Thursday, February 28, 2008

Afternoon Quickie: Revirginization

Is it "quicky" or "quickie?" My spell check just told me "quickie," so I guess that answers that question. A much more philosophical question that has been asked lately is "What does it mean to be a virgin?" What with hymen reattachment surgery and revirginization ceremonies (there's a word that'll keep the spell check busy) that allow people to undo their sexual past, it's becoming more difficult to define virginity and what it means to "lose" it.

Author Brian Alexander discusses the issue of virginity in an article for MSNBC. It's very informative and thought-provoking. There was this one part that nearly made me puke, though. Guess which part, and if you're right, you'll get a cookie. Hint: It's on page 2.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Compromise and Anti-Choice Legislation

This is a uterus, and she doesn't haggle.

Yesterday, Eric Alterman was talking to Sam Seder about his upcoming book Why We're Liberals. He said that the majority of the country takes the liberal position on almost every issue. One of the issues that the majority of the country doesn't take the liberal position on: Abortion. He said that because women's organizations take a you're with us or against us stance on reproductive rights and put pressure on liberal politicians to do the same, the liberal position on abortion has become "abortion under any circumstances." Alterman says this hurts liberals, because most Americans support some sort of restriction on abortion and vote on this issue, and liberals aren't relating to them. Alterman's solution?

Compromise! Liberal politicians should compromise on this issue to pander to people who only believe in women's reproductive rights sometimes. It doesn't really matter if women's human rights are compromised in the process. Just as long as our Democratic majority lets us have a choice sometimes, it's all good. Of course, there is no pro-life organization that supports abortion under certain circumstances, nor do they support contraception. So, they don't reflect the mainstream, but that's okay.

But what about the ban on so-called partial-birth abortion, you ask? How can anybody not support that, you wonder? And what about parental notification and consent laws for pregnant minors? What's wrong with that? I'll tell you.

First, a lot of people think partial-birth abortion is the name given to an abortion performed during the third trimester and that the ban prohibits abortions during this time because, at this time, the fetus is viable. This is untrue. It's the name given to the procedure of extracting the fetus (intact dilation and extraction), and this procedure can be done in the second trimester as well. And it's the procedure, not third trimester abortions, that are illegal for almost any reason. What does this mean? Viability of the fetus has nothing to do with the ban on partial-birth abortion. I repeat, Viability of the fetus has nothing to do with the ban on partial-birth abortion. Viability begins at around 7 months gestation, but the procedure can't be done at any time.

Second, nowhere in the ban on partial-birth abortion does it say the frequency at which this procedure was ever done. "A moral, medical, and ethical consensus exists that the practice of performing a partial-birth abortion . . . is a gruesome and inhumane procedure that is never medically necessary and should be prohibited." Actually, if there's a consensus among medical professionals that the procedure is never medically necessary, then there is no need make a special law to ban it. Performing an unnecessary operation on someone is grounds for a malpractice lawsuit, so there was never a reason to pass a separate ban. Also, the ban states that "there are currently no medical schools that provide instruction on abortions that include the instruction in partial-birth abortions in their curriculum." That means that any doctor who has ever performed the procedure did so outside the scope of their expertise, which is malpractice. All of the evidence provided to support a ban is also evidence as to why a ban isn't necessary.

One might argue that, because this procedure is considered unnecessary, banning it is a preventative measure. As we know from the upholding of the ban, however, preventative legislation is not exactly the Supreme Court's thing. Last April, the original ban was upheld, even though it didn't contain a health exception. The reason was because none of the experts could testify that the procedure was ever necessary to preserve the woman's health. If preventing harm was the Supreme Court's number one priority, they would have passed the health exception, just in case.

I was almost not going to say anything about parental notification or consent laws, because the problems with such laws are quite obvious. But because I think a lot of people are in favor of such laws, it's a good idea to share with you why I think these laws are wrong. Since notification and consent are the same in my view, I believe both laws are abortion bans disguised as laws to protect parental rights. However, if preserving parental rights were the objective of these laws, a pregnant minor would need to gain parental notification or consent to remain pregnant and, consequently, give birth. No such law exists anywhere. My smell test for laws like this (e.g., parental consent/notification laws, laws requiring women to see an ultrasound if they're considering abortion) goes something like this: "Would anyone ever consider making a similar law for women who consider pregnancy?" If the answer is no, which it always is, then it's anti-choice legislation.

