With Coke, Nike, Hollywood films and fast food, the US has many exports.

As a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood – the oldest, largest and most trusted reproductive health provider in the US – I have one key message to Australians during my visit here: beware we don’t export the war that is currently being waged on women in my country.

[…]

I encourage you to be watchful of policies in Australia that emulate those in America. The war on women is not an import the women of your country want or deserve.

Leola Reis, “America’s war on women,” The Drum, June 8, 2012

Lord knows I love Americans and think Planned Parenthood — of which Reis is vice president of external affairs — does invaluable work, but this is a rather repellent and narcissistic rhetoric on display here. Omitted by the ellipsis is an entire column explicating the basic points of the “war on women” in America, and, certainly, this is something I think Australians should be interested in and informed about. But Reis’s argument doesn’t treat Australia as its own country with its own politics and its own public debates. We’re just a mass she can use to decry things she doesn’t like about her own country. Don’t emulate America on gender issues, she warns Australia, but doesn’t even consider that Australian society has its own gender issues. For instance, Reis talks about American politicians trying to restrict access to abortion, but is apparently entirely unaware of the tenuous legality of abortion in most Australian states, or that Roe v Wade has given the United States a rhetorical and legal basis for pro-choice activism that isn’t available in Australia.

I understand, too, that a writer feels compelled to relate an issue to a local audience. Telling that audience “Don’t do what we do” without reference to the concerns of that foreign audience is not how you do that. Leola Reis, we are a nation — one as complex and real and fully formed as your own. We are not a confession booth where you can atone for your country’s sins.

(via screwrocknroll)

I think this is part of where my fellow US lefties lose sight of the forest for the trees and thus find themselves on the losing end of their own rhetorical and emotional battle. One of the things I like to beat home about the weakness of our political positions and temperament is that quite often, the rhetoric used to advocate for a position is often more about the speaker than why the policy is beneficial to a larger group.

In this context, Reis’ warning becomes a treatise to solipsism: these are the awful things my country is doing to restrict women’s rights (and they are bad, believe me!) and the good fight Planned Parenthood has against them, but completely mistakes her audience, presuming it does not have its own battle in the same arena under different circumstances. Ultimately, these “don’t be like us” missives serve only to highlight how “good” the writer or speaker is rather than expand the message to an audience distinct from one’s own — and the intended message is lost in the fake atonement.

I mean, if you can’t frame your argument in an Australian publication for the audience most likely to read it, how well are you going to do when it comes to convincing people in your own society of the utility and necessity for expanded reproductive rights, never mind throwing overboard the canard that these are simply “women’s rights”?

Nearly two decades ago, Randy and Janna Sorensen approached Mr. Romney, then a church official, for help: unable to have a baby on their own, they wanted to adopt but could not do so through the church, which did not facilitate adoptions for mothers who worked outside the home.

Devastated, they told Mr. Romney that the rule was unjust and that they needed two incomes to live in Boston. Mr. Romney helped, but not by challenging church authorities. He took a calculator to the Sorensen household budget and showed how with a few sacrifices, Ms. Sorensen could quit her job. Their children are now grown, and Mr. Sorensen said they were so grateful that they had considered naming a child Mitt. (The church has since relaxed its prohibition on adoption for women who work outside the home.)

Jodi Kantor, “Romney’s Faith, Silent But Deep,” The New York Times,May 19, 2012

Hmm.

(via screwrocknroll)

Instructive and slightly horrifying at the same time.

Against Me!, “The Ocean”

If I could have chosen, I would have been born a woman.
My mother once told me she would have named me Laura.
I would grow up to be strong and beautiful like her.
One day I’d find an honest man to make my husband.

Anyone who’s surprised by the news of Tom Gabel transitioning to female and his gender dysphoria obviously’s never heard this tune. Regardless, it’s still not a statement most musicians — particularly well-established ones — would make publicly.

screwrocknroll:

(h/t)

Vodka: gateway to feminism?
So much of advertising from decades past makes up total WTF moments now.

screwrocknroll:

(h/t)

Vodka: gateway to feminism?

So much of advertising from decades past makes up total WTF moments now.

screwrocknroll:

The question really is, did Draper force himself on her because he knew she wouldn’t resist, or did he plan to take what he wanted regardless of whether or not she gave it to him?

