Welcome to Feminist Truths

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.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Truth about Work Place Abuse in Adult Entertainment

The video below was sent to me and contains footage (censored) depicting how female p*rn stars are treated in California's adult entertainment industry.



And if this is the kind of abuse happening in California, what kind of abuse is happening in the rest of the world?

Note: This isn't to say all p*rn is bad. ie. There is a growing movement of Feminist P*rn, including the Feminist P*rn Awards.

The Truth About Hooking Up, Dating, and Doing Relationships While Feminist

By Liz - Guest Writer

The way most Western education is framed, I think, is very strange. I didn't actually think this until I studied abroad in Ecuador, where most university students live with their parents, and actually often live with their parents until marriage. The fact that I lived in apartments or dorms with friends was very strange to my Ecuadorian friends, and when I thought about it... it is pretty weird.

At 18ish, many Western young adults head off to college, where many experience "independence" for the first time. Although this involves a lot of good life-skillsy things like learning to pay bills and manage a budget, one of the more significant things people experience in college is a phenomenon called hookup culture. And if we're not calling hook up culture weird and bizarre, we have a problem. It's been normalized and become hegemonic! Nooooooooo!

For those of you who are too young/old/cool to fit into said culture, let me explain briefly:
Hookup culture tends to be defined by a casual approach to sex (and sexish things). The term "hookup" takes on a lot of meanings and there is no one definition, but I think about it as "making out +." So anything that happens in that realm may be referred to as a hookup. As this is the dominant relationship script in colleges there develops the culture: we do it, we talk about it, and then we listen to other people talk about it.

How widespread hooking up is is somewhat up to debate. Kathleen Bogle, who wrote the book Hooking Up, found in her study that 91% of female college students believed that hookups occurred fairly to very often, while only 40% reported that they had actually participated in a hookup during college. This is why hooking up is significant. If fewer than the majority are actually doing it, it might not seem so big, but this is what most people believe is fact. That is culture.

So what of it? Well, some people believe that hookup culture is the devil, while others fetishize it, and others still that it has its place because of its benefits.

Unfortunately, most of the studies so far on hookup culture are on heterosexual couples, and as a cisgender, heterosexual woman, my experience is also in line with what information is already out there. Gay hookup culture on campuses is something that I know about through friends, but is not something that I know enough about to really speak on. (--> Perhaps there is someone out there who can? Because those are voices/experiences we need to hear from as well.)

I feel somewhat conflicted about hookup culture. I've always felt a little conflicted about it, but it wasn't until I read Bogle's book this summer that I really started to question it. Here are most of the arguments for/against hooking up (that exclude like... religious ones):

Point 1: Hookup up is positive because it allows women to have a sexual experiences without distracting relationshipy things. Not all people want a long-term, monogamous relationship. For college students, hooking up can give the positive things (fun sex stuff) without the downer things (boring relationship, commitment things).

Point 2: Hooking up is negative because women trick themselves into thinking that hooking up is what they want. Bogle found that some women who sustained hookup relationships believed that these may one day turn into a traditional boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, however that is not how most hookups work. Believing hookups to be fun and/or advantageous to starting something else, women engage in hookups despite actual ambivalent results.

Point 3: Hooking up is positive for women because it is erasing some of the sexual stigma women face. As a culture that expects (heterosexual) hook ups to happen, women have more sexual freedom and are encouraged to participate in a culture that allows them to enjoy sex.

Point 4: Hooking up is negative for women because it doesn't actually get rid of sexual stigma, and in fact encourages men to take advantage of women without emotional commitment. Without that emotional connection, it is easier to delegitimize women and call them "sluts" for analogous behavior from men, which goes unpunished.

Thing is... I think all of these 4 points are true to some degree. As a college senior, I have participated in hookup culture all four years of being in my university, through hookups as basic as making out at a frat party to having a sustained hookup relationship with a friend. Personally, I'm really busy and sometimes barely have time for my girlfriends. Imagining factoring a relationship into this gives me a headache. I am glad that my friends and are at a point in history where our sexuality is somewhat encouraged, and we do encourage each other. However, I think the days of slut-shaming are far from over, and it's difficult to say this when I know that there are some people who would still judge me for my behavior, no matter how tame or wild it is.

