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So, some of the ladies from my advanced creative non-fiction writing class here at Ball State have started a blog focusing on female writers called ChickLitz.  We’ll talk about writing, and being ladies and being lady writers.  We’ll post some of our creative stuff.  THERE ARE NO RULES.  I’ll be posting every Wednesday (because it’s Humpday, natch), but you should check it out EVERY DAY because we’re all amazing

[NOTE:  I can’t promise that the writing I present there will be as “clean” as I try to keep it here.  It’s not my personal blog, and my creative writing can be a bit saltier than the posts here.]

Anywho, here’s my FIRST POST.  It’s about my junior high career as a golfer, and how it relates to the plight of female writers nowadays.

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Okay, so if you didn’t know already, the senate recently voted 58-41 against the Equal Pay Act which would ensure that women would make as much as men doing the same jobs.  Here are a few facts on what this means:

Amount U.S. women earn for every dollar earned by men: 77 cents

Amount African-American women earn for every dollar earned by a white man: 61 cents

Amount Latinas earn for every dollar earned by a white man: 52 cents

Amount women living in Southern states* earn for every dollar earned by a man: 75

Percent of U.S. voters who in a recent poll expressed support for a new law to give women more tools to get fair pay in the workplace:  84

Percent of U.S. voters who said they strongly support such a law: 72

Percent of Democrats who strongly support such a law: 83

Percent of Republicans who strongly support such a law: 61

Month when the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Paycheck Fairness Act, a measure designed to remedy income gender disparities:1/2009

Bipartisan vote by which the House approved the bill: 256-163

Date when the Senate considered the same bill: 11/17/2010

Number of votes the Senate needed to end a Republican filibuster against the bill: 60

The Senate’s final vote to end the filibuster: 58-41

Number of Senate Democrats who voted against the bill: 1**

Number of Senate Republicans who voted for the bill: 0

Portion of U.S. families in which mothers are the primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners: 2/3

Percent by which the number of married couples with children depending exclusively on women’s earnings rose last year: 36

Words can’t really express how angry I am about this.  How is it that, in 2010, we are still trying to tell women that they aren’t worthy of equality?  It’s absolutely ridiculous.  But here’s the kicker:  absolutely no Republicans voted in favor of the bill.  Not really shocking, considering that their main strategy nowadays is just to say “no” to absolutely everything the Democrats propose.  What really kills me is the contradictions.  Republicans want to force women to have babies (many of them want this even in cases of rape and incest), and yet they refuse to take the appropriate steps to ensure that these women will make enough money to support these children.  Isn’t this something that Sarah Palin and her Mama Grizzlies, who want so badly to call themselves feminists, should be fighting for?  As Nancy Pelosi said, what will these people who voted against equal wages tell their daughters?  What this says to women is, “You’re not worth it.”  You’re not worth taking a pay cut for, you’re not worth stepping over party lines for, you’re not worthy of equality.  And they say we don’t need feminism anymore.

Info source.

Pic source.

Back in the first season of Glee, oh so many moons ago, there was quite a bit of talk about whether or not the show fell into sexist territory on occasion.  If you’re thinking, “I never heard anything about that,” clearly you weren’t looking in the right places.  People who complained that Glee had a not-so-admirable opinion on girls and women were kind of right.  Terri and Quinn were both lying about their pregnancies (or lack of pregnancy, in Terri’s case) and were uncaring “shrews” towards Will and Finn, respectively.  Emma and Rachel were both “the other woman” in two separate already-established relationships.  Sue was the evil villain of the show.  There was nary an admirable female character in sight, whereas Will, Kurt, and Finn (and Artie, to a certain extent) were (and still are) portrayed as saintly.

I personally didn’t think it was that big of a deal, back in the first season.  I’ll admit, I was a bit distracted by all the flashy musical numbers and the “we can do it!” feel-good attitude.  The show was a little dose of sunshine every week, and for that, I was willing to overlook some of the more serious problems it has.  Most shows have issues with continuity, character consistency and development, tone, pacing, etc., at some point.  Granted, Glee has those problems in spades, but the problems I’m talking about are more social.  Is the show racist at times?  Is it sexist?  Is it ableist?  I think a lot of shows are, but those shows don’t package themselves as repurposed after-school specials, complete with morals and a lesson.  The theme of the show is, “Appreciate the things that make us different.”  Dare to stand out, to go against the “norm.”  That’s why the show gets a lot of attention on that front.

So the question is, why does a show that preaches acceptance and tolerance persist in being intolerant, or at the very least, ignorant of people who are different?  These past two episodes have kind of shook my inner-feminist awake and said, “Neener neener, I’m not playing nice.”  Here’s a brief list of what I take issue with.