I’m kind of…

The show’s not-great dealing with sexual assault aside, I’m probably going to be more charitable than I ought to be. The problem is that we’ve missed a lot about how they resolve conflicts by jumping ahead to Memorial Day, 1966. It’s different from both Pete’s rape of the nanny and Greg’s rape of Joan. Both Don and Megan are acting out in their own ways — she recoiling from her involvement in his cynical world and how she’s largely peripheral to it, he from her not understanding his wishes to keep certain parts of his life separate and more general control freak issues — and this seemed more like how they fight and make up, because all we’ve been privy to is their magnetism toward each other and how good Megan is with Don’s kids.

All that said, that doesn’t mean it’s not sexual assault or rape. The power dynamics on display are just weirder and more convoluted.

I always get a bit confused when female athletes, in this case USWNT forward Alex Morgan, pose for SI’s swimsuit issue — particularly in body paint. I think the politics are fairly obvious despite my initial “wow hawt” response. I think it’s not so much that I object to the choice so much as the cynic in me realizes “this is the most exposure Alex Morgan could potentially have to the average, mainstream sports fan all year, because who knows how women’s soccer at the Olympics will register” — and we’re back to the whole thought about whether the athletes in women’s soccer will receive regular hosannas of their on-field accomplishments rather than having to pose (essentially) nude or appear on reality TV shows.
(SI.com, via Dirty Tackle)

I always get a bit confused when female athletes, in this case USWNT forward Alex Morgan, pose for SI’s swimsuit issue — particularly in body paint. I think the politics are fairly obvious despite my initial “wow hawt” response. I think it’s not so much that I object to the choice so much as the cynic in me realizes “this is the most exposure Alex Morgan could potentially have to the average, mainstream sports fan all year, because who knows how women’s soccer at the Olympics will register” — and we’re back to the whole thought about whether the athletes in women’s soccer will receive regular hosannas of their on-field accomplishments rather than having to pose (essentially) nude or appear on reality TV shows.

(SI.com, via Dirty Tackle)

This is why I usually only make a point of watching these sitcoms on a regular basis:

  • Community
  • Parks & Recreation
  • The Office
  • Archer
  • It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
  • Modern Family
  • Happy Endings
  • How I Met Your Mother (but it’s on probation because the creators have dragged this shit out too long)

Everything else trades in way too much stupidity and insults the intelligence of both dudes and ladies.

EDIT: I forgot Curb Your Enthusiasm and The League — the former because it’s on HBO and the latter because it wasn’t back in new episodes yet. (Next week, y’all!)

I’d have to say that, by far, gender problems are the greatest force driving me away from my childhood obsessions (hip-hop, comics, and to a lesser extent, video games.) Even as a kid I thought that there was a something rather pathetic about ‘boyish sexism.’ At it’s core it’s bullying. But I was willing to tune it out for those aspects I loved. (I had that privilege.) But you get older and you have kids and you have a wife and, somehow, your angry denunciations of “gold-diggers,” and your fantasies about Catwoman simply don’t fit. You have other fantasies.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, addressing the blow-up over DC Comics’ ill-advised reboot and what it’s done to its female characters in a post exquisitely titled "Let Me Empower Myself for Your Pleasure, Master.

It’s Not Gender Warfare…It’s Math.

annaholmes:

(A shorter version of this piece appears in today’s Washington Post. Photo of Google executive and engineer Marisa Mayer via. Headline via.)

Let’s say I was designing a new piece of software to make my life as a writer a little easier. First, I’d program it count how many characters I’d typed out and in what amount of time, in order to document my productivity on any given day. Then I’d ask it to compare words, phrases, sentences and entire paragraphs from one draft to the next, in order to calculate how much of what I’d written had changed…or stayed the same.

Read More

Obviously, it isn’t the main thrust of the piece (which you should read in full if you have time), but I’m additionally fascinated how this problem almost always comes down to two things:

  • the American concept of how children and teenagers are socialized
  • how lousy our K-12 schools can be because there’s no real exposure to fields like computer science in most of them

Not that this is anything more than anecdotal (also: I’m a dude), but the first real computer science class I was able to take was in college. I went to a pretty damned good high school in the Denver suburbs, and even we didn’t do this! You had to already be tapped into computing to begin with.  I struggled in that class in a way that makes me think I’d have been a lot better at programming — and maybe would have really enjoyed it — had I been exposed to it earlier.

But that was the late 90s. Now, the fact that you have an entire high-paying sector of an essential component of our economy that’s viewed as largely the purview of socially inept nerds with a few out front who are presentable enough to be fetishized is kind of a bad thing because the numbers don’t bear out well for society as a whole. It’s not as if anyone in the field designed computer science to be exclusive — in fact, every prof in the department I took a class from or spoke to back in 2001-2003 had similar laments then about the way these things were likely to turn out — but the way we perceive education in general will do damage to us in ways we don’t regularly think of.

