Reuters just reported that the Obama Administration stated it would shut down a program that provided medical care services to over 100,000 low-income women in Texas, as the state refused funding for clinics that provide abortions. Why are we so set on increasing our population and burdening poor women who are already barely getting by – just because we are selfish and short-sighted!? We must stop this never-ending war on women.
Today Limbaugh once again showed what a sexist asshole he is when he called the female law student who was denied a spot at the Contraception Hearing a “Slut” and “Prostitute” on his radio show.
First of all, Limbaugh just doesn’t get it! The whole point Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke was trying to make was that women often need birth control for non-contraception related medical reasons, such as managing ovarian cysts, which otherwise lead to serious complications and surgeries. Sandra Fluke’s whole point was that some female college students need birth control not because the are sluts or prostitutes or as Limbaugh put it “want to be paid for sex” but because they may face serious medical issues if they don’t take their birth control.
And then, to top it off – Limbaugh manages to somehow add insult to injury by suggesting that this Georgetown law student should post sex videos online (I guess so that everyone can see what they “paid” for).
He never bothered to actually consider what she may have had to say – and automatically concluded that she must be a slut if she is standing up for her rights.
Read more at MSNBC
Women boycotted the House Contraception Hearing today in DC., to fight against the fact that House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) prevented women from testifying in a hearing examining Obama’s new regulation requiring employers and insurers to pay for employee contraception coverage. Roy Blunt and other Republicans have introduced legislation that would allow any employer to deny birth control coverage for any reason to their female employees.
While shopping for toys with her dad, a young girl gets angry about the extreme gender-specific characteristics of the toys around her. She exclaims that, “the companies that make these things trick the girls into buying pink stuff” and then complains, “Why do girls have to buy princesses? Some girls like superheroes!” Very cute video!
Objectification has consequences.
As 2012 is right around the corner, we have to be honest with ourselves regarding the fact that women are still treated like shit in most countries around the world, even here at home. We hear of women not being able to drive in Saudi Arabia, and imprisonment of rape victims in Afghanistan. However, we often assume that our women receive more equal treatment here in the Westernized world. Even though we may be slightly better off than our middle-eastern counterparts, I would also argue that the treatment of women in the US and Europe has gotten worse.
1 in 4 American women experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
We see a wave of right-wing laws controlling women’s reproduction, even calling for IUD users to be considered mass murderers! We also see increased objectification of women in the western world, with continued nudity and massive amounts of photoshopping of skinny stars and models. Apparently an anorexic waif is still not skinny enough. Also, women are still greatly discriminated against in terms of pay and opportunities for advancement.
Photoshop Fail! Avril is missing a piece of arm due to her altered waist.
But the most damaging attack on women is more psychological, pervasive and less apparent: objectification of girls, followed by the normalization and encouragement of sexual violence against these objectified (and thus ‘deserving’) girls. This psychological cycle is quite dangerous. First we prop up young women who are naked and photoshopped, indicating that this is what society values. Next, we encourage men to treat women as sexual toys ready for their pleasure and taking. And finally, we blame the victims for the attacks. Their clothes were too skimpy or they were drunk, rape clearly being the appropriate punishment.
An ad against heavy drinking by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, blaming the victim.
So how do we encourage violence against women? A recent British study looked at British men’s magazines and statements made by convicted rapists, and found that most individuals could not tell them apart. Here is a sample:
There’s a certain way you can tell that a girl wants to have sex . . . The way they dress, they flaunt themselves.
Some girls walk around in short-shorts . . . showing their body off . . . It just starts a man thinking that if he gets something like that, what can he do with it?
Mascara running down the cheeks means they’ve just been crying, and it was probably your fault . . . but you can cheer up the miserable beauty with a bit of the old in and out.
What burns me up sometimes about girls is dick-teasers. They lead a man on and then shut him off right there.
Filthy talk can be such a turn on for a girl . . . no one wants to be shagged by a mouse . . . A few compliments won’t do any harm either . . . ‘I bet you want it from behind you dirty whore’ . . .
You know girls in general are all right. But some of them are bitches . . . The bitches are the type that . . . need to have it stuffed to them hard and heavy.
