Me: Okay, so, my first question might sound a little stupid, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually asked you this: are you a feminist?
Me: When did you realize you were a feminist?
Mom: Probably…? Oh, golly. Um, I think I realized that I was a feminist in… I think the eighth grade. And the thing that really sticks in my mind is, [my twin sister] Kathryn and I were out to dinner in like this little steakhouse place that was close to home with my mom, and for some reason, I think it was just the three of us, which was unusual … but anyway, um, something happened in the restaurant and I don’t know whether they, somebody came in looking for trouble, to sort of finish a fight with a waitress or something, but a man, you know, started to assault a woman and Aunt Kathryn and I both jumped up from the table and went that way and my mother was like, “Stop! What are you doing?” and I remember looking back at her like, “What are you thinking?” You know, that we would just stand there because we’re women? Um, you know, and the police came really quick and broke it up and stuff, but that was the first time I remember thinking, “No, I’m not just not going to do the right thing, you know, do what’s needed to be done because I’m a woman. That’s ridiculous!”
Me: So you grew up, um, I mean, you were a teenager in the 1970s, and um, sort of at height of the Women’s Liberation Movement, and all sorts of things like, title IX and Roe v. Wade and birth control had recently been legalized for non-married couples, what was your perception of women’s place in the world when you were my age?
Mom: You know, um, we think a lot about that generation, of the men who went off to war and came home and didn’t talk about it? Um, you know, and um, their service wasn’t honored and valued and they didn’t have the chance to work through the horrors of what they had to live through in the Vietnam War. But you know, we can think about women disappearing in 3rd world countries and women being systematically raped and tortured and things like that, but women disappeared all the time when I was young. They disappeared because it was their only choice. They either disappeared to go off somewhere and have a baby and live through having that baby and then having to give that baby up, or they disappeared to find a place where they could get an abortion and um, somehow make it seem like they were off on a trip visiting someone, and then they had to live with not being able to talk about it. So, men went off to war and had to live with those memories, women just came home every day and had to live with memories that were so difficult and so isolating. You know, when [a family friend] was pregnant the first time, that was the thing that just really got me, you know, I knew so many people who had just gone through really, really bad things and I just thought, god haven’t we come further? With parents still talking about throwing girls out and women still don’t have choices and you’re still stuck in this impossible place of having to make decisions that you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life and there’s just no good answer.
Me: So, what are the things you’re most happy have changed? And what do you think are some of the things, you know, compared from 30 years ago and 40 years ago still need a lot of ways to go?
Mom: Um, you know [laughs], your father asked about how your hand was doing this morning, he and I had breakfast together, and um, I said you know, I said the thing that really stuck me, about Elizabeth’s whole experience here, is I said, she’s a camp counselor. I said, if that had happened to a child in her care she would have known exactly what to do and she would have done it instantly. But I said, she has turned a corner, she is no longer a young person who um, the world revolves around them, I said, she was pretty much calling me, and you didn’t ask it, but what I felt was, what you were saying was should I suck it up and put a band aid on it and go to work? Or… you know, is it okay to take care of myself? And I said, you know, it hurt me a little bit that, because I said, I’ve—society has taught her to be that way and I’ve taught her to be that way, and I said, “That’s what happens to women,” and your father’s answer was, “Well, do you think it’s taught or do you think it’s innate?” And I said, “It’s taught.”
Me: So, what is your proudest accomplishment?
Mom: [Long pause and sigh.] What is my proudest accomplishment? [Sigh.] I think, my proudest accomplishment is you. You do, you live the life that I wish had been available to me when I was your age, and um, you… you know, if I taught you to do things like, say “should I just put a band aid on this gaping flesh wound and just go to work?” but, at the same time, um, I think I’ve also taught you to not limit yourself and I think that um, you’re really brave? I mean with all the things you’ve done with going to Honduras and Ecuador and stuff, those were things that truthfully I thought about, but if I really questioned myself, I was probably glad that my father said, “No, you can’t you can’t go study abroad, you won’t study and that’s not what we’re sending you to school for,” so um, there’s probably a part of that would have been really a little frightened if I had gone to France by myself. Um, and you might have been a little scared but I think you got over it pretty darn quick.
Me: What do you like about being a mom?
Mom: Oh, it’s like reading the best book ever. Um, every chapter is exciting, um, you never know what the next one is going to be, you can’t wait for the, uh, next episode, um, and uh, and it’s… it’s a glimpse into the future. And it gives you hope about the future when you know you’re raising the kinds of kids that will make the world a better place. It’s the thing I’ve always said about you when people ask me about you and I say, “You know, somebody has to save the world and Elizabeth is going to be one of those people.”
