Showing posts with label feminism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label feminism. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Another ASN update/worldwide pickets planned for abortion clinics

40 days of Life are a Christian organisation that picket outside abortion clinics, over (I presume) the Lent period trying to scare and shame women into not having abortions.  Clearly, they disgust me.  If you want to lower abortion rates you need to provide good sex education, free contraception, free childcare and improved benefits for mothers (and fathers).  You do not lower abortion rates by protesting/gathering/praying outside abortion clinics.  A list of clinics they are going to picket is available on their website here:
I suggest that if you are near a clinic, and feel safe doing so, form a counter picket, or bring in nice goodies to the staff at the clinics.  Cakes, biscuits and fruit would probably be welcomed.

On a similar note, here is a direct fundraising appeal from ASN: 

Have you heard about the recent investigations into rogue Crisis Pregnancy Centres in the UK?Unregulated, anti-choice ‘counsellors’ are telling women that abortion could give them cancer, make them infertile, or even turn them into child abusers. Disgusting, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, this story is all too familiar to me. Crisis Pregnancy Centres inIreland are just as willing to shame, manipulate and flat-out lie to women to suit their anti-choice agenda.

Lorraine - a single mother of three - was over 13 weeks pregnant before she got our number. A ‘counsellor’ at a CPC in Dublin told her that doctors in Britain are “butchers” who would leave her “permanently scarred”.

But that's not all women in Ireland have to worry about. At ASN, we hear from an equal number of women who are horrifically treated by the people they should be able to trust - their own doctors.

When fifteen-year-old Niamh went to her GP for advice, he dismissed her fear and scolded her for wanting an abortion. After the appointment, he made sure everyone in the waiting room knew that the young girl with him was pregnant.

We believe that Irish women who need to end a pregnancy need practical advice, not shame, judgement, and lies. 

When women contact us, we are very clear to them that we are not counsellors or health care professionals. Thanks to your donations, our helpline and email are there to give information and non-judgemental, practical support; if a woman needs, we also arrange hosts and give grants towards their procedure and travel.  If a woman asks for a local resource for medical information, counselling, a rape crisis centre, or a place where she can speak to someone face to face, we only refer to non-directive, pro-choice organisations.

Your donations help us be at the other end of the phone for women like Lorraine and girls like Niamh every day – thank you so much. If you could spare a little more today, every penny or cent helps.

Thank you, as always - here’s to helping more women, together!

Mara Clarke
Director, Abortion Support Network
*Some details have been changed to protect our clients’ privacy.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Interview with an abortion doctor in texas who has been outlawed from doing his job

From here.  I am going to crosspost all of it.


On Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court declined to block a new law in Texas that requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, a measure that has caused at least a dozen clinics in the state to stop terminating pregnancies. Dr. Lester Minto owns and operates one of the affected clinics, Harlingen Reproductive Services. I spoke with him last week as he awaited the Supreme Court’s vote.
Slate: Are you closed? 

Lester Minto: Of course not. I have nine ladies scheduled for tomorrow.

Slate: What do you tell them? 

Minto: That I do not do abortions. I cannot do them legally. And I tell them that I know that there are other things that people do.

Slate: What do other people “do?”

Minto: If they have a passport and enough money, they go over the border to Mexico and go to a pharmacy and buy misoprostol at a pharmacy. It is an ulcer drug, but it works as an abortifacient. It is not as effective mifepristone, which is the on-label medicine used in the U.S. But in these ladies’ situations, misoprostol can be a good choice. It is proper medicine in a blister pack from a proper pharmacy. Someone might even know how to dose it. But it can be an expensive choice. In the U.S., misoprostol costs 10 to 12 cents a pill. I have had ladies charged $80 a pill at Mexican pharmacies. Also passports are expensive and can take too long to get if you don’t have one already. Misoprostol only works up to about seven weeks after your last menstrual period. You need a passport now just to walk over the bridge into Mexico and back. Of course if you are undocumented this isn’t an option at all.

Slate: What do women do if they don’t have a passport? 

Minto: They buy the drug at a flea market. This is bad and sad and wrong. They are going to be buying things on the street. You don’t even know if you are getting the real thing. But these goddamn politicians ... Women are forced to crawl around like goddamn criminals. So I am here to help them.

Slate: How do you help them? 

Minto: I give them a sonogram to make sure they are pregnant—and if they are pregnant, to make sure it is a uterine pregnancy—that they have no ectopic issues or anything. Then I give them vitamins. Because if they decide to keep the pregnancy, you want it be a healthy one. If they decide to do “something,” you don’t want them to hemorrhage excessively. That is a risk if a lady is anemic. A lot of my patients don’t have great health care, so a lot are anemic.

Slate: So the women take the drug and ...
Minto: They stay close to home, and sometimes it all works fine. But if it doesn’t—or it works part-way, that is what often happens— they can come to me, and I can do “miscarriage management.”

Slate: That’s legal in Texas?
Minto: Yes, in Texas once a woman is vaginally hemorrhaging, it is legal for me to help her.

Slate: What does that involve? 

Minto: The same thing as an abortion. It’s just a change in words. It’s double talk. It’s bullshit.

Slate: Why don’t you just get admitting privileges at a local hospital and comply with the new law?
Minto: They won’t have me. They are religiously affiliated. So you know, Jesus.


Jesus indeed.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Gender Through Comics

On April 2nd a free online course about gender and comics is starting! Gender Through Comics is a massive open online course and anyone, from any area of the world, can enroll. The course is not accredited and homework will not be marked. What it does have going for it is an interesting syllabus, interviews with creators and online lectures. As well as being free of charge it should provide a great, structured forum for people to discuss gender and comics. Obviously, I have enrolled in it.

