Friday, November 02, 2007


Well, Halloween has come and gone and we're all recovering from the sugar shock. There are quite a few bags of candy lying around the house...calling for me. As Rosie O'Donnell said. "How can I sleep when I know there's an Almond Joy one floor below me?" Indeed.

In honor of recent festivities and because I can' t focus on any one thing...I give you:
Yet Another Grab Bag Post.

Wheeeee! Enjoy.

The first thing floating around in my head is the FEMA press conference that wasn't. Good lord. Where to start?

The good people over at FEMA wanted to be sure to project a proactive image (in light of their shameful failure in New Orleans) and decided to inform the public of what exactly they were doing for the California wild fires. This would have been a good thing. We like accurate information, yes? Of course yes.

So they announced a press conference fifteen minutes before it was scheduled to start and apparently didn't know what to do when - surprise, surprise - no journalists showed up in time. So they just staged the whole thing and didn't tell anyone.

Yep, they faked a news conference.

My biggest question here, is not why did they do it. It's why did they think they could get away with it? Do they think journalists in D.C. don't talk to each other? Do they think no one would notice the incredibly softball questions that were being asked or the fact that Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson, the deputy administrator, knew the first names of at least two of the supposed journalists who were asking the questions. It boggles the mind.

You can read the Washington Post story about this HERE.

Yeah, so that pissed me off.

Then there was this odd bit of advertising. Apparently Heidi Klum has returned to modeling after having her third child. Hurrah.

She signed a deal with Jordache Jeans who turned out this advertisement in the major glossy mags this month. Notice anything missing? (besides her shirt)

My god, what have they done to that poor woman's breasts? She's missing a rather important part of the female anatomy. Kind of the whole biological reason we have breasts and all. I'd be offended but I'm too weirded out.

Does this mean that she didn't breastfeed child number three?

Bizarre ads aside, there has been some cool stuff going on that brightened up my days this week.

Ms. Magazine turned 35 and has put out a very cool fall issue. I highly recommend checking it out. There are the usual incredibly well-written pieces focusing on issues like the wage gap, political involvement and breast cancer research. I particularly loved the piece on Title IX.

Title IX was legislation, passed in 1972 that prohibited sex discrimination in education. It's the reason we now have girl's sports in middle and high schools. It's also the reason we have significantly more female doctors, lawyers, engineers and scientists.

Title IX states,
"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."

They have a little graph that shows how many women were enrolled in college programs for Business, Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, Computer Sciences, Engineering, Doctoral, Dental, Medical and Law degrees. The first figures are for 1970 (pre-Title IX) and the second are for 2005. Needless to say most of the numbers more than tripled. Very, very, cool stuff.

Now if we could just get paid the same.

That's all I've got for now. I'm going to be shackled to my computer this weekend working on a presentation for my Women, Men and the Media class. I'm analyzing the differences between Cosmopolitan and Bitch Magazine and their portrayals of minority and gay women. Perhaps I will have something fun to post here when I'm done.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dress Up?

Halloween is just around the corner!

I love this holiday. I really do. Halloween means it's really truly fall. It means I get to play dress up and make-believe with the other kids. It means girls will be running around campus scantily clad as sexy nurses, sexy cops in hot pants and and witches in teeny-tiny skirts...wait a minute.

I love most of the stuff about Halloween, but this shit is just stupid.

Sadly, these costumes are nothing to be surprised/shocked about.

I'm all for feeling good about yourself and showing off a little and when you want to. Halloween is a great opportunity to have some fun, get dressed up and be a little silly.

I just wish there wasn't such a tendency to use the holiday as an excuse to get girls to dress like strippers.

If those typical sexist, objectifying, insluting and tacky costumes are a bit much, the one below has crossed the line into 'truly offensive'.

Because there is nothing funnier than dressing up like a life threatening disease. This is the costume you can buy (and yes, it does come in plus sizes) to be Anna Rexia this Halloween. The dress comes with a measuring tape belt and choker and a heart-shaped name tag so everyone will be able to get the joke.

I love that the model they chose is a very buxom, healthy looking curvy woman. As if we need to glamorize eating disorders a little more. Mary Kate and Ashley? Keira? I will not suprised when I see this picture show up on a "thinspiration" page at a pro-ana or pro-mia website.

