Monday, May 9, 2011

Guest post: Fraternities and Gender Equality

Today's guest post comes courtesy of Justin, who writes for the Education Database Online blog at If you're interested in writing a guest post for Spare Candy or cross-posting something, check out the guidelines or send an e-mail to rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

"No means yes!" This and other misogynist phrases were chanted by a group of fraternity members, walking through the residential section of none other than Yale University. Some of the boys were blindfolded, chanting rhyming sexual slurs. Though the fraternity was immediately condemned by the Yale Women's Center for "hate speech" and was reprimanded by the university's administration, no further action was taken. In fact, fraternities on campus later retaliated by taking picture of each other in front of the Women's Center with signs that read "We Love Yale Sluts."

You don’t need an education to see that fraternities promote gender inequality. Their very existence excludes women. Incidents of sexual violence toward women and men during hazing rituals are only the tip of the iceberg. Drug busts, cases of alcohol poisoning and even deaths continue to occur under the auspices of Greek life and the noses of university administrations.

Why are these male bastions that permit gender inequality and sexual violence still a part of modern university life? The answers are not easy. Fraternities are descended from Freemason societies, and some date back to the American Revolution. Originated to promote and sustain culture, music and philosophy through their organizations, fraternities morphed along with society through world wars and decades of cultural and political upheaval. Relationships formed in fraternities became lifelong networks among the nation's elite, reaching the very top of society in both business and politics.

Today, fraternities are primarily social organizations and do little to promote academic excellence. Frequently, their abuses are overlooked, ignored or lightly punished. College administrators who are also fraternity members are reluctant to believe the worst of these young men. They may also be loath to punish fraternities for their actions due to the influence of affluent families. As a result, it takes a death from alcohol poisoning, beating or rape for action to be taken.

Though fraternities are not alone in promoting gender inequality and the objectification that leads to sexual violence, they are a critical social link between boyhood and manhood for all who join them. Yet, it's worth noting that the roots of the problem grow well before a person goes to college.

Consider the cultural influences on a potential fraternity pledge. By the time he's a teenager, he's likely gained access to Internet pornography, learning to see women as objects, not people. He's been saturated with violence toward women on television and in movies, video games and on the daily news. Perhaps he's witnessed or suffered domestic abuse. All of these experiences are carried into college life, where the boy encounters fraternities.

In 2008, pornography use was surveyed among 62 percent of fraternity men attending a popular Midwestern college. The survey concluded that these young men were significantly less likely to intervene when confronted with a rape situation and were much more likely to participate in rape themselves.

Date rape is a far-too-common occurrence on college campuses throughout the United States. From the first moment a freshman girl arrives at school, eager to make friends and in an unfamiliar and exciting world, she is a target. Fraternities don't exist to exploit her, but they can place her in a position of emotional and physical vulnerability. Statistics show that between 15 and 30 percent of college women have been victims of date rape. The very idea that college fraternities should need to enact a pledge against violence toward women indicates how deep the problem runs on today's college campuses.

Forced alcohol consumption and drinking games are common in fraternities, sometimes with lethal consequences. When young women are invited into that mix, inhibitions are lowered and sexual violence or unwanted sexual contact is far more likely to occur. A memory-erasing drug like rohypnol, slipped into a drink virtually assures crime, with lifelong consequences for the victim and the perpetrator.

Hazing also encourages sexual abuse. The very nature of hazing is demeaning, a method of breaking an individual in order to bring them into the fold of a "brotherhood." Bonding is achieved through abasement. Rituals that include sexual abuse, humiliation, nudity, piercings and substance abuse are protected by arcane codes of silence. A boy that completes a hazing ritual is initiated into an atmosphere of loyalty, permissiveness and protection that would be unavailable anywhere else. The competition for entry into these fraternities is fierce because the benefits of loyalty and protection extend well beyond graduation, into business relationships and other aspects of life after college.

The wider implications for society after these young men graduate are apparent. What they learn at a fraternity, they carry into boardrooms, courtrooms and marriages. All three are places where gender inequality is entrenched. If these men enjoy the loyalty and continuing privileges of fraternities, are they likely to hire or promote a woman? In the United States, women make only 77 cents compared to a man's dollar for the same work. They remain underrepresented and underpaid in math, technology, engineering and science jobs.

The fraternities of today are but a shadow of the values they once upheld. Some universities have banned fraternities because their nature is exclusive and works against a spirit of inclusion of races, gender and sexual preferences. At other universities, Greek organizations no longer exist in their traditional form, but promote scholarship and service without the trappings of old campus houses, traditions and hazing rituals.

According to the Norman Transcript, in January, 2010 a female student at Oklahoma University was raped at a fraternity party. Yet since she did not file charges within 30 days, she was told the maximum penalty of expulsion could not be enforced. That the university's policy is now being "updated" offers some hope. That it took a student rally and news coverage to bring it about shows the length of the path to change.

Friday, May 6, 2011

In History: Mary Cain

This is the 75th 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.

Mary D. Cain, born on Aug. 17, 1904, was a Mississippi newspaper editor and Democratic politician. A fiery and outspoken supporter of segregation and other conservative causes, she earned herself the nickname "Hacksaw Mary". Besides editing the Summit Sun, a weekly newspaper of Pike County, Mississippi, she was the first woman to run for governor in the state, though she never won the office. Cain first came to national attention in 1952 when she refused to pay $42.87 in social security taxes, calling the program "unconstitutional, immoral and un-American." She considered the federal government in general a "bloated abomination.: Cain died on May 6, 1984, at the age of 79.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Suggested Sunday reading (5/1/11)

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.
  • Hello Ladies: "Closing the Gender Leadership Gap."
  • The Stranger: "Local Women's Group Receives $300,000 Grant to Educate Men on Domestic Violence."
  • New York Times: "A Lawsuit’s Unusual Question: Who Is a Man?" TW on this one for gender identity discrimination.
  • TBD: "Free girl culture! The royal wedding doesn't make women dumb," by Amanda Hess.
  • The Good Men Project: "Myth-Busting the Gender Wage Gap."
  • CBC: "1 million stillbirths preventable globally: report."
  • MacGuffin and Puffin: "Asshole of the Month- March." (Hint: It's US Rep. Mike Pence.)
  • New York Times: "Indiana Bill Cuts Funds for Clinics for Women."
  • Washington Post: "Tina Fey mixes laughs with serious talk about women’s equality." Has anyone read her book? I'd like to pick it up sometime.

Friday, April 29, 2011

In History: Aurora Quezón

This is the 74th 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.

Aurora Antonia Aragón de Molina Vd.ª De Quezón (born Aurora Antonia Aragón y de Molina on Feb. 19, 1888), usually known simply as Aurora Quezón, and sometimes as Aurora Aragón-Quezón, was the wife of Philippine President Manuel Luis Quezón and the First Lady of the Philippines from 1935 to 1944. Though she is recognized as the second First Lady of the Philippines, she was actually the first spouse of a Philippine president to be called as such, the honorific being unknown during the presidency of Emilio Aguinaldo, and thus not applied at that time to his wife Hilaria. Much beloved by Filipinos, Quezón was known for involvement with humanitarian activities and served as the first Chairperson of the Philippine National Red Cross.

