Monday, December 1, 2008

I am currently taking a women’s self-defense class with other members of FIA-STARSA. So far we’ve only had one lesson, and it was interesting. This one was focused on the mind, so we did less physical stuff and more mental. We made three lists, one of behaviors that are annoying, one of behaviors that are dangerous, and one of life-threatening. Included in the “annoying” category were whistles and catcalls, unwanted conversation, being called “baby” or “honey,” and stares. The “dangerous” list was comprised of things like being locked in a car, being alone with a strange man, being drunk and vulnerable, and unwanted physical contact. The “life-threatening” list includes violence, coercion via weapons or drugs, and being chased. We talked about how quickly something can go from annoying to dangerous or life-threatening, and how all of these actions are tied together. Some of the “annoying” behaviors are so embedded in our society that they would be difficult to challenge.
This made me think about something that I spend a lot of time thinking about: the line between careful and paranoid. People close to me have been raped, so I know the very real danger, which makes me more cautious. But, I also know that sometimes I can be more paranoid. It’s bullshit that women even have to be careful. I was talking to one of my male friends, and he said something to the effect of “sometimes I’m scared when I’m alone by myself at night, but then I realize I’m not a girl, and nothing will probably happen to me.” I might over-think certain situations, but whenever I am out in the world at all I am almost always aware of my surroundings and the people around me. I am wary of a parked car with its lights on, and get nervous if a guy is walking behind me. How can I, as a feminist, be strong and confident and independent when I prefer to walk with a guy at night? How can we change this societal norm that makes women the constant paranoid victim and men in control on busses and streets?

Macalester Dance performance

Last weekend the Macalester Theatre and Dance department put on their winter performance. Included in the program was a dance where about 30 people were all naked. I had heard about this dance before, and was thinking about taking part in it, but the time commitment ended up being too great. But, I still didn’t really know what exactly to expect. I was wildly impressed, and I thought the whole thing was incredibly well-done. They managed to not make it a sexual thing at all, which is almost never seen in today’s society, unless it is the grotesque. Especially considering that the majority of the dancers were girls, and all of them attractive, it was wonderfully refreshing. It was refreshing because nudity has an interesting place in our society. Historically it has been inappropriate and shameful, and although now that is changing, almost the only time we see nudity is when it is tied to sex. We are surrounded by partial nudity that is almost always sexualized, in advertisements, movies, and television especially. This nudity was not sexualized at all, it simply was.
I think part of why the dance was so powerful was because it was so blatant. If it had been people wearing skimpy outfits it would have sent a totally different message. They were bold in a very frank, open way. They danced onstage, punctuating the dance with statements like “would you be able to do this?” and other statements emphasizing the fact that the body is only a part of a whole person. They also came down into the audience and walked around shaking hands and introducing them to people, demonstrating how they are more than their body, they are also a person. So often in our society bodies, especially female bodies, are objectified so much that they have become their bodies in many situations, and are often portrayed only as sexual beings. This dance showed that nudity does not have to be sexualized, and our bodies are only a part of ourselves, and should be accepted, but not dwelt upon.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Stripping and poledancing as workouts

