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Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Babe, is this Sexist?

There's been no voting this time around, mainly because there's one particular mass market/pop-culture object that we really want to address.  Namely, Disney's Marvel Heroes Shirts for Teen Girls.
Yes, it says "I NEED A HERO"

Sexist in it's own right, and sexist when compared to the Teen Boys shirt (which says "Be A Hero").
Really, this shirt is sexist in so many ways.
- There's the erasure of the female Avengers (Black Widow, the Wasp) and other female Super Heroes (like half of the X-Men, which is why they were my favorite superhero teams as a child). 
- Then there's the absolute horrible messaging.  Boys can be heroes, but girls can't.  We just have to sit around waiting to be saved.  Which just plays into all the standard patriarchy gender roles especially as they apply to stories/literature; girls are trophies for active males, they aren't active in their own right.

And women and girls are just supposed to pay money for these messages? 

Now we're hardly the first to call out this t-shirt, and Disney has already pulled it (which how it got created in the first place still boggles my mind).  

Of course they still have this other sexist shirt...

Too bad it's not a picture of Black Widow.  

And please leave suggestions for topics for future posts in the Babe, is this Sexist? Series.  
You can do so by leaving messages here or in the masterpost.
By tweeting us @FemArmRegime #babeisthissexist?
By messaging us on Tumblr or Facebook

Monday, 15 April 2013

Resource in dismantling the claims and "proof" of MRAs/"Humanists"

By: Liberate Zealot

One thing trolls/MRAs/"humanists" love doing when they come into feminist spaces is share videos from girlwriteswhat and all her awesome proof that its much harder being a man, patriarchy doesn't exist, and feminists are stupid and man haters.  I'm guessing their propensity to share her videos verses other attempts to discredit feminism is partially because she's a woman and partially because if you're not educated on the topics she discusses then her points can seem persuasive.

Now I'm going to respond to some of her claims, but the focus is responding to people who use girlwriteswhat as proof that feminism is unnecessary.  This post is not directed at girlwriteswhat herself.

General response when people post her videos:
The points made by girlwriteswhat can seem persuasive, however a majority of them are based on inaccurate or misrepresented history/law/practice/science.  A lot of them rely on popular tropes that upon further investigation from reliable/academic sources proves untrue.  In the rare cases what all of girlwriteswhat information is correct she's still faulty in her focus on feminism.  The causes of the issues she correctly names is the Patriarchy/Kyriarchy, which feminism fights against.

The two most popular videos that people share (in my experience) are the ones on "Feminism and the Disposable Male"and the almost two parter about rights of the child, paternal rights, men's responsibility in preventing pregnancy and financial abortions.

The myths within the "Disposable Male"
"Women and Children First" as a successful policy of life saving pretty much began and ended with the Titanic.   Other British ships did claim this policy, but when it came to maritime disasters it was almost never followed. Generally men are much more likely to survive a disaster, this is even more true for the captain and crew ("going down with the ship" was basically another Titanic exception).
Also unlike her claims, current standards of saving people on ships/from fires makes no distinction between men and women. People might need and receive special assistance because they're children/have disabilities/carrying multiple children. Basically you take care of people who need the most care/assistance first which is generally not an able bodied adult of either gender. 

Almost no society in history or our modern era provides resources or care for men last. Now the resources and care people get are very class dependent, but if families/communities don't have enough wealth to care for all their children male children receive the food/healthcare/education first (infanticide and sex based abortions really don't happen to boys). The primary exception to this is when the woman is pregnant/breast feeding (a son). And that's because so many women had miscarriages (1 in 3 or 4) or died in child birth (1 in 3 again) that the extra resources were necessary for them to have a chance of a healthy pregnancy/delivery. 

As for the continuing of the species, child creation is easier for a man.  Men *can* father children on a variety of women.  The costs of pregnancy (time and the 1 in 3 death rates) are much harsher on women.  But when it comes down to it genetic distribution necessitates almost as many reproductively viable men as women.  

Inaccurate representation of causes

Work place death - Men are more likely to die at work, because they're more likely to take dangerous jobs like mining/oil rigging. The reason is women are still often excluded from these jobs. When it comes to dangerous factory jobs and the fire in them women are as likely, if not more likely to die (because they've been locked into the factories). Work place safety is a definite issue, but it's caused by classism/Patriarchy/Kyriarchy, not feminism. And plenty of feminists do work to fight classism and engage in labor movements. 

