here's my compilation of the various acts of the War on Women.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Babe, Is This Sexist?

Lots of voting this week's installment options, yay!  Than this week's winner is.....

"Boys Will Be Boys" 

Really, think about when you hear people using this.  It's always to explain away some bad behavior by suggesting it's no big deal, or normal for boys (or men).  It also suggests that there's no point in trying to teach boys (or men) to behave better.
(And seriously when I googled for images of this, most involved men/boys leering at women)
  • Firstly, not all boys or men behave the same way.  There are a variety of experiences, interests, and personalities that men and boys can have.  And they are not dependent on or a necessary part of being male or a man/boy!
  • Secondly, there is no reason boy children misbehave more or in different ways except for how society has socialized them.  Mischieviousness/rudeness/aggression/ and/or high levels of energy are not just for boys.  And in no way do any of these excuse bad behavior.
  • Lastly, sexism is never funny or acceptable.  I don't care if their 2 or 75, a football player or a band geek.  Acting like men objectifying women is funny and natural (and an intrinsic part of being male) is absolutely abhorrent. 
Seriously people, get over your outdated, sexist, gender essentialism. It'll do all of us, boys and girls (and everyone else) a big favor. 

Please post submissions for next week's installment of Babe, is this Sexist? in the comments.  We'll make a poll of the options and post them to our Facebook page on Monday. Remember to vote, and check back on Wed/Thur (depending on your time zone) for the next installment.

Go to the "Babe, is this Sexist?" Masterpost

Monday, 23 April 2012

Lions, Tigers, and Rapists. Oh, my!

The following is cross-posted from the Damsel in de Tech blog. Click here to see the original.

If you've spent any amount of time on forums talking about sexual violence, you've likely come across posts similar to the following:
Hypothetical situation: You live in a savanna, inhabited by lions. You know the lions exist, and you are warned of the lions by your friends, family, and colleagues.

However, it is your right to wear an outfit made out of raw meat, if you so please. You do so, and are brutally mutilated by a lion before you can be rushed to the hospital.

You start a [futile] campaign to eradicate dangerous lions from the savanna, while also campaigning against victim-blaming, arguing that your outfit was no excuse for a lion to attack you

Is this justified?
First off, the comparison between rapists and lions is ridiculous. When we're discussing rape and rape culture, we're not talking about animals attacking people. We're talking about people attacking people.

But, for the sake of argument, I'll play along with this particular scenario.

Let's say that I do live in the savana, as many people do, and that there are lions. And let's say I wear a suit made of meat (maybe Lady Gaga is making a visit and it's an hommage of sorts). If a lion attacks me, I could potentially take off the meat suit and toss it at the lion to stave off attack, since the lion will be after the meatsuit, and not necessarily me.

Heck, if I left the meatsuit out on the line, the lion would go after it. If the lion/ rapist analogy were accurate, then I could leave skivvies or miniskirts or any other manner of "slutty" items on the fence around my house to deflect the rapists. Or, I could keep some lingerie in my purse, and if I were feeling threatened, I could toss those at the potential rapist to distract hir long enough to get away.

Or, let's say I don't wear a meat suit. Well, to a lion, I am a meat suit. So, unless I'm wearing a bearproof (or lionproof) suit, then I'm still vulnerable.

Now, taking from the above example, let's say that my family and friends didn't let me know that I'm still meat to the lion even when I'm not wearing the dreaded meat suit. Let's say they also didn't tell me that lions can be my friends and family members and coworkers and spouses. Let's say that they think the lions only live in the savana and attack meat suits, and then blame me when I'm attacked in my home when wearing a night gown. How did this meat suit "advice" protect me?

Also, if we were talking about actual lions, it would be pretty easy to eradicate them. Humans have been driving other species into exctinction for at least hundreds of years, now. If I could just shoot and kill these lions without censure or recourse or being more heavily punished than the lion that attacked me, then this would be an entirely different situation.

As it stands, I'd much rather try my chances with a lion. At least I can spot a lion, I know what a lion is, what to expect from a lion, and if I were to get mauled by a lion no one would debate whether I got mauled or was just faking it.

But, seriously, lions are fucking scary.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Babe, is this Sexist?

Crossposted in full at the F.A.R. tumblr
Unanimous voting this week, in that there was only one vote.  But it's a good one!

Yes this is sexist, and it isn't excused because it's "art" (which FYI art and the art world isn't excused from sexism either). 

- Firstly, this can't qualify as trompe l'oeil body painting, which is amazing, and nudity (or some bare skin is a necessary part of the art).  The nude women aren't disguised, their hair, necks, faces, and in some cases arms and lower bottoms are all unpainted.  
- It's more similar to the painting/make-up of Geisha, where a strip of skin is left unpainted to hint at the nude women beneath the decorations.  It's meant to titillate the male viewer, not baffle the mind and eyes of anyone who sees.  
- So once again we have men using the bodies and sex of women to make money.