There are plenty of laws regarding abortion that are designed to protect women and their families. I can sit here all day researching them and telling you why they protect no one. I don't think people realize the implication of these laws. Would those in the "pro-choice middle," those people who believe in choice under certain circumstances, support laws restricting abortion if they realized, like I do, that these laws are leading to a ban on abortion entirely? If they truly want women to have the choice, I seriously don't think so. So I think this idea that most Americans are pro-choice-to-a-certain-extent is kind of misleading. I think it means that most Americans have yet to come around.

Kids? No Thanks

Because my post about how I can't make t-shirts sparked a discussion about choosing not to have children, I just had to link up to this Reason Magazine article by Ronald Bailey about why people are having fewer (or no) children. I think the subheading says it all.

via Feministing

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Afternoon Quicky: Urge Your Senators to Co-Sponsor IVAWA

You can urge your Senators to co-sponsor the International Violence Against Women Act or thank your Senator(s) for co-sponsoring the bill. NOW makes it so easy!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Today I Learned . . . .

That I can't make t-shirts for my life. Poo.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Coming Out Feminist

Sometimes I think it would sit better with people if I came out as a lesbian than if I came out as a feminist. People at least know it's impolite to ask questions or judge when you come out as a lesbian. If you come out as a feminist, you need to do a lot of explaining.

Today in my Counseling and Community Agencies class, one of my classmates came out as gay, and another male classmate came out as bisexual. I, however, felt that the enviornment was too hostile for me to come out as a feminist. My professor mentioned feminist theory, quickly said that the word "feminism" scares her, had one person agree, and rushed to another topic before I could interject. We talked at great length about LGBT issues, and everyone who participated was very nice and honest about their thoughts and how their opinions have changed as they've grown up. So I was wondering why we were talking so much about LGBT issues, about which no one seemed to need a clarification*, but feminism in counseling wasn't talked about at all. Wouldn't it have made more sense to spend more time on the topic that people didn't seem to understand, especially since the topic was quickly dismissed as scary?

So I'm thinking about making a t-shirt this week and wearing it to class next Monday. I'm thinking it's going to say "feminist." on the front and "scared?" on the back. Or maybe "I'm a feminist, and I carry nunchucks." That may or may not be true, but would you risk saying something sexist to me just to find out? I don't think so.

*Someone did need clarification, but didn't ask for it. I just overheard the person in front of me saying this to the person next to her, and it amused me greatly to know that she would rather remain confused than to simply turn around and ask me to elaborate. I asked the professor if it was unethical to not diagnose someone with Gender Identity Disorder, even though they meet all the criteria, just because they have an impairment in social or occupational functioning, but they aren't experiencing clinically significant distress. I gave an example of someone who comes in for depression, is diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, and then comes out as trangendered. Must I diagnose them with Gender Identity Disorder, even though it wasn't the presenting problem? Does it make a difference if the person is depressed because of the way they are treated for being transgendered? Personally, I wouldn't diagnose someone with Gender Identity Disorder if the only reason they meet the full criteria is because other people ridicule them to the point that it impairs important areas of functioning. People shouldn't be diagnosed simply because someone else thinks they're weird. During the break in class, the person in front of me said, "It would be like not diagnosing someone with Schizophrenia just because that wasn't the presenting problem." I would accuse her of comparing Gender Identity Disorder with a psychotic disorder, but I think my point went way too far over her head for her to make any sort of rational counterargument. So I'll let that one slide.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Glenn Beck on Ugly People

I just thought this was too funny not to post. I found this on Media Matters when I looked there to see what action they want me to take in order to get Neil Cavuto fired or suspended for his recent public trans hate speech (none, apparently!) But I did find this about Glenn Beck and ugly people. You'd think Beck would be an expert in ugliness, as he's a horrible person. But he just gets it all wrong. This was his response to these surprising reasons you're not having sex:

BECK: Okay. Surprising reason number one why you're not having sex. "You are Glenn Beck." Wait a sec. That's not surprising at all! Who made up this list? *angry fist*

Okay, I just made that up. But you'll forgive me for that once I tell you what he really said.

