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Friday, April 18, 2014

Punished for the Crime of Being Female on the Internet

Posted by on Fri, Apr 18, 2014 at 11:50 AM

It's not often that I recommend a Reddit thread, but this one might be a real eye-opener for some guys out there. Reddit user aseriesofpipes asked, "Female Redditors, do you actually get creepy [private messages] when you self-identify as female? What's the 'worst' one you've gotten?" The answer to the first question is yes: When women 'out' themselves from internet anonymity, they often get harassed by creepy men. Let's restate: They are immediately harassed by men for the "crime" of identifying themselves as women.

And as to the second part of that question, look at some of these stories:

I posted a picture of me and my cat to [cute animal photo-sharing subreddit] /r/aww and someone sent me "I'm going to cut off your hair and choke you with it."

I got one PM that was just "CUNT CUNT CUNT CUNT CUNT CUNT CUNT" over and over. Not sure why but it made me laugh.

I mostly just get told to kill myself.
EDIT: I am, in fact, getting [private messages] telling me to kill myself just from this comment alone.

If you're a man and you spend time on the internet, I'd ask you to go take a look at the thread. Even if you consciously understand that women continually have to live through this kind of bullshit every day, it's a really visceral reminder that things are far from okay.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Today In Misandry

Posted by on Wed, Apr 16, 2014 at 1:28 PM

There's something a little weird about this conference lineup.


It's 2014; this is just lazy, and short-sighted organizers are 100% to blame.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How Metal Is Your Period?

Posted by on Wed, Apr 9, 2014 at 10:07 AM


My period wasn't the least bit metal:

You checked off 0 out of 105 on this list! Take a moment out of your life to appreciate how lucky you are to not bleed from your most sensitive area for five days straight. Now go find the closest adult woman and thank her.

Thanks, adult women currently reading Slog! How metal is your period? Find out here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Dispatches from the Republican War on Women

Posted by on Tue, Apr 8, 2014 at 1:28 PM

This morning I read this first line from a Politico story by Anna Palmer:

Republicans say the Democrats’ “war on women” line is fake.

Then I read this headline from Herman Cain's website:

Democrats pick The Vagina Woman for Michigan's Lt. Governor

And that's all you need to know about the Republican War on Women. (Right Wing Watch, which is where I found this story, helpfully notes the URL that points to the Cain story is "")

Why Is Today "Equal Pay Day"?

Posted by on Tue, Apr 8, 2014 at 1:12 PM

David Schmader mentioned it in morning news, but it seems worth explaining why April 8 has been dubbed Equal Pay Day: Today marks how many extra days American women have to work to make up how much American men got paid last year. (The date depends on your math and/or your demographic, with some people pegging it at the end of February instead.)

But this is the day DC politicians are celebrating. Patty Murray, as Schmader pointed out, is spending the day pushing for passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, while President Obama signed an executive order "prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against employees who choose to discuss their compensation" and a presidential memorandum directing the Secretary of Labor to start getting compensation data from federal contractors, "including data by sex and race."

Meanwhile, closer to home, the City of Seattle is, after 8 months of research and analysis, now trying to directly address its own 10 percent pay gap. In addition to addressing gender segregation in jobs—which, as I wrote about yesterday, screws over everyone since the more women there are in a job category, the lower everyone in the job category gets paid—they'll hopefully move on changing some employment and recruiting practices, including instituting paid parental leave.

Why parental leave? According to the Pew Research Center, among others, part of the pay gap can likely be attributed to the fact that women are still responsible for a majority of child, family, and home care, with inevitable career interruptions. Get on it, city hall.

One last #equalpayday word:


Monday, April 7, 2014

Today in Women's Pay Equity News: We're Still Fucked

Posted by on Mon, Apr 7, 2014 at 12:33 PM

Thats only about $1.64 in woman dollars.
  • Kelly O
  • That's only, like, $1.64 in woman dollars.
The DC-based Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) just released a new analysis of the gender pay gap in the US, and guess what, ladies? Surprise! We're still fucked. Here's a few of their findings:

We're still earning less money overall. "Women earn less than men in almost all of the 112 occupations for which the US Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes weekly full-time earnings data for both women and men," reads the IWPR's press release for the study. In 101 of those occupations, women make "substantially" less than men; in 17 of them, women make at least 25 cents per dollar less than men in the same field. Based on median weekly earnings for full-time workers in 2013, the gender wage ratio was 82 percent, in favor of men.

Job categories dominated by men still pay better. "Male-dominated occupations tend to pay more than female-dominated occupations at similar skill levels, particularly in jobs that require higher education levels," the report says. Sorry about all that expensive education you got—and oh god, more on that in a minute.

A lot of jobs in those women-dominated fields pay very little. "Twelve of the 20 most common occupations for women," says the IWPR, "compared with eight of the 20 most common occupations for men, have median weekly earnings that will leave a household of four at or near poverty."

You can download a PDF of the IWPR analysis right over here. As they point out, since professions dominated by women tend to pay less, addressing that gender segregation in job categories is an important step toward tackling the pay gap.

And this is true at the City of Seattle, too.

