Carnival of Feminists #65

Welcome to the 65th biweekly showcase of the feminist blogosphere! Here's just a taste of what's inside:

  1. Owning privilege is not about feeling ashamed, it is about acknowledging the benefits that one receives without having to work for them.
  2. And now today an excited colleague announced that he had just discovered this totally new concept on the internet: white privilege! Even though I've been teaching the idea for over a decade, and it's even discussed in our textbook, it was news to him.
  3. Not a lesbian, not homosexual, but 'gay' with such venom I swear her eyes turned red, smoke came charging out of her ears and she was probably trying to get god to strike me down to hell where I stood.
  4. Given that, one would have to wonder, what would a chimp do with human breasts?
  5. i-a197e68afb61da09b378fd253294a51f-dollface-screenshot.jpg

But First: Internet Community Service

This is from Zuska:

I received an email from Dr. Kimberly Fairchild, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Manhattan College, asking for help in recruiting participants for a survey she is conducting. Kimberly is interested in the relationship between early experiences with catcalling and current experiences. The survey she is currently conducting is an extension of her dissertation work. The survey is women-only, completely voluntary, and should only take about 20 minutes to complete. Kimberly has promised to report back to me with the final results next spring, so hopefully I can share them with you here.

If you would like to participate, the link is here. Please remember this is for women only and is voluntary. Kimberly asks me to thank any of you who are willing to take time to participate in this short survey. If you have any comments about the survey, they should be sent to

stranger DOT harassment DOT survey AT gmail DOT com

Please do NOT post them in the comments here, so as not taint others' responses.

And if you are a woman who has left the academic science pipeline after completing a Ph.D., Shelly Heller wants you.

From the "Why Haven't We Moved Beyond This Yet?" Files

Why are we still calling men "babysitters" and "helpers" when they are doing their own domestic chores? Why are we still arguing about stay-at-home parenting? And no, a male-only draft doesn't somehow invalidate feminism.

Debs is wondering why feminists are still so bitterly divided by the Porn Wars:

The current situation, where anti's and pro's sit and glower at each other but make no effort to find any common ground, is getting us nowhere, on the issue of pornography, or any other issues, even ones that we may be surprised to find we agree on. Because, while we are so fixated on this one issue - porn - and playing tit for tat back and forth on every nuance of the subject, we are ignoring other issues that we possibly could agree on more easily, and work together in a concrete way in the real world to actually achieve something.

And while we're asking questions, what's up with all those women we love to hate?

Feminism, Health, and Health Care (the Not Entirely Abortion Section!)

Elena Perez at California NOW writes about Feminist Parenting and Fighting the Doctor:

And who was she to tell us with that knowing look that my husband and I needed "more time as a couple"? When did my baby's pediatrician get a say in our sex life?

I nodded and smiled.

I work for a women's rights organization, I've been a professional activist for over ten years, I should have this shit down. But I froze.

Marcia Greenberger at the National Women's Law Center notes that federally funded abstinence-only sex ed programs are both ineffective and sexist:

[S]ome of these curricula teach that girls care less than boys about achievement and their futures. For example, Why kNOw (2002), a curriculum used by seven federally-funded abstinence-only programs, teaches: "women gauge their happiness and judge their success by their relationships. Men's happiness and success hinge on their accomplishments."

At This is What a Feminist Blogs Like, an analogy between donating blood and health workers' consciences.

Menstrual Poetry has a story about an encounter with a pro-life proselytizer:

"I see you have a rosary! Congratulations, did you pray today?" I, of course, stop and look around because by then my head has been down for far too long trying to organize everything I was carrying and who knows where this woman came from. So I look up from my loot and I am greeted with this middle-aged woman's face, staring at me with a polite smile on her face and I look up a little more and see little baby fetuses among a table in the biggest pro-life tent I have ever seen in my life.

Meanwhile, Genevieve at Une Femme Plus Courageuse reflects fondly on the pro-life activists in her past:

My ideal 'pro-lifers,' those nuns, would not have bloody fetus pictures. They would not have them mounted to big white vans. They would not shout. They wouldn't pretend to be speaking the 'words' of fetuses in cruel mocking voices, they wouldn't trivialize rape, they would not make racist remarks towards Muslims, African-Americans, or anyone else. They wouldn't try to shove their pamphlets at people, if they had pamphlets it would be to advertise places where women could go for help, and I don't mean Crisis Pregnancy Centers, I mean women's shelters, church groups, shelters, other things like that. People who could provide actual resources. They'd listen, too. Not just talk. Compassion and understanding. They would speak about Jesus and actually represent the fellow fairly well.

Sarah Palin Gets Her Own Section

Sarah Palin is good for feminism! No, wait, she'll destroy everything we've fought for! But whatever happens, at least she provides a good opportunity to talk about reproductive justice.

Mad Kane managed to sneak a peek into Sarah Palin's super-secret Barracuda diary to see what she thinks of all this:

Oops! Lieberman just sneaked up on me and started yelling about my diary -- he says my calling him "Joe the Jew" is anti-semitic. His point?

Anyway, that just proves he's jealous. He's been kissing Johnny-boy's butt forever and he came thisclose to the Veep pay-off. And then I stole his ball ... actually, both of them.

Is it Even Possible to Write a Feminist Post About the U.S. Election Without Discussing Sarah Palin?

I wouldn't've thought so, but Ruth Mitchell does it! She sees voting as a form of personal empowerment.

But as The Hand Mirror notes, get-out-the-vote messages aren't always feminist:

I'd love to see the focus group research on this one. I can only assume that they sat a group of young hetero men down in a room, showed them the image, and then asked them if it would encourage them to enrol to vote. Sex sells yet again, seems to be the conclusion they came to. And even better than just sex; sex in which an attractive young woman is tied up, crying and vulnerable. That must sell Christmas to turkeys (or, voter enrolment to the apathetic even).

