Monday, May 31, 2010

On this Memorial Day

A thank you to all of those who have served this country, in times of war and peace, in every battle and conflict, in every branch of the military and the reserves, of every ability, race, religion, gender and sexual orientation, who made it out alive, injured, or who gave their lives. I hope we as a world can find better solutions than war.

Arlington, Va. (Mar. 24, 2005) - A woman looks at one of more than 1,300 portraits that make up the "Faces of the Fallen" art exhibit at Arlington National Cemetery. The portraits of U.S. military personnel killed in Afghanistan and Iraq brings together artist and families of the fallen heroes. Each rising from the end of a metal pole, the portraits are the same size but their form varies from oil paintings, wood cravings to charcoal sketches. The exhibit is open until Sept. 5, 2005, at the Women in Military Service for American Memorial, located at Arlington National Cemetery. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Daniel J. McLain. (via)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Remembering Dr. George Tiller and his message to Trust Women

I didn't know a lot about Dr. George Tiller and his work before he was killed. I had come across his name a couple times over the years, and I knew he had been shot before (1993) in his line of work. But the second I heard he had been gunned down and killed in his church, my hands started shaking and I was just so ... angry. And sad. And defeated. And motivated. I spent the majority of the rest of that day searching for news on the Internet (you can read my blog post about his death here).

That was one year ago, on May 31, 2009. Nothing in the past year has helped make sense of Dr. Tiller's death. He was killed by Scott Roeder, who is an extremist anti-choicer. Roeder is most definitely not pro-life, no matter what he or his allies say. (If you are truly pro-life, you don't go around killing people. It is, in fact, that simple.) Roeder was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 50 years in jail without parole. It hardly seems enough.

I think for me, one of the saddest things we've seen happen in the past year is the further erosion of a woman's right to choose. Not only have we lost one of the very few doctors who performs late-term abortions, but his succinct message to "Trust Women" has been ignored time and time again, in state after state. Legislatures all over the United States are coming up with new laws designed to make it harder for women to access abortion services. They are requiring unnecessary medical procedures (ultrasounds) be done before an abortion can be performed; they are banning all abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy; they are saying it is legally okay to lie to women about what's going on in their pregnancies; they are instituting waiting periods; they are upholding conscious clauses. They are not Trusting Women in any way, shape or form. Instead, they are treating women like children, children who have to be protected from themselves -- the exact opposite of how Dr. Tiller treated his patients.

On this one year anniversary of his death, I hope this: that no other person involved in any way with abortion services is ever harmed or killed for the work they do. No more guns, no more bombs, no more death threats, no more harassment. I think the only way to make sure that happens is to work toward a world in which every woman has the legal right to choose, a world in which the stigma of abortion is taken away, and a world in which religion doesn't rule women's bodies. Is that possible? I don't know. But we have to try, don't we? Because a world in which abortion isn't an option is a world in which women lose their agency and selves, a world in which they lose the right to their own bodies, a world in which women can never achieve equality because they will forever be second-class citizens. We can't let that happen.

More reading:
  • I Am Dr. Tiller: "Reflections: One Year."
  • Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health: Words from Dr. Tiller about his practice, how he came to do what he did, how he dealt with being picketed, harassed, shot, and more.
  • Beacon Broadside: "The Legacy of George Tiller."
  • NARAL: "Honoring Dr. George Tiller."
  • Our Bodies Ourselves: "2010 Women's Health Heroes Hall of Fame Inductees." Dr. Tiller is one of them.
  • Ms. magazine: "Not A Lone Wolf: Scott Roeder is now serving a life term for murdering abortion doctor George Tiller. But did he really act alone?"
  • Jezebel: "Intimidating Abortion Providers Is Chillingly Effective."
  • Kansas City Star: "NOW to mark anniversary of Tiller murder." Warning, the comments on this are particularly offensive.
  • Planned Parenthood: "Planned Parenthood Federation of America Statement on the Anniversary of the Murder of Dr. George Tiller."
  • Ms. blog: "Sen. Harry Reid honors Dr. George Tiller." On the Senate floor, no less!
If you've written something about Dr. Tiller or want to suggest something, leave a link in the comments.

Suggested Sunday reading (5/30/10)

Just a quick reminder, you can submit links for this column via e-mail at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com, and you can catch up with Spare Candy on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr as well. Or! Leave a link in the comments! Self-promotion is perfectly acceptable here.

Getting right to it this week:
  • The Union: "Extraordinary Jane: Jean Hill," about an 82-year-old woman who led the battle to get plastic water bottles banned in her town, Concord, Mass.
  • Time: "Baby Gap: Germany's Birth Rate Hits Historic Low." Demographers are "warning of the consequences of not making enough babies to replace and support an aging population." So start pumping out babies, this article seems to say.
  • Gender Across Borders: "Drop in Global Maternal Death Rates." Yes, the rate has dropped, rather significantly. Even so, in 2008 it was an astonishing number: 342,900.
  • Washington Post: "In Shales review of PBS program, questions about The Post and gender bias." Something every media outlet should examine.
  • On the Issues: "How to Think Like A Feminist Economist." Great read. Consider this: "But if taxes paid are put in relation to income earned we will realize that because women still earn 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, women pay a greater share of their income in taxes."
  • It's About Time: "Dickens, Oliver!, and Girls in Prison." A collection of photos of girls jailed in the 19th century, along with their crimes and punishments.
  • Penny Red: "Shiny Happy Rape Culture," about granting anonymity to accused rapists. Expect to hear more about this issue on this blog in the future.
  • Shakesville: "More Advocacy Fail." About an "anti-rape" campaign gone horribly wrong.
  • The Stir: "Female Genital Mutilation and Circumcision: Comparable?" Comparable, yes. Exactly the same, no. Personally, I'm against both.
  • Ms. blog: "Pediatricians Rescind Female Genital 'Nicking' Policy." Gee, ya think?
  • Reuters: "Dutch doctors' group calls for circumcision ban."
  • Pandagon: "K-Lo will not rest until the scourge of feminine joy is wiped out completely."
  • Racialicious: "Sustainable Food and Privilege: Why is Green Always White (and Male and Upper-Class)." Great read.
  • Medical News Today: "ACLU Of Texas Questions County's Refusal To Transport Prisoner Seeking Abortion." As they should.
  • BBC: "Jordanian 'murdered his daughter in abortion bid'." That is, he raped his daughter, got her pregnant, literally cut the fetus out of her, killing her.
  • Los Angeles Times: "Transgender rights advocates see a gradual series of victories." I think "gradual" is a key word, but progress is progress? Or something?
  • "Transgender Candidate Doesn't Support LGBT Rights." This is in Florida. The candidate is a Republican, by the way.
  • NARAL Pro-choice Virginia: "Plastic Fetuses in Norfolk Public Schools ... " A school employee handed out fetus dolls with anti-choice messages to students in grades 3-5. Yeah.
  • New York Times: "In Ultrasound, Abortion Fight Has New Front." Sigh.
  • RH Reality Check: "Senate Committee Votes On A Repeal Of Abortion Ban for Servicewomen." Now this would be good news.
  • Broadsheet: "OB-GYNs blocked from providing abortions." They are blocked by their employers.
  • Pharyngula: "You can tell where this is going, but you can hardly believe it when it gets there." A blog post about a guy who wrote a blog post saying men should rape women. Major trigger warning here, especially if you read the blog post in question.
  • Chicago Tribune: "DNA evidence in rape case against doctor sat for 8 years." So infuriating.
  • AFP: "Indonesian province to hand out 'Islamic' skirts to women." Because tight pants have been banned.
  • Irish Times: "Ten things an Irish woman could not do in 1970." Read this, keeping in mind that 1970 wasn't that long ago. Unreal.
  • Politicususa: "Progressive Women Must Unite in Support of International Violence Against Women Act." Agreed!
  • The Frisky: "Erin Andrews Gets Slut-Shamed By Gossip Reporter." FFS, I am so tired of the slut-shaming of victims. STOP. IT.
  • The Sexist: "Sexist Beatdown: Megan Fox Shrinks Michael Bay’s Camera Boner Edition." Also check out Women and Hollywood's "The Consequences of Speaking Out" post.
  • The Seventeen Magazine Project: I love this idea and this site. An 18-year-old lives for a month according to what's in Seventeen magazine.
  • Jezebel: "Why The Kendra Wilkinson Sex Tape Should Make You Angry." Please read this.
  • Alternative Press: "Hayley Wiliams victim of hacker attack." She is the lead singer of Paramore, and a hacker has taken credit for finding and posting a topless photo of her on the Internet. Yet one more person's privacy violated, and you can imagine how many slut-shamers are out there blaming her for taking the picture in the first place.
  • New York Times: "A Classic Turns 50, and Parties Are Planned." It's the 50th anniversary of "To Kill a Mockingbird." Who wants to re-read it with me?