Earlier this semester I wrote about this on my blog, and I talked about something called pluralistic ignorance, which is something that Lisa Wade, another sociologist who studied hooking up, found is an issue with hookup culture. Hookup culture has become somewhat hegemonic. I think in general, monogamous relationships are somewhat hegemonic, but that's a subject for another post. But when we (college students) accept hookup culture as fact without questioning the results (kind of ambivalent... it's good, it's bad, sometimes it's fulfilling, eh) we're creating an environment that makes hookup culture bad because no one is questioning it.

College students, whether or not hooking up is personally satisfying (and for a lot of college students, hooking up is not as satisfying as they want it to be), continue to participate in it because that's what we believe to be the norm. Since the post I wrote earlier this semester, I joined an online dating site and have been experimenting with that a little. I don't have to participate in hookup culture. I have options. Honestly, I don't have a lot of time for meeting up with guys I've met online either, but I've been on a couple dates and it hasn't been a negative experience. I'm concerned with fundamentally having equality between me and whatever man I go out with, so I have found it interesting that the simple switch from being an undergrad (*cough*: in a state of extended adolescence) to being a grad student or post-grad for dudes switches their mindset from hookup culture to traditional dating.

Where feminism comes in, is I think it is possible to have whatever kind of relationship works for you, whether it is hookups or a sustained casual relationship, or dating, or a relationship, and still be feminist. If you feel like you're not being valued enough as a person, or that your position in the relationship is somewhat marginalized or unequal, just get out of it. Don't waste your time. College students have the opportunity to experiment with their sexuality without the awkward parent-thing, so I think that's something that should be taken advantage of. If that means just going on dates... that's fine! I have lots of friends who have never hooked up in college, and it's not like it's something they're particularly pining after. Sexuality is a personal experience and can't be defined by what we see on MTV or ABC Family or whatever. Everyone experiences it differently, but maintaining a critical mindset allows us to evaluate whether or not what we're doing makes us happy and determine whether or not what we're doing is a feminist act.

Liz blogs about feminism, current events, pop culture and teens at Our Turn: Feminism for Newbies.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Feminism: The Sliding Scale

FEMINIST - Seriously, feminists will protest almost anything they think causes inequality.

ie. The Muff March

Activists in London and Southampton are staging a "Muff March" on Saturday December 10th to speak out against labiaplasty and what they call a ‘pornified’ culture driving increasing numbers of women to seek vaginal cosmetic surgery, and to protest against the cosmetic surgeons profiting from it. The activists will be wearing fake ‘muffs’, will march down Harley Street, famed for its cosmetic surgeries, and stage a synchronised "muff dance".

Demand for labiaplasty is increasing rapidly due to the online porn industry. Its not just saggy breasts women are seeking surgery for. Between 2007 - 2008 there was a 70% increase in the number of labiaplasty operations carried out by the NHS, and last year the Harley Medical Group received more than 5,000 inquiries about cosmetic gynaecology. Researchers at Kings College London are studying the demand for labiaplasty and have suggested this increase stems from the increasing ‘pornification’ of culture. The protest comes two weeks before Christmas, a period during which demand for cosmetic surgery has been found to surge.

The "Muff Marches" protest includes slogans likr: “Keep your mits off our bits!”, “there’s nothing finer than my vagina!”, and “Harley Street puts my chuff in a huff”.

Over 325 people have so far signed up to the London event on Facebook.

Ahem...

Which brings me back to the real reason I am writing this post: The concept of a Sliding Scale of Feminism. A scale of 0 to 10, sort of like wine dryness to sweetness.

0 - A woman who doesn't care that she is treated poorly and basically does whatever men want her to do.

5 - The average woman in the world.

10 - A hardcore feminist.

Obviously there are some women out there who want labiaplasty and have a specific idea of what their vagina should look like on an aesthetic level. On the opposite end there are women who think body modification for the sake of male standards of beauty is wrong.

Now I admit there is always the potential for some kind of horrible accident and a woman might want to seek labiaplasty as an effort to get her self esteem back, and yes, she should totally have that option. But that isn't really a feminist issue to me except on the level that it gives the victim back some of their self-esteem.

