Saturday, July 26, 2008

Me again

I seem to have a lot to say all of a sudden.  After last week's discussion and article, I just wanted to call everyone's attention to the "news" (reported yesterday) that boys are not innately better at math (gasp!).  It seems that girls and boys are doing equally well on standardized math tests - take that author whose name I've already forgotten!!

That being said, the same is not true of Minnesota.  According to the Star Tribune, while Minnesotan girls and boys perform at the same level on standardized math tests through the eighth grade, by the time they reach eleventh grade girls fall behind.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I fail at computers...

Okay, here's the actual website:

Women in Athletics

I'm currently procrastinating from studying for the GRE.  Lucky for me, I am able to justify my procrastination by catching up on my news, etc.  Since the article we read a couple weeks ago about Title IX was a little old, I thought you guys might find this website interesting.  This specific page has a few facts about Title IX and there are links to other pages that give more information on the law and its history.  

The fact I found most provocative? "Title IX compliance has been driven by law suits and the threats of law suits.  Although the law states that schools that violate TItle IX will lose their federal funding, in thirty years no school has ever lost federal funding for not complying with Title IX."  Hmm... just some food for thought.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Speaking of body image...

My aunt sent me this (don't ask me where she found it, she sends me tons of weird stuff--she's pretty cool) and I thought it was pertinent to our discussion a couple of weeks ago. I was pretty speechless when I first saw it. And I can't believe that she hasn't had ANY health issues due to her corset. Her intestines and stomach are like IN her uterus. UGH. Anyway, thought you'd like to see it. ENJOY!! Here is the link.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Local Legal Issues That Ties In To Our Most Recent Discussion

Hey, all.

The Star Tribune is the middle of a three-part series about the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP), a program  that is under fire because it costs a lot of tax money and has yet to release anyone who has been "civilly comitted" to the program.

Check it out at


Sunday, June 8, 2008

The new articles post

Hello friends!

The focus of this week's essay is how our culture encourages sexually violent attitudes in young men. We will take some time to look criticaly at classic media from our youth prior to breaking into small groups. It really is amazing to take a feminist lens to things that you enjoyed as a kid... Should you have some fun examples of old T.V. shows, comic books, or video games you are encouraged to bring them but anecdotes are also acceptable :-D

The article is short but I think it will provide ample fodder for good conversation.



Friday, May 30, 2008

New article!!!

This week we are continuing our focus on the media. We have one new article and the half hour long video from last week which Katie linked below. The article talks about the current female body archetype and the industries that push that archetype. I love the quote at the beginning so I thought I'd transcribe it for everyone:

"To men a man is but a mind. Who cares what face he carries or what he wears? But woman's body is the woman."

- Ambrose Bierce

Love, love, love, DZ

Monday, May 26, 2008

A link!

I found this site about singles rights while reading Bust magazine and I thought it was pretty interesting. I never knew there was a line of activism that was pro-singles. That's pretty neat.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Killing Us Sofly 3

Because there were only three of us at the meeting today, and it is a pretty important and eye-opening topic, I thought I would post the link to the video:
I'm sure we'll refer to this video next time, so you should watch it. And if you are so inspired, you can bring an ad as well.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Guess what?! You don't have to read this Sunday.

We're going to mix it up a little bit this week. Instead of reading and then discussing the articles in our meeting tomorrow, we're going to bring in advertisements and watch a movie in our meeting tomorrow.

The movie is "Killing Us Softly 3" and it was created by Jean Kilborne. Some of you may have heard about it before. It deals with the portrayal of women in the media, but specifically within advertisements and what they mean for our society. So thinking on that same page, it would be great if you guys could bring in a few advertisements yourselves and we could discuss them after the movie. I've found that designer clothing advertisements are the most offensive...just to start you off. And household cleaning supplies...You get the point. So anyway, see you tomorrow!!!

Oh, and Derek won't be there...he's off scampering in the woods you'll have to deal with just me. Hopefully that won't be too horrible for you guys.
So it just occurred to me that I can't actually go see the play this Sunday because of silly wedding in North Dakota ridiculousness. Could we maybe go on the 29th? Unless no one else can go that day, then I'd just be, you know, out, as it were.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cool website

Hi folks!

Since I almost never get a chance to participate in Sunday discussions due to work, I thought I'd share a link to a website I had forgotten about until today.
The organization and design leaves much to be desired, but there's a ton of information there from a feminist perspective on a topic I'm not sure we've devoted much time to (although, perhaps you have discussed and I just missed it. Either way.). One of the fascinating aspects of this site is how much of the info and research is enhanced with commentary by actual women. Good site. Much fun.

Take care,

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Real Women Have Curves show times/info

May 22: 7:30pm
May 23: 7:30pm
May 24: 7:30pm (ASL)
May 25: 2pm & 7pm
May 29: 7:30pm

At The Wellstone Memorial Center
179 Robie St E, St. Paul, 55107

This play, a microcosm of the Latina immigrant experience, celebrates real women’s bodies, the power of women, and the incredible bond that happens when women work together.
Tickets & Info: 651-225-8106

Hi All,

Above are the remaining show times and info for the show which is being put on by Teatro del Pueblo. Mandi says they do pretty good work and it seems like although there is a cultural lens through which it's presented, there is probably some pertinent commentary involved. I know that many of you are theater fans just like I am, so it might be a fun "field trip" for us all. Katie and Derek had mentioned perhaps going to a performance in lieu of a regular meeting... I will talk to them on this, but I was thinking that perhaps next Sunday, the 25th might be a good day. I could get the tix - they are $16 or $14 for students/Fringe folks - if people are interested. I will run it by everyone again @ tonight's meeting to see about who is interested or if we want to use the meeting time next week, etc.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

New articles!

Hello friends!