BECK: I mean, here are some other reasons. "You're ugly." Hello! I'm not a sex expert but I'm -- you know, I'm thinking, you know, you're ugly and, you know, that's a tough one to overcome especially if you're a woman. If you're a guy, that's not hard to overcome. I'm sorry. That's just the way the world is. Have you -- how many ugly guys have hot wives? Take me, for example. I don't know why she married -- I think it was low self-esteem. I do. No, really I think it was low self-esteem. I got in -- you know, you buy when the market is low. You know what I mean? While everybody else is selling, you buy. And I think I got in there right at the right time. Low self-esteem, low, wait a minute, could go a little lower, she might come down to my price. Hang on, OK, sold! Now her self-esteem is going up. And if my income wasn't going up, she would have ditched me long ago.

At any other time, I would be offended at someone assuming a woman marries for the money. I mean, I don't know why anybody marries anybody. However, experiencing Glenn Beck's nonsense makes me believe he's married for reasons other than love. But I think telling everyone in radio land that his wife must have low self-esteem is more demeaning to her than it is to him. It sort of perpetuates this "marry the loser while you can" bull that's been going around lately, and it's just plain woman-hate. But that's not the worst part. No. Beck gets personal.

BECK: Ugly people, if you're a guy, you can get past it. I don't think you can as an ugly woman. I don't -- no, I don't. If you're an ugly woman, I apologize. Oh, you've got a double cross [I think he meant "whammy" here], because if you're an ugly woman, you're probably a progressive as well. Oh, jeez. I'm sorry. Today's just not your day. But you know what? If you believed in God, you'd know that there's going to be another chance for you. You don't have to be ugly in heaven. You're going to be your perfect self, and there will be another perfect somebody waiting for you on the other side.

Oh, I'm sure I won't get any prettier by doing this -- *VOMITS ALL OVER KEYBOARD* Give me a break. You know your religious beliefs are a sham when you try to recruit women who feel badly about their looks to your side by promising them eternal (patriarchy's oppressive view of) beauty. It might be an effective angle, since 80% of women are dissatisfied with their appearance, but is it morally righteous? How the shit would I know? I'm one of those progressive Godless bitches. Besides, I hear the guys in purgatory are, like, sooo much hotter.

You know what I think this calls for? A Leonard Nimoy vs. Glenn Beck cage match.


This video is immensely disturbing. If you're not a fan of women being forcibly strip searched while screaming for help, do not watch it.

So we've already got police using tasers on people willy-nilly, and now we've got them strip-searching the victims of crimes and leaving them naked in jail cells for 6 hours. That's just great.

For those that did not watch the video, basically what happens is that about 7 police officers forcibly strip a screaming woman, and then leave her in the cell with nothing to cover herself for six hours. She is suing the police department. I just hope she wins.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Post About Media Matters

No, I'm not very good at coming up with titles, am I? Anyway, I got an e-mail from Media Matters for America asking me to sign a petition to MSNBC's president, Steve Capus, telling him to basically do something about the sexist statements that have been made lately. As much as I hate sexist statements (especially when the apology for said sexist statements is used in an advertisement), I'm not going to sign this petition. This is some of what Media Matters said to persuade people to sign their petition:

During the past year, three MSNBC commentators have been suspended, reprimanded, fired, or forced to apologize for their sexist and/or racist comments . . . The pattern of sexism at MSNBC doesn't stop there. Last year MSNBC canceled its simulcast of host Don Imus' show for his racist and sexist comments targeting the Rutgers women's basketball players. It was only after a widespread outcry by individuals, employees of the network, and many organizations, including Media Matters, that the network took action.

