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Archive for the ‘Women's Rights’ Category

Perhaps it is worthless to blog about the inherent sexism in commercials, but when I’m actually watching the commercials, it just becomes so much more apparent.  This year the commercials seem to be all about men and what it means to be a man.I was shocked to see a Dove commercial, a company who I’m usually impressed by, put out a commercial celebrating some kind of inherent masculinity.

The Dodge Charger commercial proved once again that women like to deprive men of their masculinity, and they need gadgets and cars to regain it:

Men also seem to have a venue to get their aggression out on women, by, what else, tackling them:

Of course  there was the Focus on the Family – Tim Tebow commercial, which has received tons of attention already. The message here, if you’re irresponsible and get pregnant, then you may as well do the right thing and keep the baby.

The majority of these commercials seem to suggest that American men are in trouble – their masculinity is being threatened, mainly by women, and they need to get it back in any way possible. I worry what these commercials mean for women. Will we see more depictions of aggression toward women in the media? Will women be even more demonized than they already are? It’s sad that these stereotypical images of what a man should be continue to persist, and that we haven’t moved beyond it at all.

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Today Scott Roeder was convicted of first-degree murder of Dr. George Tiller, a late-term abortion provider in Wichita, KS. I am incredibly relieved that the judge did not give the jury the instruction for voluntary manslaughter. (Roeder wanted to argue that his motive for killing Dr. Tiller was to save the life of unborn babies, therefore reducing the charge to voluntary  manslaughter). However, not even a sentence to life in prison can lessen the incredible sadness and tragedy surrounding Dr. Tiller’s death. I fear that there are others in this country like Scott Roeder who feel that they are justified in taking the life of someone working to help women and promote female agency, in order to save the life of a fetus.  I fear that these people will not be deterred by Roeder’s conviction.  I fear that some judge in some state will be willing to give a jury a voluntary manslaughter instruction.

The loss of Dr. Tiller also means the loss of another doctor who is willing to perform late-term abortions (and abortions in general). This means that more women will lack access to safe abortions. More women will be forced into making certain decisions about their bodies, in which they really had no choice. More women will turn to unsafe methods to ending their pregnancies. Dr. Tiller’s death represents another loss of women’s rights in this country. It is another way in which women’s control over their own bodies is being stripped away.

I hope that Scott Roeder is sentenced to life in prison without parole, because it frightens me to think of what he would do if released on parole. It is at times like this that I wish I had gone to medical school and could lend a hand in providing women with safe, comprehensive reproductive health care. As a lawyer I will be able to contribute to legislative changes and protecting women’s legal rights, but it is hard to sit back and not be able to directly provide women with the medical services they desire.  I only hope that there are others like Dr. Tiller who will not be afraid to continue fighting for women’s access to abortion.

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Yesterday was the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.  Despite Obama’s election, in the past year events have occurred that have made me question how long women will continue to enjoy the right to choose.  The murder of Dr. Tiller continues to disturb me – knowing that there are people in this country who have so much disrespect for women and those who seek to protect their bodily integrity and freedom.  Yet I also remember that even with Roe v. Wade (mostly) in tact, there are many women in this country who, because of the color of their skin or the amount of money in their bank accounts, do not currently enjoy the same choices as women who have the “right” skin color or enough money to pay for their choices.  As we continue to fight to protect our right to choose, we must remember that there are many of us who have had choices taken away already.  We must not only fight to prevent losing rights but to restore the rights that no longer exist.

The election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts has also reminded me that we must not be single-minded. Advocating for women does not only mean advocating for abortion rights. It means paying attention to the candidates who will be making policies, not just health policies, but education and financial policies, that affect women.  I truly hope that the left-leaning community can find more coherence and start helping Obama create the change he promised, and I hope that on this day next year I will be more optimistic about Roe v. Wade’s legacy.

Read more about the anniversary of Roe v. Wade on feministing and feministe.

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I want to take a minute (or two) to talk about plastic surgery. I know I’m probably a little late in the game to discuss this, but this weekend a copy of People landed in my mailbox (thanks to the previous tenant’s subscription), with Heidi Montag’s newly shaped face staring at me from the cover. I have never watched The Hills, and I do not follow all the Heidi/Spencer drama, and normally I wouldn’t even open up People magazine, but I just had to when I saw the headline: 10 Procedures in 1 day. I was SHOCKED when I began to read the article describing how unsatisfied this 23-year-old girl was with her body, that she felt that she needed to have it all re-done. I was even more shocked when I saw the picture of her before all the surgeries only to realize that she was already a beautiful girl – and her when she smiled, her chin definitely did not look elongated (her complaint) to me.  And even with a size DDD chest, she still wants more surgery to further augment her breasts. How is she going to stay balanced after that surgery?

To me, all this plastic surgery is just a cry for help. It is clear to me that there is clearly something mentally wrong with this girl if she feels that at 23 she needs procedures like liposuction and a brow lift. What’s troubling is that People does not seem to give credence to this argument – they just photograph her in sexy poses, seemingly reaffirming her decisions and suggesting that all women should be as bold as to alter their bodies in this way.

