Posts filed under ‘Ethics’

The Best of the Web

"Works Progress Administration Project 19...

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I thought it was time to brag on some other writers and visionaries for a change. There are a lot of other great blogs out there that are doing creative things, making progressive statements, advocating for women, and featuring more important stories than Jesse James’ tragic breakup from Kat von D. I really thought that would last forever. I’m just devastated!

First off, there’s a great cartoon site that I found through WordPress, mostly because she was kind enough to click the “Like” button on one of my posts. The Adventures of Gyno-Star: Fighting the Forces of Evil & Male Chauvinism is a cartoon gem that gets updated twice weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays. The artist is supremely talented. Her superhero has a sidekick named Little Sappho, and together they fight nemeses like Stay at Home Mommy and Vlad Deferens. Clever fun, and the illustrations are fantastic!

At Rebuild the Dream you can sign a contract for a return to the American dream. Van Jones heads this campaign with the support of many other progressive organizations, most notably MoveOn.org. The idea is pretty simple. Start investing in America again. Update our infrastructure and invest in the future, create jobs to do this and hire Americans to fill the jobs.

What does that sound like? Why, if it weren’t for the green energy component, I think it sounds an awful lot like the Works Progress Administration. The WPA? You don’t say. The brainchild of FDR, a plan to bring us out of the Great Depression, improve our great nation, and feed our families, the WPA is still present in concrete and signs in small and large communities throughout the United States. How do we pay for this? By taxing the rich.

This brings me to another great website. Sometimes people, myself included, like to cast the rich in the role of villain in the deterioration of the American dream and the American economy. But that’s not entirely fair. There are some millionaires out there who are lobbying that their taxes need to be raised.

You can find those millionaires and billionaires on a great website called, Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength. These people are true patriots, and their message reminds me that with great wealth comes great privilege and with great privilege, great responsibility. These people incredibly, selflessly get that. They make me proud to be an American.

Speaking of being proud to be an American, some people make me proud to be a Christian as well. John Shore, whose blog I’ve championed before, had a great article about a woman named Kathy Baldock and how she came to form a non-profit called Canyonwalker Connections. Kathy had t-shirts made, and she attends gay functions like Pride parades and wears her t-shirt, offering an apology to any LGBT who’s been traumatized by the bigotry of churches who reject homosexuals.

Here’s a great video I found:

The video is a commentary on how household cleaning products are always marketed to women, using women almost exclusively to sell the products to women almost exclusively. The only exceptions I can think of to this are Orange Glo and Oxy Clean. Mr. Clean doesn’t count since he’s a fictional character who never actually cleans anything anyway. The Tidy-Bowl Man is a tugboat operator; he doesn’t clean anything.

What is marketed almost exclusively to men? Beer. How is it marketed to men? Using scantily clad beautiful women to imply that if only you drink enough beer women will want to have sex with you. Maybe if only the women drink enough beer they will forget that they have to do all of the cleaning and will want to have sex with you. Or, and here’s a novel concept: maybe if a man did his share of the chores around the house a woman might be inclined to have sex more often. Beer is optional.

I found this website by happy accident. Hugo Schwyzer is a Christian and a gender studies professor. He’s written many, many enlightening blog posts about issues relating to feminism and Christianity, including weighing in on the recent controversy over actor Doug Hutchison’s marriage to a 16-year-old child and SeekingArrangement.com’s pimping out of college girls. He writes about his views on porn and even cites Andrea Dworkin. He’s sharp, and he’s a pleasure to read.

Hugo Schwyzer also blogs on The Good Men Project. The Good Men Project bills itself as “a cerebral, new media alternative” to glossy men’s magazines. In other words, it’s the anti-Maxim. There are great articles on gender issues and relationship advice, and something for everyone. This website renews my good faith in men.

The Women’s Media Center is a non-profit that seeks to make women more visible and women’s voices more audible in all forms of contemporary media. Their website features a Sexism Watch. They sponsor conventions and leadership panels and encourage women to produce films and documentaries that tell women’s stories. They are fighting to see women represented more in the news and on political commentary shows. Check it out.