Five years after her husband's death, Quezón and her daughter "Baby" were assassinated, on April 28, 1949, while they were en route to open a hospital dedicated to her husband. The province of Aurora was named in her memory.

Within the first seventeen years of their marriage, Manuel Quezón emerged as a dominant figure in Philippine politics. His career reached its apex in 1935, when he was elected President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. During her husband's political life, Aurora Quezón stayed in the background, involving herself with women's organizations such as the National Federation of Women's Clubs, of which she was the honorary chairperson.

The Quezons were the first presidential couple to reside in Malacañang Palace, but Aurora spent as little time as possible there, preferring to stay in a "nipa house" in Malacañang Park or in her farm, Kaleidan, in Arayat, Pampanga. She nevertheless was an active First Lady, engaging herself in the campaign to give Filipino women the right of suffrage, which was achieved in 1937. She was particularly involved in managing the family's Arayat farm to demonstrate how social justice could be applied to landlord-tenant relationships in an agrarian setting. Quezón was involved in the Girl Scouts of the Philippines and the Associación de Damas Filipinas, a noted orphanage in Manila. She was also the honorary president of another orphanage, the White Cross, located in San Juan.

In 1947, with the active support of Quezón, the Philippine National Red Cross was established as an independent Red Cross organization. She became the first Chairperson of the Philippine National Red Cross, holding the position until her death. She also was named as honorary vice-president of the Philippine Tuberculosis Society. (Her husband died from tuberculosis.)

She continued to be involved in civic work, such as the efforts to rebuild the Antipolo Church. She received honorary doctorates from the University of Santo Tomas, and from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. She was likewise bestowed the Ozanam Award from the Ateneo de Manila University, and the Pro Ecclessia et Pontifice Cross from Pope Pius XII.

On the morning of April 28, 1949, Quezón left her home to travel to her husband's hometown of Baler to open the Quezon Memorial Hospital. She had been cautioned about this trip beforehand due to the frequent insurgency activities in Central Luzon of the Hukbalahap, the military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Together with Quezon in her Buick sedan was her daughter "Baby", then a law student at the University of Santo Tomas, her son-in-law Felipe "Philip" Buencamino, Quezon City mayor Ponciano Bernardo, and retired Armed Forces Chief of Staff Major General Rafael Jalandoni.

They traveled along the Baler-Bongabon Road connecting Baler with Nueva Ecija, which Quezón herself inaugurated in 1940. At Quezón's request, her vehicle led the caravan, and it soon sped away from the military jeep immediately behind it. As Quezón's vehicle traversed the mountain road, it was blocked by a group of armed men. The men ignored the protestations from General Jalandoni and Mayor Bernardo that Quezón was in the vehicle, and machine-gunfire erupted from the side of the road and from the mountain slopes. It was later estimated that between 100 to 200 armed men had participated in the attack. Quezón, her daughter, and Bernardo were killed instantly, while her son-in-law was mortally wounded. In all, twelve members of the Quezon party and ten of the assailants were killed.

There was national and international condemnation of the massacre. United States President Harry Truman was shocked and simply declared, "It was awful." A nine-day national mourning period was declared. Quezón was buried at Manila North Cemetery. While no Philippine President has ever been assassinated, Aurora Quezón is one of three presidential spouses who have been murdered. The other two were Alicia Syquia-Quirino and Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr.

Manuel and Aurora Quezón are the only spouses to have respective provinces in the Philippines named after them. The Concerned Women of the Philippines have named the Aurora Aragon Quezón Peace Awards after Aurora Quezón.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Blog update

Hi all, sorry for the lack of posts recently! It's been one of those times when life has trumped all of the internets. For the second week in a row, there will not be a Sunday reading column today, but it will return the following Sunday, and In History will be back on Friday. Also have some guest posts and regular posts in the works, so hopefully those will be up soon, too!

Thanks for patience and understanding and sticking around. :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

In History: Helen Joseph

This is the 73rd 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.

Helen Joseph, a South African anti-apartheid activist, was born April 8, 1905, in Easebourne near Midhurst West Sussex, England, and graduated from King's College London in 1927. After working as a teacher in India for three years, Helen came to South Africa in 1931, where she met and married Billie Joseph. She served in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force during World War II as an information and welfare officer, and later became a social worker.

In 1951, Joseph took a job with the Garment Workers Union, led by Solly Sachs. She was a founder member of the Congress of Democrats, and one of the leaders who read out clauses of the Freedom Charter at the Congress of the People in Kliptown in 1955. Appalled by the plight of black women, she was pivotal in the formation of the Federation of South African Women and with the organization's leadership, spear-headed a march of 20,000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against pass laws on August 9, 1956. This day is still celebrated as South African Women's Day.

She was a defendant at the 1956 Treason Trial: she was arrested on a charge of high treason in December 1956 then banned in 1957. On the October 13, 1962, Joseph became the first person to be placed under house arrest under the Sabotage Act that had just been introduced by the apartheid government. She narrowly escaped death more than once, surviving bullets shot through her bedroom and a bomb wired to her front gate. Her last banning order was lifted when she was 80 years old.

Joseph had no children of her own, but frequently stood in loco parentis for the children of comrades in prison or in exile. Among the children who spent time in her care were Winnie and Nelson Mandela's daughters Zinzi and Zenani and Bram Fischer's daughter Ilsa.

Joseph died on December 25, 1992, at the age of 87.

  • The road, formerly known as Davenport Road, in Glenwood, Durban has now been named after Helen Joseph under the recent Road Name Change Act which was initiated by the South African government in 2007 to rename streets which have names linked to pre-1994 colonialism.
  • Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg has been named after Helen Joseph.
  • A student residence at Rhodes University (Grahamstown, South Africa) is named after Helen Joseph.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Suggested Sunday reading (4/10/11)

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.

  • Bikyamasr: "Egypt woman activist announces presidential candidacy." Bothaina Kamel (pictured) is the first woman ever to announce her candidacy for Egypt’s highest office. I suspect she has a long road ahead of her, and I wish her all the best.
  • Think Progress: "Idaho Rejects Rape Exception In Abortion Bill Because 'The Hand Of The Almighty' Was At Work." With apologies, I have to ask ... what kind of God PLANS for you to be raped? I mean really, I can at least understand the argument that a fetus is a fetus, even if it was conceived in rape, and that no fetus should be aborted. But to say that God PLANNED for you to be raped? Come on.
  • Mother Jones: "Indiana Shoots Down Rape/Incest Abortion Exceptions." Hmm, I think I spot a trend! See also:
  • Death + Taxes: "Indiana Says That People Will Pretend To Get Raped In Order To Get An Abortion."
  • AlterNet: "10 States With the Most Shocking Anti-Woman Legislation."
  • RH Reality Check: "All Those Alternatives to Planned Parenthood? In Texas, At Least, They Don't Exist."
  • San Jose Mercury News: "No defendants found liable in De Anza rape trial, no damages awarded." Please also check out The Curvature's "An Open Letter to the De Anza Rape Victim."
  • Metro UK: "Cyber sex pervert ‘seduced by girl, 13’ freed." As in "A judge allowed cyber sex pervert David Barnes to walk free from court after accepting the man was ‘seduced’ by a 13-year-old girl."
  • Slate: "Cruel but Not Unusual: Clarence Thomas writes one of the meanest Supreme Court decisions ever." I'm including this because for sure people in the U.S. should know about their Supreme Court justices.
  • Forbes: "The Woman Behind ‘The Hunger Games’ Movies." I know there is controversy about the casting decisions for these movies, but this article is pretty good.

