Friday, July 31, 2009

Making fun of Sen. Al Franken? The joke's on you.

I'm not sure why so many people want to insist Sen. Al Franken is going to flop in his new job. Sure, he spent many years making a living being a comedian. (Considering what a joke our Congress can be at times, wouldn't that alone qualify him for the job?) But Franken has been involved in the political scene for years, whether as a talk radio host, author, or USO volunteer (which he started doing in 1999). And guess what? He's not stupid. Quite intelligent, actually.

He hasn't even officially been a senator for one month, having been sworn in on July 7. But as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he's been an active part of the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. Yeah, there was the Perry Mason bit, but there was also the comments he made the other day (in the clip above) that are worth noting (as quoted by Doug Kendall):
[T]his Supreme Court came close to overturning critical portions of the Voting Rights Act. The Court did this despite the powers that Congress was granted under the 15th Amendment to enact this law, and despite the fact that this body has reauthorized these measures four times, most recently just a few years ago by a vote of 98 to 0....

[T]his Supreme Court reversed a 100-year old ban on price-fixing under the Sherman Act. This shifts the burden to consumers and small businesses to show that price-fixing hurts them....

This is the same Supreme Court that said that older workers don't have the same rights in the workplace as minorities or women - that made it harder to sue for age discrimination in the workplace. It is now harder, if not practically impossible, for an older worker to sue an employer who fired him because his pension was about to increase in value.

This is the same Supreme Court that stands poised to overturn another 100-year old principle, in place since the Tillman Act of 1907, that corporations should not be spending money on our election campaigns -- not in donations, not in ads, not in anything. The Court upheld this principle in 2003, when it upheld McCain-Feingold. And yet, the Supreme Court has decided to reconsider the constitutionality of a provision it upheld just six years ago.

This is judicial activism. This is a Court that is willing to reverse itself to limit the rights of individual Americans. This is a Court that is more than willing to overturn Congress to achieve its own agenda of what is right.

And in this context, in these times, a vote for Judge Sotomayor is a vote against judicial activism.
Outstanding points, all around.

Franken has also introduced his first Senate bill, for a program that's designed to give service dogs to wounded veterans. (And he apparently got into it with T. Boone Pickens at a lunch the other day, over Pickens' funding of the Swift Boat ads in 2004; how delicious is that?) AP has a story that quotes Sen. Tom Hawkins as saying "[Franken] really understands the sort of workings of government and how policy is developed and the effect it has. This is not some passing fancy of his. This is something he's been intellectualizing on and studying for many, many years."

So, go ahead with your Stuart Smalley jokes and other methods of reducing Franken to a one-liner, but if I were a conservative, I'd be keeping a close eye on Franken. He's already shown he can be a huge pain in your ass. Now he's on his way to becoming something even better: a great Democratic voice in the Senate.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

American Apparel ads strike again

American Apparel. Oh how your ads manage to elicit eye-rolling, middle fingers, concentrated stares, countless blog posts, buckets of outrage and no doubt many a masturbatory thought. You certainly stir things up. Of course, you're just one of many clothing companies to use ads this way (Calvin Klein and A&F catalogs immediately come to mind), so you've got unoriginality going for you in that regard. Then there's the fact that most of the time after seeing your ads, all I know for sure is your company sells socks, tights and underwear. Do you have other clothes? I have no idea, not that it matters since I don't shop at your stores, or ever plan to.

This is one of the latest batch of ads out of American Apparel (thanks to Bitch magazine, who also discusses the accusation that AA is firing its employees who aren't "hot." Also posted at

So absurd. Maybe these ads work on some people (as in gets them to come in the store or go online and purchase these advertised products), but it has the opposite affect on me. Even taking out the "sex" of the ads, it's like ... oh, hey, pink tights. Wow. Never seen those before.

I wrote a bit about AA, more than a year ago, and I can't even be bothered to go see if there's been any conclusion to the lawsuit I mentioned. I will say this: if you want to see more of their ads and you do a Google search for them, be aware that it will definitely be NSFW, as boobs and butt are everywhere.

But that leads me to this point: go read this excellent post on The Apostate, aptly titled "Declaring a moratorium on the phrase 'sex sells.'" It contains this point:
No, sex – in all its troublesome, glorious, tragic, funny reality – can’t be sold to people who’d rather die than admit themselves to be sexual creatures. What does sell is women’s bodies. The idea of “women’s bodies=sex” is so deeply ingrained in our culture that most people are unable to separate the two.
Refreshingly truthful, and American Apparel ads exemplify this to a T.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Husband takes wife, and her last name

You don't hear about it often, so it's no surprise that a story about a man who took his wife's last name is making its way around the Internet. The man in question, Josiah Neufeld, wrote a column about it for the Globe and Mail, simply titled "I took my wife's last name." (Jezebel also has a post about it.)

I have to say that, for me, his column comes across as sweet. It sounds like his now-wife wasn't too keen on giving up her last name. He writes:
"I did it because I love Mona - because I wanted her to know that I didn't expect her to become anyone other than herself. It mattered to me that we shared a name, so I reasoned I should be the one to offer mine up."
And something else he said is worth thinking about, beyond the context of him taking her last name:

I did it because any form of power comes with duties. I'm obliged to take responsibility for my power, to learn its effects - even unintentional ones - to see what it does to others when I'm not watching, to use it in the best way possible. Sometimes to relinquish it.
If you do a Google search for "husband takes wife's last name," you get a LOT of results. There are some really interesting articles out there on the topic and a good number of first-person pieces on why the couple went that route. What's interesting is, in the five or so first-person pieces I read, all of the men talked about or were asked about a "loss of identity" with their name change. I can't recall ever hearing any of my female friends talk about that when they took their husband's name. I guess it's so ingrained in our culture that "that's what women do" when they get married, they don't even get asked the question.