August 13, 2011 at 3:30 pm Leave a comment

The Queen of Rage

Cover of "The Stepford Wives"

Cover of The Stepford Wives

Usually whenever some Fox news pundit goes on and on like a broken record about the liberal bias of the mainstream media, I have to laugh. However, the conservatives have a point when they bring up the latest Newsweek cover of Michelle Bachman. They titled the cover story, “Queen of Rage,” and they have a photo of Bachman looking like a mildly surprised homicidal Stepford Wife.

Tina Brown, the female editor of Newsweek, has worked overtime at implying that Bachman is crazy. Now, don’t get me wrong, Bachman is no friend of mine, and she certainly is no friend of the feminists. However, that doesn’t mean that tactics like Brown’s are acceptable in an attempt to make her unpalatable to Iowa voters.

Here we have a woman who’s running for the office of President of the United States of America. Ask yourself this: would any man who’s running for President be treated with the same indignity? I think the answer is no. So, is the Newsweek cover blatantly sexist? You bet your sweet bippy it is.

You don’t need to go searching through the galleries until you come up with the one photo of Michelle Bachman that’s actually unattractive. I mean, just how long and hard did Tina Brown have to search to come up with a single photo of Bachman that’s not flattering? My guess is: hours. In fact, the woman is so beautiful that I’m going to have to see her and Sarah Palin in a room together before I’m convinced that they aren’t the same person.

Michelle Bachman can be called a lot of things, including, perhaps, legitimately crazy and even dangerously simple-minded, but the way we judge those things shouldn’t be based on her appearance, but rather based on the substance of her campaign, her platform, her speeches, her words. There’s lots of fuel for the fire there.

Shame on Tina Brown for resorting to this kind of yellow journalism. It’s like a one-sided catfight in print. It’s the picture that was substituted where a thousand words would do. And Brown makes the loonies at Fox News actually right for once. She also makes me, as a feminist, have to defend a woman whose politics I abhor.

August 11, 2011 at 12:34 am 8 comments

Freedom Redux: This is Water

David Foster Wallace at the Hammer Museum in L...

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So, that review was kind of snide and snarky. And I did like the book in one way, and that is that I thought that it was entertaining, even if it was only half-way original. I think Jonathan Franzen is definitely talented. So, I have some second thoughts.

Even if the date rape was clichéd, I still recognize that the reason that it may feel clichéd is that is so true to life. After all, I wrote my own post that was somewhat similar to a Lifetime movie, only it wasn’t fiction, it was from my very own damn life.

[https://gooseberrybush.wordpress.com/2010/08/09/monster-at-the-picnic-table/]

It’s not just a cliché, it’s also my life.

In addition to that cliché there was also the love triangle between the “nice” guy and the “sexy” guy, as if nice can’t also be sexy. It struck me, after reading the book and then also reading interviews and biographies of Jonathan Franzen, that perhaps this book was somewhat personal. Richard and Walter are stand-ins for someone else, and that someone else is Jonathan Franzen and David Foster Wallace.

Even though Franzen is the bigger environmentalist and the bird watcher and probably the less flashy of the two, and even though Wallace superficially resembles Richard, with his greater charisma and physical beauty and tobacco chew, I think that Walter and Richard are actually just dual aspects of Franzen’s personality. It’s Franzen against Franzen.

Also, if anyone is Walter, the more spiritual one, the kinder one, the more worthy one, it’s Wallace, who couldn’t possibly hurt a fly other than himself, if it weren’t for the one fact of his suicide. Wallace was the “churchgoer,” the one with the reputation as the “nice” guy, and yet it was Wallace, and not Franzen, who hanged himself on his own porch for his wife to find his body. Maybe not so selfless a death as David Foster Wallace would have wished for himself, if he had been in his right mind at the time.

It strikes me that Walter’s eventual forgiveness of Patty, and, by implication, Richard, is Franzen’s final tribute to his friend David Foster Wallace. And with this act, his overvalued novel is somewhat redeemed and maybe even worthy of half of the superfluous over-the-top “critical” literary views, if the idea was to transcend the selfish and self involved characters of his Seinfeldian universe, with this one final act of grace.

It occurs to me that  the repitition of the word and the ideology of “freedom” in David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech and the fact that Jonathan Franzen’s novel is titled, Freedom are no coincidence.

