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We are reborn! Getting shut down by lawyers working for the mafia (it is a long story) hasn't put an end to Feminist Truths.

The good news is that Feminist Truths is back and I have made it my quest in life to deliver truth to the masses.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sarah Palin is NOT a Feminist

FEMINISM - If Sarah Palin is a feminist she's not a very good one. Oh sure, she believes in equality but does she fight for it? Sure, she believes women and mothers perform an important role in society, but does she respect the right of women to make their own choice?

Sarah Palin is an extremist. By extremist I mean she forces her beliefs onto other people. She is a Christian Crusader and her primary interests for getting into the White House (either in 2008 or 2012) is so she can push for banning abortion, ban gay marriages, ban books that support gay rights, feminist rights, etc. and basically do whatever the Vatican and conservative Christian minority wants.

So taking those facts in stride, can we still consider her a feminist? No. She's an anti-feminist which is a very complicated term.

If you thought feminism was complicated you haven't encountered the sheer complexity of ideas and backwards logic that is anti-feminism. Anti-feminism believes (essentially) that feminism is inherently wrong, that feminism is about "male hating" and "female supremacy", etc. Anti-feminism works a bit like the KKK blaming everything on the Jews, except in anti-feminism they blame everything on the feminists. According to anti-feminists we "fem-nazi-bitches" want to destroy marriage, families, promote abortion/divorce, convert to socialist communism, practice witchcraft/wicca and turn everyone into lesbians.

"[Feminism is] a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."
- Pat Robertson (being sarcastic), Feminist Quotes

Women like Sarah Palin like to preach the philosophy of Traditional Womanhood, which basically pushes that women should pursue motherhood first, careers second and essentially be subservient to their husbands demands. In other words a virtual slave in their own home. Its not wonder women in the 18th century got "hysteria" so often, they were driven mad (or at very least really pissed off) from their over-demanding, over-controlling husbands.

There's also something called Conservative Feminism, but frankly its so close to anti-feminism in its ideals the lines become a bit blurred. Conservative Feminism also promotes the idea that women belong in the home first and foremost. Conservative Feminism also promotes Pro-Life when it comes to abortion and promotes Traditional Womanhood/Motherhood. Hardly any differences except women are more likely to identify themselves as Conservative Feminists and men are more likely to call themselves anti-feminists. No big difference at all.

Postfeminism says that women have a choice. They can choose to have abortion or not, they can choose to have a career or not, they can choose to wear skirts or pants, they can choose to wear lingerie if they want to, they can choose to get an education, they can choose to get married/divorced, they can choose to run for public office. Does this make Sarah Palin a postfeminist? No, because she wants to get rid of some of those choices. She still wants to run for public office evidently, and she's not about to get rid of divorce... but she is in favour of denying women a choice when it comes to abortion.

So evidently Sarah Palin falls into the category of Conservative Feminist/Anti-Feminist, and there's very little distinction between the two.

Now what was that I said about 2012? Oh yes, lately Sarah Palin has been trying to distance herself from electoral partner John McCain and has even been arguing with him over several key election issues. Why? She wants to distance herself from him and run for president herself. Currently all the polls are predicting Barack Obama to win 49% to 48% with an estimated voter turnout of 59% (in 2004 voter turnout was 56% and in 2000 it was 51%). Voter turnout is expected to be higher in 2008 thanks to Barack Obama and Sarah Palin.

Indeed these days it seems more like Republican voters are voting for Sarah Palin, not John McCain, as quite a few people expect the 72 year old John McCain to kick the bucket sometime soon.

I know there's a lot of women out there who seem to think Sarah Palin is a feminist, but really she isn't. She's just an Conservative extremist. There's a huge difference. If people still think of her as a feminist it will only serve to give feminists a bad name (as if feminists don't already have enough problems being called "a bunch of baby-killing lesbians").

Admittedly there is a minority of women in the United States who support the idea of banning abortion and no longer giving women a choice in that matter. But is there enough Pro-Lifers to push Sarah Palin into office in 2012?

I certainly hope not.

Remember the Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher? She was Prime Minister of the UK from 1979 to 1990 and the first female Prime Minister of England. She was very good at it too, but there's a problem. She had a lot of feminist support when she first got into power and as soon as she was in power she cut funding to women's groups such as women's shelters, programs to promote literacy and education amongst women, etc. It struck a tremendous blow to women's rights in England. She was a good leader and well respected in some respects, but she wasn't called the Iron Lady for nothing.

If Sarah Palin should run for president in 2012, and win by some ill fate, she needs a moniker that would more effectively describe her Conservative extremist background. How about the Palinbomber? It would reference the willingness of Pro-Lifers to bomb abortion clinics and reference her pro-war stance on the Middle East.