Thus I would leave the door open to people doing these things because they might see it as part of their healing process after some horrific accident.

Also some people are just really into body modification... tattoos, piercings, implants... there is a whole sub-culture for such things. Not my cup of tea, but people are free to make their own choices.

There are some things I believe in that makes me think I might be more of a 9.5 on the Sliding Scale of Feminism. Maybe a 9.1 or a 9.9. There is no way to accurately measure unless I come up with some kind of more scientific survey which determines exactly where people are on the scale.

So... on my list of things to do in the future I need to craft a survey which does two things, 1. gauges what topics people consider to be a feminist issue, and 2. asks people to gauge themselves on a scale of 0 to 5 how much they agree to disagree with a specific feminist issue. Add up all the scores, come up with a score out of 100, and then pinpoint based on the responses people give whether they are a 5.2 or a 9.7 or whatever on the scale.

Note: The questions and answers on the survey should be made precise and avoid any vagueness. Vagueness decreases the accuracy of a survey because then people will just pick one of the numbers when uncertain which number reflects their own beliefs.

1 - Disagree Strongly (worth 0 points).
2 - Disagree (worth 1 point).
3 - Not sure (worth 2 points).
4 - Agree (worth 3 points).
5 - Agree Strongly (worth 4 points).

Times 25 questions... a grand total of 100 possible points. Divide the total by 10 to get your result. Voila! Suzy's Sliding Scale of Feminism.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Truth about Hijabs

FASHION - It is cultural bias that assumes that hijabs (headscarves worn by women in Muslim countries) is a shackle.

Some women (including devout feminists) make assumptions that hijabs are mandatory and a sign of their lesser status as women. But in reality these things have nothing to do with why women wear hijabs.

When wearing a hijab women are treated with more respect. Their hair (considered sexual in both western and Muslim cultures) is seen as distracting from the personality. Thus when wearing a hijab the focus becomes their face, their facial expressions and therefore their personality. Thus men behave more respectfully.

It is a cultural phenomenon in Muslim countries. Not so much a tradition or a fashion rule. Its a phenomenon which frees women to be treated as equals and is reinforced by cultural beliefs surrounding the hijab.

So ripping the hijabs off of women isn't actually freeing them. Its forcing them to embrace your own cultural beliefs... and that isn't freedom. Its abusive.

Wearing a hijab means this woman won’t have to worry about whether or not she’s fashionable or kewl. She isn't going to be part of the sexually exploited parts of culture which see beautiful hair as a sex symbol.

Instead she will be confident about herself as a person, feel treated like a person instead of like a sex object, she can focus on her career, her education and she can find a job where her pay is equal to that of a man... as opposed to wearing sexually revealing clothing and having to fight her way up a corporate ladder which sees her as a sex object instead of an intelligent and sophisticated woman.

Fashion can have a very real effect on how people are perceived. If two men apply for a job at an insurance company, one is dressed in a black suit and the other comes wearing baggy jeans, who gets the job offer?

They say "Clothes make the man." Its abundantly obvious which one will receive the most consideration. The baggy jeans man would have to have a very impressive resume and references to win that job offer.

In this case we should make a new phrase: "The Hijab makes the woman free."

I am rather tempted to start a whole new fashion trend: Feminists Wearing Hijabs! Now that is a fashion statement!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Truth About College Feminism

By Liz - Guest Writer.

I've been waiting to post on here for awhile, to read some of the posts and see how it works, but now here I am! And I am definitely planning on writing more about my experience as a College Feminist and what college feminism looks like to other people I know. Anyway, this is my introduction, my name is Liz and I blog at Our Turn: Feminism For Newbies.

This is me.
From a photoshoot my college's chapter of FMLA
did called, "This is what a feminist looks like,"

I entered college four years ago with high hopes for feminist discourse. So I was initially surprised when the professor of my women's studies class asked the students if they identified as feminists, and I was the only person to raise my hand.

What? I thought. What the heck are they doing in a women's studies class!?

