Tag Archives For: feminism

19 Jan, 2018

The Big Push

/ posted in: Reading The Big Push The Big Push: Exposing and Challenging the Persistence of Patriarchy by Cynthia Enloe
on October 26th 2017
Pages: 208
Genres: Nonfiction, Political Science, Social Science, Women's Studies
Published by University of California Press
Format: Paperback
Source: Library

For over a century and in scores of countries, patriarchal presumptions and practices have been challenged by women and their male allies. “Sexual harassment” has entered common parlance; police departments are equipped with rape kits; more than half of the national legislators in Bolivia and Rwanda are women; and a woman candidate won the plurality of the popular votes in the 2016 United States presidential election. But have we really reached equality and overthrown a patriarchal point of view?  
The Big Push exposes how patriarchal ideas and relationships continue to be modernized to this day. Through contemporary cases and reports, renowned political scientist Cynthia Enloe exposes the workings of everyday patriarchy—in how Syrian women civil society activists have been excluded from international peace negotiations; how sexual harassment became institutionally accepted within major news organizations; or in how the UN Secretary General’s post has remained a masculine domain. Enloe then lays out strategies and skills for challenging patriarchal attitudes and operations. Encouraging self-reflection, she guides us in the discomforting curiosity of reviewing our own personal complicity in sustaining patriarchy in order to withdraw our own support for it. Timely and globally conscious, The Big Push is a call for feminist self-reflection and strategic action with a belief that exposure complements resistance.

Goodreads

I heard about this book somewhere on Twitter.  I was able to get a copy sent to me through interlibrary loan.  Then through the vagaries of mood-reading, I didn’t start to read it.  I felt that it was going to be an academic slog through feminist theory.  But, I had gone through some effort to get it and it needed to be returned soon so I decided to give it a try.

I was so wrong about this book.

I didn’t expect to get teary-eyed sitting in a restaurant that specializes in feeding huge plates of food to Trump supporters with a country music soundtrack because of the author’s insistence of the importance of the Women’s Marches.  The author perfectly recreated the feeling of needing to be in the vast sea of people to voice your opposition to what was going on in the country.  

I didn’t expect to have to totally recalibrate my thinking about how I look at world events because I had missed a major plot point.  I had read Richard Holbrooke’s book about negotiating the Wright-Patterson Accords to end the Bosnian War.  I had read Might Be Our Powers by Leymah Gbowee  about women’s protests outside the peace negotiations for Liberia.  What I missed in both was these was asking why women were not included in the peace negotiations from the beginning.  Ending armed conflict is traditionally seen as requiring just the armed participants to come to an agreement.  That can stop the fighting but it is ignoring the majority of the population who need to live in the rebuilt country afterwards.  Even now, women are not seen as participants even if they are the people still on the ground providing assistance to civilians.  The author gives examples of conflict resolutions that were seen to be enlightened because they would let women draft a statement that would be read into the proceeding by a male delegate.  There could only be one women’s statement though so women from all sides of the conflict had to sit down together and draft a consensus statement that might or might not be taken into consideration by the men who hadn’t yet been able to reach a consensus.  How would the rebuilding of nations look different if women were included from the beginning?

This book will lead you to see more areas for improvement in our world that you may have been blind to before.  I was reading this at the same time as I was reading a book that glamorized a war from a patriarchal perspective.  Every comment like that in the other book jumped out at me in a way that it may not have before.  

This book gives hope for a world that so far has been beyond most of our imaginings.  Hopefully, once people start to see what really could be possible we might be able to approach it.

 

18 Dec, 2015

Gibbon’s Decline and Fall

/ posted in: Reading Gibbon’s Decline and Fall Gibbon's Decline and Fall by Sheri S. Tepper
on 1997-06
Pages: 480
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction
Format: Paperback
Source: Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in New Mexico

A wave of fundamentalism is sweeping across the globe as the millennium approaches, and a power-hungry  presidential candidate sees his ticket to success in making an example out of a teenage girl who abandoned her infant in a Dumpster. Taking the girl's case is Carolyn Crespin, a former attorney, who left her job for a quiet family life. Now she must call upon five friends from college, who took a vow to always stand together. But their success might depend on the assistance of Sophy, the enigmatic sixth friend, whom they all believed dead.

