Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Purity Myth

I recently finished the book The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti (She also wrote full frontal feminism).

On the whole I really liked this book. It presents the idea of the purity myth in easy to understand language. Sometimes I think Valenti's books are a bit too simplistic, but I think of them as almost "primers" for people who are just getting their feet wet in the topic. I also think that this is a positive because sometimes I just don't have the attention span for some of the more academic or scholarly articles/books.

So what is the purity myth? 

According to Valenti, "The Purity Myth is for women who are suffering every day because of the lie that virginity exists, and that it has some bearing on who we are and how good we are." (p 11).  The idea that whether or not a person remains a "virgin" has the biggest impact on whether this person is moral, just baffles and infuriates me. Not to mention the fact that we don't have a working definition for virginity.

Hanne Blank, author of the book Virgin: The untouched history, had a bit of a problem when she went to define "virginity". She decided that she would head to the Harvard medical school library to find a medical definition. She searched through all kinds of books, and found that there was no standard definition. She says, "Then it dawned on me - I'm in arguable one of the best medical libraries in the world, scouring their stacks, and I'm not finding anything close to a medical definition for virginity." (p. 20). Blank said she found it strange because "People have been talking authoritatively about virginity for thousands of years, yet we don't even have a working medical definition for it!"

This whole idea of an intact hymen being an indicator of virginity is crap too. Hymen's break without sexual contact and some people may have sex and still have a partially intact hymen. It's not just a piece of skin/tissue stretched across an opening... The definition that Blank came up with was "the state of having not had partnered sex" But what qualifies as sex? What about in gay couples? Valenti asked many people their opinion on what "counts" as sex. My favorite answer that she got, from a lesbian, was "It isn't sex unless you've had an orgasm". Of course that means many people may have never actually "had sex" according to this definition.

But now thanks to the Virginity Movement (or the Abstinence Movement) it seems like the focus is always on virginity. This movement tells women that in order to be "good" they must be chaste, virginal and not have sex. This tells women that in order to be "good" all they have to do is not have sex. It doesn't matter what else they do in their life, as long as they keep their legs closed they're still "good"! Not to mention the fact that you are judging women's worth purely on their "virginity". Good girls don't have sex and any woman that has had or is thinking about having sex is an inherently bad, dirty person.

This brings in abstinence only education

Abstinence only education is based on the message that teens should not have sex until marriage (of course this assumes that you are heterosexual and able to get married legally). They also love to provide false statistics and plain old lies about sex, contraception, and STI's.
A quote that Valenti includes in the beginning of chapter 2 from Darren Washington, an abstinence educator:

"Your body is a wrapped lollipop. When you have sex with a man, he unwraps your lollipop and sucks on it. It may feel great at the time, but, unfortunately, when he's done with you, all you have left for your next partner is a poorly wrapped, saliva fouled sucker."

First of all, I felt like vomiting when I read that quote. I think that this quote sums up the virginity/abstinence movement pretty well. Sex makes you dirty and useless. But only if you're a woman! I might add. Because women are keepers of their sexualities (or worse the idea that father's are the keepers of their daughter's virginity which is even more vomit inducing to me) they are the ones that  are made dirty, used, or worthless by having sex. Another great aspect of the abstinence movement (which provides sex "education" in middle schools and high schools the country over) is that it received over $178 million dollars a year in 2007. Luckily, according to SIECUS this federal funding fell to only $50 million in a year starting in 2010. But really, in my mind even one tax dollar is too many.

Some outcomes of abstinence only education:
- middle school students who received this type of sex ed were found to be just as likely to have sex as teens who had not received this type of education.
- teens who had taken abstinence classes were more likely to say that condoms were ineffective in protecting against STI's.
- teens who took abstinence only education and pledged their virginity were not only less likely to use condoms but also more likely to engage in oral or anal sex.

(Valenti, p. 119-120)

Time and time again, it has been proven that abstinence until marriage education doesn't work, and yet... few people seem to fight its use in our public schools.

