Monday, July 29, 2013

When you assume, you’re an ass

Quite a while ago, I wrote a paper on women’s education in Iran and the UK.  It was long, and it was interesting (at least to me), and it left me thinking a lot about subtle – and not so subtle – visual cues that we receive in our reading.  For example, in children’s readers in Iran, women are shown in the “proper” roles and places: mothers, wives, caregivers, homemakers.  The images are consistent and an important way to reinforce, from an early age, the roles of men and women in society.

So why did I bring that up?

Well, this past Sunday, I was looking through the coupon booklets in the paper (yes, I clip coupons).  Anyway, I found what I considered to be a horrific spread.

Johnson & Johnson had ads/coupons broken over two pages.
On page one, there were four coupons: band-aids, Neosporin, Benadryl, and Visine. 
The image was of two boys who had apparently just finished (or were about to begin?) playing soccer.  The tag line: “Make sure they’re ready to get back in the game.”

"Healthy Essentials for Boys"

Boys play sports!

On page two, there were four coupons: Stayfree, Carefree, Motrin, and Clean & Clear.
The image was of a girl holding a notebook with other girls looking on (but blurred) in the background.  The tag line: “Help her be ready.”

"Healthy Essentials for Girls"
Girls bleed and need to be acceptable and pleasant-looking!

I say: What. The. Fuck.

Why the fuck would you assume that girls need to be ready with maxi pads, Motrin, and Clean & Clear?  Apparently they need to make sure their faces look good and they aren’t bitchy during that time of the month.  Boys, on the other hand, need to be healthy and not suffering from any physical harm because, of course, they’re boys, so they’ll play hard.

Again I say: What. The. Fuck.

So here’s a shout out to Johnson & Johnson!  Why not assume that, just maybe, women might play sports, too! And boys might need help with their acne!  It’s shocking, I know, to assume that women should be more than just “ready” (perhaps for the boys that are now done playing soccer?).  Why can’t women be “ready to get back in the game”?  Why can’t boys just be “ready”?  Why the fuck do we have to make these assumptions?

Now, obviously, I’m not stupid.  It’s not like boys really need maxi pads, but they can use Motrin.  They can use Clean & Clear.  And girls can definitely use everything on the “boys” page. 

Maybe Johnson & Johnson needs to pay attention to more than just “healthy essentials” and also pay attention to “healthy assumptions.”

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fat chicks gotta pay

Happy, Happy Hippo!
by Ardelfin at morgueFile

It may be somewhat ironic that I’m posting this as I’m currently doing a bit of a lifestyle turnaround, losing weight and getting back in shape.  But let me start with the disclaimer that I am doing so for a number of reasons, and the main reasons are medical (high risk of diabetes in my family) and my urge to be able to run a 5k and take part in roller derby. 

Why did I bother with that disclaimer?  Because it’s important.  Because it matters.

It matters because, about a month and a half ago, I went to a seminar on weight loss and obesity.  It really was a bit of a shill for weight loss surgery (something I don’t need or want), and I was absolutely floored when one of the women there said that she had gained weight after going on anti-depressants, but that she would go off them in a heartbeat if she could lose weight because she’d rather be sad than fat.  But being clinically depressed isn’t just “being sad.”  As someone who has had plenty of my own mental issues, I can tell you that if I could be happy every day, I wouldn’t mind carrying around an extra 20 pounds.  If that’s all it took, I would be there. 

But apparently she isn’t alone.  CNNpublished an article by Rebecca Simmons where she cited that “54% of women 18 to 25 said they would rather be hit by a truck than be fat.”  One of Simmons’ friends, when asked about it, said that, “the thing is…if I got run over it wouldn’t be my fault, but being fat is something other people can blame me for.” 

And, sadly, her friend is right.  Even though 70% of American adults are overweight and more than 33% are obese, research studies show that people who are overweight are often thought of as “lazy, unsuccessful schlubs with no will power.”  

In fact, back in June, a lovely psychology professor (who is now on leave) named Geoffrey Miller went ahead and tweeted “Dear PhD applicants: if you don’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation #truth.” 

He, of course, apologized and said he didn’t mean it.  But he did.  Apologies don’t take it away, and, in fact, his tweet probably did a lot more harm than good.  NBC published anarticle in July that pointed out that “fat shaming” actually increases the risk for individuals to become or stay obese.  “Research has already shown that stigmatizing overweight people leads to psychological factors that are likely to contribute to weight gain – things like depression or binge eating…we know that eating is a common reaction to stress and anxiety – that people often engage in more food consumption or more binge eating in response to stressors.”    

So how does this turn up in my crazy ass feminist blog?

Because, for the most part, society doesn’t mind fat men as much.  Now, I don’t want you to take that the wrong way.  Fat men still have issues, still are looking down on, still are teased and “shamed” and all sorts of other horrible things, and they still have eating disorders (although not as commonly as women), but society does one thing to make it acceptable: they have them on TV all the time.

Think about the classic TV couple.  Honeymooners.  The Flintstones.  Even King of Queens.  The guy can be overweight, but the woman has to be thin and attractive.  Fat guys win thin chicks.  But fat chicks…holy mother of god, no! 

