Archive for July, 2010

LadyBoxing on ‘Home and Away’

Posted in Uncategorized on July 31st, 2010 by steph – Comments Off on LadyBoxing on ‘Home and Away’

I’ve been watching a fair few episodes of Home and Away lately (so deliciously cheesy), and there has been a storyline where one of the characters, who runs boys’ boxing, is trying to start a girls’ boxing club, and his wife (a doctor) has huge problems with this because she’s a doctor and understands all the horrific injuries boxers can get, etc. In general, she thinks boxing is “barbaric”, but is especially vociferous on the subject of girls boxing. She thinks boxing is barbaric and dangerous, especially for girls. Maybe I am being hyper-sensitive, but every time I hear this character going on about this, I just can’t believe it. Especially dangerous for girls? Really? What I reflexively yelled at the TV the first time I heard the character express that view was “yeah, because one punch to the stomach will make their ovaries explode, and they wont be able to have children anymore!”. To be fair, there has (thankfully) been no talk of that, but that’s what this smacks of to me; women are delicate and easily hurt, and boxing is brutal and if anyone at all should do it, it should be men.

A quick google reveals that men’s boxing might actually be more dangerous than women’s boxing because women have more flexible necks, fewer muscles around the neck and shoulders, and (often) less upper body strength than the types of bodies desirable for male boxers. I also learnt that in sports that men and women both compete in, women have a higher concussion rate than men; so, this suggests that the character on Home and Away should also worry about women playing hockey, soccer, basketball, and so on.

When googling, I found an article (from 2009) where a female boxer argues that women’s boxing should be an Olympic sport, and a male boxing promoter says it should not, saying

I’m a traditionalist and I would never promote it. I applaud and appreciate how hard women work and train and, in this world, everybody is equal. But boxing is a tough sport. It’s a bit like I don’t want to see women on the front line in Iraq or Afghanistan. I wouldn’t want my daughter boxing and, as a parent, I wouldn’t allow it. I’m not so sure I’m even in favour of boys doing it at a young age.

A few years ago there was a woman who found out she was pregnant before a fight, but for eight weeks before that she would have been sparring in preparation.

Boxing at the highest level is the toughest sport of all. Medically it is regulated but there is still an element of danger or boxers wouldn’t be paid so much money.

When women’s boxing first became a big thing a few promoters jumped on the bandwagon but it never took off in the UK. There was a bit of a freak-show mentality. It’s just not for me.

He wouldn’t want his daughter doing it, but no mention of how he would feel if a son wanted to box. I imagine, as a self-proclaimed “traditionalist”, and a boxing promoter, he would be ok with it. He claims that everyone in this world is equal (which, as I hope we are all aware, is just not true), but then goes on to argue in favour of restricting equal access to choice. Well played, sir.

So, my raging feminism is now affecting my guilty soap opera watching experience. Far from being annoyed by this, I am actually rather pleased. Being a raging feminist is awesome!

Scarlet – I mean CRIMSON – ladies

Posted in What the what? on July 30th, 2010 by steph – 3 Comments

While reading an article on stuff.co.nz about how crimson is the new hot colour, I learnt that, being  the  “busty shape” that I am, I should

…avoid deep V-necks in the colour, which could send the wrong message.

The wrong message? Like…? Oh, I get it. Instead of saying ‘I look good in crimson, and also suit deep v-necks because I’m busty’, it might say that I’m a bit loose and like to show off my goodies. I see what they’re getting at.

“Real men” and “Feminazis”

Posted in New Zealand on July 30th, 2010 by steph – 12 Comments

For the last little while, I have spent a considerable amount of time twiddling my thumbs in various primary school staffrooms all across town (and out of town), and I have ended up reading a lot of education magazines and newsletters that are lying around. Generally I find these very interesting and informative, but yesterday I read a column in one of them that really rubbed me the wrong way. It was in The Education Weekly, and titled “Boys are taught better by men” (online here). What I dislike about this has nothing to do with the findings that boys learn better with male teachers (and girls with female teachers), because if that’s what the research found, then fine. What I have a problem with is this

This means that if schools and ministries of education are to do what their mission statements say they do (like ‘providing an excellent education for everybody regardless of ethnicity, waist–size and gender) they have to employ more male teachers. And not pretend-men; real ones.
Real men, lest there be doubt, use swear words when they squash their fingers with staplers. Real men throw a ball around at lunchtime.
Real men don’t, and this is important for the ministry people to understand, don’t do buzz groups, or group hugs or share their feelings about curriculum positions.