Continue reading »

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Watch Tacocat's New Video, "Hey Girl"

Posted by on Thu, Apr 3, 2014 at 10:56 AM

Conflict of interest alert: My coworker Emily Nokes is an animated character in this music video, so I'm biased. But I still think it's pretty great. And the song is exactly what I was talking about in the music section last week: Tacocat uses fun, funny pop music to address important topics that traditional, "serious" bands never even think about touching. It doesn't hurt that the song is catchy as fuck:

The video was directed by Eric John Olson and James Smith.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

City Hall Starts to Give a Shit About Women's Pay Equity Again

Posted by on Wed, Apr 2, 2014 at 1:52 PM

Council Member Jean Godden speaks at City Hall on the citys next moves to address pay equity.
  • The Stranger
  • Council Member Jean Godden speaks at City Hall on the city's next moves to address pay equity.
This afternoon, Mayor Ed Murray announced the first public steps the city has taken since mid-2013 to address the pay disparity between women and men employed by the City of Seattle, a big issue during last year's mayoral campaign that's almost disappeared since then. "The wage gap between men and women in this region is real.... [and] this is an issue we can fix," said Murray at a press conference moments ago. The most exciting thing appears to be the creation of a Gender Equity Initiative, which would mirror the city's Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI), a program run out of the Office for Civil Rights.

According to a joint resolution between the mayor and city council (PDF here), this means that "the City will incorporate a gender equity lens in citywide initiatives, such as legislation to increase the minimum wage, with the Seattle community and region." That probably sounds like a bunch of silly political language, but if it's done effectively, it could have the wide-reaching effect of forcing the city to analyze all its policies through the lens of how they affect gender pay equity, which is how they've used that RSJI framework.

Today also marks the release of a report full of recommendations from the task force that former mayor Mike McGinn convened to study and address the city's pay gap, which was discovered through a pay analysis last summer: Women at the city only earn 90 cents on the male dollar, and the city government workforce is only one-third female.

According to data in the new report (find a full PDF of the 75-page report right here), that earning differential changes dramatically when you take race into consideration:

At the City of Seattle, while white women earn an average of 92 cents for every dollar a white man earns, Asian and Pacific Islander women earn 85 cents, Latina women earn 83 cents, African American women earn 79 cents and Native American women earn 74 cents.

Along with new data, this report outlines a series of recommendations—so many that the city can't possibly implement them all immediately. One is to commission a "robust pay analysis" of the city's most heavily gendered job categories, with the aim of possibly adjusting pay scales to eliminate gender bias. That analysis, the report adds, would likely cost $400,000 to $500,000. Some recommendations are about more study and more coalitions and more analysis.

But other recommendations can happen a whole lot quicker.

Continue reading »


Friday, March 21, 2014

Between The Lines: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Zadie Smith Spread The Word

Posted by on Fri, Mar 21, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Two of my favorite authors, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Zadie Smith, sat down at the Schomburg Center in Harlem earlier this week to talk about the construction of blackness as an American phenomenon, radical love, and a bunch of other important questions that came about as a result of reading Adichie's latest novel, Americanah.

It's a smart, funny talk between two of the most amazing writers, and well worth your time.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Women's Health Care Clinic in Montana Destroyed by Anti-Choice Vandal

Posted by on Sat, Mar 15, 2014 at 11:41 AM

Susan Cahill has been offering family practice services in Kalispell, Montana since 1976. She has provided abortions as one part of her comprehensive reproductive healthcare model—and this is why she was targeted by an anti-choice extremist. The damage at All Families Healthcare has been described by Susan Cahill as "a total loss." All of the equipment was systematically destroyed, records were trashed, and personal effects, including pictures and cards, were purposefully ruined. Susan Cahill and all of the staff at All Families Healthcare need our support—emotionally and financially! Read her own inspiring words in a letter to the editor for the Daily Interlake.

There's an online campaign to raise money to rebuild All Families Healthcare. Terry and I made a donation this morning. If you have a few bucks to spare, consider kicking in.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Where's the City's Report on Gender Pay Equity?

Posted by on Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 1:01 PM

This is Jean Godden wearing a lapel pin of a jail door, modeled after jail-door pins that suffragists wore to commemorate their imprisoned sisters.
  • AM
  • This is Jean Godden wearing a lapel pin of a jail door, modeled after jail-door pins that suffragists once wore to honor their imprisoned sisters.
Look, internet friends. Everyone knows I just luuuuuurve Seattle City Council Member Jean Godden. Mostly because no other council members ever sass me on the Twitter, and also they rarely have political sartorial statements (see right), and oh, yeah—one of the issues I care most about is pay equity, and Godden's all over that.

Except, um... she totally isn't. Not right now, at least. And while I've been waiting patiently for some action, with an understanding that good policy takes a lot of work, that patience tires eventually. And I have one really serious question that I'm getting really goddamn tired of asking:

Where is the final report from the city's Gender Pay Equity Task Force?

As you'll recall, a report was issued last summer analyzing the wages of city employees broken down by gender. The two important takeaways: (1) On average, the City of Seattle pays women about 10 percent less than men and (2) the city employs twice as many men as women.

As usual, the city's response was a task force. Great! I'm fine with that. As long as it ends with action. Their charge was to meet for the second half of 2013 and deliver recommendations in early 2014 that the city could start implementing, both short-term and long-term. Godden, who's championed the issue based on her personal experiences with unequal pay and who serves both on the task force and as the chair of a council committee on the issue, said in December in a very public letter to Mayor Ed Murray, "The final Task Force report will be issued in mid-January."

But that deadline came and went.

Continue reading »


Monday, March 10, 2014

"It's not just your time of the month. This time, the whole month is yours!"

