Tag Archives: feminism

Additional thoughts on George Tiller, on the anniversary of his murder

What Would George Tiller Do?
Today is the third anniversary of Dr. George Tiller’s assassination. On May 31, 2009, Tiller was shot and killed by Scott Roeder while he served as an usher in his Wichita church. Tiller was one of the only abortion providers in the country to provide late-term abortions. He often wore a button that said “Trust Women.”

I wonder, if Dr. Tiller were alive today, what he would think about the unwavering attack against women’s reproductive freedom and bodily integrity—if he could ever of imagined that American women would still not just be fighting for the right to abortion but for birth control. Or that there would be a national debate on whether or not it’s appropriate to call a woman who wants contraception coverage a “prostitute.” I imagine that even for a man who had seen a lot of misogyny in his life, the current climate against women would be shocking.

Since Tiller’s murder, the legislative agenda against reproductive justice—and common-sense decency—has been staggering. (via The Nation.)

Here’s something I wrote about the murder of George Tiller, back at the time it happened:

Well, I will probably continue to think about the murder of Dr. Tiller and the issues it raises, but there’s only so much I want to say about it here. A friend of mine cautioned me against saying anything at all, pointing out that, the way things are, no one ever changes their mind on the topic of abortion anyway. But as I said in my first post, it had more to do with standing up and being counted, registering my anger, than with any notion of changing any anti-abortion fundamentalist’s point of view. That being said…

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Citroën fail | Too Much To Say For Myself

Cath Elliott – feminist, labour activist, blogger, Twitterer and regular Guardian contributor – has posted a breathtaking bit of sexist advertising over on her blog, Too Much To Say For Myself. Under the title Citroën fail, she posts the text of a Citroën press release, and a video from the website being PRed, largely without comment because, as I said, it’s so appalling it takes your breath away:

Citroën has unveiled the latest relationship innovation – Dating 2.0 – a pioneering online service that allows users to create their perfect partner through interactive technology – the 21st century way to make a date….

Canada Bans Pam Anderson’s “Sexist” PETA Ad

Pursuant to my earlier post on PETA’s ads

Canada Bans Pam Anderson’s “Sexist” PETA Ad: Last week, the city of Montreal banned Pamela Anderson’s new PETA ad, slamming it as “sexist.” In the advertisement, Pamela’s bikini clad body is divided and labeled as various cuts of meat. This image is coupled with the slogan: “All Animals Have the Same Parts.”… (via Change.org.)

The irony here, for me, is that this ad is an example of those I singled out for (qualified) praise – for having, at least potentially, a double edge to their message, critiquing both the meat industry and the treatment/depiction of women as pieces of meat.

According to an official spokesperson, Montreal’s ban is based on concerns that the ad “goes against all principles public organizations are fighting for in the everlasting battle of equality between men and women.” PETA might have responded in kind, by arguing that the ad is engaged in that battle, as well as in PETA’s primary battle over the treatment of animals, by raising the issue of the objectification of women in tandem with the obvious attempt to highlight the origins of the “cuts” of meat in the bodies of living creatures – making an ad/argument that “cuts” both ways..

Unfortunately, PETA did not go this route. Rather PETA senior vice president Dan Mathews defended the ad by saying, “I think that city officials are confusing ‘sexy’ with ‘sexist.'”  Which suggests to me that I was right in the argument I made in my original post, that PETA has lost sight of other issues in its concern for, as I put it in an unnecessarily derogatory phrasing, the fluffy bunnies.

Arguing that using a naked or nearly naked woman in its ad is just sexy, and rejecting any concern about the way women are routinely deployed in this way to sell things, shows that PETA really doesn’t get it. It is possible to be a sexist vegan jerk, but it isn’t the sort of change in which I am interested.

And it is distressing that change.org chose not to try to take on these issues in a serious way, just dealing with the ban and clearly taking PETA’s side (and also giving the article a very misleading title – suggesting that the ban is nationwide, rather than just in one city). Even more distressing are the comments that accompany the article; reading some of them it felt like the entire women’s movement had simply vanished… These comments or at least many of them show just how effective the backlash against feminism has been, and also how it has been coupled with aspects of the neocon entrepreneurial/aspirational ideology that has completely reshaped the American political, social and cultural landscape over the last two decades.

