Archive | women RSS feed for this section

I want to wear pants!

15 Mar

Delightful thing my roommate brought to my attention. It’s a re-swizzling of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” but it’s about suffrage and it’s way better than the original:

Just remember, ladies: Suffrage is swell, but the battle ain’t over yet. Don’t listen to Beyonce. Girls do not run the world. That is straight shit and everybody knows it.

Wife-Beaters Welcome!

12 Oct

Topeka, Kansas is now officially the best place in the U.S. to beat your wife. The city council decided to repeal the local law that makes domestic violence a crime there by a vote of 7 to 3. Thanks guys! Their reasoning is not that they hate women, but that it’s just too darn expensive to prosecute the hordes of wife-beaters (and girlfriend-beaters, and various other beaters) out there, and therefore easier to decriminalize domestic violence.

One of the damn funniest legal writers out there, Elie Mystal, has a commendable piece on the Above the Law blog:

The Topeka City Council] wouldn’t have repealed misdemeanor ordinances about robbery. The(y) wouldn’t have decriminalized drugs. They wouldn’t have messed around with funding the prosecution of something that they really cared about.

But women, and the beating thereof? Oh, let’s make a political point about fiscal responsibility with that. They would have seen the problems with headlines claiming Topeka was a drug haven or the storefront robbery capital of the world. But when they contemplated becoming Disneyland for wife-beaters, they were cool with it.(via)

I know a lot of people who think of themselves as “socially liberal, but fiscally conservative,” and here’s an example of of that philosophy failing to the utmost. It’s hard to fathom anyone thinking, “Ehhh, what’s a few bruised ladies in comparison to all that moolah?!” but that’s exactly what the Topeka City Council (elected officials, respected pillars of society) thought when they decriminalized domestic violence.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how disgusted are you? Tell me what you think in the comments.

Stick figure families, chill’uns and dolla dolla bills, yo

29 Sep

There was an excellent post over at Sociological Images yesterday on the topic of those stick-figure family bumper stickers/window decals you see on the backs of automobiles nowadays. One of the illustrations for the post is a comic from XKCD, which I enjoy thoroughly:

Via

Yes, yes, yes, I know that children do not equal money (except, you know, statistically). It’s still funny, especially because these stickers drive me bonkers. “Look at me!” the stickers seem to shout. “I’m a cisgendered able-bodied person in a heteronormative socially-sanctioned relationship with an appropriately structured nuclear family unit! I feel the need to proclaim my privilege with a set of pseudo-personalized stickers, because my luxury minivan is not enough of a status signifier for the strangers driving past on the highway!” Of course, even in the comic version, man + woman = the norm, although I suspect that was chosen for contrast more than anything else (the comic would’ve been a different sort of commentary had the cartoonist chosen to swap out additional standard-issue family members).

It’s also funny because, every once in a while, when friends/acquaintances/coworkers email me unsolicited pictures of their children, I get the urge to respond with an unsolicited picture of my paycheck, or something equally inappropriate and totally unrelated to whatever it was we were emailing about. It’s one thing if I ask, “So, how are the kiddos?” and get a photo in response; it’s another thing entirely if we are discussing, say, the political climate in Uzbekistan and the response is something like:

“I don’t know about those Uzbeks, but aren’t my kids just too cute?!”

Yes. Your kids are cute. And so is my paycheck (zing!). But let’s have appropriate segues, okay? There’s no excuse for non-sequiturs in email communications.

Shower scum: Keeping it real in body-wash territory

6 Sep

Just when you thought the only thing you had to be afraid of while in the shower was Norman Bates… enter body wash marketing! Yes, folks, even your tenderest of nooks and/or crannies can’t escape subjection to gendered representations of males and females. Here’s an illustrative snapshot of some products I found in my shower:

Innocent enough, right? But wait, look a little closer…

Note that the Axe body wash, primarily marketed to gents, is called “Excite.” This scent will invigorate you! Wake you up! The packaging will inspire you to go on the prowl! To snag lots of womenfolk in slinky dresses! And get powerful jobs with powerful salaries and command powerful armies of sniveling minions!

Compare it with the ladies’ body wash here, called “Calm.” It’ll help you hysterical betches to calm right the fuck down! Stop whining! Quit your bitchin’ about PMS or the Patriarchy or whatever you damn ladies are always yakking about! Pull you back from the brink of hysteria! This body wash is a stop-gap measure before Yellow Wallpaper time, ladies.