Posted by on Mon, Mar 10, 2014 at 3:23 PM

It is Women's History Month, and Saturday was International Women's Day, so... local comedians, led by Brett Hamil, have offered up a video "Mansplaining Women's History Month":

It's not nearly snide and condescending enough to be considered "mansplaining," I think. But either way, hey ladies! "Congratulations on being totally equal now!"

Ban Bossy? I Don't Think So. Be Bossier.

Posted by on Mon, Mar 10, 2014 at 1:13 PM

I've been seeing "Ban Bossy" images all over social media today, and it bothers the fuck out of me.

The campaign was created to "encourage girls to lead," and is based on the premise that little girls are afraid of being leaders because they fear being cast negatively as bossy. I support the goal of eradicating the confidence gap that contributes to massive self-esteem issues for little girls, but I'm not convinced that banning the word bossy is the key to closing the gender gap. You know what might work? Being bossier.

We should be telling girls to own the living shit out of bossiness. Instead of casting it as a pejorative, we should be reifying the idea that being bossy directly relates to confidence, and teaching girls how to harness that confidence in productive and powerful ways. This isn't a problem of language—the problem is our backwards system that rewards women for silence and compliance, and encouraging them to be less fierce is a supremely fucked up way to counter that. What is this wilting flower, let's-not-say-bad-words approach to empowerment?

The leader of the Ban Bossy movement is Sheryl "Lean In" Sandberg. Sheryl Sandberg is operating on a completely different plane of existence, where angling your body closer to dudes and not saying mean words is all you need to catapult yourself to success. And that might work in a world propped up by extreme wealth and privilege, where you're already at the table and not shouting outside the doors to be let into the building. I'll bet you a million (of Sheryl's) dollars that becoming the COO of Facebook involved a little bit of bossiness.

When you're bossy, you're explicit. You know what you want and you say what you mean. It's my dream, my goal in life, to be surrounded by unrelentingly bossy women, and I think it's far more effective to encourage girls to be bossy so that they might one day be the boss.

I want L7 throwing used tampons from the stage and screaming about their shit list. I want Beyoncé telling us she's a grown woman who can do whatever she wants. I want Tina Fey telling the world that bitches get stuff done. I want Tavi Gevinson proving that 17-year old young women can create and run their own media empires. I want Tina Turner standing up to her abuser and becoming an international superstar. I want Cheryl Strayed telling people to write like a motherfucker. I want to stand with Wendy Davis. I want more of Cate Blanchett asking reporters if they objectify men the same way they objectify women. I want Malala Yousafzai's birthday to be an international holiday. I want this little girl to be the president.

I'm done ripping the teeth out of the politics of feminism. I want girls to be as bossy as possible, and I want them to run the world.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

International Women's Day Event Will Bring the Noise

Posted by on Wed, Mar 5, 2014 at 4:44 PM

  • Gabriela Seattle/ Used with permission

Gabriela Seattle, led by the truly wonderful Jill Mangaliman, and Green Bodies are organizing a rally and march on Saturday, March 8, to celebrate International Women's Day. It's a musical brigade, it's a social justice movement, it's a party!

Luzviminda Uzuri Carpenter of Green Bodies says:

The idea of the Women’s Musical Brigade is for a celebration and rejoicing in our survival, struggle, resistance, and continued resilience through song, dance, spoken word, speeches, theater, and much more.

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, the Fandango Project, and local emcee Rogue Pinay will all be making appearances. Get your ass out there!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Maxi Pad Revolutionary

Posted by on Tue, Mar 4, 2014 at 4:16 PM

Fuck alla this business.

When Arunachalam Muruganantham realized his wife was using old, dirty rags when she got her period each month, he started working on an idea that might help poor and rural women get access to hygenic menstrual products.

"It all started with my wife," he says. In 1998 he was newly married and his world revolved around his wife, Shanthi, and his widowed mother. One day he saw Shanthi was hiding something from him. He was shocked to discover what it was - rags, "nasty cloths" which she used during menstruation.

"I will be honest," says Muruganantham. "I would not even use it to clean my scooter." When he asked her why she didn't use sanitary pads, she pointed out that if she bought them for the women in the family, she wouldn't be able to afford to buy milk or run the household.

Muruganantham worked for years to develop a cheap way to produce maxi pads. When he had a hard time finding women to help with his research in the conservative area where he lives, he strapped on a soccer ball full of goat's blood and tested the products himself:

He created a "uterus" from a football bladder by punching a couple of holes in it, and filling it with goat's blood. A former classmate, a butcher, would ring his bicycle bell outside the house whenever he was going to kill a goat. Muruganantham would collect the blood and mix in an additive he got from another friend at a blood bank to prevent it clotting too quickly - but it didn't stop the smell.

He walked, cycled and ran with the football bladder under his traditional clothes, constantly pumping blood out to test his sanitary pad's absorption rates. Everyone thought he'd gone mad.

After creating his simple machine, he went into business with NGOs and women to keep production going, and completely changed the lives of Indian women:

Women choose their own brand-name for their range of sanitary pads, so there is no over-arching brand - it is "by the women, for the women, and to the women". Muruganantham also works with schools - 23% of girls drop out of education once they start menstruating. Now school girls make their own pads. "Why wait till they are women? Why not empower girls?"

This story is incredible and so, so cool.