MSNBC did the right thing by holding Don Imus, Chris Matthews, and David Shuster accountable for their statements. Media Matters even claims some responsibility for these small victories.

But am I the only one who thinks that MSNBC is being held to a higher standard than other news outlets, like FOX News and CNN? When were Bill O'Reilly, John Gibson, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck suspended or forced to apologize on air for any of their disgusting comments? What about Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, and Michelle Malkin? I know that Media Matters spends plenty of time exposing these commentators, but these commentators are never held accountable by their networks' presidents, they are still contaminating our airwaves, and I'm not flooded with e-mails from Media Matters asking to sign petitions about firing them. I think that's the difference between media outlets who take responsibility for what their analysts and reporters say and media outlets who don't. MSNBC is at the very least succumbing to the pressure from viewers, Media Matters, and advertisers by disciplining those who do the wrong thing.

Media Matters, however, wants us to tell MSNBC's president to make sure derrogatory language is never used on the network, which is a promise no one can make. Nobody, not even the Media Matters staff, can promise to completely censor their language. Making this language rare and making sure some action is taken when it happens is the only promise anyone can make. Media Matters isn't asking for too much. They are asking for the impossible.

I can only speculate on why Media Matters is asking more of MSNBC than of other networks. It could be to be fair, that they are not only trying to censor hate speech by conservatives. Of course, hate speech doesn't show party lines, so everyone should be held accountable. However, how one responds to hate speech does cross party lines: Moderates and liberals take responsibility, and conservatives cash checks. Or, because MSNBC has listened to Media Matters in the past, MSNBC might again listen to Media Matters, even their demands are impossible to achieve. Either way, I don't think Media Matters is being fair.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Justice System Condones Sexual Assault Once Again

Apparently, it doesn't matter if there were witnesses, if it was videotaped, or even if the person who assaulted you admitted it. You just can't get a jury to convict a man of rape. This goes double if the man is a prominent member of the community. Of course we all know that the closer he is to the patriarchal norm, the better chance of getting out of the charges he has.

But this case is just disgusting.

The verdict had his accuser in tears. "I am shocked, and he even admitted it," the 24-year-old said, referring to Brown's testimony that he tried to push her face into his lap.
So he admitted that he tried to push her face into his crotch, but:

Jurors said they did not believe Brown exerted the force necessary to qualify his actions as sex crimes. Michigan law says a person is guilty of criminal sexual conduct if "force or coercion is used to accomplish the sexual conduct."
Pushing someone is not force? Umm, since when?

One of the jurors is a great guy, too. Check out what he had to say about the whole situation:

Nowles said he and other jurors concluded the accuser and Brown "both made big mistakes."

"They are both stupid," Nowles said. "There is no law against that."

Women are stupid for getting sexually assaulted, apparently.

I'm so tired of having to read these stories of how the justice system is such a let down for women who are victims of sexual assault.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Take Action

Did you know that if you take action, you will get action from your one true love in 24 hours? Well, that's not true (necessarily), but it will make you feel good.

Bush wants to cut public broadcasting funding? Tell your Congresspeople that you're not having that.

Remind the Afghan government and the State Department that downloading feminist information is not a crime.

Go to and tell Dianne Feinstein not to take any of Honaker's bullshit.

Say no to drilling in ANWR, and yes to cute little polar bears. Aw, polar bears.

No Sweat, a clothing company that makes sweatshop free clothing, might be going under. So buy one of their super cool organic tees, and maybe you can help save the company (or at least look as cool as I do).

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

My Voting Experience

Feministing has a list of feminists who have endorsed either Sen. Hillary Clinton or Sen. Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination. Add Megan and me to that list (Megan for Clinton, and me for Obama)!