You’ll find most girls will be reluctant about going to bed with somebody or crawling in the back seat of a car . . . But you can usually seduce them, and they’ll do it willingly.
Girls ask for it by wearing these mini-skirts and hotpants . . . they’re just displaying their body . . . Whether they realize it or not they’re saying, ‘Hey, I’ve got a beautiful body, and it’s yours if you want it.’
You do not want to be caught red-handed . . . go and smash her on a park bench. That used to be my trick.
Some women are domineering, but I think it’s more or less the man who should put his foot down. The man is supposed to be the man. If he acts the man, the woman won’t be domineering.
I think if a law is passed, there should be a dress code . . . When girls dress in those short skirts and things like that, they’re just asking for it.
Girls love being tied up . . . it gives them the chance to be the helpless victim.
I think girls are like plasticine, if you warm them up you can do anything you want with them.
A never-ending supply of naked and objectified women gracing magazine covers.
To find out which quote is from a convicted rapist or from a man’s mag, read about the study at Jezebel. Unfortunately the encouragement of violence against women also brings up the actual numbers. The CDC found in a 2005 study that 1 in 4 women in the United States are victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives and RAINN reported that there were 248,300 sexual assault victims in 2007. In addition, we are seeing laws being passed to punish and jail women based on their role in the reproductive process. I feel that the objectification of women makes it easier for others to hurt and attack her, and thus also indirectly contributes to violence against women. After all, an object feels no pain and has no emotions, and is never quite equal to a human life.
Monday afternoon US Representative Gabby Giffords, who got shot in the head only 7 months ago, returned to the house floor to cast her debt-ceiling vote! House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called Giffords “the personification of courage,” and continued that, “her presence here in the chamber as well as her service throughout her entire service in Congress, brings honor to this chamber.”
We couldn’t agree more! At a time when female participation in politics is extremely low (17%) Gabby exemplifies feminine courage and strength. We are impressed and touched.
Read more at CNN
Singer-songwriter Amy Jade Winehouse (born on September 14th 1983) was found dead today July 23rd 2011 in her London apartment. She was 27 years old, and a couple months away from her 28th birthday. She joins others such as Cobain, Joplin, Hendrix, and Morrison to die at this age. Currently, the cause of her death is unknown.
Read more here.
She was open about her mental health and substance abuse issues, and her death brings renewed attention to these issues. She admitted in various interviews that she had problems with depression, mood swings, self-harm and eating disorders. In 2007, Amy was hospitalized for an overdose due to mixing heroin, ecstasy, cocaine, ketamine and alcohol.
Amy Winehouse was known for combining musical genres including R&B, soul and Jazz. Winehouse’s first album, Frank, was released on 20 October 2003 and received rave reviews. In 2009, The The Sunday Times credited the release of her album, Back to Black, as directly creating the market for the “the year of the women.” Due to Winehouse’s popularity, record companies began seeking out female artists with a similar fearless attitude and sound. In March 2011 the New York Daily News attributed the wave of British female artists that have been successful in the United States to Winehouse and Spin magazine’s Charles Aaron was quoted saying, “Amy Winehouse was the Nirvana moment for all these women. They can all be traced back to her in terms of attitude, musical styles or fashion”.
Read more on her Wikipedia Page.
The USA women’s soccer team beat France 3-1 earlier today and is moving up to finals. The women’s soccer team has not made it to finals since 1999, and will play against Japan in the final World Cup match. Japan reached finals today after their victory over Sweden.
Read more here.
Today, in 2011, 17 out of 100 senators are women. There have been 39 women in the US Senate since its establishment in 1789. The first woman served in 1922. Out of the 39 women who have served as Senators, 13 were appointed – 7 to succeed their deceased husbands. Even though we make up approximately 50% of the population and workforce, we are not being fairly represented in government! No wonder politicians find it so easy to go after women’s rights.
Read more here.
Awesome, especially for those with short attention spans (not a lot of reading).
I think that I may have mentioned before that I love playing video games. I am still spending countless hours playing Halo on Xbox Live (brace for carnage), and am pretty good at kicking some ass.