Specifically, I have a problem with the bit I have emphasized in bold: I have a huge fucking problem when someone starts to dictate what ‘real’ men do, and what they don’t. Why? Because it is bullshit, and exclusionary, and marginalising, and validates very restrictive gender norms. So men (male teachers here) who do buzz groups aren’t real men? Way to dictate acceptable behaviour and, by doing that, imply that people who don’t conform to this that they aren’t ‘real’ versions of their gender. I loathe this. This reinforcement that there are only a limited number of things that are acceptable and ‘real’ to indicate your maleness (or femaleness), and doing other things is weird, abnormal, or deviant (deviant in the ‘bad’ sense, not in the ‘different from the norm’ sense). Basically, it’s building  boxes, continually strengthening them, and compartmentalising people based on whatever shitty little standards, and constantly reinforcing those shitty little standards. Whatever happened to diversity? Acknowledging that there is a vast range of ways to be, and not one ‘real’ way?

In addition, I experienced a low level of familiar dislike after reading the rest of the column:

Girls are OK with long drawn out projects with frilly borders and stickers and glitter on the front pages and pedantic marking criteria, while boys prefer to play footy all year, and then study for a few nights before an exam.
The curriculum people must accept there is a gender issue inherent to the curriculum. Boys are not OK with poems or batik or role-playing during lessons on fractions.

Ah, this again. So warm, so familiar. As a woman who never got excited about borders and title pages, and always studied for just a few nights before the exam, I tire of this kind of assertation that group A is one way, and group B is this other way. People are multi-faceted! I know the examples given above are generalisations, but the problem is when these generalisations become entrenched and start to actual become what we consider a genuine representation of an entire group.

Also; boys aren’t ok with poems, or batik? Paging store management, do we stock any broader brushes? No?  Boys don’t like art, or poetry, because it’s for girls, right? A point to think about is maybe the reason that boys don’t like these things (which I don’t agree with, but bear with me) is because they are told things like “boys don’t like poems”, and boys who do are negatively reinforced (“poerty is for girls and homos” style).

And a final note, every time I see the word “feminazi”, I can barely stop from grinding my teeth. Yes, I get it, you don’t really get feminism and think it is all militant nut jobs. Gold star for ignorance. But please, surely you muct be aware of what the Nazi’s actually did, right? Because, um, even if you do think feminists are militant crazies, you cannot seriously think it is ok to draw a comparison between them and the Nazi’s (what with all that genocide and silly little things like that). It is horribly offensive, tasteless, and insensitive. If I could ban the word ‘Feminazi’, I would. (On that topic, lately I have noticed ‘Helengrad’ creeping back into internet comments. Also well done on the sensitivity, realism, and knowing-anything-about-history fronts there!)

Bob McCoskrie turns purple with outrage

Posted in New Zealand on July 29th, 2010 by steph – 2 Comments

Te Puke High School is defending its decision to give away condoms and safe sex advice in a school ball package, saying the move was intended to help students make better choices.

Family First director Bob McCoskrie has an opinion about this. Can you guess what it is? I’ll give you a hint: it isn’t pleasure that students are being provided with something to help protect themselves.

“The underlying message to students is that the ball is not about a fun social occasion with their peers, but about an expected opportunity to have sex,” he said.

“That is a foolish and dangerous message to be sending.”

The school had undermined the role of parental supervision by giving away the condoms without parental notification or permission, Mr McCoskrie said.

Holy shit, I had no idea that if someone gave you a condom, you have to use it! And use it right then and there, on the d-floor at your school ball! Bob exists in a state of perma-outrage, so I would expect nothing less from him.

The school principal, Alan Liddle, is a voice of reason in this outrage-fest

the criticism was a “beat-up”.”This really disappoints me. It was there to help people,” he told NZPA.

The package was put together by a student-driven health committee and contained a number of items to promote students’ safety, such as taxi chits.

“It was a student-driven initiative to support students.”