Friday, April 8, 2011

In History: Pancha Carrasco

This is the 72nd 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.

Painting of Francisca Carrasco Jiménez (Pancha Carrasco) 1826-1890
hanging in the Juan Santamaria Cultural-Historical Museum in Alajuela, Costa Rica.
Pancha Carrasco, born on this day, April 8, in 1826, was Costa Rica's first woman in the military. Carrasco is most famous for joining the defending forces at the Battle of Rivas in 1856 with a rifle and bullets. The strength and determination she showed there made her a symbol of national pride and she was later honored with a Costa Rican postage stamp, a Coast Guard vessel, and the creation of the "Pancha Carrasco Police Women's Excellence Award."

In 1856, at age 40, when William Walker and his filibusteros invaded Costa Rica, Carrasco volunteered as a cook and a medic. She filled her apron pockets with bullets, grabbed a rifle, and joined the defending forces at the Battle of Rivas. She died Dec. 31, 1890, at the age of 64.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Suggested Sunday reading (4/3/11)

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.

  • ACLU Blog of Rights: "We'll See You in Court: South Dakota's Governor Signs Outrageous Law Restricting Abortion Care." His name is Dennis Daugaard (pictured). Just at least read this:
  • This law requires women to wait 72 hours between the first counseling session with the doctor and the abortion; it also requires women to first visit "crisis pregnancy centers," entities that are notorious for providing false and misleading information; and requires doctors to tell the woman of any possible risk factor published in medical and psychological journals since 1972. These new restrictions are on top of the long list of abortion restrictions in South Dakota, and come from a state that has one abortion provider.
  • Salon: "What's really driving the GOP's abortion war."
  • Women's Health: "Birth Control: Your Rights, Right Now,"an interview with Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards.
  • USA Today: "Our view: New abortion laws come in disguise."
  • The Raw Story: "Florida Republicans upset Democrat said ‘uterus’ on state House floor." Yes, this is a real story.
  • Journal Sentinel: "Police investigate alleged sexual assault at Marquette University." Need a victim-blaming/rape culture bingo card to get through this one.
  • Prison Law Blog: "Take 2, 5, or 15 Minutes Today to Speak Out against Government Tolerance of Prison Rape."
  • New York Times: "When a Girl Is Executed … for Being Raped," by Nicholas Kristof.
  • Reuters: "No votes for women in Saudi municipal elections."
  • "Couple outraged after hospital takes newborn baby away." As they should be.
  • WebMD: "FDA: Pharmacies Can Still Make Preterm Birth Drug." If you recall this story, this drug went from $10-$20 a dose to $1,500 a dose once a pharma company was given approval to make it. But now the FDA says the cheaper doses can still be made. So that's good.
  • The Crunk Feminist Collective: "How Chris Brown is Effing Up My Sex Life: A B-Side to Dating While Feminist." I'm calling this a must read.
  • Racialicious: "Why the Casting of 'The Hunger Games' Matters."

Friday, April 1, 2011

In History: Sophie Germain

This is the 71st 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.

Marie-Sophie Germain, who was born on April 1, 1776, was a French mathematician, physicist, and philosopher. Despite initial opposition from her parents and difficulties presented by a gender-biased society, she gained education from books in her father's library and from correspondence with famous mathematicians such as Lagrange, Legendre, and Gauss. One of the pioneers of elasticity theory, she won the grand prize from the Paris Academy of Sciences for her essay on the subject. Her work on Fermat's Last Theorem provided a foundation for mathematicians exploring the subject for hundreds of years after. Because of her gender, she was unable to make a career out of mathematics, but worked independently throughout her life.

In 1794, when Germain was 18, the École Polytechnique opened. As a woman, Germain was barred from attending, but the new system of education made the "lecture notes available to all who asked." The new method also required the students to "submit written observations." Germain obtained the lecture notes and began sending her work to Joseph Louis Lagrange, a faculty member. She used the name M. LeBlanc, "fearing," as she later explained to Gauss, "the ridicule attached to a female scientist." When Lagrange saw the intelligence of M. LeBlanc, he requested a meeting, and thus Sophie was forced to disclose her true identity. Fortunately, Lagrange did not mind that Germain was a woman, and he became her mentor.

Around 1807, the French were occupying the German town of Braunschweig, where Gauss lived. Germain, concerned for his safety, wrote to General Pernety, a family friend, requesting that he ensure Gauss' safety. Pernety sent a chief of a battalion to meet with Gauss personally to see that he was safe. As it turned out, Gauss was fine, but he was confused by the mention of Sophie's name.

Three months after the incident, Germain disclosed her true identity to Gauss. He replied
How can I describe my astonishment and admiration on seeing my esteemed correspondent M leBlanc metamorphosed into this celebrated person ... when a woman, because of her sex, our customs and prejudices, encounters infinitely more obstacles than men in familiarising herself with [number theory's] knotty problems, yet overcomes these fetters and penetrates that which is most hidden, she doubtless has the most noble courage, extraordinary talent, and superior genius.
Germain became interested in a contest sponsored by the Paris Academy of Sciences concerning Ernst Chladni's experiments with vibrating metal plates. The object of the competition, as stated by the Academy, was "to give the mathematical theory of the vibration of an elastic surface and to compare the theory to experimental evidence." After two failed attempts at winning, Germain submitted her third paper, "Recherches sur la théorie des surfaces élastique" under her own name, and on Jan. 8, 1816, she became the first woman to win a prize from the Paris Academy of Sciences. She did not appear at the ceremony to receive her award. After winning the Academy contest, she was still not able to attend its sessions because of the Academy's tradition of excluding women other than the wives of members. Seven years later this tradition was broken when she made friends with Joseph Fourier, a secretary of the Academy, who obtained tickets to the sessions for her.

In addition to mathematics, Germain studied philosophy and psychology. She wanted to classify facts and generalize them into laws that could form a system of psychology and sociology, which were then just coming into existence. Her philosophy was highly praised by Auguste Comte.

On June 27 of 1831, Germain died, of breast cancer. Despite Germain's intellectual achievements, her death certificate lists her as a “rentière – annuitant” (property holder, not a "mathematicienne." But her work was not unappreciated by everyone. When the matter of honorary degrees came up at the University of Göttingen six years after Germain's death, Gauss lamented, "[Germain] proved to the world that even a woman can accomplish something worthwhile in the most rigorous and abstract of the sciences and for that reason would well have deserved an honorary degree."