I was reading Feministing and there was an article about the recent craze of sexual aerobics, such as stripteases and poledancing. The author was arguing that it was degrading to women and demonstrated the internalization of the male gaze into all members of society. She quoted a girl who talked about how she liked the pole-dancing classes because it was a safe and fun environment to act out her sexuality. The author responded that if that was her idea of sexuality, then that in itself was skewed. I’m torn because I can see both sides of the argument. I was talking to some of my friends about this. One of my friends and I agreed that if it was in a safe space, and only meant for their significant other to see, it was fine. Taking pole-dancing classes does not mean that these women will go out and get a job dancing in a club, displaying their bodies for a couple of bucks and any random men that walk in the door. It simply means that they want to have fun and show off to their significant other, and I do not think there is a problem with that. Another friend asked if this would still be thought of as sexy if it weren’t for poledancers and strippers. I could see her concern, and if that was the only reason why these women’s dances were viewed as attractive, because of workers in the sex industry, then that would be problematic. But, stripping and dancing has always been something that is attractive.
The internalization of the male gaze is also an interesting argument. If these women are learning these dances in order to please their husbands, than that is definitely internalization of the gaze, but, as long as it stays between people who really love and care for each other, what exactly is wrong with that? Part of sexual relationships is pleasing your partner, even if it might not be terribly pleasing to you, simply because you want to make you partner happy. An important part of this pleasing the other is definitely reciprocity, and if one partner is the only one pleasing the other, that is definitely problematic. But, I think if a woman learns a striptease routine as part of a fitness class, and wants to show it to her husband, especially if he in turn strips for her or does something equally pleasing to her, than it is fine.
This fad can be frightening, though. A friend and I were looking at a website for one such studio, and they were talking about how a mother bought her daughter and eight of her daughters friends a poledancing class at the studio for the daughter’s Sweet Sixteen. This definitely sends the wrong messages to these girls, and it is very unlikely that they all had boyfriends. This tells the girl that poledancing is attractive and sexy and the way that they should attract boys, and also reinforces the glamorization of sex work. But, if it is educated adults making the decision to take these classes, I think it alright.
There are also women who take these classes and never show anybody what they learned, and I think that is equally harmless. I remember the first time I bought pretty bras, I didn’t have a boyfriend at the time, and no one really saw them, but the knowledge that I had them made me feel prettier and more confident. I could imagine a similar phenomenon happening with women who take these classes and never show anybody. It could boost their own self-image without exploiting their body. Although, then there is the argument that if their self-image relies on their ability to swing around pole, and relies solely on their perception of their sexual appeal, that is also problematic.


The clip that Amit showed in class from The Price of Pleasure really made me re-think my ideas about pornography. I did not attend the screening of the film, because I could barely handle the trailer that we watched, and I decided it would be too intense for me. But, I did start thinking about it. I never really thought too much about porn before, and basically had no real opinion. I think there definitely are people who could enjoy working as a porn star, and as long as they had thought about it and made an educated decision, I would not have a problem with the actual person. And then I was talking to a friend of mine, and she said she was all for porn, as long as it wasn’t too degrading or insulting to women. I agree, and I think gang-rape, violence, and inclusion of animals is going a bit too far, but then where do we draw the line? Is porn with just one man and one woman acceptable? How intense can it be before it gets too violent? What about orgies? Is it okay if it is something that people would do normally, and then unacceptable if it’s too extreme? But that’s an arbitrary distinction, because there will always be some people who are into all sorts of unusual things.
Also, as the clip mentioned, pornography is often the first and sometimes only form of sex education that children receive, and is obviously not a healthy education. But then should there only be very simple pornos so that children will not learn bad behaviors? It’s additionally difficult, because I think porn affects all people differently, and some people can definitely watch violent porn without perpetuating that same violence in their personal lives. But, in order to not be affected, I think the person would have to have a healthy and educated attitude toward sex. Often this is not the case, which is why these violent pornos can affect the viewers so radically.
There is also the issue of feminist porn, which my friend is all for. I would ultimately like to see that documentary about it, because I feel like I do not know enough about it to make a statement. But, the Lusty Lady was known as a “feminist” peep show, which does not mean that the women were treated any better or that they were showing their bodies any less. If the same is true of feminist porn, that the women are basically treated the same and perform the same tasks, then there is virtually no difference, and feminist porn is no better than any other kind of porn.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Reflection on "Arranged"