We've got this commercialized, Western dominated ideal when it comes to periods—you're allowed to have them, but only if you beat them into submission and never let anyone know you have one and still do jumping jacks in white pants the entire time—so it's easy to forget that a lot of women in the world don't even have access to stuff that makes rivers of blood* flowing out of your body more comfortable. It would have been so easy for Muruganantham to give up or sell out, but he kept going like a fucking champion.

*I know it's only like a few tablespoons a day but it feels like gallons and have YOU ever had your period even? HOW WOULD YOU KNOW! JESUS!

Friday, February 14, 2014

One Billion Rising

Posted by on Fri, Feb 14, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Seattle-area Filipina girls and women are ready to dance for justice as part of the One Million Rising campaign to end violence against women.

Vagina Monologues creator Eve Ensler started One Billion Rising last year as a “a call to survivors to break the silence and release their stories – politically, spiritually, outrageously – through art, dance, marches, ritual, song, spoken word, testimonies and whatever way feels right." According to the United Nations, one in three women will be raped or beaten in their lifetime, totaling about one billion. Over 200 countries participated in the events, and this year they're expecting many more to join in.

Claudia Paras of Gabriela Seattle (formerly Pin@y sa Seattle), a collective that works to build a community in the Seattle area invested in educating, defending, and advocating for the human rights of Filipinas globally, says:

We are dancing again this year because it brings a serious issue to a highly visible platform to raise awareness on a global scale. We know dancing isn’t the solution. The solution is in the direct action we take to tackle the root causes, question the system that enables violence in our everyday lives, and we know we can’t do it alone. As a survivor, organizer, and ally I feel empowered and inspired to be with others here and internationally rising together on VDay.

In addition to tonight's event, Gabriela Seattle is committed to educating their communities about the root causes of violence impacting women and children, including issues of human and labor trafficking, forced migration, wage theft, accessibility to healthcare, and enforced disappearances.

If you feel like dancing along or supporting the cause, head to the Southcenter Mall in Tukwila tonight from 6:30pm-7:30pm.

Sexism in Literary Culture Is Alive and Well

Posted by on Fri, Feb 14, 2014 at 2:29 PM

When Seattle hosts the big AWP conference in a couple weeks, writers will be all over the place: Talking with writers, talking with readers, talking with publishers. They'll be talking about writing and talking about not writing. They'll be at bars and clubs all over the city, drinking and reading and having fun. But here's something to keep in mind during AWP: Amy Silbergeld at HTMLGiant performed an informal survey of one thousand writers, and she discovered that the literary world has a long way to go before women are on equal ground, there.

Women feel less comfortable than men do in their literary communities.

Women’s rankings of their comfort levels had both a mean and median of five. The vast majority of female-identified writers who selected five or lower cited sexism as the primary source of their discomfort.

You should go read her whole report, which features some individual survey responses. Sexism is a huge problem in literature, and if we don't talk about it, it's never going to get any better. I wrote earlier this year about my own contributions to inequality between male and female writers, and why that matters. So let's all agree that if we see public displays of sexism at AWP after-parties this year, we should call them out for what they are. I expect better from the literary world.

Valentine's Day Troll Returns, Tells College Women Finding a Husband Is the Most Important Thing

Posted by on Fri, Feb 14, 2014 at 1:07 PM


Susan Patton, human resources consultant, Princeton mom, and spewer of copious amounts of misogynist garbage, is back. A year after she posted her concern-trolling letter to the women of Princeton, urging them to find a husband before they become washed-up 22-year olds with no prospects of ever getting married, she's now taking her "advice" to the Wall Street Journal. It's the same message in a new outfit—stop being unadulterated hussies, burn your degree, sweep out your fucking vagina, and get married already:

Despite all of the focus on professional advancement, for most of you the cornerstone of your future happiness will be the man you marry. But chances are that you haven't been investing nearly as much energy in planning for your personal happiness as you are planning for your next promotion at work. What are you waiting for? You're not getting any younger, but the competition for the men you'd be interested in marrying most definitely is.

Think about it: If you spend the first 10 years out of college focused entirely on building your career, when you finally get around to looking for a husband you'll be in your 30s, competing with women in their 20s. That's not a competition in which you're likely to fare well. If you want to have children, your biological clock will be ticking loud enough to ward off any potential suitors. Don't let it get to that point.

I am both a happily married person and I have a couple of degrees, and I can tell you with certainty that one doesn't have anything to do with the other. The best advice my grandmother ever gave me was, "Don't marry the first guy you have sex with, always make your own money, and for god's sake get a fucking education," so I called her to ask what she thought of advice like this:

An extraordinary education is the greatest gift you can give yourself. But if you are a young woman who has had that blessing, the task of finding a life partner who shares your intellectual curiosity and potential for success is difficult. Those men who are as well-educated as you are often interested in younger, less challenging women.

My 81-year old grandma said: "Fuck 'em—who the hell wants to end up with a man that doesn't want you because you're smart? Don't date dummies and you won't have a problem."

The question here isn't about whether or not Susan Patton has any idea what she's talking about or if we should take her seriously, but how much salve she needs to apply to her skin on a daily basis to combat the damage done when someone dug her up out of her cave.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Fallopian Tubes Full of Diamonds

Posted by on Thu, Feb 13, 2014 at 3:46 PM

The United Nations laid out a plan 20 years ago to address population growth by giving women better access to reproductive rights, and we did it! WE FUCKING DID IT, the global fertility rate is dropping, and the world is a much better place for women, uterus owners, and anyone who doesn't want childbirth to kill them or make their lives suck exponentially. But hold on to your high-fivin' hands—this is pretty much only the case if you're filthy fucking rich.

