Read This!

August 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

Things have been busy lately and there’s still no time to write, but until I find time here is another amazing post over at The Rumpus by Anne Valente about running, sexism, and navigating femininity. Check it out!

The Right to Choose All of Life’s Roles

July 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

My local radio station airs a series called Perspectives that features members of the community and their thoughts on whatever strikes their fancy. This morning I listened to Jeremy Sherman share his perspective on talking politics with a libertarian friend he often disagrees with, and it boiled down to this: people don’t like talking about things they find boring, so details that don’t interest them – in his friend’s case, the complicated balance between necessary constraints and individual freedoms in society – are ignored and so strongly held beliefs are justified only with ideal-based rationalizations. Which makes sense to me – when two people are exclusively focused on separate aspects of an issue, it’s easy to wind up arguing over ideals without realizing you’re actually talking about completely different things. Getting into specifics can help you find common ground in shared beliefs.

So let’s talk details. The title of this post comes from one of my favorite chapters of (recently retired) Judge Nancy Gertner’s book, In Defense of Women, and here are some specific roles I think we should all be able to choose for ourselves free from social criticism or judgment:

  • Stay-at-home mother/father
  • Unmarried adult, whether or not you have children
  • Primary family provider, regardless of sex/gender
  • A romantically involved person, regardless of each person’s sex/gender
  • A sexually-active person who has no intention of having children

Not an exhaustive list by any means, but that’s the beauty of details: we can always add more.

This is What a Feminist Sounds Like

July 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

For those of you just stumbling upon this, my name is Kate and I’m a feminist. Stick around if you’re interested in discussing sex/gender, the media, pop or the wider soda-less variety of culture (I spent my childhood summers in North Dakota, that’s a Midwest joke), politics, social change, or anything else on your mind. I also have big plans to share pictures that make me smile. The latest is this gravity-defying goat:

Because how else are we going to shift the dominant paradigm of society, if not through the sharing of goat pictures? Seriously.

So. This rest of this is going to be short and sweet – why is it important to me to identify as a feminist?

I’m a feminist because…

  • I believe men and women – and people for whom those labels do not fit – are equal. That’s pretty much the heart of it. There’s a really interesting discussion going on right now over at Feministe about what equality would look like.
  • women are systematically disenfranchised in a variety of ways, and that isn’t going to change unless we talk about it and work to change it.
  • I believe in the rights of marginalized groups in our society.
  • accepted gender norms influence so many aspects of our lives and do not make sense in so many ways…why did the colors of the toy a girl happens to be playing with in this adorable ad change into this?
  • the top Google autofill suggestions after “why feminism” are “is wrong,” “is stupid,” and “is bad” (I was going for “is important to me“). Ugh.
  • power works to maintain the status quo, and feminism works to transform systems that won’t change themselves. I’mma explore that further, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Considering Evolutionary Psychology

July 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

As a female psychology student, I had mixed feelings about evolutionary psychology while in college. It would pop up in lectures every now and then, though always with the caveat that some of the work in the field was fairly controversial and not necessarily embraced by the psychology community at large. Media coverage of evolutionary psychology tends to run with the more sensational aspects of stories (completely unexpected, I know) but ultimately I think there are both useful and harmful interpretations of work in this area so far.

Click here to continue to the full post.

In Case the Benefits of Patriarchy Were Lost on Some Men…

June 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

…Douglas Kenrick has outlined them for you. This comes after his piece on the 7 worst things about being a male, including “people want to hurt you,” “you feel compelled to make money, and then to throw it away in public,” and two points about how much men think about sex and how sad it is that women do not “reciprocate their urgency” in that regard.

He starts his piece on the worst things about being a male with the following:

The cultural stereotype is that it’s great to be a man. Not only do we have shorter lines at the rest room, but we make scads more money and can reach things on higher shelves in the marketplace. We don’t have to deal with double standards or glass ceilings, and we’re raised to have confidence and high self-esteem, so we can all comfortably act like the Sean Connery version of James Bond. Cooly knock off a few bad guys in the afternoon, then drive our Aston Martins to our expensive hotel in Monte Carlo, where beautiful movie actresses are waiting to throw themselves into our arms…But in truth, it ain’t like that down here in Kansas.

This isn’t just a “cultural stereotype.” Men have all kinds of advantages over women in American society (see: the gender pay gap, the Second Shift, advertising and media images of women, etc.). This is not to say that men don’t have problems, but their problems take placeĀ within the larger context of patriarchy. Kenrick brushes away that context by setting this up as just a stereotype, and what follows is a blind fumbling through some issues that could otherwise have been taken seriously.

Click here to continue to the full post.

Moving Forward After SCOTUS Upholds Health Care Law

June 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

The health care act still stands thanks to the Supreme Court, though the conversation about universal care in the U.S. is far from over, so here are a couple of infographics about the state of women’s health in the U.S. and what health care reform is trying to address. Because health care issues = social issues = economic issues, and women’s issues = men’s issues; they’re all people’s issues.

From GOOD:A picture of women’s health.

And from Amnesty International:

U.S. Maternal Health Care Crisis

My junior year in college I took a course on the sociology of illness and medicine. One of the required texts for the course was T. R. Reid’s The Healing of America, which examines the health care systems of other countries and compares them to the U.S. system (this was published in 2010). Although Reid oversimplifies some issues, the takeaway message is that not only is it possible to provide quality health care to everyone, other countries are doing this in a way that costs less than our system. Health care in the U.S. is far from perfect, and although the SCOTUS ruling to uphold “Obamacare” gives me hope that can one day we will have accessible health care for all, there is still room for improvement. Learning and implementing what other countries do well are further steps toward that possibility.

Living with Dissonance: My Hope for Mollie and Mary

June 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

I read The Laramie Project five years ago. The play was written about Matthew Shepard, a young gay man whose murder in 1998 in Laramie, Wyoming drew national attention and led to efforts to address American intolerance toward gay and lesbian people. Moises Kaufman and members of Tectonic Theater Project, a New York theater company, traveled to Laramie to interview members of the small town over the year following Matthew’s death. The play uses the words of Laramie’s citizens to show the aftermath of the hate crime in all its complexity, as people try to understand what happened and why. It is one of the most powerful things I have read to this day.

Portland, TX is likely grappling with similar questions, after two young women in a relationship were shot and left to die in a park there. One of the teens, Mollie Judith Olgin, has died, and the other, Mary Christine Chapa, is in “serious but stable” condition in the hospital. No one has been connected to the attack, but it does not seem to be a random event. Although police have not yet identified this as a hate crime, the girls’ relationship will remain a factor in the investigation as it moves forward.

Click here to continue to the full post.

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