This week we will be reading about and discussing what has come to be called America's "rape culture". The readings are not very long this time around but I think they should make for good conversation. The first article is a small sampling of crime statistics which lays the groundwork for the argument that we are in fact living within a culture of sexual violence and the second piece by Michael S. Kimmel discusses male sexuality and the rape culture with many interesting examples.

Much love everyone, Derek Z

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

goodbye and thanks!

i'm so sorry that i wasn't able to make it to the meetings the past two weeks, i've been busy getting prepped for my move to new york and sadly this weekend i leave! thus my sunday participation comes to an end. i just wanted to say thank you to all for welcoming lil ol' outsider me into your group, i've had loads of fun discussing with everyone and sharing ideas and debating and eating cookies.

if any of you care to keep up on my feminist-ey ways, or if you're interested in yet another feminist blog or (monthly book) reading group, check out the blog i co-run over at keep fighting the good fight!


Rate your wife

Hello all. I have yet to make to one of the FDG meetings, post to the blog, or even comment on any postings. However, I've still been avidly following the happenings of this fine establishment and thought I'd pass along a link to an article found on
The article displays a marital rating scale for wives created in 1939. Enjoy the read, it's quite appalling.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

But for realz, I'm pretty sure I can come this week. I don't have a play OR a dinner party. This should be good.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Oh my gosh I hope we like reading at the last possible second

Yay we got the articles up!... getting later every week we'll have to stop this trend.  This week is a focus on reproductive rights courtesy of Katie Chen. 

The meeting is being held at the new Derek and Katie residence located at 4229 Chicago ave S. Minneapolis.  I will try my best to make the living room remotely presentable by 7pm but you will probably have to forgive our filth as we slowly move in.  

Much love friends!  If you feel like making treats I would be much obliged as we have no kitchen at the moment.

Derek Z

Saturday, April 26, 2008

New Articles!

Wowza I'm moving and Katie and I have been naughty and put up the articles very late. This week is some fairly light reading regarding paternity-maternity leave policy in both our country and Norway. Compare and contrast relax and enjoy.

The meeting is being held at Kate Dietrick's house, she will post directions shortly I am told. Her place is less than a mile from my place so its not a huge change.



Thursday, April 24, 2008

My rant for the week.

First of all, I would like to apologize for not speaking up more on this blog. Like the rest of you, I'm sure, I have been incredibly busy and put "blogging" on the back burner. It doesn't mean that I haven't been thinking about the issues. In fact, because I haven't had a place to channel my thoughts, I think that they've been building up...

Now for the rant on the disrespectful behavior of a couple men that I've encountered in the past week.

So I was at the Hennepin County Government Center last week to try to contest a ticket (long story short, I was supposed to have known not to park somewhere because they had put up temporary "no parking signs"--disregard the fact that they were invisible signs! Seriously! Not a single sign in sight! But that is besides the fact.) and I was passing this man who had just stepped on the escalator. As he stepped on, I could tell that he was looking at me--he had jerked his head suddenly to watch me walk by--and I did my best to ignore him. But it was as he continued to travel up the escalator, and I continued to walk away, I could hear him. It was literally like he was having sex with me not only with his eyes, but with his voice.

"Ooooo yeah," he muttered rather loudly. "That's real nice." And he continued to breath in sharply, hissing softly while repeating these pornographic words. "Ooooo, yeah. I want some of that." Softly, mind you, but still loudly enough that I could hear him from many feet away. As I realized that what he was saying and doing was about me, I walked faster and faster until I couldn't hear him any more. I was scared.

I've been cat-called before--I mean, in our culture it's hard not to be cat-called at least one time in your life. But this felt different. I am confident that though I did end up hearing what this man was saying about me, I was not meant to. The words that I heard were his words--meant only for him. Private words. At least with a cat-call, it is a form of communication. A man whistles loudly, says, "Hey, hot stuff!" And she turns and smiles and tosses her hair as she prances down the sidewalk. In reality, cat-calling makes me incredibly grumpy and I hate it, but at least the message is "Hey, I think you're hot, and I wanted to let you know!" And the woman has a chance to respond. With this man, I had no chance to respond. My response was not his goal. His goal was to disrespect me. See me as purely a sex object with no say in the matter. Absolutely disgusting!

I wrote sex object in the paragraph above and laughed aloud, and had you seen my outfit that day, you would have laughed as well. I hadn't showered, I was wearing a sweatshirt and a jacket. I was by no means "sexy." But if wearing a sweatshirt and jeans still caused this disrespectful speech, I can't even imagine what would have happened if I had been wearing something less "baggy and boyish." Because I truly believe that if you can have such awful and uninhibited speech in a public space, I don't even want to know what you would do to me in private.

Anyway, the other man was not nearly as creepy, but he definitely ogled this girl who was walking down the street. She WAS wearing a tight dress that may have been a bit shorter, but this man seriously turned his head sideways to look at her ass as she walked by. It made me immediately laugh out loud as I saw this, but then I wanted to vomit. I know that people get checked out all of the time. I check people out, too. But I feel like there is a respectful and disrespectful way.

Ok, I guess that is done for my actual ranting. Posted below is an additional article that one of my friends found. Though there is not a direct correlation between my rant and this article, I think that you may find a few shared themes.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Amazing new articles (what fun)!

Yay marriage week #2! I want to remind people that, while we should definitely be polite, we really should not hesitate to disagree with one another! Saying "I disagree" is wonderful and should be done even if you don't have the most amazingly articulate way of explaining why when you say it. Hmm the articles...