See Also:

A Woman's Choice - Abortion Privacy and the Right to Choose

Womens' Rights in the United States

Monday, October 20, 2008

Women in Sports: Lies, Sexism & Selling Out

FEMINISM - If you look at women in sports what do you usually see?

Actually you probably don't see a lot unless you're looking in a men's magazine like Sports Illustrated and what you will see is a lot of skin and the emphasis will be on sex, not sports.

Men have so dominated the sports industry that when women try to get attention in the business they have to resort to doing something other than their actual sport... namely posing scantily clad. Take Ana Kournikova for example. She makes more money from doing photo shoots than she does from tennis. She's actually not even that good of a tennis player. She's a complete sell out.

The good female tennis players, Serena Williams and Venus Williams, meanwhile are widely ignored because they're black and there's the belief in western culture that black isn't beautiful. Complete nonsense of course, but thats the situation.

"How good does a female athlete have to be before we just call her an athlete?" - Feminist Quote.

Just recently Billy Jean King was on Oprah and then talked about the historic moment in 1973's "Battle of the Sexes" when she defeated male champion Bobby Riggs. Billy Jean King won 12 Grand Slam singles titles, 16 Grand Slam women's doubles titles and 11 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. King has been an outspoken advocate against sexism in sports and society.

And she's absolutely right. There's a tonne of sexism in the sports industry and a lot of it shows up in the mass media in the form of women athletes (who aren't wearing very much).

And you will note quite a few of them are in Billy Jean King's profession: tennis. Also a lot of swimmers and golfers too who are willing to show a lot of skin. Check out the list at: Female Athletes, who takes them seriously?

Frankly there's a lot of myths and lies about women and exercise period. Like the myth that women's weightlifting will make you look like a man.

And the mass media/men's magazines certainly don't help by publishing images that show women athletes as sex objects.

Its bad enough that men's magazines are dictating who are "best" female athletes based on how good they look in a bikini, but they're also setting beauty standards for a new generation of women (and in particular women athletes).

Not every woman falls into the Sports Illustrated ideal of what is beautiful, and certainly not every female athlete falls into that either. Its simply unrealistic.

How about more images of women athletes doing what they do best? Being athletic. Lets see more shots of them lifting weights, running, swimming, jumping.

Relaxing on the beach in a bikini or wearing white shirts and getting soaked in the rain hardly seems on topic and certainly isn't going to inspire the next generation of female athletes.

Women like Billy Jean King, Serena Williams and Venus Williams. Thats what we need more of.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Good Wife's Guide and Advice for Young Brides

Like checking out what people thought of marriage and women years ago? Here's some good topics:

The Good Wife's Guide

Advice for Young Brides

Aristotle: On a Good Wife

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Are High Heels a Detriment or a Benefit?

We had a young journalism student named Sarah contact the Feminist eZine today asking about whether we thought high heels was a detriment or a benefit. Here is some of the excerpts from our conversation, reorganized a bit:

Are High Heels a Detriment or a Benefit?

It really depends. Are you asking with respect to careers or relationships or something else?

ie. A single mother wearing stilettos? Trying to care for a baby and maintain your balance? Think again.

We took a moment to dispel that fashion myth about high heels being invented by men and checked who really made them. Reputedly it was invented by a rather short French duchess, Catherine de' Medici of Orleans, in an effort to look taller. The shoes in question apparently looked like platform shoes. The shoes caught on, styles changed rapidly and we can all blame the French.

As a modern phenomenon we don't think high heels are a "sartorial extension of patriarchy"... and here's our justification:

#1. If men were trying to force women to wear high heels they'd be wanting to go into shoe shopping with women and help them pick out a pair. If anything its the opposite. Men avoid women's shoe stores like the plague and find them very boring. (In contrast you could argue lingerie is a "sartorial extension of patriarchy" because men do actually go to lingerie stores, will even buy lingerie as gifts and depending on the type of lingerie is certainly catering more to men than to women.)

#2. When was the last time a man bought a woman a pair of high heels as a gift? Men, clueless in many ways, have long ago figured out that shoe shopping is a rather personal choice for women, that its more about comfort and looks, and that as men they really don't have a clue how our feet feel, realize that, and therefore don't consider high heels to be an ideal gift.

#3. As you've pointed out, its women who make the active choice to purchase high heels and also choose the length of the heel. Price is certainly a factor as well because a nice pair can be really expensive. We also think personal height might be a factor and it would be interesting to see a chart of how tall average high heel buyers are.