The inclusion of condoms had nothing to do with the promotion of sex, Mr Liddle said.

“If we’re talking about teenage pregnancies and STIs being a major problem in today’s society, I actually think that the kids have thought responsibly about this. They weren’t promoting anything,” Mr Liddle said.

“By giving a taxi chit, they’re not promoting drinking. They’re just giving them support if they need help.

“I think that’s what we need to focus on – how can we support our kids to make better choices?”

If people did not want the condoms “they could chuck them away”.

I think this sounds awesome. I would have loved to have been given free stuff when I went to my school ball (or, as we called it, the ‘formal’). And a taxi chit is a very useful thing! And as for the condoms; well, if people were planning to have sex, now they have condoms (if they didn’t before, which they may well have, because it isn’t like they can’t get a hold of condoms unless given them at their school ball!). And just because they get given a condom, doesn’t mean they will automatically go out and use it, or feel like they have to, or feel like suddenly the ball is no longer a “fun social occasion”, but a hormone-fuelled sex romp. Implying things like that gives these school students much, much less credit than they deserve. McCoskrie apparently thinks these kids are not very smart.

Additionally, the point about violation of parental notification/permission; well, correct me if I am wrong, but cant teenagers saunter up to Family Planning and snag themselves some free/subsidized (forgive my lack of exact knowledge here) condoms without needing parental consent? I vaguely remember people in my school getting condoms there, and I highly doubt there parents were involved in that transaction. And, on top of that, a teenager can just walk into a supermarket and buy a box themselves! I don’t believe that parents should be notified that their kids are being given a condom or two in t bag full of other free junk, because it isn’t as if this is providing something that is typically inaccessible.

Alan Liddle is right on: if kids don’t want to use them, they can chuck them (or not use them, or save them for later- a condom is a handy thing to have around, for both men and women!). And if they are going to have sex, it isn’t likely that the condom was the catalyst for that choice; I imagine sex was already on the cards anyway. Give these students some credit.

I think it is great that the school is being open and frank, and sending a message that if you choose to have sex, do it safely. It is foolish to think that there are no teenagers having sex, and promoting safe sex (and normalising condom use) is very important.

(On a side note, do you think the real reason Bob is upset is because he worries that people being given a condom will make them think about what it gets put on….a penis! Gasp! And then BAM! suddenly you are thinking about naked people and their naked bits and having lustful thoughts, tut tut.)

“Implicit Consent”, take two

Posted in What the what? on July 29th, 2010 by steph – Comments Off on “Implicit Consent”, take two

Apparently some people still don’t get the really simple concept that consenting to one sexual act (or even one non-sexual one) doesn’t equal consent for all sexual acts (or non-sexual acts). It really isn’t that hard a concept to understand, is it?

I guess when I’m out dancing I should just keep the contents of my purse tucked into my bra instead of in a handy shoulder bag

Posted in Uncategorized on July 29th, 2010 by steph – Comments Off on I guess when I’m out dancing I should just keep the contents of my purse tucked into my bra instead of in a handy shoulder bag

Via  Jezebel:  set of results from a survey on a Christian website; the questions about what Christian guys consider “immodest” were submitted by Christian girls. How did these guys define immodest?

omething that is immodest is something that is designed to arouse lust within me (male, age 24).

Something that is immodest is something that is unnaturally revealing (male, age 20).

Something immodest draws attention to a girl’s body (male, age 28).

Basically, these dudes want to be attracted to women as people, not because of their exposed flesh. And it’s the job of the women to keep themselves modest. Which includes:

-no halter tops

-no miniskirts

-not wearing your purse over one shoulder so the strap cuts diagonally across your chest

-walking a certain way

-bending over with her backside to you

-stretching (arching back, sticking chest out, reaching arms back)

-DO NOT let your chest bounce as you walk

As Lisa on Jezebel puts it,

Immodesty, then, is not simply about being vigilant about your clothing (don’t wear a purse that falls diagonally across your body, don’t show your arms or your thighs), it’s a constant vigilance about how you display your body (don’t stretch, bend, or bounce).

This is a great deal of self-monitoring for girls. Not just when they shop, but when they get dressed, and all day as they move, and with constant re-evaluation of their clothes and how they fit. But, the rationale is, they must be vigilant and obey these rules in order to protect guys from the power of all bodies (both their own sexiness, and men’s biological response to it). Guys are burdened with lust, they insist.