Two of her philosophical works, "Pensées diverses" and "Considérations générales sur l'état des sciences et des letteres aux différentes epoques de leur culture," were published, both posthumously. This was due in part to the efforts of Lherbette, her nephew, who collected her philosophical writings and published them. Pensées is a history of science and mathematics with Sophie's commentary. In Considérations, the work admired by Comte, Sophie argues that there are no differences between the sciences and the humanities.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Suggested Sunday reading (3/27/11)

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.
  • Christian Science Monitor: "Geraldine Ferraro: V.P. candidate inspired a generation of women." Ferraro died on Saturday. She was the vice presidential candidate in the 1984 election on the Democratic ticket. I realize this was before many younger feminists' time, so to speak, so please, if you aren't familiar with what all Ferraro did in her life, read this obit to get an idea of what an accomplished woman she was and how she fought for women's rights.
  • MSNBC: "Pregnant woman who ate rat poison charged." That is, "An Indianapolis woman who tried to commit suicide by eating rat poison near the end of her pregnancy was charged with murder in the death of her baby." This is extremely problematic. If you want, you can sign a petition at to have charges against this woman dropped.
  • "Sonogram bill is a misapplication of government." This is an editorial about the bill in Texas.
  • The Nation: "This Just In: Women Are Not All Pacifists." In case you haven't heard, "ballbreaking women are ganging up on a weak president" and that's basically why the US intervened in Libya. As the author of this column, Katha Pollitt, points out, "Misogyny—it’s the last acceptable prejudice of the left." Also check out ...
  • AlterNet: "CNN Contributor Goes on Sexist Rant, Compares Women in Obama Administration to Bad 'Women Drivers.'"
  • New York Times: "Libyan Woman Struggles to Tell Media of Her Rape." If you can, I highly suggest reading this.
  • The National: "The women fighting, organising, feeding and healing Libya’s revolution."
  • The Wonk Room: "At Least Five Babies Have Died Since Nebraska Denied Undocumented Mothers Prenatal Care."
  • Workers World: "Women hit hardest by global crisis, attacks on public sector unions."
  • Slash Film: "On Zack Snyder’s 'Sucker Punch': Why Ass-Kicking and Empowering Aren’t Always the Same Thing." I really love the ending of this article: "If you want to revel in two hours of hot chicks in skimpy clothing fighting dragons and undead Nazis and shit, that’s your prerogative. Have fun with that, and enjoy it for what it is. But please don’t pretend I should be celebrating it."
  • No More Lost: "'Straight Male Gamer' told to 'get over it' by BioWare." Good on BioWare for this, and for making the women in Dragon Age characters that I have no problems playing as.

Friday, March 25, 2011

In History: March 25

This is the 70th 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'm calling this In History column "March 25" because there are a number of amazing women who were born on this day, and I want to bring attention to them (and no doubt I've overlooked some). It is, after all, Women's History Month!

Bonnie Guitar: Born on March 25, 1923, in Seattle, Guitar is a country-pop singer. She is best remembered for her 1957 country-pop crossover hit "Dark Moon." She became one of the first female country music singers to have songs crossover from the country charts to the pop charts, and have hits on both sides. She also co-founded the record company Dolton Records in the late 50s, that launched the careers of The Fleetwoods and The Ventures. In 1960, she left Dolton and became part owner of Jerden Records.

Gloria Steinem: Born March 25, 1934. I don't know if Steinem really needs an introduction, so to speak, on this blog, but just in case: Steinem is an feminist, journalist, and social and political activist who became nationally recognized as a leader of, and media spokeswoman for, the women's liberation movement in the late 1960s and 1970s. A prominent writer and political figure, Steinem has founded many organizations and projects and has been the recipient of many awards and honors. She was a columnist for New York magazine and co-founded Ms. magazine. In 1969, she published an article, "After Black Power, Women's Liberation" which, along with her early support of abortion rights, catapulted her to national fame as a feminist leader. In 2005, Steinem worked alongside Jane Fonda and Robin Morgan to co-found the Women's Media Center, an organization that works to amplify the voices of women in the media through advocacy, media and leadership training, and the creation of original content. Steinem currently serves on the board of the organization. She continues to involve herself in politics and media affairs as a commentator, writer, lecturer, and organizer, campaigning for candidates and reforms and publishing books and articles.

Toni Cade Bambara: Born on March 25, 1939, in New York City. Bambara was an African-American author, documentary film-maker, social activist and college professor. Bambara graduated from Queens College with a B.A. in Theater Arts/English Literature in 1959, then studied mime at the Ecole de Mime Etienne Decroux in Paris, France. She became also interested in dance before completing her master's degree in American studies at City College, New York (from 1962), while serving as program director of Colony Settlement House in Brooklyn. She has also worked for New York social services and as a recreation director in the psychiatric ward of Metropolitan hospital. From 1965 to 1969 she was with City College's Search for Education, Elevation, Knowledge-program. She taught English, published material and worked with SEEK's black theatre group. She was made assistant professor of English at Rutgers University's new Livingston College in 1969, was visiting professor in Afro-American Studies at Emory University and at Atlanta University (1977), where she also taught at the School of Social Work (until 1979). She was writer-in-residence at Neighborhood Arts Center (1975–79), at Stephens College at Columbia, Missouri (1976) and at Atlanta's Spelman College (1978–79). From 1986 she taught film-script writing at Louis Massiah's Scribe Video Center in Philadelphia.

Bambara participated in several community and activist organizations, and her work was influenced by the Civil Rights and Black Nationalist movements of the 1960s. She went on propaganda trips to Cuba in 1973 and to Vietnam in 1975. She moved to Alabama with her daughter, Karma Bene, and became a founding member of the Southern Collective of African-American Writers. Her first book, Gorilla, My Love (1972), collected fifteen short stories, written between 1950 and 1970. Most of the stories in Gorilla, My Love are told through a first-person point of view. The narrator is often a sassy young girl who is tough, brave, and caring.

Bambara was active in the 1960s Black Arts movement and the emergence of black feminism. Her anthology "The Black Woman" (1970) with poetry, short stories, and essays by Nikki Giovanni, Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Paule Marshall and herself, as well as work by Bambara's students from the SEEK program, was the first feminist collection to focus on African-American women. "Tales and Stories for Black Folk" (1971) contained work by Langston Hughes, Ernest J. Gaines, Pearl Crayton, Alice Walker and students. She wrote the introduction for another groundbreaking feminist anthology by women of color, "This Bridge Called My Back" (1981), edited by Gloria Anzaldúa and Cherríe Moraga. Bambara went on to write many other books before she died in 1995.