Goodreads

In 1959 a group of college freshmen bonded over making a very beautiful girl look ugly in order to help her avoid male attention. Part of her disguise was carrying Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. The women call themselves the Decline and Fall Club.

Now it is the year 2000. The group still gathers annually.

Bettiann– A former beauty queen who became anorexic. She married a rich man and spends her time on charities.

Ophy – She became a doctor in an inner city ER.

Jessamine – She is a PhD who works with primate behavior.

Faye – a famous sculptor

Carolyn – a lawyer who is coming out of retirement to handle the case of a teenager who was gang raped, got pregnant, and is accused of murdering the resultant baby.

Agnes – She always wanted to be a nun but was required to get a MBA before joining in order to develop a company to make the order self sustaining. She is now Mother Superior and has been ordered by her bishop to hand over her business to local men because it isn’t proper for women to have jobs.

Sophy – Probably Native American but she would never confirm that. Traveled the world collecting women’s stories and wrote books. Disappeared three years ago but everyone else in the group thinks that they are being haunted by her.

The world in this version of 2000 has been very violent. Gangs of men are in the streets trying to shame women whom they consider to be immoral. However, slowly people are starting to notice that violent crime is dropping. The divorce rate is going up. Rapes went up sharply and then decreased. What does this have to do with Sophy’s disappearance and bands of old ladies vandalizing fashion stores?


I love Sherri S. Tepper’s books.  They are wonderfully, wholeheartedly, unashamedly feminist books.  If you like Margaret Atwood, consider reading Tepper.  I recommend The Fresco for a starting point in her books.

Sort of Spoilers

 

The end of the book offers a discussion what you would choose of the following options:

  • Heterosexual couples bond in monogamous pairs and can reproduce once every decade if they choose
  • Females become able to reproduce without men like some lizards
  • Puberty is delayed so only mature adults are able to reproduce
  • The world is similar to now but women can only get pregnant if they make a conscious decision to allow it
  • Keep the world the way it is now

What would you choose and why?

I would choose option 1.  That eliminates all the drama between people over sexual attraction and fidelity and keeps the population down.

13 Nov, 2015

Suffragette: A Movie Experience With The Clueless

/ posted in: Entertainment

One of the nice thing about having a scheduled day off during the week is ability to see matinees. (Since this was my first day off in three weeks, I was celebrating. I had moved on from yelling, “Dobby is a Free Elf!” like I was when I got home the night before.)

The problem with going to matinees is that other theater goers are also people who can go on a Friday afternoon. That is mostly retired people. I have nothing against old people. I’m going to be one soon. But, the sight of two elderly ladies entering a movie theater terrifies me. They have a tendency to not understand the plot and to discuss their misunderstanding loudly during the movie. They also have a tendency to sit right behind me.

I will admit that I’m a person who probably takes movie going too seriously. Nevertheless, I truly believe that no one should ever speak while a movie is playing unless you look like this.

From https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MST3K_%2813729279755%29.jpg

I went to see Suffragette. It is only playing in one theater in the entire metro area. It is in a small room. I was pleased to see it well attended but I was worried because everyone was old and sitting close together. I was in a row with a group of two elderly women and a man. I told myself not to stereotype. It was going to be ok.

The previews started and one of was for Race, the upcoming Jesse Owens biopic. At the end of the trailer that is all about Jesse Owens, the man says to the woman next to him, “I think that movie is going to be about Jesse Owens’ life.” I knew we were doomed.

The next trailer was for The Danish Girl, a story about the first sex change operation. We were 3/4 through that one before the woman said, “Hey, that’s the same guy playing a woman!”