Rick Ross recently caused controversy when the internet noticed a certain line he rapped while a featured in a Rocko Future song.
Put molly in her champagne, she ain’t even know it / I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.
Most people, at this point, are reading or hearing that line and thinking to themselves…. “Hoooooooo… what?!”
This, folks, is rape culture. Jamilah Lemieux breaks it down for Ebony:
This is not just another terrible rap lyric to be dismissed. This is an important teachable moment for young men, boys and even some full-grown adults who don’t understand consent. Who don’t understand that yes, even the girl who brought the molly and the Magnums to the party can be a victim if she was not able to decide when and how they were used. THIS IS RAPE CULTURE…
So… Rick Ross is a big name at a big label… surely the outcry over this is going to elicit a reaction or apology from him, right?
I want to make sure this is clear, that woman is the most precious gift known to man. It was a misunderstanding with a lyric, a misinterpretation where the term rape wasn’t used… I would never use the term rape in my records. As far as my camp, hip-hop don’t condone that. The streets don’t condone that. Nobody condones that…I just wanted to reach out to all the queens that are on my timeline and all the sexy ladies, the beautiful ladies that had been reaching out to me with the misunderstanding.
Oh, Rick Ross. Dear, dear Rick Ross. I believe you’re mistaken. Perhaps there was a misunderstanding with the lyrics, like, maybe you should have understood you shouldn’t have said it. And just because you don’t say the word, doesn’t mean it’s not there. It’s not like you can just close your eyes and cover your ears and all bad things disappear. Sorry, the world doesn’t work like that. And this is especially problematic with the word “rape” because it’s already a term with a LOT of confusion as to what it constitutes, and when we have young men who rape and sexually assault a young woman because she blacks out and then put pictures of that assault online to brag about it—and then when they get convicted for rape, for that thing that they did, they apologize and say that they never should have taken the pictures. This is a problem! And a huge part of the problem is that we DO condone it, maybe not with words like, “Go forth and rape,” but we do condone it when we allow society to blame victims and ask how much she was drinking and what she was wearing and how many sexual partners she’s had in her lifetime and was it really a no because maybe she just regrets it and is embarrassed now?
A better way to reach out the the queens on your timeline and the sexy ladies and beautiful ladies who have reached out to you, Rick Ross, a more constructive use of your fame and your power and your microphone, would be to actually talk to young men and women about rape. Don’t run away from the word. Honestly, I like hip hop and I truly believe in its ability to convey a message. And I know that not every song has to be a life-changing anthem or after school special. I like to party and chill out too. But please, Rick Ross, please, don’t brush it off. I forgive you the line, but I will not forgive you for not using this moment to really help your fans.
A little over a month ago now I attended the Women’s Way of Philadelphia annual Women & Influence Conference. This year’s theme was Women & Leadership, very appropriate considering that the United States is 95th in the world for women in legislature. Pennsylvania (where most of us Foxjuicers live) is 47th in the country for women in elected office.
The keynote speaker was Sam Bennett, of the Women’s Campaign Fund and the She Should Run Foundation, who even early on a Saturday morning was a firecracker. As her work is devoted to getting more women into office, she shared her own story to how she got to where she was, as well as some powerful facts concerning women in political office that she’s come across:
1. The most important pre-indicator in whether a woman will run for office is if she runs for something in elementary school/middle school/high school. We should be encouraging girls to get involved in student government!
2. There is no such thing as mild sexism. All of it is electorally devastating. Women drop 7-10 points when it happens and the possibility of sexism in campaigning is a huge deterrent to women running in the first place.
3. But when candidates call out that sexism, it brings those points back and gives them a bump in poll numbers.Conventional campaign wisdom used to say that female candidates had to ignore the sexism lest they be called a whiny girl, but research by the WCF and She Should Run Foundation say that it makes candidates look more assertive and brave.
4. Women don’t run because they’re not asked. On average, a woman needs to be asked six times before she decides to run. Later in the conference someone brought up the point that when men are applying to jobs, if there is a list of 6 qualifications that potential candidates should have and they have 2 or 3, they will still apply. Women, if they are missing one of the qualifications, will not. Men and women are socialized differently, so for now we should be asking more women to run for office.
5. When women do run, they win in equal numbers. Fear of losing is irrational when you’re not even running!
6. When women run for office, they tend to raise more money than their male counterparts because they work harder. You wonder why Hillary Clinton is so scrappy? She works really really hard!
