Manhattan Mammories

Today’s post is, fittingly, a tribute to New York.

Since 1992, it’s been legal in New York City for women to go topless. But Moira
Johnson (and several other women) have been arrested and otherwise punished for
doing so. So this summer, Johnson took to the streets, breasts bared, to
make a point.

Ok, it’s a little wacky, and I don’t believe the right to go
topless is at the top of the list of things we should be shouting about. But
I’m fascinated by this story for another reason; How I reacted to it.

My first thought, and probably that of a lot of people, was
something like, “wow, what a bad/stupid/dangerous idea.” What’s
bad/stupid/dangerous about it? She’s asking to be assaulted. That’s what I
thought. That’s what a LOT of people would think.

But here’s the thing – that’s victim-blaming. It makes her
responsible for other people’s behavior. I don’t think it’s less wrong to
assault someone who’s topless. I believe every person is responsible for
following the law, even when it would be easy or tempting not to. If she were
to be assaulted, it would be no more her fault than if it happened to a
fully-dressed women, because crime is the fault of the criminal. ALWAYS.

So I’m going continue to question my reactions to things,
because rape culture (and other forms of institutionalized discrimination) is
insidious.

I do think going topless in New York City TODAY would be
bad/stupid/dangerous. Because the weather isn’t sentient. Big difference. Stay
safe, East Coast Vagina Newsies.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/07/29/moira-johnston-goes-topless-in-nyc-to-raise-awareness-of-the-right-to-a-bare-chest.html

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This ad is making Republicans Ca-RAYZEE.

A successful young woman made an ad for Obama that contains sexual double entendre.

 

Some people are very, very upset about it.

Which makes me like it even more.

They seem to fall into two basic categories:

1 – It’s inappropriate.

There are various flavors of this; Analogies between sex and politics are inappropriate, the Obama campaign should be ashamed to be associated with such an ad, it’s in poor taste, etc.

The sex & politics analogy objection is a pretty weak argument, given how much actual campaigning has been done around the various issues surrounding reproduction – and Republicans have only themselves to blame for that. You want to separate sex and politics? Stop trying to legislate reproductive issues, and for the love of all you think is holy, BACK AWAY FROM THE RAPE BABIES.

The shame and bad taste objections just boil down to people’s discomfort with a young woman talking about sex in a way that doesn’t objectify or shame her. Lena Dunham has had sex. She’s not ashamed of it, she doesn’t regret it, she’s not embarrassed if other people know it. That just squicks some people out, and to them I say TOUGH SHIT, GET USED TO IT.

2 – It panders to women.

Yes, it does. It’s a political ad. Every political ad there’s ever been has pandered to someone. So why are some people particularly bothered by an ad that panders to young women? First, it challenges what the culture tells us about young women. They might bear no resemblance to cheerleaders or sexy co-eds or uptight virgins or teen moms or the other representations of young women we usually see. They might have tattoos, they might embrace their sexuality, they might be smart at the same time, and they might have political opinions and priorities that differ from our own. There’s a generation of female voters out there who are far more progressive on “social issues” than the generation before them, they care about these issues a lot, and they don’t care whether the rest of us like it. That scares the crap out of some people. And I love it.

“Free to Be You and Me’ Turns 40

It’s hard to overstate the influence this album had on who I am, and I am endlessly grateful for it.

The first script I ever memorized came from it. My belief
that I can be anything I want to be came from it. It is one of my favorite
gifts to give expecting parents.

And it is still progressive and necessary.

This article is long, I haven’t read all of it yet – but I’m
thrilled to have the chance to learn more about the grown-up side of something
that did so much to shape me as a child.

Fifty Shades of Infuriating

Ok, this PISSES ME OFF.

The two candidates for US Senate in
New York are women. During their debate on Wednesday night, both were asked if
they’d read ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’

Kirstin Gillibrand graduated magna cum
laude from Dartmouth, speaks Mandarin Chinese, and is an attorney who clerked for
the Second US Court of Appeals. She heads the Women’s Leadership Forum for the
DNC and served as special counsel for the Secretary of HUD during the Clinton administration.

