Blogs That Make Me Think

I’m both flattered (three days in a row of being flattered! It’s INSANE!) and a little bit annoyed. Flattered, because my wonderful mom, Maya’s Granny, has tagged me for a Blogs that Make Me Think meme, and thus awarded me with a Thinking Blogger Award.  How cool is that?  Amazing.  I’ll confess to being a tiny bit annoyed though, because three of the blogs that make HER think are ones that she probably started reading in the first place because they were on MY blogroll. She shouldn’t get to use Angry Black Bitch, Brilliant At Breakfast, and Echidne of the Snakes, should she?  She should leave them to me, right? Even if none of them know that I exist, and they all have her on their blogrolls, so they CLEARLY like her more than they like me?

Oh well, it’s too late now, and I’ll bet I can come up with 5 other blogs that make me think, at least part of the time. (Because while I may make you think by talking about PBS shows on fat, or things like that, I also post about my middle finger or my favorite potato chips.) I’ll stop being annoyed, and move on to just snippy. So, aside from the blogs above, here are 5 MORE blogs that make me think:

1. Bitch, PhD. Not only does she make me think, about all kinds of issues, political and personal, she has the best header on the internets. And, she knows how to shop for a bra, and isn’t afraid to tell you.

2. Tiny Cat Pants. She makes me think about a lot of things, mostly feminist type things, but also liberal politicky things, and I love it when I go visit there.

3. Broadsheet. I know, this is kinda cheating, because it’s part of Salon.com, not really a blog at all…but hell, the women who write here make me think, and it is kinda bloggy in format. Broadsheet is where I first came to know and love Angry Black Bitch, Echidna of the Snakes, and Bitch PhD, as well as my dirty little secret, that I sometimes read The Superficial.

4. PostSecret. Some of the secrets are silly, some sexyish, and many will break your heart.

5. Py Korry. Mostly he writes about music, which is fun to think about, but sometimes he pulls out the political stuff, and he can clarify an issue in such a way that makes me go, “Oh, THAT’s what they’re saying. Idiots.” I love that about him, among many other things. ;)

I’m guessing Py MIGHT play, since we’re married and all, but none of the others even know I exist, so they won’t. Just in case anyone is interested, here are the rules:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.

2. Link to The Thinking Blog so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.

3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote. Oh…OK, I forgot that part. Here are a few posts that I wrote that had me thinking at least…

This one, in which I discussed September 11th. (there are no comments, because they were left behind at my blogger blog. And I’ve closed them here, because I was getting spam on this one, mostly for Viagra, which really pissed me off.)

This one, talking about U.S. Foreign Policy.

This one, talking about U.S. involvement in Iraq…

Gosh, I have a few more I could link to. I’ll stop now, since my readers have all read these already. If you’re new and even remotely interested, the non-potato-chippy type posts are listed under topics like politics and feminist. Enjoy.

UPDATED TO ADD: My mom’s technorati comment made me curious, so I went and peeked there, and found that I had received not one, but TWO Thinking Blogger Awards!  What a lovely day!   Thanks to Debra at Reflecting for your award and your kind words! Can I say my title twice, like a professor with two PhDs in Germany gets to be “Doctor Doctor”?  I’m liking that idea. ;)

Blog For Choice Day

Blog for Choice Day - January 22, 2007

Today is the second annual Blog For Choice Day.  I participated last year as well, and I’ve been trying to think of what I could say that would be any different than what I said then.  When I clicked the link from Brilliant at Breakfast to go over to the hosting website for Blog For Choice Day, it said the topic is: Why You’re Pro Choice.

So…why am I pro choice…I don’t want to be glib here.  I want to be thoughtful, and give meaningful answers, so that those who disagree with me may understand my point of view, those who agree with me may understand my point of view, and those who are undecided…may understand my point of view.

I am pro choice because I believe that a woman has the right to decide whether she wants to have children or not.  I believe that women (and men) need to have affordable access to health care, family planning services, education, and birth control.  If you think that the issue of birth control is that far removed from the issue of abortion, you’re very much mistaken.  I’m not talking about women who use abortion as their preferred method of birth control (though honestly, I doubt there are many women who would prefer to get an abortion over taking a pill).  I’m talking about access to birth control, for everyone, married or not, insured or not, etc. 