Katie's article, "Few Good Men", takes a look at the reasons poor mothers are so often single mothers and my "article" is actually the 4th chapter of Arlie Hochschild's book "The Second Shift". Below is a clip from a review of Hochschild's book that introduces it well:

"In THE SECOND SHIFT: WORKING PARENTS AND THE REVOLUTION AT HOME, Arlie Hochschild holds up to the light this and many other strategies by which women and men in two-career marriages juggle work pressures and family needs. Between 1980 and 1988, Hochschild and her research associates interviewed fifty couples at great length. Hochschild also observed family life in a dozen homes. At the heart of her book are the stories of eleven couples. All but two are members of the middle and upper-middle class; each couple has made decisions and developed justifying myths a bit differently. Each has its own “economy of gratitude.”
Hochschild is very much interested in the interrelationships between power--perceived and actual--and bonds of human caring."

Both are wonderful, hope to see you all Sunday!


Monday, April 14, 2008

Kids without Marriage

MPRs Midmorning program today had a very interesting conversation titled "kids without marriage" that ties in smoothly with our meeting last night. The debate is fairly repetitive in that it more or less bounces off the same statistics that people have been using since the mid-nineties BUT I thought that the callers made some fantastic assertions that are worth listening to.

You can listen to the specific episode later tonight/tomorrow when they post it up on the bottom half of the page or just listen to the daily podcast at the top.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

This weeks articles are up!

So early this time! We begin our foray into marriage this week, brace yourselves for a delightful and contentious discussion! The Susan Moller Okin piece has defined my personal beliefs on marriage as an institution, you only have to read up to the little doodle of a man's head for the meeting but I added another chapter to the scan for those who would like to go a little further (the actual article is much longer if anyone would like the whole thing email me). Our second article discusses the connections between marriage and poverty and our current government's belief that marriage is the answer to poverty. We also have a supplemental this week courtesy of Chen which discusses the origins of marriage and the bible. If you are unfamiliar with the origins of the institution please read this piece!

There are going to be two guests missing this week so you are again encouraged to bring a literate friend or mother etc etc.

If someone would like to bring treats, or come early and cook treats, that would be awesome.

Much love friends!


Monday, April 7, 2008

Protecting our Servicewomen

In 2003, the Defense Department funded a survey. It found that almost a third of all servicewomen were the victims of rape or attempted rape while serving in the Armed Services. Almost ONE THIRD. But military bases are not required to stock their supplies with emergency contraception (i.e., EC or the morning after pill). Let's protect the women that protect us.

Here's the N.O.W. website with more information.

Please get involved. We're doing such a great job discussing these issues--let's take action!!!

On a positive note, we've made some progress...

Check out this empowering game for girls, circa 1966:

What if...the ERA had been passed?

Is this a coincidence? You tell me.

So today we talked about the history of feminism, the first and second wave...and the failure of the ERA...and then Kate mentions that Japan's constitution was drafted by our government and it includes EQUAL RIGHTS for both men and women.

And then this was on the front page of We wondered how life would be different if men and women were equal BY LAW in this country. Maybe we can take a hint from Japan. I am tongue in cheek, of course...I think. It is an interesting twist, nonetheless.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Influence of Whiskey and Women

Here's a comical account of how women gained equality in traditional Hawaiian society. This is Mark Twain's interpretation of it, anyway.

"Old Kamehameha I was dead, and his son, Liholiho, the new King was a free liver, a roystering, dissolute fellow, and hated the restraints of the ancient tabu. His assistant in the Government, Kaahumanu, the Queen dowager, was proud and high-spirited, and hated the tabu because it restricted the priviledges of her sex and degraded all women very nearly to the level of brutes. So the case stood. Liholiho had half a mind to put his foot down, Kaahumanu had a whole mind to badger him into doing it, and whiskey did the rest. It was probably the rest. It was probably the first time whiskey ever prominently figured as an aid to civilization. Liholiho came up to Kailua as drunk as a piper, and attended a great feast; the determined Queen spurred his drunken courage up to a reckless pitch, and then, while all the multitude stared in blank dismay, he moved deliberately forward and sat down with the women! They saw him eat from the same vessel with them, and were appalled! Terrible moments drifted slowly by, and still the King ate, still he lived, still the lightnings of insulted gods were withheld! Then conviction came like a revelation--the superstitions of a hundred generations passed from before the people like a cloud, and a shout went up, "The tabu is broken! The tabu is broken!"

Moral of the story: the ERA could have used a little more whiskey.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Oh the new articles what wonder and delight!

Yes the new articles are up. The focus this week is a "history of feminism". The pieces look at the development of feminism and the social reaction/backlash to said developments. Find time to read and then come eat cookies and chat on Sunday!

Much love, DZ

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

good lord...

I clicked some random conservative advertisement off the Drudgereport and it blew my mind.. so I thought I'd share it with the group:

There is a lot to get skeeved by but the ones that feed off of the "secret Muslim" xenophobia really gave me the creepers. This is an advertiser on the most frequented news source on the internet... is this crap that mainstream?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

man = meat

i thought this commercial was a good preface to the discussions tonight!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

I think we talked about Dr. Laura at the last meeting....

Oh merciful heavens!

Yes the articles are up and you should find time to read them tomorrow afternoon and the afternoon after that! Katie and Anita are abandoning us this week due to a choir concert so you are encouraged to bring at least two literate friends should you feel so inclined.. oh much love all and extra love to Kate Dietrick for her vision and guidance with the articles.

looking forward to feeding you cookies, DZ

Friday, March 28, 2008

gender roles

derek, here's that discussion on the view on transgender kids and boys wearing dresses. i'm not an avid view watcher, but loads of stay-at-home moms watch this all the time--listen to the bullshit sherry shepard says and the applause she receives from the audience.

Friday, March 21, 2008

I found an interesting passage from an article about social animals:

"Because males are often the so-called dispersing sex, while females stay behind in the support network of family kin, females form the political backbone among many social mammals; the longer-lived the species, the denser and more richly articulated that backbone is likely to be."

