Category Archives: sexism

February Links

Debbie says:

Just after the turn of the year, when everybody and her sister was telling you how they were going to lose weight in 2016, Veronica Bayetti Flores at Feministing released a whole post of great music videos to counteract the bullshit.  Here’s just one of my favorites, from Mz 007 in St. Louis:

And we really need those antidotes, because Ragen Chastain at Dances with Fat, who is always alert to fat-shaming, found one of the most horrifying anti-fat stories ever (and that’s not easy):

Elaine Yu, an assistant professor and clinical researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, will be conducting a clinical trial to see if taking pills containing the freeze dried fecal matter of thin people will make fat people thin….

Fecal transplants have been found to a legitimate, and very helpful, treatment to help people with bacterial infections, and the freeze-dried poo pill technology was developed as a way to facilitate these transplants. So now Professor Yu is going to give 20 fat people 6 weekly doses of poop pills (far fewer than in the bacterial infection studies where subjects were given 15 pills a day for 2 days), then track their weight at 3, 6,  and 12 months, telling subjects not to make changes to their eating and exercise habits (obviously, that’s difficult to determine, and I imagine that knowing that you are ingesting poo might have an effect on appetite – I know that researching ingesting poo did for me.)

Further into the post, Ragen deconstructs the assumptions behind this incomprehensible experiment with her usual good sense and flair.

Also deconstructing assumptions about fat we find Ampersand reviewing the Swedish study which said, basically, that you can’t be fat and fit.

I’m not saying that this Swedish study should be ignored (although it has limitations – see below). But it’s one data point among many…

This study only measured fitness at age 18….

So the study didn’t measure if being currently fat and fit reduces current mortality; it measured whether being fat and fit at age 18 reduces mortality over the next three decades. That’s an interesting thing to study – but it’s hard to see how this speaks to whether or not someone like me – a 47 year old fat man – might reduce my risk of mortality with regular exercise in my current life.

Furthermore, since the study only followed male subjects, it’s unclear if these results can be generalized to women.

Staying in the same arena, I saw lots of  links to this story by Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley at Gastropod about why calories don’t correlate to weight. This article doesn’t excerpt well, because it makes so many separate points. If you are at all interested in what calories are, how they are calculated in the lab, how the lab calculations relate to what happens in your body, and why restricting calories doesn’t seem to change your weight (if it doesn’t), this is a don’t-miss story. I’m adding it to my file of “send to people who claim losing weight is simple” links.

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I did not realize that 2015 showed a marked spike in news and information about menstruation, but apparently I’m the only person who didn’t. Reina Gattuso at Feministing links to a number of mainstream articles on the subject, and then focuses on two student-led anti-period-shaming groups: Pads Against Sexism and Happy to Bleed.

According to the organizers, Pads Against Sexism (also called Pads Against Patriarchy) was inspired by a public art project by German artist Elone Kastratia, who celebrated International Women’s Day by sticking sanitary napkins (period diapers? vagina towels?) with feminist messages across her city….

Activist Nikita Azad started Happy to Bleed in November, as one of a chorus of feminist responses to a statement by Prayar Gopalakrishnan, president of the Travancore Devaswom Hindu Temple administering Board in the southern state of Kerala. Women aren’t currently allowed access to the state’s Sabarimala Temple (one manifestation of many world religions’ charming tendency to stigmatize menstruation). Gopalakrishnan posited that this could change when a magical machine was put into use to detect whether blood was — in the immortal words of Trump – coming out women’s whatevers

In response, Azad posted a rallying cry wherein she encouraged feminists across the country to post their own messages of menstrual solidarity on pads and social media.

A flurry of media activity in response to both campaigns helped lower the stigma and raised the profile of menstrual issues in India. Writers also took down the idea that periods are only chill because they’re important in making babies and babies are important to patriarchy. And Azad and other activists pointed out that menstrual stigma particularly affects lower-caste women and women living in poverty, who are often forced to miss school during their periods or have no sanitary accommodations at work. 

Oh, how I wish this conversation had been around when I was in high school and college!