In many states, a pharmacist can refuse to fill a prescription for birth control, because they have a moral issue with birth control. So you have 5 kids already, and you don’t want any more, and your husband already works two jobs to support the ever growing family, and you feel like you’re DONE with childbearing, but gee, you’d like to have sex with your husband once in awhile anyway? Too bad for you.  Yes, you can go to another pharmacy.  But in many rural communities, there just aren’t that many pharmacies close by.

In many states, insurance companies don’t have to cover birth control as part of their prescription plan.  So you can pay for insurance through your employer, or on your own, but you STILL have to pay $50 – $75 a month for birth control.  I’m sorry, a lot of women cannot afford that. 

What it comes down to, for me, is two things. 

1. People have the right to decide whether they wish to procreate.  Choosing not to procreate should not mean you have to remain abstinent.  End of story.

2. We need to trust women to make decisions about their own bodies.  If we trust that women are capable of doing what is best for themselves, their bodies, and their families, then we need to allow them the right to decide whether to have a baby or not.

If you want to reduce the number of abortions in America, which I think is a GREAT idea, then let’s stop pushing abstinence only education, because, hello, it doesn’t work.  Let’s educate people about their options.  Let’s fund family planning clinics, so people have inexpensive or free access to birth control.  Let’s make abortion as rare as we possibly can, by preventing unwanted pregnancies as often as we possibly can.

 

Screw You, I’m NOT “Uncovered Meat”.

I’m assuming you’ve all heard of the uproar in Australia, regarding comments made about women by Sheik Taj ElDin Hamid Hilaly. I’ve been trying to figure out what to say about this, but I’m having trouble because it makes me want to vomit every time I think about it. So, I decided to copy and paste someone else’s words for you instead. Here then, straight from Salon’s Broadsheet:

When are women like “uncovered meat”?

What a nasty, nasty development in the now-global controversy over Muslim women’s dress. On Thursday, reports surfaced that Australia’s lead Muslim cleric suggested that women who do not wear hijabs are responsible for rape.

The chronically controversial Sheik Taj El-Din Hamid Hilaly, the mufti of Australia’s biggest mosque, made the comments last month during a Ramadan sermon, offering this rich metaphor: “If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it, whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem.” A sloppy line of logic, to be sure, but the suggestion that women are to blame for violence against them seems clear. Sure enough, he continued: “If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred.” Referring to a famous gang-rape case in Sydney in 2000, he further criticized women who “sway suggestively,” and lamented the fate of tempted men, saying, “then you get a judge without mercy and gives you 65 years. But the problem, but the problem all began with who?” Everybody got that? Don’t leave home — and if you do, don’t dare tempt unwitting, defenseless men with your wanton physicality.

Hilaly reportedly went even further off the deep end later in his sermon, when, according to the New Zealand Weekend Herald, he said women are “weapons” used by “Satan,” and “when it comes to adultery the responsibility falls on the woman 90 percent of the time.”

Keysar Trad, Hilaly’s spokesperson, angled for a little damage control. “He’s talking about those people who prey on others, whether men or women, who seek to engage in sexual conduct outside of marriage, and do so through alluring types of attire,” Trad said. The “uncovered meat” refers to prostitutes, he claimed. Which, even if it is what the cleric meant, isn’t much better — are we supposed to be cheered that prostitutes either deserve to be raped or are wholly responsible for men’s sexual transgressions?

There’s plenty that’s gross about Hilaly’s comments. Worst of all, though, is how familiar his argument is. The same argument has been spawned by nearly every culture, it seems; it’s the ever-robust “she asked for it” meme. His comments reinforce the worst interpretations of Muslim culture, amid an existing Christian-Muslim rift in Australia. Even scarier is that Hilaly’s remarks effectively excuse sexual assault among his followers.