The required reading can be bought in digital format from Comixology, or you could get the books from the library. There is an excellent choice of texts here - Strangers in Paradise, Superman: Birthright, Action Comics #1, 2 Wonder Woman issues, Secret Six: 6 degrees of Devastation and Y the Last Man are the ones I am currently familiar with.

When I was at Uni I wasn't reading comics, and my gender analysis skills weren't developed enough to make informed, convincing arguments. I knew next to nothing about intersectionality, and I wasn't really able to apply real world experience to feminist theory. I identified as feminist, but wasn't anywhere near as sophisticated in my arguments and understanding as I am now. Blogging for 6 yrs has really helped me & now I'm ready to do more structured thinking. So I'm pleased the course exists and is running.

My hopes for this course are that people will engage with the topics and discuss it as they would in an academic setting. By that I mean take it seriously, listen to each other's viewpoints and not devolve into mud slinging (this happens quite a lot in the comics blogosphere). I love learning and I would dearly love to do an MA, but there is no way I can (money, mortgage, work etc..) so I'm really glad I can study online, in a (hopefully) academic environment.

I would love to arrange a UK study group (I am particularly interested in the UK perspective on this), so if anyone would like to join in could you leave me a comment, tweet me @sarangacomics or email me paicomics at yahoo dot co uk.

Follow the course leader on twitter @christyblanch, follow the course account @supermooc or the hashtag #supermooc. The course website is here and the reading list is here.

You have until 6th April to enroll.

Other comics related 'things' people might be interested in are:
Women in Comics Europe - a facebook group promoting women in comics.
The Beat website is doing 24 hours of Women in Cartoonists -
Comix 4 Equality - an EU funded project providing an award for the Best Unpublished Comic Strip Authors with Migrant Backgrounds. Women are submitting stories and women's stories are being told. The website is here.  The facebook group is here.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Reeva Steenkamp

Oh fuck, I've just seen the news about Oscar Pistorius murdering his girlfriend.

She was shot in the head and the hand four times.

Oh my gods. :(

This is why I attended the Norwich Rising part of One Billion Rising this afternoon.

Fuck.  Somehow it seems worse when celebrities do this shit, but it's not worse, because every act of violence against a woman is horrific and must stop.  One act is not more important, or less deserved, than another.  They are all disgusting and nightmarish and the only way they will stop is to teach people that women deserve respect.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Propellor's The Taming of the Shrew

I wrote a review of this play and submitted it to The F Word and it got published.  If you'd like to read it please do so :)

I sort of wish I'd had something to say about Propellor being an all male company, and what implications that has on the play and the performance, if any at all, and what the political ramifications are.  But I don't know enough about the theatre to write anything meaningful.  Ah well.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Suzanne Moore

Suzanne Moore said something recently which made a lot of people angry:
"the desired body for women is that of "a Brazilian transsexual"

She called it a throwaway comment, which no doubt made people more angry.  Not surprising, it's an exoticising, reductionist statement which sexualises trans (women's) bodies.  It's thoughtless and in a climate where trans people are regularly and routinely discriminated against, it is not helpful.

Then she wrote this article that a lot of people took as a fake apology/non existent apology, which also made people angry:  I don't care if you were born a woman or became one.

Now, I read this article this morning and tweeted that "I like this article. Flippant comments aside, I appreciate her stance".  This wasn't well explained by me and is not descriptive of all my thoughts around the article.  As I don't think Twitter is the place to have in depth conversations I said I would blog about it.  So here we go.

I am not writing this to counter or reinforce any particular person's viewpoint or comments.  These thoughts are my own, as I understand them.

Part of the reason I don't view this article as an apology, is because she doesn't appear to want to apologise, or pretend to apologise.  So I don't understand why people are focusing on that.  The article starts off by talking about Bowie, presumably prompted by his recent single, so I don't think she ever wanted it to be an apology.  By all means, be pissed off by the fact she hasn't apologised but I don't think it makes sense to view it in terms of a (non) apology.

There are a lot of things I dislike about her article, but there are some things I do like.

I do not like (quotes from the article in bold, my comments are below each quote):

I was a waitress and I served them (trans people) breakfast at 5am and they were so kind to me. Many had had botched surgery in Morocco and their lives were more than difficult.
I think she's put this in to show she respects and likes trans people, and that she gets on with trans people.  The problem is that meeting, getting on with and feeling sympathy for a small group of trans people is largely irrelevant.  It's possible to get on with people and still consider them second class in some way.  The comments about surgery are a bit odd - this isn't really important to the article at all.  I expect that she's included it as it's how she relates to trans people - through their surgery - which is offensive.

Mostly this (transitioning) seemed to be an obsession with secondary sexual characteristics: peeing sitting down if they had been a man, wearing horrible lumberjack shirts and refusing to wash up if they had been a woman.
Ugh.  This is reductionist, dismissive and horrible.  It illustrates quite clearly that she doesn't care about trans people experiences and is willing to use them to back up narrow minded prejudices.  if what she states is the case, there are any number of reasons why trans people might choose to fulfil gendered behaviours - even me, with my limited understanding, knows that one option is that 'doctors*' insisted that their trans patients had to act in set gendered ways in order to be approved for surgery.  Another reason might be because they just wanted to - and there is nothing wrong with that.

However I mostly think she's talking bollocks and that her observations are cherry picked and made up to support her own view.

*I use the term doctor loosely here, because anyone acting like that clearly doesn't have the health of their patient in mind, which I think should be a requisite for a doctor. 

The radical fluidity of gender vaporised.
Errr, trans people getting surgery does not equate to gender fludity being vaporised.  I'd argue that getting surgery and living as your self identified gender is actually pretty fucking radical, considering the shit that trans people put up with (including the stupid comments in this article).  But then again as a cis person I am not the right person to lecture about trans experience (it would be nice if Moore also understood this).