July 28, 2011 at 1:55 am Leave a comment

Man Hater!

Sexual equality symbol

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Recently, I’ve been accused of being a man hater. I won’t tell you who did it, but it was hurtful. Apparently, I really hate men. I didn’t know I hated all men, but apparently, I do.

Someone mentioned that in a book she was listening to on tape, one of the characters, in the opening line of the book, discovers that he is a father of a daughter that her mother kept secret from him. She mentioned that it was a frequently used plot device, and I agreed with her. In fact, I think it’s practically a hackneyed cliché.

I told her that was a popular male fantasy, the child you didn’t know about that would carry on your family’s genes and, perhaps, even, your name, with no effort or responsibility on your part. The child, usually a son, is one you had no idea existed. It was raised with no money or responsibility on your part, and shows up magically at your doorstep, either finding you on its own or with the help of its mother, usually when it’s grown or very nearly so.

A son to have a beer with and carry on the family genes and name with no contribution of yours apart from sperm is so popular a notion that it carried some of the plot of the most recent Indiana Jones film, with Shia La Barf in the role of the grown son that Indy never knew about.

She mentioned that there were also popular female fantasies, such as the one with the Princess who’s rescued by a Prince who showers her with gifts and affection. This is dramatized most recently in the movies Maid in Manhattan and Pretty Woman. There’s also the ever popular frog who turns into a prince, modernized as the man who is in need of reforming, a la As Good As It Gets, where a single mother waitress takes on a bigoted OCD victim and makes him into a loveable curmudgeon.

She said I was trying to make men into villains by making my observation about popular male fantasies while making females into victims with theirs. Here’s my official take on all of this. We’re all victims here. The men lose out on their possibilities of being loving parents. The females settle for men who are less than they’re worth by taking on losers with the hope that they will reform. Jesse James, anyone?

Feminists often get cast in the role of “man hater,” simply because they won’t tow the line and, instead,  continue to work toward gender equality. What I didn’t expect is that someone who had professed to be my sister in feminism would taint me with the label of man hater simply because I continue to bring up obvious inequities and myths that perpetuate the sicknesses of our culture?

She actually dared to say that I should be glad that I don’t live in China or the Middle East and ease up because of that. You shouldn’t speak out about sexism; look at our sisters in developing countries. They have it so much worse in comparison. It is BECAUSE those sisters have it so much worse that we have a duty to carry on toward greater equality on our own homefront.

The feminist backlash has run virtually unabated since the early 1980s when the Reagan administration virtually ignored the needs of women and pushed all women back into the role of barefoot and pregnant. Whether through a systematic media campaign or legislation and court rulings, feminism was virtually eradicated. The 1950s returned in the 1980s. We were even betrayed by our own sex, with the efforts of Phyllis Schlafly and Beverly LaHaye, amongst other women. These were women who made a career out of encouraging women to return to the Dark Ages and failed to see the hypocrisy in their own actions.

And here I am, betrayed by someone that I thought was a sister in the battle for gender equality. Just yesterday I mentioned that divorce rates for stay-at-home dads are much higher than that of the general population, with about half of the divorces initiated by the wife and half by the husband. I said that was a travesty, and that if these men were contributing to child rearing and the maintenance of the household that they should be given the same respect that we would give to a female homemaker. Men shouldn’t feel like they are less than men because they aren’t the primary breadwinner in a household. And that somehow makes me a man hater!

I should mention what this same woman said about my recent article on slavery in the U.S. military that wasn’t covered in the mainstream media: I hate the military. That’s right. I hate the U.S. military. That’s why I want our boys brought home so they won’t continue to die so some soccer mom can fill the gas tank on her S.U.V. It’s because I hate the military. Really, I do.

She never thought that maybe, just maybe, the post was written because I HATE SLAVERY. I love our men in the military. I want them brought home safe and sound.