Hilaly has been barred from preaching for three months; some have called for him to resign, which he says he’ll only do “after we clean the world of the White House first.” He has, however, apologized for any offense caused, saying, “This does not condone rape; I condemn rape.” But as a Broadsheet reader pointed out in an e-mail, that’s not the point. Hilaly may condemn rape, but he condemns it as a situation in which immodest women lure men into sin.

– Tracy Clark-Flory

Time for Bloggy Love

Last month, I was on the ball, and gave a ‘perfect post’ award. I kind of thought of doing that again, but for me to do that would mean keeping the idea in the back of my head all dang month, and remembering which blog would be worthy, and comparing it to others that would be worthy, etc. etc. etc. I know, I can copy and paste the URL into a draft, or I could go all 20th century and write them down on a piece of PAPER or something, but instead, I just think, “Wow, that was good stuff”, leave my comment, and move on. I read great stuff all month, and unfortunately, only the most recent posts escape my short term memory loss. So I kind of gave up on the ‘perfect post’ for now, but I’ve read some things in the last couple of days that I really, really liked. Check them out. You might like them as well.

Mom-101 had a great post the other day. She’s an amazing writer, and has only been doing this blog thing for a little while, yet she was chosen to interview Gloria Steinem! Pretty darned cool, huh? Anyway, in her follow up email question, she asked Ms. Steinem about women who go to college, get degrees, and then stay home with the kids, one of the false issues that is used to divide us in the stupidly named “Mommy Wars”.

Echidne of the Snakes wrote debunking a recent study that says that if moms work, their kids get fat. Thanks Echidne, because why the hell do working moms have to be blamed for every single ill in society? Pass the blame around a bit, I say. Anyway, it’s a well written post. Nice to have someone who understands quantitative research go in and look at the hard numbers and break it down for us liberal arts/qualitative types.

Beenzzz, who is new to this whole bloggy thing, wrote a moving post about moving to the U.S. (Utah) from Guyana as a child, and what effects that had on her. Well done, Beenzzz!

Bitch, PhD wrote about the Foley scandal, and the difference between public and private spheres. Well done. One small point she makes, that I’ve also been considering in the back of my mind, is that this is indeed a big deal, because the GOP loves to stick their noses in everyone’s private business, and covering up for a pedophile is unforgivable. But, unfortunately, all of the talk about this scandal is pulling the attention away from the much bigger scandal of suspending habeas corpus and allowing torture of detainees. I wish that more were being said about these issues in the public sphere right about now. Because if you think that suspending these rights for suspected terrorists means that there’s no way it could happen to you or someone you love, you’re kidding yourself. That’s why these rights need to apply to EVERYONE. They’ve gotta stop using the Constitution as toilet paper.

And just when I thought I was finished picking out my linky loves, I came across Jay’s post about the Foley scandal, which is about how if Foley had been picking on 16 year old girls, this whole thing wouldn’t have gotten NEARLY the traction it is getting.

Tiny Cat Pants has two posts that are really well written, about the horrific crimes in schools these last few weeks, specifically the ones in Colorado and Pennsylvania, that targeted young girls.

I’m not sure this counts as a ‘blog’, but I came across something the other day that I thought was interesting. How many times have you heard that, in order to lose weight (or maintain weight), one should not eat after a certain time of day? The idea being that food eaten before bed is converted to fat, rather than being burned. This never made sense to me. I mean, a calorie is a calorie, no matter what time it is, right? What makes more sense is that food eaten late at night is more likely to be snack food, which is notoriously high in fat and calories, and also more likely to be eaten while reading a book or watching TV, when we’re not paying attention to our portion size. So, this blog debunks some of the more popular diet ‘myths’. If you’re interested in this kind of thing, check it out. If you liked that, here’s part two.

Just to lighten things up a bit around here, because, hey, it’s FRIDAY and all, I saw a great post at Hello, Melissa!in which her kids decide that just because a book doesn’t exist yet shouldn’t stop them…they wrote the book, and then made the toy that OBVIOUSLY should come along with it. Very cute.

Last, but most certainly not least, Py Korry has a new mix six up, and I gotta say, any mix six that starts with U2 and ends with the Beatles is gonna be worth a listen.  Go check it out, and enjoy.