Alas, even the woman-on-the-verge’s traditional retreat from the vagaries of everyday life as a second-class citizen – the bathroom – is no longer safe.

Klondike responds!

21 Jul
The ice-cream purveyors at Klondike/Unilever have responded to my complaint about their heinous heinous ads! Read below:
—–

Hello MS. SARAH _____,

Thank you for writing to us.

We do apologize for the experience you reported concerning Klondike Commercials.

Unilever Ice Cream markets its various brands in ways that are meant to entertain and engage our target audience. It was only intended to be humorous.

We certainly do not wish to offend anyone. You may be interested to know that all of our commercials and advertisements are pre-tested and various techniques are used to evaluate consumer reactions. Based on the results of our pre-testing procedures, the presentations are chosen for their majority appeal. Please let us assure you that your comments are extremely important to us in evaluating the success of our commercials and advertisements.

We will certainly forward your comments to the Marketing staff. Consumer comments are very important and evaluated on a regular basis.

Sincerely,

Your friends at Klondike

– 
More to come on this later. But feel free to poke some holes in their pre-testing procedures with their target audience. I see no way that these ads wouldn’t offend most demographics – even the darling demographic of straight white men dislike being portrayed as oafish.

Also: Note their use of an honorific!

Vaginas are the center of the world!

20 Jul

Continuing on yesterday’s theme of terrifying advertisements, today I bring you more douchebaggery (no, literally!) via the new Summer’s Eve ad campaign:

I had no idea vaginas had babies ALL BY THEMSELVES! Amazing, I say, simply incredible! Also? Douching is pretty much the opposite of taking care of your “cradle of civilization.” No self-respecting medical professional would ever recommend anyone do such a weird-ass thing to their privates.

Buuuut in a strictly academic sense, at least they’re taking a new approach to helping women get uterine and yeast infections. Just try cradling a civilization after a bout with pelvic inflammatory disease! I dare ya.

Video via Feministe and Adrants.

Klondike bar ads are insulting, lazy

19 Jul

Have you guys seen this crap? Apparently I’ve been hiding under a rock, or at least eschewing prime-time network television, because Klondike’s effort to re-brand was going mostly under my radar until recently. Peep this horribleness:

Oh ha! I get it! Women are boring! Especially if you’re married to them! It’s like torture to listen to them! BAAHAHAHAHA! Hilarious. /sputter Oh yeah, and did we mention gay people are just … icky?

It’s a generally-accepted fact that the very last thing a straight man would ever want to be caught doing is something gay-seeming! Although it might be worse to actually care about the person you committed to spend your life with – hard to tell from these commercials.

Sarcasm aside, it is possible to be funny and sell ice cream without implying that women are insufferable bores and being gay is wrong (and straight men can never show affection). This is lazy work, plain and simple. The Via Agency, the ad agency that Klondike hired to put together their re-branding campaign, should be ashamed.

I complained, I hope you do too. Tell Klondike you won’t be buying their products because of these spots. If you’re an advertising nerd like me and you’re opposed to the ads on multiple levels (not only are they sexist and homophobic, they’re unimaginatively so), you can also scold The Via Agency. Humor ain’t hard, people. Wise up or lose business.

Do you think these ads are worse than normal, or just more blatant? And who decided that all mint flavors must forever come in fluorescent green anyway? Technicolor is for TVs, not food. Sheesh.

Beware the Insidious Honorifics: Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms.

13 Jul
From here.

Did you know that honorifics, seemingly applied equally – and equally respectfully – to men and women, are not, in fact, equal, nor equally respectful?

There’s a very interesting post from dictionary.com, a useful word-nerd web site, on the topic of the etymology of Mr. and Mrs. According to the folks over there, the origins of “Mr./Mister” are as follows:

“Once used to address men under the rank of knighthood, by the mid-18th century mister became a common English honorific to generally address males of a higher social rank.”

Here we see that “Mister” does indeed have its roots in a term of respect (or alternatively, fear and control. Either way, not too bad of a deal for the recipients of the prefix).

On Mrs.:

“Mrs. is a contraction derived from Middle English maistresse, ‘female teacher, governess.’ Once a title of courtesy, mistress fell into disuse around the late 14th century. The pronunciation, however, remained intact. By the 15th century, mistress evolved into a derogatory term for “a kept woman of a married man. … ‘Miss’ also derives from ‘mistress.’ ”

Both “Mrs.” and “Miss” derive from questionably neutral (female teacher, governess – it could be argued that these were servant-class occupations back in the 17th century, hence why neutrality is questionable) and outright negative (kept woman of a married man) origins.