Whatever name(s) couples want to take/use is fine by me. Woman takes man's name, fine. Man takes woman's name, also fine. She hyphenates, good for her. They both hyphenate, fantastic. Each keeps own name, wonderful. Make up a whole new last name? Go for it! I haven't been married, so I haven't dealt with it myself, but I think one's name is a pretty big deal, and changing it at least deserves serious thought first.

As an aside, did you know Jack White took his (then) wife's last name when he married Meg White? Before that, his last name was Gillis.

And here's another interesting fact (at least, as of 2007):
Only California, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York and North Dakota explicitly allow a man to change his name through marriage with the same ease as a woman.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

#EAfail at Comic-Con makes one lust for common sense

I guess I'm what the gaming industry would call a "casual" video gamer; I play games like Mario (any and all), Civilization, Rock Band, Guitar Hero, etc. I've dabbled in more involved games but haven't really found any that stick with me yet. (Though I really should give Left 4 Dead another try.) So I know right off the bat that I'm not the target audience for EA's Dante's Inferno, which comes out next year. But I can't let this story pass by without commenting on it, because it would seem they don't really care if any women play this game.

To promote the game, EA held a contest at Comic-Con this year. I'll let you take a look at part of the promo; you can see the full image here.

Yes, that is a "tattoo" above a girl's chest. The contest is called Sin to Win, and look! You can win "a night with the hottest girl at Comic-Con!" (The full poster actually says you can win a "SINful night with TWO hot girls.") And there's "booty!" Oh boy! But it gets better, believe it or not ... here's the instructions on how to enter the contest:

1. Commit acts of lust. Take photos with us or any booth babe.*
2. Prove it. Send photos to (variety of places) to enter.
3. Repeat. Find more babes for more chances to win.

Basically, go grope a "booth babe" -- any, not just EA's -- and get it on film, then you might win two hookers.**

There's rightfully been a big backlash against this promo. EA did issue a statement about it, but to call it an apology would be wrong:
We understand there's a lot of debate right now around our "Sin to Win" promotion at Comic-Con and wanted to clarify a few things. We created this promotion as part of our marketing efforts around the circle of Lust (one of the nine sins/circles of Hell). Each month we will be focusing on a new Circle of Hell. This month is Lust. Costumed reps are a tradition at Comic-Con. In the spirit of both the Circle of Lust and Comic-Con, we are encouraging attendees to Tweet photos of themselves with any of the costumed reps at Comic-Con here, find us on Facebook or via e-mail. "Commit acts of lust" is simply a tongue-in-cheek way to say take pictures with costumed reps. Also, a "Night of Lust" means only that the winner will receive a chaperoned VIP night on the town with the Dante's Inferno reps, all expenses paid, as well as other prizes.

We apologize for any confusion and offense that resulted from our choice of wording, and want to assure you that we take your concerns and sentiments seriously. We'll continue to follow your comments and please let us know if you have any other thoughts or concerns. Keep watching as the event unfolds and we hope you'll agree that it was all done in the spirit of the good natured fun of Comic-Con.
Oh, I see, groping booth babes is all just part of the fun of Comic-Con! And here I've not been going all these years. I'm totally missing out.


As you may see from the title of this post, the Twitter hashtag for this story is #EAfail. Here's a good list of places to read more about it:
  • has posts about the general contest, about a booth babe's reaction to EA's contest including ALL booth babes (and what she deals with in said job), and about EA's apology.
  • Adfreak has a post about it.
  • GeekDad at writes about it.
  • And this site has a great list of additional links, as well as a good roundup of comments about the contest.
Unclear to me at this point: could girls enter this contest?

Much has been written about how the gaming industry and women, whether it's how women are portrayed in video games, or how games are marketed, or how many girls actually play games and how the industry is overlooking or under-serving a huge segment of its audience. (To sum up: women are portrayed like their bodies consist of boobs and legs only, games are marketed to the lowest-common denominator, and about 40 percent of girls play games.)

With this promotion, EA may have gotten a lot of people to realize that this game is going to be released (is any publicity really good publicity, like they say?), but they've also stirred up all the above issues, for the umpteenth time.
You know, it's really not that hard to NOT be a complete ass, even of the corporate variety. This contest makes me think a group of asses were sitting around going "how wrong can we make this be?" If you have to stoop to this level to get attention for your game, I'm going to assume your game completely sucks.

The sad thing is, at the end of the day it isn't even going to matter if one million people get outraged at this contest or at EA. They're too big of a company. Even if half the people who wanted to get this game decided against buying it now, all that means is this particular game could be a flop. That would be great, don't get me wrong. But EA publishes too many games for one game to make a difference.

That said, it wouldn't hurt to give them feedback about how crass and disappointing this contest is -- except I can't even find a generic e-mail address for the company that doesn't involve tech/support. Hmm.

*What the hell, "booth babe"? I assume this is standard lingo at conventions like Comic-Con? Just goes to show how backwards thinking people can be.

**No, they aren't actually hookers, but the contest sure makes it sound that way!

Two side notes: Anyone have any examples of "real" games that don't portray women as just T&A? Also, check out this story on "Ridiculous Life Lessons from New Girl Games." It's bad. (The "lessons," not the story.) You know how some people think video games are too violent? This is nearly the opposite of that. One of the games is called "My Boyfriend," for fuck's sake.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Does Rush Limbaugh inspire YOU?

Cause he sure thinks that's the secret to his success:

Yeah, he just reeks of positive, inspiring news ... like saying food safety advocates are going to go after Oreos, but they might have to wait until Obama leaves office.

