October 27, 2010
Art by our own Roxy
Fear of my bodily hair consumes me— and rudely interrupts my sexual fantasies: I slide off my panties, and the sexy, shirtless guy lounging on the bed says in Antonio Banderas’s husky accent: “That’s not a pussy, that’s a Persian cat!”
Most men will never know why their girlfriends aren’t up for sex: shaving. Yes, shaving— female shaving: a time-consuming ritual which includes scraping hair off the armpits, crotch, butt, and vaginal regions. Although some women enjoy shaving, just as some men enjoy plucking their eyebrows, most of us shave for one key reason: Fear. Specifically, fear of rejection… that we won’t land that job, that guy, or worse, the acceptance of our friends and family. Although fear of rejection is about as old as mankind, and fundamentally human, the fear which compels women to shave their bodies is a recent one, encroached in disturbing double-standards and prejudice that dehumanize us.
Where the hell did this custom come from?
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October 5, 2010
From first glance at recent covers of Newsweek, Time, and The Atlantic, it appears a gender war has erupted— instead of coddling men, women are taking their jobs! And beating them at their own game! Oh no!
A slew of magazines published this year claim that times are a-changin’. Newsweek sensationally trumpeted the arrival of a “war on boys,” in which men must adapt by “embracing girly jobs” such as nursing and modeling themselves after Brad Pitt. In a later edition, conservative journalist George F. Will decried equal pay for women as sexist discrimination against the “weaker sex” (huh?) The article featured this zinger of a quote, from conservative scholar Diana Furchtgott-Roth: “contrary to what feminist lobbyists would have Congress believe, girls and women are doing well.” It appears Will included her on the popular notion that any commentator with a vagina cannot possibly be sexist, and can act as an authority on all women. To top things off, Time magazine waxed poetic about how “for the first time in history the majority of workers in the U.S. will be women — largely because the downturn has hit men so hard.” The Atlantic chimed in with “The End of Men,” a cover-story which claimed, “Man has been the dominant sex since, well, the dawn of mankind. But for the first time in human history, that is changing—and with shocking speed.”
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August 4, 2010
Via Flickr user TheAlieness GiselaGiardino
Stringing together the words “genital” and “cutting” makes most people cringe. A man sitting in the back row of one of my anthropology classes went on a tirade against “female circumcision,” insisting that Jews were so stuck in their “messed up” traditional ways that they hurt their own children.
“Female circumcision” is a term used in many feminist texts, shamefully ignoring scientific records or cultural differences. “Female genital mutilation” (FGM) is another way to refer to female genital cutting. It is a loaded term which objectifies Africans as inherently subhuman or violent, but changing “female genital mutilation” into “female circumcision” does not soften the impact — it transfers it onto Jews, who are then accused by anti-circumcision activists of butchering babies.
When feminists look to cultures other than their own, they often judge cultural practices such as “genital mutilation” with the assumption that their high-handed verdicts will help women. Instead, their uninformed positions trigger another kind of violence against women: the violence of being labeled savage. In debates on genital cutting, Savior Complexes create rifts in feminist communities and ultimately hurt women.
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July 27, 2010
via Flickr user striatic
Citibank fired employee Debrahlee Lorenzana for the way her clothes fit. Her manager argued that the curves of her body violated appropriate dress guidelines for the company, because the clothes fit her differently than they fit less-curvy employees. His judgment blurs the line between what a dress codes ultimately regulate: clothing and bodies.
Most of us have wondered, “do I look like a slut?” But when does a piece of fabric turn sexual, and where does this question come from?
The unlikely answer can be found in dress codes. From their start in ancient Greece, to their current-day applications, dress codes have clued us in to our inner “sluts” by dividing people in accordance with dominant virtue— both voluntarily and by force. The reasoning behind many dress-codes is the importance of public order and “professionalism,” or that “the outfit makes the man”— but what does it make a woman? For many of us, the answer is complicated. It’s bundled up in a complex set of rules and guidelines that date back to ancient times, which claim to uphold public order— but ultimately buy into a sexist system that disadvantages and sexually objectifies women on the basis of clothing.
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