Some trans people appeared to reinforce every gender stereotype going
And?  I don't see the problem here.  A few things -
I wonder is Moore would criticise cis people for fulfilling gender stereotypes.
This opinion is probably as seen through Moore's own eyes, not seen through trans people eyes.
If this highly subjective statement is indeed true, and if that is indeed a problem, 'some' does not invalidate 'all'.

I speak as a white woman of privilege, though I was indeed born in the wrong body. It should have been Gisele B√ľndchen's.
So here Moore is mocking and invalidating trans people's experience and feelings.  I am willing to accept that she perhaps wasn't intending to do this, but was intending to make a joke.

There's one more bit I take issue with, but I'll deal with that at the end as it will only make sense in view of the rest of the article.

Things I do agree with, in part (quotes from the article in bold, my comments are below each quote):

For this I have been attacked on Twitter for "transphobia". I made it worse – well why not? – by saying that I don't like the word. I don't think it adds to our understanding of the complex webs of hatred it invokes, but instead closes down discussion.
First off, I think that the word transphobia is highly highly useful, relevant and absolutely needed.  For without it it becomes much much harder to identify, discuss and fight against discrimination against trans people.  So I disagree with her when she says it doesn't add to the discussion.  I think it's quite disingenuous of her to say otherwise.

But, I do think that sometimes some people attack other for being transphobic and use that to shut down discussion.  This is different to what Moore is saying, but on first read of the article that's how I took it.  This isn't the fault of the word 'transphobic'.  It's down to people.  Blaming it on the word itself is wrong.

I absolutely understand why trans people wouldn't want to engage in education and discussion on every single issue of transphobia, but my feeling is that it is allies who put forth accusations of transphobia and then refuse to discuss it.  Sometimes I think people get accused of transphobia without the accuser considering the context in which things were said.   There seems to be a moral high ground in some social justice circles whereby if you accuse someone of being discriminatory you are automatically right and so don't have to engage with them further at all.  Well, sometimes people misunderstand other things and sometimes people express themselves badly and I don't think we should hang people out to dry because they've said a couple of stupid things.

I don't have evidence for this - it's just my feelings about twitter discussions (where I do a lot of my reading nowadays) and I am perfectly aware that my feelings are just as subjective and likely to be ill informed as Moore's statements above.  But all these feelings informed my reading of Moore's article so when I got to the bit in bold above, I went, hmm, she's right.  Except as I said in the second paragraph of this point, my reading of her words is different to what she said.

Intersectionality is good in theory, though in practice, it means that no one can speak for anyone else. It is the dead-end where much queer politics, feminist politics and identity politics ends up. In its own rectum. It refuses to engage with many other political discourses and becomes the old hierarchy of oppression.
I do think she has a point here, especially about the heirarchy of oppression.  I know that's not how intersectionality is supposed to work, but in practice that is sometimes what happens.  Where do you go with creating a cohesive, campaigning movement when you have a lot of disparate interests and identities?  Sometimes you end up with campaigners shouting down those not as enlightened as they are and refusing to engage, in a similar manner to both.  Again, this is an issue more with people than with the theory itself, I think.   I would be interested to hear Moore's reasons as to why the theory itself is fundamentally unsound.

Then again, I absolutely believe that feminism must take into account racism, ableism, ageisim, homophobia, biphobia and so on.  So I think this means I am stuck in an ideological rut, unsure how to reconcile the two views I have.

It makes me ill that meritocracy is the ruling-class myth, that policy is not about economics but rancid ideology.  
So here I think she's saying she's less traditional feminist and more economist (with a feminist leaning).
Well I can't argue with that.

I wanted to say again that feminism is not a white, middle-class concern: look at Sierra Leone, Egypt, India.
Correct.  But unless you decide she is not primarily a feminist, this conflicts with her earlier comments about intersectionality.  It does fit with the idea that she's more marxist economist (or perhaps Lockian?  Is it Locke who developed the idea of the social contract?  No matter, for the next couple of points let's pretend I'm right in calling her a Marxist economist).

When I say "women", I don't much care if you were born or became one. I am with RuPaul: "Honey, we are born naked, the rest is drag." What I do care about is something that is deeply old-fashioned: solidarity. I may not be your colour or your culture, or share your sexual preferences, but open your eyes to what we need to do. This is not some glitch in the uber-sexual matrix; this government makes Thatcher look like Shirley Williams. The boot is in your face if you are not one of them.
Correct.  See my comments above about her being more of a Marxist economist than a feminist.

So to be told that I hate transgender people feels a little ... irrelevant. Other people's genital arrangements are less interesting to me than the breakdown of the social contract. I am asking for anger and for alliances. Less divide and rule.
Yes, well, the problem with this is that when you use the word irrelevant it gets up people's noses.  People start thinking you find them irrelevant.

As for the comment about genital arrangements, well, trans people are far more than their genitals, and if Moore had done any research or put any thought into trans people's lives she'd have realised this.  Again, she's reducing trans people to their genitals.

Regarding the comments about the social contract, I refer you back to my Marxist economist comments.  If you do not take an economic viewpoint of the problems of society you will not agree with her.  One of the many criticism of Marxism is that it does nothing to help women.

On the other hand, she is quite keen on the social contract.  Under the social contract government has a responsibility to care for it's citizens.  In return citizens pay taxes and agree not to riot.  Now under this concept, government should care for everybody and protect them from harm.  That includes it's trans citizens.  And come to think of it, under the social contract government *must* understand intersectionality or it cannot fully protect everyone.  Hmm, I'd not thought of that before.

Lastly, I wrote this bit at the start of the post but don't know where to fit it.  So it gets bunged on the end.

Some people are offensive and will always be offensive - I don't know that I expect all of them to apologise, get over it, get better. I find the manner in which twitter continuously asks people for apologies and berates people for any mistake made quite venomous.  I don't think it works.  I don't find it agreeable.