And a whole host of other things, of course. I don't think this column even accounts for 10 percent of the crap he's said about Obama, let alone all the other offensive remarks he's made over the years about women, people who aren't white, people who are gay, etc. The only inspiration Rush provides, as far as I can tell, is making it okay for his audience to think their hatred, bigotry, racism, homophobia, misogyny and overall disgust with people not like themselves is acceptable.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Suggested Sunday reading (7/26)

Would love to hear what stuck with you this week. For me:
  • The New York Times looks back at Dr. George Tiller's murder in "An abortion battle, fought to the death." It's a great retrospective piece, covering Tiller's mission and his protesters and supporters. Also check out the blog Every Saturday Morning, written by a clinic escort.
  • reports on legislation that two House members introduced, called "Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act."
  • I mentioned in last week's Sunday reading column that World War I veteran Henry Allingham, the world's oldest man, had died. This week, the world lost another World War I veteran, Private Harry Patch, age 111. When he was 100 years old, he had recurring nightmares about the war -- something he did not remember fondly.
  • The TechRepublic blog has an interesting post titled "Companies with more women in senior management roles make more money." It's based on a story in the Washington Post a couple weeks ago, "Fixing the economy? It's women's work." One example: A Pepperdine University study "found that the Fortune 500 firms with the best records of putting women at the top were 18 to 69 percent more profitable than the median companies in their industries."
  • ESPN takes a look at the state of women's sports, and it ain't good. Seems to be partly because of the economy, partly because of a lack of stars in some sports, and partly because people just don't watch. (Did you know that "a full WNBA payroll still works out to less than the NBA minimum salary for a single player?" Ugh.)
  • Sticking to the sports theme, Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle pitched a perfect game this week. This is one of the rarest accomplishments in all of sports; his was only the 18th perfect game in all of Major League Baseball history. has highlights and video of all 27 outs. Congrats to him. (Buehrle even got a phone call from President Obama. Cute!)
  •'s "When sports culture meets rape culture" is definitely worth reading, if you haven't yet. The article talks about the sexual assault case against Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger. It references another good article on the topic, "This is what rape culture looks like," posted at the Yes Means Yes blog.
I've been keeping an eye on the Roethlisberger case, and the Erin Andrews story (which could have its own Sunday reading column at this point), and I hope to have updates to both of those soon, once I get a chance to sort through all the crap out there about both. If you come across anything worthwhile, please let me know! You can e-mail me at

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Octomom gets rewarded, but this mother gets her child taken away

Have you heard of the New Jersey couple V.M. and B.G.? They are a married couple, and V.M. was with child. During labor, she refused to consent to a recommended cesarean section, and delivered the baby vaginally. She is fine, baby is fine. Except she and her husband are now without baby, because her refusal to consent to the c-section, along with other "erratic" behavior during the birthing process, led a court to decide she and her husband were guilty of child abuse and child neglect.

The child was born three years ago, but most people (self included) are just now hearing about this case, after an appellate court upheld the original ruling.
This is a good summary of the case. You can read more here and here .The court decision is available in PDF form here.

This couple's parental rights have been terminated. They can still file an appeal.

Nadya Suleman, the "Octomom," recently signed on for a reality TV show.* Each of her 14 children will earn $250 a day during the show. There's a good case to make that Suleman has shown some "erratic" behavior in her decisions, but she has all 14 of her kids and is going to make a pretty penny of them, too.

What is wrong with this picture?

*I don't know if the show will be picked up/make it to TV, but for the love of sanity I hope not one single person watches it.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Wait ... did we learn something from Sarah Palin?!

With Sarah Palin's governorship of Alaska winding down, I wanted to draw attention an article at the American Prospect called "Lessons for feminists from Sarah Palin." I'm not going to lie, when I saw the headline I thought it was going to be another story about how Palin is some kind of beacon of feminism and perhaps touch on that whole "you can't be feminist if you don't support Palin" nonsense.

But, I was happily wrong about the article. It's optimistic, maybe too much so, but it does make some good points. The lessons, if you're curious, are:

Lesson 1: Women across the country are hungry for their strength to be acknowledged, without sacrificing their femininity.
Lesson 2: Defending women against sexism means defending all women against sexism.
Lesson 3: We've succeeded in so many ways!

Definitely truth in all of these, especially No. 2. I think one of the best points is this, because there's no doubt Palin's VP run had this effect on many of us:
... I feel thankful that she inadvertently pushed feminists out of complacency. We were obliged to clarify where we've won and where we're falling behind, who we've brought into the fold and who continues to see feminism as an elitist, anti-man, femininity-rejecting posse of miscreants (thanks, mainstream media).
But if you read the American Prospect article, you owe it to yourself to read Amanda Hess' column, "Sarah Palin's other lessons for feminists." This column more aligns with my thoughts on the topics at hand. I couldn't agree more with Hess' take on lesson No. 3. Or with her take on lesson No. 1, actually.

Basically, you should read both articles. They may be something to keep in mind when non-Gov. Palin is back in the news with her next career move, whatever it is.

(As a side note, can people please stop putting Palin's face on Rosie the Riveter? You're doing it wrong. Thanks.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ohio lawmakers pushing for forced births

You have GOT to be kidding me with this one.

Today, Ohio Rep. John Adams (pictured) introduced legislation, co-sponsored by 15 other legislators, that would require a woman who wants an abortion to get permission from the man who got her pregnant before she can actually get the abortion.

I don't need to explain how this amounts to forcing women to have children, right? Cause see, if the father says no, then apparently the woman has to have the child. Beyond forced childbirth, this would effectively and instantly render women second-class citizens, because what a man decides for not just her body, but her life, is what has to be carried out under law.

(On the flip side, if a man wants a a woman to get an abortion, would she have to?)

I am beyond appalled by this, and I hope everyone in the state of Ohio (which is where I live, yipee) is, too.

Here is the entire bill; it does "allow" exceptions for rape, incest, and emergency medical issues. But that's it. And if you don't know who the father is, too bad. The "first offense" would be a first-degree misdemeanor.