Other topics that I found interesting in the book:
- Emergency contraception and legislation surrounding its availability.
- Legislating women, relating to abortion, birth control, miscarriages, etc.
- Purity balls
- Rape and women "deserving it"
- Women and teen girls sexuality and pleasure

All in all, I enjoyed the book. Check it out if you're looking for a fairly quick read.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Modesty and Feminism

I recently found the blog The Aspiring Homemaker (I honestly can't remember which blog directed me to it now...) but I was enthralled by her simple tales about life at "the cottage" in Georgia. She discussed how her mom had always worn modest outfits and she and her sister eventually decided to as well, stressing how it was never forced on them and they chose it for themselves. Her family eventually decided to become "homesteaders" and chose to move out into the country and grow more of their own food. I find this lifestyle truly interesting and I'm making my way through her entire blog as quickly as I can.

The photo above from Mia over at aspiring homemaker.

Between finding Mia's blog and just randomly searching modesty on tumblr (just one of the many things I randomly search for on Tumblr to see whats out there), it got me thinking more about modesty.

In recent years I've dressed more modestly (or conservatively whatever you want to call it). Its mostly just a matter of what type of clothes I'm comfortable in. I love to wear skirts and dresses, but I'm never comfortable in very short ones or extremely low cut ones. I'll usually put a tank top under low cut ones and just not purchase short ones. I don't like constantly having to worry about whether I'm exposing myself. This is mostly just based on practicality and comfort for me personally, I definitely do not judge anyone for the clothes they choose to wear. I feel like thats a big part of feminism, to not judge other women for their choices. I don't always succeed on this front, but I'm trying.

While reading different blogs and posts on Tumblr I was examining my ideas of modesty based on many other women who choose to dress modestly. I'd say by and large the main reason women (and some men) choose to dress more modestly is because of their beliefs or religion. While I do attend church, pray daily, etc, etc... My decision and love for dressing modestly does not come from my religious convictions.

Once again, I try very hard not to judge women whose decision to dress modestly does come from their religious ideals. I believe that if they're happy and enjoy what their wearing then great! One of the main reasons I don't choose to dress modestly because of religion is the seemingly inherent idea of the way a woman looks causing men to "stumble" as it is often phrased. I don't feel that I am responsible for being anyone's keeper. The way I dress is for my benefit alone, I'm sorry if you feel differently.

I think that men should be responsible for their own behavior and not try to place the blame on someone else (i.e. a woman and what she was wearing). This is my personal (mostly feminist) conviction. I am not saying that you need to believe it or think its right. I see so many, mainly conservative Christian, blogs talk about how they're so happy to dress modestly and that its their duty to their Christian brothers.

For instance, I love this tumblr that features daily inspiration for modest women based on fashion bloggers or readers submissions. These girls have awesome style and dress more conservatively! On their sister blog, where they include many more text posts I was a little dismayed to find that they spout the hardcore conservative Christian line. Not because I think there is anything wrong with being a conservative Christian... whatever floats your boat. But their main focus is on dressing modestly for God, but also for men, so that they (men) won't lust after you and you can help them remain pure for marriage (although purity is highly regarded for both men and women, it seem to be mostly the woman's fault if the man "stumbles"). I hesitate to blog about this because there are so many differing views on how religion, feminism and modesty relate and I honestly don't want to step on anyone's toes.

Another section of women that often choose to dress modestly is Muslim women who don the hijab. Hijab is really a complete way of dressing, rather than simply the headscarf that many Muslim women wear. It is a way of covering one's body usually from the head to the wrists to the ankles, including the headscarf to cover one's hair. (I minored in religion in college and focused a lot on Islam and Muslim women).

The above photo from this website.

