Thursday, October 26, 2006

Bush Administration Disregards Brown v. Board of Education

Remember Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, that landmark Supreme Court decision ruling that separate is in fact not equal? Apparently, our government is regressing and doesn't believe this should apply to the education of boys and girls. The Bush Administration, starting November 24, will be easing restrictions on sex-segregated public schools.

Feministing cited another blog which commented on a sex discrimination lawsuit against the Livingston Parish School Board in Louisiana, which will be providing only sex-segregated classes for the 2006-2007 academic year at Southside Junior High School. The principal of the school, Alan Joe Murphy, presented his denfense of sex-segregated classes. He claimed the implementation of these sexist classes would be "based on quantifiable differences between male and female adolescents supported by scientific research." He said that students would be relieved from "unnecessary stressors" in the classroom (i.e., I can only assume, an attractive other-sexed person in the class. Oh no!). Here are some of the different things Murphy said would be taught in these "specialized" classes:

"[G]irls would receive character education and be subject to high expectations both academically and socially. Girls would be taught math through 'hands-on' approaches. Field trips, physical movement, and multisensory strategies would be incorporated into the girls' classes. Girls would act as mentors to elementary school girls.

"On the other hand, boys' teachers would teach and discuss 'heroic' behavior and ideas 'that show adolescents what it means to 'truly be a man.' Boys' classes would include consistently applied discipline systems and offer tension release strategies. Boys' classes would also feature more group work assignments." (pages 10-11)

I'll play teacher for a moment and recap what you've just learned: 1) Boys don't need good character and shouldn't be expected to excel academically and socially. 2) Boys would not benefit from hands-on approaches to math and other subjects, even though every kid is looking for a more interesting alternative to learning than memorization and drilling. 3) Boys do not like field trips. Even though most ADHD cases are boys, boys would generally choose to sit at a desk all day in a small classroom that lacks stimulation over moving about outside or exploring an interesting exhibit at a museum. 4) Boys could never be a positive role model to a younger boy (someone better alert Big Brothers/Big Sisters). Sex-segregation should also apply to mentoring. 5) Being a mentor to a younger student isn't heroic. 6) Strictly defining gender and then teaching it in school is perfectly fine. Boys can learn what it's like to "be a man," even though putting quotes around that phrase proves that that's up to individual interpretation. 7) Because girls never misbehave, they don't need to be disciplined for anti-social behavior exhibited at school. 8) Girls don't get stressed out either, so they shouldn't learn tension-release exercises like counting to 10 before reacting and muscle relaxation. But wait? Didn't Principal Murphy claim that sex-segregation would relieve students of "unnecessary stressors?" *confused* 9) Because it's common knowledge that girls aren't sociable, group exercises are completely unnecessary in the girls' classes.

Mr. Murphy doesn't want to insert his self-proclaimed moral authority in every social institution. He assured us that "students could interact with members of the other sex at home, at church, and in school clubs and extracurricular activities. " (page 10) What if a family lives in the zoning area of Soutside Junior High but would much rather send their child to a school with co-ed classes? "[N]o such transfers would be permitted by . . . Livingston Parish School Board." (page 11) In fact, the School Board didn't even consult parents before segregating the classes.

I urge all of you to read pages 12 to 13 of the ACLU report, the section called Leonard Sax's Theory of Gender Difference. Dr. Sax is defined as a medical doctor, even though he only has a Ph.d in psychology (meaning he cannot prescribe medicine or perform surgery), and he doesn't perform scientific research, even though a huge research project is required to earn a Ph.d, regular scientific research is required to maintain any teaching position in college and university, and the degree's curriculum puts a special emphasis on scientific research. The claims he makes in his book Why Gender Matters are hilarious, fun reading for when the cable goes out.

I don't know exactly what to do about this problem, but I have one idea. State governments can refuse federal funding for educational progrmas like abstinence-only sex education. New Jersey became the fourth state to reject federal funds for abstinence-only sex ed, joining California, Maine, and Pennsylvania. Perhaps it will help if we contact our governors and urge them not to grant sex-segregation to public school boards that request it and reject any extra funding the federal government might offer to sexist public schools.