I recently watched "Arranged" for my Images of Women in the Middle East class. It is about two women, a Muslim and an orthodox Jew, both living in New York, and both facing arranged marriages. They both work as teachers, and get to know one another through their work. They have problems going to one another's houses because of their parents and family being less than happy to see either a Jew or a Muslim show up. They bond over meeting horrible prospective husbands, but in the end both end up happily married. It was interesting from a feminist perspective, because although both the main characters, Rochel and Nasira, are strong, independent, educated, working women, both end up agreeing to an arranged marriage. They both go through arguments with their parents over men they do not want to marry, and Rochel keeps saying she wants to take a break from looking at men, but neither of them flat-out refuses. This explores the intersectionality of gender and religion. Both women are devout and steadfast in their beliefs, and also really respect their parents, so it is an internal battle between their heart and their religion and parents. It ends up that Nasira falls in love with one of the men her parents pick, and Rochel falls in love with a man Nasira suggested to her matchmaker. In this situation, the end is happy because they fall in love, but what would have happened if they hadn't? Would these strong women have ultimately given in and married someone they didn't love? Rochel tells her mom repeatedly that she refuses to "settle," but would the family pressure have been so intense that she would have? How do arranged marriages infringe upon women's independence, and how do women reconcile this?
This movie was set in the present (it was made in 2007), in the secular society of New York. What new challanges has secular society posed to arranged marriages and the women in them? Now women are surrounded by a society that approaches love and marriage far differently. Rochel does have a period when she is unsure whether she wants to stay in her Jewish community, and goes and visits her cousin who left the community, which also meant leaving her family. Rochel ultimately returns to her family, but the temptation must be much greater for women facing arranged marriages in the present than how it was hundreds of years ago, when everyone in a society would have arranged marraiges.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Gender in the Leonard Center

The Macalester Media Collective puts out occasional magazines centered around an issue or two that doesn’t get much press or attention elsewhere on campus. I sometimes glance at it, sometimes don’t, but this time it was entitled “Wither Gender? Saunesty in the ‘Nard Center.” Pretty much anything claiming to address gender grabs my attention and so I picked it up and threw it in my bag. Later I sat down to read it, and it is a bit disjointed, but it’s discussion of gender, particularly around the saunas, at the Leonard center was interesting. There is two short articles about the gendered spacing of the saunas, and one interview about the genderedness of the Center as a whole.
In discussing the sauna, they also touch on the gendered differences between the locker rooms. The men’s locker room has a big open shower room, while the girls has individual stalls. Someone also decided to put two separate saunas in the two locker rooms, rather than one mixed-gender sauna available. I understand that Macalester, especially at a bureaucratic level, is often not nearly as progressive as we’d like to think, but still, the separation of the saunas is interesting.
There is an interview between a guy and a girl at the Leonard center discussing their view of the gendered nature of the Leonard center. The girl talks about how the Leonard center is intimidating, and how there never seems to be girls there, and if there are, they are always on upright machines, like the treadmills. They guy talks about how it’s “sort of exhilarating to become just another guy in gym shorts,” and how he feels and unspoken bonding between any guys who happen to be working out at the same time. The girl said she wants to be ignored, and when she does go to the Leonard center she wants to get it over with as quickly as possible.
After reading this is asked one of my friends, who works out much more than me, if she felt the same way. She totally agreed, and said the reason why she never went to the Leonard Center was because she felt uncomfortable and like an intruder. She thought that a big part of this was the vast amount of weight-lifting machines that seemed inherently more masculine than the treadmills.
I don’t know if any of this can be changed, but it is something that I never thought about since I am only ever in the Leonard center for my Social Dance class, which is not gendered in the same way. There is not really anyone to blame for the gendering of this space, except perhaps society and therefore everyone/no one, but the blatant separation of genders and different treatment of the genders as evidenced by the differently constructed locker rooms surly contributes to these attitudes.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Greek Men Against Sexual Assault