I love the hijabi fashion websites because they come up with some great outfits! The usually involve maxi skirts or dresses, or longer tops with wide legged jeans. I greatly admire all of the Muslim women I see wearing the headscarf, I know it must be hard to do sometimes. I think that it looks lovely and I am slightly jealous of how wonderful it looks. This is another example of religious reasons for dressing modestly. They believe that in order to please God they should cover their head and most of their body. Once again, I think thats a wonderful reason to dress modestly! I just don't personally hold it as true. But then again I'm not Muslim. Theres a whole other side to the hijab (and its other versions like the burqa, the niqab and the chador) issue about women not being allowed to wear them in some European countries when they want to. I'm not opening that can of worms.. That would be a whole 'nother post. :)

[Sidenote: I am aware that there are more conservative Jewish women as well, but I'm not as knowledgable about them, nor have I read any blogs by Jewish women. Although I'm sure there are great ones out there!]

All of this goes back to my reasons for dressing modestly. It's just how I'm comfortable and I like not feeling incredibly exposed. Regardless, I still wear bikinis, but at the beach or the pool, where they are appropriate. Is this hypocritical of me? I don't think so... but everyone is entitled to their opinion. I enjoy swimming and sunbathing so I'm not going to give up swimsuits.

So often I see in feminist discussions that women have fought for the right to wear what they want without being forced to wear something by certain rules. For instance, when my mom went to school they had to wear skirts or dresses to school every day. If it was below something like 25 degrees out they could wear pants under their skirts but they had to be taken off as soon as they got to school. This dress code was common even for college women and women in the workforce for a long time. The feminist movement fought for women's rights to wear what they want, pants if they wanted, miniskirts, belly shirts, whatever. I fully support this! I would never want to take away this right. It's just that the clothes I choose to wear are more modest.

In my opinion, this is a feminist choice. I'm not following society's demands that women show as much skin as possible, that they be incredibly toned, have huge boobs and the desire to show them off all the time. I don't judge women that dress like this, because it obviously makes them feel good! But I don't really appreciate society trying to tell me what I must do, simply because I'm a female.

Because of the implied reasons that I dress the way I do, I often wonder if people think I'm uneducated or brainwashed into wearing long skirts. I feel that this is often the idea when you see groups of women usually with long hair and wearing long skirts. "Oh they must be those crazy fundamentalist Christians!" I wonder if people can tell by looking at me that I'm not in fact dressing the way I am for religious reasons, nor am I being forced to dress that way by my family, nor am I uneducated (I have a Bachelor's Degree. In Women's Studies no less!) I am a feminist and proud to dress however I want.
Photoset based on this article about a BYU student.

Find the info about this outfit and blogger here.

This great style from here. See Casey's blog here. I love pencil skirts but I'm not sure I could pull them off this well.

This photo from here.

Some photos of me:

This is a super old picture of me (above). I always loved this skirt and was super sad when it was too small.

When I go out I pretty much always wear some sort of sweater over sleeveless and spaghetti strap shirts/dresses. I'm just more comfortable that way.
More current style. My favorites right now are maxi skirts and sweaters.
Sorry about the horrible camera/mirror quality. I was being too lazy to set up my tripod.
From last summer. I love this skirt. It's so swishy. (Worn paired with a white cardigan)

I guess I wanted to write this blog because the issue has been weighing heavily on my mind lately. I've been thinking about the way I dress a lot and I've gone back and forth in the past few years with wearing only skirts/dresses all the time and then wearing jeans often. Mostly because sometimes its just easier to throw on a pair of jeans.

With my perusal of modesty websites I just found myself wondering if anyone else dresses modestly for similar reasons to mine. That is, not for religious reasons. If you've got any links to likeminded blogs or whatever, shoot them my way!

What are your views on modesty as a feminist choice? What about women's choices to dress however they want, is that any less feminist? How are you most comfortable?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Women's Studies

Women's Studies: noun. A program of studies concentrating on the role of women in history, learning and culture.

From Merriam Webster
Women's Studies: the multidisciplinary study of the social status and societal contributions of women and the relationship between and gender.
First known use: 1972.