This ‘women-as-gatekeepers’ mentality is problematic, because it essentially places the responsibility on women to make sure they are keeping themselves in check. And, as some of the survey results show, things that are modest can become immodest in certain contexts, so the goalposts for modesty can shift, which means that girls are aiming for a moving target.

One of the definitions of immodesty given by a respondant is worrying:

Immodest: Screams that her body is different than mine. Attempts to manipulate me. Forcefully offers to trade what I want (in the flesh) for what she wants: attention (male, age 30).

Because it assumes that women can’t actually be dressing for themselves, but purely for attention. I can imagine that, in fact, there are quite a few women out there who, when they dress, are acutely aware and wary of attention they might get from men, because it isn’t necessarily wanted.

And, not to put to fine a point on it, but it is fairly obvious that women’s bodies differ from men’s. And individual women’s bodies differ from other women’s bodies, and ditto for men. This isn’t necessarily about how you dress them: no bodies are the same, and a woman shouldn’t have to worry that wearing a bag diagonally across her chest is a lightbulb moment where a dude is realizing this.

At least the guys who responded to the survey admit that they should be controlling their own thoughts/urges, but the plea to women that accompanied this admission was very unsettling to me

Sisters in Christ, you really have no concept of the struggles that guys face on a daily basis. Please, please, please take a higher standard in the ways you dress. True, we men are responsible for our thoughts and actions before the Lord, but it is such a blessing when we know that we can spend time with our sisters in Christ, enjoying their fellowship without having to constantly be on guard against ungodly thoughts brought about by the inappropriate ways they sometimes dress. In 1 Corinthians 12 the apostle Paul presents believers as the members of one body – we have to work together. Every Christian has a special role to play in the body of Christ. That goal is to bring glory to the Savior through an obedient, unified body of believers – please don’t hurt that unity by dressing in ways that may tempt your brothers in Christ to stumble (male, age 24).

To me, this smacks of ‘I realize I am responsible for myself, but please, please, please make my daily struggles easier by dressing to a “higher standard”, as defined by me’.

Personally, I’m not really motivated by modesty, or making sure I don’t tempt men, so I do find myself instinctively curling my lip at at this. But I am open to the fact that not everyone shares my beliefs, and some people don’t view this as oppressive and somewhat unreasonable in the same way that I do. I would just like to see an equal standard built in, putting men and women on the same playing field. Guys should avoid wearing skinny jeans that might emphasize their junk, or be tight around the legs, and stick to baggy shirts that don’t show any hint of the muscular chest beneath. Because surely women can view the male body with lust, just as men can view the female body with lust, right? I find men pretty enjoyable to cast my eyes upon at times. As well as being less than reasonable, the unequal standard actually erases women’s sexuality and sexual desires because it doesn’t acknowledge that their desires even exist. And I think there are already enough messages from society that women are less sexual than men, which can be incredibly misleading and damaging.

Katy Perry Lesbian Titillation Lottery

Posted in Uncategorized on July 29th, 2010 by steph – Comments Off on Katy Perry Lesbian Titillation Lottery

Via Fatally Killed, a nice post about not only the stupidly repetitive nature of what stuff.co.nz considers news, but also about the how bored we all are of the ‘girl-on-girl-for guys’ thing.

The ‘girls kissing’ issue (and here I refer to girls kissing not out of real interest but because they think it is edgy/hot/a turn on for some third party/parties) isn’t anything new, and I don’t really have much to add to the ‘faux gay’ critiques. My main comment on the Katy Perry thing isn’t to do with her kissing girls (maybe she really does want to kiss them because she has a genuine interest, who am I to know?), but rather about the fact that is emphasized on Fatally Killed: the sheer inundation of puff pieces on her desires to kiss various people. Is there nothing more to Katy? I’m sure there is, and this coverage probably does her a real disservice.

(I have no beef with Katy, although the way she is marketed as an overly sexualized product is bothersome. Even if she is in control of that, and doing it because she is smart enough to know it will work well and net her a lot of money/fame, it is a bit sad to think a strategy like that does work and is employed by anyone. It would be nice if desirability wasn’t such a factor.)