The local newspaper in Laramie, WY, the Laramie Boomerang, had an article today entitled “One Mile: Men Sport Heels to Raise Awareness of Sexual Assault.” The group Greek Men Against Sexual Assault hosted the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” for the second year to raise awareness and money for the local SAFE Project. The President of Greek Men Against Sexual Assault, Ryan Foristal, said “a lot of us know it’s a men’s issue when it comes to sexual assault, and we just felt that helping out SAFE by wearing high heels would be a pretty unique way to do local philanthropy.” The walk raised $2,334 dollars this year.
This is quite wonderful for a couple of reasons. First, it is important that Greek men are taking a stance against sexual assault, because fraternities and frat parties are one of the places on college campuses where the most sexual assaults happen. Having allies within these groups can drastically improve the attitudes toward women. It is also quite impressive of them to acknowledge that sexual assault is a men’s issue. Even though it obviously is, women have historically been the main advocates against it, and historically women have been blamed for sexual assault and the men were never a part of the equation.
Getting men involved in fraternities on board is a particularly important step, because they are the ones that can talk to their friends, and their friends will listen to them. Burly football players may not be as likely to listen to a group of women against sexual assault, but if their friend brings it up casually that is where real change and understanding can happen.
The location is also interesting. Wyoming is not exactly regarded as the most liberal of states, and Laramie is the town of the horrible Matthew Shepard murder, which does not give Laramie a history of anti-sexual violence work.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Female Suicide Bomber

CNN had a story about a suicide bomber who wounded 5. The perpetrator was a woman. The headline reads, “Female Suicide Bomber Wounds 5 In Iraq.” Wounding 5 people is important, and a big deal, but if the perpetrator was a man, it probably wouldn’t have been on the front page of the website. Maybe if five people were killed, because suicide bombing is still a fascinating occurrence to Westerners, but probably not if there were no casualties. At a time when hundreds if not thousands of people are killed every day in a variety of gruesome ways, five people being wounded is not terribly earth-shattering. Saying “Female bomber” is an example of othering; a male suicide bomber is just a suicide bomber, but a female suicide bomber must is specifically a female suicide bomber. Police ended up killing her as she exploded her vest.
I think the reason why this was front-page worthy is because most readers are more horrified at a female suicide bomber, because women are supposed to be kind and caring and nurturing, not destructive. It seems that women suicide bombers are less common than males, but, in the article it says that more there have been more than 30 cases of female suicide bombers so far this year, showing that it is not uncommon.
The Earth, a British news source, has a more detailed story about the woman, explaining that there have been increased warnings about female suicide bombers, because they can pass by easier since Islamic law prevents guards from touching women while searching them.
This suggests that female suicide bombers seem are taking advantage of cultural gender norms to infiltrate places that men would have difficulty entering. If instances like this continue to happen, will traditional Islamic law be reevaluated or reinterpreted to allow for women to be searched more thoroughly? Will they find some alternative possibility, such as employing more female guards who could search women without breaking as much with cultural norms?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Article about Transgender kids

In the November 2008 issue of The Atlantic there was an extensive 5-page article title "A Boy's Life" about transgender children. I was impressed by the thoroughness of the article. It discussed various viewpoints concerning transgender kids, from doctors in the Netherlands who first started giving puberty-blocking hormones to pre-teens, to a therapist in Canada who works with families to get their kids to identify with their birth gender. It’s tough, because with kids it’s hard to tell. When I was younger I wanted to be a boy, almost all of my friends were boys, I dressed mostly in boyish clothes and was proud when someone asked me if I was a boy or a girl. But, in middle school and then in highschool I started acting more “girlish,” and I so completely love being a woman I could not imagine anything different. But, if I had been asked at age 11 whether I would want puberty-blocking hormones, I might have said yes. Maybe not, but it would be a possibility. I cannot imagine growing up as a boy, though. My femininity is so sacred and wonderful and beautiful to me, I would not change anything about it for the world.
Many kids go through similar phases, and sometimes it is difficult to tell whether the child is gay, transgender, or just more comfortable acting like the opposite sex at that point in their life. Thus, there is quite a bit of discussion about what is best to do for children. Many parents are pretty adamant about letting their child go to school and act like the opposite sex in every way, while others try therapy to “fix” the “problem.” For “truly” transgender people, the earlier they can be comfortable identifying with their inner gender, the easier it will be for them to be socially accepted. But, overly encouraging kids who act like the other sex and offering puberty-blocking hormones can even further confuse the child.
The article interviewed mostly the parents of transgender children, but also various therapists and scholars in the field, and I think it is a pretty comprehensive article which discusses the different attitudes toward transgender children.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Women Small Business Owners Receive Pathetic Amount of Federal Contracts

