Friday, May 26, 2006

 

How could I have missed that strip tease?

I don’t know if I’ve been slacking on keeping up with this news in the feminist blogosphere, or if I am just a nerd for rarely watching TV and not keeping tabs on how the latest notions of beauty in popular culture are destroying the world one self mutilating woman at a time-- but tonight I was watching the Showbiz Show with David Spade and I was appalled. Apparently stripping is the new yoga?

What the—

Apparently, Sheila Kelly (I have no idea who she is, which is probably why I am so behind on being enraged about this trend) started the trend of stripping being the new fad exercise regimen. Carmen Electra is in on it too. You know, like Madonna and yoga. Women are now taking stripping classes and saying not only is it a good work out but it is EMPOWERING?

No, stripping is not empowering—in this sense. I have no idea what climbing a pole does for your abs and thighs and I’m sure it’s great. Learning the motions of shoving your vagina in someone’s face can’t possibly be necessary for a work out. Now, I know there are exercises women do with their vaginas, like kegels and such. But we don’t call it stripping. I’m sure there are ways to climb poles and stick your ass in the air without wearing a G-string and high heels. Furthermore, trying to turn men on is never a necessary part of physical health.

Will someone please explain to me how this work out actually pans out when women claim to be exercising? How important is the part where they try do things that would make men have an erection?

The part I find most upsetting is that women are claiming this to be empowering. I don’t think you have to be a radical feminist to see the flaws in that logic. What makes this more empowering than Pilates? If women are in control of their bodies, fine. If women have their best interests in mind, fine. If this is a choice, fine. However, I think there are serious reasons to doubt that women who pursue stripping as a workout may be doing it for purely health reasons.

I get in some tricky water here because I am questioning the empowering factors of an activity that is meant to make men want to have sex with you. I don’t want to risk anyone thinking that I am making the assumption that women who are strippers can’t be empowered women, or that empowerment cannot be found in stripping. I’m not. But honestly, there is a problem here and some diligent investigation and discourse is necessary. This fad is indicative of a larger problem.

Friday, May 05, 2006

 

Not News to Me

Dear President Bush,

Please stop regulating my body. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to be in middle school during the Clinton administration, when comprehensive sex ed was a priority and contraception use was up and abortions rates were declining more rapidly. I know you don’t read the newspaper, but just in case you were wondering why I mention this, check out this article in today's New York Times.

Love,

AG

CC: The Pope, Bill Napoli

PS: This is a funny cartoon.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

 

Taking Feminist Theology as an IR major

What does feminism have to do with international relations? Yesterday I got in a conversation with some people in the building I live in about IR curriculum reform at Tufts. They questioned my statement that feminism is a paradigm within international relations and a discipline on it’s own.

We argued a little about independent variables and positive verses normative analysis. My non-feminist friends told me that feminism couldn’t be a discipline because it is a form of activism and, furthermore, there was no independent variable other than feminism itself. I suggested gender/equality was the independent variable, but here is an example of a foreign policy issue in which both gender and sex are independent variables.

The Pope is making headlines for requesting a document to be written about the feasibility of using condoms during marital sex in one partner has AIDS. (if you don’t think this has anything to do with IR, read this from the Council on ForeignRelations.) Something to consider is The Catholic Church, is one of the largest organizations that does work in Africa related to AIDS, and condoms--the only way to prevent transmission of HIV during sex—are forbidden.

How is feminist analysis helpful in this issue?

Firstly, we can take a look at why the Pope hates condoms. The anti-sexual attitude of the Judeo-Christian traditions is arguably tied to geopolitical issues. According to Merlin Stone, in the book “The Sacred Sexual Customs,” sexual regulation associated with knowledge of paternity were “propagated for purely political motives, aiming at goals that would allow the invading patrilineal Hebrews greater access to land and governmental control by destroying the ancient matrilineal system.” Essentially, penalties against raped women, infidelity and loss of virginity was a way to suppress the society that existed when the conquers came, a society that worshiped goddesses.

Secondly, feminists can also shed light on why preaching abstinence in Africa doesn’t work based on the gender inequalities and sexual practices there. Furthermore, Rape is used a tool of war, and AIDS becomes a security threat.

Finally, we can also look to a gendered analysis of the Pope’s choices to understand the interests of the Catholic Church, just as we can with state actors. Feminist analysis would try to understand the significance of the Church’s exclusion of women to their foreign policy.

This is just one example in the news today. We can study causal relationships between the ways states treat gender and sex and their policy decisions. Look at how often inequality of women in the Middle East is invoked as a reason for intervention. Gendered analysis may actually help us to understand that those are actually NOT the reasons that motivated US intervention, but rather other political concerns.

The point is, the variables of gender and sex are useful for understanding international politics and I can study it without burning any bras.

-AG

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

 

A Quick bit of Good News

Forgot to mention yesterday: The Supreme court rejected a case from anti-abortion extremists who appealed after a Portland, Oregon jury awarded doctors punitive damages.

Monday, May 01, 2006

 

Tired of Being an Angry Feminist

Today was May Day, recently dubbed “A Day Without Immigrants.” To protest new legislation harmful to the immigrant community there was a boycott of school, work and purchasing today. I was at the State House for an internship and I was all geared up for the huge rally that was going on outside on the Boston Common, only to pass a the One Source crew holding mops and giving each other instructions in Spanish. Why weren’t they at the rally?

That dampened my spirits a bit--especially because woman immigrants are some of the most disenfranchised people in this country.

This weekend was actually a huge protest week. There was a 350,000 strong March for Peace Justice and Democracy on Saturday in Manhattan. According to a NOW press release, “The streets of New York City echoed [Saturday] with the chants, songs and shouts of at least 350,000 people from across the United States. Mobilized around the calls to end the war in Iraq, say no to any attack on Iran, and to support the rights and dignity of all people, including immigrants and women, the marchers brought a renewed urgency to the clear demand for change. The march featured the largest antiwar labor contingent in U.S. history.

Initiated by an historic alliance linking a diverse coalition of national organizations -- United for Peace and Justice, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the National Organization for Women, Friends of the Earth, Climate Crisis Coalition, U.S. Labor Against the War, Veterans For Peace, National Youth and Student Peace Coalition, People's Hurricane Relief Fund -- the March for Peace, Justice and Democracy embodied the understanding that all those working for such goals must come together to right the reckless, dangerous, and wrong-headed direction the U.S. government has been following.”

Yesterday there was a huge rally to save Darfur at the National Mall in Washington DC. The protesters were led by students.

But the fact that the people we are trying to help can’t even afford to participate in these rallies is really discouraging. After having helped plan a rally, I realize how much work it is to even get a small showing.

Should we be focusing our rage on more tangible problems?

In terms of empowerment of women…Actually, empowerment is not the right term. In terms of MITIGATING rape, The Women’s Commission for Refugees and Children has been active in promoting ways to end real problems related to the genocide. Women who are displaced because of conflict, like in Darfur, must settle in dangerous refugee camps. When they go to collect firewood they are often in danger of getting raped and exploited. A solution based approach focuses on alternative fuel sources so women don’t get raped as much.

Are people doing more than just shouting about Iran, Iraq and immigration as well? Legal Momentum seems to be doing good work on behalf of women immigrants. I am sure there are more examples and I’ll try to post some when I get distracted from studying for finals.

But until then, I urge you to say hello to the One Source woman who cleans your bathroom. Maybe you should ask her about her kids, or if it meant anything to her that you wore a white T-shirt today and boycotted goods. Maybe if you tell her, it will matter.

AG