1.  Sluts, prudes, and nothing in-between.

Glee never portrays girls’ sexuality in a positive light.  I thought they might, back in the first season (I think it was the second episode?), when Rachel pays a visit to the Celibacy Club and says, “You know, girls like sex too.”  I thought, finally, a girl on television who isn’t a “whore” and isn’t a “prude.”  She’s just normal (not that there’s anything wrong with being a so-called “prude,” but in TV land, some character would have a problem with it eventually).  But no, come this season and Finn’s complaining that Rachel won’t let him get any.  In last week’s episode, “Never Been Kissed,” he said something to Sam, like, “Figures we’d date the only girls in school who won’t put out.”  First off, really?  Rachel and Quinn are the ONLY TWO GIRLS IN SCHOOL who won’t put out?  Seriously, Finn?!  And why would Rachel or Quinn WANT to put out?  So they could be labeled as “sluts,” like Brittany and Santana?

There’s no middle ground.  The girls are either uptight and won’t give their poor, poor boyfriends any sex, or they’re too promiscuous – girls who gain a reputation as “whores,” and can get no real respect from boys or their fellow girls.  Let me assert, there is nothing wrong with having sex, or not having sex.  It’s the show that portrays them in these ways:  it’s healthy for boys to want sex, and for girls to not give it to them.  It’s not healthy for girls to want sex.  For all the promise I saw in this show,  I was proven wrong.  I thought they’d have female characters who weren’t defined by their sexuality in some way, and while most of the girls on this show are multi-faceted (sexuality or lack of sexuality is NOT Rachel’s defining characteristic, for example), there are still some confusing, negative messages being sent out here.

NOTE:  The subtitle on this first entry to my list is a bit misleading.  There IS something “in-between.”  There’s the girl no one wants to imagine in a romantic situation at all, i.e. Mercedes.  Everyone knows that curvy girls can’t get love, duh.  Clearly that’d be gross.

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I just read this article analyzing the recent Mel Gibson hoopla and how the media (and our society as whole) has reacted to it.  It’s a great opinion piece, and you should read it, but I’ll go ahead and summarize.  If you’ve been paying any attention to the coverage on this whole situation, then you may have picked up on them emphasizing Mr. Gibson’s racist remarks.  Many say that he was let go by his agency because of the racism.  From the article:  “The claim is that Gibson screamed at his then-girlfriend that the way she dressed meant that she deserved to be raped by a pack of ‘n—-rs.’ The so-called ‘n-word’ is so totemically powerful that no one will even print it, and its use has finally placed Gibson beyond the pale:  his own agents issued a statement saying that no one in Hollywood would touch him with a 10-foot pole. Because of his racial attitudes.  But what about the (alleged) threats and assaults against his then girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, who claims that he broke two of her teeth, and attacked her while she was holding their baby? Those are mentioned in passing as ‘misogyny’ or ‘domestic abuse.’  Objectionable, maybe, but not enough to end a Hollywood player’s career.”

It’s undeniable how true this is; Charlie Sheen has come under fire numerous times for his abusive treatment of his girlfriends and spouses.  Does it keep him from having the most-watched sitcom on television right now?  No.  Roman Polanski had a gaggle of celebrities come out to support him after his recent arrest, and that included a number of female celebs.  Clearly raping a young girl is wrong, but if it’s an “artist” doing it, well, that might be excusable. Read the rest of this entry »

Sarah Palin has been talking a lot about feminism lately, which is ironic as she is about as far away from feminism as one can get.  Why?  Well, for one, she’s anti-Choice.  I’ve heard it said that you really can’t consider yourself a feminist and be against abortion at the same time, and I’d agree with that.  One can see abortion as an unfortunate occurrence, sure, but if one wants to deny a woman her basic right to choose, then one clearly doesn’t want women to be completely free.  Instead, Palin and her ilk portray their anti-choice stance as being “feminist.”  They argue that taking away a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body will merely make women stronger.  It’s empowering for women to make the hard decision and become mothers (or give birth and hand the child over to someone else), so we might as well just take away their choice altogether.  Faux-empowerment by force, one might call it.

