Feminist Friday: Lectures Still Aren’t Magic

This Week in Ladybits

Ugh. UGH. I know we talk about the massive, draconian efforts to restrict abortion in this section, a lot, but have we talked lately about the massive efforts to restrict birth control? Birth control. What freaking YEAR is this?

This week in particular, poor friendly birth control got dragged back into the debt ceiling fight as a faction of the GOP tried to force a “conscience clause” — an out for employers who don’t think ladies who work for them should be able to get naughty bad birth control covered by their insurance plans — into the Affordable Care Act in exchange for letting the federal government start functioning again.

The trend is even more alarming because so many of the loudest voices against birth control remain willfully ignorant about how it works. It’s really easy to stick to one hardcore position in an argument when you let the facts just bounce straight off your skull.

It might be time to be less polite about the fact that we have religious fanatics in elected offices, large and small. If you’re LGBT or female or any combination of those things, the words “Biblical law” should make you very jumpy.

And yes, abortion clinics are still shutting down. Take a look at Ohio.

This Week in Thinky

Slate  ran a series of portraits by photographer Endia Beal featuring corporate white women with black hairstyles.

ChristinaPhoto by Endia Beal via Slate

A Penn State researcher has a theory that most cave art was produced by women.

Poet Lily Myers performed this over the spring, but it’s been bouncing around the web this week. (Hat tip to Sara for the link.)

Biologist and science blogger Dr. Danielle Lee politely told a website she wasn’t interested in working for them for free… and got called a whore.

When Lee blogged about her experience last Friday, the Scientific American website took it down. They have since put the post back up and apologized. Amazingly enough, that may turn out to be the small science-and-sexism scandal this week.

This Week in Are You Kidding Me?

Actor and writer Stephen Fry interviewed an ex-gay “therapist.” Yikes.

The Atlanta Braves celebrated Spirit Day to support their LGBT fans. And then their bigot fans came out of the woodwork.

Kenan Thompson said that there aren’t any black women in the SNL cast because there aren’t any black comediennes who are ready. To be clear: He’s not saying that women or black women aren’t funny; he’s saying the ones who get into the audition room aren’t seasoned enough to make it on the show.

So does that mean that female African-American comedians aren’t ready, or that the show’s talent scouts aren’t casting a wide enough net? I would submit, based on the number of hilarious women I know alone, that it’s the second one. Writer/director/actor Marc Warzecha managed to think of four great comediennes just off the top of his head. (See our list here.)

Nyima Funk of  Wild’n Out and Whose Line?, on the other hand, thinks Thompson is right… for just a moment.

This Week in Lecturing Ladies

Emily Yoffe, who writes Slate’s “Dear Prudence” column, wrote a piece wondering why, oh why, we don’t tell young women to stop drinking when we know that drinking is associated with sexual assault.

My first reaction was On what planet are we not telling young women to stop drinking? If there has been one thing we as a society are very much willing to do, it’s police women’s behavior, especially young women. Why not write a piece on how nobody will tell young women not to get themselves raped by wearing low-cut tops?

There are lots of problems with this column, and blaming the victims is paramount. But there’s a creepy sideline to the logic here that bothers me almost as much: Telling young women not to drink isn’t really about preventing rape: It’s about making sure the rapist picks some other woman. You know, the foolish, bad girl who’s drinking. The one who, by implication, shouldn’t complain when she put herself in harm’s way like that. Yay, sisterhood?

Several online pieces took issue with Yoffe’s essay. My favorite was Ann Friedman’s gender swap. (And, really, why don’t we tell young men entering college not to drink so much? Where’s their lecture, and why are young women the only ones whose behavior needs constraining?)

I think I understand where Yoffe is coming from: She has a daughter who’s getting ready to enter college, and this has to be a big fear, if not the big fear for her.

I see women do this all the time — condemning other women as a talisman of sorts to protect against rape. It feels like if you can just memorize and follow all the right rules, you can keep it from happening to you. If only you don’t drink, if only you don’t dress provocatively, if only you don’t go to the wrong party, if only you aren’t friendly to the wrong person… I think when women fault each other like that — look at the young women who viciously went after the victim in the Steubenville case — it’s out of a self-protective fear: If they can only figure out what the victim did wrong and distance themselves from that, they can stay out of the category of The Kind of Girls Who Get Raped. And that’s the problem with essays like this — they suggest that those kind of girls must be the kind who somehow deserve it.

Unfortunately, the categories, blaming, and talismanic rules-following don’t always work. The only thing that will work is finally developing a culture that teaches our men not to rape. And right now, Ms. Yoffe isn’t helping with that.

This Week in Awesome

Oregon will now recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Hmm, I wonder if that will open the door to some in-state same-sex marrying? Let’s see some Marionberry pancakes at those future wedding brunches, people.

Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls and Feministing want you to Know Your IX.

There’s nothing wrong with showing a little skin if you feel like it, but if you’re tired of the sexy baseball player/sexy English barrister/sexy crock pot Halloween tropes, Take Back Halloween has a site filled with costume ideas with a little more bad-assery and/or intellectual heft.

FF1018- 2 Image courtesy of Take Back Halloween

Oh, good heavens, this Golden Girls action comic is so much fun. Go read the whole thing, won’t you? (Thanks to Brangien for the tip.)

FF1018- 3Image courtesy of Challenger Comics

Sometimes we all need a boost at the end of what at times can be, let’s face it, a frustrating news round-up. Thank you, India Arie for this soaringly happy, queer-friendly video.

Have a great weekend. Get out there and just do you.

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