Thursday, March 15, 2012

Weekly Women's Sports Pitch: March Madness Musings

I delayed the posting of this column this week for a day so that it would coincide with the actual beginning of March Madness, my favorite sports holiday.  I will have another post later tonight on some reproductive rights issues, as requested by my friend Emily O'Donnell.  Enjoy the tournaments!
This week we focus on basketball.  With March Madness well and truly underway, it shouldn’t be a surprise.  As opposed to 99% of Americans, I hope that readers of this blog will realize that I’m talking about the third major basketball tournament being played this March, the women’s NCAA tournament.  And it’s no surprise that most people don’t take the time to see the women’s tourney, as it’s set up in such a way as to make it difficult to watch.  The first round women’s matches this year, as with years previous, will be played at the same time as the men’s second round match-ups, and the women’s second round games will be played on Monday and Tuesday evening, while most people are trying to catch up on their sleep loss from the weekend.  Even if you happen to be in a city that’s hosting the tournament, you’ll find there are far less tickets available.  This year’s women’s final will be played in the Pepsi Center in Denver (capacity: 19,155).  Correspondingly, the men’s final this year will be played in the Superdome (capacity: 55.675).  Enough griping, already.  I’m here to tell you why to watch and what to watch.

One of the main reasons why people love the men’s college game is that there is a large chance of upsets.  The women’s tournament features less upsets, especially in the first and second rounds, but when they happen, they are outstanding.  In 1998, Harvard, the 16-seed with a 23-4 record, defeated Stanford, the 1-seed, 71-67.  At the time, Stanford was 21-5 and on a fifteen game win streak.  Not before and not since has any number one seed fallen in the first round in either the men’s or women’s tournament.  And it could happen again.  This year, Stanford finds itself the number one seed again, this time against the 26-4 Hampton Pirates.  To add to the drama, the Pirates will be playing about 15 miles from campus, close enough for the student body to pack the arena.  Although I won’t go so far as to predict that Hampton will upset the number one seed, the similarities are eerie.

There are plenty of other storylines to follow.  The Baylor Bears enter the NCAA tournament undefeated (34-0).  Teams entering the tournament undefeated have won six times, but have lost five times, including three times in the first round.  Although consensus is that this is Baylor’s tournament to win, they’re going to have to push past either the number 2-seed, eight-time champion Tennessee, or the number 3-seed, the 30-1 Delaware Blue Hens (insert Delaware joke here).

Next up, we have Notre Dame.  Notre Dame is 30-3 on the season, which has earned them a number one seed.  Notre Dame may have the easiest road to the final four, with relatively weak two, three, and four seeds in its regional bracket, and its first two games in its home arena.  Notre Dame’s only losses are to Baylor, Connecticut, and West Virginia, all three of whom made the tournament field, and two of which received number one seeds.

Since this is a Pittsburgh blog, it’s important to note that the only women’s team from the Yinzer area is the WVU Mountaineers.  The Mountaineers will be making their third straight appearance in the tournament.  Though they only earned an 8-seed from their regular season performance, and thus, the difficult schedule that goes with it, they will be looking to avenge some very poor performances the past two years.  In addition, they have the advantage of playing relatively close to home in their first round match-up versus Texas.

So that’s what’s going on.  There’s a lot of exciting stuff to watch, and I’d recommend catching as much of it as you can.  All the games will be played on ESPN2 on Saturday and Sunday, as well as Monday and Tuesday nights.  Hopefully you’ll get the chance to enjoy some of the action.

ADDENDUM: I attended the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame Pittsburgh chapter awards dinner this past Sunday.  The athlete of the year was Robert Morris Colonials goaltender Kristen DiCiocco.  My congratulations go out to Ms. DiCiocco, and I wish her much success in the rest of her collegiate career.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Female Chauvinist Pigs and Special Snowflake Syndrome

When I was sixteen and still figuring out what feminism meant to me, I read an amazing book called Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy.  At some point in the last five years and half a dozen moves, the book was lost.  But I am still reminded of it on a daily basis when I turn on the TV, read anything on the internet, or...well, walk around in public.

Levy's thesis can be summed up in one sentence: Women can be misogynistic, too.  But it's a lot more complex than that.  Time for a brief history lesson.