I now think this post may be a bit of a mess.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Women can do maths thank you very much

So, this article:

talks a bit about the assumption that women are crap at maths. I’m astounded that people think this. I have never, ever had the idea that women can’t do maths. I don’t think this idea has ever been expressed to me. I had a friend who took her GCSE maths at age 14 (normally you do this at at age 16) and got As for it (the top grade). She then went on to do AS level maths at age 16 (you normally fo this at age 18) then you did a maths degree at university.

She wasn’t the only one who did these exams early either. There were between 6 and 8 girls in my school who did these exams early.

From age 13 to 18 I went to an all girls school. An all girls grammar school. After reading the above article I am suddenly, and for the first time in my life, grateful for the opportunties that school gave me. I now realise, that because we were all girls we weren’t subject to the idea that women can’t do science, or maths, or any of those ‘hard’ intelligent subjects. I hated my school, I hated the environment, I didn’t like how it was run and I was depressed. But at the very least I was in an environment where I was able to learn with other people at the same level as me, and I wasn’t taught that women can’t do maths. That’s an amazing thing.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Please, teach basic science

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in an interview posted Sunday. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

From here.

A Republican Senate Nominee said that. You'd think he's be fairly bright.  He should know better.  Man, if you're gonna oppose abortion please use facts to back up your views, not made up science.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Chris Brown music review

I approve.

It's not that I think people should never be allowed to move on from their crimes, it's not that I think people's artistics products can only be consumed if you like them as people as well, it's that he did a truly awful thing when he beat Rhianna, and most of the music industry seems to be ignoring it.  When women are routinely abused by their partners, and blamed for it, I think the music industry should be doing something.  So whenever I see a review like this, I am pleased that someone is saying domestic violence is wrong.  Don't give money to someone who beat up his girlfriend - he's a disgusting human being.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Teaching women how to act and how this corresponds to rape

I just found this on One Dark Angel's tumblr, and it's brilliant. I've read something liked this before but it bears repeating, particularly because it articulates it so well (trigger warning):

If we teach women that there are only certain ways they may acceptably behave, we should not be surprised when they behave in those ways.

And we should not be surprised when they behave these ways during attempted or completed rapes.
Women who are taught not to speak up too loudly or too forcefully or too adamantly or too demandingly are not going to shout “NO” at the top of their goddamn lungs just because some guy is getting uncomfortably close.

Women who are taught not to keep arguing are not going to keep saying “NO.”

Women who are taught that their needs and desires are not to be trusted, are fickle and wrong and are not to be interpreted by the woman herself, are not going to know how to argue with “but you liked kissing, I just thought…”

Women who are taught that physical confrontations make them look crazy will not start hitting, kicking, and screaming until it’s too late, if they do at all.

Women who are taught that a display of their emotional state will have them labeled hysterical and crazy (which is how their perception of events will be discounted) will not be willing to run from a room disheveled and screaming and crying.

Women who are taught that certain established boundaries are frowned upon as too rigid and unnecessary are going to find themselves in situations that move further faster before they realize that their first impression was right, and they are in a dangerous room with a dangerous person.

Women who are taught that refusing to flirt back results in an immediately hostile environment will continue to unwillingly and unhappily flirt with somebody who is invading their space and giving them creep alerts.

People wonder why women don’t “fight back,” but they don’t wonder about it when women back down in arguments, are interrupted, purposefully lower and modulate their voices to express less emotion, make obvious signals that they are uninterested in conversation or being in closer physical proximity and are ignored. They don’t wonder about all those daily social interactions in which women are quieter, ignored, or invisible, because those social interactions seem normal. They seem normal to women, and they seem normal to men, because we were all raised in the same cultural pond, drinking the same Kool-Aid.

And then, all of a sudden, when women are raped, all these natural and invisible social interactions become evidence that the woman wasn’t truly raped. Because she didn’t fight back, or yell loudly, or run, or kick, or punch. She let him into her room when it was obvious what he wanted. She flirted with him, she kissed him. She stopped saying no, after a while.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Abortion Laws in the States

So between twitter and the radio I've been hearing a lot about GOP, Santorum, Rush Limbaugh, abortion, contraception, trans vaginal scans and rape.  But I hadn't really paid much attention to it.  Until my Dad sent me this Doonesbury cartoon from today's Guardian newspaper.  Go click on the link, it won't allow me to post a clear picture of it here.

Pretty awful, no?

Then I read the part of the email where Dad said this cartoon had been banned in Texas.  I enquired if he was joking and he sent me this article which I shall cross post in it's entirety:

Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau has defended his cartoon strip about abortion, which several US newspapers are refusing to run, saying he felt compelled to respond to the way Republicans across America are undermining women's healthcare rights.
The strip, published on Monday and scheduled to run all week, has been rejected by several papers, while others said they were switching it from the comic section to the editorial page.
In an email exchange with the Guardian, Trudeau expressed dismay over the papers' decision but was unrepentant, describing as "appalling" and "insane" Republican state moves on women's healthcare.
About 1,400 newspapers, including the Guardian, take the Doonesbury cartoon. The Guardian newspaper is running the cartoon as normal on Monday.
The strip deals specifically with a law introduced in Texas and other states requiring a woman who wants to have an abortion to have an ultrasound scan, or sonogram, which will show an image of the foetus and other details, in an attempt to make her reconsider.
It portrays a woman who turns up at an abortion clinic in Texas and is told to take a seat in "the shaming room". A state legislator asks if she has been at the clinic before and, when she says she had been to get contraceptives, he replies: "Do your parents know you're a slut?"