Suffragette is the historical fiction version of the British fight for women’s right to vote. It has been highly criticized for having an all white cast and for having the stars appear wearing shirts with Emmeline Pankhurst’s quote “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave”.

The movie does not attempt to tell the whole story of the suffrage movement. This is a story of a few women in one neighborhood. They are not historical characters with 2 exceptions. They are the foot soldiers with the expendableness that that implies.

The movie shows all the problems that women face from domestic abuse to sexual harassment to unequal pay. The main character, Maud, gets into the movement and ends up estranged from her family. The man at the end of my row wasn’t having it. He launched into a rant about how she was a wife and mother and she shouldn’t be sacrificing that for any cause. He was echoing the words of the men on screen but sadly didn’t seem to see the irony.

Meryl Streep plays Emmeline Pankhurst, one of the leaders of the movement. At the time of the movie she is in hiding from the government. She appears once to give a speech. She is referred to often though. There are many newspaper headlines about her. The woman are derogatorily called “Panks”. It is even graffitied on a wall once.

When the credits were rolling, the man said, “Meryl Streep was in this film?”

The woman replied, “Yes, she was the one that gave the speech on the balcony. I don’t remember her name though.”

Oh. My. God.

Hopefully, other people who see this movie will get more out of it. It isn’t perfect history. It doesn’t tell the whole story. It doesn’t try too. It introduces a time period of women’s history that a lot of people don’t know about. “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave”? Hear it in context before making judgements.


 

Want more info?

Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, RevolutionarySophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary by Anita Anand

 

In 1876 Sophia Duleep Singh was born into Indian royalty. Sophia, god-daughter of Queen Victoria, was raised a genteel aristocratic Englishwoman: presented at court, afforded grace and favor lodgings at Hampton Court Palace and photographed wearing the latest fashions for the society pages. But when, in secret defiance of the British government, she travelled to India, she returned a revolutionary.

Sophia transcended her heritage to devote herself to battling injustice and inequality, a far cry from the life to which she was born. Her causes were the struggle for Indian Independence, the fate of the lascars, the welfare of Indian soldiers in the First World War – and, above all, the fight for female suffrage.

Something a bit lighter?

The Suffragette Scandal (Brothers Sinister, #4)The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

Miss Frederica “Free” Marshall has put her heart and soul into her newspaper, known for its outspoken support of women’s rights. Naturally, her enemies are intent on destroying her business and silencing her for good. Free refuses to be at the end of her rope…but she needs more rope, and she needs it now.

30 Apr, 2015

Missoula

/ posted in: Current EventsReading Missoula Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer
on 2015
Pages: 384
Genres: Nonfiction
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

Missoula, Montana, is a typical college town, with a highly regarded state university, bucolic surroundings, a lively social scene, and an excellent football team the Grizzlies with a rabid fan base.

The Department of Justice investigated 350 sexual assaults reported to the Missoula police between January 2008 and May 2012. Few of these assaults were properly handled by either the university or local authorities. In this, Missoula is also typical.

A DOJ report released in December of 2014 estimates 110,000 women between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four are raped each year. Krakauer’s devastating narrative of what happened in Missoula makes clear why rape is so prevalent on American campuses, and why rape victims are so reluctant to report assault.

Goodreads

“Rape is a much more common crime than most people realize, and women of college age are most frequently the victims.” 

That is the opening line of the author’s note at the beginning of the book and symbolic of what disturbed me about this book.

“(After hearing a friend’s rape story), I was angry with myself for being so uninformed – not only about her ordeal but about non-stranger rape in general.  So I resolved to learn what I could about it.  I did a lot of reading, and I sought out rape survivors who were willing to share their stories.  Writing this book was an outgrowth of that quest.

As the scope of my research expanded, I was stunned to discover that many of my acquaintances, and even several women in my own family, had been sexually assaulted by men they trusted.  The more I listened to these women’s accounts, the more disturbed I became.  I’d had no idea that rape was so prevalent, or could cause such deep and intractable pain.  My ignorance was inexcusable, and it made me ashamed.”  page 348

How?  How do you not know this?