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Two victories for trans people. The Transgender Law Center reports on advances in restroom availability:

This week, San Francisco joins Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Austin, Seattle, Santa Fe, and New York City in requiring all businesses and city buildings to designate single-stall restrooms as all-gender. While transgender and gender nonconforming people have the legal right to use restrooms that correspond to their gender, this kind of legislation is still a relief for people with disabilities, trans and gender nonconforming people, and families with small children — not to mention women simply tired of waiting on line for the women’s restroom while the single-stall men’s bathroom stands empty.

And Bobby Hankinson at Towleroad reports on advances in competition guidelines:

Previously, trans athletes were required to undergo gender-reassignment surgery. According to guidelines made public on Sunday, the new recommendations remove any restrictions on trans men, and allow trans women to compete in the Olympic Games after one year of hormone replacement therapy.

“The new IOC transgender guidelines fix almost all of the deficiencies with the old rules,” chief medical physicist, radiation oncology, Providence Portland Medical Center Joanna Harper wrote to Outsports via email. “Hopefully, organizations such as the ITA will quickly adapt to the new IOC guidelines and all of the outdated trans policies will get replaced soon.”

Harper, who is also a trans woman, attended the Consensus Meeting on Sex Reassignment and Hyperandrogenism that helped craft these guidelines in November.

And finally, if you are interested in artistic interpretations of human/cyborg/machine transformations, George Dvorsky at io9 shared a fascinating video. Sonoya Mizuno dances in “Wide Open,” the latest music video from the British electronic duo The Chemical Brothers.

 

All links from my regular reading, which includes Feministe, Shakesville, and Sociological Images,, along with Feministing, and io9, which are featured here, along with other sites. Also, we’re always on the lookout for interesting posts that connect racism and body image, and even more so during Black History Month, so send links if you have them.

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Links for a New Year

Debbie says:

I spent the last two weeks of the old year, and the first week of this one, harvesting so many links I can’t blog them all. Here’s a selection of especially interesting ones.

jaden and three female models, all in skirts, with handbags

Gender fluidity crossed a major barrier very recently. Jaden Smith will be modeling traditionally female clothes for Louis Vuitton. John Boone at ET says,

Jaden dons a skirt and fringed top in the fashion line’s Spring 2016 campaign and poses alongside models Sarah Brannon, Rianne Van Rompaey, and Jean Campbell. Nicolas Ghesquière, creative director of Louis Vuitton, was first to share the photos, writing, “Happy to introduce Jaden Smith.”

Women have been wearing various kinds of traditionally male clothing, from slacks to tuxedos, both inside and outside the fashion industry for decades. But a male-bodied person in a skirt is still a surprise in most contexts (though on a cold-for-California day in December I saw a tall, thin, bearded guy in a gauzy just-below-the-knee skirt, bare legs and sandals, holding a toddler’s hand; made me happy all day).

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The fashion industry’s choices aren’t going to solve the problems of trans teens. Claudia McNeilly writes at Broadly about young trans people and eating disorders, something I certainly knew nothing about:

A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health earlier this year found that transgender youth were four times more likely to report an eating disorder diagnosis than their cisgender heterosexual female peers—the next leading eating disorder group. …

The researchers compared various gender identity and sexual orientation groups with cisgender heterosexual women, who are usually the focus of eating disorder literature. Not only were transgender students four times more likely to report an eating disorder diagnosis than their cisgender heterosexual female peers, they were also twice as likely to report using diet pills and more than twice as likely to report vomiting or laxative use during the previous month.

McNeilly looks at stresses on transgender teens from a few perspectives, with a great conclusion:

In order to seriously address the issue of eating disorders among trans youth, it seems, the simplest way is to shift our understanding of what eating disorders look like and whom they affect. Dr. Alexis Duncan, senior author of the study [said]: “People tend to think about eating disorders as being people with anorexia, but most people with eating disorders are not too thin, so they by definition do not have anorexia. It’s much more likely that someone will have binge eating disorder or bulimia, and be of normal weight or even overweight. So the question is: how do we bust the myth?”

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It’s not eating disorders, but you might call it overly ordered eating. Kate Handley, writing at Sociological Images, has studied how our companions affect how we eat:

For my senior thesis, I explored whether women change the way they eat  alongside what they eat when dining with a male vs. female companion. The study is small, and intentionally limited to Euro-American women. I found it interesting and completely unsurprising.