It’s that whole flowery sundress, nerdy horn-rims, bicycle basket, put-a-bird-on-it tweeness of the forever child. Also, she records indie rock albums and makes a point of singing a lot in the new show — tra-la-la-la — which only makes it more awful.

Hank Stuever explains what he finds so awful about Zooey Deschanel in his look at the horridness of female characters in television’s fall lineup. (via washingtonpoststyle)

Oh, thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou, Hank Stuever. “Put-a-bird-on-it tweeness.” Perfect.

(via newsweek)

The OG MPDG, typecasting herself. What seems horrifically improbable to any rational viewer is how Zooey Deschanel is supposedly the “ugly ducking” in New Girl. No one with an ounce of suss buys that.

screwrocknroll:

Brand New - Me vs Maradona vs Elvis (Deja Entendu, 2003)

Barely conscious in the door where you stand,
Your eyes are fighting sleep while your mouth makes your demands.
You laugh at every word trying hard to be cute;
I almost feel sorry for what I’m gonna do.
And your hair smells of smoke;
Who will cast the first stone?
You can sin or spend the night all alone.

Nitsuh Abebe on the Weeknd:

And, like [David] Lynch, [Abel Tesfaye] always approaches these spaces through the same old archetypal story: the innocent woman lured by the devilish man into some abject whirl of sex and pills and sordidness, and left broken at the end. The main difference is that Lynch casts someone to portray that man and play him as a blood-curdling force of evil — Dennis Hopper huffing at a gas mask in Blue Velvet, malevolent long-haired spirits and Canadian brothel runners in Twin Peaks, a raged-out Robert Loggia in Lost Highway. Tesfaye plays that guy himself. And he edges the character so far away from villainy — inhabits it so securely, as if this brutal Lothario thing really is his trip — that you begin to wonder how much of it is an aesthetic and how much you’re just listening to a young man be creepy.

It’s really a very creepy and disturbing song — of course, many of rock’s best tunes have some serious gender issues in them.

screwrocknroll:

Speaking of unconventional merch, I’ve long been fascinated that Taylor Swift has her own signature guitar for sale.
Our world has a lot of boys’ clubs — Congress, the Papacy, John Boehner’s golf course — but one of the most concerted sausage fests in existence is that of the guitar nerd. Browse through Guitar World or something, and you won’t just see men all over, you’ll see really hairy men who are rubbing their manly manness all over the pages as if their masculinity is synonymous with the very idea of guitar playing.
(On the landing page of the Guitar World website, there is not a single woman mentioned, though there is a link to its “Girls of Guitar World” page, which features models holding guitars — though not always in a position suitable for playing. In the “Features” drop down menu, there’s a link to this interview with Ana Popovic, a guitarist who is a woman. I did a search for Marnie Stern, and the magazine does have a recent interview with her. These article are both in a sub-section of the site, called “Guitar Girl’d,” which is distinct from and much less prominent than the “Girls of Guitar World” page. Anyway.)
I suppose this is because guitarists tend to be focused on rock, which is pretty male-dominated, and on the technically proficient end of rock in particular, which is even more male-dominated. The result is that when guitar manufacturers want to put an artists name on one of their guitars, it’s usually a man’s name. Fender sells Eric Clapton, John Mayer, and Jeff Beck Strats, and Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore Jazzmasters. There is no Kim Gordon bass, however. In fact, of Fender’s listed “signature artists,” there are no women at all, though the company’s subdvision Squier produced a Courtney Love model, the Vista Venus back in the late ’90s.
Gibson has Eric Clapton, Chad Kroeger, and Buckethead Les Pauls; Pete Townshend and Angus Young SGs; and even a Jonas Brothers Melody Maker. The only Gibson I could find with the name of a woman attached is the Joan Jett Blackheart. (BB King’s “Lucille” doesn’t count.)
And yet, in this hostile market, Taylor Swift has had her own branded guitar for sale through her website since the early days of her career. (I’m not sure when it was first produced, but I noticed it pretty early on, and I’ve been poking around Swift’s career since her first single.) Considering the rest of Swift’s merch leans heavily toward the t-shirts and cute trinkets end of the scale, and considering she isn’t anyone’s idea of a maestro on the instrument, I think it says a lot about Swift that she’s for so long maintained a product that does not traditionally code feminine, but does make a claim for her being a musician and a songwriter. 
Of course, it helps that she has a natural synergy with the label that makes her guitars. It is called Taylor as well. Its other signature models include ones for Dave Matthews, Jason Mraz, and Serj Tankian, but Taylor is the only female artist represented at Taylor.