H. B. No. 252

Representative Adams, J.
Cosponsors: Representatives Jordan, Huffman, Blessing, Morgan, Martin, Maag, Wagner, Hall, Wachtmann, Combs, McClain, Derickson, Goodwin, Winburn, Uecker

To enact section 2919.124 of the Revised Code relative to requiring paternal consent before an abortion may be performed.
Section 1. That section 2919.124 of the Revised Code be enacted to read as follows:
Sec. 2919.124. (A) As used in this section, "viable" has the same meaning as in section 2901.01 of the Revised Code.
(B)(1) When the fetus that is the subject of the procedure is viable, no person shall perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman without the written informed consent of the father of the fetus.
(2) When the fetus that is the subject of the procedure is not viable, no person shall perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman without the written informed consent of the father of the fetus.
(C)(1) A pregnant woman seeking to abort her pregnancy shall provide, in writing, the identity of the father of the fetus to the person who is to perform or induce the abortion.
(2) No pregnant woman seeking to abort her pregnancy shall fail to comply with division (B)(1) of this section.
(3) No pregnant woman seeking to abort her pregnancy shall provide to the person who is to perform or induce the abortion the identity of a man as the father of the fetus if the man is not the father of the fetus.
(D) No man shall give a consent pursuant to division (B)(1) or (2) of this section as the father of the fetus if the man knows that he is not the father of the fetus.
(E) No person shall cause a man to believe that the man is the father of a fetus for the purpose of obtaining the consent required by division (B)(1) or (2) of this section, if the person knows that the man is not the father of the fetus.
(F) If, pursuant to division (C)(1) of this section, the pregnant woman identifies two or more men as possible fathers of the fetus, the person who is to perform or induce the abortion shall perform a paternity test, or cause a paternity test to be performed, to determine the father of the fetus prior to accepting any consent required under division (B)(1) or (2) of this section and prior to performing or inducing an abortion of the pregnant woman's pregnancy. No person shall perform or induce an abortion in violation of this division.
(G) It is not a defense to a violation of division (B)(1) or (2) or (C)(2) of this section that the woman does not know the identity of the father of the fetus.
(H)(1) Divisions (B)(1) and (2) of this section do not apply if the pregnant woman provides to the person who is to perform or induce the abortion either of the following:
(a) A copy of a police report or a complaint, indictment, information, or other court document that gives the person who is to perform or induce the abortion reasonable cause to believe that the woman became pregnant as the result of rape or incest.
(b) A copy of a paternity test that gives the person who is to perform or induce the abortion reasonable cause to believe that the woman became pregnant as the result of incest.
(2) This section does not apply if the abortion is necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, to preserve the life or the physical health of the pregnant woman.
(3) Divisions (B)(1) and (2) of this section do not apply if the father of the fetus is deceased at the time of the abortion.
(I) The written consent required under division (B)(1) or (2) of this section, the written identification required in division (C)(1) of this section, and the results of a paternity test performed pursuant to division (F) of this section are confidential, are not public records under section 149.43 of the Revised Code, and shall be viewed only by the pregnant woman, the man claiming to be or the man identified as being the father of the fetus, the person who is to perform or induce the abortion, any law enforcement officer investigating a violation of this section, and a court and jury in a criminal case involving an alleged violation of this section.
(J) Whoever violates this section is guilty of abortion fraud, a misdemeanor of the first degree. If the person previously has pleaded guilty to or has been convicted of a violation of this section, abortion fraud is a felony of the fifth degree.

So that we all know, here are the first and last names of the sponsor and co-sponsors of this bill, their party affiliation, their districts, phone numbers and e-mails, along with links to their Web pages:

Rep. John Adams, R-78

Rep. Kris Jordan, R-2

Rep. Matt Huffman, R-4

Rep. Louis Blessing, R-29

Rep. Seth Morgan, R-36

Rep. Jarrod Martin, R-70

Rep. Ron Maag, R-35

Rep. Jeff Wagner, R-81

Rep. Dave Hall, R-97

Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, R-75

Rep. Courtney Eric Combs, R-54

Rep. Jeffrey McClain, R-82

Rep. Timothy Dickerson, R-52

Rep. Bruce Goodwin, R-74

Rep. Roland Winburn, D-40

Rep. Joe Uecker, R-66

You can also call 1-800-282-0253 to leave a message for any representative. If you live in Ohio and don't know who your representative is, you can look it up by zip code here.

In case anyone is counting, that is 16 men (15 white Republicans and 1 black Democrat) who think it should be law that women can't get an abortion without the permission of a man.

PLEASE tell them what you think about this horrible bill, and let me know if you do contact any of them, or any other Ohio legislators. I'll be keeping an eye on this bill to see if it goes anywhere.

More about this story at Think Progress, Pam's House Blend and Feminists for Choice.
And for a "different" take (i.e., wrong), try the Men's Rights Blog.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Let's not be so quick to judge in 'woman vs. Ben Roethlisberger'

A woman has filed a civil lawsuit against Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, accusing him of raping her last July. His attorney denies it happened.

The details of the case have been coming out all day. Sounds like she's suing for the assault, and she's also suing her workplace (Harrah's in Lake Tahoe, where the alleged incident took place) for covering it up. The suit also says she's suing for libel and slander. (Read more at USA Today and the NY Times. and the Post-Gazette, whose story has a lot of details from the lawsuit.)

One thing is for sure: No matter how this case turns out, it's going to be bad.

There's a whole host of topics that need discussed here. Why is this woman's name all over the place? Is it because it's a civil lawsuit, not a criminal case? Of all the stories I've read so far, the New York Times' and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's stories are the only ones I've seen that didn't publish her name. Why does TMZ have a photo gallery of her? It looks like they stole photos she had on a social networking site and posted them. And why does everyone immediately jump to the conclusion that this woman is making this up/just looking to get some money? Not even a small pause to consider that something might have happened, nope. Immediately, she's just "seeking a paycheck."

When a professional athlete or celebrity is accused of something like this, I get that it can be easy to jump in and defend them. "Surely Big Ben would never do something like this," one might think. And maybe he didn't. But it's not impossible. Lots of people have committed such acts, and you hardly ever hear someone say "well of course he raped that girl, that's Bob for ya!"