So, I majored in Women's Studies for my undergrad degree. I can't count the number of times I've told people what I majored in and was met with a blank stare or a "What is that?"

I usually reply with the fact that it was an awesome interdisciplinary degree at my school where I could take classes all across the spectrum from French to sociology to religion. But with this definition I'm leaving out the most important part of women's studies, a mention of I don't know... WOMEN!

I'm pretty sure that I do this to minimize the fact that I spent two years studying women and "women things" because I don't want to seem weird. Because, even after becoming a self proclaimed feminist, its still awkward for me to explain why I love my degree. Don't get me wrong, I'm not ashamed of anything, I just have a hard time truly explaining why I do the things I do. Especially when it comes up at the beginning of a conversation with someone I don't usually know that well.

So my goal for this year, is to come up with a better definition for women's studies. And a better reason for why I enjoyed studying it so much. Because if I can't talk about it and why I love it, then how can I expect anyone else to learn about it?

It's a work in progress. But I'll let you know how it goes.

Have you had a similar problem or situation? What about when you say something feminist and people give you strange looks?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It's a girl

It's a Girl: the three deadliest words in the world

"It’s a girl, a film being released this year, documents the practice of killing unwanted baby girls in South Asia. The trailer’s most chilling scene is one with an Indian woman who, unable to contain her laughter, confesses to having killed eight infant daughters.

Dr Saleem ur Rehman, director of health services for the Kashmiri Valley, has conceded that a healthy male to female infant ratio in Kashmir in 2001 led him and his team to become complacent. Since 2001, the ratio has dropped from 94.1 to 85.9 girls per 100 boys.

Activists attribute a culture of valuing children by their economic potential to South Asia’s patriarchal social model in which men are the sole breadwinners. Sons both carry the family name and work from a young age. Daughter, on the other hand, impose the burden of a dowry before leaving the home upon marriage. Strict moral codes, onerous cultural expectations and demanding domestic responsibilities are all forces that further subjugate women."

This is a very interesting article. Definitely worth checking out.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

How to get involved!

I just finished reading Jessica Valenti's Full Frontal Feminism (she's also the force behind the website feministing). At the end of the book she has a chapter titled "Get to It" talking about how you can become educated and involved in the feminist movement.

I think this is a great idea for anyone wondering... what now?

Perhaps the most important first (or second depending on how you decided you were a feminist) step is get informed. Read books and blogs, watch videos on youtube, check out major news websites to see how they do and do not report on women's issues. (Check out my previous post on my feminist reading list if you're wondering where to start.)

- Get educated! Find out what your school district teaches by way of Sex Ed. If its abstinence only (and it probably is) engage your friends and peers in discussions about safe sex practices. Hand out reliable sex info so that people can truly be informed. Planned Parenthood is a great resource to check out!

- Take control of your sexuality. But be smart about it! Learn how to protect yourself and go to the Gyno! JUST GO. I know its not the best hour of your life ever... but seriously, go. (Not sure if you can pay, afraid of your parents finding out. Check out the closest Planned Parenthood to you.)

- My favorite recommendation from Valenti, "Have orgasms. By any means necessary."

Reproductive Rights

- Volunteer at your local clinic! (Google can tell you where that is). Help them in any way you can! Whether as an escort, intern, or just help them raise money!

- From Valenti, "Find out about your local pharmacies' policy on giving women their birth control and emergency contraception prescriptions. if they're trying to keep women from their legal right to birth control, throw a shit fit. alert the media, write letters; if its a chain pharmacy, make sure the pharmacist is adhering to the company standard."
I love this idea. This is a great grassroots, local way to understand reproductive rights.

- Vote! Check out the webiste Women's voices. Women vote. Spread the word. Perhaps campaign for your favorite candidate!

- Check out the White House Project and find out ways to get involved with politics.

- Run for office!