Not that I have anything particular against Ms. Swift (I don’t really listen to a whole lot of her music because it’s not my style), but the acoustic guitar is one of the two pop music instruments that code feminine, the other being piano/keyboards. Michelle Branch and Vanessa Carlton are the pop-oriented examples I think of, although they’re much more fleeting than Swift is if sales are anything to go on.
I’ve not kept up with Fender’s catalog since I stopped being a serious player, but there used to be a Bonnie Raitt Stratocaster. Raitt’s place in the pantheon of blues/roots/folk-based pop and guitar hero status has always been the exception that proves the rule, though. Most of the time, signature guitars are a sort of perverse economy: they’re only really affordable for experienced players who have customized guitars to the hilt, and many of them lie in the trend of older, male players who know the guitar gods in the rock canon. I see them as a vanity. Additionally, while Taylors are great guitars, many of those same rock names tend to be Martin players — it’s telling that the Taylor signature list is either singer-songwriters or the really obscure type of guitar great that only other players know of (Leo Kottke & Doyle Dykes are very much a part of that camp.)
Guitar World has always been the macho, metal-oriented entry in the American guitar mag world. While I liked a lot of the songs it provided tabs for, I ditched it for Guitar Player once I became a bit more serious, because it treated genres outside mainstream or contemporary rock radio as valid (not that GP didn’t have its own troubles with female artists, but its editors were willing to admit there was a problem and went out of their way to tell its readers about say, Kaki King or remind them of somewhat-forgotten folks like Emily Remler.) Short version: don’t go looking in Guitar World for equitable distribution; it’s too tied up in rock & roll’s past glories.

screwrocknroll:

Speaking of unconventional merch, I’ve long been fascinated that Taylor Swift has her own signature guitar for sale.

Our world has a lot of boys’ clubs — Congress, the Papacy, John Boehner’s golf course — but one of the most concerted sausage fests in existence is that of the guitar nerd. Browse through Guitar World or something, and you won’t just see men all over, you’ll see really hairy men who are rubbing their manly manness all over the pages as if their masculinity is synonymous with the very idea of guitar playing.

(On the landing page of the Guitar World website, there is not a single woman mentioned, though there is a link to its “Girls of Guitar World” page, which features models holding guitars — though not always in a position suitable for playing. In the “Features” drop down menu, there’s a link to this interview with Ana Popovic, a guitarist who is a woman. I did a search for Marnie Stern, and the magazine does have a recent interview with her. These article are both in a sub-section of the site, called “Guitar Girl’d,” which is distinct from and much less prominent than the “Girls of Guitar World” page. Anyway.)

I suppose this is because guitarists tend to be focused on rock, which is pretty male-dominated, and on the technically proficient end of rock in particular, which is even more male-dominated. The result is that when guitar manufacturers want to put an artists name on one of their guitars, it’s usually a man’s name. Fender sells Eric Clapton, John Mayer, and Jeff Beck Strats, and Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore Jazzmasters. There is no Kim Gordon bass, however. In fact, of Fender’s listed “signature artists,” there are no women at all, though the company’s subdvision Squier produced a Courtney Love model, the Vista Venus back in the late ’90s.

Gibson has Eric Clapton, Chad Kroeger, and Buckethead Les Pauls; Pete Townshend and Angus Young SGs; and even a Jonas Brothers Melody Maker. The only Gibson I could find with the name of a woman attached is the Joan Jett Blackheart. (BB King’s “Lucille” doesn’t count.)

And yet, in this hostile market, Taylor Swift has had her own branded guitar for sale through her website since the early days of her career. (I’m not sure when it was first produced, but I noticed it pretty early on, and I’ve been poking around Swift’s career since her first single.) Considering the rest of Swift’s merch leans heavily toward the t-shirts and cute trinkets end of the scale, and considering she isn’t anyone’s idea of a maestro on the instrument, I think it says a lot about Swift that she’s for so long maintained a product that does not traditionally code feminine, but does make a claim for her being a musician and a songwriter. 

Of course, it helps that she has a natural synergy with the label that makes her guitars. It is called Taylor as well. Its other signature models include ones for Dave Matthews, Jason Mraz, and Serj Tankian, but Taylor is the only female artist represented at Taylor.

Not that I have anything particular against Ms. Swift (I don’t really listen to a whole lot of her music because it’s not my style), but the acoustic guitar is one of the two pop music instruments that code feminine, the other being piano/keyboards. Michelle Branch and Vanessa Carlton are the pop-oriented examples I think of, although they’re much more fleeting than Swift is if sales are anything to go on.