Does a “slut uniform” come with all items included, or do you have to buy each piece separately?

Posted in What the what? on July 26th, 2010 by steph – 2 Comments

Via The Sexist:

In the US, a university student was denied a rape kit after reporting she was drugged and sexually assaulted at a party. Luckily, we have a concerned citizen to point out the very sensible reason she was denied: stiletto heels! Her rape doesn’t matter because she was wearing stilettos!

You know god-damned well a woman today on a weekend night looks and acts like a prostitute. (tramp stamp/tongue ring/stiletto heels . . . This article is about a woman who wasn’t even sure if she was raped. She thinks she was, but she doesn’t know. The Doctor, who has important things to do, made the decision to turn this woman away. That is his prerogative. I don’t blame him. Imagine if you will, a young woman coming into your clinic, drunk to the gills, stiletto heels, a pound of make-up, dressed like a prostitute, and expecting a rape kit. Too bad! . . . If she is shitfaced and wearing a slut uniform (tramp stamp/tongue ring/nipple piercing/one pound of make-up/stiletto heels) then whatever happens to her is her responsibility.

That skankbag was dressed like a big slutty slut, and was gagging for it but putting all her goodies out on display.

Oh, except for the fact that she actually wasn’t wearing stilettos…..Yeah….

And even if she was, who gives a fuck? What footwear is acceptable? What footwear isn’t slutty enough to prompt rape (which stilettos totes do, y’all), and but also wholesome enough to warrant you getting a rape kit when that non-existent rape (because you wont be wearing slutty shoes) does happen? I’m pretty sure we can rule out any kind of Doc Martens/heavy boots, because that just makes you a lesbian, don’t you know?

Amanda talks about how this case subverts the general script that rape apologists tend to follow:

This is the general script for rape apologists:

1. Isolate a detail about the rape victim—it could be her appearance, her attire, her level of intoxication, her upbringing, her sexual history, or her presence at a particular party—really, anything will do.

2. Decide that that particular detail designates her as a less-than-perfect rape victim.

3. Assert that this rape doesn’t matter because the victim was asking for it / wasn’t taking charge of her own safety / is lying / doesn’t deserve any of the limited amount of the sympathy we extend to “real” victims of rape.

This troll has reversed that script. First, decide that you don’t care about the rape. Then, assume that the rape victim must conform to one of the accepted cultural markers of an “imperfect” victim (short skirt / stiletto heels / sexually promiscuous / had been drinking / has a piercing / in a bad neighborhood / has a tattoo—on the lower back! / wears make-up / and good luck if you’re transgender).

And I think this is an excellent breakdown of how rape apologists roll.

“Deliberately barren”

Posted in Politics on July 26th, 2010 by steph – 1 Comment

More on the fact that apparently the most important thing about female politicians is whether or not they have had children:

In Australia, Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan is quoted as questioning whether or not Gillard could fully understand her voters, having chosen not to have children; or, as he put it, being “deliberately barren”. In a later interview, he stood by his statement, saying

“I won’t walk away from that,” he said. “So rude, crude and unattractive as it was … if you’re leader, you’ve got to understand your community.

“One of the great understandings in a community is family and the relationship between mum, dads and a bucket of nappies.”

Right, this old stuff again. Women without children (and it’s always women they focus on, isn’t it?) can’t ever really ‘get’ the needs of their fellow people because the only way to learn empathy and understanding (and the general ability to fire a fucking brain cell or two) is to have children of their own. I loathe how this completely underestimates the ability of people: it basically says we are too stupid to feel empathy and learn about the needs of others on our own. Which is downright insulting.

And what about women who can’t have children? It’s a huge slap in the face to them, because it essentially says “hey, you’re already a weird anomaly because you can’t have children, but on top of that you will never be able to understand other people. Enjoy!”

I’m over this.

(There is also a nice discussion of this over at Blue Milk, talking about how comments like this also hurt people who do have children.)

Jadelle Implants

Posted in New Zealand on July 26th, 2010 by steph – 7 Comments

From the 1st of August, the government will be funding Jadelle implants, adding them to a range of government-funded contraceptives such as hormonal contraceptive pills and condoms. Pharmac expects up to 30,000 women will use the implants over five years.