7. Women report being concerned about a work/life balance. 0% of men report a similar concern.
8. Women are concerned about the impact of negative campaigning and sexist media coverage of their families. 0% of men report a similar concern (even a fear of negative campaigns.)
9. Women are concerned about raising enough money for their campaigns. Research shows that women give to campaigns (male or female) significantly less than men. Sam encouraged the audience to give just $5 whenever you see a female candidate you like! (The price of a grande Starbucks specialty drink!) And as Cheryl Bullock, Senior Advisor and Southeast PA Regional Director for Senator Bob Casey, Jr., said later in the day, “If you want good leaders you’ve got to spend money to support those leaders.”
So… are you thinking about running for office now?
Onslaught made the rounds a couple years ago, and is a really clever and thoughtful ad campaign by Dove, the message of which “Talk to your daughter, before the beauty industry does” is a chilling closing shot after watching hundreds of clips of sexualized and photoshopped bodies that have become the norm in advertising.
Here’s the rub though: Dove is part of that industry.
Over the past few years Dove has made a lot of headlines and done some really interesting and beautiful things with their “real beauty” ads and several thoughtful PSAs about the construction of beauty, like in “Onslaught.”
The video that our reader sent to us though, is actually titled “A Message from Unilever,” and unfortunately is no longer online because of copyright issues. The basics of Onslaught are the same, the little girl pre-beauty industry craze and then a flood of sexualized images, but all of the images come from Axe (you know, the body spray?), which is owned by Unilever, which also owns Dove. The very images that Dove is claiming to fight are perpetuated by the company that owns them. This similar “parody” video is not as well done as the one that was taken down, but gives you an idea of the images.
And here’s the catch 22 of big business: without the “dissenting” voices like Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, all we have are the dominant, sexualized and sensationalized images from other companies. Dove’s “empowering” campaign about “real beauty” is still trying to sell you something ($7 dollar body washes… which I use…). Dove’s parent company is ultimately profiting from the appeal of their Real Beauty campaign… but also from Axe, which is exactly the kind of advertising that Dove is supposedly fighting against.
There is a 3rd option in this, and that’s grassroots activism around beauty standards. If you subscribed to feminist tumblrs you probably see this on your dash all the time. User-created media is accessible and interactive. Nancy Upton’s America Apparel controversy/trolling is a great example of the kinds of conversations about beauty standards that can come from “regular people.”
What do you think? Is it more valuable to have “positive” images in the media even if they have a negative underbelly? Are there grassroots organizations that do work on this that you really like? Send us a message!
“You see a lot of smart guys with dumb women, but you hardly ever see a smart woman with a dumb guy.”
Erica Jong is an American author best known for her 1973 novel Fear of Flying, a fictional exploration of psychology, desire, sex, and the longing for a “zipless fuck.”
Jong rose to prominence during the women’s movement and although she is often associated with her frankness around the subject of sex, her significance lies in her careful treatment of the subject, in both fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, wrestling with gender norms, the changing culture around sex, and self-exploration.
Jong also has a wonderfully interesting relationship with her much more conservative daughter, author Molly Jong-Faust. If you want to read some really interesting intergenerational conversations on feminism, womanhood and sex, look them up.
When President Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected in 1932, Eleanor Roosevelt stole away to cry in private, dreading the seemingly inevitable loss of her identity.
Her marriage had already gone awry in 1918, when she discovered a love letter between Franklin and her own social secretary, Lucy Mercer. As a divorce would have jeopardized Franklin’s burgeoning political career, he begged forgiveness and they stayed together, although they never again had a “good” marriage. Eleanor had enjoyed living in DC and getting to know other politicians wives and becoming involved in political conversations, so with the loss of love in her marriage, she became more independent.
Much of Franklin’s success is owed to Eleanor. When he contracted polio and lost the use of his legs in 1921, Eleanor encouraged him to continue to be involved in politics, and in turn, took on much of the legwork (no pun intended) herself. She campaigned, wrote, taught, and became a visible face of the Roosevelts’ political vision for the United States. Franklin was elected to Governor of New York in 1929 and Eleanor became a highly visible and well-respected public figure on her own. And despite her fears of being unable to be an activist in the White House, Eleanor continued to do the things she wanted, from fighting racism with the NAACP, being the first First Lady to hold her own press conferences, visiting with the homeless, and writing a newspaper column. Throughout the Great Depression and World War II, Eleanor’s involvement in politics and visibility made her one of the most (if not most) controversial First Ladies in history and one of the most powerful women in her time.