In poor countries, indicators of women's well-being (maternal death, child marriage, educational access) has seen little progress in the last 20 years.

The gains were most striking in education. In a majority of countries, there was gender parity in primary education, though there were abiding gaps in secondary schools and college. Maternal mortality fell by 47 percent over the last 20 years, though, the report pointed out, 800 women continue to die every day while giving birth. Global fertility rates fell by 23 percent between 1990 and 2010, reflecting rising education, life expectancy and access to contraception.

The report concluded: “Progress has been unequal and fragmented."

Well, it can't be THAT terri—oh, shit:

“In conditions of structural poverty,” the report said, “the threats to women’s survival are especially acute, due to the lack of access to health services, particularly sexual and reproductive health services, and the extreme physical burdens of food production, water supply and unpaid labor that fall disproportionately on poor women.”

The structural and economic inequality that women experience seems to be tied to our larger cultural issue of wealth, namely that less than 1% of adults control over 40% of the wealth. Some of the richest nations—the United States, Brazil,China—have archaic or oppressive attitudes towards reproductive health, and 17 of the 20 wealthiest people in the world are men.

One of the largest indicators of poverty for women is childbirth, and family planning works. But over 215 miilion women who want to use birth control have no access to it, and constantly having babies greatly impacts their ability to work, get an education, or address poverty in a lasting way. A lot of people blame the problem on meritocracy, but it's really difficult to pull yourself up by your bootstraps when you don't own any boots and there's a 10lb. baby hanging from your tits.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Here's Why You Don't See Women in Comic Book Stores

Posted by on Tue, Feb 11, 2014 at 2:09 PM

I encourage you to read Noelle Stevenson's autobiographical comic strip about what it's like to be a woman in a comic book store. And then I'd like to direct you to Heidi MacDonald's post about Stevenson's strip at The Beat, which also links to some first-person accounts of what it's like to be a woman visiting a comic book store. Here's someone visiting Kevin Smith's comic store, Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash, in New Jersey:

NOT friendly to women. The guys behind the counter openly ogle and discuss female customers, often loudly enough to be overheard. ...Openly mocked an out Lesbian and Gay man while I was in store. Then they started to mock my weight and hair. Until they realized I could hear them.

I just don't understand how a business can exclude fifty percent of the population and expect to succeed—but then many comics shops, with their dim lighting, their apparent fear of windows, and their awful interior design, are off-putting to people who aren't already acclimated to the environment. You can read more comics-buying accounts written by women, both positive and negative, at Hater Free Wednesdays.

When I go to my comic book store, Phoenix Comics, on Wednesdays to pick up my new comics, I often see a nice mix of men and women in the store, browsing around. I love watching all sorts of people being nerdy in a pleasant environment. The two Seattle-area stores on the Hater Free Wednesdays master list are Golden Age Collectibles and Comics Dungeon, but I've also seen women treated like actual human customers at most of Seattle's comics shops—Arcane Comics, Zanadu Comics, and so on. If you're a woman with a good or bad Seattle-area comics-buying experience, I'd urge you to send your accounts to Hater Free Wednesdays. This problem isn't going to be solved if women keep quiet about it.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Fear of Being Made into a Woman

Posted by on Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 4:13 PM

He just wants to smash.

Last night I watched The Avengers and came away with a simple love for the comical, no-nonsense Hulk, who just wants to smash. It's worth noting that the movie doesn't account in any way for the fact that during the first half of the film, Hulk tries to kill everybody in his way, whereas later he will only kill the evil creatures and then he goes all huggy and becomes cute-dinosaury in the end, but whatever. The fact is that, even though I did wake up this weekend from a terrible, it-came-out-of-nowhere-except-the-everyday-experience-of-being-female rape nightmare, I personally can afford a simple love for the Hulk because I don't have real-life Hulks in my life.

But then I started thinking about Michael Sam and the NFL, and Jason Collins falling in the NBA ranks as punishment for coming out, and I realize that I'm still surrounded by macho men who have the power to destroy people's lives.

Folks talking about whether the NFL is "ready" for Michael Sam miss the fact that the NFL is a horror-show mainstream macho power structure—despite how you feel about the game of football itself—and all horror-show mainstream power structures, like, say, the enslavement of certain people and the decision to keep others from gaining the vote, do not get ready for a damn thing.

You have to bust them, as Ta-Nehisi Coates writes on The Atlantic today.

Michael Sam's assertion in itself is a blow. A gay man simply asserting his existence is an act of strength that threatens the weak strength of the NFL (what's that saying about how macho men have the weakest kind of strength?).

Because the NFL is driven by dudes who fear, more than anything, feeling the way women feel, as Coates explains:

When black soldiers joined the Union Army they were not merely confronting prejudice—they were pushing the boundaries of manhood. And when the Night Witches flew over German lines, they were confronting something more—the boundaries of humanity itself. Groups define themselves by what they are and what they are not: Niggers are never men, ladies are never soldiers, and faggots don't play football. When Michael Sam steps on a football field, he likely will not merely be playing for his career but, in some sense, for his people.

In that sense he will be challenging a deep and discrepant mythology of who is capable of inflicting violence and who isn't.