And in general, read, watch, become an informed citizen of this world. TALK! Talk about whats important to you and your life. Don't let people silence you! If you don't want to talk then write! Write a letter, a blog, or in your journal.

Most of these suggestions are from Full Frontal Feminism with some added commentary by me. Thanks to Jessica Valenti for writing such an awesome book!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Enlightened Sexism

I first read Enlightened Sexism for my Voices of Oppression class last spring (as I've mentioned before). This is an easy read, although it is bit long at almost 400 pages. But Douglas' discussion of sexism and the feminist movement through the media, entertainment industry and just general everyday life makes it so interesting.

From the book, one definition of enlightened sexism,
"Enlightened sexism is feminist in its outward appearance (of course you can be or do anything you want) but sexist in its intent (hold on girls only up to a certain point, and not in any way that discomforts men or pushes feminist goals one more centimeter forward). While enlightened sexism seems to support women's equality, it is dedicated to the undoing of feminism."

In my opinion this idea seems to be at the very base of feminism, at least as I currently see it. The media and society tells girls to be sexy and alluring but then tells that they should NOT have sex until their married. Women can do what they want, become doctors, lawyers or even the president! (Well, maybe she could become the president. The jury is apparently still out on whether Americans would actually elect a female president). But don't push too far, don't try to actually pursue feminist goals while enjoying the fact that you are allowed to vote, attend universities, and actually be elected to public office.

Also, regardless of how successful women are in their career it is expected that she will not be able to continue full time in her chosen profession if she decides to also become a mother. There is no way a woman could work a 70 hour work week after she's had a child. WHO WILL STAY WITH THE CHILD?? They (usually white, male employers) cry in despair.

They hardly ever ask this question of men that are employed in the same job.

Another of the central tenets of enlightened sexism is a woman's "choice" to be sensual, a sex object.

"Because women are now "equal" and the battle is over and won, we are now free to embrace things we used to see as sexist... Now that women have the same sexual freedom as men, they actually refer to be sex objects because its liberating."

Women are just taking control of the sexuality, right? They finally have the ability to claim their right to sexuality and sexual behaviors. It's their choice!
Choice, I find, is so important in feminism. We talk about a woman's choice in regards to birth control and abortion. But in this case, how can a woman truly "choose" to become a sex object when all of the media and society is telling a girl that is how she must act. Then its not really a choice so much as an obligation if a girl/woman wants to fit into society, her school, her peer group, etc.

A pretty amazing statistic from the book,
"A 2009 poll revealed that 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women 'are convinced that here are no longer any barriers to women's advancement in the workplace."

Pretty shocking stuff, huh? What about the absolute, hard fact that women make only 77 cents to a man's dollar for the same job? Thats not a barrier??

Also very important to this idea of no barriers in the workplace lets look at the top jobs for women in 1999:
"In order, secretaries, retail and personal sales workers (including cashiers), managers and administrators, elementary school teachers and registered nurses."
Now, 8 years later the top jobs for women in 2007 were, in order:
"Secretaries, registered nurses, elementary and middle school teachers, cashiers and retail salespersons."
Wow... Look how much has changed!! Now let's examine how many women are portrayed as doctors, lawyers, CEO's and even the President of the United States on TV and in movies. Tons!

Watching TV and movies you would think, well women have definitely made it! In the book Douglas mentions the no-nonsense Dr. Bailey from Grey's Anatomy, all of the attorneys and A.D.A's on Law and Order and Dr. Cuddy (House's boss). If TV is portraying this many women in high powered jobs, surely it must be true right?!

Not so much. But it does lull the public into believing that women have indeed "made it" and are making tons of money in the top jobs around the US.

See, there's no work for feminism to do anymore! Or so they (the media, society, the government to some degree) would have you believe.

I guess my take away from this book was question everything! Pop culture, the media, TV, movies, its all great entertainment. But what are you really watching/reading? How are women portrayed? And is it an accurate portrayal? Don't be a mindless media consuming zombie. Think about what you're seeing and question it. Talk about it with others. Think for yourself!