Non-Electoral Violence Against Women

Unmana tells us the story of an adventure:

By then we were near some shops and there were quite a few people around, including young people (which makes me feel much safer somehow). I suddenly stopped, turned around, and said roughly, "Kisse baat kar rahe ho tum?" (Who are you talking to?)

Medea lays out the application of "crimes of passion" defenses to intimate partner violence:

Polk's study revealed the 'crime of passion' to be a fiction. Rather than spontaneous, unplanned violence, perpetrated by men who suddenly 'snap' or 'crack', a large percentage of homicides involving sexual intimacy where men killed women were clearly planned in advance. The killings of separated partners involved 'careful tracking' of the victim; 'scouting out of her movements to determine where and when she will be vulnerable to attack'; and repeated threats to kill, including the wife-killer's mantra: If I Can't Have Her, Nobody Can!

Despite this social reality, the provocation defence is available to men who harass and stalk their ex-partners, invade their homes, often under cover of night, and kill the terrified women often in breach of their protection orders, and often in the presence of their children. Although judges would be unlikely to accept that an offender who invaded a stranger's home could be provoked to kill by some irate words of the householder, the defence is available to men who kill their ex-partners in this situation. Furthermore, although protection orders were intended to enhance protection for victims of domestic violence, courts have accepted women's conduct in seeking a protection order and reporting the killer's prior violence to police as supporting a provocation defence for their killers.

Feminist Geeky Media Analysis

Neither a Doormat nor a Prostitute observes that Teen Titans is not living up to its own image of itself as a role model for young female readers:

It's not actually hard to write teenager supergirls who are fun and awesome. ... All tough, all very feminine, and all embracing the kind of legacy heroes that the Titans should be. Those are the kinds of women that I would want to show as a "beacon of light" to young female readers, not these horrible creatures in this book.

Female Impersonator discusses Christopher Nolan's treatment of Batman's family relationships: Thomas and Bruce have conversations, while Martha's only line in the film is to scream when her husband is shot.

And let's not forget the joy of lighthearted video game misogyny in C*nt: The Game. Everyone loves lighthearted video game misogyny... right?

Women and Their Sexy Hawt Bodies

First, let's all remember that, as Womanist Musings reminds us, the whole feminine performance/appearance debate is chock fulla class privilege:

What neither of these groups ever seem to want to acknowledge is that whether or not your purse cost 500$ and has a DKNY label, or it is a 35$ Walmart find, both are participating in the impoverishment of women globally. The problem is larger than whether or not you are dressing to please a man.


When women who are middle/upper class engage in a debate as to whether an article of clothing, or makeup is suitably feminist what they are ignoring is that they are in a position to engage in this particular conversation, because they exist with class privilege.

Zuska has a brilliant summary of what happens when women try to talk about being leered at:

"No one should be staring at my tits in the workplace," they all agree. "That makes me uncomfortable, creates a hostile work environment, and constitutes sexual harassment! How difficult is it to look at my eyes? Staring and ogling is a threatening display of power enacted in a sexual manner. This isn't the Mad Men era. Haven't men figured out how to behave in a professional situation by now?"

A dude ... feels compelled to pipe up:

"Why can't you ladeez think scientifically about why menz look at teh breasticles? That is the REAL question here!"

Greg Laden chimes in:

All of this is about communication. The woman in the picture is loaded up with symbols and statements, and her cleavage is a mere phrase in a possibly very rich (or for all we know inane) conversation she is having with someone, maybe no one. A man who leers at that woman's breasts is also taking his opportunity to communicate. Such a man might think that she is asking for this leering because her cleavage is so visible. Maybe. But it is also possible that in this communication she is going in a very different direction. A woman who "puts on the lipstick" (to borrow a very mod phrase) may be sorting out men who are untrustworthy assholes. Or she may not be attempting to communicate with men at all. She may be talking to other women, or to herself. Very likely the leering man is rudely interrupting a private conversation.

(NB: If you read the rest of his post, I recommend that you not attempt to follow the backstory behind his quibbles with Zuska. Even those of us who reside in this particular teapot and have been paying attention to the tempest find it confusing and irrelevant.)

On another tangent from the same kerfuffle, Dr. Isis rejects the idea that the relationship between men as a class and women as a class is defined by the threat of sexual assault:

I can be an advocate and a voice for women who have been victimized, but I also can not allow it to define my identity or there is no point in being Dr. Isis -- a (reasonably) brilliant scientist who is also confident in her femininity. I will never fail to go toe-to-toe with a male colleague because he might whip out his huge member and screw some sense into me.

Finally, John Phillips thinks executive women are more likely to be taken seriously if they're unattractive (and Sarah Palin makes a cameo appearance outside the Sarah Palin section! How mavericky!).

This Section Doesn't Have a Clever Title

Harpymarx has a tribute to Katy Watson, a member of the collective responsible for the feminist zine Shocking Pink.

Women in Science profiles the women scientists in this year's crop of MacArthur "genius grant" recipients.

Persephone's Box discusses advances in common knowledge:

The lessons I've been teaching for over a decade now are being believed without scads of research to back up my every word (and without being seen as such a nutjob). And people are changing how they live because of this knowledge.

And that's it for this edition of the Carnival of Feminists! Thanks for reading - and I hope your browser doesn't crash from the weight of all the tabs you've opened, as mine did. Check the carnival home page for details on the next edition.

Teaser Sources

  1. Womanist Musings
  2. Persephone's Box
  3. Menstrual Poetry
  4. Greg Laden
  5. Dr. Deb

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Great round up. It's nice to see the Carnival of Feminists on a science blog and including posts on women in science (and thanks for the link!)