As horrible as the events described in this book are, I was never surprised and that’s sad.  I kept thinking, “Yeah, and?” waiting for something to happen that was supposed to be a revelation.  Sadly, it was just same old same old.  Women aren’t believed.  People think women make up rape stories for attention and to ruin nice men’s lives.  Rapes aren’t prosecuted.  (I admit to being slightly surprised that it was a female assistant DA who was the biggest impediment to bringing rape cases to trial.)

The author does a good job detailing what happened to women in Missoula who reported rapes.  I guess if you don’t know about this issue this book would be an eye-opener. I guess if you’ve never had to give a thought to your safety when alone with a person bigger and stronger than you then it might be surprising.

Does still it take a book by a prominent male writer to shed light on an issue that women have been living with forever?  He writes about the work of Gwen Florio, a female journalist in Missoula who was covering this as it happened.  I would have like to see her interviewed in this book instead of just using her research as a source.  Here’s her statement on the book.

(Spoiler) If you have the stomach for it, check out this article.  It is about how hard it is for one of the accused rapists discussed in the book.  The publication of this book brings up all kinds of stuff he’d rather not remember.  Notice there isn’t a word in the article about the woman involved.

 

 

About Jon Krakauer

“Jon Krakauer is an American writer and mountaineer, well-known for outdoor and mountain-climbing writing.” from Goodreads

10 Dec, 2014

The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore

/ posted in: FeminismReading

Wonder Woman was created in 1941 and was the brainchild of William Moulton Marston. Marston was a brilliant but arrogant man. He worked his way through Harvard in the early 1910s by writing screenplays for the fledgling movie industry. During his junior year in the psychology department he invented the first lie-detector test. He was a supporter of the suffragette movement that was electrifying Harvard. During his freshman year, leading British suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst was banned from speaking on campus. Harvard didn’t let women speak in their lecture halls.

He married his childhood sweetheart, Sadie Elizabeth Holloway, after graduation. She was a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and an ardent feminist. She even had the bobbed hair to prove it! Because Marston was going to Harvard Law, she decided to go too. She wasn’t admitted because she was a woman so she went to Boston College Law, where she excelled.

Olive Byrne was the niece of Margaret Sanger and the daughter of Ethel Byrne, the founders of the first birth control clinic in the United States.  She met Marston when she was student in one of his classes.  He brought her home to live with him and his wife.  Sadie Holloway worked to support the family because Marston couldn’t hold a steady job.  Olive Byrne raised the children.  Each woman had two children with Marston.  There was also another woman who came and went often through the years.

I don’t like polygamist stories because there is such an awkward power dynamic.  I felt like Holloway was forced into this arrangement.  But then after Marston died the women stayed together for another 45 years.

Wonder Woman was designed to be a feminist story.  It was based on a book called  Woman and the New Race by Margaret Sanger and Marston’s theory that women should control the world through loving submission.  In Marston’s Wonder Woman stories bondage is a constant theme and started to cause trouble with critics.  When other writers worked on Wonder Woman they relegated her to more traditional female duties like being the secretary of the Justice League.  After Marston’s death Holloway asked to take over the writing to keep her steeped in feminist principles but control of the comic was given to male writers who didn’t agree with women’s independence.

I didn’t know anything about the 1940s comic version of Wonder Woman.  I was a big fan of the 1970s TV show though.

This book is much more about the history of the family than the history of Wonder Woman. Olive Byrne was adamant that no one ever know the truth about their family arrangements. She never even admitted to her children that Marston was their father. Likewise no one involved ever discussed the link between Margaret Sanger and the feminist movement and Wonder Woman. Olive Byrne was interviewed extensively about her mother and aunt after their deaths but no interviewer ever caught on to the fact that she had a pretty amazing story too.

