November 4, 2008

Maddow on New Poll Tax

Posted in activism, oppression, politics, social justice at 2:22 am by LB

Well, it’s been a while since my last post. I must say, I have been absolutely swamped with teaching (being the first time, and all), not to mention misc. things that have come up in the last month. I’ve had much to say, and not enough time to say it. Teaching, especially, has given me many blogging ideas from the kinds of questions and concerns my students have. I hope to rectify this soon…so readers, don’t go away!

I have also become somewhat of an election junkie, so I have been absorbed in the news. So many apologies, and I hope to be back to blogging regularly soon. So don’t forget to vote tomorrow!

Today my student asked me if I thought that a professor would let her leave class early to vote since she has class all morning and has to work immediately after. I told her what I thought, and I really felt for this student, who at 18 had the desire to vote, yet to do so meant hurting her at work or school. I teach at a community college, known for having significant percentages of students who work and attend school full time, and many are mature students returning to school for a better job. These student lead very complex, full lives and schedules.

I had that conversation in my head as I watched Rachel Maddow’s Live Sunday special (thank you, DVR!). I was incredibly moved by Maddow’s scathing characterization of the long, long early voting lines as a poll tax. I was moved because of the way that Maddow pleas with the audience–as voters, employers, public officials–to persevere to vote in this historic and all-important election, and then demand that we, as a nation, fulfill our democratic values and eliminate what is effectively a poll tax. I couldn’t agree with her more.

Watch her assessment here


August 20, 2008

Theorizing privacy and copyright: addressing “fair use”

Posted in activism, empowerment, entitlement, ideology, objectification, representation, sexual politics, Sexuality Blogs and Resources, victim-blaming at 12:00 pm by LB

For those of you who have missed it, I blog fast and furiously on women’s privacy in public places and online, and am very concerned with the lack of control women have over the use of their images. Of course, women don’t have any less control than men do, but in my previous posting, I have stated why I think this is more of a problem for women–including that in a culture that has historically deemed women’s bodies as for public consumption, there is much less respect for a woman’s privacy period, much less if she dresses/acts in a “certain way” or appears in a “certain place”.

The crux of my concern is: How can we really experience sexual liberation (that I maintain has not been accomplished yet) if we, as women, cannot control the terms by which we are turned into public sexual objects?

The most recent example of this is, of course, is with Olympic gymnast Alicia Sacramone. Several others have posted very nicely on this, and I was a bit bust this weekend, so please read their excellent posts. Let’s hope there’s no repeating last summer’s experience of a track athlete.

One issue I have had is, aside from changing cultural attitudes–the ultimate problem-solver–how do we go about making any practical change? Until I started reading online more this past fall, I honestly had no clue that guys would peruse Myspace and Flickr pages, looking for women to ogle, objectify, call names, produce fantasies of, etc. on their own sites, denying these women the right to just live their life. As a reasonable human being, it never dawned on me that someone would feel so entitled to photographs of a birthday night-out with friends that I needed to protect myself. And it’s not like I exactly live under a rock–I have done Myspace and Facebook, use Youtube sometimes (usually to find something specific, not to check out the most recent and ridiculous videos). But I haven’t altered my life all that much around the internet, so it is more of a resource for me, and not where I live my life. And since I don’t do Google searches for “sexist asshats displaying male entitlement to women’s sexuality,” I hadn’t stumbled on this phenomenon until I began reading more and more online in the past 9 months or so. And now that I see this happen regularly, each time breaking my heart, this is something I can’t not comment on, and something I’m determined to work on in activism.

So getting to the point of this post: I was on the Creative Commons website, and I noticed that you can copyright your images and prevent downloads on a site like Flickr, a perhaps little-know fact which is blog-worthy all in itself. So I did a little more digging.

From The Creative Commons website:

Creative Commons licenses give you the ability to dictate how others may exercise your copyright rights—such as the right of others to copy your work, make derivative works or adaptations of your work, to distribute your work and/or make money from your work. They do not give you the ability to restrict anything that is otherwise permitted by exceptions or limitations to copyright—including, importantly, fair use or fair dealing—nor do they give you the ability to control anything that is not protected by copyright law, such as facts and ideas.

Creative Commons licenses attach to the work and authorize everyone who comes in contact with the work to use it consistent with the license.

If such photos were subject to “fair use” by these asshats, their being under copyright makes me think their source would need to be cited. Would it really be so hard to have web software require to link to a source in order to upload photos? (which would only mean your own photos would have to be hosted on a photo sharing site first). I use WordPress for my blog, and whenever someone links to me, it shows up in part of the admin functions. Would it really be that hard to require photo-sharing services such as Flikr, Picasa, etc. to offer that feature as well? With requiring links and providing notification of linking back (“trackbacks”), this would at least give people the power to know where their images are showing up and help stop their unauthorized usage, even if it can’t be prevented.

But what is “fair use” even? From the U.S. Copyright Office: Read the rest of this entry »

July 28, 2008

NYT: women bloggers are sooo fashionable!

Posted in activism, double standards, gender, New York Times, news at 2:00 pm by LB

Yea for The New York Times reporting on BlogHer’s annual conference.

Boo for printing it in the Fashion and Style section, as woman-related stories routinely are.

It’s pretty pathetic that I should be so thrilled that the recent news about gender-parity in math scores was actually reported by the Times in the U.S./Education section. Yes, it’s awfully nice that the Times was actually able to put a story about females in its proper place in their paper. But actually doing their job doesn’t get them any cookies.

So, dear readers, I write letters:

Dear New York Times Editors:

Overall, I appreciate the quality of your paper and it is one of my primary sources for obtaining news. However, your history of inappropriately filing news items that involve women is obscene and, quite frankly, is unacceptable, especially for a new source of your report.