What angers me the most, however, is the fact that there are cosmetic surgeons out there who are actually willing to perform these procedures on a 23-year-old. I am not familiar with the AMA Code of Ethics, but I feel like there should be something in there that prevents this from happening. How could a doctor ever look at Heidi Montag, or any other similar girl, and think, oh yes, I definitely see why she would want to have these procedures done? It disgusts me to think that there are doctors out there that are so motivated by money and possible celebrity shout-outs that they would disregard the fact that this poor girl needs serious psychological help. Someone needs to call these doctors out and force them to change their practices, because in my opinion performing all these procedures should have been criminal.

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I’ve been on quite a hiatus from posting recently due to various factors, including a two-week long vacation and moving into a new apartment. Today, I read some news that made it so easy to get back into blogging.

The first “sex robot” has been released. Her name is ROXXXY (so original!), and in addition to having the features of other “real dolls” she can “speak and listen, and actually learns what her owner likes and dislikes.” She can also talk about sports! It’s a guy’s dream, right? A woman who is there for sex and to talk sports, but who isn’t actually a real woman.  This continues to make me sick, and I’d really like to meet one of the men who are actually purchasing these robots (which cost a mere $7000), and find out what on earth they are thinking.

As if women aren’t already taught to believe that they should look like dolls (see, e.g., the Barbie franchise), now there are actually robot dolls that men can choose instead of real women. Honestly, it makes me sick. Also, does anyone else think there’s a weird Stepford element going on here?

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I love Kate Harding, who writes for salon.com. She’s brilliant, and she always manages to say exactly what I want to say, but can’t find the words to express it eloquently. In this post she talks about the Method commercial that has been getting a lot of attention because it makes light of sexual harassment. The company decided to pull it when they realized that their target demographic (women) was actually offended by the product rather than intrigued. She discusses the blogger Steve Hall who wrote a post about how annoying feminist bloggers are and how they should be banned from the blogosphere.

Of course I’m personally offended by this, since I consider myself to be a feminist blogger, but I also think that when you put Steve Hall and Tucker Max together what you get is a new culture of men who are incredibly afraid of feminists and strong women in general. These men seem to think that it’s funny to objectify women and to make fun of sexual violence. They think that feminists should keep their mouths shut and lighten up. Although it’s possible that these men are few and far between, I worry that they are in fact more common than we think. It certainly doesn’t help that “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” exists for mass consumption. I’m not sure that I have a point here, but I just wish that there was more education out there for young men to feel comfortable with themselves and respect women. Because ultimately I think this all boils down to men being incredibly self-conscious and uncomfortable with themselves.

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I have been so bad about blogging lately, which is in part due to the fact that I have a big paper due soon, and I’ve been desperately trying not to procrastinate. The procrastination has won over, however, especially after I saw this article.  Written by Manohla Dargis, one of the NY Times film critics (and, I admit, my least favorite NY Times critic), this article discusses the lack of opportunities for female directors in Hollywood.  She cites to some pretty depressing statistics, not the least of which is that in the 81 years of the Academy Awards, only 3 women have been nominated for best director. (!!) None of them won. Organizations like The Women’s Media Center and the blog Women and Hollywood are vigilant about tracking these statistics.

It’s hard to know why women have fared so badly in Hollywood in the last few decades, though any business that refers to its creations as product cannot, by definition, have much imagination. The vogue for comics and superheroes has generally forced women to sigh and squeal on the sidelines. Even the so-called independent sector, with its ostensibly different players and values, hasn’t been much better, as we know from all the female directors who have made a splash at the Sundance Film Festival only to disappear. New digital technologies and the Internet have leveled the field — though usually it seems as if it’s sheer grit that pushes filmmakers like Kelly Reichardt (“Wendy and Lucy”) along the hard road from idea to distribution.

I recently wrote a law review article that discusses the idea of digital technology and its democratizing potential. (Soon to be published…) I think there’s a lot to be said for the fact that more women are starting to use new (cheaper) digital technologies to create their own films without the backing of a studio. These films always tend to be more interesting anyway. But, I think it’s insane that the studios haven’t caught on to the fact that women go see movies. And, many women are interested in more than cheesy romantic comedies. I enjoy rom-coms as much as the next girl, but I personally feel so refreshed when I go see a movie like Whip It! or Bright Star. Not to mention that it would be nice for younger girls to see role models on the screen, rather than just Bella and her dysfunctional relationship with Edward. (Sorry, at this point I feel like a Twilight reference is obligatory).  I could go on and on about the blatant discrimination that happens in Hollywood, but I’ll spare you.

What I would like to say, however, is that this year there has been a whole slew of films that are directed by women and are starring women. And, many of these movies are not your typical rom-coms (see Bright Star, Coco Avant Chanel, An Education, The Hurt Locker, Julie & Julia). Many of these movies and directors are getting Oscar buzz, but predictably, male-driven films like Up in the Air and Avatar threaten to pull ahead and woo the Academy with quirky style or crazy special effects (respectively).  Bright Star, Coco Avant Chanel, and Julie & Julia, I think, are the best three movies that I have seen all year. I am not advocating for the Academy to give the best director award to a woman, just because she’s a woman, but I think they should at least take it into account. And, this year seems to be the perfect year to do it. I also hope that the studios will get their heads out of the ground (to be kind) and look at how many both financially and critically successful films came out this year that were led by women. Next year, I hope to see even more…

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