Speechless

I don’t even know what to say about this…I was just reading Salon’s Broadsheet, and came across a trifecta of bullshit that should make every woman in the United States wretch, and hopefully, make both men and women understand why it is so important that we claim the term Feminist, and fight this shit. I don’t have the energy to try to paraphrase, so I’m just going to copy and paste.

Some days there is just so much repulsive news that it would be, well, criminally depressing to separate it into three separate entries. So for everyone’s vomitous convenience, I present the three grossest stories of the day, in no particular order.

The first item is technically not a “today” story. In fact, Page Rockwell mentioned it briefly in Friday’s “What Else We’re Reading.” But have you seen these Bratz dolls and their provocative underwear sets? These little pink and purple numbers include padded “bralettes” to better enhance your 6-year-old’s cleavage. According to a piece in Saturday’s Australian Herald Sun, these sets are for girls who are 6 and 7 years old. That’s kindergarten, first grade, second grade, folks. And don’t let the diminutive “bralette” fool you. These are brassieres. For Broadsheet readers who may not have experience with this: Girls that age do not typically wear bras. At all. Because they do not have breasts. Because they are children.

A spokeswoman from Bratz distributor Funtastic told the Herald Sun that the notion that the bras might sexualize children was silly. “The idea of the padding is for girls to be discreet as they develop … It is more about hiding what you have got than showing it off.” A Target spokesperson likewise argued that the padded bras “give girls modesty and style as they go through development changes.” The message is that everyone should calm down: No one’s trying to make your little girls voluptuous by selling them padded bras. They’re just trying to make them feel shame about their bodies six years before puberty!

While rummaging around the Web for more information on the “bralettes,” I found this blog entry that also has photos of some Bratz dolls, Phoebe “Sugar” and Roxxi “Spice,” dressed only in cropped fur and leather jackets and their undergarments. The dolls have baby milk bottles chained to their ankles. Because, like so many imps named “Roxxi,” they just love to hang out in their lacy underthings and furs and drink milk from their sippy cups.

Onward and upward to our next uplifting tale: today’s report in the New York Post about two waitresses suing the pub that employed them for sexual harassment. Their particular harassment is what makes this story stand out. The women claim that they were regularly weighed by their bosses, who also kept track of their poundage on a spreadsheet and on a Web site that supposedly tracked and compared the weights of the female serving staffs of other New York City eateries. One of the waitresses, Kristen McRedmond, told the Post that she was summoned into the manager’s office, where she was told she “needed to get on the scale.” When she resisted, she claims that a manager tried to pick her up and put her on the scale while another man looked on. McRedmond and her fellow complainant allege that only female workers were asked to weigh in, and that managers would comment when the female wait staff ordered fatty fried food for their own dinners. The women’s lawyer, Rosemarie Arnold, told the Post, “I’ve been doing sexual-harassment law for 20 years, and this has to be the most egregious case of degradation to women that I have ever seen.”

And last but by no means least on the barfometer is this fashion spread, singled out by Gawker yesterday, from Italian Vogue. Called “State of Emergency,” it’s a series of photographs by Steven Meisel in which, in a moving tribute to a post-9/11 world, scantily clad women in vertiginous heels and various states of undress are subjected to a stunning array of physical brutalities at the hands of big policemen. Some of the highlights include a woman being forced to the ground by officers, her dress pulled up and her legs spread with a cop’s knee between them; a model who has been shoved against a car, her dress also hiked to a height at which her lower ass is visible, her legs forcibly separated; a woman in a red cocktail dress, prone on a dirty sidewalk with a big boot stomping her neck. And then there’s the woman who’s being strip-searched in an airport, standing in a lacy black bra.

You can just about imagine all these stories getting rolled into one arresting photo spread: a 6-year-old girl clad only in her bralette being forced at gunpoint to stand on a scale.

— Rebecca Traister

Please join me in outrage and disgust.

Michelle Selden Rocks!

