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Posts Tagged ‘feminists’

Not gonna lie, I will be glued to the tube like most of you for the next two weeks: swimming and soccer and sprinting, oh my!  Really, I can’t wait.

And like you, I am reveling in the fact that this has been dubbed the “year of the woman”.  As NPR reported, via the Associated Press:

For the first time, there are more women on the U.S. team than men, 269 to 261, and Russia’s team, which is nearly as big, is also majority-female. Saudi Arabia has sent its first two women to the competition, and the games feature what in all likelihood is the most pregnant athlete to compete in an Olympics: Malaysian shooter Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi, who is due to give birth to a girl any day now.

Even Britain’s poster athlete for the Games is a woman — heptathlete Jessica Ennis, who in addition to appearing on countless London billboards also beams up at arriving visitors from a field along the Heathrow airport flight path. A 173-by-264-foot likeness of the telegenic star is painted on the grass there.

Good stuff, right? But while we’re busy patting ourselves on the back, especially here in the U.S. where the women Olympians outnumber the men, I’ve collected a few instances of sexism skulking around the “you go, girl” edges.  (Please don’t accuse me of whinging, which is colorful Britspeak for whining) And so, in the interests of feminists everywhere, I thought I’d bring up a few of the most telling examples to show that, well, our work is not quite done.

1. Back of the Bus, little ladies:  The Independent reports that both Japan and Australia are in the hot seat for flying its male athletes business-class while the women were stuck back in coach:

Japan’s world champion women’s football team took exception to flying economy while their male counterparts sat in business class on a flight to Europe for the Olympics. The Japan Football Association said the men flew in business because they are professionals.

As for Australia, it was all about basketball.  The males were up in front, even though the women’s team was the better one.  Again, from the Independent:

Former Australian women’s basketball captain Robyn Maher said the Australian women’s team had repeatedly asked Basketball Australia to justify the inequity.

“Over the years it’s been a multitude of (reasons given) — the men get better funding, so they’ve been able to do it; the men are bigger so they need more space,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald. “It’s been a bit of a sore spot, especially since the women are much more successful.”

Ya think?

2.  Pin-up Babes?  Yep, that’s how the Scotland’s Daily Record described the the U.S. women’s soccer team as they arrived in Glasgow this week.  Without a mention that the U.S. women’s soccer team is one of the world’s best, the story frames our girls in terms of sex. Insulting, much?  It starts like this:

ALL of a sudden, the Olympics have got sexy. Really sexy.

The pin-up babes of the US Olympic football team arrived for their first training session in Glasgow yesterday.

And although the rain was pouring down, you would hardly have noticed as stars such as glamour-girl keeper Hope Solo, 32, and strike stunner Alex Morgan, 23, hit the pitch.

The story segues into a condom count – according to the Record, 150,000 – and includes a quote from Solo about sex.  But not word one about, you know, soccer.

3.  Bar codes on … the bum?  You heard that right.  Salon, via Bitch Media, reports that some enterprising advertiser bought space on the backs of two UK beach Volleyball players’ bikinis during the qualifying rounds this spring – allowing creepsters with sharp eyes and quick phones to scan the QR codes and be taken to the advertiser’s website.  Ew.  The Olympics committee nixed the codes for the actual games, but according to Salon, the images were already all over the internet.  If that doesn’t creep you out, how about the Brit nickname for beach volleyball: “Baywatch with balls.”

Even Yahoo! sports has gotten into the act, with reporter Martin Rogers writing in wink, wink mode that Prince Harry, the “self-style Playboy Prince” is “most excited” about attending the beach volleyball event.

4.  And then there’s Go Daddy.  Which we wish would just, well, go. USA Today reports that Go Daddy, the bad boy of Super Bowl ads, is back again with a few commercials that will air during the Olympics that supposedly tone down the “naughtiness.”  You be the judge.  One features a sexy chic stripping off her trenchcoat to descend into a bubblebath.  Another shows a woman with a come-hither look in her eye stroking an otter resting just beneath her rather large chest.  The theme of the ads, which juxtapose pretty girls with geeks, is “beauty on the  outside, but brains on the inside.”  Whatever.  What’s interesting is that I read somewhere that, unlike the Super Bowl, the majority of the Olympics audience is made up of women and families.