Another player (I'm sure he's very important in the NFL but I don't care enough even to write his name here) recently trotted out that old fear of taking a shower with a gay man, Coates writes:

What undergirds this logic is a fear of being made into a woman, which is to say a fear of being regarded sexually by someone who is as strong as, or stronger than, you. Implicit to the fear is the gay player's ability to do violence. It exists right alongside a belief that the gay player is a "sissy." ("Grown men should not have female tendencies. Period," Vilma once tweeted.) The logic is kin to the old Confederate belief that Southern slaves were so loyal and cowardly yet they must never be given guns.

Let's be clear: Gay men are not sexual violators. But that brainless stereotype might actually have a benefit (as long as it doesn't mean gay athletes in locker rooms and on fields are bullied and beaten by a fearful mob majority). If physically powerful pro-athlete gay men standing up for themselves forces macho straight guys into empathy, then that stereotype will have helped to dismantle a whole world of men who have never felt—and in their ignorance, are both terrified and terrifying—the firsthand, implicit threat of sexual violation, the way most women have at some point in their lives. I can't even imagine how different that world would be.

Furthermore, and maybe this sounds too radical, but the day is coming when anybody who watches the NFL and NBA and NHL and hates homophobia is going to have to start demanding that players like Collins and Sam aren't discriminated against athletically for who they are. I'm angry in advance of the draft. I want to smash the NFL.

Terry Hosted an Impromptu Fundraiser for Planned Parenthood This Weekend

Posted by on Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 1:59 PM

This is the first thing I read on Sunday morning...

My response:

Yes, I ran to the Pope and tattled on Catholic Lisa. I thought Francis should know that Catholic Lisa wasn't in church on Sunday morning, where she belonged, but online, concern trolling a gay dude about his asshole. (Which, for the record, is just fine. Also for the record: "gay bowel syndrome" is bullshit—unlike, say, "rapist priest syndrome.") Me and Catholic Lisa, who I'd never had the pleasure of meeting before, proceeded to get into a little twitter spat. In all honesty, Slog, I let her have it. I figured if this woman wanted to spend her Sunday morning talking about gay assholes, I was going give her all the gay asshole she could handle.

I also let her have this and this and this.

The next thing I knew I was tweeting back and forth about my asshole with Catholic Lisa (who insists she not homophobic, it's just that gay people are disgusting and we make her vomit), other gay men were jumping in about their assholes, then I was debating Catholic Lisa's assholery with Catholic Joel Connelly. We were at full-blown twitter war! It continued through breakfast and raged on even after I got my ass to gay church, a.k.a. the gym, with Episcopalian Terry, my gay husband. (His asshole, for the record, is more than fine.) Terry was getting annoyed about how Catholic Lisa was distracting me from my spotting duties. Which lead to this exchange between Catholic Lisa and Episcopalian Terry:

When Catholic Lisa tweeted at me again, Terry donated $50 to Planned Parenthood in Catholic Lisa's name and tweeted her a picture of the receipt. She tweeted at me again, Terry donated again in Catholic Lisa's name. She tweeted at me again, Terry donated again. Catholic Lisa kept on tweeting at us. She claimed that she was being bullied and posted my high school graduation picture as proof. Then Terry asked his followers to donate to Planned Parenthood, I asked mine to donate to Planned Parenthood, and before the afternoon was over we had raised more than $3,000 for Planned Parenthood—all in Catholic Lisa's name. And this was the first tweet I read this morning:

So my Monday got off to a much better start than my Sunday. Catholic Lisa, for her part, sees our twitter spat like this:

Wrong. Catholic Lisa is free to express her views. No one really gives a shit about her views. We spent the day raising money for Planned Parenthood because Catholic Lisa wouldn't stop blowing up our twitter feed. And Catholic Lisa is wrong about what Planned Parenthood does:


By providing women with contraception—35% of what they do—Planned Parenthood helps to bring down the abortion rate. That's what access to contraception does. And here's the proof. The abortion rate is lower now than it has been at any time since Roe v. Wade thanks to greater access to contraception. So by making contraception services available to women, Planned Parenthood drives down the abortion rate. People like Catholic Lisa—people who oppose abortion—should thank everyone at Planned Parenthood for all that they've done and all that they continue to do to prevent unplanned pregnancies and abortions.

And finally: it's not too late to participate in our impromptu fundraiser for Planned Parenthood! Click here to donate!

One last exchange... after the jump...

Continue reading »

Someone Finally Addressing the Sexism In Stock Photos

Posted by on Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 12:18 PM

This came up when I searched Shutterstock for sexism. Seems legit!
  • temiropix/Shutterstock
  • This came up when I looked for "sexism." Seems legit!

If you never met a woman and were trying to figure out what we're like purely from looking at stock photos, you'd think most of us were salad loving, mostly naked, power suit-wearing idiots. Thankfully, Jessica Bennett and her team at Lean In are partnering with Getty Images to combat this insipid form of institutional sexism and make stock images less sexist.

Born out of the memoir of the same name by Facebook's chief operating officer, the non-profit has partnered with Getty Images to create a stock-photo library of 2,500 pictures that portray women in a positive light. Those will be available to Getty customers like corporations seeking an image for their website, creative directors at ad agencies and photo editors at media outlets.


The notion behind the partnership is that a sizable share of results that come up in routine stock-photo queries for terms like "businesswoman" and "career woman" are "completely sexualized or just really cheesy," said Jessica Bennett, Lean In's contributing editor who works on editorial partnerships for the organization.