That's why this story is angering, regardless of the outcome. If this girl is lying, shame on her. I know women do falsely accuse men of sexual assault (though not as often as some seem to think), and it's a horrible act. It's already hard enough to get our judicial system and society as whole to take sexual violence against women as seriously as they should, and false accusations have a powerful way of crippling any progress made.

If she's not lying, shame on everyone who jumped to that conclusion without a second thought (and shame on Big Ben, obviously). You simply cannot make that assumption every time a woman says she was assaulted. Even if the accused is someone famous. (You think no famous person has ever committed sexual assault, ever? Think again. It happens.) How many times do you hear someone defend another person who's been accused of something by saying "Hey, why don't we wait until this gets decided in court before jumping to conclusions. You know, that whole innocent until proven guilty thing." Why does a similar principle not apply here? Why can't we wait and see if this woman is telling the truth, without having to drag her through the mud first? How long until her entire sexual history is splattered all over the Internet?

What if she is telling the truth?

I'd guess a number of people recall the sexual assault case against Kobe Bryant when they hear about the case filed against Roethlisberger. Remember what that woman went through in that case? It was ugly. No doubt this one will be too.

People already have all kinds of theories as to why this accusation can't be true. She didn't file a criminal case, therefore it didn't happen. She's "ugly" and Big Ben can "get" any girl he wants, so he would never "have to rape" this girl to get sex. She made it up to make a lot of money. Etc. Granted, the last is possible, technically speaking, even though there's no real reason I can see to believe it. But not filing a criminal case doesn't automatically mean a criminal act didn't take place. The evidence might not be enough to file a criminal case (and lack of evidence doesn't necessarily mean nothing happened), or the state could have decided not to take the case (this happens often in sexual assault cases, remember it's the state filing charges against the accused, not the person assaulted). As for the theory that Big Ben can "get" any girl he wants, here's some news for those people: rape isn't about sex. I think we would all assume that if he wanted sex, he could find a willing participant. Rape is about power over another person. Oh, and by the way, this girl isn't ugly. She's a perfectly normal looking girl. But even if she were "ugly," what does that prove? Nothing.

I want to end this by saying I don't have any real opinion one way or the other right now as to what happened. Just gonna wait and see. I usually lean toward the woman in these cases, mainly because I can't imagine anyone wanting to put themselves through this just for money. This suit has a lot of details about the woman's employer's role in this, and Harrah's isn't exactly some small company to take on either, even if it were a "normal" person she was accusing. She's not just dealing with Ben, she's also dealing with Harrah's. I don't want women to lie about these matters. Not a one. So I hope she isn't lying. Only that sounds weird, because I don't "want" for her to have been raped, by him or anyone. However, if she was, the truth should come out, and she should not be vilified in the process just because a professional athlete is named.

To give you a sample of what I keep seeing on the Internet about this, here are a couple of comments by some really lovely people on the Internet (from TMZ's site):
  • "eww she is so fuckin ugly. there is no way he raped her ugly ass. Hey remember this is a cival lawsuit so it is about the money people. plus people are jeolous because the steelers are number 1. plus the steelers won fucken 5 superbowl fair and square fucken asholes. watch the fucken replay asholes. cry me a fucken river."
  • "single mom looking to win some cash! whore"
  • "When you are raped dont you report it right away or are you suposed to wait a year till your broke. If ben did her and he was my boy Ide have to bitch slap him. chicks ugly as hell"
  • "This woman is an idiotic liar. If you are raped CALL THE POLICE. Ben better not give her a penny. Plus she's ugly too."
Sigh. I hope no one they know is ever raped.

A couple additional stories:
  • ESPN isn't reporting the story, from Deadspin
  • Excerpts from the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy that could apply in this case, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
  • A Bleacher Report columnist talks about this story as related to "junk journalists."
OK, one final thought: If Roethlisberger were to be found guilty, why do I feel like there will be less outrage against him than there was when the news came out about Michael Vick and his dogs?

Thank you Vanity Fair, for this beautiful image

If you haven't seen it yet, by all means run over to Vanity Fair's site and check out "Palin's resignation: the edited version." Yes, that's right. They have taken soon-to-be-former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's resignation speech and edited it, on paper. With red, blue and green ink. Lots of it.

Here's just a tiny glimpse of one of the four pages:

Gotta say, I'd be curious to see them do the same for other politicians, just to see how common this amount of corrections would be.

Monday, July 20, 2009

When naked chicks give you virtual viruses

Just like it happens in real life, so does it happen on the Internet. And all I can say is, haha suckers!

Actually, this isn't a funny story at all. ESPN reporter Erin Andrews was filmed in a "private moment" (which I believe means naked) through the peephole of her hotel room. The peephole. It's an assault against her, as in an actual crime. It's an obvious violation of her privacy. It's also a remarkable commentary on two things: 1. The lengths someone will go to to make a buck, and 2. the lengths people will go to just to see a semi-famous person naked.

What in the hell are these people thinking? "OMG a naked Erin Andrews?! MUST. SEE. NOW." Yeah, sadly, that's probably a 99 percent accurate statement for most people who clicked on the video. And for a good number of people, what they clicked on turned out not to be the video (which has been taken down from most sites, I am led to believe) but a computer virus instead. Great case of getting what you deserve. I myself am a big sports fan and frequent a number of sports Web sites where I constantly see guys talking about how hot Erin Andrews is. Can't help but wonder how many of them are searching for this video right now. Is it wrong that I so hope they end up with a computer virus?

The Yahoo sports blog actually has a good column about this, and how women sports reporters are often subjected to crude behavior, judged on their looks, and so on. (I know a number of women who could speak about this topic first-hand. It gets ugly.)

You can read the statement from Andrews' attorney here.

And I suppose we all should consider covering peepholes in our hotel rooms from now on, because I'm sure some "brilliant" people who hadn't thought about doing this before will try it now.