Aretha Franklin: Another women who probably does not need an introduction. Franklin was born March 25, 1942. She is a singer, songwriter, and pianist. Although known for her soul recordings and referred to as The Queen of Soul, Franklin is adept at jazz, blues, R&B, and gospel music. Rolling Stone magazine ranked her atop its list of The Greatest Singers of All Time. Franklin is one of the most honored artists by the Grammy Awards, with 18 competitive Grammys and two honorary Grammys. She has 20 No. 1 singles on the Billboard R&B Singles Chart and two No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100: "Respect" (1967) and "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" (1987), a duet with George Michael. Since 1961, she has scored a total of 45 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. She also has the most million-selling singles of any female artist. Between 1967 and 1982 she had 10 No. 1 R&B albums -- more than any other female artist. In 1987, Franklin became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Susie Bright: Susannah "Susie" Bright (also known as Susie Sexpert) was born March 25, 1958, in Arlington, Va. She is a writer, speaker, teacher, audio-show host, and performer, all on the subject of sexuality. She is one of the first writers/activists referred to as a "sex-positive feminist." She has a weekly program entitled In Bed with Susie Bright distributed through, where she discusses a variety of social, freedom of speech and sex-related topics.

Bright was active in the 1970s in various left-wing progressive causes, in particular the feminist and anti-war movements. She was also one of the founding members of Teamsters for a Democratic Union, and wrote under the pseudonym Sue Daniels. Bright co-founded and edited the first women's sex-magazine, On Our Backs, "entertainment for the adventurous lesbian," from 1984 to 1991. From 1992 to 1994 she was a columnist for San Francisco Review of Books. She founded the first women's erotica book-series, "Herotica," and edited the first three volumes. She started The Best American Erotica series in 1993, which she publishes to this day. Bright was the first female critic of the X-Rated Critics Organization in 1986, and wrote feminist reviews of erotic films for Penthouse Forum from 1986–1989. Her film-reviews of mainstream movies are widely published, and her comments on gay film history are featured in the documentary film "The Celluloid Closet."

Cammi Granato: Born March 25, 1971, Granato is a retired U.S. female ice hockey player and one of the first women to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November 2010. Granato was the captain of the U.S. women's hockey team that won a gold medal in the 1998 Winter Olympics. She is the younger sister of former NHL player Tony Granato, and a graduate of Providence College. Granato played hockey for Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. In June 1997, New York Islanders general manager Mike Milbury extended an invitation to Granato to attend Islanders training camp. She eventually declined. She played for Vancouver Griffins (2001–02 and 2002–03) a professional women's ice hockey team in the National Women's Hockey League. Granato has been a recipient of the Lester Patrick Award (2007), inducted into the International Hockey Hall of Fame (2008), the US Hockey Hall of Fame (2009) and the Hockey Hall of Fame (2010).

Danica Patrick: Born March 25, 1982, Patrick is an auto racing driver, currently competing in the IndyCar Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Patrick was named the Rookie of the Year for both the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and the 2005 IndyCar Series season. With her win in the 2008 Indy Japan 300, Patrick became the first woman to win an Indy car race. She placed third in the 2009 Indianapolis 500, which was both a personal best for her at the track and the highest finish by a woman in the event's history. In 2011 in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Patrick became the first woman to lead a lap at Daytona International Speedway. She had her best career finish of fourth in the NASCAR Nationwide Series on March 5th, 2011, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. By doing this, she set a record for the best finish by a woman in a NASCAR top-circuit race.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Suggested Sunday reading (3/20/11)

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.

Today is the first International Anti-Street Harassment Day. Check out Stop Street Harassment's YouTube channel for some great videos on the topic, as well as Gender Across Borders' blog post, "Sport on the Street: How Harassment Pervades [International Anti-Street Harassment Day]" If you're not familiar with the website Hollaback, today would be a great day to check it out.

In other news:
  • Huffington Post: "A Forced March for American Women: Back to the 19th Century." This is a column by U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who makes these excellent points:
And all these unwanted medical procedures are being thrust upon women by those who moan the loudest that we must get health care costs under control.

And all this legislative time and energy is being spent on divisive social issues that will not help create a single job, do anything to expand the economy, control health care costs or improve our lives.
  • If you'd like to, I would urge you to sign this petition on her website.
  • The Guardian: "100 years of scientific breakthroughs - by women."
  • The Austin Chronicle: "Probe-Before-Abortion Bill Moves Forward." Featuring this (sadly) accurate sub-headline: "Republicans and their probes: Coming to a vagina near you."
  • Associated Press: "Utah lawmakers push for stricter abortion laws."
  • The Frisky: "How USC Frat Boys Are Silently Judging You (And Plotting To Rape You)." Uh, so, trigger warning for this one.
  • "Women's History Month." The site has a number of good features about women in history.

Friday, March 18, 2011

In History: Matilda Joslyn Gage

This is the 69th 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.

Matilda Electa Joslyn Gage was born in Cicero, N.Y., on March 24, 1826. She was a suffragist, a Native American activist, an abolitionist, a freethinker, and a prolific author.

Gage spent her childhood in a house that was a station of the underground railroad. She faced prison for her actions under the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, which criminalized assistance to escaped slaves. Even though she was beset by both financial and physical (cardiac) problems throughout her life, her work for women's rights was extensive, practical, and often brilliantly executed.

Gage became involved in the women's rights movement in 1852 when she decided to speak at the National Women's Rights Convention in Syracuse, N.Y. She served as president of the National Woman Suffrage Association from 1875 to 1876, and served as either Chair of the Executive Committee or Vice President for more than 20 years. During the 1876 convention, she successfully argued against a group of police who claimed the association was holding an illegal assembly. They left without pressing charges.

Gage was considered to be more radical than either Susan B. Anthony or Elizabeth Cady Stanton (with whom she wrote "History of Woman Suffrage"). Along with Stanton, she was a vocal critic of the Christian Church, which put her at odds with conservative suffragists such as Frances Willard and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. Rather than arguing that women deserved the vote because their feminine morality would then properly influence legislation (as the WCTU did), she argued that they deserved suffrage as a "natural right."

Despite her opposition to the Church, Gage was in her own way deeply religious, and she joined Stanton's Revising Committee to write "The Woman's Bible."

Gage was well-educated and a prolific writer—the most gifted and educated woman of her age, claimed her devoted son-in-law, L. Frank Baum (yes, that Baum -- the author of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz"). She corresponded with numerous newspapers, reporting on developments in the woman suffrage movement. In 1878 she bought the Ballot Box, a monthly journal of a Toledo, Ohio, suffrage association, when its editor, Sarah R.L. Williams, decided to retire. Gage turned it into The National Citizen and Ballot Box, explaining her intentions for the paper:
Its especial object will be to secure national protection to women citizens in the exercise of their rights to will oppose Class Legislation of whatever form ... Women of every class, condition, rank and name will find this paper their friend.
Gage became its primary editor for the next three years (until 1881), producing and publishing essays on a wide range of issues. Each edition included regular columns about prominent women in history and female inventors. Gage wrote clearly, logically, and often with a dry wit and a well-honed sense of irony. Writing about laws which allowed a man to will his children to a guardian unrelated to their mother, Gage observed:
It is sometimes better to be a dead man than a live woman.
As a result of the campaigning of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association under Gage, the state of New York granted female suffrage for electing members of the school boards. Gage ensured that every woman in her area (Fayetteville, N.Y.) had the opportunity to vote by writing letters making them aware of their rights, and sitting at the polls making sure nobody was turned away.

