In the last two weeks, all news (feminist or otherwise) has been dominated by the American elections: run-up, suspense, and aftermath. We’ll start there.
Ampersand is one of our very favorite bloggers. In the context of a feminist view of the elections, he raises the very interesting question of what effect female legislators actually have on policy. Amp cites two (somewhat dated) studies, both of which lead to the unsurprising, but comforting, conclusion that more women in politics means more women-friendly legislation, although far less so if the women are right-wing. Since the women elected in 2006 were mostly Democrats (and don’t believe the spin that we elected conservative Democrats), this bodes well for feminist lawmaking.
On a similar note, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund helped bring 67 federal, state and local candidates to victory, and it seems likely that the same patterns hold true for GLBT legislators as for women legislators.
Kelley Bell tells us how seriously the mainstream feminist big guns were out canvassing for votes. We think that this is a reflection of a bigger and more important trend detailed by Liza at Culture Kitchen:
It’s more than netroots activism. It’s more than neighborhood politics. Neighboroots is becoming and interesting trend : I find myself exchanging on almost a daily basis notes about what is happening here in my little slice of New York City with people who are in far along places like Oregon, Texas and Ohio.
The idea of neighboroots is simple : Many people are using the social networking practices they’ve developed online to expand their political engagement and strengthen relationships within their offline neighborhoods. So I have been able to share notes and ideas with bloggers and campaign volunteers in cities and towns across states such as California, Virginia and Connecticut.
And, finally, the feminist-outrage moment of the election was surely Grover Norquist’s description of the woman who called 911 because a Republican congressman was trying to strangle her as “whining.” Sorry, Mr. Norquist: whining is what you do when you lose. As Amanda says, “Why not throttle mistresses? Is it because it’s wrong? Or just because there’s an off chance they might “whine” to the police and to the press about it?”
In the wake of the election, many of us are still in George Bush’s America, and the rest are still in a world affected by George Bush’s America. And what this means, among other things, is that we had damn well better still be helping ourselves.
In that vein, Lauren at Faux Real is building a remarkable resource designed for women, a guide to “money, finance, and bureaucracy.” The project uses a variety of means including a wiki and a monthly carnival. If you either can use or can give any level of any sort of advice in this sphere, this is for you–and it’s a model for similar projects in other spheres as well.
On a world scale, Feminist Carnival founder Natalie Bennett blogs at Philobiblon about a self-help project for the planet: planting a billion trees. That’s 32 per second, and 1/140th of what’s been cut down in the last decade. The project is the braindaughter of Nobel peace laureate Wangari Maathai of Kenya, and a good one.
Amy at Feminist Reprise has a fascinating post about the choices we make in helping ourselves, in particular her conflict between living on women’s land and following some of the other political/social choices of her heart. “Where lies the greater potential for radical feminist change: with the lone isolated radical feminist whistling in the dark, or with the radical feminist mired in a group of liberals, having the same arguments over and over?”
News flash! America is not the whole world. So here are some reports from other parts of the globe.
Moving first to the south, Brownfemipower has an excellent piece on why feminists must stand against government oppression in Mexico: “indigenous women are active participants in decision making, rebellions, and protests–and as such, these same women are often targetted by the nation/state for retribution and sexualized violence. Just as it’s not uncommon to see video tape of women shutting down mainstream corporate media’s negative coverage, it’s also not uncommon to have women imprisoned and sexually assaulted as well. Resistance comes at a price–and for indigenous women of Mexico, that price is often the murders of their children and the violent loss of their bodily integrity. But to not resist means poverty, sexual violence and death.”
Samhita at Feministing is the source of three of our international posts. First, she reports that in India, they’re having a battle we’ve had before in the U.S.: how fat is too fat to be a flight attendant. We’re right there when she says “What the hell does thin-ness have to do with agility?”
She also reports on what Saudi women cannot do even after they get the vote. Fortunately, in the U.S., women’s suffrage predated the dominance of the automobile. And she informed us that Bahrain will be electing at least its first woman representative this year.
Pamela at Warped Galaxies has two fascinating posts on Islam: her reaction to the Progressive Muslim Union of North America’s position against the niqab, and an analysis of the Prophet’s words as they relate to a contemporary Australian imam’s sermon.
“What did the prophet Muhammad do when a man started staring at a woman? He turned the man’s face. That bears repeating: HE TURNED THE MAN’S FACE. He did not say to the woman, you’re too beautiful, cover up. He did not say to her, get thee inside a chador, or behind a niqab. He did not send her to another room, or behind a curtain. HE TURNED THE MAN’S FACE. Repeatedly. He took action to correct the situation where the responsibility lay — with the man who was acting unacceptably, ogling a beautiful woman, not by punishing the victim.”