Generally, the response of the students in class was that they weren't feminists but they supported women's rights. This made no sense to me. Hadn't everyone read Susan B. Anthony chapter books when they were learning to read? Didn't everyone watch Xena: Warrior Princess reruns during the summer? Where the heck were they getting their information about feminism? I had heard the "I'm not a feminist but--" line in high school, but I expected college to be some sort of utopian land where everybody could talk about gender stereotypes and feminist scholars in peace and harmony. I was wrong.

It turns out that a feminist identity is somewhat of a rocky road for many women (and men), but college seems to be an important catalyst toward honing ideology about gender and equality, and one's ability to identify as a feminist. A lot of men and women enter college with a base knowledge of feminism: that it means women can vote and work outside the home + sometimes feminists are scary man-haters who want to take over the world. For a lot of students, college is the first time that they can really engage each other about gender, sexuality, and inequality in a classroom setting. And (awesomely) this is something that a lot of people think is exciting. Thankfully for my faith in feminism, by the end of the semester, most of the people in that class identified as feminists. I saw a similar pattern when I was a teaching assistant in the course a year later, but it was interesting to watch the transformation of students who didn't identify as feminists to students who wanted to take more women's studies classes (and in the case of two of them, become minors).

This attitude, unfortunately, tends to be something that women embrace more than men. Personally, I think every student should be required to take at least one women's studies or gender/sexuality studies class in college. And as a women's studies minor, I've found the demographics of my classes really interesting. I have had very small women's studies classes that are all female, where we are able to talk about patriarchy and men quite openly, and students have shared really intimate and traumatic experiences. I've had other classes where the only men in class are bisexual or gay. And I've had a couple classes where there are not only gay men, but straight men. And this is what I love. Talking about feminism with diverse crowds.

There is a perception that a lot of dudes share, that feminism is important and does good stuff (yay equality) but is not particularly relevant to their lives. Well, my good sirs. Feminism relates to everyone.

As feminism is fundamentally concerned with the equality of women, you cannot have a good feminist conversation about gender roles and oppression without talking about masculinity. And even me, uber feminist that I am, when I first started reading about masculinity in my classes thought that it was going to be a bunch of revisionist, sexist-apologetic crap. But no, it's awesome. Michael Kimmel is my jam. But what I find most exciting about reading about male studies and feminism is that a lot of guys in college are open to the idea of feminism, but if I can relate feminism more to their life and situation, they start to see why it's important. All of my closest male friends identify as feminists (this is partly because all my male friends are gay or socialists or both), and we have really interesting conversations about feminism. Could we have had these conversations maybe 7 years ago when we were in high school? Probably not. And for some of them, we probably couldn't have had these conversations a couple semesters ago.

Ultimately, what I'm trying to say is that I think that in general there is tension between adult feminists of an older generation and feminists my age that comes from this feeling that younger feminists aren't serious enough, or aren't on top of it for declaring themselves feminists publicly. In my experience, I know that people's perceptions of feminism change. Freshman year most of my friends didn't identify openly as feminists, but they do now. People change, and I think being open to teens and young adults as they are forming their world views and learning about what's out there is really crucial to welcoming more feminists into the fold. We've got room for everyone.

The Truth about Postfeminism

ENTERTAINMENT - Today someone asked me what my favourite feminist book was, which one I would recommend... and I immediately thought back to university and a book I found in a bookstore...

INTRODUCING POSTFEMINISM

It wasn't one of those dry, boring reads.

It was funny. It was informative. It was full of information and facts, history and a distinct look at what postfeminism is.

WHAT IS POSTFEMINISM?

Put plainly, postfeminism is about choice.

Examples:

#1. The choice between having a child or not having having one.

#2. Having a career vs being a gold-digger (or being homeless and jobless).

#3. Getting married or not getting married.

#4. Enjoying sex and exploring your sexuality vs being a prude.

Life is all about choices. Postfeminism supports the idea that women without choice are slaves to whatever society tells them to be. Thus in order to break free women need to choose for themselves what they want to do.

Nobody is forcing them to choose, but bad situations will often cause people to make difficult choices.

ie. You have 2 kids already and you're a single mother. You get pregnant and you don't think you can afford a third child. You might not believe in having abortions, but you and your 2 kids can't afford to have another mouth to feed. Does the woman stand by her beliefs and risk becoming homeless or does she opt for the practical approach for the safety of her existing children?