In 1871, Gage was part of a group of 10 women who attempted to vote. Reportedly, she stood by and argued with the polling officials on behalf of each individual woman. She supported Victoria Woodhull and (later) Ulysses S. Grant in the 1872 presidential election. In 1873 she defended Susan B. Anthony when Anthony was placed on trial for having voted in that election, making compelling legal and moral arguments.

In 1884, Gage was an Elector-at-Large for Belva Lockwood and the Equal Rights Party.

Gage unsuccessfully tried to prevent the conservative takeover of the women's suffrage movement. Susan B. Anthony, who had helped to found the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), was primarily concerned with gaining the vote, an outlook which Gage found too narrow. Conservative suffragists were drawn into the organization, and these women tended not to support general social reform, or attacks on the church.

The American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA), part of the conservative wing of the suffrage movement (and formerly at odds with the National), was open to the prospect of merging with the NWSA under Anthony, while Anthony was working toward unifying the suffrage movement under the single goal of gaining the vote. The merger of the two organizations, pushed through by Lucy Stone, Alice Stone Blackwell and Anthony, produced the National American Suffrage Association (NAWSA) in 1890. While Stanton and Gage maintained their radical positions, they found that the only women's issue really unifying the NAWSA was the move for suffrage.

This prompted Gage to establish the Women's National Liberal Union (WNLU) in 1890, of which she was president until her death (by stroke) in 1898. Attracting more radical members than NAWSA, the WNLU was the perfect mouthpiece for her attacks on religion. She became the editor of the official journal of the WNLU, The Liberal Thinker. In 1893, she published "Woman, Church and State," a book which outlined the variety of ways in which Christianity had oppressed women and reinforced patriarchal systems.

Works about Native Americans in the United States by Lewis Henry Morgan and Henry Rowe Schoolcraft also influenced Gage. She decried the brutal treatment of Native Americans in her writings and public speeches. She was angered that the Federal government of the United States attempted to confer citizenship (including suffrage) upon Native Americans (who, Gage argued, opposed taxation, and generally did not seek citizenship) while still withholding the vote from women.

In her 1893 work "Woman, Church and State," she cited the Iroquois society, among others, as a "Matriarchate" in which women had true power, noting that a system of descent through the female line and female property rights led to a more equal relationship between men and women. Gage spent time among the Iroquois and received the name Karonienhawi - "she who holds the sky" - upon her initiation into the Wolf Clan. She was admitted into the Iroquois Council of Matrons.

Gage died on March 18, 1898.

I find this extremely interesting, as I hadn't heard of it before, but it makes so much sense: In 1993, scientific historian Margaret W. Rossiter coined the term "Matilda effect," after Gage, to identify the social situation where woman scientists inaccurately receive less credit for their scientific work than an objective examination of their actual effort would reveal.

You can read more about Gage at the Matilda Josyln Gage Foundation's website:

Woman, Church and State Historic Print (S): [Matilda (Joslyn) Gage, 1826-1898. bust portrait, facing left]

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Suggested Sunday reading (3/13/11)

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 hate to start the column off with such a horrific story, but this one cannot be ignored, and it needs attention. It is the case of an 11-year-old girl who was gang-raped. At least 17 people have been arrested last I heard, and there are as many as 28 total suspects, ranging in age from middle school to 27 years old. There are two things going on here: the obvious despicable crime of so many boys and men raping a sixth-grade, and the way the media is reporting the story. Take this example from the above link: "As the men had sex with the girl, others used their cell phones to take photographs and video, police said." Um, no, that should read "as the men raped the girl." An 11-year-old cannot legally consent to sex, so they did not "have sex" with her. They raped her. This type of reporting, along with a good dose of victim-blaming, has not gone unnoticed, and more than 40,000 people signed a petition requesting the New York Times do something about their horrible reporting on the story. The NYT has twice responded to the complaints. You can read all about that here (do click through all the links if you're not familiar with this story), and also check out "The Careless Language of Sexual Violence" on The Rumpus.

In other news:
  • The Nation: "Meet the Ohio Woman Who Would Have Testified Against the 'Heartbeat Bill.'"
  • AlterNet: "Pew Poll Finds Support for Legal Abortion Goes Up, So Does Support for Gay Marriage."
  • Ms. magazine: "GA Senate Rules Committee in Sneak Attack Voting on Abortion Ban."
  • Daily Kos: "13-year-old self-aborts using pencil." Truly awful.
  • Jezebel: "An Abortion Provider Explains Unsafe Clinics."
  • Politico: "Murkowski opposes Planned Parenthood, Title X cuts." She is the first Republican Senator to come out in support of Planned Parenthood.
  • Racialicious: "On Being Feminism’s 'Ms. Nigga.'" This is truly a great post.
  • The Guardian: "Feminism: What does the F-word mean today?" Annie Lennox is pure awesome.
  • Ms. blog: This link will take you to their coverage of International Women's Day, which was March 8. Also check out the Global Fund for Women's "Top 10 Wins for Women's Movements."
  • Shakesville: "Feminism 101: Helpful Hints for Dudes, Part 4." Seriously, this post well sums up a lot about rape culture. Also, I'm enjoying this series.
  • The Advocate: "Pelosi to Boehner: How Much Will DOMA Defense Cost?." Great question.
  • The Daily: "Equality begins at home: U.S. lags pathetically behind other nations in some basic rights for women."
  • Reddit: "Dilbert author deletes his "get over it" post, but the Internet never forgets." It's not often I link to reddit. But this? This is worth reading, just so you know what kind of person is behind the Dilbert comic.

Friday, March 11, 2011

In History: Johnnie Mae Young

This is the 68th 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.

Johnnie Mae Young, often known as Mae Young, was born March 12, 1923. (Happy 88th birthday to her!) She is a professional wrestler and currently a WWE Ambassador.

Young was an influential pioneer in women's wrestling, helping to increase its popularity during World War II and training many generations of wrestlers. She wrestled throughout the United States and Canada, and won multiple titles in the National Wrestling Alliance. She is a member of the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and the WWE Hall of Fame.

Here's something wild: Young holds the distinction of being the only professional wrestler to wrestle documented matches in nine different decades, having her first in 1939 and her latest match in 2011.

Young was an amateur wrestler on her high school's boys wrestling team at the age of fifteen. You have to wonder how common that was back in, what, 1937? Her brothers taught her to wrestle and helped her join the team. Young also played softball with Tulsa's national championship team. While still in high school, Young went to a professional wrestling show and challenged then-champion Mildred Burke when she visited Tulsa to wrestle Gladys Gillem. Because the promoters told her she could not wrestle the champion, she wrestled Gillem in a shoot fight, beating her within seconds. After the fight, promoter Billy Wolfe wanted Young to become a professional wrestler. She left home two years later to wrestle professionally.