Friday, May 28, 2010

In History: Genevieve de Galard, the "Angel of Dien Bien Phu"

This is the 27th post in a weekly feature here at Spare Candy, called "In History." Some posts might be little more than a photo, others full on features. If you have any suggestions for a person or event that should be featured, or would like to submit a guest post or cross post, e-mail me at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

I have to give you a little back story on this week's In History column. A couple weeks ago, my boyfriend and I were at a big used book sale, and we purchased a couple of old Life magazines and old newspapers. One of the Life magazines is from June 2, 1958 (you can see the cover here). We didn't look through any of the magazines for a while, and when we did we found newspaper clippings in this one. And I have to say, they're pretty cool.

Most of the clippings are stories or photos of Genevieve de Galard, sometimes known by the name Geneviève de Galard-Terraube. You may also have heard of her by her nickname: "Angel of Dien Bien Phu." Galard was a flight nurse for the French Air Force. She was posted to French Indochina in May 1953, in the middle of the war between French forces and the Vietminh. She was born in 1925, and she is still alive. I'll let the news clippings tell the rest of the story. I couldn't capture the time period any better than they do. (I have scanned in the clippings and transcribed them, and provided links so you can see them in full; if you find errors, they're probably mine. Any emphasis is also mine.)

This first one was published in the Bethlehem Globe-Times, a now-defunct paper that was published from 1925 to 1977 in Bethlehem, Pa., on Tuesday, May 4, 1954. It was written by the United Press news service. (Here is the scan):
Lone Nurse Gets 'Legion of Honor' from Dien Bien Phu Commander
HANOI, Indochina (UP) -- An angel today watched over the wounded soldiers of Dien Bien Phu.

This angel does not wear wings or a halo, but borrowed army fatigues, a steel helmet and the Legion of Honor.

She is a French army nurse, the only woman among 12,000 battle-toughened soldiers fighting to the death in the surrounded fortress.

She is Lt. Genevieve de Galard. She is slim, dark-haired and has a gentle smile. Unlike most women all over the world Genevieve doesn't mind telling her age. She is 29.

Brig. Gen. Christian de Castries, hero of Dien Bien Phu and commander of the garrison, drew up his waery men at a ceremony outside his muddy dug-out command post yesterday.

While Communist guns fired, de Castries brough nurse Genevieve before the men and pinned on her breast one of France's highest awards, the Legion of Honor. Then he kissed her on both cheeks.

Genevieve was awarded the Legion of Honor for courage and devotion to duty.
But Genevieve is more than a nurse, although just a nurse would be welcome in the dingy underground dispensaries where hundreds of wounded men lie.

She has become a symbol of hope and home to the isolated soldiers who look forward with more certainty to death than to life.

Dien Bien Phu's "angel" became the only woman amoung 12,000 men by accident. But when she signed up as a French air force nurse, she knew she was risking her life for her country.

Genevieve was serving her second tour of duy in Indochina when an enemy shell put her helicopters out of action at Dien Bien Phu.

She had escorted 250 wounded soldiers out of the garrison in the first days of the all-out enemy attack. Night and day she had shuttled back and forth between the base hospital at Hanoi and the faraway French bastion.

One day in March the helicopter was hit but not damaged by the shell. Genevieve prepared to spend the night at Dien Bien Phu while mechanics tried to repair the chopper under fire.

During the night the Communists bombarded the field and at dawn is was obvious Genevieve's helicopter would never fly again.

So she went undergound to the dispensaries and offered her services to the head surgeon. That was 25 days ago. She has assisted in as many as 25 operations a day.

The next clipping (above) is just a photo and a caption. It's also from the Bethlehem Globe-Times, from June 8, 1954. The photo does not have a photographer's name or a news service listed, but it's possible there is a news service's initials in the bottom right of the photo. Here is the scan. The caption:
Genevieve de Galard-Terraube, wearing the French Air Medal and Silver Medal of Honor she had just received in Paris, is congratulated by Mme. Vitrone (right), who was decorated by the Government several years ago for work as a glider pilot. The awards were made at special ceremonies honoring the heroic "Angel of Dien Bien Phu."
The next article is by the United Press on July 3, accompanied by a photo by the Associated Press, but I don't have a newspaper name for the article. Here is the scan.
First invited by Congress
Dienbienphu Nurse Here on July 26 for Tour of U.S.
By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON, July 3 -- French nurse Genevienve de Galard-Terraube, "the angel of Dien Bien Phu," will arrive in New York July 26 for a three-week tour of the United States. Rep. Frances P. Bolton, R., Ohio, announced today. Mrs. Bolton is charman of a national welcome committee sponsoring the heroine's visit.

Miss de Galard is the first foreign citizen ever formally invited to the United States by an act of Congress. The House and Senate passed a unique invitation resolution, introduced by Mrs. Bolton, after the Frenchwoman won the admiration of the free world by her gallant work in nursing the wounded at the isolated French fortress in Indo-China.

Mrs. Bolton said Miss de Galard will visit New York, Washington, Cleveland, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. She will travel in Defense Department transports planes and will be escorted by Miss Mary Vance Trent, a State Department foreign officer, and by Army, Navy and Air Force nurses. Mrs. Bolton will accompany the party in New York, Washington and Cleveland.

"We are delighted that on the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale's historic nursing in the Crimean War we will honor a young woman whose devotion to duty has been unsurpassed in this century," said Rep. Bolton.

"Mlle. de Galard's visit will be a dramatic illustration of the daily sacrifices of nurses everywhere and of America's great need for more women in the nursing profession."