Domestic Violence Act to Take Effect in India

According to a U.N. Population Fund report from 2005, 70% of married women between ages 15 and 49 in India are victims of violence and rape. Fortunately, India passed a law criminalizing domestic violence, defining it aptly to include verbal, physical, and emotional abuse as well as economic mistreatment. Ranjana Kumari of the Center for Social Research in New Dehli said, "It's a victory for the women's movement in this country which has been fighting for years for laws that protect the basic rights of women." However, for the law to be fully effective, Kumari explains that the government must fund "shelter and protection to a woman against further abuse if she files a complaint."

Monday, October 23, 2006

And The Creeps Just Keep Popping Up. . .

Once again, the names have been changed to protect, well, the guilty.

I have a lot of allergies. I am allergic to peanuts, feathers, dust mites, cigarette smoke, and cats. Now, my next allergy has never been medically proven, but I still believe I have it.

I am allergic to stupid.

So, anyway, as of right now I'm in desperate need of a Zyrtec or somethin', because I had to deal with a HELLA lot of stupid today. The story goes like this:

It's after lunch and me and my boyfriend are walk into fourth period. We both sit down and this guy who sits next to my boyfriend, we'll call him "Jimmy", starts talking to us. Then he says something about how something SO FUNNY happened to him over the weekend. Then he proceeded to tell us about it.

The OMG HILARIOUS story was that a "dumb bitch" (to quote "Jimmy") that he had broken up with on Wednesday and "fucked" on Friday had given him a blowjob in his car just feet away from the porch that her dad was sitting on. Are you laughing yet?

Immediately I went into feminazi mode.

Basically, I glared at him and called him an asshole. How dare he talk about that girl like that. Then, he tried to justify it by saying "Well she's dumb! No, seriously, if you met this girl you would not like her!". I really was just dumbfounded at this point. How can anyone really be so lacking in responsibility? Anyway, I told him that that didn't matter and that it was wrong to take advantage of her like that. The response I got to that was "What? I didn't take advantage of her! She wanted to do it! It's not like I raped her!". I don't understand how this guy doesn't understand that receiving oral sex from a girl who probably thinks there's going to be some commitment afterward ISN'T taking advantage of her. I also didn't mention rape at all. Hell, seems to me like someone might have a guilty conscience.

My favorite bewildered and desperate response was "What was I supposed to do, say no?". YES. YES you were supposed to say no. You have a responsibility not to take advantage of girls just because you can. Your penis wouldn't have shriveled up if female saliva didn't cover it for one night. HELL yes you were supposed to say no.

I just don't understand how this guy really didn't consider the word "No" to be an option. Not only is it taking advantage of a girl, but it's also feeding into the stereotype that guys become brainless and moral-less once sex comes into the picture. This is a falsehood. Men have the capability to keep their heads (The one on top) once women, their bodies, and sex come into the picture, and they also have a responsibility to do so. "Jimmy" missed every mark in this effort, and it's a damn shame that he really just didn't and continues not to get it. And still, what's more of a shame is he is not alone in this endeavor.

Cover Up Those Nasty Titties, Hussy!

Perhaps this is just me being generally grumpy after having a rough weekend, but this article pissed me off.

So, because men ASK women to reveal their bodies to them, women can't wear what they want into jails anymore? You couldn't possibly correct the male behavior, right? It's just so much easier to restrict the slutiform of the second class citizens! Once again women are the sexual gatekeepers and patriarchal order has been restored.

I'm so happy for them.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

So, about those patriarchal constructs of femininity. . .

I was reading an article about Amy Lee of Evanescence this morning. I don't know why I was reading it, I don't particularly like Evanescence, but I guess I was just bored. It was semi-interesting (for instance, I didn't know she was only 21 when "Fallen" came out), until I got to this paragraph:

It takes only a few minutes in Lee's presence to see what drew them: Her porcelain skin and shimmering, pale blue eyes are set off by a mane of black hair, and she seems to embody both confident strength and a delicate femininity.