In 1941, Young, along with Mildred Burke, opened up Canada for female wrestling. In Canada, they worked for Stu Hart, a wildly popular wrestling figure and the patriarch of perhaps the most famous wrestling family. During World War II, Young helped women take advantage of the fact that the men were fighting overseas by expanding their role in the sport.

She fought under the nicknames of "The Queen" and "The Great Mae Young", but she used her real name for most of her matches. During the 1950s, she wrestled for Mildred Burke's World Women's Wrestling Association. In 1954, Young and Burke were some of the first females to tour Japan after the war. In 1951, she became the National Wrestling Alliance's first Florida Women's Champion. In 1968, she became the NWA's first United States Women's Champion. Young, along with several other lady wrestlers, starred in the 2005 film Lipstick and Dynamite, a documentary about the women wrestlers from the 1950s era. (If you have Netflix, this documentary is on the instant queue!)

Young still shows up on WWE from time to time, still going strong after all these years.

Championships and accomplishments:

Championship Wrestling from Florida: 
NWA Florida Women's Championship (1 time)
National Wrestling Alliance
NWA United States Women's Championship (1 time)
NWA Women's World Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with Ella Waldek
World Wrestling Federation / World Wrestling Entertainment
WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2008)
Miss Royal Rumble 2000
Slammy Award for Knucklehead Moment of the Year (2010) Defeating Lay Cool at Old School Raw
Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame
Class of 2004
You can read more about Young at WWE's website.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pro-choice lobby day in DC on April 7

I want to share this release from NARAL in hopes of spreading the word and getting as many people to attend as possible. I wish I could, but D.C. is about seven hours from me. Feel free to pass this on:

It's official: anti-choice politicians have declared war on women. Abortion care, birth control, STI testing – even cancer screenings – are threatened.
That's why on April 7, we need 5,000 NARAL Pro-Choice America supporters to show up in person in Washington, D.C. for our lobby day. You will carry a simple message: the War on Women ends now.

Can you make it? We're arranging buses in some cities and we'll give you all the training and materials you need. You'll meet other pro-choice activists, and be able to make a direct impact in stopping the War on Women.
RSVP today for our pro-choice lobby day.

The onslaught of extreme, anti-choice legislation on Capitol Hill is nothing short of alarming. You've heard about it – bills that would allow hospitals to refuse to provide women with life-saving abortion care, slash funds for birth control and cancer screenings, and abolish private insurance coverage of abortion. They even voted to defund Planned Parenthood.

We knew after Election Day last November that we were in for the fight of our lives. You've stood right by us – sending letters to your legislators, calling them, holding them accountable for their votes, and getting your friends involved, too.

But anti-choice politicians are aggressively advancing their plans to take away a woman's right to choose.

That's why it's absolutely critical that we show them the power of the pro-choice movement. When we show up at legislators' offices, we'll send a clear message that we're fed up with these attacks – and we're ready to fight for our right to choose.
Join me on April 7. Click here to RSVP.

My best,

Nancy Keenan
President, NARAL Pro-Choice America

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Guest post: Alternatives to Barbie

Today's guest post comes courtesy of Lisa Shoreland, currently a resident blogger at Go College, where recently she's been researching scholarship lotteries as well as state student loans. In her spare time, she enjoys creative writing, practicing martial arts, and taking weekend trips. If you're interested in writing a guest post for Spare Candy or cross-posting something, check out the guidelines or send an e-mail to rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

The unrealistic – some would say unattainable – proportions of Barbie have long been decried as damaging to the self-image of young girls. If Barbie is presented as the model of what a desirable woman should look like, these young girls are left to feel like they will never measure up – never be thin enough, never have a small enough waist, never have big enough breasts. And never be as put together and polished as the iconic doll.

Luckily, there are some options for parents hoping to provide young girls with more realistic models. Unfortunately, the doll world hasn’t quite caught up with the real world, and even the alternative models are limited. The price tag is also much higher and the dolls harder to find.

Tonner Dolls
This fashion doll company produces a variety of 16” vinyl fashion dolls. Some are presented as fashion models, and others are reproductions of celebrities and famous characters. The company also produces a number of “bigger” dolls. They are thicker around the waist and have plumper faces.

The Emme doll is based on the plus-sized fashion model Emme. The doll and the woman show young girls that even curvy women can become models and be seen as a standard of beauty:

The company also produces a line of dolls inspired by the movie “Dreamgirls.” Effie, played in the movie by Jennifer Hudson (who has since slimmed down considerably), struggles with her weight and her image as a bigger woman. There are several dolls available based on her character.

Big Beautiful Dolls
At 11.5” tall, these dolls are the rebuttal to Barbie. They are more than just full-figured (as Barbie’s Rosie O’Donnell was meant to be), they are curvy and feature rolls around their midsection, arms and thighs. Unfortunately, the company is no longer in business. But you can still find their three characters, all different races, on the secondary market, such as eBay.

Sew Able Dolls
These adorable 18” dolls reflect a multitude of special needs. Dolls come with wheelchairs or crutches, prosthetic limbs, or wigs for chemotherapy. There are also sets for physical therapy. You can see these dolls at

While it’s true that Barbie reigns for now, parents can take comfort in knowing that there are dolls available that celebrate differences and showcase other forms of beauty. As a consumer, the biggest influence you can make is in what you buy. Perhaps if more parents buy these “alternative” dolls and fewer buy into Barbie, we can begin to demand a more realistic representation of women in the media and in our toys.

Monday, March 7, 2011

International Women's Day: Undoing the Stigma of Fistula

Tomorrow, on the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, take this chance to learn more about fistulas, the women affected by them, and what is being done to prevent them.

Doctors Without Borders has an initiative to draw attention to a little known condition afflicting millions of women worldwide: fistula. While rarely heard of in the U.S., fistulas are very common in areas of the world where women have little-to-no access to health care. Across Africa, it is estimated that one-and-a-half million women suffer from this preventable and treatable condition, which carries enormous social stigmatization. A fistula is an abnormal opening between the vagina and bladder that can result after a prolonged and/or complicated labor, especially if a woman arrives late to a health facility. The good news is that fistulas can be prevented and treated with relative ease, curing incontinence and relieving women of the pronounced social exclusion they often suffer as a result of their condition.

Check out this package from Doctors Without Borders to learn more:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Suggested Sunday reading (3/6/11)

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.

  • Yahoo!: "Five graphs show state of American women." This is mostly not good. The news is from the White House report on women (PDF). The above chart is from the story.
  • ColorLines: "Rep. Moore Tells Anti-Choice GOP Where to Shove Black Genocide Lie."
  • Care2: "South Dakota Bill Would Mandate Religious Counseling Prior To Abortion." I find this infuriating.
  • Dayton Daily News: "Unborn child to 'testify' on Ohio abortion bill." Apparently this did actually happen? But I can't bring myself to read the story from it actually happening, because I prefer to believe it did not.
  • CBS News: "Anti-abortion group targets House Republicans who voted against bill to defund Planned Parenthood." Shocking, isn't it? (That's sarcasm.)
  • "City Council Passes Regulation Bill For Pregnancy Centers." This is, at least, some good news.
  • Bloomberg: "EU court bans insurance sex discrimination." Also good news!
  • The Daily Beast: "India's Pink Vigilantes." Here's the opening sentence from the article: "Clad in electric pink saris, the all-female gang shames abusive husbands and corrupt politicians. Amana Fontanella-Khan talks to the woman behind the largest women's vigilante group in the world."
  • The Nation: "The War on Women's Futures." Do read this. It's by the fabulous Melissa Harris-Perry.
  • IndieWire: "Guest Post: Whither the Feminist Comedy Fan?"
  • If you'd like, I'd urge you all to sign this petition from the National Women's Law Center: "Tell Your Member of Congress to Oppose H.R. 3."