I’ve not kept up with Fender’s catalog since I stopped being a serious player, but there used to be a Bonnie Raitt Stratocaster. Raitt’s place in the pantheon of blues/roots/folk-based pop and guitar hero status has always been the exception that proves the rule, though. Most of the time, signature guitars are a sort of perverse economy: they’re only really affordable for experienced players who have customized guitars to the hilt, and many of them lie in the trend of older, male players who know the guitar gods in the rock canon. I see them as a vanity. Additionally, while Taylors are great guitars, many of those same rock names tend to be Martin players — it’s telling that the Taylor signature list is either singer-songwriters or the really obscure type of guitar great that only other players know of (Leo Kottke & Doyle Dykes are very much a part of that camp.)

Guitar World has always been the macho, metal-oriented entry in the American guitar mag world. While I liked a lot of the songs it provided tabs for, I ditched it for Guitar Player once I became a bit more serious, because it treated genres outside mainstream or contemporary rock radio as valid (not that GP didn’t have its own troubles with female artists, but its editors were willing to admit there was a problem and went out of their way to tell its readers about say, Kaki King or remind them of somewhat-forgotten folks like Emily Remler.) Short version: don’t go looking in Guitar World for equitable distribution; it’s too tied up in rock & roll’s past glories.

shorterexcerpts:

katiewashere:

biteofpythias:

i. just. can’t…

“That is a medical problem versus a choice to have sex.”

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you your Colossal Giant Wad of Fecal Matter Impersonating a Human of the Day, Sean Hannity.

non-logic is hilarious except when you realize that this is how an entire political philosophy operates.

Again, this is very simple: anyone who expresses “logic” in this way is basically trying to find any palatable way to say s/he* believes women are second-class citizens.

(*I hate using this but it’s the best hedge I’ve got. I prefer using “he” as a generic pronoun because it’s grammatically correct and that’s the rule, but it’s not exactly enlightened. Then again, not much of what we consider good Standard Written English is particularly reflective of modern mores. It’s part of why we still use it but as David Foster Wallace observed in Authority and American Usage, it’s easy to see why most of the language of the gay, feminist, and civil rights movements go against much of SWE; it really was designed for and by the WASP establishment. This aside is longer than my actual thoughts on the subject matter, but considering that gender politics and equity are the subject, it felt germane.)

If you have not read it by this point, take a minute to read Jennifer Doyle’s fine points on why the women’s national team kit is irksome at best and loathsome at worst.

Basically, What I’m Saying Is:

sadydoyle:

You guys. Isn’t objecting to a pop star whom you feel repeatedly sells the idea that getting yourself attached/married/impregnated by a nice young man is the most important goal of a woman’s life really degrading and demeaning to the young women who feel that getting yourself attached/married/impregnated by a nice young man is the most important goal of a woman’s life??? I mean, it’s not like they got that idea from somewhere! Like, say, a culture that perpetually rewards young women for enacting it and penalizes others as bitches or sluts or pathetic spinsters! They’re just that way, women! With the babies, and the wedding dresses! I swear!

(Boldface and italics my own here.)

I’m fine with letting the girls and women who believe in the italicized passage alone believe that (although I’m not wont to in any way) while telling the culture not to do the boldfaced item. Is it degraded to sell someone something they already believe, whether conditioned to or not? (We then get into really thorny questions about free will in a society the further we go.)

Generally, my issue comes when we try to pretend there aren’t people who believe in those traditional roles and that they’re wrong for promulgating them, even though I don’t particularly buy them. (Yes, I have met women — not many, but a few — who do lean toward the “finding a man/being a mother is most important model.” It bugs me, but that’s her choice to make. (Again, see the will vs. conditioning aside.) But again, I see the point of the camp opposed to Swift’s image (dare we say Swift-Boating Swift? prob not!): it’s hard to be sympathetic to that view when that’s really all you get out of the majority of pop culture in terms of what’s most commonly acceptable for female behavior*; there’s no prominent voice really saying “this isn’t your only option.”

I’ve spent way too much time thinking about Taylor Swift, whom I usually don’t listen to or watch her videos, because I’ve done a lot more of that today than I care to just to feel like I have an idea of what the hell’s going on here and I have to be at work in about 9.5 hours.

(*I would also argue that this dichotomy has bad side effects for men and what’s acceptable in male identity, but those issues aren’t nearly as severe for your trad WASP male as they are for women for obvious reasons and are for a later date. Someone please remind me to write that; I’ll forget.)

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