On Thursday, October 2, the New York Times had an article in the business section called “Female-Owned Small Businesses Push for Share of Federal Contracts.” Right now only 3.4 % of annual federal contracts go to female-owned small businesses, even though women account for almost half of all small businesses. A bill was passed in 2000 with a 5% quota for women small business owners to receive the federal contracts. But 5% is absurd. If women own almost half of all small businesses, they should be getting a corresponding quota. Quotas are not even the right way to go about it, but it may be a necessary first step. The article did say that less than ¼ of female-owned small businesses are registered with the government, which may partially account for the pathetic amount of contracts awarded to women. There are also several groups who are working to help women register there businesses.
The article does not address what percentage of male-owned small businesses are registered with the government compared to the percentage of contacts awarded, but if men own slightly over half of all the small businesses, and even if all of them are registered, they should not be getting 96.6% of the contracts. If 1/8 of the businesses registered are female-owned, women should be getting at least 10% of the contracts, at the very least.
The article says that even with the groups helping women to register, “many women remain flummoxed by the system.” It does not say if the men are flummoxed, but it seems they cannot be if they are receiving so many contracts. If the men are not flummoxed it does not say why they are able to so easily register their businesses. Why do women need these special groups helping them anyway? Are there groups that help men and ignore women? If there are groups that help men, and now there are groups that help women, why are men still receiving such a disproportionate amount of the contracts?

Palin Not Airbrushed

The recent hubbub about Sarah Palin’s Newsweek cover and the lack of retouching of her photo is reflective of our current societal norms, including our impossible beauty standards. Sarah Plain is widely regarded as beautiful, indeed, she was a beauty queen when she was younger. The fact that our society cannot handle to see pores, wrinkles and “unwanted hairs” (which is totally problematic in itself…do we know that she really hates those hairs? Who says that they are unwanted? Why are they unwanted?) shows how our ideal of beauty is getting out of control. It is so common to airbrush pictures, that the picture of a politician on a news magazine is expected to airbrushed. Models, maybe, but politicians, really? Also, there would not have been this hubbub if it were a man showing pores and “unwanted hair.” They did bring up the claim that Obama’s pictures are all airbrushed, and I cannot find a written statement either confirming or denying this claim, but from the pictures that I have examined, they do not seem to be. Fox News did a clip on this controversy, and brought in two women to debate it. There was a woman from the Women and Politics Institute at American University, Julia Piscatelli, and a Republican media consultant, Andrea Tantaros. Due to their backgrounds, it makes sense that Piscatelli was arguing for the public to accept flaws because they are natural and okay, and we don’t need to hide them all, while Tantaros was upset because she thought it somehow made Palin’s image worse.
As my friend said when we were talking about this issue, if I was in any way supporting Palin, I would probably support her more if I knew she wasn’t airbrushed in photos, because it makes her more real.
Piscatelli brings up the fact that Hillary Clinton has had unflattering pictures of her on magazine covers, which also shows how Palin, a younger woman, is sexualized, while Hillary is desexualized as an older woman.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Best and Worst Dressed from the Emmys

“Cojo’s Best and Worst Dressed Emmy Picks”