So, to all the people who call me a man hater or a feminazi, or whatever Rush Limbaugh is using as a misnomer for feminism nowadays, I say: Fuck you! I will continue to fight for what’s right. And what’s right is equal rights for both men and women. Men should get custody of children if they are fit parents. Females should pay child support. Men shouldn’t be ashamed of being stay-at-home dads. Parental leave for all. Both men and women should have equal rights to an education and a rewarding career. And we should stop having such rigid societal views of just what it means to be a man…or a woman, either. But frankly, men have much less freedom with that definition. It these views are what makes me a man hater, then so be it!

July 13, 2011 at 2:59 am 4 comments

Slavery: Not Just in Egypt Anymore

President Barack Obama views the Emancipation ...

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Remember the old bible stories about Joseph and his coat of many colors? Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt. Then he rose to become the right hand man of the Pharaoh himself. Several generations later, his ancestors and the descendants of his brothers were slaves. Moses led them out of the land of Egypt, parting the red sea with his staff.

Then, remember how several years later a bunch of immoral white men in Europe and the United States kidnapped, mutilated, tortured and killed many Africans on big seafaring vessels? Remember how the ones who survived were later sold off to plantation owners in the South who then treated them abysmally? Maybe you don’t. Do yourself a favor and read Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Roots. Remember how Abraham Lincoln set those slaves free with a little document we like to call the Emancipation Proclamation?

Slavery is alive and well in America and throughout the world. Only now slavery is not defined by your religion or the color of your skin. It’s dependent upon your gender and your social status. Women, girls, and the poor are slaves, not just in the rest of the world but here in this country. Undocumented workers are smuggled into this country at the mercy of unscrupulous traders.  Then they are either sold into slavery outright or dropped across the border with a debt owed to their smugglers that they will never repay in their lifetimes: the new indentured servitude.

It’s happening to our young girls, as young as 13, courted sweetly by men whose future plans are to sell them in prostitution. The same sweet guy who treated these young women like princesses later rapes, beats, and drugs them. And rap music sanctifies and glorifies such behavior for whole new generations of young men, with its tales of pimps working hard to manage their bitches and hos. Yeah, it’s hard out there for a pimp. So hard, in fact, that we gave the men their own Academy Award winning anthem.

Our own military, in its efforts to reduce military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan, have contracted the work of its non-essential personnel to civilians. These civilians are recruited by firms who contract with companies that contract directly with the Pentagon. Who knows just how many channels the money is laundered through until it gets to the hands of the slave traders? But if you’re an American, your tax dollars are paying to buy slaves.

Poor men and women are promised big money in exotic locations only to find out that they will be forced to Iraq and Afghanistan against their will, kept in sub-human conditions, abused and sometimes sexually battered. They will dodge bombs, shells, missiles and bullets on a daily basis. They will be hungry. They will not be allowed to leave. Almost all of them will not receive the pay they are promised. Some will not be paid at all.

Yes, slavery is alive and well and living in America. The new slave is poor and foreign or female and young. And America is buying.

http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2011/05/sex-trafficking-201105?printable=true

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/06/06/110606fa_fact_stillman

June 29, 2011 at 11:44 pm 3 comments

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

The Supreme Court of the United States. Washin...

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Two stories have made the news lately that involve women’s rights. The one step forward is Saudi Arabian women driving despite that country’s ban on women drivers. Despite the fact that there is not one civil, written law prohibiting women from driving, Saudi women who drive are jailed because of the ruling of conservative Muslim clerics. Some 40 women with international driver’s licenses took to the streets. Some were accompanied by their husbands and families. Some men even drove around in women’s headdress as “decoys.” The women took video and posted it on YouTube.

It’s somewhat disheartening that in a country that is so clearly guilty of misogyny on every conceivable level, the right to drive is where they are focusing their energies. However, every civil rights movement has to start somewhere. Rosa Parks began her people’s fight over the same issue: transportation.

The two steps back is the Supreme Court’s ruling on a class action suit against Walmart for sexual discrimination in its hiring practices. I’m not a big fan of class action lawsuits or of litigation in general. Our society is ruining itself and doing nothing but lining the pockets of lawyers in most of these cases. By the time the lawyers get their share the plaintiffs usually get a pittance. About the only good thing about them is that the perpetrators usually have to pay heavy, heavy fines. So, they think twice about doing that again.