After the second wave of feminism, women found themselves with the challenge of figuring out how to fit these new ideas into society.  How to make the worldview that equalized women more acceptable to the mainstream.  And there was an ideological break in second-wave feminism that ended up being highly detrimental, and the shockwaves of which can still be seen in the attitudes of women today.  A lot of this had to do with sexuality.  The late '70s and early '80s were the time of the Porn Wars. 

There were women that were entirely against the glorification of women being demeaned, dehumanized, or objectified in any way.  And women like Andrea Dworkin, perhaps the most famous of the anti-porn crusaders, believed that's what porn was.  She believed that any heterosexual intercourse carried with it a built-in societal power dynamic that, unless all outside stigma was removed, could never be equalized.  And that pornography is always unequal and violent to women.  It was an extreme view, but there are always extremes on both sides of moral issues.

On the other side came the women who believed that women using their sexuality were powerful.  That having the ability to discuss sex, have sex, and be sexy was a right that their mothers did not have and that it was empowering and not demeaning.  There is certainly truth in this, to an extent.  But it birthed an interesting movement.

The effects of this perfect storm of not-quite-wrong-on-either-sideness is the new generation of women trying to navigate the middle ground.  Many of these women have simply gone with the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" mentality; in this instance, the official term is internalized misogyny. 

Now I have reached my point.

I've seen a lot of feminist writers in the internet (most prominently the fantastic writer of STFU, Sexists.) use the term "Special Snowflake Syndrome" for the condition I'm about to describe.  It's a pretty appropriate description.  If you read comments on sexist articles, on sexist Facebook posts, or pretty much anywhere on the Internet, you have probably become very familiar with something like the following:

"I'm a woman and I find that rape joke hilarious!"
"I'm a woman and I think you shouldn't take that so seriously."
"I'm a woman and I totally loooove it when my boyfriend tells me to go make him a sandwich.  I think it's refreshing and original!"
"I'm a woman and that girl IS a total slut."

This is internalized misogyny.  This is women wanting to be more like men so that they can be accepted as equals to men without doing the work of fighting for those rights to be both different AND equal.  It's actually counterproductive.  See also: women going to strip clubs, women flashing their tits because they're really super-liberated, women bashing other women because you would sooo never be a huge bitch/trashy ho/total feminazi lesbian like that. 

I'm not saying that women shouldn't call other women on their shit ever.  Women have shitty opinions, too.  In fact, I'm doing that right now.  But "girl-on-girl crime" (I guess I'm stealing that from Tina Fey though I doubt she's the first person to say that) like this is so counterproductive.  Agreeing with the misogynistic things guys say, or that other women say, does not make other people respect you more.  Saying that you have nothing but male friends because "girls are just so dramatic and petty" is sexist.  Liking things because they're traditionally male is reinforcing gender stereotypes. 

The writer of STFU, Sexists up there once made a fantastic point that has stuck with me.  Ladies, you could someday be that slut/bitch/feminazi that some other girl and her guy friends are making fun of because they're too cool.  It hurts everyone, in the end, and it fragments the cause even more.  I'm not saying that there aren't women that genuinely just like having friends that are guys more, that there aren't women that enjoy going to strip clubs and flashing their tits.  And there's nothing wrong with that!"  But doing it because you want to impress men and earn their respect is not helping you achieve your goals, and certainly isn't helping society as a whole.

I've witnessed this.  I've witnessed women judge women for having abortions without knowing their circumstances.  I've seen women say that other women were such shrill harpies that their husbands should have left them.  I've seen women call each other skanks and whores for no discernible reason.  And I've seen women sit around with their group of male friends and rip on other women just for fun.  I'm not saying I have never been that woman.  At times, I'm sure I have.  And I try to stop myself when I do it because I know it's not okay.  I think that if we all had a little more empathy and thought about the bigger picture and where these impulses tend to come from, we'd realize that joining misogynistic men is absolutely the opposite of beating them.

I have Chaz's sports column for tomorrow! 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Feminist Relatioships: Put A Ring On Him

Especially in the age of Facebook, nothing marks an engagement like a closeup of a big, shiny ring on a girl’s finger.  Men propose to women, they give them shiny jewelry, and women go into “bridezilla” mode.  Thus is modern courtship.  Righ?  That’s how it’s supposed to be?