Later, she says she does not want an intrusive vaginal examination but is told by a nurse: "The male Republicans who run Texas require that all abortion seekers be examined with a 10-inch shaming wand." The nurse adds: "By the authority invested in me by the GOP base, I thee rape."
The Kansas City Star is among the papers not running the cartoon in its normal slot. "We felt the content was too much for many of the readers of our family-friendly comic page," an editor told Associated Press. The Star will use a replacement strip offered by the organisation that syndicates Doonesbury, Universal Uclick, and move the abortion one to its editorial pages.
Sue Roush, managing editor of Universal Uclick, said: "I can't say how many papers will choose ultimately to run or not run the series, but we've had inquiries from 30 to 40 papers asking about the substitutes."
Abortion, contraception and other social issues have resurfaced in politics in recent weeks, partly because they have been highlighted by the Republican candidates in the presidential race. Conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh referred to a student giving evidence to a congressional hearing in support of contraception as "a slut".

Trudeau told the Guardian he thought the issue of reproductive freedom had been settled while he had still been at school: the supreme court 1973 ruling Roe v Wade, which removed restrictions on abortion.

Trudeau wrote: "Ninety-nine percent of American women have or will use contraception during their lifetimes. To see these healthcare rights systematically undermined in state after state by the party of 'limited government' is appalling. "In Texas, the sonograms are the least of it. The legislature has also defunded women's health clinics all over the state, leaving 300,000 women without the contraceptive services that prevent abortions in the first place. Insanity."
Trudeau is dismayed by the newspaper reaction. "I write the strip to be read, not removed. And as a practical matter, many more people will see it in the comics page than on the editorial page," he wrote.
"I don't mean to be disingenuous. Obviously there's some profit to controversy, especially for a satirist. If debate is swirling around a particular strip, and if its absence creates blowback, then I'm contributing to the public conversation in a more powerful way. But I don't get up in the morning and scheme about how to antagonise editors. Some of these folks have supported me for decades."
Asked about the use of the word "rape" to describe what was happening to women seeking abortions in Texas, he said it was perfectly apt for the compulsory insertion of an object into the vulva. "That falls within the legal definition of rape. Coercion need not be physically violent to meet the threshold. Many people here are now referring to trans-vaginal sonograms as 'state rape'. That seems about right to me," he wrote.
"However, if you just mean the topic of rape generally, it's not something I would avoid simply because I work on a page where children can occasionally be found. People know what to expect in Doonesbury. Certainly children do, which is why they never read it. And editors have long known what they're getting; I first wrote about rape in the late '70s, devoting an entire week to a mock rape trial."

The Texas governor Rick Perry, who dropped out of the Republican presidential candidates race in January, signed the abortion measure into law in May 2010.

His press spokeswoman, Catherine Frazier, asked about the Doonesbury strip, said: "The decision to end a life is not funny. There is nothing comic about this tasteless interpretation of legislation we have passed in Texas to ensure that women have all the facts when making a life-ending decision."

Scary, no?  Then I read this article about a 15 year old child facing imprisonment for 'depraved heart murder' - or miscarrying at 36 weeks because she took coke.

What?  How is anyone taking this seriously?  How can you jail a child for miscarrying? How can you jail anyone for miscarrying?  What next, we jail women because they don't eat enough greens or take enough supplements during pregnancy?

I feel sick.  These are hate laws, pure and simple, directed at women.  If these people actually wanted to reduce the number of abortions they'd provide free contraception to every woman and girl of child bearing age.  They would educate children about consent, and healthy sex, and contraception.  But they don't do this because they actually just seek to slut shame and control women's bodies and pass judgement from nigh on high above, where they will never ever ever have any idea what it is like to be pregnant, bear a child or bring one up.  They have no idea about women's lives and they have absolutely nor right to try and control 51% of the population.

I am disgusted.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Aquaman 6

Walking home from work today I had a brainwave.  You know those moments when things suddenly seem startlingly clear and you can't imagine why you didn't understand them before?  Well it was one of those moments, about Aquaman 6 and the role of women, specifically strong women, in comics.

Then about 40 seconds later I lost the thread of it and now I don't think I can articulate what the thought was.  So like me.  Anyway I shall have a go.  Aren't you all astonishingly lucky?  No.  Ahem.

Right, what I was thinking was, although I did like Aquaman 6, and felt the spirit of the sisterhood* cheering Mera on within me, and yes it was gratifying to see her break the man's arm (who was harassing her and had been harassing his staff member), I wondered why is it that to prove a woman is strong, or kick ass, we so often see her beating up a rapist or other man about to commit a sexual assault?

It's like when we consider how to make a woman strong, we think we have to show her doing something related to women's issues.  And we only understand women's issues as domestic violence and sexual assault.

I mean, when we see Batman or Green Lantern proving their bad assery it's because they've taken on an army and beat them, or Darkseid, or the Joker or someone like that.   But women get to deal with bastard men, or if they're lucky bastard supervillains who want to rape them.

It's like we can only ever associate or understand women as being merely bodies that are there for use by someone more powerful than them, but we know that's wrong, so we try to show women as breaking away from this (as a critique of it) but we can only  do so in a framework that reinforces that women are just bodies.  Because gods forbid we show a woman using her mind, or facing off against a bad guy that doesn't want to rape/abuse her or one of her sidekicks/female stranger on the street/female acquaintance.

Damn, I wish I'd retained that moment of clarity.

Now, part of me is saying that hang on, not all women are shown like this. Some are shown in the same way as men are.  Another part of me is going, yes but that doesn't count when the artwork reinforces them as being only bodies (and not minds) and encourages the reader to view them in terms of their bodies only.

Yet another part of me (I'm positively splintered tonight) says but women heroes also prove their heroicness by saving children!  That's not to do with their bodies!  and then the other (sixth?) part of me says yes but children are seen as coming under women's sphere of influence, as the domestic and the familial, so of course children fall under women's province of saving.

Does any of this make any sense?

*this isn't strictly true.  I don't believe in a sisterhood, but you get the general idea, right?