I hate the juxtaposition of those qualities. They're not opposing characteristics by any means, and proposing that they're hard to balance is so incredibly sexist and wrong, it's hard to imagine that no one sees this. Apparently, author Melissa Rayworth doesn't. Why is it that femininity apparently means not being confident or strong, or that if you are those things, you seem to have a hard time being feminine? Hell, no wonder feminist are seen as hairy, masculine, carpetmunchers. Strength and confidence are not thing that one must juggle with femininity, as they are as inherently female as they are inherently male. I have to ask, if strength and confidence is not a feminine trait, what is? Weakness and insecurity? What a lovely way to portray women! Thanks again, Patriarchy!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Sexism in Text

My Human Development textbook has a chapter about the cognitive development in middle adulthood. The author discusses a study testing the abilities of young and old servers in a restaurant, which shows that while younger servers had better memory, older servers were able to sever more customers, even during the busy hours. The self-proclaimed feminist author of my book said that "[o]ne owner learned this the hard way,

'A pretty girl is an asset to any business, but we tried them and they fell apart on us . . . . They could not keep up the pace of our fast and furious lunch hours . . . . Our clients want good service; if they want sex-appeal they can go elsewhere.'"

Yes, because one's competence has all to do with physical attractiveness!

Women's Rights as Human Rights

Guess what, everyone? The United Nations has declared violence against women a violation of human rights! Wasn't stripping away the rights of women always a human rights violation, as women are human? Yes, but now, according to The Captain Fucking Obvious!!! Gazette, the UN recognizes it as such. Here's the full report.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Happy National Coming Out Day!

Today is National Coming Out Day for the GLBT community.

I hope that all of the gay, bi, lesbian, and transgender people that are taking this opportunity today to come out to their friends and family will one day be free from the bigotry, ignorance, and discrimination that creates the need for a day like this, and for days like the National Day of Silence. I hope that there will someday be a time when every day is coming out day, where GLBT people are no longer afraid to be who they really are. I have to keep faith my my generation is perhaps not as homobigoted as the one that's in control right now, I guess.

And in the meantime, a little amusement:

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Two Good Reasons Not To Buy Balfour Class Rings

The first one is easy: They're highway robbery and for NOTHING. They're $250 if you get the most expensive ones (basic most expensive ones, by the way), and about $220 if you get the basic "less expensive" ones. Then, they tell you that if you lose it, they'll replace it for like $80. Yeah, I think that just about tips everyone off to the fact that the ring only costs about $80 to make in the first place. Let's get out the chorus of "Rip-offf!!" please.

However, that's the least of my worries. What I found out about them today bothers me much more.

One of my friends is going to buy a class ring, so she had the brochure at lunch. She was lookin' through it trying to decide which ring style and what designs she wanted on her ring. I was looking over her shoulder because I was bored and some of the designs were kind of neat. She turned to the page with the samples of all of the designs that you can put on the side, and we looked them over. They had little names in the examples, just like in the image above. The names in my friend's brochure were "Bryan" and "Robin". Here's where things get ugly.

They have different sections for the designs. There's one for "Pride", such as Christian symbols and the flags of different countries that customers might have roots in, etc. There's also one for "Activities". As you all probably already knew, Bryan gets the good portion of the ring examples. However, sometimes Robin shows up. Bryan takes up nearly every space in this section, "President", "Calf Roping", "Academics", "Debate", etc. Here is the list of what Robin gets: "Dance", "Ballet", and "Secretary". That's all. That's it.

There are other categories as well. I also liked Robin's list of Careers: "Cosmetology", "Interior Design", "Child Care", and "Nursing" (As opposed to "Medical Services", which went to Bryan). Once again, that's all.

I find it amazing that in the few places that they could manage to place a female name, it had to be in what most would consider "frivolous" professions. If it wasn't frivolous or highly competitive (e.g. "Dancing" and "Ballet"), however, it was being a secretary, a nurse, or a child care professional. The first two are simply second-in-command positions which most often require subordination to men. Hell, even the examples themselves had poor Robin being subordinate to Bryan, as he's probably going off to be in Medical Services as a doctor! And if it wasn't pure subordination, it's a stereotypical "woman's job" as a child care professional, because that's the only thing us womenz think about is babies and nursin' people. We don't have ambitions outside of that.

So there it is. Two good reasons why Balfour sucks. Not only are will they rob you at gunpoint, but they'll fore gender stereotypes and women's subordination down your throat in the process.