#4. Does Hillary Clinton have to wear high heels all the time? We personally have never seen her feet without her ever-present-high-heels. So evidently she wants to make herself look taller and professional. The same can be said for men wearing ties. There's no rule saying businessmen have to wear ties, but many do in an effort to look professional. Its a societal expectation that politicians and business people try to look professional.

High heels are essentially about trying to look taller, professional and deserving of respect. Why do prostitutes wear high heels? Because they want more respect and to be treated as a higher class.

Do you remember the Glamour magazine editor who said that Afro hair was unprofessional and a bad look? White society expects black women to straighten their hair in order to look professional, but frankly we disagree with the notion that its unprofessional in the first place. We think afro hair looks just beautiful the way it is and black women should be encouraged to stand up for their natural hair. Whats wrong with society is the shock value of afro hair. People in corporate life aren't used to seeing it regularly but that belief will change over time as more black women go natural.

Are men forcing black women to straighten their hair? There could be an argument for that too. A lot of rap videos do show women with straightened hair, suggesting thats what men seem to want. Frankly we think its all about people bending to society's expectations.

The same goes with high heels. People expect career minded women to wear high heels. Are they a detriment or a benefit? Only if people notice them. If someone's on a first date and wears high heels its because she wants to make a good first impression.

So are high heels a detriment or a benefit? At this point we're going to say neither.

We definitely think Crocs would be a detriment, regardless of how comfortable they are.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bus driver molests boy, gets away with it

When I was 11 years old our school bus driver (whose name was Ralph) in Prince Edward Island started letting one of the boys sit on his lap while he drove us all home. He swore us to secrecy because we all knew the boy wasn't supposed to be sitting on the bus driver's lap...

Over a period of a month the bus driver Ralph started molesting the boy, who was about 7 at the time. He started fondling him sexually right in front of us.

We (the older kids) knew that we should be telling our parents, our teachers or the police... but the bus driver knew where we lived and reminded/threatened us. Some of us were also thanking our lucky stars it wasn't us up there on driver's lap being molested. Our previous promise was part of the issue for the smaller children, who were very confused as to what was going on, but for the older kids it was a matter of indecision. We wanted to tell someone but the threat of violence and whether anyone would listen brought serious doubts.

Eventually Ralph became so confident he pulled his penis out of his pants and instructed the boy to stroke it for him. He had to stop the bus at one point because he couldn't concentrate on the road enough.

After that incident myself and several other students went to the principal to complain. Ralph was arrested, but oddly enough never charged. He was fired, shunned in public and people stopped talking to him (or when they did talk it was to shout insults at him).

Ralph eventually moved to British Columbia and we never heard from him again. He was never charged, never listed as a sex offender and for all we know could be driving bus again or coaching baseball for young boys.

The boy, Michael or Mikey, went to psychologists for several years and by the time he was a teenager was a goth and a drug addict. He was messed up for life. Last I heard he moved to Montreal.

My point is thus: Mikey's life was essentially ruined by what happened and Ralph got away with it. I personally still have nightmares about what happened and I'm fairly certain other people involved have been disturbed as well.

What boggles my mind is how Ralph managed to get away scot-free. We had many witnesses and a seriously confused molested boy.

Is that the state of our child protection laws in Canada? That sex criminals get away without even being charged? It makes me sick to my stomach.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Black Womanhood in Art

Wellesley College’s Davis Museum and Cultural Center

Right: DOUBLE FUSE: Wangechi Mutu’s playful razzmatazz makes reference to the past but lives in the present.

“Black Womanhood,” the exhibit at Wellesley College’s Davis Museum and Cultural Center, must have seemed like a sharp idea when it was being put together. It examines the ways in which “contemporary artists are challenging historic and often stereotypical images that present black women as the alluringly beautiful Other, the erotic fantasy, or the super-maternal mammy.” By now this is familiar, if still urgent, stuff; what makes this outing special is that it gathers more than 100 objects — traditional African art, Western colonial photos and postcards, and contemporary art — that connect today’s dissectors with the origins of the ugly stereotypes they’re working to take apart.

Barbara Thompson, who organized the show for Dartmouth College’s Hood Museum of Art in New Hampshire, does a good job of mapping the territory. But it’s an uneven show with a dour vision that leaves a mediciny taste in your mouth — and, I think, offers signs of a generation gap among curators.