Thursday, March 08, 2012

International Women's Day!

To celebrate, have a delightful picture of the women of the DCU.

I think it's a really neat caricature showing various DC heroines personalities.
I have no idea where I found it or who did it though.  If anyone can enlighten me, leave a comment!
Happy International Women's Day everybody!

Monday, March 05, 2012

Boys look at things and girls look at faces

I am fuming. This is partly due to eating badly and drinking too much over the weekend, partly due to stupid comments from otherwise intelligent people, and partly due to my own stupid reactions about baby clothes. Let me explain.

You see, this weekend my mum and I organised a surprise baby shower for my sister (who’s due in 1 month!). Miraculously we got to the day, and the minute she walked in to the house without her knowing anything about it, (plus points to everyone involved). It all went well, she opened and like the gifts, sandwiches and cake, and was genuinely surprised and touched by and happy by everyone who had made the effort to be there.

The talk all afternoon (well, for the 2 hours of the party) was of babies, and labour, and pregnancy, which I probably shouldn’t have been surprised about, but I was kind of hoping we’d be having other conversations too, alas, apparently not. I think that people, mostly women, tend to have something in their brain that just switches when they meet a heavily pregnant lady, and all they can talk about is babies. Anyway, baby talk is fine, if a little dull. That doesn’t matter, it wasn’t for me, it wasn’t about me and my sister had a great time, which is the important thing.

What really annoyed me was the talk of baby clothes – you know, how difficult it is to buy things when you don’t know the sex of the child, and of the differences between male and female babies. Someone actually said that that ‘boys look at things and girls look at faces’. Another one was ‘you’ve got to get them in the right clothes or they won’t know what they are’. I could have screamed. These are otherwise intelligent women. Why does their reasoning faculties short circuit when it comes to babies?

I’m not denying that male and female children act differently, but they act differently because of how we, parents, wider family, and society, bring them up. And of all the stupid things to say, boys look at things and girls look at faces....

Now I’ve heard the maxim many times that goes ‘if you don’t challenge sexism and oppression then you are as bad as the oppressors and the sexists’ and I take very great umbrage at this. Sometimes it’s not possible, safe or polite to challenge people’s views. If I’m out late at night, drunk, and I hear other drunk people shouting at someone else for being a queer, if I were to challenge this I’d probably get lamped. If I had challenged these stupid gender essentialist views at the baby shower It would have been very rude. If you challenge every single thing that you hear that perpetuates oppression you’ll become a sanctimonious old windbag with no friends.

So, I didn’t say anything, I stayed silent and groaned inwardly.

Reflecting on how folk at the party were talking about clothes etc led me to think again about how I viewed baby clothes. I’ve always thought that it would be easy for me to buy clothes for a little un – I just don’t buy pink for a girl or blue for a boy. Because I’m contrary I’d be happy buying the opposite colours, or neutral ones, but I for sure wouldn’t buy pink for girls and blue for boys. Then on my hunt for baby clothes I found myself thinking in terms of gendered clothes, and only wanting to buy ‘gender appropriate’ things. I’m so cross at myself. I discovered that I felt ok buying clothes with trucks and stuff on for a girl (well ok-ish, I consider trucks very boring and would rather buy something with dinosaurs on, but you know what I mean), but when I considered buying something cute with flowers, or ladybirds on, I found myself thinking ‘but what if it’s a boy?’ I try to fool myself into thinking that it’s cause I don’t know how the parents (my sister and brother in law) will feel about having their (possible) boy child in ‘girly’ clothes, but let’s be honest, it’s not them, it’s me thinking this way.

Ugh. I’m reminded of another quote – ‘it’s easy to bring up your girls like boys, but it takes real courage to bring up your boys like girls’. It appears that I blanche from encouraging boys to be like girls, and I’m so cross with myself for thinking in this way.

All in all this has led to me having a particularly shitty Monday as I fume about all the genderised shit in the world.

Monday, February 20, 2012

I wrote a guest post for The F Word!

woot yay, rarr etc!!

It is titled 'my experience with slimming clubs' and is probably the closest I will get to ever writing about weight and fatness and thinness as it pertains to me.

Monday, February 13, 2012

On the idea of 'sex sells'

Cross posted from here, the following is an comment on the idea of 'sex sells' in relation to comic book art, particularly women of the escher variety.  ----->>>>