It may not even seem like she has much choice sometimes. It happens.

ie. A teenager with very conservative Christian parents gets pregnant. She is too afraid to tell her parents and too young to go to an abortion clinic without a guardian (some countries require parental approval if the teen is considered too young). She becomes paranoid her parents will disown her or maybe even kill her if she tells them she is with child. Does she tell her parents? Does she run away and have it anyway? Does she have an abortion using a coathanger?

So many options. Each a hard decision.

ie. A young woman gets raped by her boss. Does she tell her friends? Does she tell the police? Does she press charges? Does she quit her job or does she keep working under such stressful conditions, putting her in a position where she might get raped again? Does she sue his ass for mental and physical anguish? Is she able to move on and eventually find happiness or will she eventually become androphobic?

The importance of choice and freedom of choice thus becomes abundantly clear. Each of these choices has to be equally supported by family, loved ones and society. Not necessarily approved of because some people will doubtless disagree, but the woman's right to make her own choices is fundamental to her freedom as a human being.

Women, regardless of what decisions they make, need societal support for those decisions. If they choose one thing over another society should not be ridiculing such women. They're victims of circumstance.

We should not be blaming the victims. We need to be helping them. (Of course some people will choose to blame the victims, and that is their right, but one can hope that most people would be kind, compassionate and understanding enough that they would recognize that sometimes people get into bad situations and when in bad situations they often just follow their heart.)

Lets take myself. I am currently shopping for sperm because I want to have a child. I suppose I could just find myself a willing male participant, but I don't want any daddy with legal issues coming back to haunt me.

I've made a choice that I want to have a child. I've also made a choice that I don't want there to be a father. The closest thing to a father will be my girlfriend (who may eventually become my wife).

And to those of you out there who don't think two lesbians can raise a kid, I recommend you watch this video:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Truth about Condoms With Teeth in South Africa

RAPE - In 2010 during the World Cup in South Africa over 30,000 'Rape-Axe condoms' were handed out free. While the condoms (which in truth are more like diaphragms worn by women) won't prevent rape, the jagged-teeth inside is designed to rip penises up.

This grim invention was invented by Dr Sonnet Ehlers after she met a rape victim who commented "if only I had teeth down there". This stroke of inspiration led Dr Ehlers to research the possibility of a diaphragm which is designed to make sex painful for rapists.

Rapists sadly rarely regret their actions. Too often the law fails and the rapist is never punished. The rate of reporting rape is very low and the conviction rate is likewise low.

Ehlers was working as a blood technician with the South African Blood Transfusion Service and this caused her to come into contact with numerous women who had suffered rape. She originally wanted to call it RAPEX, but later changed it Rape-Axe.

Women afraid of being raped simply insert the Rape-Axe condom inside themselves like a diaphragm or tampon. If her worst fears later come true the Rape-Axe's hooks itself to the penis and won't come off, instead becoming tighter and tighter the more they struggle. It can basically only be removed by a doctor. The diaphragm would remain attached to the attacker's body when he withdraws, the Rape-Axe still attached and causing excruciating pain. While the man struggles to try and remove it the woman makes a quick get-away. (Note: This won't work during a gang rape evidently.)

Like all condoms and diaphragms it also prevents pregnancy and the transmission of HIV and sexually transmitted infections.

After the World Cup was over Ehlers wanted to begin selling the Rape-Axe condoms for approx. $2 each...

But the truth is this never happened. The devices never reached the mass market.

And the reasons vary... some women feared reprisals from the rapists who might murder them over their flayed penises.

Drugstores refused to sell an item designed to cause pain.

Some people say the device is medieval to which Dr Ehlers responds on her website by saying it is "a medieval device for a medieval deed."

Others even compared it to a chastity belt, an item which basically enslaved the sexuality of women.

The end result is that the Rape-Axe is a controversial item and there is comparatively few women who would buy and use such an item.

The best defense against rape is confidence and martial arts. Any woman can learn how to knee a man in the groin and then run away. Awareness and training is key, not fancy gadgets.

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