So while the use of the term “Mr.” is straightforward, the use of any honorific for a female is not. Even the use of the quasi-neutral phrase “Ms.” has alienating potential in certain fundamentalist/antifeminist circles. Nowadays, “Mrs.” simply means “married.” Which is pretty darn problematic in and of itself – defining women by their marital status, but not men, is so far beyond the pale of how modern society should be functioning that writing more on the topic seems redundant – it’s why “Ms.” was coined.

Sure, maybe it’s just a question of semantics – and I’ll admit I’m overly sensitive to such things – I do, after all, cringe every time someone abuses an adverb (“Eat Local”?!? No, it’s eat locally! If you’re going to be snobby about your food, you may as well be snobby about your grammar as well. Sheesh.) and have to bite my tongue when I overhear someone saying “There is five options …”

But I’d argue that the use of honorifics of any sort is damaging not only to women, but to society in general. Look closer and you’ll see they’re more insidious than simple grammatical gaffery. The use (or conspicuous lack of use) of honorifics is a way to editorialize – just like the use of modifying words like said/claim. Extreme case in point? The NY Times stopped using “Mr. bin Laden,” switching to just “Bin Laden” at some point, but kept the honorifics for everyone else. Although no one will argue that criminals ought to be accorded extra social niceties, it’s easy to see how the subtle drop of an honorific prefix could be used as a lexocological weapon.

It remains interesting to me that the New York Times continues to insist on using honorifics – with notable exceptions. Gender-neutral outs exist only for people with Ph.Ds and religious credentials, which is yet another way to subtly reinforce class striation from within the confines of the printed word.

What do you think – does being called Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms or ma’am/sir connote old-fashioned respect or outdated snobbery? Is this type of thing done in other countries outside the US?

Read the full Dictionary.com post here.

Father’s Day Special

19 Jun

Looks like the Wall Street Journal – always a conservative rag anyway – is starting to show its Murdoch underbelly. For Father’s Day, the WSJ’s Sue Shellenbarger brings us an article telling us all about why men make better parents than women. In fact, she proves with science (science!) that men are simply better people than women! Peep this quote:

“Under stress, men’s brains are wired to … leap into action. Women are more likely to withdraw or shut down.”

via the WSJ

The article goes on to gush about how fathers’ disinterest in their children helps kids to grow up awesome, while mothers’ damn mothering turns kids into whinging, weakly brats. There’s even a cheesy full-color illustrations in which men are shown heroically sweeping in to save the day while mothers, offscreen, according to the unattributed cutlines, withdraw, shut down or otherwise over- or misreact, turning the unsuspecting children into balls of exposed nerves. The author throws a bone to the ladies by stating, repeatedly, that moms are darn good at teaching their squalling brats to “express their feelings” and “talk through their emotions.”

But wait! There’s more: “Because fathers have had to learn to manage their own impulses to strike out or react physically to frustration, they may be better equipped than mothers to help children manage their own urges to behave badly.”

Oh right. Because women never learned to manage their own impulses to strike out or react physically to frustration – we’re just born meek and feminine of course! The last little bit of conservative trope? Why, it’s that single mothers are ruining everything:

“Another reason involved fathers help kids, of course, is that families often function better when two parents are working as a team to give children what they need, supporting each other’s efforts.” Oh of course! How could we forget? Although it’s hard to see the logic in this conclusion, since the article’s assumptions are really building up to the conclusion that fathers should do all the parenting themselves, since they’re so great – actually, it would be best if all children were raised in two-father households, not one-father, one-mother households. But then we’d have to support gay marriage, wouldn’t we? Oh dear. Now we’re just confused!

If you want to read the whole Father’s Day Wall Street Journal piece, feel free.

Men don’t let men eat vegetables

11 May

What could be manlier than an irrational hatred of dark leafies? A steady diet of beer and prepackaged fatty foods, that’s what! Nothing says “macho” like high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease. Watch and cringe:

Just shows to go ya, not even menfolk are immune to the detrimental effects of the patriarchy. I’m sure either one of my vegetarian/vegan brothers could tell you a story or two (or six) of having their manly street cred called into question due to their love of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 52 other followers