When Franklin died in 1945, Eleanor continued her work. President Truman, who took her husband’s place, appointed her as a representative to the United Nations later that year, where she helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Much speculation is also given about Eleanor’s relationship with AP reporter Lorena Hickok, who eventually resigned from the press and took on a job within the Roosevelt administration because she felt she was no longer able to remain objective. Letters between them mention a lot of desire for kissing—but no one has ever offered enough conclusive evidence that their relationship was anything more than that, although it was certainly possible. Hickok eventually had relationships with other women; Eleanor’s schedule made her a difficult woman to sustain something with.
Eleanor’s tenure in the White House and activism outside of it changed the game for women in politics. Though she was asked many times to run for office, Eleanor never took the bait, preferring to be active in the world in other ways. Is it any wonder that Hillary Clinton, a First Lady after the Eleanor mold, is rumored to have held seances to speak with the Eleanor in 1996? There is no doubt Eleanor Roosevelt remains an inspiration and important figure in women’s history.
Makers premieredTuesday, February 26 on PBS, and now you can watch all three parts online.
Christine and I went to a sneak preview of part of Makers two weekends ago, and it was awesome. The preview opened with a segment on Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to enter the Boston Marathon (she entered under K. Switzer, as women weren’t allowed to enter in 1967. One woman had run the race before her, although unregistered), which just got everyone in the room riled up (in a good way). When Jock Semple, a race official, realized there was a woman running the Boston Marathon, he ran into the pack to tell her, “Get the hell out of my race!” which nowadays, is just so melodramatically silly, but was his actual reaction. The room packed full of feminists cheered as we saw footage of Switzer’s football player boyfriend sideline Semple and send him flying off the road.
Makers features many more women, big names and little ones, who have helped shape the US for women in the last century. It’s a fascinating documentary and a great look at women’s history, so check it out!
Check out makers.com for more videos of women’s stories, and let us know if you watch Makers and what you think!
Seth MacFarlane’s theatrical “We Saw Your Boobs” at the Oscars exploded the feminist internet, and there are a lot of interpretations. Jen and Liz take on the pro and con sides.
Jen: I did not love Seth MacFarlane’s performance at the Oscars. I thought he made some tasteless jokes. He claimed Zero Dark Thirty proves women can “never let anything go.” He gives a shout out to all the good-lookin’ ladies out there who used the flu epidemic as an excuse to vomit so they would fit better in their dresses. Seriously?! I could go on and on and on. But you know what event I—surprisingly enough—would not include on my list? The “We Saw Your Boobs” song. I get it: women are vastly undervalued and underrepresented in the film world. Their bodies are put on display in a way that male bodies rarely seem to be. However, all I saw this song as was an acknowledgment of boobs that we have seen. It is true that we have seen those actresses’ boobs. I actually found myself thinking, “I’m glad we are talking about this! Let’s get to a place where seeing nudity in the media isn’t that big of a deal and is instead something we sing silly songs about! It should be light-hearted and fun!” If he had mocked these women’s bodies or insinuated that they’re slutty for putting themselves on display in such a way, I would have been pissed off. But to me the song itself wasn’t sexist; what’s sexist is that there’s no equivalent song that would be sung about men. We don’t see dicks in many American films—unless we are talking about the types of films that the Oscars doesn’t recognize. I would like to also point out that the actresses’ reactions that were shown were actually pre-recorded; they were at least somewhat in on the joke (I realized this while watching the Oscars because their outfits were not the same. Check it out.).
Yet there was another boob-related issue that I had a problem with: the backlash that Anne Hathaway (and her nipples) has received. First of all, the dress had darts on the chest that pointed out right where her nipples would be. It was not her nipples that we were seeing. IT WAS THE DRESS DARTS. We have people starting Twitter accounts about her nipples. CBS referred to it as “nipplegate.” Every gossip rag out there—along with CNN’s Entertainment blog and the International Business Times—published a story about her nipples. The backlash she received was absolutely ridiculous. Here we are mocking a completely natural part of the human body and how it looked in a dress.