Accompanying caption: Lt. Genevieve de Galard-Terraube smiling after she received two medals in a ceremony in Paris. She is also wearing two decorations bestowed upon her in the field at Dienbienphu.
The next clipping is just a photo and a caption, credited to I.N.P. I don't know when it was published or what paper it was published in. Also, it's in French, which I don't speak. The photo appears to be President Eisenhower awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Galard. That took place on July 29, 1954. I believe the other people in the photo are French ambassador(?) Henri Bonnet and Rep. Frances Bolton. Here is a link to the scan of the clipping; if you know what it says, you're welcome to fill me in!

Two of these clippings were obviously posted somewhere with thumbtacks. You can see the holes in the clippings, and the paper is a lighter color where the thumbtacks were. I so want to know who it was who lovingly clipped these out in 1954, posted them somewhere and saved them in a Life magazine from 1958.

More reading:
  • Time: "Foreign News: Angel's Return," from May 31, 1954.
  • UNC TV: Military Nurses
  • (Also, if you read French, there are many, many articles on the Internet about Galard.)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sex and the City 2 reviews going a little too far?

I really didn't want to have to do this. I actually don't want to do this at all. I'm going to get the movie spoiled for me, no doubt. But. This image accompanying a review on Salon, by Andrew O'Hehir, has pushed me over the line and forced me to do this. (By the way, if you want to know how I feel about the Sex and the City franchise, you can read it here. I don't want to rehash it all again.)

So, here's the image*:

And yeah. That is Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, being stabbed by a cartoon knife. Because this movie is apparently So Fucking Bad that she needs to be killed for making this reviewer sit through it. (I'm guessing.) Now remind me where I've seen this before, when a "chick flick" is so bad that its lead actress is shown being stabbed in a review ... oh, right, I haven't seen this before. Not in response to The Back Up Plan, or The Ugly Truth, or SATC 1, or Bride Wars, or 27 Dresses, or Any Other Chick Flick. (Have you seen something similar? If so, send me a link, please!)

People have tried to explain why this movie/franchise elicits such violent responses (or passionate hatred, or whatever you want to call it), and I still don't get it. I DO understand this could be a bad movie. Based on what I've read, it sounds bad. I haven't seen it yet, and it'll probably be a couple weeks before I do. To be fair, in his review, O'Hehir does outline some of the (apparent) problems in the movie. He also says things like this:
"It would have been more merciful for writer-director Michael Patrick King to have rented Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda out to the "Saw" franchise, or to Rob Zombie, so we could watch them get shot in the head or skinned alive by Arkansas rednecks. Instead of that, we get something that's truly sadistic: the SATC girls as haggard specters, haunted by their freewheeling '90s past and stupefied by the demands of work, marriage and/or motherhood."
I know, I know. Dismemberment is always preferable to being subjected to women "stupefied" by life. O'Hehir isn't alone, by a longshot, with his word choices. There's this, from The Stranger:
SATC2 takes everything that I hold dear as a woman and as a human -- working hard, contributing to society, not being an entitled cunt like it's my job -- and rapes it to death with a stiletto that costs more than my car.
Roger Ebert throws this line into his review: "Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall) is still a sexaholic slut." And he's apparently very proud of all the "good comments" left on his review, by women no less! Feel free to read them for yourself, but I can summarize all of them right now: "I hate this movie," "I hate SATC," "These characters are so vapid," (seriously, the word vapid is used over and over over), "I totally agree with Ebert, and like, I'm so glad he wrote this." It would appear that hating SATC is a badge of honor for many.

I'm not nearly the only person pointing out some of the unfavorable or mean things said about this movie. And if I had more time, no doubt I would find a lot more of the type of comments listed above. But for me, it's like this: First of all, I don't know what anyone expected in the sequel, given the first movie. Things like shopping and fashion has always been a big part of SATC. Second, can we talk for just a second about how few mainstream movies there are that cater to women, that have women in mind as the target audience, that are also actually good? Or movies in general that even pass the Bechdel Test? That in the recent study by the Geena Davis Institute, they found 73 percent of all characters in the movies they studied were male? And that despite all of those things, women buy more movie tickets than men?

Just what is it about SATC that draws out these kinds of responses from people? Is it something other than the fact that a lot of women are excited about this movie and plan to go see it with other women? There are a couple reviewers sticking up for the movie. Try here and here.

*I am making the leap of assuming this image is NOT in the movie, that the knife was added to the photo as illustration. PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong on that!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Urge support of the Global Sexual and Reproductive Health Act of 2010

There is a petition on right now that you can sign in support of the Global Sexual and Reproductive Health Act of 2010, which was introduced in the House of Representatives on April 22 by Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY, pictured). This is an important piece of legislation that deals with the United States' role in international family planning and reproductive health matters.

According to the press release issued by Clarke's office:
This comprehensive legislation would support voluntary family planning, education and outreach, reduction of unsafe abortion, STI and HIV prevention, contraceptive development, training of healthcare professionals, and various other initiatives. ...

“Fulfilling the need for sexual and reproductive health services would produce dramatic results. For example, providing contraceptives to the 215 million women in developing countries who are not able to access modern contraceptive methods would avert: 53 million unintended pregnancies; 150,000 women from dying of pregnancy-related complications; 600,000 children from losing their mothers, and 25 million induced abortions each year. Simultaneously investing in family planning services and pregnancy-related care would achieve even greater results by slashing maternal deaths by 70% and newborn deaths by almost half. ” stated Rep. Clarke.
According to, "The total cost of fully investing in family planning, maternal and newborn health would be $24.6 billion a year. While this is twice what is currently spent, it is less than $5 per person." And according to the legislation, "Poor sexual and reproductive health is the leading cause of death and disability among women of child-bearing age." Be sure to either sign the petition, which has a form letter you can send to your representatives, or write to your representatives yourself asking them to support and vote for the Global Sexual and Reproductive Health Act of 2010.

You can read more about the legislation at RH Reality Check, or view the actual legislation here, or track it here. It is currently in committee.

Five dollars a person. It's almost literally the least we could do. Right?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tina Fey wins Mark Twain prize

I realize this isn't a big deal in the scheme of things, but I love funny women and I think they often go unrecognized for their work, sooo ... a big congratulations to Tina Fey for being named this year's recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor!

If you're unfamiliar with that award, it is "America’s foremost award for humor, presented annually by The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to an individual who has made a significant contribution to American humor." Fey becomes the third woman to receive the award since it started being given out in 1998. The other two are Whoopi Goldberg (2001) and Lily Tomlin (2003). Fey is also the youngest person to receive the award.

Love this from Fey's statement: "I assume Betty White was disqualified for steroid use."

From the Kennedy Center's site: "The Kennedy Center will present the 13th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor to Tina Fey on Tuesday, November 9, 2010 in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. The award, named to honor one of the world’s greatest humorists, and will feature a lineup of the biggest names in comedy, and will be taped for television broadcast."

Read more about Fey and the award's history here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Kim Cattrall takes a stand against the term "cougar"

I've never written much about "Sex and the City" here, but if you knew me in real life, you would know I like the show. I own the entire series on DVD, as well as the first movie. (I plan to see the second movie, after the hype dies down.) I haven't written about the show because I feel like, in the feminist Internet community, the show has been discussed and picked over countless times; there is no shortage of commentary on why the show is or isn't "good" for women, for feminists, for anyone, etc. I don't want to get into a long post about it -- because it would be LONG, and probably repetitive of many things already written. And, frankly, I don't care that the show is or isn't feminist, or if someone else thinks it is or isn't. I can't limit myself to watching only feminist TV shows, or movies, or feminist books, etc. I like "Sex and the City." And if you do, great. If you don't, that's fine, too.