Anyway, I want to tell you about my voting experience. Looking back on my voting experience today, it wasn't much different from one of my other voting experiences (November 2006), but I just noticed that it was different this time around. Well, first I'll tell you about what happened in November 2006, which was the first time I voted in person. I'm half Puerto Rican. I have a Hispanic last name, and if I don't look Hispanic, I at least look ethnically ambiguous and can pass from "an Italian on the dark side" to "half Indian." So when I voted in 2006, one of the guys at the voting place was sitting at the end of the table, and he asked me for my driver's license and he spoke to me in Spanish. I don't speak Spanish, but I can understand it when I have to, so I did everything he told me I had to do. I figured he saw my last name on my license and thought I spoke Spanish. End of story. When I went to vote today, one of the women looked at my license and told me that I just have to wait until one of the other ladies was done getting the woman in front of my all sorted out. Fine. The other lady looked at my driver's license and said, "Here, Maria. You can do this one." That's reasonable. I understand that sitting in an elementary school gymnasium for several hours with a few people going to vote here and there can get boring, and maybe Maria hadn't done anything in a while and needed something to do. So she gave Maria, who was sitting at the end of the table, my license. Maria looked at my license, found my name in the book of registered voters in the area, and said "Democratico o Republicano?" And that's when it dawned on me. The person sitting at the end of the table is Spanish-speaking, there to assist the Hispanic voters, even Hispanic voters like me who don't speak Spanish. I understand now. Because I'm Hispanic, I can only speak enough English to pass a citizenship test, but I don't speak enough English to vote without an interpreter. I swear, "Here, Maria. You can do this one" is going to be ringing in my ears for the rest of my life. I should have left the booth without voting and said, "Donde esta, Bill Richardson??? Donde esta mi hermano Mexicano??? Que lastima!!!"

Monday, February 04, 2008

Crisis Pregnancy Believers

I learned about Crisis Pregnancy Centers by accident at a wellness fair over two years ago at my college. I was president of the campus' Gender Equality Club, and I went to the fair to get some information about reproductive health. I visited all the different booths and picked up informational brochures from each one. One of the booths belonged to Care Net. I got information about their organization and read about it when I got back to my dorm. Needless to say, the information they gave me was false. Even more needless to say, they were unsuccessful in washing my brain. From then on, I knew I had to disect the false information they give to women and further reinforce what I already know about them: They suck.

I kind of like to dissect the language used by the pro-zygote movement. Whether they choose their words wisely or out of a hat, their language is quite telling. In the couple years since I learned about Crisis Pregnancy Centers, I noticed that feminists don't use the word "crisis" to describe an unintended pregnancy. Why is that? I think I found the answer when I was reading the chapter about crisis counseling in my Community Counseling textbook. The chapter provides several definitions of "crisis." Here's one of them.

Crises are personal difficulties or situations that immobilize people and prevent them from consciously controlling their lives.*

Now, is "crisis pregnancy" just a clever term for these centers? One of the fundamental tenets of pro-lifers is that women are thrusted into some sort of altered state of consciousness that makes them unable to make the "right" decision for themselves (in so many words). So maybe the word "crisis" is intentional. Here's something else I read about crises:

Crisis is a danger because it threatens to overwhelm the individual and may result in suicide or a psychotic break. It is also an opportunity because during times of crises, individuals are more receptive to therapeutic influence.*

During times of crisis, individuals are more receptive to any kind of influence. That includes the influence of people who have a certain self-fulfilling goal in mind for you.

Feminists use the term "unintended" for pregnancies that are, well, unintended. Pregnancies aren't a crisis in our view, because we know that, at least for now, we have options. Furthermore, feminists trust women that they know what is best for them and can make their own decisions. Anti-choicers, on the other hand, don't believe in, well, choice. So every unintended pregnancy is a crisis to them (or for them, in the event that they are faced with an unintended pregnancy).

Now if only every woman believed that an unintended pregnancy was a crisis -- before they become pregnant. And, obviously, the best way to turn an unintended pregnancy into a crisis is by rolling back abortion rights. That way, there are fewer options for women, and the fewer the options, the harder it becomes to have control over your own life. And, obviously, the best way to create millions of unintended pregnancies is by demonizing contraception. Anti-choicers in this country have already done both with legislation at the state and federal level and by creating abstinence-only education. If every woman believed they were in a crisis when they become pregnant and don't want to be, they'll be more susceptible to the propaganda of the Crisis Pregnancy Centers. Clever, indeed.