Please submit options for next week's Babe, is this Sexist?  This upcoming installment will focus of sexist expressions and jokes.  Leave your submissions in the comments and remember to vote at F.A.R. Facebook page between Monday and Wednesday of next week.

Go to the "Babe, is this Sexist?" Masterpost

Friday, 13 April 2012

On "Archy"

By: Liberate Zealot

In basic terms Patriarchy is a form of social organization where the father is the authority in a family/clan/community and ancestry is traced down the male line.  In feminist terms it describes the legal, social, and relational interactions between men and women where men are in a favored position with greater power.  Even when fathers are no longer the legal head of the family the culture is still Patriarchal when the societal construction has men with a disproportionate amount of power both at the societal and (in most cases) individual level (even if this is no longer legally the case).  Many people believe once legal equality has been met (as it has in many countries, like the US) that means there is no Patriarchy and that equality has been met. However, there are many examples of Patriarchy still existing all over the world. Here are just some examples in regards to institutional powers and societal interaction. 

However, there's another word to describe the uneven power structures of societal and the oppressions that these inequalities cause women (and others) to experience.

Kyriarchy, a term coined by Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, is an expansion of the idea of patriarchy to include the multiple interconnected and interacting oppressive power structures that are present in the world. It includes, but is not limited to, racist, classist, ableist, cis-sexist, and heteronormative.  The fact is that the people in power are not only predominately men, but also predominately white, straight, able bodied, cis, and born into a higher class.  Their disproportionate power (like that of men and the Patriarchy) is dependent of the oppression and lack of power of people of color and/or queer, disabled, and poor people. 

The term Kyriarchy is used by intersectional feminists and other social justice activists. And I am trying to get better about using it instead of Patriarchy since that is a limited word that applies to one type of oppression and privilege and thus ignores the experiences of many (most) women who suffer under more than one master. 
"Feminism is not just about sexism, because women as a group are not solely oppressed on the axis of sex. "

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Babe, is this Sexist?

Crossposted in full on the F.A.R tumblr

We're back from the unexplained hiatus!  And we have a winner from the options listed and voted among on our Facebook page.  And it's a pulled Reebok ad campaign!

YES IT IS SEXIST!  Honestly, any time a company admits wrong doing and pulls an ad because of complaints you know it's so sexist that it's mind boggling that they went with it in the first place. Belvedere Vodka for example. 

So how is it sexist?  
A) Well how about the fact that a workout is treated as more important than women's emotional and physical health? 
B) It encourages unhealthy relationships with women holding the shit-end of the stick? 
C) It acts like only men care about sports and fitness?  
D) Or maybe it's all of those options?

Let's go with D.

Go to the "Babe, is this Sexist?" Masterpost

Monday, 9 April 2012

Voting for Babe, is this Sexist

Sorry for the unannounced break from Babe, is this Sexist?  A lot of our writers were away or extra busy last week.  However, we will have an installment this week.  So head over to our Facebook page to vote on your favorite option for the next installment of Babe, is this Sexist?

Friday, 6 April 2012

Why SlutWalk - Several Days Late

By: Liberate Zealot
Content Warning: Discussions of rape, rape culture and slut-shaming

This post is several days late, I apologize, but I was traveling and away from my computer at the time. 

Thursday, 5 April 2012


Part Two of of collection of petitions to sign for equal rights around the world (with a focus on women's rights).

There's a petition Personhood for Women over at in response to all the bills to make personhood amendments or laws to fetus.   
"A person identifying as a woman and/or having a uterus shall retain all of the full, basic, and fundamental rights of a US citizen as promised by the Declaration of Independence—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Congress and the States shall make no law that infringes upon a person's life, including but not limited to access to life-saving or life-improving healthcare, and/or medicines and procedures deemed necessary or beneficial by a medical professional and/or by the person having the uterus, procurement of which shall not be denied in and of itself by the presence of a uterus. Congress and the States shall make no law that infringes upon a person's liberty, including but not limited to autonomy over hir own body and the ability to make decisions regarding hir own healthcare. Congress and the States shall make no law that interferes with a person's pursuit of happiness, including but not limited to access to a full spectrum of reproductive options, freedom from forcible reproduction, and the ability to make decisions regarding family planning and family resources."

Also at is a petition calling for the Mayor of Berlin to stop the court mandated institutionalization of an 11 year old transgirl.
The Youth Welfare Office of Berlin is putting an 11 year old transgendered girl into a father's care who is putting her into a mental institute simply because he believes transexuality is wrong. This young girl will be taught how her feelings are wrong,and pushed more into the denial that has claimed the lives of so many transgendered people, thanks to biased decisions by the Youth Welfare office this child's life could be irrevocably ruined. I am starting this petition to try and make it known that this is not okay, that this is a breach of some of the basic human rights of this child 
There's a lot of issues regarding child/slave labor and chocolate.  So in time for Easter is a petition calling on Lindt and Ferrero to join other chocolate companies that now (at least partially) support/provide ethical cocoa.