And who is this Rockin’ Michelle Selden, you may ask? Well, she’s an 8th grader who lives in Livingston Parish, Louisiana. Why does she rock, you may ask? Because when faced with the somewhat insane policy of segregating boys and girls in her school district, because of how our brains work differently, she stood up and said, “Uh, Hello?” She got the ACLU involved, and they sued the school district on her behalf. From Salon’s Broadsheet:

The school board made its initial decision based on impressively retro theories of girl- and boyhood. Among the sources defendants cited in the proceedings was Dr. Leonard Sax’s “Why Gender Matters,” which argues for the biological need for boys to practice “pursuing and killing prey,” and girls to “practice taking care of babies.” Sax stops short of calling for an end to all scholarly pursuits and a reversion to hunter-gatherer days, but he does suggest that these biological predilections should dictate playground behavior: Boys should be allowed to roughhouse; girls should not.

Also from Salon’s Broadsheet, here is a quote from the letter that Miss (perhaps Ms.?) Selden wrote to the school board in her lawsuit:

“I just became certified as a scuba diver. I am a firefighter cadet, which is a junior volunteer firefighter. I have a purple belt in Shaolin Kung Fu. I don’t know whether most girls would be interested in these things or not. I have done these things because I wanted to, whether or not the ‘average girl’ would want to.”

I do understand that men’s brains and women’s brains are wired differently. Ted is reading this book about women’s brains, which he found out about here, that goes into a lot of detail…not so much pointing out the differences between men and women, but just talking about how women’s brains work specifically.

What is dangerous, however, is to assume that the way to teach children is to exaggerate these differences, to teach boys that caring for children is for women, and to teach girls that to be athletic is for men. Check out the lawsuit, if you’re interested…it’s pretty amazing stuff. One thing that struck me was not only that the program was so sweeping in its assumptions about boys and girls, about how they should be pigeonholed into these stereotypes, but that it was to be a district wide decision, meaning that if parents didn’t like the program, they really didn’t have anywhere else to go. Parents and students were not included in the making of this asinine decision, either.

When we decide that all girls need to be happy homemakers, and that their primary skill and interest is to care for children…that boys don’t really like to read, and if your son DOES like to read, he needs to spend more time outdoors with ‘normal’ boys until he recovers…that girls couldn’t possibly be interested in things like sports and science….that boys couldn’t possibly be interested in caring for children, teaching, cooking, or other “female” pursuits, we are selling ourselves incredibly short, and setting ourselves up for a lot of depressed, unhappy children, both boys and girls. Depressed, unhappy adults, both men and women. It seems to be that our society has come too far in these last few decades, and we can’t give it up under the ill conceived guise of serving our children’s biology…

Yeah, that will work….

Well, Wisconsin is pretty and green, I’ve heard they have some mighty nice cheese, and you can probably find a condo there for under 500K, but this is crazy. For those of you (and you know who you are!) getting your news from this site, the governor of Wisconsin has decided that it should be LAW that sex ed teachers need to emphasize abstinence over all other forms of birth control.

…teachers must emphasize that refraining from sex before marriage is the most effective way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. A spokesman for the governor, a Democrat, said most Wisconsin school districts already take that approach.

I wonder if the governor knows that refraining from sex AFTER marriage also works pretty well? Wonder if his wife knows this as well? I hope he’s not getting any, that’s all I have to say.

Stupid people and their ineffective abstinence education….grrr.

Anyone Read Echidne?

Do any of my loyal 8 readers ever pop over to read Echidne of the Snakes, one of the blogs on my blogroll? She’s a minor greek goddess, a feminist, and somewhat political (OK, very, but I like that about her). I really liked her post today. Check it out. Really good thinking, really good writing.

Blog Against Strawfeminist Week

OK, I read that someone has declared this Blog Against the Strawfeminist Week. (Click the link…fun-ish stuff to read and see!) I’m super busy at work this week, so I’ll keep this short. What is a feminist? Someone who believes that men and women are equal. Period. What is a strawfeminist? That person that people who don’t like feminists think of when they think of feminists…you know, ball basher, man hater, woman who wants to run men out of world and teach her boys to be sissies and so on. So let’s get rid of the strawfeminists, and if you think men and women are equal, proudly claim your role as a feminist. Don’t let anyone else tell you what that should mean. Except me.