Monday, October 02, 2006

On Being The Over-dramatic Feminist and Lack of Male Support

I am loud and often obnoxious. I'm bawdy, crude, and sometimes (most of the time) downright mean. Still, I feel that most of what I say needs to be said. I may be the churlish, strident, frigid feminazi of everyone's strawfeminist dreams, but my image is not something I'm worried about when I truly feel like a feminist issue has arisen. At that point, I care much less about being liked and much more about being heard. I would think that would be how anyone would act, right? Isn't that the normal protocol?

So anyway, this still comes back to Bob once again. Not to him specifically, no, because his actions have had such a ripple effect on me and my group of friends that posts that mention him are rarely about him anymore. This one happens to be about ,that's right, you guessed it:

Being called over-dramatic for being vehemently against anti-feminist and anti-woman values and wanting said opposition to be heard loud and clear! Yaaaaaay!

As I've already said before, I've been the "Crazy-ass bitch of society" for my dislike of Bob, who really is just a great funny guy. It goes deeper though. That's not all I am.

Either way, I've been having a bit of a rough time lately trying to balance feministing with compatibility with the world and people around me. I've been trying to figure out what battles to pick and which ones to leave alone, I guess you could say, and why I choose the battles I choose. In doing this, I've come across a roadblock or two and it's been a rough time. So, now that you have my mood backstory, and of course you already know Bob's awful backstory.

Everyone knows I hate this kid. I've stated publicly that if he died in a fire it would be absolutely no skin off my nose.

So anyway, the story this time goes like this:

The tables in the lunch area at my high school are made to be really long lines by pushing several of them together. Bob usually sits one and a half to two tables away from me and mine. That's fine. He can sit there. I tolerate his existence as long as he doesn't do much to make it extremely known. I do not want him any closer to me than he already is.

So, Friday comes along. My one ally in this whole debacle, "Pam", is absent and I miss her terribly. I go to sit at my lunch table, and lo and behold, who is sitting there? BOB! I look around, look at my boyfriend, he looks back at me, and just sits down. The "What the hell?" look is fixed firmly on my face, but I'm not quite sure how to react. I certainly can't just ignore the presence of someone that I hate with the fire of a thousand suns sitting right in front of me like we're old friends.

Now, I don't seek him out to bother him. I don't do horrible things to him, even though I could. I could go to where he works and tell the girl exactly what he did to her because I know what her name is and where they both work, but I haven't and don't intend to. I could beat his ass afterschool if I truly wanted to. I don't want to and don't intend to plan any sort of beating. Mostly, all I want is for him to stay away from me. That's all. That's not so unreasonable is it?

So why is it that when I tell my boyfriend and my guy friends that I can't stand him and want him to go away, they look at me like I'm over-dramatic, intolerant, and unreasonable? I should just "look the other way"? IT DOESN'T HELP, THANKS. I know he's there, and I still hate him. He did not have to sit where he was sitting. He had other places that he could easily go. He has to know how much I hate him, yet he still sat right there.

I didn't say anything out of respect for my boyfriend, who seems to be uncomfortable with confrontations. However, I surely missed my friend "Pam", because she would have said something and then the burden of responsibility for my boyfriend's discomfort (which I don't understand anyway and which will be addressed shortly) would have been elsewhere. Still, I bit my tongue clean off and dealt.

The problem I have is that I feel entirely unsupported in my hatred and my desire for Bob to stay the hell away from me. The only person who really has my back in this endeavor is "Pam", which I appreciate greatly. However, it's still the same barrier. We're still only two strident bitches with our panties in a knot because of something that "doesn't concern us". I just wish that I could get some support from my boyfriend, first and foremost, and if not him than perhaps from some of my other male friends. It's not required for me to still hate him, but it would just be nice if I could see some chipping away at the good ol' boys club.

Am I being unreasonable? Is it me, or am I not getting the amount of support that I should be getting, especially from people who should be giving much more than they are? I bet that if I asked any one of those guys if they would hate him as bad as I hate Bob if he did what he did to their sister/girlfriend/niece/etc., they wouldn't laugh it off and call me unreasonable.

I guess you have to be of the hymen-having gender to really get it.