The male-oriented stereotype of the typical video game player still persists, but the 2011 gamer stats recently released by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) indicate that the average player is 37 years old (up 4 years from 2010), and 42 percent of gamers are women (up 2 % from 2010)!
Not only this, but it appears that finally the video game industry is beginning to catch on. “Our industry’s innovative titles are reaching new consumers in broader, deeper and more-engaging ways,” said Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of the ESA. As women appear to be the fastest-growing demographic and make up over a third of players above age 18 (37% to be exact), there is some serious cash to be made by appealing more to the female buyer!
The gaming industry is beginning to focus more on recruitment of female developers, and is reaching out to attract, encourage and inform women interested in working in games. David Smith, founder of Women in Games Jobs pointed out that, “those looking from outside of the games industry can now see evidence that key figures in the games industry are taking steps to address the gender imbalance that exists in the video and online games industry,” which is good news.
Personally, I am looking forward to less sexualized and more complex female characters and am curious to see what female game developers will come up with. I see the future of video game characters as being individualized to the player, instead of players picking generic cookie-cutter characters (which will also help with gender stereotypes). Individualized characters allow the player to select face features and body shapes so that the character resembles the player. This allows the player to fully identify with their character and makes the game more engaging. I believe that women, just like men, want to play a character that they can identify with.
Video games and virtual reality are becoming a larger part of daily and mainstream reality. Jane McGonigal recently (Jan 2011) published her book Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World and suggests that games challenge us to work harder while learning important life issues such as dealing with failure, working together as a team for a common goal, and solving complex challenges. Others support this viewpoint as well. The ESA report quotes Dr. Allen Weiss:
“Being immersed in a video game, and having your brain stimulation, can encourage creative solutions and adaptations. These beneficial ideas and thoughts can then be applied to real-life situations. The results can be surprisingly positive for individuals, communities, and society as a whole.”
When examining the scientific gaming literature, McGonigal and Weiss seem to be spot on. Studies have found links between video game playing and increased attention, memory, executive functioning and general mental fitness. One study even found that only 10 hours of action video gaming decreased gender differences in spatial cognition, which the researchers point out could have implications for women wanting to enter the mathematical or engineering sciences.
Video games plan on having a more expansive presence as they are broadening their range of content. Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of the ESA said, “Technological advancements and terrific entertainment experiences in our industry make it possible for people of all ages to enjoy games at home or on the go, and the creativity of our developers and publishers leads to an ever-expanding variety of video games to choose from in both digital and physical formats.” Even parents are catching on to the positive benefits of the virtual world: 68% of parents believe that video games can stimulate and educate their children, while 57% believe it strengthens time spent with family, and 54% feel it helps their children socialize with friends.
It appears the future of an integrated virtual reality is approaching fast, and women are jumping on board and ready to kick some butt!
Okay, I’m not totally speechless; this is sick. This in fact, epitomizes bad parenting. From a psychological standpoint, I think it is fair to assume that this is incredibly detrimental to a child’s mental welfare and malleable/influential self-image. These girls are at an age where they are being molded and their most powerful role-models are the presence and teachings of their parents. Not only is this sexualizing little girls-children, and teaching them that worth is based on superficiality and a status quo “beauty,” but it spotlights them for predators and that, is not being a protective and sensible parent.
This is….shit culture at its best. Really…swimsuit competitions, for 6 year-olds? Are these parents so dense that they see nothing wrong with this, or is is mere desperation for their child to be the “prettiest and best,” that complete denial warrants their behaviors?
An emerging profile of a serial killer on Long Island, NY:
If you watch or read any form of the news, you may have heard emerging details of a serial killer on Long Island in the past month and a half. The more bodies that were uncovered at the beginning of April (evidently 10 in total currently), the more the media sensationalized, speculated, and closely followed the authorities every move and new discovery. Authorities started to create a profile on this confirmed serial killer….
