Saturday, March 21, 2009

Oh, Hey

This just made my day.

I'm not sure if that kid on the right is comfortable revisiting the birthing experience though. . .

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Where's My Bat?

Alright, in the interest of full disclosure, I woke up on the cranky-ass side of the bed. And now I'm on a half-caf high (birthing a child has left me unable to consume fully caffeinated beverages. Blast!).

But now I'm just pissed. Because of this. And this. Oh, and this.

If you're too lazy, ahem, busy, to click on these links, I'll fill you in on what a six-month jail sentence, the Arizona fucking House of Representatives, and Dora the Explorer have in common: they are all pissing me off!

Some scumbag, let's call him Michael Philbin, son of a Green Bay Packers coach (I know, it's a real shocker), was kinda convicted on two counts of rape. At a single party (wow, a rapist with a real work ethic!). What does he get? Six months in prison and the chance to petition the court to remove the convictions from his record. Oh, and he doesn't have to register as a sex offender because the judge thinks that's overkill.

Then the Arizona House passed a bill requiring women who choose abortion to have a 24-hour waiting period and be subjected to "information" about the fetus' physical characteristics at that stage of pregnancy. Hmmm . . . You know what doesn't have a 24-hour waiting period so an individual can reflect and consider his actions? Rape.

And then there's this "Dora the Explorer" fiasco. As I mentioned earlier, Mattel is debuting an older, sexier Dora in the fall. Her image has finally been released and - surprise, surprise - she's got highlights! And nice slender legs. And a ladylike way about her. She loves to shop too! She's the perfect replacement for solid, adventurous, black-haired Dora because she was just too smart and too, you know, ethnic.

Women will never get ahead in this country by passing the occasional anti-discrimination bill or giving money to politicians who claim to care about their interests. We'll never see a nation that values women and girls and their contributions and talents and capacities with a Women's Equality Day or a two-week paid maternity leave. No, I've always believed that the only way women will access all of our rights is by taking them; by coming together and committing direct actions that challenge - and ultimately defeat - the powers of capitalism and patriarchy that are keeping us down (whew, who's this misty-eyed "idealist?"). And my own fantasy direct action involves breakin' stuff up and burnin' stuff down.*

And so, as I am reminded on this crisp Tuesday morning that the courts don't consider rape a serious crime, that politicians don't consider women capable of making the "big" decisions, and that corporations don't consider girlhood sacred, I'm thinking it's finally time to lace up the sneakers and grab my bat.

Anyone with me? Anyone?

*If "the Man" is reading this, I'm not actually advocating burning anything down. Yet. I'll let you know, though.

Friday, March 6, 2009

"Dora the Explora-Whore-A"

For those of you without a daughter to raise, the happenings in the girl's toys and entertainment world might not be the first thing on your mind. But for me, the images marketed to girls are always on my mind. And, not surprisingly, the toys that are being marketed to young girls today are more sexualized, more anorexized (is that a word?), and more vapid than ever. In other words, toy companies and children's entertainment corporations have decided to send this message to our daughters: "Be skinny! Be cute! Be sexy! And don't be too smart!" Because, you know, it's better to teach these lessons to girls when they're young enough to fully absorb them.

Ruby watches very little tv, but if she had her way, she'd be hooked up to a "Dora the Explorer" IV. She loves Dora. She reads Dora books and kisses her Dora pillowcase; she sings the Dora song and dances the Dora dance, and she's even working on her Spanish (she's a pro at "pantalones"). And for the most part, I'm comfortable with this. Dora is short ans squat. She looks like a toddler. She's brown. She's bilingual. She's fearless and adventurous and compassionate. She's not the typical scrawny, blond image that Ruby will be inundated with as soon as she gets to watch television outside of our home or walk down a toy aisle.