The idea of “best” and “worst” dressed is completely absurd, due in part to the fact that fashion sense is completely arbitrary, evidenced by the completely conflicting opinions of people over who was best and worst dressed at the Emmys. I looked at a couple different articles, and some of the same people who someone said was worst dressed, someone else said was best dressed. It is also almost always women who are subject this critique, because women are the ones who are supposed to have a fashion sense. Women also have more preassure on them to wear something unique and beautiful. Men are expected to wear tuxes or suits, which are extremely basic, and it is both difficult to go wrong or to be unique wearing a tux. But, women are expected to go all out. They get criticized for wearing dresses too short, too long, covering too much, not covering enough, dresses too sparkly, dresses too plain, wearing the “wrong” color…the list goes on and on. It seems almost impossible to wear an uncontroversial dress, even if someone wanted to.
In this particular critique, this man, Cojo narrated his best and worst Emmy picks. He chose 5 best dressed, and 2 worst dressed. All seven people are women, with only two are women of color, Sandra Oh, and Eva Longoria Parker.
Cojo is a very flamboyant man, and regardless of whether or not he is gay, he has the “gaze” down pat. He has a sexual comment for most of the “best dressed” women, referring to Teri Hatcher as “butter,” saying he wanted her to “melt all over” him, and complementing her on the feminineness of her dress. For Sandra Oh he calls her “smoldering,” and said that her black lace dress had a feel of “naughty underthings,” which was a completely unnecessary sexualization of her dress. Next he talks about Mariska Hargitay and how she is a “woman” who has “curves for days,” saying she turned her dress into “pure sex.” Christina Applegate and Marica Cross he did not so blatantly sexualize, saying only that Applegate looked “phenomenal,” and Cross’ dress was “so right.” Why couldn’t his other commentary been equally admiring, but without the sexualization?
Heidi Klum, one of the “worst dressed,” who went out on a limb by wearing a sleek dress with a cape, he asked “why so covered up? Why the cape? Are you auditioning for the next batman movie?” calling her outfit choice “a scandal, a shame.” He seemed especially mad because she is a model, and she was wearing something he thought was atrocious. This leaves no room for women who are trying to be totally unique in their choice of dress. For Eva Longoria Parker, the other worst dressed who was wearing fringe, he denounced her for the fringe, and said that “fringe says to me ‘do you want a lap dance?’”
This goes back to the whole idea that women can only look nice if they look sexy, if men want to have sex with them just from looking at them. There is nothing wrong with people stating their opinion about other people’s clothes, but to equate sexiness with beauty and to only judge women, and only judge them on how sexy they looked to you, is unnecessary and absurd.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ad analysis

I happened to catch part of this ridiculous advertisement on the TV in CafeMac , and later found the whole thing on youtube. The ad is for a color cream to be applied to grey facial hair, and these two men visit this other man in “rest home.” The rest home, is, naturally, staffed by nurse/cheerleaders, (I counted at least six standing sexily in the background). The ad is obviously directed at men, not only because it is a product for men, and the constant reference to “men,” but because of the copious amounts of scantily clad cheerleaders. It is also focused around football (the man in the rest home is a football star), which is a male-dominated sphere. I understand that cheerleaders and football go together, but it is such a blatant effort to use women to sell a product, I was disgusted.
The first the audience sees of these girls is a straight-on view of a girl who is bent over, giving the audience a cleavage shot. She quickly bounces up, puts her pom-pommed hands on her hips and perkily asks “hello, may I help you?” This is the only line any of the girls have, the rest just stand around. All the girls are very thin, wearing a short skirt and a bra-like shirt, with flowing long hair. The men are the ones who are doing, the women are very passive and supportive and flat. The three men in the advertisement, two interviewers and then the one they are interviewing, do all the talking, and appear in the foreground pretty much the whole time (except for the cleavage shot in the beginning), with out-of-focus cheerleaders in the background.
After the man gets out of the rest home due to the magic powers of the anti-graying cream, he is back on the football field, but not playing football, instead he is surrounded by a crowd of cheerleaders. At the end it says “he scores!” but again, there is no football playing going on. It says “he scores” when he is surrounded by jumping, smiling, bouncing, half-naked girls, suggesting the double-meaning of the verb “score,” and suggesting that by using this hair-coloring cream, you too can “score” with hot cheerleaders.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