Liz: Full disclosure, Family Guy makes me want to put hot sauce in my eyes so I was already biased against MacFarlane, but when you make a joke about domestic violence in the first three minutes of hosting, in my opinion, it’s a little hard to come back from that. I love boob jokes just as much as the next gal, but I thought “We Saw Your Boobs” was just immature and tasteless. Given the gender climate of the Oscars and MacFarlane’s career, it wasn’t shocking, but I was still frustrated and disturbed that in 2013 MacFarlane, and a whole bunch of producers and writers, would think that this was a funny and okay gag. Even if they were framing it as “this is a bad idea” joke way. As if female actresses don’t have it hard enough already in Hollywood, making a song out of a list of the talented, well-respected and accomplished actresses who have gone topless was just crass. (Especially since 2 of those topless scenes referenced were rape scenes. Did anyone really watch Monster or Boys Don’t Cry and think “Woo boobs!”?) MacFarlane went downhill from there for me. From making jokes about how Salma Hayek is basically a pretty body with a funny accent, that Quvenzhané Wallis is on her way to dating George Clooney, to a stripper joke in reference to Jennifer Aniston (since she presented with actual former stripper Channing Tatum, and like… stripper jokes about women are always relevant lololol wut?), and then one last jab in the last song with Kristin Chenoweth by NOT saying “slut” (even though it was the clear rhyme) (and more!) I just felt tired watching the Oscars. (I didn’t help that they dragged on for about as long as Les Miserables.) While MacFarlane made plenty of jokes about the male actors present (ha-ha Gigli was bad! Remember that, Ben Affleck?), there’s just no way to degrade actors the same way we allow actresses to be degraded. (Also I don’t want to degrade actors in general. Jokes are fine, and you can push buttons, but there is a realm that is too far.) Because MacFarlane was so bad, does this mean we get a really good host next year to make up for it? Tina and Amy, clear your schedules please.
We came across this article full of HORRIBLE seduction advice and all barfed and laughed and cried and then just had to share because everyone loves watching a train wreck.
#1 Are you alone? This question is perfect to understand if she’s idle and all alone at home. You obviously can’t flirt or talk sex if her friends are around her. Say something bold like “I wish I could be there with you” when she reciprocates with an affirmative.
What? Is this conversation taking place over the phone? Is this the opening sequence of Scream?
#2 What are you doing right now? Play it nice and slow. This can help you be certain that she’s alone and bored enough to give you her complete attention.
She’s probably watching cat videos because that’s what everyone does when they’re bored and alone, c’mon!
#3 Do you like cuddling when you lie in bed? Warm her up to a flirty conversation without overstepping the line. This can help open her up by talking about cuddling with someone else.
Is this real life? What is this “someone else” business? Like, anyone else? Like, I would love to cuddle with Bradley Cooper, let me tell you about that.
#4 What do you wear when you go to bed? / What are you wearing? A curious question that’s perfect to ask a girl when she’s in bed already. It’s personal, and yet not too sexual. Say something like “Gosh, I can only imagine how cute you look right now” when she describes herself.
Here’s a hint, when we’re sleeping alone, it’s often in large t-shirts we got for volunteering and flannel.
#5 What do you think you look sexiest in? Get her to talk sexual by talking about her sexy clothing. It’s flattering and definitely sexual.
This is so weird.
#6 Have you ever watched someone else make out accidentally or on purpose? This question gets both of you in the mood. And yet, by directing it at a third person, you can avoid any uncomfortable situation at the start.
Yeah, I’m going to tell you ALL about that car scene with Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.
#7 Has a guy even touched you or discreetly groped you while clubbing or in a crowded place? Girls have a thing about sexual groping. Even if it’s accidental, it’s something they just don’t forget. You can answer something like “I wish I could have been that guy!” after she tells you about an incident she likes.
HOLY HELL THIS IS A TERRIBLE IDEA. “Girls have a thing about sexual groping?” Yeah, when it happens while clubbing or in a crowded place it’s usually unwanted and terrible! Thanks, sir, my lady parts have clammed up FOREVER because you just asked me to describe the mild assault I experience whenever I go clubbing.
#8 Have you ever made out with a guy just because you were horny at that time? Find out if she’s a girl who can be coaxed into having sex with a guy in the heat of the moment.
What? Seriously. No, sorry, I just like making out when I’m not in the mood, it’s just so boring, it’s like chewing paint chips while waxing my legs. Also, “Find out if she’s a girl who can be coaxed into having sex with a guy in the heat of the moment?” Is this for real? This is the worst sentence I have ever read in my entire life.
#9 If you had a pair of x-ray glasses, which part of a guy’s body *below his shoulders* would you see first? Time to get naughty. Really, how many things can a girl take a look at below a guy’s shoulders? Let her answer the question so you always make it seem like she’s the one talking dirty and not you.
What if this girl has taken an anatomy/biology/human growth and development class? Let me tell you, this could get weird fast.