There’s the stereotype that women are the ones that chase down marriage.  They practically beg for engagement rings because they want to get married and have lots of babies.  And the men hold the elusive ring—it is to be doled out a their discretion whenever they want to.  And women are supposed to sit around and wait to be proposed to.  Because it is no ladylike or proper for us to be the aggressors, especially since we want marriage and babies from day one of any relationship.  Right?

What if it became socially acceptable for women to propose to their male partner?  What if we could finally, without scrutiny, get down on one knee and whip out a ring for our boyfriends?  We could take over control of when it is acceptable to enter into an engagement, a control that has been male-dominated for a very long time.  No to say hat couples should no discuss how prepared they are for marriage before they enter into an engagement, but it would be nice to get to initiate it, right?

And what about how unfair it is that we get to carry around this little platinum dog leash on our left hand while guys can walk around with no physical indication whatsoever that they are engaged?  All things being equal, isn’t it only fair that either both of us have o wear a ring or neither of us do?

Thus enters the popularity of “mangagement rings”.  They’re engagement rings for men.  That way, both of you get to have a ring!  You’re both officially taken!  Awesome!

Of course, there’s a style difference between engagement rings for men and women.  Sparkly diamonds are jus too feminine for the manly men, they need plain bands.  And women would be so bored without something shiny on their fingers to distract them and announce to the world that their significant other was willing to spend a small fortune on a rock.  Personally, I prefer non-diamond engagement rings.  Beyond that sticky blood diamonds thing, I think that the appearance of an engagement ring—be it for a man or woman—should show that person’s individuality and style.  Heck, if you would rather have an engagement toe ring, more power to you!

I hope that mangagement ring trend will really pick up here in America.  I think it’s a fantastic way to equal out the power dynamic, and make men feel like their engagement and wedding are about them and not just their female counterparts.  It would be more fun for everyone!  

If you're interested in reading up on the history of engagement rings, this is a very interesting article from Slate, and this is a fascinating, condensed timeline that shows some interesting parallels between the uses of rings or wedding jewelry and a man taking ownership of a woman.  Enjoy!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Game Change, Sarah Palin and Women in Government

I apologize for my absence over the past few days--spring break proved to be a bit busier than I had originally anticipated.  But I'll be here with a couple posts today and there is plenty coming up this week that needs to be posted about.

Last night, HBO's film Game Change premiered.  The film, starring Julianne Moore, follows Sarah Palin's time as a Vice-Presidential candidate in 2008.  I have not gotten the chance to watch the whole movie yet but from what I've seen--which is most of it--it is a basically sympathetic portrayal of Palin.  It does not shortchange her lack of knowledge and lack of preparation to be on the national stage, but it shows her as a scared, unprepared small-town gal who was manipulated into being the latter half of a weak ticket by the Republican old-boys' network.  I can't say for certain whether that's a fair portrayal--I don't know Palin personally, and don't want to--but assuming it is true, there's plenty wrong with that.

I know this is going back a few years, but there's a broader point, I promise.

I think that a lot of women believe that the choice of Palin was manipulative, both at the time it happened and today.  After Hillary Clinton had made so much headway on the Democratic side of the election, and Obama became the first black man to be nominated by a major party for President, the Republicans saw it was time to nominate a minority of their own.  The film confirmed this.  And yes, they just picked a woman--any woman--who was conservaitve enough, and who had a vagina.

And then they chose to patronize her, belittle her, and insult her behind her back throughout the campaign.  She was portrayed as kittenish, as a diva, and not particularly bright.  And maybe those things are true.  There is very little about Sarah Palin's current public persona that lends itself to sympathy.  But was she treated this way in the 2008 campaign because she is a woman?  And this isn't just coming from the film, this is the way the media treated her at the time of the campaign and right now.

What McCain did probably ended up pushing Republican women back a decade, and that seems irrelevant to the Republicans.  And why should it?  Less than one-fifth of Congress is made up of women.  And not a whole lot of those are Republican women.  I'm not a huge fan of women being Republicans--I think it goes counter to our interests as a demographic--but I totally respect the rights of women to choose their own beliefs and lead based on those beliefs.  So what do women have to do, in a post-Sarah Palin age, to get respect in the United States government?