Why is it, then, that women are often criticized for job-searching in their local community rather than accepting jobs that require relocation? As a post-grad, there seems to be the idea that committed, career-minded individuals will move across the country on the whim of an employer. But for women searching to maximize their influence, a large network of contacts and support might be more valuable than the "perfect job."

Also, if women have more influence because they maintain stable communities, shouldn't we see more women in politics?

Here's the article from the NY Times, if you'd like to read the whole thing.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Obama Speech

Hey, guys, it's not explicitly feminism related (although it certainly can be applied), but I would encourage all of you to watch or read Barack Obama's speech he recently gave in Pennsylvania in response to his former preacher's comments. Basically, he does exactly what I was hoping he would do if he became president (before even clinching the nomination), which is to publicly address to the American people that inequality is still a huge problem and that everyone is a part of that problem.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Revelation! (sort of)

Dear Team Feminism,

I just wanted to write a quick thank-you note for our conversation at last night's meeting. As some of you may or may not know I've been dealing with a break-up over the last couple of weeks that has been quite difficult for me, primarily in the sense that I've felt a pretty profound sense of loss over the relationship and the fact that this person was, at one point, someone I really felt I could grow with. In an effort to keep this short and in order to respect the fact that this group is not primarily meant to be "group therapy" I won't go into more details. However for some reason at last night's "session" (there I go with the therapy terms...) I was finally able to come to really internalize the possibility and even the likelihood that this person may not ever be able to provide the intellectual and emotional encouragement that I would look for in a committed, romantic relationship. Also, the idea that each individual is a whole person, even without a man (*gasp*) was really reinforced by our thought processes yesterday; and, although I have always readily and eagerly embraced that fact regardless of what is going on in my life, I was not really "feelin' it" enough to apply it in my current healing process until last night. It really helped me to reflect on these issues with an articulate group of individuals such as yourselves - sometimes even though you "know" something, it just needs to be said in a different way (or many different ways) in order for it to really apply.

So, I won't make you spend any more of your time reading this, but just thanks very much for inadvertently (or advertently) providing me this emotional clarity through your logic and conviction. I can now go to Spring break in Mexico ready to show off my toddies in a more empowered and feminist-inspired manner.

Kisses and margaritas on the beach,

Friday, March 14, 2008

more language speak

all of this talk about language reminded me of this hyperactive man who makes my blood boil. because, heaven forbid, i believe that the word "his" stands for men only and not all of humankind. oh wait, sorry, should i have said mankind? because clearly as a woman i'm represented when you say mankind.

To Adam

I entered this conversation late, and so I decided that it needed it's separate post...And I threw in a picture to make it more entertaining.

I understand that you feel a great passion for the English language and all of its abilities, as well as acknowledge your urge to keep it pure and untainted by the feminist minority. The English language has been around for quite a long time, and it has, as mentioned in other posts, changed, and changed, and changed, through a process of linguistic evolution, if you will. The words that we use now in our correspondences, our explanations—our descriptions of everything—are completely different than what would have been used hundreds of years ago.

Language is ever morphing into something different than it was before. And usually the change is forced. Especially if commonly used words are realized to be offensive. Think of only a few decades ago. Our country had a whole slew of accepted yet incredibly offensive words for every single minority that “invaded” our soil. I use the word “invaded,” because with slang words like “chink,” “nigger,” and “spic,” it is pretty obvious that the diversity was not welcome.

There were publicly correct terms for the immigrants that came from their respective countries, but many people continued to refer to them using disrespectful slang. And it wasn’t because of a loss for words, or laziness, I would argue. It was because the majority of people in this country had their feet plunged so deeply and securely in the mud of tradition, and they weren’t going to budge. They did not want change—as people in power usually don’t. If they accepted the change, they would have to accept the fact that their traditional life would end. Disrespectful slang is the byproduct of that unhappiness, and it shows an unwillingness to change and progress forward. To change the language and begin using “PC” terms would be to accept that change was happening, and it was there to stay. And it would also give respect to the people that they so deeply despised at that time, and ultimately didn’t want to give equality to.

I know that I have been speaking about racial issues and terms, but this is only an analogy for the term issue that has been the topic of this blog. This country’s tradition is so engrained in our language—which is why so many of us love it. Words in the English language are so beautiful and eloquent, but they are also powerful. Each word has years, decades and sometimes centuries of history behind them. Which is also why it is important to remember that in order for our society to progress forward, and let the unequal citizens rise up and become at the same level as the rest—we will have to let go of some words. And with that, let go of the idealistic traditions that go along with them.

Words are powerful, and with that power should come the knowledge and respect to not use certain words. It may be inconvenient to have to remember what term is “PC” at that time—but I really don’t think that it is that difficult. The common argument against “PC” terms can be turned around. They are just words, and in that aspect, it is easy not to use certain ones and instead replace them with words that people would prefer you to use. It is no sweat off your back, and you didn’t offend anyone. In fact, if you do know the right term, chances are you have been aware your local civil rights or feminist issues.

These are not petty little terms that should be taken lightly, and it is not an issue that should be dismissed or condescended. It is a real issue--because without words, how are our values and traditions expressed?

Now, to finish up this comment, which is already long (I apologize—only to be polite, though, because I had a lot of important things to say), I have two definitions that I would like to share.

The first word is one mentioned in another post:

Stewardess: It is defined as 1) a woman flight attendant, and 2) a woman who attends to the comfort of passengers on a ship, train, or bus.