UPDATE: This story quotes a spy-tech-gadget guy as saying the person who filmed this was probably in the next room, not outside the peephole. That would make more sense. Still extremely creepy. Gotta think the person followed her to her hotel room, right? Asked for the room next to hers, maybe? Ugh. Gross.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Suggested Sunday reading (7/19)

These stories always intrigue me (how do they live so long), but this "World's oldest man dies" story is genuinely interesting: Henry Allingham was a World War I veteran, who died Saturday at age 113. He was the last living member of the original Royal Air Force. He was 7 or so years old when the Wright Brothers first took flight.

Speaking of death, I don't have much to add to all the news and commentary about Walter Cronkite's death, so I'll recommend these two items if you haven't yet read or seen them: The Daily Beast has posted "7 memorable Walter Cronkite broadcasts," definitely worth watching, and Glenn Greenwald has a column on called "Celebrating Cronkite while ignoring what he did," about journalism then vs. journalism now.

A couple other stories worth mentioning:
  • Ted Kennedy writes about health care reform for Newsweek, "The cause of my life."
  • The New York Times has an interesting article that looks back at Anita Hill to now with Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings, called "Women on the Verge of the Law: From Anita Hill to Sonia Sotomayor."
  • Check out this post on "How free are we really? Reflections of a former post feminist."
  • The Sydney Morning Herald (in Australia) reports on a study about the wages of male and female managers. Guess who makes less money?
  • Kellie Copeland, the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, wrote a letter to the Cleveland Plain Dealer: "Keep abortion politics out of congressional discussions on health care reform."
  • Check out the latest crazy from the RNC's Web site, courtesy of AmericaBlog. (NSFW. Seriously.)
  • Lastly, reports "Court Filing Allows Asylum for Battered Women." Great news. I mentioned another story about this in last week's Sunday reading column, before the Obama administration filed this brief. That story has more details about this woman's case.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Laugh of the day

Last Sunday, in my "suggested reading" post, I listed an op-ed that Jimmy Carter wrote for the Guardian, called "The words of God do not justify cruelty to women." It's an excellent piece, and I've since promoted it all over the Internet, hoping to get as many people as possible to read it. (Seriously, if you haven't read it yet, go now.)

On the various sites where I shared the article, most comments were positive in nature, and nearly everyone that commented agreed with Carter. I did get one "norDoTheyJustifyAnti-semeticPnutFarmers" response on Twitter (ha)
, but this one today, from a message board, takes the cake so far:
Does the Southern Baptist Convention discriminate against women when it comes to being a pastor? Yes it does. Sorry that bothers some people, including Carter. It doesn't mean that women are not man's equal or somehow "lesser" then men.
LOL all day at that one! Gee, let's see. Men and women are equal, but they aren't. Oh, okay.

Just look at the Southern Baptist Convention's words on the subject:

From the Baptist Faith and Message, the doctrinal statement of the Southern Baptist Convention (as posted here; full list here):

Article 18, The Family
God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. It is composed of persons related to one another by marriage, blood, or adoption.

Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. It is God’s unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race.

The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.

Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord. Parents are to demonstrate to their children God’s pattern for marriage. Parents are to teach their children spiritual and moral values and to lead them, through consistent lifestyle example and loving discipline, to make choices based on biblical truth. Children are to honor and obey their parents.

Article 6, The Church
A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture…..

Yeah, men and women, totally equal in the SBC. LMAO. Why anyone defends this crap is beyond me. (For the record, the guy I quoted above is not a Southern Baptist.

UPDATE: In addition to the follow-up quotes that I posted in the comments here, this one can't be ignored. It's from the same guy I quoted above:
But I fellowship with Christian men who attend all the different type of various churches. From Quaker to Baptist to Methodist, etc. And we discuss the word of God quite a bit in our free time (when we're not talking sports). And this very topic has been discussed ad nauseam, believe me. The majority would concur with the view I have expressed. But I have a couple friends who believe that the wife is to subject herself to the husband, meaning, the husband is the head of her. But they also practice the other aspects too, in loving their wives like Christ loved the church. So there is some balance there. They also don't believe that that means the wife is not equal or is somehow property; but only that the husband is the head of the household.

And even though I may respectfully disagree with them, it's not my place to lecture them or tell them they are wrong. We simply agree to disagree.

Fucking astonishing that people actually think this way.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Babies or work, but not both? Wrong.

This isn't the first time someone has suggested this, but former GE CEO Jack Welch recently said that if women want to get ahead in the work place, they basically have to choose between their careers and having kids. He was speaking at the Society for Human Resource Management's annual conference, and had some blunt words to share:
  • "There's no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences."
  • "We'd love to have more women moving up faster. But they've got to make the tough choices and know the consequences of each one."
  • Taking time off for family "can offer a nice life, but the chances of going to the top on that path" are smaller. "That doesn't mean you can't have a nice career," he added.
You know, I understand anyone who takes a long time off work will have a harder time advancing in their careers than someone who doesn't miss a year, or five years, or whatever. My question is, does Welch (or anyone) consider maternity leave as "taking time off for family?" He's not very specific. But look at the language he uses: "But they've got to make the tough choices and know the consequences of each one." Sounds to me like "you can have kids, but be warned you'll be 'punished' for it in the workplace."

This logic boggles my mind. I'm not a fan of either/or. (For full disclosure, I am not a mother.) Either have kids, or go far in your career. There are countless examples of women who do both, so Welch is automatically wrong anyway. But to speak at a big convention, one that no doubt had a number of women in high-ranking positions in attendance, and share these outdated thoughts is irresponsible and harmful. Does Welch say these things to the women in his own life? Instead of criticism, why not show some respect for women who try to do both?

Let's say that Welch is right, it is one or the other. What kind of society is that? One with either a lot fewer working women, especially in top jobs, or one with a lot fewer kids in it. It's in everyone's best interest, men and women, to have women working, with successful careers, without a fear of getting off track because they have children. This isn't to say it's easy, or that it's for every woman out there; absolutely there is nothing wrong with choosing to be a non-working mother, or holding a "regular" job while being a mother, and there's nothing wrong with not being a mother. What works for one woman isn't going to work for another, and I think that's the point. Making blanket statements that allude to some dire career consequence for having children is simply not true.