At some point, women have to stop being a demographic to be won and start being a force to be reckoned with.  We need women in government, we need to be represented, we need to be taken seriously.  That's why Pittsburgh has programs like Run Baby Run and Ready To Run that teach women how to run for office.  One of the best ways to stop the rollback of rights that we're experiencing now is to put women in national elections.  And to put prepared, intelligent, eloquent women into those positions--women who will be able to prove that they deserve the spotlight, not just the token women that the Republicans feel they need to put out there.  They're out there in equal numbers.  There are just as many strong, capable women as men in America.  So can't we get them out there?

Oh, and by the way, Sarah Palin herself never said "I can see Russia from my house."  That was Tina Fey.  Enough ridiculous stuff has come out of Sarah Palin's mouth that we don't need to attribute stuff to her that she didn't say. 

I'll be back later today with a post on mangagement rings.  Hopefully slightly lighter fare. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Weekly Women's Sports Pitch: Women in Motorsports

This week, we turn to the world of motorsports.  Danica Patrick earned the pole at Daytona last Sunday afternoon (ok, Monday night), and it’s added to the already long list of firsts for the young driver.  She was the first woman to win a major open-wheel race at the Motegi Twin Oval in Japan in 2008.  She captured 3 poles in Indycar and 7 podium finishes.   In 2009, she finished 5th in the Indycar standings, higher than any other woman before or since.  More importantly than the modest success, she became a well-known name in the boy’s only club of auto racing.  In a realm that is dominated by names passed down from generation to generation, names like Unser, Rahal, Andretti, and Foyt, this is particularly impressive.

Despite all this, Danica leaves us wanting more.  Some complain, and rightly so, that the reason her name is well-known is that she flaunts her sexuality more than her racing prowess.  Most people have seen, and more than a few have drooled at, her ludicrously over-exposed commercials.  She’s been featured in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.  To many, these things seem like attributes of a fast woman, rather than a fast woman.

Perhaps the most telling thing about Danica is the fact that, within the auto racing community, she is not well liked.  She has a fiery temper.  In a sport which has done much to foster a sense of fan community, she is difficult to deal with.  A brief personal story will illustrate the point.  At an Indycar race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, you can often see drivers running around the pit and paddock area.  They move from practice to trailers to meetings and back, always with small crowds forming around the most popular.  Almost all drivers will stop and sign a few autographs for these crowds, many will stop and take pictures, and some will even stop and talk if you catch them in the right mood.  This occurs even in bizarre circumstances, such as drivers signing autographs immediately after leaving the Port-a-John.  (The driver in question was Dario Franchitti, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and husband of Ashley Judd.)  Danica, despite having some of the largest crowds, will blow by and ignore them, usually including small children wearing her number.  This is not something to encourage the sport, it is painful.

So I’ve written Danica off.  But I’m here to tell you that all is not lost.  Despite the fact that most of what you find for female racers on the 'Net is which one looks hottest, there are a number of extremely talented women who are competing at the highest levels.  In NASCAR, Danica’s current home, five women are on the rosters for the Nationwide Cup part-time, one of whom, Jennifer Jo Cobb, is running in the NASCAR truck series.  In Indycar, two women will be racing in the top tier in 2012, including the first woman to win an open-wheel race in North America, Katherine Legge.  In NHRA drag racing, ten women are running at the highest levels.  It is interesting to note that in drag racing, women have fared best of all, with six major NHRA championships being won by women, and innumerable races being captured.  In the North American minor leagues, more and more women are entering and winning.
It won’t be long until we see a woman at the top of the podium of racing’s biggest spectacles.  I hope it won’t be Danica, but it will happen.  And then the good old boys will really have to take notice.
Author’s note: It took me a while to put this together, just because I couldn’t figure out where to focus.  Danica is the most recent story, so I thought I’d start there.  If you’re interested in some good women out there in auto racing, I suggest you google the names Janet Guthrie, Shirley Muldowney, or Sarah Fisher.  Or go here: Women in racing directory.  Or here: Female Racing News. There are a lot of good racers out there.
P.S. – Sorry about the fast woman line, I just couldn’t help myself.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Liveblogging Super Tuesday--with a twist

It's Super Tuesday!  And I've decided to liveblog.  I will be updating this blog every fifteen minutes or as developments warrant throughout the night.  I will also be discussing the ridiculousness of the news coverage.  And, as an extra bonus, I will be doing progressively more and more drunk-blogging as I am going to be playing the Super Tuesday drinking game!  I promise that, in order to be fair to all biases, I will switch between the three major 24-hour news networks (CNN, MSNBC, Fox News) throughout the night so as not to concentrate my mocking on one specific news source.  First polls close at 7 in 3 states (Vermont, Virginia, and Georgia).  Off to eat something before then and fix myself my first drink of the evening.  See you in 23 minutes!