Short and Sweet

I have to keep it short and sweet today…Maya has homework that she forgot about last night, so I have to wake her up soon to do it. I have a deadline at work. And, most importantly, my friend Rosemary is coming into town from Pennsylvania! HOORRRAY! So I’ll be hanging with her and her family this afternoon and tonight, before she departs for Lake Tahoe. Sigh. Nice weekend ahead.

So, in the political turn that this blog has taken in the last two days or so, I’ll bring this up. Then maybe no politics for awhile, OK? OK. There’s a law suit that has beenn filed by the National Center for Men, which they are calling (it’s trademarked, actually) Roe vs. Wade…for men. The argument goes like this: If women can choose whether to have a child or not, the father should have the equal right to choose whether to support the child, if she decides to have it against his wishes. I’m sure that sounds fair, and it WOULD be fair…but fair doesn’t always work. After all, it’s not fair to the baby if a woman decides to get an abortion, right? But it has been decided that the woman’s right to privacy, to decide what happens to her own body, takes precidence over the rights of the unborn child. Not fair, but the best we can do. Biology isn’t fair, and it won’t let a fetus jump out and find a woman who WANTS a child, and it won’t jump out and into a man, or anything like that. So, we do the best with what we have. Similarly, it is in the best interest of society that children have financial support from two parents. That way, society isn’t made to bear that burdon as often. So, even though it is unfair to the man who didn’t want a child to begin with, if he gets a woman pregnant, and she has the child, he has to pay support for that child.

Fair? No. But that’s the way it is, and in my opinion, the way it has to be, whether we like it or not.

Cancer Sucks…and so does Senator Enzi.

On the heels of the loss of Dana Reeve to lung cancer, comes the news that Ann Richards has cancer of the esophagus. God bless her, Ann Richards is an amazing woman, and was the (democratic) governor of Texas before George Bush. Some blame her for losing that race, thus giving GW the chance to run for President. Others blame Clinton for letting his pants down (literally), thus creating the Republican backlash that was heard throughout many states, and, they say, caused Richards to lose to Bush. Without going into the miserable ‘what ifs’, all I can say is that I have the utmost respect for Richards, and I hope that she will survive her battle with this extremely deadly form of cancer. One thing I learned about her today is that her daughter, Cecile Richards, is the president of Planned Parenthood. Wow. Powerful women run in that family.

Speaking of Planned Parenthood, I found this on Salon.com:

“Today the United States Senate is considering a bill that would have a serious and damaging impact on health coverage for women across the United States. The Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act (HIMMAA), introduced by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), would allow insurance companies to ignore nearly all state laws that require insurance coverage for certain treatments or conditions, such as laws that require them to include contraceptives in their prescription plans.

“This federal legislation would raze hundreds of state laws that ensure patients can get the medical care they need and would:

“– not allow women to designate their ob/gyns as primary care providers

“– not allow women to seek care directly from their ob/gyns, but would force them to be screened by their primary care doctors first

“– dismantle coverage for contraception

“– dismantle coverage for annual cervical cancer exams

“– not allow women to stay with the same doctor throughout a pregnancy, if that doctor was dropped from the insurance provider.”

In short: “Under HIMMAA women will lose contraceptive-equity protections currently guaranteed by state law.”

Anyone ever read “The Handmaid’s Tale“? It’s disturbing to me how often this book/film comes to mind these days.

Now I’m with you, Cherry. I’m depressed.

Happy International Women’s Day!

I just found out here that today is International Womens Day. I also found out that some of my friends count on me to keep them up to date on the weighty issues of the day, issues that do not involve cheerleaders or their injuries. To bring the two together, allow me to point you to a column by the always brilliant Molly Ivins, in which she discusses the abismal abortion situation in the ‘great’ state of South Dakota. Lest you feel that South Dakota is alone in their goal of outlawing abortion, similar laws are being considered publicly in both Missouri and Mississippi.

For more reading about International Women’s Day, check out this column about women and the environment, from today’s SF Chronicle.

Happy Day, Sisters!