The art of African women was traditionally pottery, beadwork, basketry, textiles, and the decoration of their own bodies (tattoos, scarification, hairstyles, body paint). But Westerners collected primarily African sculpture, masks, and costumes — which tended to be made by and for African men. The women’s portrayal of themselves was more abstracted, less obvious than their men’s literal, if stylized, depictions of women. The show presents women-made pots with bumps and patterns that make reference to women’s physiques and body scarification. The women’s pieces emerge directly from their work and their rituals — like a leather skirt beaded by an adolescent girl in her seclusion as she made the traditional passage into womanhood.

The most charged part of the show surveys early-20th-century Western photos and postcards of African women. Western attitudes are apparent in images that treated the women as curious ethnographic specimens and pin-ups — either untamed, sexually available African primitives or Oriental harem girls. Photographers tailored their shots to different audiences by photographing the same models elaborately garbed or in various states of undress. A postcard of a young topless Temne woman lounging on a rug was published around 1910 as “Timnie Girl, Sierra Leone.” When it was republished in the 1920s, the caption read, “Just you and me. Sierra Leone.” These postcards could be the foundation of an electrifying stand-alone exhibit.

Right: HOT-EN-TOT: More of the contemporary work should have Renée Cox’s crackle and swagger.

But “Black Womanhood” — primarily work by black women, with some contributions by men and whites — deflates as it moves to the art of today. Sokari Douglas Camp’s 1995 sculpture Gelede from Top to Toe is an African woman turned into an armored tank of steel and chicken wire with wooden breasts that jut out like battering rams. In Renée Cox’s giant 2001 photo self-portrait Baby Back, she imitates Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’s 1814 painting La grande odalisque by reclining, with nothing hiding her brown skin except for red heels, on a gold chaise longue. Cox asks how race colors our notions of beauty, and she teases black-white, male-female hierarchies. Ingres’s naked white lady is an imagined harem girl holding a fan; Cox has a whip.

More of the contemporary work should have Cox’s crackle and swagger. It should sadden, celebrate, anger. You’d think Kara Walker’s bawdy, violent versions of ante-bellum paper-cut silhouettes would be just what this show needs, but the 1997 pop-up book that’s here is too tiny to convey the fierce beauty of her best work.

The then-and-now focus favors artists whose work is built on looking back — but many artists seem hemmed in by their historical references. And the theme pigeonholes art that is more expansive, like María Magdalena Campos-Pons’s 1994 self-portrait When I Am Not Here/Estoy Allá. The photo shows her naked body from her chin to her belly, everything painted with blue waves. Slung over her shoulders and hanging over her breasts are a pair of baby bottles. Milk seems to drip from the bottles and her breasts into a simple wooden boat that she cradles. A black Cuban native who lives in Brookline with her white husband and their son, Campos-Pons often makes reference to the African diaspora and traditional African art. But her explorations of motherhood, race, and much else have their own rich mysterious symbols, and they’re planted in the present by her sculptural and symbolic use of hair extensions and beads.

These are highlights among contemporary works that are mostly dull, didactic, and rote — like a 1990-’91 photo from Carla Williams’s How To Read Character series that pairs a diagram of the parts of a cow with a photo of the nude artist. It’s art focused more on being good for you than on engaging you. “Global Feminisms,” a survey of recent international feminist art that was organized by the Brooklyn Museum and appeared at the Davis last fall, was similarly full of dour art. This eat-your-broccoli didacticism seems at least a decade behind the times.

In “Black Womanhood,” that’s partly because much of the newish work is at least 10 years old. But it also seems to represent a generation gap among curators who haven’t picked up on the changes in this area of art over the past decade or so. These curators know black and feminist art of ’80s and ’90s, which often took the form of pared-down didactic critiques. What they’ve missed is emerging women artists and artists of color who while continuing to berate the straight white guys who’ve kept their people down also create exuberant visions of what the future can hold. And they’ve embraced lavish beauty — often for its own sake. Among younger black artists, this trend tends to show up as vivid psychedelic colors, glitter, and patterns and fabrics that make reference to traditional African art as well as ’60s and ’70s Afro soul. These artists remain engaged with the past, but in terms of the themes and styles of their childhoods, when the transformations of the civil-rights movement, feminism, and post-colonialism began to be felt.

The single example of all that here is Wangechi Mutu’s 2003 collage and ink drawing Double Fuse. It depicts weird futuristic glam twins with hands made of motorcycle parts and glittering skin-tight outfits with blond hair as epaulets. The patterns recall African art, but the goofy, cheeky, playful razzamatazz is more about beauty than a comment on the past.

Where are Chris Olifi, Mickalene Thomas, Lorna Williams, Laylah Ali, Saya Woolfalk, Yinka Shonibare, El Anatsui, and the Chicago artist Nick Cave? The show would benefit from flashbacks to Betye Saar’s acid 1972 assemblage The Liberation of Aunt Jemima, which gave the icon a broom in one hand and a rifle in the other. Or cartoonist Robert Crumb’s notorious ’60s caricature Angelfood McSpade, which was inspired by racist comics of the 1920s and ’30s.