XC on course discussion

I suppose this is based of of question 15:
From the age of 15-18 my family went through divorce, bankruptcy, and jail. These were all intense and crazy individually, and they all made me think. All of these events were events that I always knew happened to other people, and to other people's parents, but never to me. My family used to be middle-class, respectable, we live in a primarily white suburb of St. Louis. My school was pretty mixed between privileged white kids and then black kids from the city. So, I was used to being fairly normal for my school (except for the fact that I was born at home, my family doesn't beleive in shots, and we have chickens, but that's another story). Suddenly, I could relate to all the other kids with divorced parents. Suddenly having a parent who is a felon didn't seem to be that big of a deal. Suddenly having money was a big deal.
These three events shaped my worldview and my own identity. I have a middle-class background, because my family used to have money, and most of my relatives working-middle or middle-class, so I can relate to and understand everyone coming from a middle-class family. But, I also know what it's like to be well below the poverty line, to not be able to afford going to the dentist, and to have to watch how much we spend on groceries.
For most of my childhood, I had two parents who seemed to have a decent-enough relationship, and we were all a relatively happy family, so I know what that's like, but I also know the shittyness of divorce.
I didn't realize how much illegal activity my dad did until late in highschool. So, for most of my childhood, being a felon meant that you were a horrible person who did horrible things, so I recognize that mindset. But, now, I realize that there are all types of crimes and all sorts of reasons for doing them, and not of all the "criminals" are criminal.
These three events have caused me to be caught in between all these different worlds and all these different attitudes. They caused my white-middle-class privilege to be called into question, and they made me feel more understanding based on class rather than race.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin
Although I strongly disagree with pretty much everything that Sarah Palin says, and I was disgusted and disturbed by her speech, a news clip that I saw on Feministing made me pity her and feel protective over her. I suppose it mostly boils down to her being a woman, and how I can somewhat relate to her as a woman, and when men totally objectify her, I am going to defend her even if I am passionately against her being in office. The news clip is from CNBC, which is a fairly large station, if I’m not mistaken. Donny Deutsch talks about how amazing she is and why , and it is disgusting. It is a response to her speech, and starts out with a fellow newscaster asking Donny if he thought that her speech was “an example of how to sell a woman in power.” That right there is worrisome. Selling women? Are women once again simply chattel in a man’s world? Do you sell a man in power? Can you?
However it goes on. The first thing that Donny says is that he thought it was amazing, and said he wanted to “equate Palin with a product.” He says that if you want to “sell” the idea of a woman in power, what should you include? Comparing her to cereal, a nice little “nutrition facts” list pops up, saying all the “ideal ingredients” that a women in power “should” have. This list includes “supermom” which is not horribly sexist, except it reinforces the double-standard of women, where we have to be mothers as well as executives, vacuuming the house while simultaneously doing paperwork. The next item on the list is “sexy.” This is so fucking absurd I don’t even know where to begin. The idea that a woman has to be “sexy” in order to be successful. Not even simply beautiful or attractive, which could conceivably be traits that people might prefer in any leader, but “sexy,” meaning she has sex appeal and men want to have sex with her. Why don’t men have to be sexy? I don’t really think McCain is terribly foxy, but there have never been any questions over whether he is sexually desirable enough to run for office. Next on the list is “perfect age,” saying she is old enough to have experience, but young enough “to have that physical appeal.” This is extremely agist, and insinuating that older people can’t be physically attractive. Then comes “lioness,” which is comparing her to an animal, and kind of strange, he doesn’t really back it up much, except referencing the “pitbull with lipstick” joke, and asking “who wouldn’t want a lioness protecting their cubs?” Next is “funny,” “real,” “rock solid,” “feisty,” and “smart” which could arguably be desirable traits in any leader. He goes on to say that Hillary only had two or three of these traits (maybe because these traits are incredibly shallow and sexist), and that for a woman to succeed in power, you have to “sell” her as a woman. He also said that Hillary didn’t figure it out because she “didn’t put a skirt on.” I don’t even know how to articulate my reaction to that.
He says that “this is the new feminist ideal” which is also a ridiculous comment, because no feminists I know support her, and how/why does he have the authority to say what is and is not the “feminist ideal?” He says that “women want to be her and men want to mate with her.” This is an incredibly crude and offensive term, and again comparing her to an animal. He does get a “oh, Donny!” from his fellow female newscaster, and laughter from his fellow male newscaster for this remark, but all the newswoman says is “I don’t want to hear about mating,” and when Donny defends the remark, saying it is some sort of primal urge, she doesn’t press it. He says that this is a lesson for women in business, as well; “don’t try to be a man, be a powerful woman,” which may be empowering, except for his idea of what a woman should be. His fellow newswoman mentions “MILF,” and seems to be annoyed with him, but doesn’t actually stand up for herself or for Palin. He ends by saying “I want her watching my kids, I want her laying next to me in bed.” This gets a reaction from his fellow newspeople, though again they end up laughing.
I have been so angry with Palin for so long that it’s kind of reassuring to know that some part of me will still stand up for her as a woman even if I don’t agree with her politics.