As for war, women have been soldiers (at lesser numbers then men) for millennia. Also the main attitude of women at battlefields was not about them being locked up and protected, but rather tortured/murdered/raped. Many feminists fight to gain women more fair access as soldiers. Many feminists are also anti-war activists. Some of us even do both. 

Paternal, Maternal and Child's Rights
Preventing pregnancy - Everyone engaging in sex is equally responsible for preventing pregnancies.  Now there isn't a male pill, thought it is scientifically difficult yet possible, but there are two good ways for men to prevent pregnancy. Condoms, which have the extra bonus of protecting from STIs and STDs, and vasectomies which are relatively simple and safe (especially compared to tubal ligation).  If you happen to be in India there's also an even better way for men to control their own birth control.  In India there is a gel injection which can block semen.  It's cheap, lasts for 10 or so years, is easily reversible, and has very few documented side effects compared to hormonal birth control. MRAs also seem to have a great fear of reproductive coercion where women sneakily get pregnant (through the sabotage of birth control) against the wishes of her male partner. And this can and occasionally does happen, but birth control sabotage most commonly is done by men as a form of domestic abuse.   

Abortion is not just an answer to not wanting to be a parent, but is also about body autonomy and not wanting to be pregnant.  Which is why the idea of "fiscal abortion" is rather offensive.  Sure, you don't want to have the legal and financial responsibility of being a parent, but that's what adoption is about.  

Adoption and parental rights also comes up in the case of men wanting to keep a child but the women giving them up for adoption.  Which in the US doesn't happen.  Adoptions can't go through without the father's consent.  Men have the right to raise their children and can challenge adoptions and the other legal methods people can give up children.  The exact rights vary based on location, but birth father's have rights and it's a complete falsehood to state that birth mothers can give their child up for adoption no matter what the birth father says. 

When it comes to divorce and custody parental responsibility and "rights of the child" are the main concerns.  This means that if equally shared custody is not possible than the primary or sole custody is determined on the best interests of the child and who is the primary caretaker.  The is determined by which parent is more active in the day to day life of the child, who picks them up from school/when they're sick, who helps with homework, who prepared their meals.  Patriarchal gender roles mean woman are more likely to do this so mother's are more likely to get primary or sole custody.  (This isn't the case if the parents are unmarried and/or have never lived together while raising the child).  In my experience working in child care and dealing with lots of divorced/never married families (and sometimes being involved in the divorce/custody proceedings) the mothers are more likely to be awarded custody, however if the father is an active parent and wants custody of his kids then the custody will be shared equally or he'll get primary custody. 

Other generic claims - 
Benevolent Sexism really is a thing, and while it's more prevalent in places with high hostile sexism something being less worse than the alternative doesn't make it acceptable.

Actually feminists aren't man haters, hating the patriarchy isn't the name thing as hating individual men. Feminists are less likely than non-feminists to believe the male-hating ideas of "men are dogs" or "rapist is a natural state for men". 

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Plan B and Why It Should Always Be Available Over the Counter

By: Liberate Zealot
Content Warning: Mentions of rape and child abuse.

So I've been working part-time for a prominent reproductive and sexual health and rights group for a little over a month (which is one reason I've been posting a bit less).  And, as I'm sure many of our readers know, on Friday there was a massive explosion in the US on these issues.

I refer, of course, to the federal ruling that Plan B become available over the counter to people without age limitations.
Which I think is awesome news!  Yay for increased reproductive rights!  Yay for better protections against unintended and unwanted pregnancies!  Yay for increased youth rights!  Yay for science and logic and medicine!

Of course this being the US this awesome news quickly became big and controversial.  And thus I spent much of Friday researching the issue (specifically the anti side) to prep one of our board members (and a doctor practicing at one of the premier hospitals in the country) for the several interviews she gave with local news stations.  And Saturday I received a media briefing where 60 major state and national media outlets wrote about the ruling (and had to read the majority of them).

So now I want to sit down and write about my thoughts on this ruling, specifically to counter all the myths about Plan B and the negative response to this ruling. (Because after this being my life for two days I have so many thoughts).

Q & A: Gillian's Just Right (A Feminist Horror Movie)

By Eudaimonatrix

Yes, that's right: a feminist horror movie. Gillian's Just Right is an Edmonton-based film project currently working its way through Cineplex's new Cinecoup Film Accelerator. The movie's heroine, Gillian, sets out to solve a series of 'grizzly' murders, and rather than prancing around in her nightie wringing her hands waiting for the dashing man-saviour to show up, Gillian will use herself as bait to catch the killer.