He is most likely a white male in his mid-20s to mid-40s. He is married or has a girlfriend. He is well educated and well spoken. He is financially secure, has a job and owns an expensive car or truck. He may have sought treatment at a hospital for poison ivy infection. As part of his job or interests, he has access to, or a stockpile of, burlap sacks. -Time’s expert source“He has to be persuasive enough and rational enough that he is able to convince these women to meet him on these terms. He has demonstrated social skills. He may even be charming.” -Drew University’s Scott Bonn, serial-killer researcher (via New Yorker Mag) That gives me an idea that he is a sadist. That would be reflected in his relationship and jobs. He is the one who laughs when a cat gets run over or a kid falls off his bike. He likes the suffering of others, and he really likes it when he can cause it or witness it.” -Jim Clemente, retired FBI profiler
And Then Media Coverage Ceased to Exist:
Then something interesting happened; we became aware of the typical sadistic pattern this serial killer had, and everything changed. Upon the discovery of his murder victims being prostitutes, the media began to taper out on the coverage of this story. How did it go from such complete sensationalism and the preeminent news story, to absolutely no coverage on any station any more? Shocking. Was it because the victims were prostitutes? Would the same story have completely disappeared from news sources if the victims were supposedly more respectable individuals? Something tells me that if the victims were not prostitutes, that there would be every effort made by the media and their resources to track down this monster, and instead, the story has fallen into obscurity. Interesting…
Of course the L.I.S.K.’s methods and typical pattern, has almost become synonymous with many serial killers. Is the prostitute-as-victim simply because they are more easily accessible, or is it a power/dominance aspect to it that these killers get off on? Why are their victims so commonly prostitutes? It’s entirely obvious that the treatment much of the media gives these tortured prostitutes (lack of coverage and relevance compared to other stories), is not so far above how these serial killers may view these women as well (like second class individuals, disposable and meant to be degraded). A message to the media: these women were daughters, some mothers; they were human beings too, not people to be devalued for any reason. Their occupation and methods for survival makes them no less of a human being who deserves honor, respect, mourning and justice. In fact, one of the woman’s lives might have been saved as a local man recalls her coming to his door screaming for help and then her subsequently running off after he said he would call the cops. No doubt she ran off for fear that she would have been severely penalized by the police (jailed and fined at the very least) upon realization of her selling sex and now instead, she is dead, and probably by a rather unpleasant death.
Is there something to the fact that a collective public has been chronically exposed to watching the most mundane details of a royal wedding for months and day after day, but a substantial story that needs people’s attention, falls off the radar after a couple of weeks. After all, this killer has not been caught and theoretically if not realistically, could still be preying on women. At the same time, it is questionable to provide too much attention to a person who may actually be seeking it, like some serial killers do. They admire themselves for being able to outsmart the authorities. If their actions are something that has become a sensational public story and mystery, this may greatly magnify their feelings of grandiosity and false superiority making them liable to continue their atrocities with no fear of being caught.
Real murders becoming films/TV programs for the public’s viewing pleasure:
Stories of horror, torture, terror and death that happen to real people and families become entertainment for our viewing pleasure. Is this not entirely sick? Craigslist Killer, Summer of Sam, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Zodiac, Monster, Ted Bundy, The Boston Strangler, Helter Skelter, this list goes on and on. Perhaps it would be less entertaining if it were someone we knew who had been a victim? This is blatant, despicable exploitation of a person or families suffering, to make a buck…and the sad part is that people buy it. Have we become so apathetic that we don’t even consider this to be morally perverse and disrespectful to the deceased who suffered a terrible death? While people sit and view these films from the comfort of their couches or movie theaters, real people like them also, induced torture and horrific terror and fear that we cannot even fathom, to become entertainment for the masses.
The precedent Craigslist has set for providing creeps to the general public, what they can do about it, and the discussion of legalizing prostitution:
Craigslist has become a catch-22. It is a potentially abundant resource/mechanism to save money, get great deals and provide utmost convenience under many different circumstances, but also a forum for sadistic creeps and predators. With the rapid advent of online social networking and technology providing access to anyone and everyone, there is a rise in suicide, murder, bullying, stalking and tangible fears that we must all be aware of. I hope stories like this may act as a catalyst for these sites’ demographic to take a more precautionary approach when utilizing their services. Occurrences like this are not a unilateral responsibility among one participatory party, but a combination of circumstances for all parties. It arouses the question of whether prostitution’s legality would perhaps save lives? The argument here is that prostitution will exist for forever and making it illegal is not going to stop it, but just cause it to be a taboo that as a result, creates a dangerous underworld because it is not regulated and/or protected. Besides politics and how they would come across to the voting population, I’m sure politicians would revel in delight over a clause like this. After all, how many have been caught with prostitutes and escorts now? Doesn’t it look worse when something is illegal and therefor uber taboo?