Melissa McCarthy, who is awesome in “Mike and Molly” btw, has been attacked for being overweight – called “a female hippo,” “tractor-sized,” and “a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success.”  

To go back just a few years, I recall plenty of comments like this also being addressed to Roseanne when the show was popular.  Yet, somehow, I don’t remember anyone saying that about John Goodman. 

In fact, in the New York Post’s “50 Fat Celebrities,” more than half are male (although they include Mike Tyson, who I take umbrage as listing as a celebrity when it should be “convicted rapist and felon”).  But regardless, even in this list, the majority of the “fat” women are probably no more than a size 8, maybe a 10.  And that’s “fat” enough to compete with male stars like “Fat Joe,” Vincent Pastore, Orson Welles, Marlon Brando, and Kevin Smith.  Apparently a female size 8 is just too much to handle, but a male size XXXL is what it takes to make the list.  

We need to accept the fact that fat happens, and it can happen for a reason.  Just two weeks ago, I was at an autism conference, and when looking at the effects of genetics, there is a gene that, when it is damaged or changed, can have several different effects, one of which is severe obesity.  Yes, that’s right.  It *is* genetic!  What a shocker! 

Okay, so what’s the message here?

Leave us alone when we’re fat.  Let us be happy if we’re fat.  We’ll change when we’re damn good and ready, and if we aren’t, then suck it the fuck up.  People exist in all shapes and sizes, and we have different genes, different metabolisms, and different goals in life.  If you don’t like that there is a “fat chick,” then it’s your problem, not hers. 

And to the women reading this post – be yourself and be happy with it.  To wish for clinical depression or a hit from a truck is one of the most depressing things I have ever heard of.  Being fat is not something to be ashamed of.  If you wish to change it, do.  But don’t do it because of the external pressure to change.  You’ll never be happy if you’re doing it for someone else.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Let’s all celebrate the royal birth while women keep getting raped and punished for it – wheee!

Girl with a Gun
by monsterdimka at morgueFile

So the news was chock full of the royal birth! Wow, someone had a baby! Can you believe it?  That’s so rare.  Amazing.  Babies being born.  I’ve never heard of such insanity!

But I have heard about other insanity.

For example, I did hear about a 13 year old girl in Austin, Texas, who was gang raped by at least 10 men who recorded the attack with their cellphones and cheered each other on.  

Then I heard about a guy from NJ on a plane who went ahead and sexually assaulted the woman sitting next to him once she fell asleep. 

Finally I heard about how a woman in Dubai was “pardoned” after she was raped.  Yup, you read that one right.  She had to be pardoned because she had been sentenced to 16 months in prison for “having unlawful sex, making a false statement, and illegal consumption of alcohol.”  Of course, the fact that she’s been pardoned means that the man who raped her was also pardoned.  Since her case was dropped, so was his.  

Had you heard about any of those?  Were those things plastered across the main pages?  Or were they dropped down, below the amazing news of a birth? 

Do you know how easy it was for me to find those three stories?  Way too easy in some ways.  Hard in others.  Easy because they’re out there.  There are plenty more that I could toss into the mix here.  But they were hard to find because they get buried.  Because they aren’t important enough, in our eyes, to make it to the top of the list.  Because we’d rather celebrate someone rich popping out a kid than care about women who are being abused and attacked.  Maybe we need to shift our priorities just a bit and start caring about people who need it.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Rape is okay, according to a bunch of completely ignorant students. So you know that’s cool then.

The "No Rape" Ducky
I got doing the "Slut Walk" in Houston
I always read “Winning at Everything” (an awesome website, btw), and there was a “Losing at Sex Education” that showed a poll called “When Is Rape Okay?” that was conducted by a Jacqueline Goodchilds with high school students.  According to the poll, students (both male and female) agreed that rape was okay in certain situations, especially if “He is so turned on he thinks he can’t stop?,” “She is going to and then changes her mind?,” “She gets him sexually excited?,” or “They have dated for a long time?”  In those cases, 21 to 42 percent of women said it was okay.  Thirty-nine to 54 percent of men said it was okay.  (Although, again, these are high school students, so many we shouldn’t call them women and men…)  

Well, I read that and thought, “Nah, that can’t be right! Why the hell would a woman agree that rape was peachy keen okay with her?”  So I did research. 

Yes, this was a real study, and this was for real.  It was, however, done in 1978.  

Sadly, though, I’m not sure that really changes much.  According to the Center for Women and Families, 1 out of 6 women have been raped or been victims of attempted rape.  Of the women who were raped, 38% were under the age of 18.  Only 60% of rapes were reported to the police.  Over 70% of the rapes were not by strangers. (Please keep in mind those are only “rape” stats…sexual assault is a whole different category…but more on that in a future blog on defining rape…)

I think we need to work with women first.  If women are excusing rape, then how can we expect men to acknowledge that it’s a problem?  Women need to be together on this.  They need to agree.  Rape is *never* okay.  We cannot turn a blind eye to those who seem to think that it’s okay, that they deserve it, or that they somehow brought it onto themselves.  We need to increase reports to the police, increase our support of victims to make them into survivors and not victims, and then, and only then, can we actually do something about stopping rape.  Until then, we’re part of the society that allows it instead of actively condemns it.  So spread the word and make it clear: Rape is rape, and rape is not okay.