7:00 PM:  I am truly taking one for the team tonight, friends.  Tonight I have started off my drinking with the cake-flavored vodka mixed with the most half-assed Country Time lemonade ever made.  It seems only fitting.  Now I am waiting for the first of the results.  And here they are.  Of course, MSNBC is projecting already because they cannot wait for actual results.  Newt Gingrich is projected to win Georgia, which is no surprise considering he's from there.  Both Virginia and Vermont are too early to call, but we'll hope for the best.  I just wish I knew what the best was.

7:11: CNN is talking about how the two most important groups in November's election will be women and Latinos.  It's about time someone pointed this out, and the fact of the matter is that Republicans are not going to be able to swing women to their side.  One of my favorite quotes from The West Wing is applicable here: "Women aren't only half of voters but they're the entire margin of victory."  A woman on CNN just had to remind one of her panel members that women are Americans.  According to a WSJ poll yesterday, apparently, Obama is leading over Romney by 18 points over women.  That's impressive.  I have to say I am so encouraged to see women being talked about so extensively as an important group to look at on a major news network.  And I'm so glad that Rush Limbaugh and his comments are causing Republicans to take a hit with women.  Maybe he did us a favor after all!  Also, MSNBC has a map on the bottom of their screen permanently.  Does that mean I have to drink constantly until commercial breaks or until I switch to another channel?

717 PM: Quick note: the women on that panel were treating the contraception debate as an actual issue while the men were discussing it simply as a campaign issue.  Methinks some privilege is showing?

7:24 PM: Romney gets Virginia, which is no surprise considering it was only him and Paul on the ballot there.  He was basically handed the state.

7:30 PM:  Ohio polls closed.  Shockingly, nobody can make a projection for who will win the very second the polls closed.  I wonder why.  Chris Matthews is talking about how Santorum is done if he loses Ohio as it is right next to Pittsburgh, where Santorum came from.  Once again, I curse the name of my hometown being associated with Rick Santorum.

 7:44 PM: Ron Paul is speaking about the Federal Reserve, wars, and spending cuts.  And, somehow, the Internet.  I just realized he's in North Dakota, which is interesting.  I'm switching to a different drink as I'm not crazy about this cake vodka business.  Romney barely leading in Ohio.  Let's keep praying for a Romney victory.

I never thought I would type those words.

7:59 PM: Fox News is currently disappointing me with its lack of crazy.  I have switched to rum and Cherry Pepsi, and if this does not work out I will be switching to wine.  Oklahoma polls just closed and Santorum is going to be running down the middle of the state.  Romney took Massachusetts, which is a "no duh" fact as it is his home state.  Tennessee is too close to call (polls JUST CLOSED, people!) so we'll keep a close eye.

8:11 PM:  Ohio is getting a lot of attention.  It always does, in both the primaries and general elections, as it truly is a bellwether state.  Santorum is, as expected, doing well in the more rural areas.  Romney is stronger in the Cincinnati area.  I must admit that I have spent most of the evening trying to make Santorum puns.  This will probably not get much better.  Ohio is also important because the candidate who wins there will be an indicator of how important economic versus social issues will be in the rest of this election.  Sarah Palin will be on Fox News soon; be prepared for all-caps updates soon.

8:25 PM:  In Ohio, working women overwhelmingly voted for Romney but married women were split between Romney and Santorum.  This is frustrating, but not at all surprising.  Ohio is a decently socially conservative state, and married conservative women would identify better with Santorum's values.  I think it is an indication of a lack of general electability on Santorum's part that working women aren't going for him.  Santorum is supposed to be the one between the two of them who is more in touch with the working class, and if his social views are overshadowing that economic identification it should set off alarm bells for him.  Also, Andrea Mitchell just referenced Aaron Sorkin.  My night has been made.