Friday, March 4, 2011

In History: Frances Perkins

This is the 67th 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.

Frances Perkins (April 10, 1880 – May 14, 1965), was the U.S. Secretary of Labor from March 4 (today!), 1933, to 1945, and the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet. As such, she became the first woman to enter the presidential line of succession. As a loyal supporter of her friend, Franklin D. Roosevelt, she helped pull the labor movement into the New Deal coalition.

During her term as Secretary of Labor, Perkins championed many aspects of the New Deal, including the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Public Works Administration and its successor the Federal Works Agency, and the labor portion of the National Industrial Recovery Act. With The Social Security Act, she established unemployment benefits, pensions for the many uncovered elderly Americans, and welfare for the poorest Americans. She pushed to reduce workplace accidents and helped craft laws against child labor. Through the Fair Labor Standards Act, she established the first minimum wage and overtime laws for American workers, and defined the standard 40-hour work week. She formed governmental policy for working with labor unions and helped to alleviate strikes by way of the United States Conciliation Service, Perkins resisted having American women be drafted to serve the military in World War II so that they could enter the civilian workforce in greatly expanded numbers.

What would she think about what's going on Wisconsin and Ohio today?

Here are some more great facts about Perkins:
  • She achieved statewide prominence as head of the New York Consumers League in 1910 and in that position she lobbied with vigor for better working hours and conditions. The next year, she witnessed the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, a pivotal event in her life.
  • Perkins married Paul Caldwell Wilson in 1913. She kept her birth name, defending her right to do so in court.
  • In 1918, Perkins accepted Governor Al Smith's offer to join the New York State Industrial Commission, becoming its first female member. She became chairwoman of the commission in 1926.
  • Following her tenure as Secretary of Labor, in 1945 Perkins was asked by President Harry Truman to serve on the United States Civil Service Commission, which she did until 1952, when her husband died and she resigned from federal service. During this period, she also published a memoir of her time in FDR's administration called "The Roosevelt I Knew."
  • Following her government service career, Perkins remained active as a teacher and lecturer at the New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University until her death in 1965 at age 85. She is buried in the Newcastle Cemetery in Newcastle, Maine.
  • The Frances Perkins Building that is the headquarters of the United States Department of Labor in Washington, D.C. was named in her honor in 1980.
  • Perkins is honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church on May 13.
  • Having graduated from Mount Holyoke College, Francis Perkins remains a prominent figure in the school's current existence. The Francis Perkins scholars were named after her, dedicated to educating women older than the usual college student.

You can read more about Perkins here:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Presidential Proclamation -- Women's History Month, 2011

Happy Women's History Month, everyone. As readers of this site know, I do a weekly "In History" column that spotlights women in history from around the world and their accomplishments. Women's History Month is every week here at Spare Candy! One of my favorite resources for this is a book I picked up for a couple dollars at a used book sale last year, "The Women's Book of World Records and Achievements". It came out in 1979, but is still a great resource. However, between that book, the Internet and my own memory, it's still easy to overlook women who have been overlooked their entire lives. So if you have any suggestions for an In History subject or would like to write a guest post for In History, please get in touch with me! Send an e-mail to rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

Since today kicks off March, I want to share with you President Obama's proclamation for Women's History Month:

During Women's History Month, we reflect on the extraordinary accomplishments of women and honor their role in shaping the course of our Nation's history.  Today, women have reached heights their mothers and grandmothers might only have imagined.  Women now comprise nearly half of our workforce and the majority of students in our colleges and universities.  They scale the skies as astronauts, expand our economy as entrepreneurs and business leaders, and serve our country at the highest levels of government and our Armed Forces.  In honor of the pioneering women who came before us, and in recognition of those who will come after us, this month, we recommit to erasing the remaining inequities facing women in our day.

This year, we commemorate the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, a global celebration of the economic, political, and social achievements of women past, present, and future.  International Women's Day is a chance to pay tribute to ordinary women throughout the world and is rooted in women's centuries-old struggle to participate in society on an equal footing with men.  This day reminds us that, while enormous progress has been made, there is still work to be done before women achieve true parity.

My Administration has elevated the rights of women and girls abroad as a critical aspect of our foreign and national security policy.  Empowering women across the globe is not simply the right thing to do, it is also smart foreign policy.  This knowledge is reflected in the National Security Strategy of the United States, which recognizes that countries are more peaceful and prosperous when their female citizens enjoy equal rights, equal voices, and equal opportunities.  Today, we are integrating a focus on women and girls in all our diplomatic efforts, and incorporating gender considerations in every aspect of our development assistance.  We are working to build the participation of women into all aspects of conflict prevention and resolution, and we are continuing to lead in combating the scourge of conflict related sexual violence, both bilaterally and at the United Nations.

In America, we must lead by example in protecting women's rights and supporting their empowerment.  Despite our progress, too many women continue to be paid less than male workers, and women are significantly underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.  By tapping into the potential and talents of all our citizens, we can utilize an enormous source of economic growth and prosperity.  The White House Council on Women and Girls has continued to remove obstacles to achievement by addressing the rate of violence against women, supporting female entrepreneurs, and prioritizing the economic security of women.  American families depend largely on the financial stability of women, and my Administration continues to prioritize policies that promote workplace flexibility, access to affordable, quality health care and child care, support for family caregivers, and the enforcement of equal pay laws.  I have also called on every agency in the Federal Government to be part of the solution to ending violence against women, and they have responded with unprecedented cooperation to protect victims of domestic and sexual violence and enable survivors to break the cycle of abuse.

As we reflect on the triumphs of the past, we must also look to the limitless potential that lies ahead.  To win the future, we must equip the young women of today with the knowledge, skills, and equal access to reach for the promise of tomorrow.  My Administration is making unprecedented investments in education and is working to expand opportunities for women and girls in the STEM fields critical for growth in the 21st century economy.

As we prepare to write the next chapter of women's history, let us resolve to build on the progress won by the trailblazers of the past.  We must carry forward the work of the women who came before us and ensure our daughters have no limits on their dreams, no obstacles to their achievements, and no remaining ceilings to shatter.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 2011 as Women's History Month.  I call upon all Americans to observe this month and to celebrate International Women's Day on March 8, 2011 with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that honor the history, accomplishments, and contributions of American women.  I also invite all Americans to visit to learn more about the generations of women who have shaped our history.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.



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