She pointed to photos of women in boxing gloves and women gleefully ascending ladders in their high heels, a trend that New York Magazine recently documented.

"There's so much terrible stock imagery out there, so we wanted to put something out that felt really authentic and empowering," she said.

It will be nice to look up "feminism" on a stock photo site and not see a woman threatening a man with a gun or an iron anymore.

Currently Hanging: Ye Olde Virgin/Whore Complex

Posted by on Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 9:05 AM

This is a detail from a collage by Deborah Faye Lawrence.
  • JG
  • This is a detail from a collage by Deborah Faye Lawrence.

You can see Deborah Faye Lawrence's collages at ArtsWest. They're a cross between ransom notes, Hieronymous Bosches, and public service announcements. As in, don't let your sister, mother, girlfriend, fiancee, wife, or even your sex worker get cut in half like this. Face women whole.

Now we return you to your regularly scheduled programming. See more recommended art shows right here.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

House Passes the Reproductive Parity Act

Posted by on Wed, Feb 5, 2014 at 12:27 PM

Earlier today the Reproductive Parity Act (RPA), which would protect access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare in Washington by requiring that insurance companies that cover maternity care also cover abortion, passed with a 54-44 vote. Rachel Berkson, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, said she was grateful to allies in the House for supporting the Reproductive Parity Act, and:

"We’ve heard from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner that at least two plans through the state exchange don’t cover elective abortion, and there’s confusion surrounding more. This is what happens without the RPA in place to protect access to care. We appreciate that our representatives in the House stand with women, and we urge the Senate to show that they do too."

From NARAL's press release:

Passing commonsense legislation like the RPA is crucial in ensuring that women in Washington State maintain access to the care that they need, and as attacks on women’s health escalate nationwide, Washington must lead with nation with strong legislation that protects women’s health.

Well, Senate, now it's up to you.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Abortion Rate at Lowest Rate Since 1973

Posted by on Mon, Feb 3, 2014 at 1:33 PM


The abortion rate in the United States dropped to its lowest point since the Supreme Court legalized the procedure in all 50 states, according to a study suggesting that new, long-acting contraceptive methods are having a significant impact in reducing unwanted pregnancies. There were fewer than 17 abortions for every 1,000 women in 2011, the latest year for which figures were available, according a paper published Monday from the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion-rights think tank. That is down 13 percent from 2008 and a little higher than the rate in 1973, when the Supreme Court handed down its landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

Andrew Sullivan:

Some pro-lifers are crediting the wave of restrictive legislation passed since 2011, but the data only go up to 2011! And besides, the drop has been going on for more than twenty years now, in a huge success for the pro-life movement, and for the pro-choice movement. Which makes this moment such a telling one. The rate is now roughly where it was in 1973, when Roe went into effect. So without getting rid of the legal regime for abortion, rates are now almost where they were before it came into effect. It seems to me that this somewhat brutally undermines the case for a policy of coercion and criminality going forward. If we can halve the rate of abortion under Roe, and effectively make its impact neutral on abortion rates, without criminalizing abortion, don’t we have a win-win?

So... the abortion rate is now where it was before abortion was legalized. And if we continue to back contraception—by, say, including contraception coverage in the health insurance policies that people are obligated to purchase under Obamacare—we could conceivably drive the abortion rate down further. To pre-Roe levels. Unfortunately American conservatives and anti-abortion crusaders are waging a war on contraception and access to contraception. Because what they oppose is sex. And female sexuality. It's women having sex in the absence of potentially dire or life-altering/life-threatening consequences that drives them mad. That's why they oppose abortion and the one thing that has been proven to bring down the abortion rate: greater access to contraception.

And the fact that we're talking about driving abortion rates down to pre-Roe levels is evidence of something that we should be talking about more: legal or illegal, women will still get abortions. So the debate isn't, "Shall we have abortions in this country or not?", but rather, "What kind of abortions are we going to have? Safe and legal? Or Unsafe and illegal?"

That anti-choicers will choose "unsafe and illegal" gives away the game: It's not about "ending abortion," it's about punishing a woman for the crime of having sex when she wasn't trying to make a baby.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Louisiana Set to Secretly Remove Abortion Rights

Posted by on Wed, Jan 29, 2014 at 2:47 PM

All five abortion clinics operating in Louisiana are set to close thanks to the new, super sneaky laws, emergency measures, and blood test requirements that drastically decrease the window for getting the procedure done within the 20-week cut off.

Zoe Carpenter at The Nation reports that none of the existing clinics can meet the new, seemingly arbitrary space requirements (and convoluted staffing requirements) outlined in the "new abortion rules" that went into effect in November. Traveling to another state for the procedure is often impossible, since it's really goddamn expensive and most patients can't afford the cost. Also problematic is that the law is asking for a mandatory 30-day waiting period to be put into effect via blood testing—doctors often do blood tests when you're pregnant, but there's no medical rationale for the waiting period. New Orleans attorney Ellie Schilling is calling this entire shitshow a "back door abortion ban":

“What it amounts to is a back door abortion ban. The way the [Department of Health and Hospitals] went about passing these regulations was in a secretive and undemocratic way. The public definitely doesn’t know what’s going on.”