8:35 PM:  Santorum just took Tennessee.  This is a problem.  Also, Newt Gingrich is going to speak soon.  They showed the event where he is on MSNBC and it's currently a bunch of people milling around attempting to appear enthused by the 1950s crooner music playing over the PA system.  I hope he talks about the moon at least three times in the single victory speech he will be making tonight.

8:40-852 PM: Calista Gingrich is speaking.  She would almost be charming if she weren't so robotic, and she seems to only exist for the purpose of being Newt Gingrich's wife.  Now Newt himself is speaking.  He is being pompous and continuing to ignore the fact that he is the biggest Washington insider of any of the current candidates.  He--of the half million dollar Tiffany's bills-refers to liberals as "elites".  Newt can continue to portray himself as the outsider underdog--the latter is finally actually true for him--but I don't think it's working at all anymore.  He also seems incredibly paranoid.  In any case, he's not saying anything particularly crazy.

9:06 PM: Newt finally stopped speaking.  I think I fell asleep there for a minute while that was happening.  Caucus in North Dakota are starting to happen, so we'll see how that turns out.  Gingrich mostly talked about energy and the economy, and seems to be convinced that he will win with his handful of states.

9:15 PM:  It was just reported that Santorum has experienced a ten-point drop in support of women in the past week because of the birth control debate.  He's still leading just so slightly in Ohio right now.  This one is going to be interesting.  Santorum is speaking in Ohio right now.  This will DEFINITELY be interesting.

9:37 PM:  He was actually quite uninteresting.  I think Santorum is skirting the social issues because he realizes how much it's been hurting him.  Of course, he discusses the importance of family and hard work, bu nothing about women, gays or religion.  Maybe he's getting a hint.  I'm going to start updating less frequently, but I'm still watching and you should be, too.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Feminist Relationships: White Wedding?

In this week's installment of Feminist Relationships I would like to talk about un-traditionalizing the traditions of weddings.  There's nothing wrong with having a big, fun wedding and being a feminist, no conflict there.  But there are a few things about traditional wedding ceremonies (and receptions) that could use some Girl Power.

Let's talk pretty dresses for a second.  The wedding industry makes millions of dollars a year off of those big, poofy white confections that brides glow in as they walk down the aisle.  The traditional gowns are white or off-white (a choice that's becoming increasingly popular) and come in a variety of styles, though they're most commonly a little on the lacy and taffeta-y side.  Nothing wrong wit that, if that's what you feel most beautiful and bride-like in.  But the white wedding dress does carry some pretty hefty baggage, and not just in that giant bustle.  White wedding dresses imply virginity, which is why the off-white is becoming more and more common for second marriages.  It's a way to prove that the bride hasn't been defouled in the bedroom as she's being delivered to her new husband.  Seeing as premarital sex isn't exactly uncommon these days (nor has it ever been, for that matter) these pretty poofy packages are often concealing a lie.  I don't need to announce my sexual status to the world anyway--my husband sure as hell won't be hanging any bloodstained bedsheets in the window after our wedding night--so I don't feel the need to broadcast my virginity with my wedding dress.

There's nothing wrong with breaking with tradition and wearing something colorful, like blue or purple, on your wedding day.  For me, it comes down to this: if your wedding day is a big enough deal that you want to wear something spectacular, wear your absolute favorite thing regardless of style or color.  If that's white, awesome for you.  If that's something else, go for it!  It's your day, after all.

Then there's the person that's going to be delivering that pretty package.  I use that kind of objectifying language intentionally--historically, the bride was pretty much transferred as property from her father to her new husband.  That's why fathers walk their daughters down the aisle.  It's called "giving the bride away" for a reason.  I don't know about you, but if I'm getting married it's going to be my choice and therefore I'm giving myself away.  No one has the right to do that for you.  If it's important to you to have your father, or mother, or some other important figure in your life take part in the ceremony in that way, that's totally up to you.  But for me?  I'll be walking down that aisle solo.

Then there's that whole "man and wife" thing.  This is less common these days than it used to be, but I can't understand why it couldn't be "man and woman" or "husband and wife".  But since us ladies used to be considered property, I guess it made sense for the times.