My Feminist Reading List

I actually read this for my voices of oppression class but I really enjoyed it. Its sort of a trip through pop culture through the lens of sexism and feminism. I reread it over winter break and found it just as exciting the second time around. I love her idea of Enlightened Sexism. I touched on it a bit in my post about Female Chuavinist Pigs and I'm planning on an entire post dedicated to Enlightened Sexism eventually.

Okay I actually picked up this book at Barnes and Noble because I wanted to read her essay about going undercover at a Playboy club. But I did actually enjoy the rest of this book as well! She offers a great look at the Women's Rights movement from the ground up. She also includes some writing about her trips with political candidates (not as applicable or as interesting to me personally).

I loved this book. Ina May Gaskin is an incredibly well known midwife who works on "The Farm" in Tennesee. Reading this book made me want to go there to have all of my babies. This book is part guide to childbirth (as the name implies) covering all kinds of FAQ's about childbirth in general and home birth in particular. There are also a good number of personal birth stories that Ina May attended including some at "The Farm".

I know that this technically isn't "Feminist" per se... but I am very interested in the idea of Feminist Childbirth and this qualifies in my opinion.
Recommended for: women planning home births, anyone interested in childbirth/homebirth, midwives, future midwives, anyone interested in the natural birth movement
(I'm pretty sure I got some weird looks reading this book on the airplane home from spring break since i look about 12 and was obviously not pregnant)

This is the memoir of a California Midwife. She chronicles the many births she's witnessed and assisted in her time. She has quite a few unique stories and provides great information on what its like to be a midwife in the United States.
Recommended for: midwives, midwives to be, nursing students, anyone interested in chidbirth/homebirths

This is the memory from the midwife Cara Muhlhahn who is featured in the documentary film The Business of Being Born that I watched in my Women's Health Issues class (its a really great film by the way!). She talks about her years as a labor and delivery nurse and her years as a home birth midwife in New York City.
Recommended for: midwives, midwives to be, anyone interested in childbirth/homebirths, nursing students

I borrowed this book from the library to read over winter break. I LOVED it. I've seen this book many times and never picked it up for some reason. I really enjoyed this book about the rise of raunch culture and how women are buying into it and claiming that by dressing provocatively they can be sexy and also feminists. This was a really thought provoking book. See my post here about this book.

A collection of essays by self proclaimed feminists and when they had their "click" moment. A great read on the way that individuals come to identify as feminists.

This is another sort of trip through time. She chronicles the Women's Rights movement from 1960 to 2009. She offers a broad overview of the movement at the time and then personal interviews with different individuals about their lives.
This is a great primer for anyone who's not sure where to start in regards to Feminism and the Women's Rights Movement.

I actually picked up Three Cups of Tea at Target one day intrigued by the synopsis on the back about a guy that builds schools for girls in Pakistan. This is the story of Greg Mortenson's travels through Pakistan and Afghanistan and his promise to build schools for girls in remote areas.

There has been some backlash about parts of the book(s) being fabricated or exaggerated recently... I'm not sure what to say about this other than regardless of these accusations the books are still DEFINITELY worth reading. I suppose we must take everything with a grain of salt these days. But the overall message of Mortenson building schools where no one else will, is very important.

This is a great book about how important women and girls are especially in developing and developed countries! The author (and New York Times journalist) visits many different organizations overseas helping women and girls in various ways. From aid groups that help girls who have escaped sexual slavery in brothels to women who had fistulas from rape or early pregnancy and their search for a surgeon to help them.

I read this book for my Gender and Religion class and I absolutely loved it. Margaret Atwood is a genius (in my humble opinion). This dystopia about women's roles and what happens if women become valued only for their fertility. I'm having a hard time accurately summing up this one so I'll copy and paste the description from Goodreads,
"Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining fertility, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now..."