Through the glorious power of the internet, I got to catch up to the mutli-talented, AMPIA nominated Actor, Writer & Director Lindsey McNeill to chat about the movie and the team making it happen.

1) has a pretty great summary of what the movie's about and a snazzy trailer... anything else you'd like to tell us about what we can expect?

I've been working on the narrative with a story editor, and we are really starting to develop more of the fairytale elements. We really want to draw on a rich mythology that is already embedded in our culture. We see these archetypes and morality tales in our bedtime stories, Disney movies and PSAs. These elements make our characters instantly recognizable and relatable, be it Hansel & Gretel, Rapunzel, the Hunter etc.

2) Tell us a bit about who's involved with the project.

Well, we actually have a pretty large team of local filmmakers and actors involved. I thought I would have to call in a number of favours, but people are really excited about helping out. The people who have been pulling the all-nighters for this project are:
Myself (Lindsey, that is)
Greg Arenburg - Local radio and web technology guru
Travis Barton - My cousin and partner in filmmaking
Lesley Claire - Long time friend and marketing pro
Dave Baron - Our brilliant director of photographer. 

3) What was the inspiration for this project? Can you tell us a bit about how it's been coming together so far?

This is a passion project for me. It is a horror fairytale about rape culture and violence against women. It is pretty dark, but life can be dark. 

We have been receiving amazing support from our local film community. 

We've already made it to the top 60, and usually trend highly in the 'Popular" section of the Cinecoup website. 

I think we're poised to do pretty well, but we are up against stiff competition. This is a talented country in terms of film-making. 

4) Speaking of rape culture, I kinda want to smack that priest in the opening part of the trailer. What's up with that guy?

Right!? In GJR, we really want to explore what we understand as 'typical' stereotypes, and turn them on their heads. The dead girls, the sexist priest, the male protectors, the stranger danger, it is all there.
And we definitely lucked out with Kirk, who plays the priest. 

5) The horror genre's not exactly known for its female-friendly film offerings. Why do a horror movie? 

Why not horror? There is something that certainly pulls me into the dark. 

As a woman, I have a story to tell and it's not about lollipops and rainbows. More and more women are consuming horror and looking to the genre for satisfaction, yet most production companies won't even look at a screenplay with a female lead. 

I've been told that if I want my scripts to be successful, I should change Jennifer to Jack. But women are often the protagonist in horror. Even in films where they writhe on the floor in a wet t-shirt, they are often the last person standing against an unspeakable oppressor. So, unlike any other genre, horror has great potential for feminist narrative. Horror can remind us of the violence towards women and our inherent power of survival. Even in death, we witness the valiant struggle. Women will not go quietly into the long dark night.

6) Gillian: feminist heroine? Discuss.

Yes, she is. But she is complicated, like we all are. Gillian is an incredibly rational character, she doesn't believe that there are 'innate qualities' that attract the murderer to the female victims (her friends).  She is methodical in her analysis of the situation, and in using herself as bait. Having said that, she doesn't fall into the classic emotional/rational binary either. That would be too facile, and frankly too lazy on my part. She is angry about her friends getting killed, but not overcome by her anger or fear. 

7) So this Cinecoupfilm accelerator business looks interesting. Tell us a bit about what it takes to get a film off the ground with Cinecoup.

They probably couldn't have made it more complicated for the average person to dive into, but that is exactly what we need people to do! Basically, the public has a chance to watch, rate and vote on indie film projects across the country. Every two weeks we go through a round of voting. At the end of May, the winner of the project will receive up to $1 million in funding for their film, and guaranteed release in Cineplex Odeon. 

[If you're finding the process a bit tricky to navigate, there's a handy-dandy video guide you can check out.]

8) If our fair readers are as excited by the prospect of this project as I am, is there anything they can do to support getting Gillian's Just Right to a silver screen near you?

If you are excited about the film, then you have LOTS of ways to support us. I'd say there are three top ways:
  1. Sign up with your facebook account at This will give you the chance to particpate in 'fan missions' and actually INCREASE your voting power [you can find the fan missions right under the trailer at].
  2. Sign up for the Gillian's Just Right Superfan Club. This is our way to keep you in the loop, ask questions about what direction fans want us to go and give you sneak peaks.
  3. Vote for us