But unfortunately, "Dora the Explorer" is the latest fictionalized heroine to get a corporate makeover. Coming this fall will be a new, tween Dora who's got new friends, a greater focus on fashion, and according to all insiders who have seen the doll mock-up, a tiny waste, and long flowing hair that is not quite appropriate for tree-swinging, and climbing a snowy mountain with her pal Boots.

Dora will go from this: To this:

Say What?
Of course, Dora isn't the first girls' idol to be transformed from an imagination toy into a hyper-sexed version of its former self.

The My Little Pony of my youth was a chubby, stumpy-legged horse:
Today? She's got a slender build, an upturned rump, long, flirty lashes, and she looks like she's ready for something entirely unwholesome:
The Barbies I played with (who were, admittedly, little vixens) came with their own set of expectations about what a woman's body should look like. But today, girls are playing with Bratz dolls, and let's just say the lips on those dolls were not meant for whistling.
You can sign a petition to encourage Mattel and Nickelodeon (the network airing Dora episodes) to release the Dora likeness, or create a pre-teen character who is "true to who she was as a child."

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Michelle, You Don't Have to be so Flat.

I've been thinking a lot about high heels lately, in part because I'm obsessed with learning how to walk in them so that I can appropriately accessorize a cute skirt/dress to a summer wedding. But lately, there's also been quite a bit of noise in the blogosphere about Michelle Obama wearing (or not wearing as it were) high heels.

It seems that Ms. Obama, nearly six-feet-tall, often chooses to wear flats rather than the more traditional pump. The Huffington Post even ran a photo retrospective on Obama's fashionable flats, which I scrolled through to discover that the First Lady really knows how to buy a shoe. But then I read the comments. Many readers lauded Obama's choice to wear flats for health reasons; others congratulated her on her willingness to shirk tradition and pursue her own style. But then there were then countless readers (many of them women) who claimed that, because Obama is so tall, she really should stay out of heels, lest her husband - you know, the president - look short. Huh?

Some less-than-informed attempted-feminists think that, because heels are bad for the foot, women should never wear them. Some even go so far as to suggest that, because heels are generally worn to look sexy, they always make a woman an object of desire (i.e., "objectify" her). And even many Huffington Post readers, and dare I say many women living in this country, think a tall women should not wear a shoe that would make her appear taller than her male counterpart because it would, you know, like, emasculate him. There are two kinds of arguments going on here, but I think they're both all kinds of crazy!
One of the most important lessons feminism has taught me is that a woman can - and should - make a variety of choices. She can rock the Tevas and cargo shorts (although lord knows why). She can do the fashionable flats for comfort and maybe a nod to Audrey. Or she can wear four-inch heels that hurt to walk in just because she chooses to. Women can decide to cover themselves from foot to throat to remove nearly every possibility that someone would find her sexually appealing, or she could go for the plunging-neckline and stripper stiletto look to ensure than no one could avoid seeing her as a sex object. The point is that women can make all sorts of personal and fashion choices and just because I probably wouldn't go the Teva or neckline-to-the-naval routes doesn't mean that I can decide that the woman who does needs some serious consciousness-raising (although some of them probably do).
But the Michelle Obama "Flatsoversy" has taken the arguments of some of my crunchier sister-feminists and twisted them with decidedly anti-feminist arguments about what women should look like, and how they should look in relation to the men in their lives. The suggestion that a man being, or even appearing to be, less tall than his wife is somehow detrimental to his "manhood" is a joke. If a man, let alone the president, can't handle a tall woman, then he's a pretty sad character.
And really, other than Right-wing extremists/bible-beaters, who even uses terms like "manhood" and "emasculate" anyway? The notion that manhood is something that needs to be protected at the expense of women's fashion choices is a joke. Men are not endangered species who need a nature conservancy full of short woman to make them feel better. And Barack Obama doesn't need his wife to pick shoes that won't hurt his feelings.
Of course, all this is speculation. My best guess is Michelle Obama just likes flats, not heels. And that's fine. They're her feet.