In this economy, more women than ever before are either the sole income earners in their households, or are the biggest income earners. We should be doing what we can to support women in the workplace, including those that "dare" have kids. Telling women they can't "have it all" doesn't do that, and my guess is for every man that suggests as much, there will be a woman out there proving you wrong. Even if she is getting paid less than you.

Please say it's so!

What?! The company that makes Crocs is about to go belly up?!


I have never understood the appeal of these shoes. They certainly aren't aesthetically pleasing on anyone over the age of 9, except maybe on gardeners. I hear they're comfortable. You know what else is comfortable? Sneakers. Flip-flops. Vans. Chucks. Any other number of shoes. And they all look better than Crocs. Even Birkenstocks.

According to the Washington Post:
The company [Crocs] had expanded to meet demand, but financially pressed customers cut back. Last year the company lost $185.1 million, slashed roughly 2,000 jobs and scrambled to find money to pay down millions in debt. Now it's stuck with a surplus of shoes, and its auditors have wondered if it can stay afloat. It has until the end of September to pay off its debt.
Now can we do something about these, please?

UGH indeed.

And in case you're wondering, yes I did just write a blog discussing judging people by their clothes. I said I try not to do it. These are two exceptions ... to the "trying" part.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The never ending clothing-go-round

Oh, women and clothes ... endless (and often pointless) hours have been spent talking about you. Everyone weighs in on the topic, whether they realize it or not -- "Hey, did you see that shirt Soandso was wearing? Helllloooo cleavage!" -- and while most of the comments are harmless, or even complimentary, it does occasionally get ugly. Right or wrong, people get judged by what they wear and judge others on the basis of clothes (and hair, shoes, etc.). It's been going on for decades (centuries?), and it's never going to stop. I know I'm guilty of it, though I do try not to care what other people think about my clothes. So what if I wear a T-shirt and jeans every day? It doesn't mean I can't look "nice," it just means "nice" takes too much effort in the morning.

But thanks to Delta Airlines, an interesting conversation is brewing about women and their clothes. Well, in particular, about "heavier" flight attendants and their uniforms. An airline union is protesting the fact that Delta doesn't offer its red flight attendant dress -- the one pictured here -- in any size higher than 18. (Delta also has a policy that "
flight attendants who wear orthopedic shoes must wear slacks and not a skirt or dress. Those that wear the orthopedic shoes must obtain a doctor's note." Sigh.) It's not hard to infer that Delta wouldn't really mind if any of their flight attendants bigger than a size 18 would be so kind as to not do something noticeable, like wear a red dress.

Of course, I don't know Delta's exact reason for cutting off the dress size at 18; I'm sure they could cite some kind of production process or cost, if they were pressed. All I've seen them say is this (from the above article):

Delta said its uniforms fall under its company policy and that most flight attendants from Northwest like the uniforms. Flight attendants can wear other pieces including slacks, tops and blue dresses in larger sizes. "It's a variety to fit a very diverse group of preferences and sizes, and to continue presenting a uniform collection that is both stylish and very functional," said Delta spokeswoman Gina Laughlin.
Besides the obvious implications of Delta's dress policy ("fat" women are women too, employees should be treated equally, flight attendants aren't sex objects, if everyone can't wear a uniform, why have it?, etc.), I have to ask ... does anyone who travels a lot actually care about the flight attendants' uniforms? Wouldn't everyone getting on a plane prefer that the flight attendants were comfortable, first and foremost, in clothing that is easy to get around in? What is the point of having any of them wear dresses and/or heels? Not to say that they can't, and maybe this is just my own aversion to dresses and heels, but as a passenger on a plane I'm probably wearing the most comfortable thing I own that isn't pajamas. To actually work on a plane, well, I wouldn't be so thrilled over a dress. Sign me up for that doctor's note for the comfy shoes, too.

Regardless, this needs to be addressed by Delta, whether they allow everyone to wear it, or no one. Size 18 is a pretty arbitrary size, it would seem, to say anyone bigger than that can't wear it. Maybe they should've thought about this issue before the dress became one of their uniform options. Someone was going to protest sooner or later. Here's an interesting note though, on why that protest is happening now, even though the dress has been around for a while:
Although the policies on the sizes of the red dress and the orthopedic shoes with slacks are not new at Delta, the flight attendants from Delta are not represented by a union. The merger with Northwest has brought the flight attendant union from that carrier, along with its grievance process, in contact with policies at the mostly non-union Delta.
Ah. Unions. Good for them!

For another look at this Delta uniform story, check out Meghan Harvey
's post at Politics Unlocked. She has a great take on the subject.

And if you think you can stomach it, watch this clip of an "anti-obesity advocate"
being interviewed by Stuart Varney on Fox News. Gotta say, this is one of the rare times that Fox News comes out the winner. Varney really lets her have it, and rightfully so.

A couple other recent stories about women and clothing, not related to any airline:
And not so much clothing related, but definitely worth mentioning because I love stuff like this: "Feminist brides saying 'I do' to creating own traditions" (from the Houston Chronicle).

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sonia vs. Sarah part II

A couple days ago, I touched on the fact that Sarah Palin supporters are opposed to Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court.

Chris Matthews took on the issue today on Hardball (first half of this clip):

It is curious.

Here's a link to Margaret Wente's column in the Toronto Globe, the one Matthews' refers to. An excerpt:
People who argue that Sarah Palin is good for America while Sonia Sotomayor is a threat are obviously out of their minds. They are determined to drive their own party off a cliff into oblivion. And they're succeeding nicely.
I think that about sums it up for me.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Palin, Sotomayor and feminism

A couple weeks ago, I got into a "discussion" with someone on Twitter, someone who I followed (at the time), about feminism and Sarah Palin. The person told me they were an "ex-liberal" and became that way after seeing how Palin was treated by the media and by other women. This person's main contention was that a feminist doesn't have to support Palin, but shouldn't "bash" Palin either. According to this person, feminists should be proud of/excited by the fact that she is the second woman ever to be on a presidential ticket.