Secondly, Palin seems to have an issue with the unequal wages of men and women in the workplace, and by “issue,” I mean that she doesn’t take what I consider to be the clear feminist standpoint on the topic.  Instead, she supports a party and candidates (like John McCain) who flat-out oppose any legislation that would guarantee equal wages for women.  They don’t want to force businesses to pay extra if they don’t have to (always for the big businesses, those guys are).  Their opinions are nothing short of antique.  As Jessica Valenti writes in her recent column in the Washington Post, “The fake feminism of Sarah Palin,” “When members of the conservative Independent Women’s Forum argue against efforts to address pay inequity, they say the salary gap is a result of women’s informed choices — motherhood, for example — and that claims of discrimination turn women into victims.”  If all claims of discrimination turned women into victims, then we wouldn’t be wearing pants, voting, attending college, or working outside of the home.  “Oh, don’t campaign for the right to vote.  That just makes you look like a victim.  You’ll look weak.”  What a ridiculous notion.  Another ridiculous notion is that all women make informed choices such as motherhood (and, remember, if Palin had her way, motherhood wouldn’t be much of a choice).  Not all women choose that path, and if they do, who says that they should always be the one taking off time to raise a kid, and putting their careers on hold?  Men do that sometimes – in Britain, they recently fought to earn paternity leave from work – and this idea refuses to reflect that.  Clearly some time would have to be taken off to actually have the child, but no more than would be needed for major surgery, a situation that a person of either sex could find themselves in.

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I make it a point, in my daily web browsing, to check out certain online communities that I consider to be educational.  This includes places where people talk about art and culture, the news, and society.  I often check in with various sites, blogs and communities that focus on feminism and women’s issues, as these interest me.

Unfortunately, I’ve found that I feel extremely uncomfortable in these places.

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I attend Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.  You may know it as David Letterman’s alma mater – that’s our biggest “claim to fame.”

But Letterman has some competition for “most well-known sexist with Ball State connections” in the form of the Ball State Ass Slapper.

Yesterday, everyone on campus received the following public safety notice:

“University Police are reporting two complaints of assault following incidents at approximately 8:00 a.m. this morning, April 7, in the vicinity of Worthen Arena and the Student Health Center.  According to Assistant Chief Robert Fey, two women walking in the area reported being slapped on their buttocks by a white male as he rode past them on a bicycle.”

One of the victims was a student, the other a faculty member.  According to this article in the campus newspaper, the man didn’t just slap their asses, he groped them.  Then, he assaulted one of them further by giving them the finger and turning back around and yelling, “I love you!”

What’s most revolting about the response to this, which includes a suddenly very popular Facebook fan page for the Ball State Ass Slapper (he currently has about 5,500 fans).  The incident has become some huge joke, and even people who I expected more from are becoming fans.

Even worse, I saw some of the following comments regarding the Ass Slapper:

“I feel that if The Ass Slapper is ever caught, he will die.  From high fiving.”

“He smacked a 33 year old?  Extra points for him to bag a cougar.”

“I bet he didn’t give her the finger.  She didn’t say anything about that until today lol.”

“not sure which is worse, the guy actually slapping their asses or the chicks calling the cops on him??  ass slapper, you can slap my ass any day brother.”

“The Ball State Ass Slapper is my idol.  The two girls that told are the DEVIL.  The one that didn’t deserves a really big cookie.”

“does anyone know how these girls were dressed?”

Also, the pictures are mostly of men spanking women.  And I’ve heard tell that next week we will have a campus-wide ass slapping day, which I really hope does not happen.

Most people played it off like they weren’t teasing the slapper’s victims, or making him out to be a hero.  They were just making fun of the fact that Ball State “overreacted” by sending out those public safety alerts.  As far as I know, they are obligated to do that any time an incident is reported.  Besides, many of the comments on the fan page made it clear that the majority were honestly supporting the perpetrator.  Frankly, I’m glad that the campus police told me about it, so I don’t see anything humorous about any aspect of this situation.

In fact, I am sickened by it.  It’s assault no matter which way you slice it.  And apparently the story is going nationwide, and I’m afraid it’ll be played for laughs.  I’m almost certain David Letterman will pick it up and make a mockery of the situation and of the school.  It’s embarrassing and infuriating.

ETA:  This is getting a lot of attention (and every time I say that about a post, it suddenly decreases in popularity, but that’s kind of what I’m hoping for).

The bottom line is yes, I know that it’s a bit upsetting that Ball State won’t alert us about some serious things that happen in places like the Village.  That sucks, a lot.  But that doesn’t make this situation, or their reporting it to us, any less serious.  Where do you draw the line between “ass groping” and sexual assault, since according to most, this isn’t sexual assault?  I don’t see a line between the two.  He didn’t slap these women, he grabbed them, and those that reported it felt uncomfortable about it.  I believe that they didn’t do it for attention.  One was a 30-something year old faculty member, so I’d expect more than that from them.  They probably didn’t know it would erupt into something like this.  I doubt the perpetrator even knew this would happen.