Steward: It is defined as 1) a person who manages another's property or financial affairs; one who administers anything as the agent of another or others, 2) a person who has charge of the household of another, buying or obtaining food, directing the servants, 3) an employee who has charge of the table, wine, servants, etc., in a club, restaurant, or the like, 4) a person who attends to the domestic concerns of persons on board a vessel, as in overseeing maids and waiters, 5) an employee on a ship, train, or bus who waits on and is responsible for the comfort of passengers, takes orders for or distributes food, 6) a flight attendant, 7) a person appointed by an organization or group to supervise the affairs of that group at certain functions, 8) U.S. Navy, a petty officer in charge of officer's quarters and mess.

Now, first I would like you to look at the most obvious visual difference between the two definitions: one is short, and the other long. But wait. There’s something wrong with that. According to your theory, male and female labels for the exact same position should also have the exact same definitions. The only difference should be that one says “male flight attendant” while the other says “female flight attendant.” Obviously, however, this is not true. Instead we find that the steward—the male version of the word—is incredibly long and detailed. The word has many more connotations than simply a “flight attendant” like the female version. It speaks of responsibility, management, financial affairs, property… Even our dictionaries acknowledge that there is a difference between the two so-called “gender-equal” positions.

Now, I won’t go back into what this means—I think that Derek and Mandi did a wonderful job of explaining why these words are not “PC” anymore, and why it is important to recognize and acknowledge the fact that they are not “PC” for a very good reason. I will, however, go back to my first point.

This country has been sexist and racist for years. It would be naïve of us to believe that the residue of such times hasn’t seeped into the language that we use today. It is important to, with every step forward in social justice and equality in all categories—gender, racial, sexual orientation—that we make sure that our language reflects and promotes the change that we have made. We must not hold onto the words that are attached to values and traditions we no longer hold.

Also, why criticize something if you cannot ever be sure that you truly understand the connotations. You most likely will never be a woman, and thus will never understand what these “petty” word differences really mean and to truly comprehend their negative implications. Even if you have criticisms of the “PC” movement (and it’s not just supported by the feminists!), on the off chance that it could help, wouldn’t you? If not, that unwillingness, along with the criticisms that you have for even the possibility that language may be an important factor in changing sexist attitudes today, leads me to believe that you may be critical of the feminist movement itself. Otherwise you wouldn’t be questioning this word game—you would be doing all that you could to change the injustices and the inequalities—even, and especially if it meant having to remember that it is “server.”

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Printing suggestions

Thanks for posting those articles, Derek! True, the article about evolutionary psychology is fuzzy, but it's definitely readable. Try hitting "Fit to Printable Area" if it prints out really tiny the first time.

This is going to be a great discussion! What *are* the limits of sex and gender? What is innate and what is learned? Ah, sweet Nature v. Nurture... we'll figure you out someday.

The new articles are finally up!

Sorry that took so long.. the Michael S. Kimmel piece is both of crappy image quality and 4mb large... which is what I stayed up until two last night trying to fix and failed. So sorry for the big download.. maybe it will look better printed out? Here's hoping!

Waitress/Stewardess argument

I am totally happy to take on this argument, because it is a totally "PC" related issue that is actually a bit more important than it would seem.

So the problem we are dealing with here is on the unfortunate (and obnoxiously persistent) socially constructed "subtle sexism" that just doesn't seem like a big deal, but its what keeps the problem going.

The big question is why do we need to have separate titles for men and women who are doing the same job? There is no reason why a woman bringing you food & drinks needs to be differented from a man doing exactly the same thing.

Unfortuntaely, in the standard understanding of the difference between "waitress" and "waiter" there is a huge gap. When you first think of a "waitress" (stereotyping here, of course) the image that comes into most peoples' minds is that of a tacky short polyester dress with a ruffled apron and a dorky headpiece. When you think of a waiter, do you visualize sort of a classy dude in nice slacks and a shirt and tie, if not a full tailsuit? (just do a search in Google'll see what I mean. The same goes for the steward v. stewardess argument). Why do we think of waitresses as greasy spoon gals, while the fellows that wait tables are high class gents? The women are also typically portrayed in the images I found as highly sexualized things. The "stewardesses/waitresses" I find look like they are willing to serve passengers much more than a cup of tea...this is why it needs to change. Not because this is true, but we're trying to get rid of stereotypes and automatic associations. So we needed new terms. The industries chose "server" and "flight attendant". That's their choice, we just have to live with it.

The theatre industry is working on a similar problem. The "actress" image is that of a swooning woman in a puffy dress. They decided that all performers are now "actors". There is a lot of enthusiasm for this movement, but the word actor is still associated with the male sex, so the women who choose to be called "actor" immediately get a masculine tag attached. (They're trying).

This is why people in the service industry are using new terms that are (at this point) not gender classifying. Because a person's sex and their ability to do a particular job are completely unrelated and that idea needs to become part of everyday life.

Jobs that have always been traditionally male have never had this problem, so as women FINALLY make their way up the ladder of career success there is no preexisting name to denote gender. I mean, no one has ever heard of an investment bankerette? Or a divorce lawyeress?

Its just another tiny branch of the "abilities and sex are not related" argument, which will continue to arise until women are fully immersed at an equal level in the career world.

Pay no attention to the woman behind the wheel...

"A Saudi woman courageously defies driving ban..." It was her protest in honor of International Women's Day. No doubt many of her counterparts in the U.S. protested in like manner.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Death of the Waitress

I come to this blog with the sole inference I can draw, namely, that I have been invited to taint the textual lines herein with a splash of devil’s advocacy and to provoke – perhaps unwittingly – conversation among the like-minded and good natured gentle membership of this site. I write today with a purely inquisitive frame of mind, and do not intend to toe the line of rhetoric- no matter how seeming it may be to the subjective mind of the reader.

Whether one agrees with the central aims of the post-modern movement toward what many identify as “political correctness,” no one can deny without losing all standing for intellectual honesty that the movement was largely, and continues to be, driven by feministic thought. I often find myself committing that fatal error of pronouncing some un-PC utterance, but after all, I am admittedly antiquated in my notions; perhaps I’m just too lazy to stay abreast of the evolutions our language undergoes. One day its “waitress” the next its “server.” It really is too much for me. Yet, must it be?