About the show, I will keep it short and say this: I recognize the show had some problems. (I also recognize that every single show I have ever watched and liked isn't perfect either. No such thing exists on TV, as far as I'm aware.) But what I loved about the show was that the women never apologized for being women; that they stood up for themselves and each other; that the friendships went through many ups and downs; that the show did break some taboos regarding the topics of conversation women have and the sex they have; that the women sometimes judged each other and were called out on it; that there was an episode about the bullshit of a single girl buying gifts for every occasion in a married woman's life and not ever receiving any herself (one of my personal pet peeves); that it involved women of various ages in various stages of their lives, and not just a bunch of young women; and I could go on and on.

What I always loved, and think was one of the best parts of the show, is how Samantha (who is the oldest character on the show; she had just turned 50 at the end of the first movie) was always a sexual person, and unapologetic for it, and accepted for it, and it was just a part of her life. It wasn't made out to be unusual or "gross" or weird. It just was. She's "vulgar" and sophisticated and funny and successful and gorgeous and sexual and in her late 40s/50.

So I was thrilled to learn that Kim Cattrall, who plays Samantha, turned down a cover shoot for an unnamed magazine (described as a "prominent magazine directed at women in their 40s") because they wanted her to pose with an actual cougar. I'm guessing the magazine wanted this because Cattrall, and Samantha, are "older" sexual/sexualized women? And therefore "cougars"? Here's what Cattrall had to say about it:
"I really take umbrage to the code 'cougar.' I think cougar has a negative connotation and I don't see anything negative about Samantha and her sexuality, sensuality and choice. I don't think she stands or sits in bars waiting for young men to prey on. And I think that's something that people who are uncomfortable with strong women have labeled her."
She also said: "I was asked recently by a significant magazine for women over 40 to pose with a cougar, and I refused to do it because I felt it was insulting. They took away the cover because I refused to do so."

Good for her! For the record, I completely agree that "cougar" has a negative connotation. Pretty much from the second it was coined, the term, and the women it's meant to represent, has been mocked and made fun of. And while I don't agree with every word in this column ("'Sex' and the rise of cougar culture"), I do agree with this: "Of course, the work of Samantha Jones will only truly be done when the term cougar no longer matters."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Suggested Sunday reading (5/23)

Just a quick reminder, you can submit links for this column via e-mail at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com, and you can catch up with Spare Candy on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr as well. Or! Leave a link in the comments! Self-promotion is perfectly acceptable here.

I will warn you, readers, this week's Sunday reading is probably going to be long. A lot of news came out this week. Categories might even be necessary! So I'll get to it:
  • Los Angeles Times: "Dorothy Kamenshek dies at 84; women's baseball league star." RIP Dottie.
  • Feministe: "7-Year-Old Girl Killed By Detroit Police While Sleeping in Her Home." I think most people have heard about this? But I'm including it, just in case.
  • New York Times: "Poverty and the Pill," by Nicholas Kristof.
  • The Style Rookie: "Can I just say," on photographer Terry Richardson and his photographing (young) models nude.
  • The Sexist: "The Morning After: $10 Lap Dance Edition."
  • Huffington Post: "Sarah Palin is not a feminist." I tend to agree.
  • Popular Science: "Student Invents Silicone "Tampons" To Harvest Monthly Menstrual Stem Cells."
  • "The Untold Story of The Iroquois Influence On Early Feminists."
  • Business Week: "Novartis Must Pay $250 Million in Gender Bias Lawsuit." It is "the largest ever employment discrimination verdict according to data compiled by Bloomberg."
  • New York Times: "Google Tells Sites for ‘Cougars’ to Go Prowl Elsewhere."
  • Jezebel: "Hooters Says Waitress Is 'Too Fat,' Offers Her Gym Membership." She is 5'8 and 132 pounds. And "too fat."
  • New York Daily News: "Dads can get postpartum depression, too: study."
  • UK Telegraph: "France has first 'burka rage' incident."
  • Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "Department of Corrections settles with woman shackled during childbirth." She received $125,000, and her case "pushed the Legislature to pass a restrictions outlining authorities' responsibilities regarding the use of restraints on pregnant inmates."
  • Engineer Your Life: "A girl built the Brooklyn Bridge? Yep."
  • The Washington Post: "Stitches of history slated for the National Museum of African American History and Culture."
  • Tattooed and Pierced: "Female Force comics." Very interesting. (And speaking of comics, I now own this.)
  • Beauty Schooled Project: "My beauty labor, part one: Why we should talk about it." You can see the other parts of this series here.
  • The Curvature: "Insufficient evidence." If you read this, be prepared for your blood pressure to rise. Like, off the charts.
  • The National: "Woman who reported rape is charged with illegal sex." This is in Abu Dhabi.
  • Sydney Morning Herald: "Sex, thugs and rotten role models: it's not right if she's not enjoying it."
  • ESPN: "Female athletes often targets for rape." Yes, that's right. ESPN wrote about this.
  • The Curvature: "England and Wales Move to Grant Anonymity to Rape Defendants."
  • May 17 was the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. Check out IDAHO's site for more, including links to stories.
  • Gender Across Borders: "Recap: International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia."
  • Deeply Problematic: "Alexis Lusk fights transphobia in high school through the Dallas Voice."
  • Met Blogs: "Gay Men’s Chorus of LA premieres their Harvey Milk Schools Project at Fairfax High School."
  • On Top: "Activists Press For Gay Marriage On Harvey Milk Day."
  • Jezebel: "Stupak's Amendment Lets Abortion Foes Restrict The Insurance You Have Now."
  • Guttmacher Institute: "More women in need of publicly funded family planning services."
  • Toronto Star: "Abortion: Don't ask, don't tell; Aid groups ‘dare not talk about it' for fear of cuts from Conservative government, one official says."
  • Medic Exchange: "Ultrasound Before Abortion: Bill OK'd in Virginia."
  • "Legislation would bar tax-funded abortion coverage in Ohio."
  • Ms. magazine: "Missouri State House Passes Bill to Expand Abortion Restrictions."
  • Tampa Bay online: "Crist likely to veto abortion ultrasound bill."
  • "Senate backs bill requiring ultrasound before abortions."
  • CNBC: "Kan. budget item takes Planned Parenthood funds."
  • AP: "Vatican details US sex abuse defense." Which is basically, "bishops aren't our employees, soooo..."
  • CBC (Canada): "Cardinal's abortion remarks anger politicians: Marc Ouellet calls abortion a 'moral crime' that is not justified even in rape cases."
  • Feministe: "That’s some morality you’ve got there." On how "good Catholic medical care basically involves crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. At least when it comes to women."
  • "Women Raped by Catholic Priest Reach Settlement With Church."
  • The Huffington Post: "Janine Denomme, Woman Ordained As Catholic Priest, Denied Catholic Burial By Church."
  • Alter Net: "Why is anyone still Catholic?"