Beast of the Sea, I don’t know who you are, since you only contribute Anonymously, but I love you more than words can ever express.
In response to that anon, let me expand on the last point:
“P.s. the x ladies are looking mighty hot lately, hope Land doesn’t read your blog and tone down the ladies”
Tone down the “lady”, you mean, since all of Greg Land’s women look nearly the same. In fact, in a tutorial, he advises the potential artist to “Draw the kinds of features readers expect to see on this sort of character, including full lips, a petite nose, and eyes that have a nice darkness around them to draw the reader’s gaze to the pupils.” and “Since this is a glamour sketch, go for the aesthetic of the “ideal” female form. Draw longer, thinner limbs.” In short, he has an ideal in his head, and he draws women to strictly match that ideal.
Now, what’s the problem with this, you ask? After all, male superheroes are all drawn to match a ideal male form, too.
Well, because that ideal male form has variance. There’s the short and hairy Wolverine, the slimmer (sometimes) Cyclops, the bulky Colossus, etc. Robins have leaner builds than the Batman himself. Reed Richards is usually long and thin (as one might expect from Mr. Fantastic). Even with the mandatory Greek-god physique, there are different versions of that physique. And the faces! Even though there is a default square-jawed, glowering-brow facial structure, heroes do vary from that - Spiderman is usually one such, right? - and even within that structure, if Superman and Batman are in the same comic together, the artists usually make an effort to distinguish one black-haired Caucasian male from the other.
Greg Land’s women, on the other hand, all have “longer, thinner limbs”, big bosoms, wide shoulders, thin hips, full lips, petite noses, and heavy eyeliner. And they have a tendency to get caught with their mouths wide open in a certain manner, though I’ll omit the usual speculation as to why.
I’ll even concede that it may not be due to tracing similar-looking models, because his tutorial showed him transforming a model who did not look like his usual lady into one who did. He does it by choice, not by incompetence.
Riiight, you ask, so what’s the problem with this? It’s a hot lady, even if it IS the same lady modulo different skin-tones, hair-colors, and costumes, it appeals to you, it’s pretty art, so what’s the problem? Sex sells!
On the solely “sex sells” front, I have to ask why more male characters aren’t drawn to appeal to women or gay men, since they’ve got money too. Now, I like muscular fellows, so some comic art looks rather good to me… but I’ve noticed that How To Draw [American] Comics books tend to have one tutorial minimum on how to make women look “sexy and alluring” (sometimes an entire section), whereas the tutorials for men are more along the lines of ‘how to make the hero look powerful’, with notes along the lines of ‘A thin waist makes a character look sleek, whereas a thick waist just makes him look brutish’. That’s very nice, but where are the tutorials on making men sexy and alluring, again? If sex sells, shouldn’t we be aiming to sell sex to the widest market possible?
Again solely from a “sex sells” perspective, not all men will like the same body type and facial features that Greg Land apparently prefers! Some men like wide hips - the famed “hourglass figure” is not a “funnel figure”. Some men like women bigger, some men like women slimmer (Difficult, you say? Shrink the shoulders to match the hips), some men like women shorter, some men like women taller… and Greg Land draws each and every one with about the same height and build. In this sense, he’s actually shrinking the “sex sells” market by excluding every fellow whose tastes markedly differ from his. (And yes, it is possible to have athletic women who do not all look like Greg Land’s woman. They may all have the same muscles, but if you slap them down on top of different skeletons, they will not look the same up to a change of costume, wig, and skin-tone! I mean, is every superheroine Greg Land draws secretly played by the X-Universe’s Lady Gaga?)
Oh, and by the way, Greg Land has been criticized for making even middle-aged mayors and scientists look the same as all the superheroines, so the idealized-female-form argument wouldn’t apply to all his stuff even if I conceded utterly to it. But I think I’ve spent enough time on the “sex sells” argument as it’s currently used.
As for other problems with his single woman - that single woman has facial features typically associated with Caucasian supermodels. This may make sense when on a Caucasian woman, but not all the women he’s supposed to be drawing are Caucasian. I’m trying to phrase this delicately, and I think it works to say that this choice declares “mighty hotness” to be the exclusive province of women with Caucasian features… and not just Caucasian features, but a specific subtype of Caucasian features. Not only is this ludicrously racist (though I do not claim this to be Greg Land’s intent - I am sure he is a quite friendly and unprejudiced guy in person), but I am sure that many, many men (and women!) would disagree that only a specific subtype of Caucasian features grant a woman “mighty hotness” - Sorry, I said I would drop the “sex sells” argument, didn’t I? Well, it’s the supposed magic bullet against any objections to sexualization and stereotyping of women in comics, so I figure it’s high time for it to be used to return fire.
Back on the “men are idealized too” front - teenage boys and young adult males look markedly different from older men in comics. The Robins are not drawn as miniature Bruce Waynes, never have been, and never will be. Even the Dread Rob Liefeld did NOT draw all male characters with the same build and facial structure - he has two male body types (muscular and torso-wide-as-it-is-tall), but he has two different male body types. And since Rob Liefeld is all but regarded as the Comics Antichrist, I think that drives home that male characters really are given multiple body types. One could probably argue that he has two different female body types, too - close-to-normal and severe-scoliosis-sufferer - but that’s a subject for different blogs.
Greg Land, on the other hand, draws teenage girls, young adult females, and adult women as having no appreciable difference whatsoever. There is no change in facial structure or body shape to tell the two apart - 14-year-old Hope looks nearly-identical to Jean Grey in her 20’s or 30’s. All of his females after the age of menarche have the same body. And you cannot say that about his males.
Yes, his males have issues with exploding biceps, but that’s a different matter…
TL;DR - Greg Land’s art has problems with the ladies, and it goes beyond bad anatomy, tracing, and the possibility of needing to be “toned down”. Even if you look only with an eye to “mighty hotness”… there’s a problem.
[Final disclaimer - no, I am not calling Greg Land racist or sexist, I am not calling the anon racist or sexist, I am not calling your houseplant racist or sexist, I am not calling anyone racist or sexist. I am criticizing Greg Land here solely for his artistic choices, which have certain unpleasant side effects. I am sure any unpleasant side effects are wholly unintentional. Sorry, a recent binge on reading the comment-sections of Wundergeek’s excellent blog has made me paranoid.]
By way of an apology to the mod for clogging up her Tumblr, here’s a truly spectacular example of the big-shoulders small-hips thing I was talking about [Again, that Photobucket account is not mine - I don’t even have a Photobucket account], and an amusing collage of Greg Land’s women by a guy here on Tumblr. (Please note the tags.) I just wanted to go into detail on the ‘Well, at least he draws hot women!’ argument, since it’s apparently one of his big selling points.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

On consent

I hope it's big enough to read.  I nicked it from someone on facebook.   It's worth repeating.  I like it. 

Monday, November 07, 2011

Women's introduction in the new DCU - the conclusions! part 3

Phew.  Nearly there.

As a reminder, you can read the introductory post setting out what this mini project is about here.
You can read the findings, i.e. the nerdy numbers, here.

My first reaction upon looking at the numbers was one of pleasant surprise.  45% of women were introduced without reference to their sexiness and without establishing them as a love interest.  This is pretty good.  This means that the women  are introduced as just another character, and their gender/sexuality are not relevant to the story (at that point).  It would be nice if the percentage was higher, but actually it's not too shabby.