How Porn has Hijacked our Sexuality

Pursuant to my earlier questioning of the deployment of porn stars and sexualized imagery by PETA…

An excerpt from Pornland: How Porn has Hijacked our Sexuality by Gail Dines.

The reality is that women don’t need to look at porn to be profoundly affected by it because images, representations, and messages of porn are now delivered to women via pop culture. Women today are still not major consumers of hardcore porn; they are, however, whether they know it or not, internalizing porn ideology, an ideology that often masquerades as advice on how to be hot, rebellious, and cool in order to attract (and hopefully keep) a man.

You can read more from the excerpt on Scribd.com or order the whole book from Powells.com or Amazon. Here’s the summary of the book from Powells.com:

Professor Gail Dines has written about and researched the porn industry for over two decades. She attends industry conferences, interviews producers and performers, and speaks to hundreds of men and women each year about their experience with porn. Students and educators describe her work as life changing. In Pornland–the culmination of her life’s work–Dines takes an unflinching look at porn and its affect on our lives. Astonishingly, the average age of first viewing porn is now 11.5 years for boys, and with the advent of the Internet, it’s no surprise that young people are consuming more porn than ever. But, as Dines shows, today’s porn is strikingly different from yesterday’s Playboy. As porn culture has become absorbed into pop culture, a new wave of entrepreneurs are creating porn that is even more hard-core, violent, sexist, and racist. To differentiate their products in a glutted market, producers have created profitable niche products–like teen sex, torture porn, and gonzo–in order to entice a generation of desensitized users. Going from the backstreets to Wall Street, Dines traces the extensive money trail behind this multibillion-dollar industry–one that reaps more profits than the film and music industries combined. Like Big Tobacco–with its powerful lobbying groups and sophisticated business practices–porn companies don’t simply sell products. Rather they influence legislators, partner with mainstream media, and develop new technologies like streaming video for cell phones. Proving that this assembly line of content is actually limiting our sexual freedom, Dines argues that porn’s omnipresence has become a public health concern we can no longer ignore.

Read This: The Sex Work Shibboleth

Penny Red is consistently one of the most engaging and articulate of the political bloggers I follow. And I’m not alone in my estimation: her blog was voted one of the “Top 100” political blogs by TotalPolitics in 2009 and this year was shortlisted for The Orwell Prize. Everything she writes is worth reading and never more so than when she takes on a difficult topic, as here:

The Sex Work Shibboleth: “For feminists, arguments about sex work have become an ugly, obstructive shibboleth. The debate about whether feminism can ever tolerate the sale of sex has raged for over five decades, and in recent years the question has opened old wounds in the fabric of feminist unity, leading to such embarrassing flashpoints as the verbal abuse and police intimidation of sex workers and their allies at the Reclaim the Night march in 2009….”

(read the whole piece at Penny Red.)

Men Who Hate Women

Men Who Hate Women (Män som hatar kvinnor) is the original, Swedish title of Stieg Larsson’s phenomenal bestseller, published in English as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – the first volume of “The Millennium Trilogy.” All three books in the trilogy have been incredibly successful. Unfortunately, Larsson never got to enjoy this success – he died before the books were published. Posthumously, though, he was the second biggest selling author in the world in 2008.

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India Womens Day | International Women’s Day | The Australian

A rally took place in Ahmadabad, India to mark International Women’s Day. On Monday the Indian government introduced a bill to parliament that proposes reserving a third of the legislature’s seats for women. Picture: AP

via India Womens Day | International Women’s Day | The Australian.

Recommit to women’s liberation | Lindsey German and Nina Power | Comment is free | The Guardian

Today is the 100th International Women’s Day. First agreed at a socialist women’s conference in Copenhagen in 1910, its aim was to campaign for the rights of working women. Today, the lives of women have changed beyond recognition compared with those of their grandmothers and great grandmothers. But the changes in work and personal life have been distorted by the needs of the market and have fallen far short of women’s liberation.

via Recommit to women’s liberation | Lindsey German and Nina Power | Comment is free | The Guardian.