When I attended the March on the RNC on Monday, September 1st, I saw some groups and people that I was familiar with, such as the Radical Roosters, and some groups I had never seen before. One new group that I saw was CODEPINK. Before the big march they were milling around the capitol lawn, all dressed in pink, handing out stickers saying “make out not war,” and “make bridges not enemies.” Later I saw the crowd of pink-clad people up on the main stage speaking, and during the march I passed them and noticed several huge puppets and a large group of people. When I got home I looked them up, and although they only started six years ago, they are well-established.
CODEPINK started with a group of women who strongly opposed the Iraq war, and their name is a comment on Bush’s different levels of security (code red, yellow, orange, green, etc). Now their efforts include avoiding war with Iran, helping Iraqi women and children, helping Darfur, and closing Guantanamo. The group includes both men and women, but they are “particularly eager” to see women, the “guardians of life” speaking up against the war.
Obviously due to its name, stickers, and puppets, CODEPINK is quite a jolly group of lively women who use unconventional methods to get their message out. The simple act of each member dressing in bright pink is enough to catch the eye of a passer-by, and who doesn’t want a sticker that says “make out not war”? CODEPINK has traveled to Pakistan and Italy to work with women against wars, and has held numerous rallies, protests, and vigils throughout the nation. Four of them were arrested on Wednesday for trying to climb under a fence after police told them to leave.
They visited the DNC as well as the RNC to make their anti-war stance known to all politicians, not just Republicans.
After Medea Benjamin and Jodie Evans managed to get into the Xcel Center , tried to disrupt Palin’s speech, and were then arrested, numerous newspapers ran articles about the incident. The Minnesota Independent wrote a short article which included a written statement by CODEPINK media contact Jean Stevens. The San Francisco Chronicle included remarks by Benjamin, detailing rough handling by the police. The lovely and ever-popular Fox News mentioned the incident, but said nothing about the women, and used the verb “escort” when explaining that the women were forcibly removed from the building. The verb “escort” has an almost positive connotation, and definitely does not imply any sort of violence. This upholds Fox News’ anti-liberal slant, which does not dare the taint the image of the police. This progression makes sense: the independent media gives the most information, with statements direct from the source, while the more conservative media does not give all the dirty details.
CODEPINK is a jovial group, but they can be at least as tough as any other protesters, and have no problem getting arrested.

· FOXNews ,“Protesters Try to Make Most of Republican Convention,” Fox News. 9/4/08.
· Birkley, Andy, “Four Members of CODEPINK Arrested,” The Minnesota Independent. 9/3/08
· Marinucci, Carla, “CodePink at the RNC: The Tradition Continues,” The San Francisco Chronicle. 9/4/08