Friday, May 21, 2010

Passing this along: A progressive phone company

This is post going to come off sounding like an advertisement (because it is one, technically), so I want to let you know that I am not getting paid for this; I do not and have not ever used this company's services; and because of the former, I'm in no position to endorse this at all. But I've never heard of it, I'm intrigued by the idea of it, and I figured someone else might be, too. So! With that in mind, this is an e-mail I got from NARAL:
$65 million for progressive nonprofits. Not a dime for the far right.

Does your phone company support anti-choice politicians? The answer may surprise you.

AT&T, one of the largest corporate political contributors in America, has given to extremists like Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who introduced legislation to allow federal funding for deceptive "crisis pregnancy centers" that often mislead women about their reproductive-health options.

And both AT&T and Verizon Wireless have given to Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who has called for the death penalty for doctors who provide abortion care.

But there is a different kind of mobile phone company. One that proudly supports a woman's right to choose: CREDO Mobile.

With CREDO Mobile, you'll get a phone company that works for your values, not against them. We're the largest corporate donor to Planned Parenthood, and the only vocally pro-choice phone company. Join us today and get:*

  • Contract buy-out credit up to $200
  • 10% off your monthly service fee for 24 months
  • No contract for 30 days**
  • Number portability: keep your current mobile number
  • Nationwide coverage on the all-digital Sprint® network, reaching over 280 million people†
With CREDO Mobile you'll also get one feature you won't find anywhere else: automatic donations to progressive causes. That's because we automatically donate a portion of your monthly charges to nonprofit groups. Since 1985 CREDO members have raised over $65 million for groups like NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, Planned Parenthood, Earthjustice, and Doctors Without Borders.

So take a look at your last phone bill, and think about where your money is going. Then think about CREDO Mobile.
See? Advertisement. Maybe I'm one of the few people who haven't heard of this company and what they do? Has anyone ever used their services? Thoughts on calling yourself a "progressive" company? Would something like this persuade you to choose one company over another?

In History: Clara Barton

This is the 26th post in a weekly feature here at Spare Candy, called "In History." Some posts might be little more than a photo, others full on features. If you have any suggestions for a person or event that should be featured, or would like to submit a guest post or cross post, e-mail me at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

On May 21, 1881, Clara Barton officially founded and became the first president of the American Red Cross. Barton's life was extraordinary. She was a teacher, nurse, humanitarian, author and was involved in women's suffrage and civil rights. Her work leading up to the Red Cross involved working behind the lines of the Civil War, and then once the Red Cross was established, she worked during the Spanish-American War, in Istanbul, Beijing, Armenia, Cuba and in the aftermath of the 1900 hurricane in Galveston. Barton, born on Christmas Day in 1821, died in 1912 at age 90.

More information:
Image source

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Advertisement for abortion services set to air in UK

Yep, you read that right! An abortion provider -- Marie Stopes International (which provides more than abortion services) -- will be airing an advertisement in the UK. I'm not entirely sure what the content of the ad will be, but according to The Sun, "The campaign - which asks 'Are you late?' in reference to a woman missing her period - directs those with unplanned pregnancies to their helpline." The Guardian says "the organisation says [the ad] will be 'clear, non-judgmental information' on unplanned pregnancies and abortion services."

The Times has the clearest explanation I've seen: "Julie Douglas, marketing manager at Marie Stopes, said that the advert made clear that termination was one of the services that Marie Stopes offered, although the term'“abortion' was not used. 'The ad features ordinary women who are not sure what to do if their period is late. All women will recognise that message. We do not use the term "abortion" because we would never assume someone wants an abortion.'"

I think this is fantastic. Also, I think providers of legal medical services of any kind should be able to advertise that they offer those services. Anti-choicers, of course, are not so happy about this. It's misleading, misinformation, "grotesque," etc., to them.

By the way, here is some abortion info as it relates to Britain (from The Times article): Currently, about one in three women will have an abortion. The service [abortion] is offered to all women up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, with the permission of two doctors, and is free on the NHS. About half of the 42,000 teenage pregnancies each year end in abortion.

Look at that. "Offered to all women." "Free on the NHS." U.S., take note.

If you live in the viewing area, the advertisement is supposed to air at 10:10 p.m. Monday on Channel 4. I hope it will be posted on the Internet at some point, so I can see it, but if you catch it please share you thoughts!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Report explores gender in movies and TV, and the results aren't good

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media has recently issued a report of the results of studies conducted about gender in media (surprise!), and if you ask me, this needs to be shared and talked about everywhere, by everyone. I suspect there would be all sorts of justifications and rationalizations and "apologies" given for the results, but it still needs to be hashed out.

Rainbow Brite, before and after her recent makeover

The results can be viewed here (PDF). Among them:

Study 1: G-rated movies from 1990-Jan. 2005:
  • Fewer than one out of three (28%) of the speaking characters (both real and animated) are female.
  • More than four out of five (83%) of the films’ narrators are male.
  • 85.5% of the characters in G-rated films are white, 4.8% are black, and 9.7% are from “other” ethnicities.
Study 2: G-, PG-, PG-13, R-Rated Prevalence and Portrayal, 1990-2006
  • 73% of the characters are male. This translates into a ratio of 2.71 males to every 1 female.
  • Females were over five times as likely as males to be shown in sexually revealing
  • clothing, which was defined as attire that enhances, exaggerates, or calls attention to any part of the body from neck to knees.
  • Females were nearly three times as likely as males (10.6% vs. 3.4%) to be shown with a thin figure.
  • Style of presentation affects how females are featured in G-rated films. Animated females are more likely to be shown in a thin and sexy light than are live action females.
Study 3: An In-Depth Look at 13 Female Leads in G-rated Films (see link for this one)

Study 4: TV for Kids 11 and Under: Prevalence, Portrayal, Appearance
  • Sample-wide, the ratio of males to females was 1.67 to 1, including characters presented alone, in groups, or as narrators. Animated programs in particular are more likely to show males.
  • In live-action formats, females occur more frequently in groups than males. However, an almost equal portrayal appears with single-speaking male and female live action characters (ratio = 1.24 males to 1 female).
  • The research suggests that the “healthiest” balance of male and female representation is found in shows rated TVG. Further, TVG shows depict the highest proportion of non white, ethnic minority characters.
  • Females are almost four times as likely as males to be shown in sexy attire. Further, females are nearly twice as likely as males to be shown with a diminutive waist line.
  • Females in animated contexts are more likely to be shown in sexually revealing attire than are females in live action contexts (24.5% vs. 17.4%). Females in animated stories are more likely to have small waists (36.9% vs. 6.9%) and have an unrealistic body shape (22.7% vs. 1.2%) than are females in live action stories
  • Additionally, animated action males are more likely than their live action counterparts to have a large chest (15.4% vs. 4.9%), small waist (18.4% vs. 4.3%), and unrealistically muscularized physique (12.5% vs. .5%).
Strawberry Shortcake, before and after her recent makeover.