I pose this question in the hope that someone might enlighten me, for I have yet to hear a reasonable explanation for the alterations made to my beloved linguistic fabric. My quandary is perhaps best analyzed by anecdote. I was out to dinner with a female friend of mine. In an offhand remark, I queried as to what my date would like to drink “when the waitress gets back.” By the look on the face across the table from me I thought I had unknowingly desecrated her family’s ancient scrolls. ‘Twas not the scrolls however, it was my use of “waitress.” I was frankly puzzled, I was at a positive loss for words. I was also three sheets to the wind.

I still have yet to understand why “server” is somehow inherently better, and thus preferred, over “waitress”. The only explanation I have ever received is that “waitress” is not politically correct. But why? And says who? If the word is deconstructed to its syntactic components, is it because “waitress” somehow sounds like someone is waiting on me and is thus my subordinate? This can’t be so, because “server” is much more similar – both linguistically and phonetically to “servant”, and surely servant is far worse than the impliedly demeaning nature of one who waits.

The same goes for “steward” and “stewardess.” My last flight would’ve been pleasant but for the uncomfortable correction at the gate to the effect that: “Sir, it’s flight attendant, not stewardess.” I felt shame. But why? Why is “flight attendant” the preferred jargon? Is it because it abolishes sexual (sorry, gender-based) distinctions? Both men and women (and other?) can now fall under the all-inclusive umbrella of “flight attendant?” I fail to see the virtue in that. All it does is strip our language of its enticing diversity. It also threatens, in the long-haul to reduce the pages necessary in dictionaries, and after all, this site is in part sponsored by Merriam Webster. But I digress...

In the totality of the world’s ills, my point seems miniscule, flippant even. But I am weary of the English language losing its color and clarity, and the exactitude I've come to love. I hope someone might set me right and satisfy my desire for an explanation.

And in the spirit of blogging, I cannot take leave without linking to at least one site in support. See Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D for a brief essay on this topic.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Leave my book alone Washington Post!

Woven throughout the articles that Kate posted below was a disdain for one of the best damn books I've read this year Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I personally found the author's journey to be inspiring, eye opening, and, arguably up until the end (no spoilers, I'll pick a fight with anyone who has read the book that it actually still is), quite feminist through its critical look at our culture and how it treats women when they stray from the roles expected of them. I would like to prove that it isn't vapid drivel as implied in the Post editorials. Please enjoy pages 94-95 of the aforementioned book:

Getting out of a marriage is rough, though, and not just for the legal/financial complications or the massive lifestyle upheaval. (As my friend Deborah once advised me wisely: "Nobody ever died from splitting up furniture.") It's the emotional recoil that kills you, the shock of stepping off the track of a conventional lifestyle and losing all the embracing comforts that keep so many people on that track forever. To create a family with a spouse is one of the most fundamental ways a person can find continuity and meaning in American (or any) society. I rediscover this truth every time I go to a big reunion of my mother's family in Minnesota and I see how everyone is held so reassuringly in their positions over the years. First you are a child, then you are a teenager, then you are a young married person, then you are a parent, then you are retired, then you are a grandparent - at every stage you know who you are, you know what your duty is and you know where to sit at the reunion. You sit with the other children, or teenagers, or young parents, or retirees. Until at last you are sitting with the ninety-year-olds in the shade, watching over your progeny with satisfaction. Who are you? No problem - you're the person who created all this. The satisfaction of this knowledge is immediate, and moreover, it's universally recognized. How many people have I heard claim their children as the greatest accomplishments and comfort of their lives? It's the thing they can always lean on during a metaphysical crisis, or a moment of doubt about their relevancy - If I have done nothing else in this life, then at least I have raised my children well.

But what if, either by choice or by reluctant necessity, you end up not participating in this comforting cycle of family and continuity? What if you step out? Where do you sit at the reunion? How do you mark time's passage without the fear that you've just frittered away your time on earth without being relevant? You'll need to find another purpose, another measure by which to judge whether or not you have been a successful human being. I love children, but what if I don't have any? What kind of person does that make me?

Virginia Woolf wrote, "Across the broad continent of a woman's life falls the shadow of a sword." On one side of that sword, she said, there lies convention and tradition and order, where "all is correct." But on the other side of that sword, if you're crazy enough to cross it and choose a life that does not follow convention, "all is confusion. Nothing follows a regular course." Her argument was that the crossing of the shadow of that sword may bring a far more interesting existence to a woman, but you can bet it will also be more perilous.

I'm lucky that at least I have my writing. This is something people can understand. Ah, she left her marriage in order to preserve her art. That's sort of true, though not completely so. A lot of writers have families. Toni Morrison, just to name an example, didn't let the raising of her son stop her from winning a little trinket we call the Nobel Prize. But Toni Morrison made her own path, and I must make mine. The Bhagavad Gita - that ancient Indian Yogi text - says that it is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live and imitation of somebody else's life with perfection. So now I have started living my own life. Imperfect and clumsy as it may look, it is resembling me now, thoroughly.

nothing says monday morning like a little sexism with your coffee

hey guys, it was nice to meet you all last night! it's so great to get conversation going, how i've missed intellectual interactions!

so i had mentioned that horribly sexist article in the washington post where the author, charlotte allen, falls into some god-awful sexist language in her article we scream, we swoon. how dumb can we get? here's just a little taste:

"I swear no man watches "Grey's Anatomy" unless his girlfriend forces him to. No man bakes cookies for his dog. No man feels blue and takes off work to spend the day in bed with a copy of "The Friday Night Knitting Club." No man contracts nebulous diseases whose existence is disputed by many if not all doctors, such as Morgellons (where you feel bugs crawling around under your skin). At least no man I know. Of course, not all women do these things, either -- although enough do to make one wonder whether there isn't some genetic aspect of the female brain, something evolutionarily connected to the fact that we live longer than men or go through childbirth, that turns the pre-frontal cortex into Cream of Wheat."
for more of her awesome insights, check out the whole article. like i said, the feminist "blogosphere" erupted with quite the furor--thank god people were appalled like me. the always fantastic katha pollitt wrote a reaction piece, also in the washington post, blasting gender stereotypes and saying pretty much everything i wanted to say. furthermore, so many people were outraged that charlotte allen, who claimed that the article was "tongue in cheek" (coughbullshitcough), had a live chat where people could send in their questions to her regarding the article. it lends itself to some good reading, if only to make you more angry that the washington post actually gave this woman a platform for her sexist dribble.

anyways, i spend far too much time at work reading things online, so i'm sure i'll be hella annoying in posting links to articles and such all the time. what can i say, i work in a library and i read a lot.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

"She looks like a hooker..."

I had a wonderful time tonight. I cannot tell you all how refreshing it was to sit in a room with people that think about the same things that I do. Being out of school and in the "real world" where, like Kate said, "I'm one of the smarter people in society", it can get hard. So, thank you all for coming tonight.

Anyway, as I was continuing to think about all of the many topics that we covered tonight, I realized that though we went into great depth about sexuality, and how we express it through our dress, I did not say all that I wanted to say. Our conversation dealt primarily with dressing and the fine line between dressing sexy in an empowering individualistic way, and dressing for the purpose of the male gaze.

It got me thinking about why were conversing about that topic in the first place. Obviously, it is a severe problem in our culture. Rape, teen pregnancies, sexual assault, and sexual harassment, are only some of the severe gendered issues that are prominent in our culture that inadvertently correlate--whether we like it or not--with the issue of women's dress. But I think that it is easy to take this topic of women’s dress, and take it out of the context of society and see it as mainly a women's issue.

But I ask you: why are we only talking about the way that women dress--sexy or not sexy. Empowered or not empowered--all the while, the topic of men's dress not mentioned at all. Why aren’t we talking about the sexiness of the male half of our culture? Do they dress sexy to feel empowered? Last I heard, that was not so much the case. So how is that equal? Isn't that the goal in the end? Equality?

Currently, there is no caveat on men's dress. The only comparison that I can think of is the male style that has been labeled as "metro-sexual." Let's just try and use this manner of dress as the male equivalence of "sexy". Clearly the males that dress in this manner are doing so to look attractive, but even so, if a man dresses "sexy" at the work place, he will most likely never be questioned. He can wear whatever he wants. The manner of his dress will most likely never be brought up to him by a superior.

Is it possible that the patriarchal society was once again taken for granted as "normal" in our conversation? Did we forget that the reason that particular clothes may be categorized as "hooker dress,” is because of the objectification of women in the first place--which is also caused by male dominance?

Styles of clothing have been and will be forever changing. What was once thought of as scandalous in previous centuries might not be seen as such now. Pictured above, the every-day dress of the Minoan culture, located in the Crete and Aegean area during 1700 BC depended on the exposure of the breasts. All other parts of the women’s dress was fitted, and quite remarkably similar to Victorian skirts from our culture's history. The breasts were celebrated and thought of as beautiful. Though I know nothing about the treatment of the women within that culture, I know that it was acceptable behavior to expose and flaunt their breasts without being deemed as the town prostitutes. In fact, the majority of women who dressed in this manner were of the more wealthy families.

Skin is just skin, so it is our society that determines what is appropriate and not. At this point in time, the women's breasts are deemed "inappropriate" to reveal, while men walk around topless all of the time. Personally, I find that unfair. Just as unfair is the fact that if I happened to wear a shirt that was more low-cut and showed the very tops of my breasts (a bit of cleavage) I would get comments behind my back that go along the lines of, "She looks like a hooker..."

Women are judged by the way that they dress, and like the female rape victim that is criticized for wearing "scandalous" clothing at the time of the crime (she was asking for it, right?), she is somehow held responsible for the emotion and behavior that her clothing supposedly causes. According to this mentality, men have absolutely no control over themselves when it comes to scandalously clad women. They simply cannot help themselves.

Unfortunately, this is the justification for the violent actions that men take against women. Already, there is the male dominance that pervades in our society, and this is just another way that it happens. A woman dressed scandalously just gives society a justification for the crime against her. A socially accepted “reason,” as sick as that sounds. Like the strand of hair that peeks out of a Muslim woman’s scarf in Iran that causes her to be sexually harassed, it only gives a justification to do so. Let’s be honest here. Hair does not excite men to the extent where the only thing that they can do is rape the woman to whom the hair belongs. Similarly, I doubt that a little cleavage is enough to excite a man enough to lose all sense of thought and cause him to use sexual violence against her.

It is all about the symbol of the cleavage, and the justification our society creates for the behavior that surrounds it. “Sexy” and “empowered” are two words that don’t always describe the outcome, when talking about a woman’s outfit. Hopefully with a continuance of education on the gender issues of our society, that will change. Until then, I will be wary of supporting the Cosmo-mentality of thinking that these two words always go together.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

International Women's Day

¡Bienvenidos Compañeras!