I also read this book for my gender and religion class and while its probably not a strictly feminist work it does provide an alternate (fictionalized) look at a very well known story in the Bible. The story of Jacob, his wives and his daughter Dina is retold from Dina's point of view and shows us what might have actually happened to the women and girls barely mentioned in the Bible.
This is worth a read for anyone that loves historical fiction or alternate takes on Biblical stories.

Female Chauvinist Pigs

I previously posted this on my other blog but I'm reposting here because it fits much better.

I picked up Female Chauvinist Pigs at the library shortly after I got out of school for winter break. This is one of those books I've seen multiple times at the library/the bookstore/amazon etc. I've just never picked it up for some reason. Man am I glad I finally did. I devoured this book in two days and had to find my little sharpie page flags so that I could remember specific parts I loved (normally I just highlight them... but it was a library book).

Apparently some secret part of me misses writing papers about books that I read (for my undergrad women's studies degree) so I've decided just to write a blog post about some of my favorite parts of this book, and observations related to them.

Feminism as a whole loves to use "choice". Women have the right to choose what to do with their bodies, whether for reproductive uses or in the way they dress. I wrote an entire 10 page paper about the right to choose natural childbirth methods and if women can really "choose" when society is set up to tell them how to think. I think this can similarly be seen in Female Chauvinist Pigs.

But what of choice? In the first chapter Levy describes following the Girls Gone Wild crew around and how women were just throwing themselves at them, flashing the cameras with wild abandon. Of course the fact that these women had most likely consumed copious amounts of alcohol provides one possible reason. These woman are enlightened, they are owning their bodies and have the right to show off how sexy they look and feel. Right? So what's wrong with Girls Gone Wild? If it truly includes consenting adults (although I realize there have been cases of underage girls appearing), whats the problem with it? I guess maybe the better question is why do these girls want to flash the camera, get naked and make out with other girls?

Because society has told them that this is sexy, beautiful, alluring? That a woman's only value is her sexuality? I guess my point isn't that I think what these women are doing is wrong, in fact I fully support their choice to do what they want with their bodies... I'm more interested in the why. Why they think that flashing camera crews and making out with women is fun/good/exciting what have you. Is it our society? I'm inclined to think so.

I loved this quote from Erica Jong. She said,
"Let's not kid ourselves that this is liberation. The women who buy the idea that flaunting your breasts in sequins is power - I mean, I'm all for that stuff - but let's not get so into the tits and ass that we don't notice how far we haven't come. Let's not confuse that with real power. I don't like to see women fooled."

This new brand of "feminism" or enlightened sexism (as I've been reading about in the book Englightened Sexism), tells woman that feminism isn't necessary. All of the battles have been won, so go out, wear short skirts and flash your boobs for Girls Gone Wild. After all, we've earned it! The problem that I see with this is that we're not past feminism, feminism is still very necessary and when it is implied that it isn't necessary... there is a big problem.

One chapter that particularly interested me was the one describing teenaged and pre-teen girls and their response to sex. I thought it was interesting how she describes talk of "rainbow parties" where many girls give oral sex to guys, receiving nothing in return. I'm pretty sure there was just a recent revival of these "rainbow parties" in the news recently with parents organizations clutching their metaphorical pearls exclaiming, "Not the children!" I thought it was amusing that these rainbow parties, or the rumors of such parties were not a new phenomenon considering Levy wrote this book in 2005. The media seems to just recycle stories every few years.

There was also a lot of good information from interviews with pre-teen and teenage girls about why they have sex. So many girls seemed to have no idea why other than that it was "what all girls did". They weren't doing it because it was fun or perhaps enjoyable for them, but because everyone else was and there was a lot of peer pressure to be like everyone else.

This seems to be another conundrum.. we tell girls every day through the media that they have to be sexy and "hot", they need to buy this makeup or this brand to be desirable. But then through abstinence only education we tell them that they MUST NOT HAVE SEX. They should save that for marriage. There's no discussion about hormones or legitimate reasons to want to have sex... JUST DON'T DO IT. And we wonder why this type of sex ed isn't effective?