That's a lot to take in, and most of it is Not Good. I haven't seen anything from the Institute attempting to explain these results, but what immediately comes to my mind is this: Both boys and girls will watch movies and shows that prominently feature boys. But boys are less interested in movies and shows that prominently feature girls, because such movies and shows are labeled as "girly." (Whether that is a real or imagined statement about boys, I don't know.) (Also, I know that is a theory that has been written about before, but for the life of me I cannot find any links to such material. If you can point me to it, please do!) So, for profit's sake, it probably makes more sense for the people producing shows to aim most often for the widest audience which, under this theory, would be boys and girls. The result: a lot more boys in the shows than girls.

Anyone else have a theory about this? Thoughts on why girl characters are so sexualized, even in shows aimed at kids? I don't watch a lot of kids' shows, so I can't speak to which ones are better/worse than others. Any we should all be aware of? What steps can be taken to try to correct some of this?

More reading:
  • SF Appeal: "Geena Davis, Jackie Speier Speak Out On Bias Against Women."
  • Summit Daily News: "Geena Davis: When gender equality is no longer a fairy tale."
  • GDIGM: Other research and resources

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Planned Parenthood comes up with a smart way to help women seeking abortions

  • 88 percent of all U.S. counties have no identifiable abortion provider. In non-metropolitan areas, the figure rises to 97 percent. (via) This means that nearly one in four women obtaining an abortion travel more than 50 miles to reach a provider, and 8 percent travel more than 100 miles. (via)
  • Today, about 95% of women who need abortions have them in clinics or in private doctors' offices where costs can be kept low without increasing health risks. "According to the American Hospital Association, there were 5,801 hospitals in the United States in 2001. However, a 2001-2002 study by the Guttmacher Institute identified only 603 hospitals that provided abortions in 2001." (via)
  • A survey in 1998 revealed that first-trimester abortion techniques are a routine part of training in only 46% of America's ob-gyn residency programs and many offer training in abortion care only as an elective. (via)
  • And the myriad of laws designed to prevent women from getting abortions at all (waiting periods, forced ultrasounds, forced counseling, etc.)
What Planned Parenthood is doing in Iowa makes perfect sense:
Iowa is the only state in the country where Planned Parenthood of the Heartland is administering RU-486 pills using a remote camera and special pill dispenser to patients at rural clinics. ...

The new telemedicine technique allows a doctor to talk to and dispense the pills to a patient in a remote office location using a camera and microphone connected to the Internet, which allows for two-way communication. Officials said the patient is counseled by on-site staff before connecting to talk to the doctor who is at a different location.
The legality of abortion starts to become meaningless when access to abortion is blocked. This concept by PP isn't going to help every woman have access (most medical literature says RU-486 can only be used in the first eight weeks of a pregnancy), but it will help some. And that is a Good Thing.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A nun approves life-saving abortion and is ex-communicated. What??

I might need someone to either explain to me, or point me toward an explanation, of how the Catholic Church thinks. Because this? This makes no sense to me. I don't know, maybe I should stop trying to seek explanation. I know not all people of the Catholic faith agree with what happened, but seemingly the Church does.

What happened: A nun at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix -- Sister Margaret McBride, an administrator at the hospital -- "was part of a hospital ethics committee that approved the termination of an eleven-week-old fetus after the mother developed a case of pulmonary hypertension that threatened to kill her if she continued with her pregnancy." As a result of her role in this ("this" being an abortion), the nun was condemned and excommunicated by Thomas J. Olmsted, the Catholic bishop of Phoenix.

Here we have a woman who is pregnant, who developed a life-threatening illness, who was medically advised that an abortion would most likely save her life; where, conversely, continuing the pregnancy would likely result in her death. And she was just 11 weeks pregnant. Had she died within weeks or even a couple months after this diagnosis, the fetus would have died, too.

From the Washington Post (emphasis mine):
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, head of the Phoenix Diocese, indicated in a statement that the Roman Catholic involved was "automatically excommunicated" because of the action. The Catholic Church allows the termination of a pregnancy only as a secondary effect of other treatments, such as radiation of a cancerous uterus.

"I am gravely concerned by the fact that an abortion was performed several months ago in a Catholic hospital in this diocese," Olmsted said in a statement sent to The Arizona Republic. "I am further concerned by the hospital's statement that the termination of a human life was necessary to treat the mother's underlying medical condition.

"An unborn child is not a disease. While medical professionals should certainly try to save a pregnant mother's life, the means by which they do it can never be by directly killing her unborn child. The end does not justify the means."

Olmsted added that if a Catholic "formally cooperates" in an abortion, he or she is automatically excommunicated. 
First of all, is there really any difference between "directly" killing the fetus and the fetus dying from a "secondary" effect? Sure, you might not be performing an actual abortion, but if doctors know a treatment is going to kill a fetus and the treatment is given anyway, is that really any different from an actual abortion? (And wouldn't an actual abortion be safer for the woman in most of these instances?) Second, according to this bishop (who I assume is speaking for the Church?), fetuses trump women every time. If you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that a woman is going to die as a result of pregnancy or childbirth, there's nothing you can do but let her die. Right? According to this? Third: How does the Catholic Church react to cases of self defense? As in "Father, I had to shoot this man because he was going to kill me." Is that okay, or not okay? Because that's what really happened here. Self defense. Preserving your own life before allowing another to kill you first.

There are many areas that I and the Catholic Church disagree on. But to sit here and say that this woman should have DIED before she should have had an abortion is unfathomable to me. Her death wouldn't have even saved the fetus, which is apparently the ultimate goal of the Church in these situations. I mean, can you really be "pro-life" when you advocate that a mother-to-be should die? At least the hospital did the right thing and is defending its decision, as it should.

How do we go about getting the Catholic Church's influence out of public sphere in this way? Out of influencing legislation like the health care bill? Out of saying things like "condoms cause AIDS" and possibly influencing entire populations into believing that lie? Out of policing birth control? How, in this day and age, are we still letting any religion have this kind of power?

If I am ever in need of medical care of any kind, please do everything in your power to take me to a real hospital, and not a Catholic "hospital." Please and thanks.

More reading:
  • Huffington Post: "After St. Joseph's: Are Women Still Safe in Catholic Hospitals?" (This is must-read.)
  • Merger Watch: "Hospitals and Religious Restrictions."
  • The Arizona Republic: "Nun at St. Joseph's Hospital rebuked over abortion to save woman."
  • RH Reality Check: "Roundup: Saving the Mother's Life Gets Nun Excommunicated."

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Suggested Sunday reading (5/16/10)

Just a quick reminder, you can submit links for this column via e-mail at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com, and you can catch up with Spare Candy on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr as well. Or! Leave a link in the comments! Self-promotion is perfectly acceptable here.

I should let you all know this is posting while I'm out of town, and is likely to be on the shorter side and missing any big news and great blog posts from the last couple days. But let's start off with some literature-related news:

Politics Daily has a really interesting story, "Farewell to the Creator of Feminism's Forgotten Legend, Modesty Blaise." Maybe you all know about Modestly Blaise, and her author, Peter O'Donnell? I do not, but after reading this story, I want to know more. O'Donnell died May 3, and I think purchasing his writing will be my way of saying rest in peace. Also, Kansas City Star has an article about Isabel Allende and her new book coming out, which sounds great.