In 2006, she beat a 4-term Republican incumbent to represent her district in
the US House of Representatives, and was reelected in 2008. When Hillary
Clinton was appointed Secretary of State, Gillibrand was appointed to fill her
US Senate seat, and won the 2010 special election to keep it. She was the first
member of Congress to publish her official schedule, earmark requests, and
personal financial statement. In 2008, she became the sixth woman to have a
child while serving in Congress, and worked up until the day of her delivery.

Wendy Long has never served in public office, so there’s
less information available about her. But she studied at Dartmouth,
Northwestern, and Harvard. She’s also an attorney who worked for two Senators
and for two courts, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, and
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

So why ask these two candidates, these particular two, if
they’ve read this book? I’ll tell you what I think the answer is. Because we as
a society are still unable to de-sexualize women long enough to take them
seriously as professionals. Because we are both titillated by reminding women
of this, and ashamed of ourselves for feeling that way. We want them to say yes
so we can think of them as dirty, and we want them to say no so we can think of
them as ‘good’. We are collectively caught up in a cultural ‘madonna/whore’
fantasy that leaves us with a political process that’s about as mature as an
episode of Beavis and Butthead.

I dearly hope some renegade debate moderator in the next
week asks two male candidates somewhere if they read Penthouse, and brings this
shit up when people freak out.

http://thinkprogress.org/alyssa/2012/10/18/1043261/kristen-gillibrand-wendy-long-fifty-shades-of-grey/

Preach, vagina doctors, preach.

You may have heard that Illinois representative Joe Walsh said yesterday that there’s no need to allow for abortion when a woman’s life is at risk, because it never happens. “With modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance,” he said during his debate against Tammie Duckworth.

(This is one of those things that falls under commonplace
jackassery in my opinion, so I didn’t post about it. Feel free to Google Joe
Walsh abortion if you want more info.)

What IS news is that the American Congress of Obstetricians
and Gynecologists just issued a statement correcting Walsh, saying, “These
inaccurate comments are yet another reason why The American College of
Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ message to politicians is unequivocal: Get out
of our exam rooms.”

(There’s also a link at the end to an excellent article in
the New England Journal of Medicine to the same effect. There may be a post
just about that one soon.)

http://www.acog.org/About_ACOG/News_Room/News_Releases/2012/Response_to_Politicians_Inaccurate_

Malala Yousafzai Stands

I haven’t posted about this because this blog is focused on domestic vagina issues, but this news is too good not to share.

Malala Yousafzai is a 15-year-old female Pakistani activist for the education of women in her country. She spoke out against the Taliban’s campaign of blowing up schools that taught girls, and on October 9, was shot in the head while riding her school bus.

Today, she stood up.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505263_162-57535863/malala-yousafzai-awake-has-stood-up-doctors-say/

Bindergate

Well WHAT should we talk about today?



I haven’t yet watched
the debate; I had dinner with three fantastic female friends instead. But it
only took one post-cocktail phone-check to hear about the “binders.”

Personally,
I find his later comment about being flexible so women can go home and cook
dinner much more repugnant. I also don’t think it’s news that a) he sucks on
women’s issues, and b) he sucks at talking about it. But Bindergate puts public
attention back on these issues, which is great, and it’s led to some handy
round-ups of the facts on Romney’s record on women.

First, read today’s blog post from Rachel Maddow. (She’s a
woman, but she already has a job, so she wouldn’t be in a binder. She works
late sometimes though. But she doesn’t have a husband. Hmm. Perhaps in the next
debate, Bob Schieffer can ask Romney which came first, the demanding job or the
lesbian?)

Then go to http://bindersfullofwomen.com/.
(Gosh someone put that up fast. Probably in all that spare time after doing the
dishes and putting the kids to bed.)