In the Walmart case the plaintiffs point out specific instances of sexual discrimination and cite statistics. Only 33% of Walmart managers are women, while 70% of its employees are women. The court ruled that because Walmart has a policy against sexual discrimination and because hiring decisions are made on the local level, that, therefore, Walmart as a corporation isn’t guilty of sexism.

Wow! That’s interesting. So, apparently, Walmart has no responsibility for looking at these skewed numbers and wondering just why, exactly, that far more men than women are “qualified” to be managers. No one in their human resources department ever once questioned these statistics? Are we really saying as a country that we believe that men are innately more “qualified” to management 67% of the time? That’s not sexist. Of course not.

Not surprisingly, all 3 female justices were in the minority on the ruling. They get it. These blatant prejudices don’t suddenly cease to happen because we have a policy to address them. Sexism is pervasive across our society, and I’m sure that many men and many women, as well, are only subconsciously guilty. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be held accountable just the same. The only way that change is going to happen is if people in powerful positions factor in for their own cultural biases.

Just because a company or a country has a law against discrimination doesn’t mean that discrimination doesn’t still happen. Just because a corporation leaves its hiring practices to individual managers doesn’t mean that they aren’t responsible for making sure those hiring decisions adhere to the official company line. In this case, Walmart failed in its responsibility to ensure that its hiring practices are fair.

June 24, 2011 at 1:14 am 2 comments

Reese Witherspoon Tells It Like It Is

Actress Reese Witherspoon in the Oval Office o...

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Reese Witherspoon just made points with me, big time. She accepted an award at the MTV Movie Awards. In her acceptance speech she slammed reality stars who got famous making porn tapes and sexting nude photos. Witherspoon said that she was afraid that lots of teenagers were getting the message that that’s the way to get famous. Then she said that she vowed to make being a “good girl” look cool.

No secret just who her messages were meant for. Blake Lively, Vanessa Hutchens, Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, stand up and take a bow. Recently, Laurence Fishburne’s daughter, Montana, made her porn debut because she believed that it would catapult her legitimate acting career. Why not? How many of us believe that Kim’s sex tape being released was an accident? I don’t. It’s more than just a “coincidence” that Paris and Kim are close friends.

These women who make sex tapes and send nude photos on the internet make a pretense of a lawsuit, cry on command for television talk shows, and always claim that the videos were “private,” and that they were in love. But it’s interesting to note just how often these women actually end up receiving a substantial percentage of the profits from the resulting home video sales. Just how badly did they really protest? How hard did they really fight to keep that moment “private”?

Once upon a time, in an America far, far away, if you made a homemade sex tape, and it was found and distributed, then your career was hurt. Not so, anymore. Maybe Rob Lowe should think about re-releasing his. Couldn’t hurt. I think he could probably do it legally in Thailand. Think about how it might increase the foreign receipts on his movie DVDs.

I never had any special affinity for Reese Witherspoon, but I sure as hell do now. It took a lot of courage for her to get up on that stage in front of Hollywood and say that. But it needs to be said.

As a word of advice, ladies, whether or not you want to be a porn star is no longer in your hands the moment that you agree to let anyone tape you having sex. You are now a porn star. I don’t care if it’s a stranger, a friend, a lover, a boyfriend, or even your husband, if you allow someone to tape you while you are having sex then you deserve what’s coming to you. Ooops. Scratch that. If what’s coming to you is fame and money, then you sure as hell didn’t earn it. If what you experience instead is shame, then you earned every minute of it.

When a man wants to make a “private” sex video what he’s saying is that he is devaluing what should be an actual private and special moment. You can rest assured that he’s not taping it for himself. He’s taping it so he has a record and something he can show to his buddies, in a best case scenario.

Here’s a news flash. Any man who’s in love with you (and some who aren’t) is going to have an indelible, virtual photo gallery of Polaroids in his head from your lovemaking. He can pull those out of his brain anytime he wants to use them. He doesn’t need any reminding.

Do you value yourself so little that you’re willing to share yourself sexually with the world? If so, then I hope that reality show and the monthly check from the video proceeds can help you buy back your self-esteem.

http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2011/06/06/reese-witherspoon-slams-stars-who-make-sex-tapes/?iref=obinsite

June 7, 2011 at 11:10 pm Leave a comment

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