What can Craigslist do to protect their users? Not much, and unfortunately with the good comes the bad. They have removed any erotic services forums that they previously provided so they are taking some sort of accountability, but still, it is a vast medium to meet up with any random person. So although on one hand, Craigslist has proven to be a valuable resource for many users, for those who partake in risky behavior, it can mean their untimely end. I’d hope that after the prevalence of dangerous predators who prey on women advertising ANY kind of service, that it will cause women to protect themselves better and at least carry some sort of protection and have an escape plan (at the very least).
Advertising for erotic services has not been the only service on Craigslist with dangerous outcomes. Common services like selling goods which lead to face-to-face transactions, have also led to home invasions, and ultimately murder. http://www.ktvb.com/news/regional/3-arrested-in-Craigslist-home-invasion-murder-92876094.html
Be smart. Think twice before you have a stranger come to your home to buy something from you, even if you aren’t there alone. Don’t ever be too trusting. And for the sick (expletive expletive) who get off on killing women, what can we hope for you but for there to really be some sort of hell in the after life that you will eternally burn in…or your eventual arrest which can also lead to your being ass-raped and tortured in prison for the rest of your life (probably worse than any theoretical hell).
Some of the victims of the Long Island Serial Killer, may you rest in eternal peace:
Loose Garments is absolutely thrilled to announce our new collaboration with Amendment19.com and its creator, Jaime Lorente! Jaime’s site Amendment19.com creates discourse on social issues from a feminist perspective. We love Amendment19.com because of the quality of writing, and the issues they tackle. Our new collaboration will take on different forms, you will just have to stay tuned to realize what those are!
Jaime currently resides in Los Angeles, California. She studied History at the University of Washington, and studied Marketing at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. Jaime contributes much of her time to outstanding causes and is on the Founding Board of Directors for a wonderful cause called The Last Best Women. Their mission; “Our mission is to empower and lift women out of poverty by providing them with loans that will enable them to pursue economically viable and income-generating activities and thereby will contribute to the prosperity of their families, communities and their countries.”
We appreciate Jaime’s efforts and her hard work for women in need. We cannot wait to work with her and Amendment19.com on a more in-depth scale. Amendment19′s contact info is: ContactA19@gmail.com.
Here is a brief sample of one of Amendment19′s articles which falls under a similar realm to our popular article by Claire, Women in Heels: Power and Helplessness:
High Heels: Empowering or Demeaning?
by Jaime Lorente for Amendment19.com
Are women sacrificing their dignity (and health) for perceived sex appeal? If so are those of us who choose to wear high heels anti-feminist? This issue in particular has been hotly debated in sexual politics since the emergence of the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970’s. As the article, Women in Heels: Power and Helplessness suggests, shoes in general have served as a marker of gender, class, race, and ethnicity for centuries. Scholars have referenced the commonalities of foot binding and high heels, however, popular opinion would show that many would object to the concept that wearing heels signifies subordination to men and acceptance of the objectification of women per se.
Granted, there is something inherently idiotic, counter intuitive at best, in coveting something which essentially is meant to debilitate, but surely wearing heels in 2011, is a matter of volition unlike foot binding. Mere frivolity and fetish rather than a proclamation of submission. Given the numerous women’s issues begging to be addressed, is the eradication of questionable footwear the best use of our time and resources? Conversely, perhaps it is this type of indifference we’ve been socialized to accept that feeds in to the systematic misogyny running rampant in the fashion industry. The debate itself seems to fracture women’s sense of solidarity, ultimately we are neglecting and undermining deeper lying gender issues.
By Kate Pittman
Two unrelated events happened in rapid succession recently. On May 14, Dominique Strauss Kahn, former head of the International Monetary Fund, was arrested for sexual assault of a maid at a Manhattan hotel. On May 17, Arnold Schwarzenegger, bodybuilder, actor, and governor of California, acknowledged that he had committed adultery and fathered a child with a woman who was part of his household staff.