5.  Finally, there’s the press corps:  The The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games estimates that some 21,000 journalists will be covering the London games and what I’d like to know is how many of them will be women, this being the year of the woman.  The numbers are almost impossible to come by, at least today, but here’s an estimate from my pal Mark Purdy, currently in London covering the Olympics (his twelfth) for the San Jose Mercury News:

Educated guess: Among USA journalism contingent, probably 75-25 men vs. women. Among international contingent, probably 95-5 men vs. women. Although that’s only print journalists; we work in a separate building and in separate parts of the venues from the broadcasters. There seem to be more women in that field, though I couldn’t give you a real guess.

Those lop-sided numbers?  Not really surprising, considering that according to a 2012 Women’s Media Center report, 11.4% of sports editors, 10% of sports columnists, and 7% of sports reporters were women.  But still, it makes you wonder.  Is that gender inequity one reason why, research has shown, that the gap between Olympic coverage of men’s versus women’s sports has widened? But more importantly: does that impact the way the stories are framed?

Don’t know, can’t answer.  But it might be fun to pay attention.  As for right now, I’m just anxious for the games to begin.  When it comes to the medal count, my money’s on the girls.

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Did ya hear? Men’s Health magazine–rag that launched a thousand Eat This, Not Thats–has birthed a feminist blog. Seriously. And I don’t mean a feminist-ish blog, I mean one who’s title leaves no question as to its raison d’etre…. it’s called “The Men’s Health Feminist.” Pretty cool, no?

Here’s a tad from reporter Kiera Aaron’s introductory post:

Feminist is a loaded term. I’m well aware of this. Expressed ever so bluntly by a male friend, ‘You’re the Men’s Health Feminist? But–you’re not a bitch. I just don’t get it.’

…If I tell you I’m feminist, what image comes to mind? Someone who doesn’t shave her legs? Someone who’s angry all the time? Who wears Doc Martens? (Okay, I might be guilty of the last one.) But why cant the term evoke an image of someone who wouldn’t appear in Girls Gone Wild for all the money in the world? Someone who would go into credit card debt before trying to obtain free dinners from random guys? Aren’t those good things?

And while the points she makes about our cultural baggage still weighing the F-word down are nothing that hasn’t been–oh, hell–that we haven’t made here, here and here already, what’s pretty clearly new and definitely exciting is the venue. Men’s Health. Let’s hope some of those healthy men read it.

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And so we have all these women running for office in November.  Many of them are right-wingers.  Those are the ones I want to talk about.  (California has two:  Carly Fiorina, former CEO of HP, running for the Senate, and Meg Whitman, former CEO of EBay, running for governor.  Neither one has ever held public office before.  But that’s another story.) Following Sarah Palin’s lead, these new double XX politicos want us to think they are feminists.  (We’ve gone there before in this space.  Want more?  Go here.)

I’m not even sure they’re women.

Don’t get me wrong.  I think women come in many stripes and colors.  So do feminists.  And there’s nothing better than a big tent, right?

And yet.  There are a certain number of bedrock issues (Abortion?  Not even gonna go there.) that we can all agree upon, that you would assume any double X-er would support mainly because these are the issues that directly affect women.  All women.  And their families.  Women’s issues,  right?   Hello, kids?  But these right wingnuttettes?  Nope.  Seriously, folks.  A skirt does not a woman make.

(Neither does a tea party.)

Case in point:  The New York Times reports today that the GOP — which is banking on some of these whack-job women helping them achieve a majority in Congress — plans to reveal its plan to “take back America” today at a lumberyard outside of D.C.  Channeling the “Contract for America” cooked up by former GOP Speaker of the House and Family-Values-Guy Newt Gingrich (who, by the way, dumped his wife  for another woman when said wife was in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery.  But that’s another another story) the New York Times reports that they begin their blueprint with the following promise:

“We pledge to advance policies that promote greater liberty, wider opportunity, a robust defense, and national economic prosperity. We pledge to honor families, traditional marriage, life, and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values.”