But can’t we just admit that it’s a slippery slope?  If we’re laughing off tush slapping, then next we’re going to laugh it off when some person walks down the street grabbing girls’ breasts.  Then we’ll laugh it off when another person starts grabbing at guys’ crotches.  Next, it’ll just be “funny” when someone is walking around flashing students.  Before you can blink, someone will get raped and then they’ll be told it was just a joke.  It’s dangerous.  We have to seriously consider the dangers girls face every time they go outside.  The sexual assault, rape, and abuse statistics for America are insane.  Every minute of every day in the U.S., a woman is raped.  I know there’s a considerable gap between butt smacking and rape, but it is sexual assault, by definition, and if that’s a joke, then where do you draw the line?  Let’s use our brains here, and show some maturity.

In These Times has a pretty interesting article up, “Girls Gone Anti-Feminist,” by Susan J. Douglas, and though I had some problems with the article, I thought I’d post it as a good segue into a topic I’ve been meaning to explore here on my blog.  Why aren’t all women feminists?

First, some things everyone should know (and they’re all in the article):

  • “In 1999, the top five jobs for women did not include attorney, surgeon or CEO. They were, in order, secretaries, retail and personal sales workers (including cashiers), managers and administrators, elementary school teachers and registered nurses. Farther down among the top 20 were bookkeepers, receptionists, cooks and waitresses.”
  • “In 2007, the top five jobs for women were, still, secretaries in first place, followed by registered nurses, elementary and middle school teachers, cashiers and retail salespersons.  Farther down the line? Maids, child care workers, office clerks and hairdressers. Not a CEO or hedge fund manager in sight.”
  • “A year out of college, [women] earn 80 percent of what men make. And 10 years out? A staggering 69 percent.”
  • The national median income for women in 2008 was $36,000 a year, 23 percent less than their male counterparts.
  • “In the United States, we have the flimsiest support network for mothers and children of any industrialized country, nearly 2 million women are assaulted each year by a husband or boyfriend, and 18 percent of women have reported being the victim of a completed or attempted rape.”
  • “White women still make 75 cents to a man’s dollar, and it’s 62 cents for Black women and only 53 cents for Latinas. The majority of families with children in poverty are headed by single women.”

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I didn’t watch the Super Bowl, but I did see some of the ads.  Here’s one that really lit the fire of my ire.

It’s called “Man’s Last Stand.”  In summary, it’s basically a bunch of men complaining about how women stifle their apish tendencies, thus making them behave like normal human beings.  Apparently all their suffering at the hands of women means that they totally deserve a Dodge Charger.

Yeah, I’m not buying it.  I’m sick and tired of women being constantly portrayed as this naggy, nit-picky, controlling force that stifles the manliness of men.  Clearly I’m not alone.  Some crafty women created a response “commercial,” which is naturally titled, “Woman’s Last Stand.”

Yes, it takes the same stereotypical stance as the male version of the commercial.  However, this one mentions a few real reasons why women have a right to be angry (like unequal wages), and they never ask for a car as payment.  I feel like watching it over and over again.

I live in the Louisville, Kentucky, area.  We have two weekly free magazines in the area, “Velocity,” which is published in conjunction with the local newspaper, and “LEO,” which is an independent rag.  I enjoy them and will pick the newest issue up whenever I see it.

In one of the most recent issues of “LEO,” I found this opinion piece, “Reflections of an ex man-whore,” by Ricky L. Jones, and was so utterly disappointed in it.  It is perhaps the most ignorant analyzation of the entire Tiger Woods drama that I have read thus far.  Not only am I upset to find this in a publication that has a reputation for being extremely liberal-minded, but it would seem that the author is extremely well-regarded and well-educated, and is now an educator himself.  

Even more upsetting is that, as far as he’s concerned, it would be pointless to argue with his dated point-of-view, which he seems to take a certain amount of pride in.  As he so lovingly puts it, “I know, I know — my tone offends you. I am a Neanderthal sexist, a disrespectful, angry fellow who hates women because I think men have the capacity to speak for ourselves. I’m screwed up because I remind you that women cheat, too (and are pretty good at it, by the way). Go ahead and send me your nasty little notes. Take your best shot. It’s no secret that I don’t give a damn, so go for it.”

Not that I really see the point in arguing with a man who asserts that we live, “in a world in which most men have been softened to the point of making me vomit.”  I’m just so sick and tired of hearing the “monogamy isn’t natural for men” argument.  Poor men, they suffer so much.  Ironic that Dr. Jones argues that men are too soft, then goes on to whine about how difficult it is to be a man nowadays.  Yes, I must have forgotten that men get paid less than women, that they are told what to do with their own bodies, that they have a harder time getting certain jobs, that they can’t be sexually active without being called “whores” or “sluts,” instead of “studs” and “lady-killers.”

Oh, wait… it’s not opposite day.

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