Feminist Friday: Check Unbalances 

Take heart, you wondrous women. There is a lot of awesome this week. It is at the end, but we have moxie, you and I, so we will start with what must be remedied and barrel through to what makes us reel, sway, and butt dance. 

This Week in Suckage 

Ugh. The Senate GOP – all of them, including the women – blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act. 

Photo courtesy of WhiteHouse.gov 

Oh, quit worrying your pretty little head about it. You were just going to spend that money you would have been fairly paid on gossip magazines and ratting your hair. Oh, or maybe on suing an employer who’s been discriminating against you, which might have been a deterrent to other employers who were hoping to discriminate based on gender. That sounds like a pretty good deal so far – the wicked get punished and thus inspire everyone to fair treatment, plus you can afford your rent  – but the GOP decided that the Paycheck Fairness Act was a bad thing because it might inconvenience… Wait for it… Job Creators. Those magical beasts of now near-Plutonian wealth upon whose shoulders rests the burden of our entire nation’s well being. 

The only problem, as you’ve noticed, is that for some reason these “job creators” are the most delicate creatures on Earth. If you cast a harsh glance or raise a tax in their direction, they simply faint dead away and must lie down on the divan with cold cloths on their foreheads and they simply cannot create jobs for months and months! Years, even, especially if the shareholders might like to go to Majorca again instead of paying for a second shift of warehouse crew. And you should see what happens to these job creators when you try to regulate pollutants. They are hothouse flowers, these job creators, made of soap bubbles and gossamer, with egos and spirits more fragile than glass mayflies. Aren’t you glad you gave up fair pay to protect them? Me too. 

Also in the category of Irritatings Things That You Were Quietly Hoping Were Maybe Not So True As They Looked: Three guesses as to who got to talk about women’s issues in this year’s election coverage so far

Argh. Everybody go write a position paper on Cialis coverage and/or access to federal funding for vasectomies and then meet me back here, OK? And don’t be afraid to be firm with these guys – I hear that some of them are trying to get Viagra when they aren’t even married. They need strong – nay, relentless – female guidance about their nards to keep their morals in check. 

Speaking of nards, the North Carolina GOP figured what the hell and went balls-out horrible with their party platform, which now explicitly says that discriminating against someone because of sexual orientation is just dandy. North Carolina: Come for the greenery, stay for the fossils. 

Hey, here’s a funny thing: You know how some people are violently opposed to the morning-after pill because it says right on the box that it prevents the implantation of a fertilized egg? Turns out the FDA has been labeling them wrong the whole time. Whoopsie! The pills, in fact, delay ovulation and thicken the cervical mucus, which means the egg isn’t there to get fertilized and the sperm can’t make it up the vaginal canal to fertilize anything even if it was there. Which is kind of a big deal, what with people calling the morning-after pills “abortion pills” and trying to stop women from getting them because of that and stuff. 

That’s probably why you’ve seen such extensive television coverage of it. 

This Week in Things to Think About 

Ooh, Indiewire announced that Janet Jackson is executive producing Truth, a documentary about the lives of “trans and nongendered people around the world and their epic struggle for equality.” Are you intrigued? I’m intrigued. It starts shooting this summer. 

Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images 

Nicole Kidman and Mira Sorvino, Goodwill Ambassadors for the United Nations, called for an end to violence against women at a concert by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra to support UN Women, the United Nations agency dedicated to promoting equality and stopping violence against women and human trafficking. UN Women was established in 2010, and member nations have pledged to raise $100 million by 2015 to establish vital programs. 

A digression: Once, in a burst of luck and magic I still cannot comprehend, I got to cover the Miss America Pageant and spend a whole week watching rehearsals and preliminary competitions in Atlantic City. There were several unofficial trade shows that sort of followed the pageant in a kind of remora-shark situation, and one day just to torment me my editor made me go cover the fashion show of next year’s trendy pageant looks. One evening gown, a little too tacky and a little too low-cut, was not well received by the crowd. When I asked the magnificent Southern Belle Emeritus who seemed to rule the floor what had so turned the crowd, she said, with the sweetest contempt you have ever heard, “Well, now, that’s what I’d call a ‘Miss USA’ dress…” 

I bring it up for context, because we must never forget that there are pageants and there are pageants. That said, Sheena Monnan, who was until her recent resignation Miss Pennsylvania USA, says that  the Miss USA Pageant is fixed and also that the Pageant’s morals do not match her own because – Oh, hoagies, really? – the Miss Universe pageant organization “has so far and so completely removed itself from its foundational principles as to allow and support natural born males to compete in it.” That last is in reference to Jenna Talackova, Miss Universe Canada’s first transgender contestant, and I would like to apologize to Ms. Talackova and Canada on behalf of all Keystoners. 

Also I would like to point out that if she was really so morally opposed, Ms. Monnan could have dropped out the pageant a little earlier than shortly after she did not win. 