In other news:
  • USA Today: "Our view on women's choice: Ultrasound mandates in abortions cross a line."
  • Tulsa World: "Anti-abortion measure passes Oklahoma House." I know, it's next to impossible to keep track of all these bills. This one "requires a lengthy questionnaire be completed by doctors performing abortions and women receiving them. Proponents say the information will be useful in determining why women have abortions." (Um, because they don't want to or can't have a baby?) You may recall this bill already made it through Oklahoma before it was struck down on a technicality. I'm sure the Senate will pass it, too.
  • Salon: "Screw happiness: Bombarded by studies about who is content and why, we forget one thing: Dissatisfaction has its own rewards." I love this.
  • BBC: "Mali imam living in fear after backing women's rights." If you're wondering what he did, he backed a new law that no longer obliges wives to obey their husbands. The nerve!
  • I assume by now everyone has heard that President Obama nominated Elena Kagan to be the next Supreme Court justice. Jezebel has a good background piece on Kagan, and be sure to check out Ezra Klein's answer to "Can men still be appointed to the Supreme Court?"
  • The great Lena Horne died last Sunday, at age 92. Here's Time's obituary.
  • In more sad news, LPGA golfer Erica Blasberg has died at age 25. As of this writing, her cause of death is unknown.

Friday, May 14, 2010

In History: Waheeda Rehman

This is the 25th post in a weekly feature here at Spare Candy, called "In History." Some posts might be little more than a photo, others full on features. If you have any suggestions for a person or event that should be featured, or would like to submit a guest post or cross post, e-mail me at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

Waheeda Rehman was born on this day, May 14, in 1936 in Chengalpattu, Tamil Nadu, India. She was a prominent Bollywood star in the 1950s and 1960s, and she continues working today. She is trained in Bharatnatyam, a classic Indian dance. Over the course of her career, she has won a number of awards: National Film Award for Best Actress for "Reshma Aur Shera" in 1971; Filmfare Best Actress Award for "Guide" in 1965; Filmfare Best Actress Award for "Neel Kamal" in 1968; Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994; NTR National Award for 2006; and Padmashri in 1972. I particularly like this quote of hers: ""When I entered the field, the industry had already gained respectability. I was lucky to have been given the opportunity to build up an image of 'dignity'. It is up to the star to make what she will of her image. In an industry where it's all show, naturally you can not give an inch without their extracting a yard."

You can read more about Rehman's films here, and a 2009 story about her here and interview with her here. Rehman was also featured on the April 2010 cover of Filmfare.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Connie Saltonstall serves as a reminder: We need more women in government

Yeah, I know, you're probably thinking "Obviously we need more women in government. Duh." After all, out of the 535 members of Congress, only 93 are women. That's a whopping 17 percent. In the history of Congress, only 222 women have ever served, including those serving today. All women in Congress taken together still wouldn't make up half the people in Congress.

Which brings me to this: Democrat Connie Saltonstall of Michigan, who was set to run for Bart Stupak's seat (you all remember him, right? anti-choicer who held up the health care reform bill?) in the House of Representatives, has dropped out of the race. Here is her statement:
I regretfully announce that I am withdrawing from the Democratic primary for U.S. Representative in Michigan’s First Congressional District.

I am forced to do this because it has become apparent to my campaign that the leadership of the Michigan Democratic Party has preemptively anointed Gary McDowell as their Democratic candidate. They are replacing Bart Stupak with another Upper Peninsula, Anti-Choice, Anti- Women’s healthcare rights candidate. From past experience I realize that with the Michigan Democratic Party actively opposing me, I will not be able to raise the money necessary to conduct a winning campaign. I am not the only candidate that has been the target of this kind of manipulation. I hope that in the future the Party will reject this interference and insist on an open primary allowing voters to choose the candidate who represents their values.

I challenged Bart Stupak because he was threatening to take down the healthcare bill. His amendment threatened access for women to get health insurance even with private funds. There is an aggressive movement across the country to pass laws to restrict women from making responsible healthcare choices to protect their health, and furthermore, to criminalize their actions. The same people who think government should stay out of their lives, are legislating government into the doctor’s office. Individuals, families, and physicians are the ones who should be making the complicated and difficult decisions we all face regarding reproductive healthcare and life issues.

While I think Gary MacDowell is a very nice person, I cannot support his anti-choice politics, and I cannot support a party that endorses candidates who vote to restrict women’s legal rights and access to healthcare. It is time for Democrats to stop compromising on this issue. I am proud that my campaign has raised the dialogue on healthcare and choice, and I will continue my leadership role concerning these issues.

I want to thank all of my supporters in the First District and across the nation who contributed their time, money, endorsements, and good wishes for my campaign. We were first in the race, raised more money than any other Democratic candidate to date, collected over 1500 petition signatures, put together a professional campaign team and a path to victory. Without the interference of the democratic leadership, we might just have won the election!
Disheartening, to say the least. As Sam Bennett, president of the Women's Campaign Forum said, "Unfortunately, we see this scenario all too often: The political establishment on both sides of the aisle will not step outside of their comfort zones to support women." And we are seeing this way too often from the Democrats, from local races up to the presidency -- a willingness to throw women under the bus. I expect that from Republicans; I (stupidly?) expect better from Democrats.

Gary McDowell said he believes an anti-abortion Democrat has an "advantage" in the 1st Congressional District. "The district is socially conservative, and yes, I do believe a pro-life candidate has an advantage." Even though, as the same story points out, both President Obama and Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm are abortion-rights supporters and they won the 1st District in Michigan in their elections. And now we won't know if Saltonstall could have succeeded, and that is a shame -- we desperately need voices like hers in our national government.

I think Amie Newman at RH Reality Check sums it up well:
McDowell, according to the Michigan Messenger, has been endorsed by the anti-choice organization, Right to Life, an extreme, conservative group. Which begs the question - just where does the Michigan Democratic Party draw the line? They now support candidates who are not only extremely anti-choice but clearly extremely opposed to women's rights and autonomy. If the Democratic Party values womens' health and rights, then they must show it by endorsing and supporting candidates who do as well. Continuing to throw their support behind candidates who throw women's health and safety out as if this was just a question of political maneuverings is a dangerous proposition.
We deserve better.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A couple pop-culture-related trigger warnings of note

I want to get these out there in case you, like me, were unaware or not fully aware. This post will contain spoilers in the form of trigger warnings for the following: the video game "Heavy Rain," the movie "I Spit on Your Grave," and the book/movie "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." If you don't want to know about these, avert your eyes now.

First up: The game "Heavy Rain." I have no idea how many people who read this blog play video games, and this one is rather hard to describe. The way you play it is different from other games. You have to "help" the characters do all kinds of things -- from getting through a fist fight to cooking eggs to changing a diaper to shooting someone. (This review explains it pretty well.) It's extremely interactive and story driven, and there's no right way to play. Your decisions in the game can change the game. Two people can play through and have two very different experiences. So with that said,  this just applies to my game and what I came across.

First of all, the game is rated M, and if you read the game box, it lists "nudity" on it. Within about the first five minutes of play, a male character's butt can be seen while you're helping him shower. I did not know there was nudity in the game at first, but once I realized it I kind of figured that was it -- his butt. I was wrong. Hours later, you meet a woman character that you play as (you play as four characters, ultimately), and you can have her take a shower. When you do, she will be naked, and you will see her boobs and butt. For a decent amount of time. (This annoys me to no end; it's completely unnecessary to her story, IMO, and therefore just gratuitous boobs.) I will say this: I'm not 100 percent sure she has to take a shower. In my game, it seemed she did. There was nothing else to do but shower, so I felt that's what I had to do to advance the game. This could be different for others, I'm not sure.