And without question, we can expect to hear that these newly energized “feminist” politicos, these women who call themselves women, have signed right on.

To what, specifically?  Here you go.  One of the ways they plan to honor families is to repeal the newly enacted health care law.  On the agenda.  Front and center.

That sound you hear is me throwing up.   Because who suffered most under our our health care system of old?  Women.  And when women suffer, it’s often the kids who pay the price.  So much for those family values.  But let’s recall a few things we may have forgotten about the old way of health care.  Pregnancy:  pre-existing condition.  Women:  statistically more  likely to work  part-time jobs (so they can care for their kids) that do not provide benefits.   Sure, all is well and good for ladies who can depend on well-employed husbands for heath care benefits.  But what if he loses his job?  Hard to afford COBRA on a part time salary.  Or no salary.  Or even one salary, for that matter.

And what if she’s a single mother?  Sorry, kids.  No doc for you…

Back to a post from back in November that linked to a piece in USA Today, here’s a quick refresher on how the old health care system discriminated against women:

  • insurance companies are allowed to charge women more for the same policies as men in 40 states and the District of Columbia;
  • in those same states and D.C., insurance companies can charge businesses with mostly female employees higher group rates;
  • many companies don’t provide maternity coverage as part of their basic plans (perhaps you heard Rep. Senator Jon Kyl, of Arizona’s sensitive take on this issue? “I don’t need maternity care and so requiring that to be in my insurance policy is something that I don’t need and will make the policy more expensive.” Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich, called him on the jackass remark, replying “Your mom probably did.”);
  • insurance companies can exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions; having had a C-section is one of them;
  • if a woman is pregnant when she buys an insurance company, insurance companies can deny maternity coverage;
  • 8 states and D.C. allow insurance companies to deny coverage to victims of domestic violence.

There’s more, but those are the highlights of healthcare coverage for women who had insurance.  But what about the ones who didn’t?  Or their kids?  You do the math.

Should we go on?  Yes.  Let’s.

Then there’s the Meg Whitman plan for California that involves cutting off welfare at the two year mark.  Which would be great if there were jobs to be had.  (Ahem. You know how that one ends.)  But again, what about the families we care so much about?  What happens to the kids when mom and dad can’t get a job, or when a single mother can’t afford day care  — because, you know, we’ve never made affordable day care a priority?

A while back, one of the experts we interviewed for our book talked about the rise of the right wing women in politics and what she suggested is that maybe one of the reasons for their success so far is that they are not threatening.  And really, given their position on the issues, why would they be?

About a month ago, New York Times columnist Gail Collins had a chat with feminist writer Stacy Schiff, and here’s a little excerpt from what they had to say about the new wave of women activists, who had taken to calling themselves “mama grizzlies”, the moniker inspired by Sarah Palin, and whether or not they could really be feminists.  Let’s give Gail and Stacy the second-to-last word:

Gail Collins: Do you think the Mama Grizzlies really can be feminists? I don’t think you can throw a woman out of the club because she voted against the stimulus bill. But if feminism simply means supporting equal rights and equal opportunities for women, I don’t see how a feminist can be opposed to government programs that provide poor working mothers with quality child care.

Stacy Schiff: Exactly. The issue is no longer first-rate intellect, or first-rate temperament, but first-rate opportunity. Which is where the Mama Grizzly business really falls down.

An actual grizzly mom is a single mom. She lends a whole new definition to full-time homemaker. If Dad shows up it’s probably to eat the kids. What Mama Grizzly wouldn’t believe in school lunches, health insurance and quality childcare? Who’s going to look after the kids while she’s off hunting? It’s really, really clever to put this powerful vocabulary — pit bulls and grizzlies — in the service of disempowering people. Kind of like death panels in reverse.

Thing is, parity is important.  Absolutely.  We want equal representation in government, in business, in life.  But when it comes to those who make the policy, let’s face it:   Men vote on the issues, not the pants.
Same with us.  It’s the issues, not the skirts.  A woman who can’t-slash-won’t support women’s issues?  Fail.

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