Lastly, that bouquet toss.  There's a scene in a crappy romantic comedy from the late '90s (pretty broad genre there) that had an interesting metaphor about the bouquet toss.  Girlfriend catches the bouquet, her boyfriend gets roped into marriage.  The girl who catches the bouquet is supposed to be the next to get married, and us ladies are supposed to fight tooth and nail for a bunch of half-dead lilies so we can be next to get a ring on our finger.  I don't feel the need to perpetuate that kind of stereotype.  Plus, flowers are expensive and if I paid for them I'd want to hang onto that bouquet, thanks very much.

Sure, you can find half a dozen other things wrong with the traditions of marriage and weddings if you dig deeper.  There are plenty of them.  But, in the end, weddings are supposed to be fun.  They're a chance to eat, get hammered, get free cake and dance like an idiot.  Everything else is up to you.  Though, ladies, your fiances should really have some say in this, too--we aren't the only ones who like weddings, and that sitcom trope is pretty tired by now.  It's really about who you are and what you want for your wedding, whether it's a big deal or a quiet thing between you and your soon-to-be spouse.

I'm going to write about engagement rings next week because of this new trend in mangagement rings (that piece is just a teensy bit problematic, so you know).  It's an interesting topic to delve into, so I hope I'll see you back this time next Sunday.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot: Just As Accurate Today

I apologize for the absence the past few days.  What with preparing for spring break and doing a bit of moving it's been a hectic week.  But something has been happening that's been so crappy, and yet unsurprising, that I had to post about it.

We all know that Rush Limbaugh is a big fat idiot.  This isn't just about partisanship--Limbaugh has been intentionally cruel and shocking throughout his entire career to garner listeners.  He's invented the term "feminazi", mocked Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's tremors, and referred to Chelsea Clinton as the "White House dog".  But somehow, Limbaugh has managed to force himself back into public discourse--ad outrage--this week.

At this point, most of you are familiar with the controversy over the birth control pill that has been happening in Congress over the past few weeks.  There was a woman named Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student, who testified in front of Congress about the importance of birth control for medical reasons.  There are many medical conditions that utilize birth control as a treatment, and Fluke was there to testify about one of them.  The Blunt Act, which was the bill proposed in Congress that would allow insurance companies to refuse to provide birth control (or any service) if they objected to it morally, did not pass.  But Limbaugh didn't see fit to let things go--in fact, he decided to escalate things to a whole new level.

On Tuesday, Limbaugh called Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute".   On Thursday, he said that, if she wanted insurance to cover her slutty sluttage (not a direct quote, of course) that she should video herself having sex and post it online for him and everyone else to watch.  It was really the latter comments that really got everyone in defense mode, understandably. 

What Limbaugh has said about this courageous woman is slander, and she could potentially sue.  many will say that he was simply exercising free speech, and that may be legitimate.  That also means that we can fight against it, be it through petitions to his radio station or advertisers or simply spreading the word about what he's done and boycotting his show.  I can honestly only go through so much of being torn down for using something (birth control) that was apparently non-controversial before a month ago before I snap.  And maybe this was the end. 

For the record, both President Obama and the president of Georgetown University have stood up in defense of Fluke.  And that's great.  On the other hand, one of the other women of Georgetown wrote an editorial to tell you that Sandra Fluke does not represent all Georgetown women/skanks.  Glad she solved that one for us, and it's such a productive piece, too!

There are plenty of petitions out there that you can sign.  Limbaugh has issued a weak-ass non-apology and many of his advertisers have pulled out, something I imagine Rush knows plenty about as he's been married four times, has no kids and is against birth control.  Unfortunately, I'm too cynical to think that this will have the desired effect. 

I am so proud, though, that a message has been sent.  We can't keep getting trampled on week after week after week, getting called sluts and whores for using perfectly legal medications and procedures, being pushed back generations in our rights and acceptable behaviors.  We need to push back, and I think that this debacle has been an indication that women (and feminist men) are willing to do that.  Thank God. 

Let's keep pushing, ladies and gentlemen.

Tomorrow I'll have the next installment in my Feminist Relationships series.  I'm sure I will be inundating you with posts this week what with being off.  I'm also working on kind of an epic pet project that will eventually turn itself into an epic post here.  Enjoy your Saturday night, and don't forget, Rush Limbaugh thinks you're a slut, so enjoy that thought.