I found that women did change the way they ate depending on the gender of their dining companion. Overall, when dining with a male companion, women typically constructed their bites carefully, took small bites, ate slowly, used their napkins precisely and frequently, and maintained good posture and limited body movement throughout their meals. In contrast, women dining with a female companion generally constructed their bites more haphazardly, took larger bites, used their napkins more loosely and sparingly, and moved their bodies more throughout their meals.

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Men may or may not be judging how the women with them eat; Handley didn’t examine that. But we learned that at the highest levels of government and politics, men are judging how and where and when and for how long women pee. After Hillary Clinton was frequently and publicly criticized for missing a few minutes of debate because of a long bathroom line, Soraya Chemaly wrote this for the Huffington Post:

I write and talk about controversial subjects all the time – violence, rape, race – but I have never received as vitriolic a response as last summer, when I wrote about the disparity in public facilities for men and women, The Everyday Sexism of Women Waiting in Bathroom Lines; it was a piece about norms and knowledge.  Angry people mostly men, by the hundreds, wrote to tell me I was vulgar, stupid, ignorant and should learn to stand in order to pee, because it’s superior. It continued for weeks, until I wrote a follow-up piece on the ten most sexist responses.

… Can you imagine the backlash and media frenzy if Clinton had actually, in some detail, pointed out that the women’s room was farther away or that there is often, especially at large public events like this debate, a line that women patiently wait in while men flit in and out and makes jokes about women’s vanity? That the microaggressive hostility evident, structurally, in so many of our legacy public spaces is relevant to women every day. “Bathroom codes enforce archaic and institutionalized gender norms,” wrote Princeton students Monica Shi & Amanda Shi about their school’s systemic sexism this year.

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If you’re curious about Addyi (the “female Viagra”), you’ll appreciate Amy Gamerman’s long, detailed article for Vogue on her experiences with it, plus some scientific background and information about what else is coming down the pike for pharmacology and women’s desire. Gamerman’s piece is hard to excerpt, but here’s a bit that caught my eye:

My desire is improving, as is the quality of the sex. I’m more enthusiastic, less distracted. The color commentary that usually runs through my mind during the act—This is nice, but am I enjoying it enough? Is that a paint chip on the ceiling?—has fallen silent. The sharp edges of daily life melt, just a bit.

Has the Addyi flipped a switch in my entorhinal cortex? More likely, the drug is helping to create “a good neurochemical environment” for desire, according to Jim Pfaus, Ph.D., a scientist in the pharmacology of sex, based at Montreal’s Concordia University. Mindfulness training, sensate exercises, and talk therapy could probably achieve the same result, given enough time and energy. But as Pfaus points out, “You can’t take a trip to Cozumel every weekend.”

Gamerman decided to renew her prescription. I wonder what else the Addyi is doing, and whether she’s missing other benefits to that theoretical trip to Cozumel. At the same time, she provides an interesting counterpoint to this link I posted last year.

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Finally, Margaret Corvid, writing for The Establishment, tells us what sex work has taught her about self-employment. Here’s one example.

Your time and emotional labor are worth money.

The work you’re paid to do is rarely all the work you do to keep your job. If you’re paid to code as part of a team, you’re probably not paid to make yourself presentable and business appropriate, deal with catcalling and packed subway cars on the way to work, and silently bear the racist rants of your office’s resident Trump fan.

The same holds true if you run your own business, but with the advantage that you can, like a magician, convert bullshit into money. If a client wants to book me in the kink studio three hours away across a rat’s nest of traffic-snarled roads, he’s going to be paying a premium for my mileage, time, pain, and suffering—and he’ll get a better service from me when I feel adequately compensated, rather than resentful. If a client wants to talk about the dirty details with me over the phone while jerking off, he’s either going to pay me or I’ll hang up and append “wanker” to his name in my phone.

It’s rare and refreshing to see sex work analyzed as work rather than as sex.

All links from my regular reading, which includes Feministe, Feministing, Shakesville, Sociological Images, and io9, among other sites.

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