Okay, so there's a man's ass and a woman's boobs and ass. None of which are necessary, but not the end of the world, right? BUT. Later in the game, this same woman, who has already been through a non-sexual assault sequence (in a dream, while wearing just a tank top and underwear) ends up alone in a room with a skeezy club owner. She's trying to get information from him, but the guy wants her to put on a show for him (and presumably, do him). She tries to back out because she doesn't want to do this, but he pulls a gun on her and tells her to take off her clothes. And you, playing as the character, pretty much have to comply. You have to make your woman character take off her clothes at gunpoint. She can, ultimately, end up in just her underwear. At gunpoint.

Now, this upsets me. I kind of lucked out in this regard: When I first realized there was a naked woman in this game, I went to the Internet looking for information on it, because I'm kind of surprised I hadn't heard about it. That is when I learned about this "strip" scene, so at least I had the advantage of knowing it was coming. But had I not done that Internet search, I would have had no idea. I thought about not continuing the game, but decided I wanted to know how that scene played out. I needed to see for myself how bad it was. That's why I'm writing up this trigger warning. I want others to know this happens in this game, and I also want to share something about this scene: I did not have to strip her down to her underwear. Every site I saw that discussed this scene all had photos of the woman character in just her underwear, completely topless. In my game (and I'm guessing in others this is possible), I was able to get out of the scene having only taken off the woman's skirt. She still had her shirt and bra and underwear on. If you play this game and care about these things, just know this is possible.

As a sort-of aside, I think this (potential) nude scene, and the scene in general, is unnecessary. You know, it's up to the game developers to decide things like "let's force this one woman character to strip at gunpoint." And that's what they decided. They did not decide to create a scene that would reach the same end-result in a different way, like, say she's just at gunpoint period without the forced stripping. We already know the club owner is skeezy and treats women like crap, before the forced stripping. And he is a very minor character, so it's not like this is some big character reveal that's important to his story. So, there's that. (And do yourself a favor and do NOT look up the articles about this game's nudity, and if you do, do NOT read the comments, because I cannot understand for the life of me why guys are OMGZ SOoo EXCITEDS about boobs in a video game, even if those boobs are revealed when the woman character is forced to show them at gunpoint. They aren't real boobs, plus she's being assaulted, and you are on a computer, where you are always one click away from all kinds of boobs that are willingly being shown. Also? People were complaining that this character -- the one in the box art -- isn't feminine-looking enough. Whatever that means.)

One more note about this game: there is also a scene where a woman prostitute is being beaten, but you don't see much of it. And after that, they have treated the prostitute fairly well. (She has not had any nude scenes.) Oh, and I haven't finished the game yet, so who knows what else will come up later. If it's anything big, I'll post it.

Next up: "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." This book and its movie adaptation have already received a lot of press, and I have both read the book and seen the movie. I highly recommend them, but I will say, there are rape scenes that are extremely graphic, violent and highly uncomfortable. As you might imagine, the book is a little more descriptive of what happens, but the scenes in the movie made much more of an impact. Both a woman (twice) and a man are raped (he is her rapist; she gets revenge). There's no avoiding rape in either the book or movie because the main plot is about an investigation into a person or people who is/are serial rapists and murderers. Those rapes are not shown, but they are discussed to some extent. If you see this movie and have not read the book, just know the big rape scene is hard to watch, violent, and in my opinion, fairly realistic. It is (again, in my opinion) extremely relevant to the characters and to the plot, so at least there's that?

Finally: "I Spit on Your Grave." Okay, so I've never seen this movie, which came out in 1978. It's usually classified as an exploitation film. The plot (as I understand it): A city woman moves to the country and a group of men decide to gang rape her. For FORTY-FIVE minutes of the 90 minute film. Then she gets revenge on all of them. The extended rape scene is, by all accounts, awful and brutal and every other descriptor you might come up with for a 45 minute rape scene. From Wikipedia: "Movie critic Roger Ebert wrote that this was the worst movie that he had ever seen, referring to it as 'a vile bag of garbage ... without a shred of artistic distinction,' adding that 'Attending it was one of the most depressing experiences of my life.'"

So you might wonder why I'm talking about this movie from 30 years ago, and it is because the movie is being remade. I have no idea if it will feature such an extended rape scene, or if it will get a lot of press or a wide release or anything like that, but there is already a movie poster out there (with the tagline "It's Date Night," as if that's clever), there is a trailer, and according to IMDB, the movie is supposed to come out in September of this year.

Any other trigger warnings you want to share? Let us know, or e-mail me about it at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Suggested Sunday reading (5/9/10)

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  • The Women's Media Center: "The Way We Talk About 'Women’s Lit.'"
  • Pandagon: "Because women don’t get to have 'man caves.'" Read it with Slate's "Why Do Women Read So Much?" Both pieces are by Amanda Marcotte.
  • Pandagon: "Nope, that’s full blown misogyny," on how the Catholic Church is investigating nuns for committing acts of feminism.
  • TV Watch: "Elisabeth Hasselbeck Tearfully Apologizes to Erin Andrews." If you didn't hear about this, Hasselbeck felt the need to victim-blame Andrews, basically saying that Andrews' stalker -- the one who videotaped her while she was in hotel rooms and posted it on the Internet -- could've just waited for Andrews to be on Dancing with the Stars. You know, because she's wearing "revealing" outfits on there.
  • Vagina Dentata: "Danny Dyer advises cutting women’s faces in Zoo."
  • ABC News: "Saudi King and Crown Prince Photographed With Women." This is a bigger deal than the headline makes it sound.
  • Poise: "Sewing the Dominant Paradigm." I really like this.
  • CTV News: "McTeer accuses Tories of putting women's lives at risk." This is about Canada's new G8 maternal health initiative, which won't be funding abortion. Also check out Sympatico's "Harper government axes funding for 11 women's groups."
  • The Safer Blog: "Columbia Student Survivor’s Story Highlights School’s 'Failure.'"
  • Have you seen the "American Able" campaign yet? It's fantastic. Check it out here.
  • Feministing: "'Slut Panel' postmortem: Shame, shame, go away." The panel was part of the Rethinking Virginity conference at Harvard.
  • RH Reality Check: "The Longer I’m a Mom, the More I Am Pro-Choice."
  • Hello Ladies: "Confession: Sexual Harassment, I Dealt With It." I think a number of us can relate to this.
  • Gender Across Borders: "The Sexist Side of Social Networks."
  • USA Today: "Nutrisystem drops Lawrence Taylor after rape charge."
  • Gadling: "Small dick joke has TSA worker beaten up after security scanner incident."
  • Global Comment: "Fat and disability: what few of you want to hear."
  • Nerve: "Homosexual Shmomosexual: Mad Men's Alison Brie shares an especially experimental moment of college experimentation." Brie is also on Community.
  • Pharyngula: "Whatever happened to 'first, do no harm'?" This is about the American Academy of Pediatrics' compromise on female genital mutilation.
  • American Prospect: "Hollaback Moves Forward." Hollaback is an organization that deals with street harassment.
Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there!


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