P.S. I just saw an ad for Mike Huckabee. He said he wants to abolish the IRS. Tell New Jersey what else you'd like to abolish, Huck.

*Gladding, S. & Newsome, D. (2004). Community and Agencey Counseling, 2nd. ed. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.

Friday, February 01, 2008

More Perpetuation of the "Grey Rape" Myth. . .

This article absolutely disgusts me.

Check out these rape apologist gems:

Maybe if she was sober she would never have chosen to sleep with that guy. Maybe he coaxed her into it. But on those terms, is it okay for the girl to then cry rape?
(Emphasis mine)

The article comes complete with rape apologist terminology, apparently. Here's a newsflash for this author: If you're drunk, you can't legally consent. So yes, legally, she can "cry rape". I don't understand why people are so eager to dismiss the terrible behavior of men.

Although this passage here is certainly the kicker as far as every rape apologist tactic known to humankind is concerned. I think the author of this article manages to fit every single one of them in here. Check it out:

Let me paint you another picture. At a frat party, there is a girl scantily clad in a mini skirt (so short, by the way, you can almost see the bottom of her ass), and a tank top with a plunging neckline. She is downing, and subsequently refilling her solow cup of jungle juice. She then picks out a brother who she wants to be her so-called “project” of the night. The two engage in flirtatious conversation and touching. Both are drunk, and it is obvious that she wants him. After an hour of being all over each other he asks her if she wants to “see his room” and she follows him upstairs. They begin to get down to business and in about a minute they are both naked on the frat boy’s bed. He asks if she wants to “you know” and she says “yes.” After he has successfully found and put on a condom he climbs on top of her and the right when he is at the cusp, she changes her mind and says drunkenly “actually…” But being so caught up in the moment, he disregards this as momentary insanity on her part and enters her anyway. Who is really to blame in this situation? Yes, the guy should have stopped when she said no, but didn’t she vehemently send the message that sex was what she wanted? I mean, she even showed up to the party looking like pure sex, so who is really at fault?
Let's see.

1) Only slutty girls get raped
2) If you consumed alcohol it was your fault
3) Men just can't control themselves
4) If you flirt with someone, you have a responsibility to fuck them.

I don't think she missed any of them. There is one vile rape apologist tactic after the next there. I also love the "Yeah, he should have stopped, BUT SHE WAS SUCH A SLUT!".

There are some probably some who are reading this article, thinking that I am siding with the male rapists. Let me preempt those thoughts by saying it is never okay for a guy to make any girl do ANYTHING she does not want to do. A guy should never force a girl to even kiss him. But by the same token, we as girls should not lead a guy to believe that he is going to get more then we are willing to give. We should also not get so drunk off our asses that we cannot make the decision to stop. There is a very fine line in these incidents, and they often become blurry when you mix in alcohol and drugs.
I don't understand why women are held accountable for what men perceive to be our meaning. Why do men get to define what certain "signals" mean? And then get to hold women accountable for those definitions through the use of sexual assault? It's absolute bullshit.

So let me reiterate one more time. There is no such thing as "grey rape". If a woman does not give enthusiastic consent, no matter how she was dressed, how much she had to drink, how much she flirted, where she went with a man, where she was, who she was with, etc., IT'S RAPE. The end.

Take Action Fever!

Forget Bridial Fever. Catch the Take Action Fever and spend your weekend doing something much better than watching movies with sexist plots on The Hallmark Channel.

Be one of a million strong in Planned Parenthood's grassroots campaign.

Tell the Justice Department to prosecute the private military members who drugged and raped Jamie Leigh Jones.

Urge your Senators to cosponser the Biden-Lugar resolution to send helicopters to peacekeepers in Darfur.

And while you're at it, tell them to pass the Fair Pair Restoration Act.

Shop at Barnes and Noble this weekend, mention code "Bookfair #223842," and part of your purchase will be donated to the Genocide Intervention Network.