Natalie Bennett is fascinating on the subject of under-reported Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi from Iran.
There’s international news and then there’s jaw-droppingly clueless cultural imperialism, as reported by The F-Word. “The BBC is sending six British women to become second wives to tribesmen in Papua New Guinea, Greenland, Africa and Northern Mongolia.” We wonder how many will jump ship.
Now that you’ve picked yourself up off the floor, here are some other clashes between the commercial world and feminism:
There’s no point in summarizing Twisty, in this case on women’s increasing incomes and consumer power: Women, it turns out, are so indescribably different from the default human standard that buttloads of research must be conducted to plumb the depths of their weird yearnings and funky fiscal habits.”
Patty, a woman in the car sales business, speaks for herself on the subject of sexism in her world.
And, of course, commercialism stereotypes us all, as Racialicious points out in “Asian women can’t be blonde or SwedishÃ¢â‚¬Â: To the honchos at Clairol (Herbal Essence’s parent company), an Asian woman with blonde hair is still a shocking sight.
One feature of this carnival appears to be men writing intelligently about rape.
First we have Sailorman at Moderately Insane, with a thoughtful post on rape, the law, and the separation of morality from the content of the rape laws.
As if to underscore Sailorman’s point, Zed Pobre at Resonant Information provides a detailed analysis of a Maryland case regarding consent, penetration, and the legal definition of rape.
Finally, Black at Michigan provides an extraordinarily transparent post about how he came to understand “the rape card” because of his issues with “the race card.” Though analytically dangerous, the best way for me to understand gender and oppression is to find an analog in the areas of race and oppression. Not until I re-read my words about the race card and read about my Spelman sisters and Morehouse brothers did I see the reality, alleged rapes and race cards are the same. Rhetorical tools used by the dominant to assure that we are never fully responsible for our actions. We have a problem, a serious problem.
The whole phenomenon of mommyblogging doesn’t get a lot of attention in the feminist blogosphere, so we wanted to drop in on a couple of mommyblogs. There are thousands out there, and they are a revolution of their own. Mary Tsao has really important things to say about what being a good parent really is, and how to appreciate yourself. And Kris at Wondermom will make you laugh, while also telling parenting like it is.
Along with mommyblogging, Kris is certainly writing about body image. As our regular readers know, body image (interpreted broadly) is our core topic here, and doing the carnival reminded us what a powerful lens it is for a variety of feminist issues.
Talking about parenting and parental responsibility leads us to:
first this excellent post on sex education for teens from Books are Pretty and
second this post of our own on liposuction and children. Although Laurie didn’t say it in so many words in the post, the insane social pressures on parents are a huge factor in disastrous choices like this one.
Susan Senator is struggling with hair length as it relates to social pressures. “It seems like women are always being told the clock is ticking in one way or another: the biological clock, the find-a-husband clock. And now, the long hair clock.”
We read a lot of critiques of dieting, and we’ve rarely seen a better one than Tiny Cat Pants provides here.
Erin at the fashion blog A Dress A Day departs from her usual topics to remind us that you don’t have to be pretty.. And you don’t. But, as we wrote last month, women can be indoctrinated to accept some drastic choices for the benefits of being pretty.
Tammy Bruce is thinking about what we miss when we discard or trivialize aging actresses. And Ronni Bennett is making good sense about the pressure of sexualization on everybody, especially older people. “Jettisoning the shame and secrecy attached to sex in the past is undoubtedly a good thing. But when we stigmatize those who are not flaunting it, we devalue them unreasonably.”
Dresseuse offers another way to think about body image– as a distraction, no matter how important, from other feminist topics. Read this one.
In Memoriam: Ellen Willis, radical feminist critic, remembered well in this (and several following) posts from Bitch | Lab. And Jane Hodgson, doctor and reproductive rights hero, as commemorated by Feministe.
What’s a carnival without sex?
Here’s Twisty again, on why Seattle didn’t make lap dancing illegal. In Seattle, the city famous for duping otherwise right-thinking Americans into accepting burnt coffee as a taste treat and flannel as a fashion statement, the lap dance is apparently central to the voters’ sense of what it means to be a Seattlian (Seattlite?). According to the referendum’s vociferous opponents, the lap dance is no mere gentlemen’s entertainment. No. The lap dance is the physical expression of Jeffersonian political idealism. It is what our boys are fighting for. It is woven into the very fabric of Old Glory.
We’re sure you can name topics we didn’t cover. We certainly can. Feminism is big.
The next carnival will be on December 13 at Diary of a Freak Magnet. Do her a favor and get your submissions in early.