I contended that my criticism of Palin's stances on certain issues (abortion), or the fact that she quit her job, or how she conducted herself during the campaign (i.e. her "palling around with terrorists" comment) has nothing to do with either of us being a woman; Palin is a politician, and I will speak up when I disagree with her, like I would with any male politician.

During our conversation, this person said, among other things, that I was a "female Democrat, not a feminist," and that I was a "sexist female who pretends to be a feminist." They also said that I am a "
feminist who spends her time trashing Palin" (I've written specifically about Palin twice on this blog, once about the Letterman joke and once when she quit her job), and that they "don't think it's cool for a feminist to bash any woman who makes political progress."

Since when does f
eminism equate to being silent when one disagrees with another woman, or any form of silence for that matter? Goodness knows I'm not ever supporting or keeping quiet about Rep. Michelle Bachmann, for instance, just because she's a woman. My own representative is a woman, who I disagree with on most every issue important to me. I didn't vote for her, nor would I, as some kind of act of "solidarity." I fail to see how any of this, Palin criticism included, would exclude me from being called a feminist. I also refuse to think feminism hasn't progressed enough that women can't disagree in the political arena. Do we, women, really want society to think women in the political arena are only there because they were propped up by other women, as if they couldn't get elected any other way? (And if so, why isn't Hillary president?)

But let's say one agrees that it's not "cool" for feminists to "
bash any woman who makes political progress." (Never mind that quitting your job as governor isn't exactly "political progress.") How, I wonder, would this person, a self-proclaimed feminist, defend the Palin defenders who are bashing Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor? Are they going to go tell TeamSarah that it's not "cool" to bash another woman making political progress?

TeamSarah, if you didn't know, is promoting the
Women's Coalition for Justice, who oppose Sotomayor's nomination. TeamSarah also has a link to this site, where you can voice your opposition to Sotomayor. (They also have a Michelle Bachmann group!)

So, it would seem that supporting Palin means not supporting Sotomayor. Huh. What's a "feminist" to do now?!? Here's an idea for my Twitter friend: quit trying to define feminism in such narrow terms, or at the least, quit being so hypocritical in your feminist stances. If it's all about supporting other women, why did you attack me, a woman, for what I said? And why aren't you calling out your fellow Palin supporters for their opposition to Sonia Sotomayor? After all, she could be only the third woman to ever serve on the Supreme Court, and you yourself said "
being a feminist should not mean you only support women of your party. It should be for the advancement of ALL women." Time to practice what you preach, or quit preaching.

Suggested Sunday reading (7/12)

Lots to catch up on this week, as I've been out of town and/or away from the computer. Let's start with some international news:
  • Uganda says it will ban the practice of female genital mutilation. Read more background on the story here.
  • The Centre for Global Development conducted a study on gender-related policies of global AIDS/HIV programs and found that donors need to step up their efforts. According to the article, "Sixty-one percent of people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa are women, up from about 33 percent in the 1980s."
  • Jordan has dropped the legal exemption for honor crimes, which often involve killing a woman in order to restore "honor" to a family. A state official said ""A crime is a crime. There will be no such things as honour crimes or exemptions for those who commit such crimes, because all people are equal before the law."
  • For the first time, three women in Ireland are challenging that country's strict abortion laws. Ireland outlaws all abortions except in the case of saving the mother's life. This is a story to keep an eye on; Ireland is one of the few "developed" countries with such strict laws. Here's a chart of abortion laws around the world, for comparison.
  • The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee has taken the first step toward permanently banning the global gag rule, which was rescinded by Obama soon after he took office. Read more here and here.
  • The Public Record has a commentary piece on domestic violence not being a valid reason for immigrants to seek asylum in the United States. The timeline in the article seems a little off to me, but the point stands. On a side note, check out this ad at a bus stop in Hamburg.

Good number of stories from around the U.S. as well:
  • President Jimmy Carter writes a column for the Guardian, "The words of God do not justify cruelty to women." It is an excellent column. The point is so obvious, but so many people don't want to hear it.
  • The New York Times Magazine has a great interview with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. An excerpt:

Q: Now that Judge Sotomayor has been nominated, how do you feel about that?
GINSBURG: I feel great that I don’t have to be the lone woman around this place.
Q: What has that been like?
GINSBURG: It’s almost like being back in law school in 1956, when there were 9 of us in a class of over 500, so that meant most sections had just 2 women, and you felt that every eye was on you. Every time you went to answer a question, you were answering for your entire sex. It may not have been true, but certainly you felt that way. You were different and the object of curiosity.
  • The 9th U.S. Court of Appeals has sent a case involving pharmacists in the state of Washington not distributing the morning-after pill back to federal court: "A federal judge overreached when he sided with religious-freedom arguments to block Washington state's rules mandating the sale of "morning-after" birth control, appeals judges said."
  • NPR has a story about sexism and Wimbledon. Yes, Anna Kournikova is mentioned.
  • Brand X has a story about girls and Comic-Con, with some good links in it. (The L.A. Times gallery reminds me of when Wolverine came out, and woman after woman said they were going to see it just because of Hugh Jackman. The movie was actually marketed to women that way. Ick.) And speaking of comics, Supergirl's underwear won't be showing anymore.

  • I haven't yet watched the Bill Moyers' interview with Wendell Potter, who used to work for Cigna, but I plan to. According to Daily Kos, Potter basically admits that every bad thing people think about the health insurance industry is true. Oh, and "Sicko" was spot-on.
  • Finally, if you need something to make you shake your head, check out Andrew Sullivan's round-up of Sarah Palin lies.


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