Listening to this book made me want to read more about the feminist movement in the early 20th century. The author read the book and that distracted a bit. She wasn’t great at doing voices. It would have been better to read it without them.

05 Nov, 2014

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

/ posted in: Current EventsReading

We Should All Be FeministsWe Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nonfiction

This 23 page essay is an adaption of the author’s TED Talk on the same subject.

With humor and levity, here Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century—one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviors that marginalize women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics. Throughout, she draws extensively on her own experiences—in the U.S., in her native Nigeria, and abroad—offering an artfully nuanced explanation of why the gender divide is harmful for women and men, alike.” from Goodreads

In case it still isn’t clear to people why focusing on the rights of women is important, here are just a few of the news stories that have come across my news readers this week.

Boko Haram denies truce, says kidnapped girls married

“In a new video message, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau says the schoolgirls have converted to Islam and married off. “The issue of the girls is long forgotten because I have long ago married them off,” he says, laughing.”

Woman gets 1 year in Iranian jail for attending volleyball game

“An Iranian-British woman detained while trying to attend a men’s volleyball game in Iran has been found guilty of spreading propaganda against the ruling system and sentenced to a year in prison, her lawyer said Sunday.”

Iran hangs woman for killing a man she said tried to rape her

“Jabbari was found guilty of premeditated murder in 2009 but the sentence was only carried out after Iran’s Supreme Court upheld the verdict. The victim’s family could have saved Jabbari’s life by accepting blood money but they refused to do so.

Iranian media reports say the family insisted on their legal rights under the Islamic principle of “an eye for an eye” partly because Jabbari accused Sarbandi of being a rapist in what became a highly publicized media campaign.”

India court says ban on female make-up artists illegal

 “Two judges said the gender discrimination was unconstitutional. A powerful trade union has long argued that men needed the jobs. “

And let’s not forget that here in the United States, Gamergate supporters are threatening women with rape and death, while ignoring men who criticize them.

“As former NFL punter Chris Kluwe demonstrated this week with his scathing attack on Gamergate and subsequent total lack of doxxing, when a prominent man speaks critically about Gamergate, he can do so without worrying for his safety, despite calling the movement’s followers “slackjawed pickletits.” But when a prominent woman speaks about Gamergate with even a fraction of Kluwe’s fire, the response is immediate and overwhelming: She is threatened, insulted, and attacked by dozens if not hundreds of different voices, on every platform available.”

 

The Lady Errant
05 Jun, 2010

Not Well Behaved

/ posted in: Current Events

I was minding my own business looking around at who had posted for Pink Saturday when I came across a site written by a 30 year old woman with 7 kids. You’d think by now that I would know better than to start clicking links on a site like that but I was hoping that the kids were adopted or foster kids to reaffirm my faith in humanity. Instead I got sent to Raising Homemakers. Dear God.

The goals of the site are to teach people to raise their daughters to do the following:

1. Learning to love their future husbands
2. Learning to love their future children
3. To be self-controlled
4. To be pure
5. To be keepers at home
6. To be kind
7. Learning to be subject to their future husbands so the word of God will not be maligned

Notice that they don’t want to teach them to be self-supporting. Why do that? Men will always be around to support them. They won’t run off with another woman or die or do anything unChristian like that. They won’t turn out to be alcoholics who squander the family finances. I have friends who believe that the man must handle the finances to be truly Christian. This continues even though the man has repeatedly spent all the money on himself instead of paying the bills.

Who contributes to this site?

“Older, wiser, Titus 2 women with many children, some grown
Younger women with little ones all about
Young married women with no children (yet!) and…
Stay-at-home daughters”

I explained the term “stay-at-home daughters” to the SO. He is going to pick out a husband for Z now so he doesn’t have to support her forever. He asked if there was a promise that the husband wasn’t going to run off and have Z move back in with us with her 7 kids when she’s 30. I said no. He said that we should move as soon as we marry her off so she can’t find us.