The most recent example is the coverage of the 2008 BlogHer conference, printed July 27, 2008 in the Fashion and Style section. Other articles about bloggers and blogging are printed in more substantial sections like the Technology or U.S. Politics sections. I understand that your placement often relates blogging to another topic (i.e. business, the election) but the “default” category for blogging (or any topic) women is not Fashion and Style. And since the article specifically addressed women blogging as a political act, it does not belong in the Fashion and Style section.

On July 13, 2008, you also ran the joint review of books by feminist author and blogger Jessia Valenti and journalist Kathleen Parker, which adressed contemporary gender-based political issues. It belongs in the Books section, not the Fashion and Style section.

Other female bloggers have written about your story misplacement when it comes to stories about women. May 13, 2008’s story about the lack of gender diversity in the sciences (obviously) belongs in the Science section, not the Fashion and Style section. And the list goes on.

It’s great that you’re writing about gender issues, exciting studies debunking harmful gender myths, feminist writers, and women’s activism. But putting these stories in Fashion and Style, rather than where they’d be put if they were about men, is nothing short of insulting and condescending, as if issues facing and addressed by women are somehow frivolous and irrelevent to society as a whole.

Issues and news related to women do not by default belong in the Fashion and Style section of your paper. Fashion and Style is not inherently a “female” topic and gender analyses are not periperal, light, fluffy, innocent, and inconsequential. Do not insult us and degrade us by treating women who are active in politics, do science, are participating in technology, and the like, as mere “style.”



author, don’t ya wish your girlfriend was smart like me?

And I encourage you all to do the same. No copyrights on my letter, either: steal away!

May 22, 2008

News Flash: feminism gives women opportunities whether they identify as feminist or not

Posted in activism, feminism, ideology at 11:30 am by LB

I had a conversation with a friend the other day, who (obviously) knows I’m a staunch feminist, and (I think) I was commenting on the over-focus on their own appearance and their partner’s sexual pleasure and under-focus on sexual pleasure in women’s magazines (ie Cosmo), and how that is bullshit and really needs to change. He (not at all a feminist or really that familiar with feminism, except through me) replied back that women are concerned with their appearance, for whatever reason, and that “not all women are, and actually most women are not, feminists like me.”

I started to tell him that feminism affects women (and men, likely) who would never identify with it or advocate it. That many women hold “feminist values” but for whatever reason, don’t discuss their views as feminist. I guess I was trying to suggest to him that my critique of, well, “stuff” related to gender and sexuality isn’t only espoused by feminists, or that have certain values “because I’m a feminist”–as in, that if someone doesn’t define themselves, conceive of themselves as “feminist,” they will not hold the same view as myself. Said otherwise, my feminist views are only held by “feminists,” and I hold them because I am a feminist, not because they’re, well, right.

So, fast forward to today when reading Melissa’s Wednesday Blogaround on Shakesville, and got to this post by Daisy (by way of this post), and even though Daisy’s writing about today’s feminists’ lack of appreciation for second-wave feminism, I thought it was applicable here. I’m only going to re-post part of her list, but read her post for more. So today’s feminists, remember the world second-wavers helped to bring you into….and women, the more-or-less legal (though not social) equality you experience as given is not because of American “values” but is a direct result of feminist scholarship and advocacy.


…had a credit card in your own name, rather than a man’s name.

…used safe birth control.

…worked in a field once considered male or that is still predominantly male.

…worn pants to school at any time during your academic life.

…learned to play unladylike instruments such as the drums (which I wasn’t permitted to learn).

…played on a sports team and people were actually proud of you for it.

…know where your clitoris is.

…know where your G-spot is.

…had a home birth.

…decided to postpone childbearing until your 30s or later.

…decided not to have children at all, and didn’t make up health reasons for it.

…decided to have a career AND children.

…been on maternity leave and got paid for it, rather than fired, demoted or laid off.

…had a stay-at-home husband.

…learned to play billiards, poker or Blackjack; ride a Harley or drive a semi.

…think what you say is as important as what a man says.

…don’t believe that women who are raped somehow “asked for it”

…don’t believe that a wife beaten by her husband somehow “asked for it”–or that it is “none of your business” if domestic violence goes on in relationships.

…played with anything other than dolls, tea sets, E-Z Bake ovens or coloring books as a child.

…been allowed to read whatever you wanted as a child or teenager.

…had a tattoo, or several.

…kept your “maiden” name or use a hyphenated name.

…worn any clothing considered “outrageous”–i.e. hippie, punk, goth, vintage, etc.

…ran for any office other than school board.

…lived with a man outside of marriage, and people still speak to you, employ you, etc.

…attended any kind of sex education course in public school.

…unabashedly enjoyed pornography, football, boxing, or other traditionally male entertainments.

…expected to make as much money per hour as a man does.

…attended college for reasons other than finding a husband.

…watch television shows or movies produced, directed and written by women.

…dated/married a heterosexual man who used cosmetics, moisturizers, or had his hair done.

…been in a position of authority over a man.

…use Ms. instead of Miss or Mrs.

…The, maybe you should also think about unabashedly advocating feminism.

March 18, 2008

Please help take action against racist advertising campaign

Posted in activism, race and racism, sexism at 2:43 pm by LB

The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) is asking folks to take action against the above campaign publicizing a new Asian fusion restaurant owned by Chow Fun Food Group, Inc.

Thankfully, because of the outcry over the ad – it’s been pulled by Chow Fun Food Group owner John Elkhay. But NAPAWF says that’s just the first step.

read the full story and sign the petition at feministing

(NOTE: nothing more after the jump)