And though it doesn’t fit the show’s then-and-now focus, I wish “Black Womanhood” had a place for pseudonymous Chicago artist Lo (see www.livingoprah.com), who is spending this year following, as closely as she can, the advice Oprah Winfrey gives on her television show and her Web site and in her magazines. If that doesn’t tell us something deep about black womanhood today, what does?

Taliban kill top Afghan policewoman

Taliban kill top Afghan policewoman

Sarah Palin struggles in unwelcome spotlight on eve of TV showdown

Just because she's a woman doesn't mean she's a feminist or anyone you should vote for. Sarah Palin is a liability, not a benefit.

United States - John McCain’s campaign is putting pressure on the organisers of the vice-presidential debate tomorrow night to go easy on Sarah Palin amid growing alarm that faltering performances in recent days have made her an object of public ridicule.

Yesterday she was at Mr McCain’s ranch in Arizona with some of his most senior advisers, undergoing an intensive programme of preparation for the televised clash with Joe Biden, her Democratic rival.

Only a fortnight ago the Governor of Alaska was seen as a potential saviour of the Republican party, having reinvigorated a previously torpid conservative base with an electrifying speech at the convention in St Paul.

However, after initially being kept away from the media, a series of political gaffes on the campaign trail and an embarrassing interview with CBS have transformed her, politics wise, into a serious liability for Mr McCain.

Nancy Pfotenhauer, a senior campaign strategist for Mr McCain, has asked for fewer questions than might be expected on foreign policy in the debate. Pointing out that Mr Biden – chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations – would have an advantage on such issues, she said that the clash should at least be evenly balanced with domestic concerns. “The moderators will have some questions to answer themselves if they do go so heavy [on] foreign policy.”

In her interview on CBS, Mrs Palin struggled to defend a claim that the proximity of her state meant she was an expert on Russia, was then unable to answer questions about Mr McCain’s achievements in regulating big business and suggested that the military had already won the war in Iraq.

The comedy show Saturday Night Live parodied her as asking if she could “phone a friend” when faced with one question. Some of the biggest laughs, however, came when Tina Fey, the impersonator, used phrases that closely resembled Mrs Palin’s own ramblings.

CBS is said to be planning to broadcast further segments of the interview in which she was apparently unable to name any Supreme Court judgments other than the Roe vs Wade ruling on abortion. An aide said that there was no fumbling on this question, merely silence.

Some conservative commentators have even suggested she be replaced. Kathleen Parker, writing for the National Review, said that her “cringe reflex is exhausted” after watching Mrs Palin exposed so badly. She wrote: “Like so many women, I’ve been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I’ve also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does.”

Mitt Romney, who narrowly missed becoming the vice-presidential nominee, is among those who think Mrs Palin has been overly schooled – losing spontaneity and confidence as a result. “I think they’d be a lot wiser to let Sarah Palin be Sarah Palin,” he said. Advisers said that many people would be appalled at the sneering towards her, and opponents patronised Mrs Palin at their peril. “She continues to be a huge asset who speaks directly to the middle American voter that the media so often ignore,” one source said.

Privately, strategists said that at least expectations have been lowered for the debate. Mrs Palin breezily insisted that she looked forward to going into battle with Mr Biden, who seemed “pretty doggone confident – like he’s sure he’s going to win”. She emphasised how long he had been a Washington insider, saying: “I’ve been hearing about his Senate speeches since I was in, like, second grade.”

Mr McCain has little option but to stick up for her and declare his pride in his vice-presidential pick. In a joint interview with her he defended comments made at the weekend in which she had once more wandered off-message by supporting cross-border attacks from Afghanistan into Pakistan, like Barack Obama had.

Asked what she had learnt from the experience, Mrs Palin replied: “That this is all about ‘gotcha’ journalism. A lot of it is – but that’s OK, too.”

Borderline humour

Mrs Palin in her own words:

‘Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and, on our other side, the land-boundary that we have with Canada . . . As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there . . . right next to our state.’

Saturday Night Live's Tina Fey as Mrs Palin:

‘You got Alaska here, this right here is water, and this is Russia. So, we keep an eye on them. Every morning, when Alaskans wake up, one of the first things they do is look outside to see if there are any Russians hanging around. And if there are, you ask, ‘What are you doing here?’ and if they can’t give a reason, it’s our responsibility to say, “Shoo! Get back over there”!’

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