I specifically remember the sex ed I had in 8th grade. They split the boys and girls up and discussed STDs, showing horrifying pictures of them (it just doesn't get any easier to look at those). They was a sort of strange analogy about girls being like ovens, they take a while to heat up and boys being like a flame, they're hot instantly. (I'm paraphrasing but it was very similar to this.) I still have no idea what they were trying to get across with that analogy... considering the overall message I got was "Don't have sex". There was no talk about condoms for protection against STDs or pregnancy nor any discussion about the Pill.

And yet... the number of girls I knew that were having sex in high school was pretty high. Did someone else teach them about condoms and the Pill? I can only hope so. (Although some of them obviously didn't given the fact that a handful of them got pregnant and had babies in high school).

So what happens when women are the ones perpetuating this idea of "raunch" culture stated in the book? Is it worse than when men perpetuate it? In my opinion, sort of. But it comes back to the overall need for education (regardless of one's gender).

When I decided to get my undergrad degree in Women's Studies I basically had to explain what feminism was to one of my friends. (The definition I gave her was something along the lines of believing in equal rights for women, equal pay, etc. I can't say I'm very proud of it. It wasn't very complete or well rounded). She also happened to be several years older than me. I shouldn't have to explain feminism to her should I??

The answer seems to be yes. And to everyone else out there who seems to have forgotten the feminist movement of the 60's and 70's or never cared what it was about to begin with.

Sometimes I'm truly frightened by the world we live in. But then I read awesome thought provoking books and I think maybe I have the strength to struggle against the tide.


Hello all!

I decided to start this blog because I wanted a place to collect all my thoughts about feminist related things. The content will probably be pretty diverse and perhaps not what you would generally think of as “feminist” but things that I am looking at or see in a feminist light.

I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Women’s Studies and ever since I’ve been out of school I have the urge to write long paper-esque reviews of books or just about things I’ve been thinking about. I guess that’s what happens when the majority of your classes are seriously paper driven. So, in lieu of writing papers… because that would be sort of pointless since I’m not in class right now, I’m going to write blog posts! Honestly I’ll try not to be pretentious… because I don’t think that’s how I really am.

I don’t think that just because I have a Women’s Studies degree I know everything there is to know about women or feminism or whatever. I definitely do not. The vast expanse of my ignorance is probably shocking. I took a lot of great classes that I loved but there is just no way you can study a movement that’s been around for 100 years in 4 semesters.

So, a little bit about myself:

Age: 21.

Current Occupation: Student (going back to school for nursing)

The moment feminism clicked for me: I really wish I could remember this. I took a Philosophy of Feminism class before I went to Florida State and I’d like to think it was during this class. I wanted to major in French but I couldn’t because of some stupid requirements so my advisor told me to pick another major. I went back and forth between criminology and women’s studies for a while reading about both before finally deciding to do women’s studies. I got to school and started taking my classes and loved every one of them!

Favorite classes I took: I loved my Women’s Health Issues class that I took with a nursing instructor. This is actually the class that made me think about becoming a midwife, pairing my love of feminism and love of medicine.

I also liked my Contemporary Muslim Women class and my Voices of Oppression class I took my final semester.

Favorite topics to read about/research/think about: Feminism (duh!), sexism, pop culture, women in the media, feminist childbirth and parenting, reproductive rights, and so many more.

Future occupation: Currently I’m taking pre-reqs to get an accelerated Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing so I can be a nurse for a while. Right now my areas of interest are Labor and Delivery and Emergency Medicine. I would also like to eventually return to school and get a Master’s so I can become a Certified Nurse-Midwife. I would really like to be in a practice with other Midwives and provide home births.

Well there’s a bit of the basics. Have you got any more questions for me? I’d love to answer them.

Coming up I’m working on a starter list of my favorite feminist minded books!