Is my body too boobalicious for you?

I saw this video on CNN today…I just don’t even know how to respond. Check out the husband of the Finnish president checking out the rack of Princess Mary of Denmark:

Man caught ogling at Princess Mary

This just utterly baffles me. If you could see me right now, you would actually see a cartoon question mark in a giant comment bubble stemming from my head. On the one hand, to the dude who (essentially) said: “I mean, if you wear a shirt that low-cut you’re just asking to be ogled at.” No. Just, no. Whatever “But…” statement you have formed in your mind, the answer is simply, no.

On the other hand…Even I couldn’t win the staring contest with that playboy bunny. I mean, man that was distracting. Obviously, that’s not the usual circumstance, as most women don’t spend their days pushing their boobs together in suggestive ways. At least, not that I know of.

So here’s what I will decide to take away from this moment: to the woman on Conan and the woman on the Rachel Ray show, bravo for calling ’em out on their south-bound gazes. To everyone else: take Seinfeld’s advice, and just stop staring! (But I mean, especially, especially if you’re on camera! Get it together, people.)

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Menstrual Art

Among other things, South African lesbian artist Zanele Muholi makes art with her own menstrual blood. This has been done time to time since the 70’s and a feminist wave of artists made art focused on taboo body functions such as menstruation to break the silences that patriarchy had built around bodies, specifically those belonging to women. It has inspired laughter, revulsion, and newfound depths of body love, but it never fails to garner attention.

Muholi’s art is particularly aesthetic to me, and at first glance does not necessarily broadcast ‘menstrual blood!’ But it is, and hers nonetheless, and I think it is quite breathtaking.

Muholi on her art: “At one level, my project deals with my own menstrual blood, with that secretive, feminine time of the month that has been reduced within Western patriarchal culture as dirty.

via Autostraddle

Chivalry, New York-Style

Now that I work downtown two days a week, I find myself taking the subway much more often. And as I forgot my headphones both days this week, I had ample opportunity to observe subway practices. Here’s what I discovered:

Several times, if a man was sitting and a woman walked in the car, he would immediately get up to offer her his seat. One guy even offered me his seat. When I politely declined (I was getting off at the next stop), he actually looked a little dumb-founded and uncomfortable. So here’s the thing. I’m a feminist. I say that women should not be treated differently because of their gender. But I REALLY like when this kind of stuff happens. I’m from the South, where everyone holds doors open for everyone else and chivalry is still a “Thing.” So when I moved up here, not only do we not necessarily smile at people on the street, but doors were dropped in my face, I had to bend over to pick up the thing I’d dropped myself, and I never, ever hear the “ladies first!” comment.

Is that a bad thing? I guess not. I *can* do these things on my own, obviously. But I also can’t pretend like  my heart doesn’t jump for joy on that rare occasion when someone of the male persuasion makes a point to hold the door open for me. I don’t know what it is exactly about that interaction, but I always think to myself, “What a classy gent! If only there were more like him.”

So, feminists, what say ye on chivalry? Antiquated gender interactions, or acceptable manners for social behavior? On the one hand, we always have a choice: I can decline to take the open seat, or I can opt to hold the door open myself. On the other, I would never think of giving up my seat to a guy, unless there was some sort of extenuating circumstance. Clearly there’s some internalizing of social values going on, and there’s no escaping the gender roles in these situations. But isn’t it OK to just sometimes, enjoy the benefits of gendered social interaction?

What do you think? Chivalry: dead (as it should be), dying, or very much alive (as it should be)?

Planned Parenthood, Susan G. Komen, and Women’s Health in America

For those of you who haven’t been following women’s health news lately, the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure, an organization dedicated to fighting breast cancer, recently caused huge amounts of controversy by withdrawing funding for Planned Parenthood. In the past, Komen has given money to Planned Parenthood for the purpose of providing cancer screenings to women who might not otherwise be able to access this essential service. This shocking action was met with outrage, and the Komen Foundation quickly reversed its decision. Additionally, Karen Handel (a Komen Foundation official who has been criticised for her role in the initial decision) has resigned.
The strength of the public’s reaction to Komen’s decision was inspiring- clearly, people care about preventing and treating cancer. And, to their credit, the Komen Foundation was willing to admit and correct their mistake. However, the whole incident is representative of a disturbing trend in the United States. Access to basic health care for women is now a controversial topic, rather than a universal goal. Planned Parenthood has long been a target of criticism due to their reputation as an abortion-provider (abortions, in fact, account for only roughly three percent of Planned Parenthood’s services). Recently, though, debate on personhood amendments in state legislatures and the fight over insurance coverage for birth control have drawn women’s health issues into the spotlight, and not in an especially positive way. We may have won the Susan G. Komen Foundation fight, but even so, it’s important to remember to continue speaking out for women’s basic rights to health care.

Spoon Theory

Spoon theory: it’s not actually an alternative to string theory. Nor is it a critical framework for the spoon dialectic. Rather, it’s a simple and creative way of explaining the way people with chronic illnesses have to manage their energy and activity levels.

It was written by Christine Miserandino, a ‘speaker, journalist, blogger, and patient advocate from NY,’ who ‘also happens to be someone who is living with Lupus.’ She came up with the analogy during lunch with a friend, trying to make her understand the daily struggle of coping with her illness. The spoon theory is basically as follows:

“I explained that the difference in being sick and being healthy is having to make choices or to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn’t have to. The healthy have the luxury of a life without choices, a gift most people take for granted.

Most people start the day with unlimited amount of possibilities, and energy to do whatever they desire, especially young people. For the most part, they do not need to worry about the effects of their actions. So for my explanation, I used spoons to convey this point. I wanted something for her to actually hold, for me to then take away, since most people who get sick feel a “loss” of a life they once knew. If I was in control of taking away the spoons, then she would know what it feels like to have someone or something else, in this case Lupus, being in control.”

The whole article is extremely enlightening, and I recommend it highly for everyone, especially those who are friends or family of people with chronic illnesses (and I suspect that is most of us). And for those of us who have chronic illnesses ourselves and already know what that is like, it might be helpful to read this to find what could be good technique to explain these things to other people.

The Athena Film Festival

When I think about the disproportionate representation of women, the film industry does not immediately come to mind. It is obvious that women are inappropriately represented on the big screen in ways that reproduce gender inequalities and stereotypes, but what is not so obvious is the way that women are under-celebrated as directors, screenwriters, and producers of award-worthy films. According to the Athena Film Festival: ” In 83 years, only four women have been nominated for best director, and only a single woman has won. In 2010, in the 250 top-grossing domestic films, women made up only 7% of directors, 10% of writers, and 15% of executive producers. 98% of these films had no female cinematographers.”

The Athena Film Festival was created in order to celebrate the leadership and achievements of women in the film industry. This year the Festival will be screening approximately 30 films, some of which will be followed by conversations with actors, writers, producers, and directors.  In it’s second year, the Festival will be hosted at Barnard College from February 9-12th.  A list of the film screenings can be found here: http://athenafilmfestival.com/.

As the only film festival in the nation dedicated to celebrating women and leadership, the The Athena Film Festival promises to be a momentous event for the acknowledgment of women’s success in the film industry.