On the other hand, I would not be shocked to hear that the Miss USA Pageant is not exactly a fair race. It is owned by a very loud man who likes to scream unfounded accusations about birth certificates. He doesn’t seem to be so much into ethics. Yes, you are correct: There is no one to root for in this situation. 

So why is this in Feminist Friday? Because I want to know why a woman with a master’s degree in psychology is participating in a beauty pageant in the first place. Yes, I see that she is pursuing a doctorate of theology. Was this the only source of scholarship money? Then something is wrong. Very wrong. Fortunately we have a scholarship story that is more worthwhile on every level in a little bit. Hang in. 

This Week in Not Having It

Oh, dear. The New York Times opened a piece on sexual harassment in Silicon Valley with the ill-advised line “Men invented the Internet.” Well, you might think that to hear some men tell it, but BoingBoing’s Xeni Jardin is not having it. Her takedown is fantastic – she pulls the arms off the thinking behind that phrase Wookie-style. 

Also not having any nonsense? Everyone’s favorite out Country star Chely Wright

Dynamic progressive activist and liberal commentator on Fox News Sally Kohn wrote an essay suggesting that political enemies can still like each other and calling out definitely-not-liberal commentator Michelle Malkin on a teeny bit of hypocrisy when it comes to being offended at the other side’s incivility. Malkin took umbrage and the two took it to the radio. It’s worth listening to if only to hear Malkin’s furious condescension followed by an immediate dive into the exact hypocrisy Kohn was talking about.  

It ends up being a maddening clip in the end, because Kohn’s point is that nobody, left or right, should be making vicious personal attacks, and Malkin and Sean Hannity keep saying, “Nobody on our side ever said anything and if we did we were just joking and look at what these guys on the left said!” Also Hannity interrupts Kohn one million times. Kohn’s follow-up to the show is over here. But it leaves one with an interesting question: How do you fight fair (and win) when your opponents either don’t see the need or are too emotional to do so? 

Shameless plug: Watch for my interview with Ms. Kohn early next week. She is a fascinating combination of bold and thinky. You’ll like her. 

I believe we at Feminist Friday have made our position clear on feisty nuns: We love them. Back in April, the Vatican told American nuns that they are bad, bad girls for focusing on social justice and helping the poor, refusing to take back a statement that the priesthood should not be a male-only deal, and occasionally – Gasp! – questioning the judgment of bishops. The Vatican decided that what the feisty American sisters need is some good old-fashioned paternalistic guidance and a forced reorganization of the Council of Women Religious

After several weeks of thinking, our nation’s nuns have responded, in their own very polite way, that the Vatican can bite them. (I am paraphrasing that a bit, yes. It’s a gift.) If you’d like to show your support for the Sisters, you can sign a petition organized by the most awesomely named site on the Internet, Nun Justice. Someone please, please make a crime/martial arts show called Nun Justice

Or you could just read this interesting AlterNet article that looks at the Catholic Church not as a bastion of misogyny but as a cult of power. But know that as you’re doing that, know that I am firing up a Nun Justice pilot draft on my laptop. Episode One: “Nunchakus” Tagline: No Wimps in These Wimples. 

And Aisha Tyler left the E3 conference with exactly the right attitude. 

This Week in Awesome 

I love The Mary Sue because I am a huge dork, yes, but also because it always has something wonderful. This week we got a dose of perspective and three women over 50 who are cooler than you. And that’s not even counting our nation’s first Female Air Force Wing Commander. Dang. 

The Committee for Recognizing Women in Theater held the third annual Lilly Awards this week, living up to their name by recognizing female actors, directors, playwrights, and designers. Almost as if women are doing accomplished work in every area of theater but aren’t always getting recognized for it. **Cough**Tonys**Cough** 

High school junior Meghan Vogel was running the 3200 meter event when she saw a competitor, Arden McMath, collapse on the track with about 20 meters to go. Vogel didn’t just stop to check on McMath – she helped her across the finish line. Well played. 

We’re agreed that Amy Poehler is fifteen kinds of wonderful, right? It gets better. Here she is giving Seventeen the exact right answer to a bad question.

Photo courtesy of Credo/Facebook page

Just can’t get enough Knope? Here’s Leslie Knope on her inevitable Presidency

Let’s finish off with a moving story that The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell featured this week. Senait Woldemariam’s parents immigrated to the United States from Eritrea in 1993. Because of the war that ravaged their country, neither of her parents had been able to stay in school, but they wanted their daughter to have a better chance. Senait’s mother works as a hotel housekeeper, her dad works as a cab driver, and Senait works her butt off hitting the books. 

Lawrence showed her reaction to the letter she got announcing that she would be the first member of her family to attend college. 


Senait had a little help from the Young Women’s Leadership Network. But did plenty on her own. Here’s a little more of her story in her own words. 


Have a great weekend. Get out there and surprise yourself.