Perhaps it seems natural that these two events should be covered by the news media in tandem. Both events involve powerful male politicians and women who were in subservient roles to wealthy, influential men.
But the similarities stop there. Conflating these two events frames the sexual assault charges as something other than what they are, criminal violence. Dominique Strauss-Kahn is innocent until proven guilty. But discussing this alleged crime using terms like “sexual antics” and “sex scandal” illustrates that socially, we still do not take crimes involving sexual acts as seriously as other crimes.
If Dominique Strauss Kahn was charged with locking a woman in his hotel room and beating her with a baseball bat, do you think the news media would be talking about it in the same breath as Arnold’s cheating ways? Adultery, appalling as it may be, is not a violent crime. Attempted rape, forced oral sex, and holding a person against her will, are criminal acts.
All over the news media we are hearing that nobody is surprised at these charges due to DSK’s well-known history of inappropriate sexual liaisons. I find myself thinking only of the victim of this alleged crime. How would it feel to read that the person who assaulted you was known to have a violent sexual temper and that nothing had ever been done to reprimand him or bring his actions in line? How would it feel to read that many people do not believe this could happen? As one commentator mused on FoxNews.com, “ Strauss-Kahn is accused of having assaulting a cleaning lady in the luxurious $3,000-a-night room in the Sofitel Hotel where he was staying in New York City. Couldn’t he have afforded a high-class prostitute? Or was he too impatient to bother calling one up?
We all know rich and powerful men are entitled to sex at their whim, right? Isn’t this a victim’s worst nightmare, and one that is realized again and again- that she will have the courage to report the abuse and will not be believed?
Arnold Schwarzenegger is receiving much of the same treatment in the media. Nobody seems particularly surprised by his infidelity. How could anyone really be surprised? If you’ve paid any attention at all to his history with women, the surprising thing would have been if he had remained monogamous.
In both cases, dissimilar as they may be, a major focus of the news coverage seems to be to discredit the victim/mistress. In the case of Arnold’s mistress, Mildred Baena, the internet is abuzz with discussions about her appearance such as this, Why Arnold Schwarzenegger bedded ‘Unattractive’ Mistresses: He Wanted to Be with the ‘Beautiful One!’ The implication being that as a rich and powerful man, Arnold Schwarzenegger deserves any woman he wants, so why not choose a really hot one? This is of course, about really Powerful Men. The women involved are discussed as if they are objects to be used and abused for the amusement of these men.
There have been no indications that Schwarzenegger’s adulterous relationship was not consensual, but you can’t help but wonder about the imbalance of power between employer and employee and how that might have played into the relationship.
Maria Shriver’s reaction is the silver lining of this scandal. I am so proud to see that she has decided not to “Stand by Her Man.” Granted, it is the individual couple’s decision how to handle their relationship going forward, but it sickens me every time a politician or celebrity gets caught in an affair and the wife stands silently beside him, implicitly accepting the adultery. I always want to cry out to them, “You deserve better than this!” Shriver’s statement is short and to the point. Nothing more needs to be said:
“This is a painful and heartbreaking time. As a mother, my concern is for the children. I ask for compassion, respect and privacy as my children and I try to rebuild our lives and heal. I will have no further comment.”
Anne Sinclair, third wife of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has issued a statement that she does not believe the charges against her husband. Yet it is clear that his reputation as a womanizer is not news to her. In an interview in 2006 she said, “No! I’m even proud of it. It’s important to seduce, for a politician. As long as he is still attracted to me, and I to him, it is sufficient.”
Whether or not this affects Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to Hollywood (I don’t expect so), or Dominique Strauss-Kahn is found guilty or innocent of the criminal charges he faces, these stories are once again shedding light on the imbalanced way we react to sexual impropriety. We are too quick to blame the victim and too enamored of scandal. We seem to forget that where relationships, sex, and emotions are involved, there is a lot of vulnerability and unpredictable fall-out for all involved. Where violence and rape are concerned, there is no excuse. We need to be careful not to belittle the criminal aspect of the charges against DSK, or we belittle the rights of all victims of sex crimes.