Ms. Magazine

Opponents of Marriage Equality Want to Control Straight People

Audrey Bilger at the Ms. blog has an interesting take on yesterday's argument before the Supreme Court in support of Proposition 8:

When opponents of marriage equality talk about "traditional" marriage, they want to roll back the clock on equality between men and women in marriage–hence the fear of "genderless" marriage and their insistence that marriage is a "gendered institution" even though the state does not currently force married couples to play traditional gender roles. If we don't guard against such archaic views of marriage, the state might start requiring pregnant women to marry, forcing men to marry women who can prove paternity and possibly even counting the number of allowed children within marriages.

Occidental College Betrays Own Sexual Assault Policy

The college, responding to requests from students and faculty, recently agreed to implement a system whereby any time a sexual assault was reported to college authorities, the entire college community would receive an email notification to the effect. Then, two weeks ago, a sexual assault was reported, and no notification was sent out. Many were naturally outraged and organized a multi-level protest.

In response, the president of Occidental College, Jonathan Veitch, wrote a letter to the campus community. In it, he confirms what the students of Occidental fear: He is inclined to disbelieve students who report sexual assault. He writes that OxyAlerts in cases of reports of sexual assault are not “possible or desirable” because:

In the first few hours, days or even weeks, it is not always clear what has happened in incidents like these. Investigators need time to sort through conflicting accounts in order to provide a clear narrative of what took place.

By suggesting that “incidents like these” need vetting, Veitch is reproducing a bias against sexual assault victims that feminists have been trying to eradicate for decades. He is saying that sexual assault reports must be “sort[ed] through,” but reports of all other crimes can be taken at face value.

As the Ms. blog’s Lisa Wade points out, a report is just that—a report. Informing students that there has been a report of a crime does not indicate that a crime has actually been committed. No “sorting through” needs to happen to verify that a report has been filed. Veitch is—deliberately or not—conflating “reporting” and “trying”.

Surprise! Women Are Still Under-Represented in Media

Ms. summarizes the Women’s Media Center’s second annual report on “The Status of Women in the U.S. Media”, and the results are not going to make you feel happy.

The lack of women on screen is a decades-old problem, as male characters have outnumbered female characters 2 to 1 since 1950. And behind the camera, the “Celluloid Ceiling” is still a problem. Less than 10 percent of the directors of the top 250 domestic grossing films of 2012 were women, and women make up only 18 percent of the behind-the-scenes film workforce.

Prepare to be discouraged, unless you get most of your TV from The CW.

Happy 100th Birthday, Revolutionary Rosa Parks

There’s a lot I didn’t know about Rosa Parks. For example:

Throughout the 1940s, Parks and her husband, Raymond hosted Alabama Voter League meetings at which they urged members of their community to spurn intimidation and register to vote. Parks herself successfully registered to vote on her third attempt in 1945. Parks joined the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP in 1943 and, as secretary, took advantage of her activist networks to continue to fight for gender and racial equality.

Certainly debunks that whole “She was just tired” nonsense.

"The Real Problem, Then, Was Rosy"

50 years later, Harriet A. Washington at Ms. debunks two popular explanations for Rosalind Franklin’s snubbing by the Nobel Committee in 1962, starting with the most frequently cited: that she was dead when the prize was awarded.

She was dead in 1962 when the DNA triumvirate received the Prize, but why was it awarded a full nine years after the discovery of DNA’s structure was reported in Nature? Today this delay sounds reasonable, because now, the committee has come to award discoveries that have withstood test of time. However the rules of Franklin’s era indicated that the award was in recognition of discoveries made “during the preceding year.” Had this rule been adhered to, the Prize would have been awarded in 1954, when Franklin was still alive.

Reading between the lines, it seems improbable that anyone deliberately excluded Franklin; more likely the pervasive sexism of the scientific community simply made it unlikely that anyone would think to include her.

"Dear Abby" Dead at 94

Pauline Phillips, writer of the Dear Abby column syndicated all over the country, and sister of Eppie Lederer, the writer behind “Ann Landers”, died on Wednesday. The New York Times recounts some of the highlights of her life, including several examples of her column’s sparkling wit:

Dear Abby: I have always wanted to have my family history traced, but I can’t afford to spend a lot of money to do it. Have you any suggestions? — M. J. B. in Oakland, Calif.

Dear M. J. B.: Yes. Run for a public office.

The Times fails to mention Phillips’ outspoken feminism, so you should also read this obituary by Ms. Magazine.

Girls Should be Girls, Not Brides

Today is the first-ever International Day of the Girl, so in honor of the occasion, here is a post by Rachel Kassenbrock for Ms. Magazine on child marriage:

Alemnesh was seven years old, living in Amhara, Ethiopia, when her family secured for her a marriage to a much older man. She was expected to drop out of school and take on the burden of household responsibilities. In this new life, Alemnesh would never learn to read or write. She would likely be sexually exploited at a young age and, vulnerable and disempowered, and[sic] she would never have appropriate access to information about sexual and reproductive health. This could have led to early pregnancy and obstetric complications, the leading cause of death among girls aged 15 to 19.

Why Ordinary Things Go Pink

Collectors Weekly investigates the history of literal and figurative “pink” products, like the recently-released BiC “For Her” Pens:

Mid-century manufacturers realized that if you take an ordinary object, turn it pink, and put the word “Lady” in front of the name, then you’ve created a product “for women” that can be sold for more money.

Contains some great photo illustrations of old “pink” products.

Via Ms. Magazine.

Sports Bloggers with a Gender Lens

Ms. Magazine profiles three women who write on the intersection of feminism and athletics. My favorite is Caitlin Constantine, speaking here about the objectifying coverage of female Olympians:

Here you have all of these driven, focused women pursuing their moment of glory, a moment that comes around once every four years, and all anyone can talk about is what they look like! And then, of course, that sparked a reaction in which people criticized the criticism, and meanwhile I’m like “But what about the sports!?”

Women doing extraordinary things advance the cause of feminism more than legislation or activism ever can.