Raising Homemakers lead me to LAF/Beautiful Womanhood. That URL is ladiesagainstfeminism to give you a hint of the worldview of this site. One of the first posts I read was from a stay at home daughter.

“Lately, I have been convicted of a truth that I have long denied:
I am sheltered.
I know what you might be thinking. As a homeschool graduate, as an adult daughter living at home, as a Christian, this is a claim that I have been taught to deny. I do not live in a comfortably insulated bubble. I am not just a privileged princess who has never had to endure hardship. I am not young and idealistic!
But the fact of the matter is, I really am all of those things.”

No kidding. She then proceeds to try to make a point but I can’t follow it. I read it out loud to the SO. He couldn’t follow it either. Something about how biblical womanhood is for everyone even if it is hard to be a stay at home mom when you are single or something. The comments supported the idea that “sheltering is good.” You shouldn’t expose your kids to life.

But then I read the post that put me right over the edge. It was a rant about the phrase Well Behaved Woman Rarely Make History. The point of it was that of course well behaved women make history. They raise children who make make history. I assume that is male children who are allowed to make history. The comments were even crazier.

From Diane:

“Are you kidding? What else is this country founded on if not well-behaved women who raised well-behaved men of integrity? And who are the most historically known women if not women of the bible who were well-behaved and walked the straight and narrow road (Ester, Ruth Sara)”

Um, this country was founded by well behaved men who advocated the overthrow of the previous government while eradicating the Native Americans and enslaving Africans?

Ester – A Jew who married a non-Jewish king (shameful to marry outside the religion) and then used sex to convince her husband to kill high government officials before they led a massacre?

Ruth – A widow who lay down in front of the richest local dude she could find in order to get him to take care of her?

Sarah – When she thought she was infertile she told her husband to sleep with her slave but then after Sarah had a kid she exiled the slave and her child into the desert in hopes that they’d die?

I guess what we learn here is to use sex as a weapon to get what you want. That is probably all these women had since they weren’t developing their minds.

Another commenter brought up the Virgin Mary as a well behaved woman. Yep, unmarried teenage mother who child grew up to tear apart the temple. How many of these woman would like to have these people in their church now? How many would consider them well behaved if they saw it happening now?

I couldn’t handle it anymore. I had to comment on that post. Bring on the hate mail. But of course the comments are moderated and you have to have a log on to comment. Wouldn’t want dissent I guess. Sheltering is good.

11 Nov, 2009

Sticker Crazy

/ posted in: General

There is this trend in the town I work in to get stickers made that say “In Loving Memory of …..” with the birth and death dates. These then go on your back window of your car. Is this a trend anywhere else? I don’t see it in any of the surrounding towns. I’m not sure why it so prevalent here.

There is a kiosk set up in the mall in this town where you can get custom made stickers. They kindly show you some ideas if you can’t decide how to offend the people driving behind you. Besides the ubiquitious Calvin urinating on anything you like you can get one that reads NO HEIFERS ALLOWED – Truck Might Tip Over. I stared openmouthed at that one. I wish I was the kind of person who could have gone over to the propriator and told him off but I don’t like conflict and if he told me that I was offended by it because I am a heifer I might have come unglued.

I want to get a bunch of stickers made up that say, “Why yes I do have an abnormally small penis! How did you guess?” Then I could put them on trucks that sport anti-women crap like that. Anyone who puts fake testicles on their truck gets one too.

I followed a beat up car the other day with a sticker that said, “God Bless America. If you don’t like our ways, get out!” I spent an entertaining few miles listing all the problems with that. For example, that means that no dissent is allowed ever. What if America decided that you couldn’t have bumper stickers? They would have to get out. Then I started a list of all the people who were obviously whiners and complainers about the American ways and who should have been thrown out – John Adams, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr., any Supreme Court Justice who ever voted to overturn a bad law, the list goes on and on.

I suppose no one really wants me to run up to their window at a red light and point out the logical fallacies of their bumper stickers but a girl can dream, right?

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