It's important to remember that these numbers don't tell you anything about the quality of the book, and certainly don't tell you anything about whether the depiction of the characters is sexist.  For example, the Wonder Woman book featured Hera in a cloak, clearly naked underneath, and also 3 party girls who served as Apollo's Oracles.  The Flash introduced Iris leaning over a hole and the image is all boobs.
The depiction of these are not sexist at all, but when you contract them with Catwoman or Starfire in Red Hood, you can see that those books are clearly sexist.  Yet each book gets a yes for drawing the woman sexually.

Having a woman introduced as a love woman is also not necessarily sexist, given that stories about human relationships are pretty important in the grand scheme of stories.  The problem (in my mind) would be if all storied about women put them as love interests.  But clearly that is not the case here.

The data also doesn't tell us about the ratio  of male characters to female characters (something I regret not asking about actually).

The data also doesn't tell us if the women were introduced with other roles as well as love interest.  Also something I regret not asking about.

Right now it feel that my conclusions are mostly about what the data doesn't tell us.  Hmm.

What do you all think?  What conclusions can you drawn from the data?  Is there any other way you'd like to see the data analysed?  Do you think I've missed something?

Let me know!  Let the discussion roll!

Women's introduction in the new DCU - the findings! part 2

You can read about my goals with this mini project here.  I recommend you do read that post as it will explain exactly what we were analysing, and without reading it, this data won't make sense.

Now, what did we find out?
We've got 52 titles..
In which there are 97 female characters (including one kid)...
Looking at the titles -
27 of the titles feature female characters that look sexual, either by their clothes or because of the way they are drawn.  That's 51% of titles.
29 titles introduce female characters as a love interest.  That's 55% of all titles.
Combine these, and there are 33 titles that feature female characters that are either drawn sexually, or are a love interest.  That's 63%.  Some characters are drawn sexually and are love interests, some are love interests but not drawn sexually, and vice versa.

Of the female characters themselves...
41 are drawn sexually, that's 42%.
41 are love interests, again, 42%.
53 characters are drawn sexually and/or are a love interest.  That's 55%.

4 titles had no major female characters in them (Batman and Robin, Detective Comics, Justice League and Men of War)
No women were introduced as the love interest of other women.

I looked at the ratio of titles per subgroup and female characters per subgroup.  You'd hope that if there was an even spread of female characters the ratios would be roughly similar.  They aren't.  Instead we have:
Subgroups: Batman:Green Lantern:Justice League:Superman: The Dark: The Edge: Young Justice
Titles per subgroup: 11:4:11:4:7:9:6
Female characters per subgroup: 14:5:20:6:15:15:19

So, no correlation between female characters and subgroups.

Justice League Dark, Suicide Squad and Legion of Superheroes all have 3 female characters that are drawn sexually.  No other comics had a higher number of sexually drawn characters.
Justice League Dark had 4 female characters as love interests, this is more than any other title.

As for subgroups:
The Justice League books had the most number of female characters (20).
The Green Lantern books had the least number of female characters (5).

As for which books has female characters drawn sexually and/or as a love interest.. here is the list:
Subgroup         Title                                   Sexual?     Love interest?
Batman             Batman: The Dark Knight    Yes           Yes
Batman             Birds of Prey                      Yes           Yes
Batman             Catwoman                          Yes           Yes
Batman             Nightwing                           Yes           Yes
Batman             Red Hood                           Yes           Yes
Green Lantern   Green Lantern Corps          Yes            Yes
Green Lantern   GL: New Guardians            Yes           Yes
Green Lantern   Red Lanterns                      Yes           Yes
Justice League   Aquaman                           No            Yes
Justice League   DCU Presents                    Yes           Yes
Justice league    Green Arrow                     Yes            Yes
Justice League   JLI                                    No             Yes
Justice League   Mr Terrific                        No             Yes
Justice League   The Flash                          Yes            Yes
Justice League   Wonder Woman                Yes            Yes
Superman          Superboy                          Yes            Yes
Superman          Supergirl                           Yes             No
The Dark           Animal Man                       No              Yes
The Dark           Frankenstein                      Yes            Yes
The Dark           Justice League Dark           Yes            Yes
The Dark           Resurrection Man              Yes            Yes
The Dark            I, Vampire                         Yes            Yes
The Edge           All Star Western                 Yes            Yes
The Edge           Blackhawks                       No                 Yes
The Edge           Stormwatch                       Yes                Yes
The Edge           Suicide Squad                    Yes                Yes
The Edge           Voodoo                             Yes                 Yes
Young Justice    Blue Beetle                          Yes                 Yes
Young Justice    Legion Lost                         Yes                 Yes
Young Justice    Legion of Superheroes         Yes                 Yes
Young Justice    Teen Titans                          No                   Yes

Titles with no female characters drawn sexually or as a love interest:
Subgroup          Titles
Batman               Batgirl, Batman, Batwing, Batwoman
Green Lantern     Green Lantern
Justice League    Captain Atom, The Fury of Firestorm, The Savage
Superman          Action Comics, Superman
The Dark           Demon Knights, Swamp Thing,
The Edge           Deathstroke, Grifter, OMAC, Stormwatch
Young Justice    Hawk and Dove, Static Shock

Next post will feature my thoughts and musings on what this all means.  Or as otherwise known, the conclusions.

A note:  This may well make you lose faith in the entire thing, but I figure I should confess - my maths isn't very good.  I've gone over and over the figures (done using excel - it's a godsend) and I think that mathematically speaking, they make sense.  But now my brain is a bit fried so if you notice a glaring error in the results please tell me!  Then I will redo them.

I can send the findings as put into an excel chart to anyone who wants them.