When speaking about women’s accomplishments, Ann Richards said women could easily perform given the chance: “After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.” The same can be said for Princess Leia, who did everything that Luke did. She just did it backwards and wearing an uncomfortable chainmail bikini after having been sexually assaulted by Jabba the Hutt. Think about that when you think about who counts as the heroes of Star Wars. Think about how long it took for Star Wars to tell the heroine’s quest. What does it mean for people to petitionRead More →

Emma Watson is the new UN Goodwill Ambassador for Women. She gave a powerful speech about the “F-word” and women’s issues to launch the HeForShe campaign. The Daily Mail covered her hair. Leonardo DiCaprio is the UN Messenger of Peace. The Daily Mail did not mention his manbun or attire. Compare the coverage for yourself: Her brown locks were swept into a centre-parting and she kept her make-up understated and natural. Completing the look she added a metallic belt and conservative black pumps.   And then this: the passionate environmentalist and “the world body’s new voice for climate advocacy.”     Note: I might getRead More →

Until the end of the last century, women didn’t stand up in front of audiences and give speeches on a regular basis. The women who chose to give speeches struggled with challenging gender norms just like women who entered male-dominated professions. Even today, men far outnumber women as politicians and CEOs, the kinds of folks who give speeches regularly in the public eye with media coverage. Nonetheless, as a 21st-century public, we’re more comfortable seeing women behind a microphone saying serious things. Plus, feminist scholars of rhetoric and feminist historians have uncovered the histories of many women speakers who contributed to US history, so ourRead More →

A recent visit to the ophthalmologist reminded me of the marriage plot and how much it’s woven into the fabric of our everday lives – even down to medical records for health care where marriage is irrelevant. Why does marital status affect eye care? The marriage plot is the standard narrative arc of stories that culminate in middle class, heterosexual romantic bliss. It’s the two-kid, picket-fence story of heteronormativity, i.e., not just heteronormativity or compulsory heterosexuality, but compulsory heterosexuality come to closure with marriage. Why does my eye doctor care if I’m married? Why check a box indicating married, divorced, or single? How is thatRead More →

Today the WMST-L is discussing having students write their own Vagina Monologues. This recalls the incident a Michigan state representative was banned for saying “vagina” on the floor. All that week I used the word vagina in as many Facebook posts as possible. Women should write their own Vagina Monologues. And they should have some teeth to them.Read More →

Over Thanksgiving I had a conversation with my mother-in-law about women doctors. She explained that she had to see a woman eye doctor because her regular doctor was unavailable and that this made her uncomfortable. Some people are uncomfortable with women doctors even today. Comfort with a doctor is an emotional thing, not something you can necessarily address rationally. With each generation this discomfort will lessen. Still, when I play the very old doctor riddle with students in class, most can’t solve it. Here’s the riddle: A man and his son were in a car and had an accident on the highway. The boy wasRead More →

Google doesn’t allow abortion providers to advertise. Fair or not, that’s beside the point. The result, unfortunately, is that the google metrics or whatever it’s called elevates Christian pro-life clinics. Today, I was looking up examples of arguments for pro-choice and pro-life positions to bring to class. I Googled “pro-choice+arguments” and got an astounding number of hits that were Christian, anti-choice sites providing counter-arguments. Then I Googled “pro-life+arguments,” and I got the same thing. There were some pro-choice sites, but overall the hits favored the pro-life position. Certainly, the recursivity of Google’s search engine, combined with their choice about advertising, has caused this depressing result.Read More →

The latest Rolling Stone has an offensive retrospective on Madonna. Although Madonna’s iconic look is always the subject of dispute, lately, the media has treated her like a clown. The only explanation is that she’s over 50. Fifty year old women, they say, shouldn’t prance around on a stage and spread their legs. It’s unbecoming. Rolling Stone frequently participates in this mistreatment even though they’ve helped turn Madonna into an icon.  Many of their pictures deliberately show her in an unflattering light. In this retrospective, they do put a handful of pictures of her in her 50s, but they fill the pages with the youthful,Read More →