It is suiting that the burgeoning light of the modern feminist movement (A.K.A. “No Fat Chicks” the feminist discussion group) should come just one day after International Women’s Day. Surprise-surprise, but this is not a recognized holiday of the United States (A.K.A. “La Tierra Del Machismo”). While our very own Jason Lewis claims on Minnesota airwaves that the college rape epidemic is “a lie,” our “glass ceiling” has been cast iron, and the walls of ignorance and marginalization are slowly closing in. Young girls become indoctrinated to believe that their claustrophobia is the byproduct of too much time in gym shoes and on the rag and not enough time playing doll or playing with dolls. But statistics don’t lie, for that is the province of talk show hosts and history books. And though the movement to suppress feminist discussion is winning, the war is far from over. For mere conversation, in a society that only sees flames on the wall (thank you Socrates), is a slippery-slope that will galvanize all whom it touches. I look forward to meeting you all on Sunday.

And on this Saturday, let us remember the intimate connection which the feminist struggle has with all other struggles in this society of oppression. A day founded among perpetual class struggle, International Women’s Day and the women’s struggle will forever be sisters with world class struggle. Their goals are not mutually exclusive nor their struggles separate. But, their successes are wholly and necessarily contingent upon each other. Because of the 1/3 of the world’s population that lives in absolute poverty, according to the World Bank (hardly a beacon of progressive thought), the vast majority of those are women. This statistic does not lie. Let us remember it while remembering the roots behind this great holiday and why it is so important to celebrate.

¡Ya Basta!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Thoughts from a small town in Illinois

First of all, I'm excited that I was invited to be a part of the blog... even though I'm a good eight hours away from ya'll and won't exactly be able to make the meetings.  Being a theory nerd, it's nice to know that I'll be able to get my "fix" after I graduate.  Plus, its nice to have a slightly less academic venue to talk about this kind of stuff (What?!  You mean I don't have to write a 5 - 10 page paper about this?!).

Other than that, I haven't read the articles yet (already I'm the slacker of the group) but I thought I'd bring two things to your attention:
    1) In the aftermath of the Northern Illinois and other shootings, Arizona is considering a bill that would allow concealed weapons on college campuses.  This is frightening to me for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being that some consider the only way to address violence is with the prospect of more violence.  I also fail to see how allowing people untrained in crisis situations and shooting in crowds (and unprepared for the psychological repercussions of actually shooting someone) to carry weapons will, in any way, make me safer.
    2)  According to NARAL Pro-choice America, Minnesota received a C+ in their "initiatives for choice."  This is for a variety of reasons including that, while we protect clinics from violence and provide low-income women with access to abortion and family planning, we also prohibit certain state employees and organizations from receiving funding if they provide referrals to abortion services, require minors to notify their parents before receiving abortions, and allow certain institutions to refuse certain medical services such as emergency contraception, birth control, etc.  Its nice to know that we're above average?  Check out the posted link (well... I'm pretty sure I posted it... I'm not so good with this whole technology thing) for more details.

Happy Feministing!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Yay for feminist readings.

I printed my articles today! And, being a woman, I also 3-hole punched, stapled, and organized them. Just kidding... sort-of. Can't wait to see you all on Sunday.


Just to put it out there, I am an Obama fan...Being a feminist does not mean just voting for a woman just because she's a woman. Still I found this video to be incredibly entertaining and quite hilarious.

Email No. 1

This is the exact email that was sent out this weekend. "Copy and paste" is a beautiful thing.

"Hello friends!

It has been a long time coming but finally it is here: the feminist discussion group! For a few months we have been wanting to get people together to read about and discuss gender issues. Because gender is something that affects all of us daily--whether we know it or not--we thought other people would find it interesting to read about and discuss the topic in a group setting.

The format that we eventually decided upon, is to scan articles, share them with the group through an online blog and then get together on Sunday evenings to discuss what we have read. Also using the blog, we can bring up questions, post additional articles, or discuss the issues if we cannot be at the group meetings. Though we have planned a loose agenda for our meetings and thought out the sequencing of the first few articles, the group will be open to all topics, and group members will be urged to scan and share other articles and lead the discussion as well.

We chose the first two articles posted on the "article dump" because we thought they might be a good introduction to the topic and cover some basic misconceptions about feminism. Our first meeting will be Sunday March 9th at 7pm at Derek's home: 2285 University Ave, St. Paul, MN 55114. Feel free to call if you need help figuring out how to get here or get in the building.

And most importantly, tea and snacks will be provided!
We look forward to seeing everyone! Yay!

Love, Katie and Derek

Here is our blog:
Here is a link to the page where you can get the articles that we post, there is also a link on the blog itself:

The First Actual Post Ever.

I do so hope that this photo --or one like it--was not the first thing that popped into your head when you received your invitation email to the "feminist discussion group". If it was, then yes--they are a good looking group of gals-- but no, probably not exactly what we will be going for. That being said, I should mention that Google found this image to be very pertinent to the search for "feminist". Whether or not this is a good thing could very well be a topic of conversation at one of our sessions. I kid, of course, but WHO knows. I'm hoping that our conversations touch on even more ridiculous things than that. Feminist issues are all around us. Might as well talk about them all.

In all seriousness, however, I welcome you to THE BLOG! Hopefully, you all received the first email that was sent out this weekend, but if for some reason you didn't (some of the emails apparently ended up being labeled as spam, and were never read...I don't know what the deal is). If that is the case, and you would like to know what it said, feel free to look at the post above entitled, "Email No. 1". It's a good read...

As for the purpose of this blog, I would like to make it an open forum where we can talk about anything. Of course, because it is a feminist discussion group, it would probably be preferred that we talk about feminist issues, though--as it has already been determined above--feminist issues surround us, and most everything has a feminist interpretation.

In all likelihood, it will be a place to reflect on the articles that we read for both the group sessions as well as the supplementary readings that anyone is invited to post. Articles that agree with, contrast, or relate in some way to articles that have already been incorporated in the sessions. The posts can be as casual or as formal as you want. You are even invited to use like a journal.

And that about wraps it up. Again, I will remind you that our first session will be this Saturday, March 9th at 7pm at Derek's apartment. See you there!