There's a petition to Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg calling for women to be invited to the currently all male board of directors.

CREDO has a petition calling for the US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to do more to limit carbon pollution (the leading cause of climate change).

The EPA will now accept public comments on the rule -- and as it weighs the public's reaction, we need to show that we expect much, much more from EPA to regulate carbon pollution.
Tell the EPA: We need stronger rules to protect us from existing and future sources of carbon pollution.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Femmephobia is Everywhere

By: Liberate Zealot

It's a sad fact that men/male is seen as the norm and thus better than female/women which is seen as a derivative and something Other.  This has come to include all things associated with the binary constructs of these two sexes/genders.  The exact role, interest, characteristic, or accessory can change between time periods and cultures (for example in the US math is a male pursuit and valued over the humanities/literature while in Japan math is seen as more female and literature as more male and literature has a greater value).  
"Femmephobia is the devaluation, fear and hatred of the feminine: of softness, nurturance, dependence, emotions, passivity, sensitivity, grace, innocence and the color pink."
Anything that is seen as female is seen as having less worth as anything associated with men and the masculine.  This is a basic tenant of Patriarchy and is a message we all internalize and must work to overcome.  Tomboys and exceptional women are awesome.  Even people who don't think women can be scientists understand our desire to do so, because it's a guy thing and cool.  Same with women who like sports, wear jeans, do geek things, have short hair, prefer beer over wine or cocktails.  However guys (and even woman) who are into sweet cocktails, dance, make-up fashion, or who are quiet, emotional, or caregivers are seen as less than, shallow or aren't taken seriously.  For things which are viewed as female to be marketed towards men they need a special title, like murse or guyliner.   For men it can be physically dangerous with bullying and hate crimes.  Which isn't to say that women who are gender nonconformists aren't attacked or harassed, but we have much more leeway in how we express ourselves and our interests before we are considered gender nonconformists.  

Femmephobia is internalized.  Three year olds have internalized it.  For many years I internalized it in regards to my open disdain (which is very different than personal dislike) for the color pink.  I still struggle with it in regards to my opinions about emotions/logic and often have to check how I unconsciously think about emotional people.  It's in aspects of the feminist community that see feminine women as "tools of the patriarchy". (To be clear, when I or other's write and speak about "tools of the patriarchy" in regards to femininity and femmephobia, we're not talking about the phrase in the Audre Lorde sense.) 

As a woman and feminist you're a tool of the patriarchy if you wear dresses, or heals, or make-up, if you have long hair, are a stay at home mom, or are sexually submissive.  The thought is that Patriarchy created not only enforced gender roles and the idea of femininity and masculinity, but also the very things that are currently seen as feminine.  And thus these things are bad and to embody/portray any hallmark of "traditional femininity" is a perpetuation of Patriarchy. 

Which is absolute bullshit, both based on facts and feminist theory.

The idea of "traditional femininity" and the creation of strict gender roles is a result of the Patriarchy.  The categorizing of objects, roles, characteristic, or appearance as for men or women, or as masculine and feminine, is a result of the Patriarchy.  But the roles, objects, characteristics, and appearances themselves are not inherently male or female, and neither are they inherently sexist.  Throughout history and in different cultures long hair has been worn at different times by men, women, both, or neither.  The ideas that only women should have long hair, and/or that all women should have long hair are results of Patriarchy, but long hair in and of itself is not Patriarchal and anyone can have long hair without perpetuating Patriarchy.  Traditionally make up has been used to as protection against weather (Egypt/kohl) and to hide the pox.  It's only been with the creation of a smallpox vaccine that no make-up or subtle make-up for men and women (outside of the art scene) has become the norm.  The idea that women must wear make-up, or that men can't is Patriarchal, but make-up itself isn't Patriarchal. 

Yes, now a days these things are seen as feminine, and femininity in itself doesn't combat the Patriarchy.  Or at least femininity in women doesn't, an argument can be made about "feminine" men or genderqueer persons.  However, one can be a "feminine" woman and challenge the Patriarchy.   One can be feminine and fight for women's rights in regards to fair pay, reproductive rights, and an end to rape culture.  One can even be a feminine women and fight against enforced gender roles and stereotypes (shocking I know, but only if you've still internalized Patriarchal ideas about femininity).  One can be feminine and a serious feminist.  To say otherwise suggests that one cannot be feminine and serious and worthy of respect, which means that women who don't ape the ways of men aren't serious or worthy of respect, which means women aren't serious or worthy of respect. 

Femmephobia, no matter where or how it is expressed, is the internalization of the Patriarchal message that women/females and womanly/feminine things are less than.  It's completely unacceptable in anyone. 

Follow-up - Binary Bullshit: The "Feminine" and Feminism