There was a public hearing this morning that may have been canceled due to weather, and it's not clear if there will be another one scheduled before the end of the comment period. This is so frustratingly shady.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Patty Murray Vs. Hobby Lobby

Posted by on Tue, Jan 28, 2014 at 11:49 AM

Is it just me, or has Patty Murray been extra awesome lately?

Nineteen Democratic senators, including Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and four other women, are filing an amicus brief Tuesday in support of the Obama administration’s contraception mandate under the Affordable Care Act.

The provision is being challenged by Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts retailer that is arguing that the mandate violates the company’s religious freedoms under the First Amendment, according to Yahoo News.

This Hobby Lobby contraception mandate debate is one of those things that simply shouldn't happen in America. When did it become okay for corporations to provide a benefit for their employees and then tell those employees how they can and can't use the benefit? What business is it of Hobby Lobby's how their employees spend their time? Why are conservatives supporting this, beyond their instinctual fear and loathing of vaginas? This story alternates between nightmarish and simply baffling.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Seattle Women's Convention

Posted by on Mon, Jan 27, 2014 at 10:54 AM

PINK-COLLARED, PINK-FRAMED Tariqa Waters made this painting of slave-owning garbage president Andrew Jackson. She explained she was inspired by hipster Seattle shops and restaurants decorated period. If this is how we're going to address history, then this is how I'm going to address history. Because if I dress period-specific, yall are gonna have a problem with it, she said. Im gonna look like Im gonna go pick cotton. The painting is at her Pioneer Square gallery-in-her-stairwell, Martyr Sauce.
  • Courtesy of the artist
  • PINK-COLLARED, PINK-FRAMED Tariqa Waters made this painting of slave-owning garbage president Andrew Jackson. She explained she was inspired by hipster Seattle shops and restaurants decorated "period." "If this is how we're going to address history, then this is how I'm going to address history. Because if I dress period-specific, y'all are gonna have a problem with it," she said. "I'm gonna look like I'm gonna go pick cotton." The painting is at her Pioneer Square gallery-in-her-stairwell, Martyr Sauce.

The Seattle Women's Convention held Thursday night was epic. It was astoundingly well-attended, drawing artists old and young, from gilded to tough backgrounds, classical realist painters to performance artists—and almost every woman in attendance spoke at some point. We're talking more than a hundred women.

Young artists spoke of being afraid to sign their first names to their works for fear of being immediately categorized as a "woman artist." Older artists gave encouragement, asked-for advice and life stories. An original Guerrilla Grrl took the opportunity to finally come out of the closet. Her name is Ann Leda Shapiro, and she lives on Vashon.

Waters with her big old painting, which presided over the Seattle Womens Convention at the Hedreen Gallery on Thursday.
  • JG
  • Waters with her big old painting, which presided over the Seattle Women's Convention at the Hedreen Gallery on Thursday.
The event was organized by Amanda Manitach, curator at the Hedreen Gallery where it was held, and painter Joey Veltkamp, who established the rule that just for that night, men were to listen rather than talk. (He hung a sign right on the door.) It was set up so that Susie Lee (Skyping in), Susanna Bluhm, and I were the kickoff panelists and moderators, but we did not by any means do the majority of the talking. The conversation crisscrossed the room so entirely that halfway through, the group decided to rearrange the chairs into a giant oval where everybody faced each other.

Among the subjects of conversation: the debate over labels versus freedom and context; the different politics in different parts of the art world (the classical realist world versus the museum world, for instance); how women of color and white women often approach feminism differently (feeling part of it, not feeling part of it); how to make feminism into a creative project of reimagining gender and sexuality; the overconfidence of male art students and the underconfidence of female art students; painting big; gender and the pseudonymous internet; the way perfectionism separates women from each other and themselves; which works of art you've seen recently that have made you able to see more value and depth in the women around you; whether there's more pressure to make art that's ambiguous in subject matter or pointedly about "women's issues"; whether women are "allowed" to critique sexism in their lives if they don't address it directly in their works; the way that men see themselves as simply "the universal human subject."

A particularly honest section of the night happened when women described their differing direct experiences with patriarchy, varying from being raised in religious seclusion in an abusive patriarchal household to an acclaimed artist and MFA professor advising his female students not to have boyfriends or husbands if they want to be serious while not similarly advising his male students.

Several questions and ideas were posed by women beforehand, and those suggestions were posted on the walls of the Hedreen in advance, as in Davida Ingram's, "If you could wave a magic wand and turn any artist into an avowed feminist, who would you pick? And why?"

The night lasted three hours but somehow passed quickly. It wasn't just more rehashed talk. By the end, I felt like I actually knew these women, and the art being made every day in this city, more deeply. I have to call that out, because it's rare. Thanks to everyone who was there, and to Manitach and Veltkamp for organizing.

Among the artists in attendance were Crystal Barbre, Davida Ingram, Sherry Markovitz, Tariqa Waters, Sharon Arnold, Deborah Lawrence, Sandra Jackson-Dumont, Cristin Miller, Kathy Liao, Kelly Lyles, Tracy Boyd, Grace Weston, Ellie Dicola, Anne Blackburn, and Kate Protage. Look them up, check out their work (and please leave any other names and links in comments, as I'm missing a ton). Melissa Monosmith was also present; she has just taken over from her husband at LTD. Gallery on Capitol Hill.

To follow the future activities of the Seattle Women's Convention, you can join the Facebook group.



Friday, January 24, 2014



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Tuesday, January 21, 2014



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