About a week ago we had a couple of young ladies from an eating disorder awareness group on campus come to our journalism class to talk to us about their program and what is offered on campus. They were a little nervous I think, trying to give their presentation in front of a bunch of journalism students who were writing down everything they said. I think they did a great job, though. We had to take notes and write a story covering thier presentation. Here's mine:

Images in the media such as super thin models and emaciated actresses are a major factor contributing to people developing eating disorders, according to two representatives from an eating disorder awareness group on campus.

The models seen daily in ads and on commercials are digitally enhanced, slimmed down and otherwise manipulated in order to sell products, said the representatives at a recent presentation. People don’t always realize that even the models don’t look perfect and many suffer from disordered eating themselves, said one.

“We pick our friends because they are there for us not because they’re skinny or pretty or have nice clothes,” said presenter Kristy Williams, a 21-year-old journalism major at CSUN.

Williams and Jaycee DeFillipo spoke to a group of about 20 students in Manzanita Hall Thursday night about the reasons, signs and consequences of eating disorders. Both young women are members of JADE, or the Joint Advocates on Eating Disorders at CSUN.

According to JADE statistics, 60 percent of CSUN students have known someone with an eating disorder and 38 percent have had or currently have one. Of that 28 percent, 20 percent are males. The students who seem most affected, according to the JADE web-site, are majoring in kinesiology, health science, nutrition and journalism – areas that focus either on food or the media.

There are many signs a person has an eating disorder, said DeFillipo. The 23-year-old journalism student said anorexics may display a fear of gaining weight and avoid situations where they are expected to eat in front of people, such as going out to dinner. They may also have hair loss or develop a thin layer of hair on their bodies. This is the body’s attempt to try to keep warm when so much body fat has been lost, she said.

Williams said that bulimics can develop different problems. Their weight may actually stay the same, but because they are throwing up so often they could have tooth decay, a hole in the esophagus, calluses on their fingers as well as hair loss and heart problems, she said. The 21-year-old broadcast journalism major added that they will often exercise a lot and also display a fear of gaining weight.

“The main way people get an eating disorder is to start dieting, it turns into an obsession because of a mental background of anxiety or depression,” said DeFillipo.

Both Williams and DeFillipo emphasized that eating disorders are serious problems. According to the JADE website, between 5 and 20 percent of people who develop eating disorders die as a result of medical complications.

“If you do know someone who has an eating disorder it can be a really touchy subject,” said Williams.

Never attack your friend or make fun of them, she advised. Try to use ‘I statements’ such as, I feel like you haven’t been eating a lot lately. Approach them when they are alone so they don’t feel embarrassed or ganged up on.

“If they won’t listen to you and you feel it is very serious, tell someone,” said DeFillipo.

JADE is part of the University Counseling Services and offers many resources to help students who may have or know someone who suffering from an eating disorder. There is a screening quiz on the website at www. To speak with a counselor about eating disorders, students can call the center at (818) 677-7500 or the main line at (818) 677-2366. All calls are confidential.

If you're having an issue with an eating disorder and don't happen to go to Cal State Northridge like me, you can contact one of these groups for help:

National Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center

National Eating Disorders Association
International treatment referrals and information

Since eating disorders are usually linked to other problems like depression and suicidal feelings, I thought I should include these numbers as well:

Hope Line Network

800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433)
National Suicide Hotline
Trained volunteers and professional counselors there to listen

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Short Play About The Space in My Head Reserved for Blogging

Curtain Rises on an long neglected room. There are large items covered with dusty white sheets stage left and right that could possibly be a couch and a chair. A desk sits against a back wall with a computer and monitor long untouched and turned off. Everything is dusty. The room is dimly lit.

Enter Meesh. She is a young woman in her late 20s to mid 30s of average height and weight. Her brown hair is pulled back into a ponytail by way of a baseball cap. Her blue jeans are old and broken in and her t-shirt looks like an old favorite. It is not tucked in. She opens a door stage right and pokes her head into the room.

Meesh: Hello? Anyone in here?

She tentatively steps into the room.

Meesh: Hello? (she looks around) I remember this place! Huh. Guess it’s been longer than I thought.

She walks over to the desk and tries to turn on the computer. It won’t start up. She checks to make sure it’s plugged in and tries again. Nothing. She gives up on that for the moment and heads over to the comfy chair and removes the sheet. A flurry of dust surrounds her and she sneezes. Once the sneezing fit has passed she plops down into the chair.

Meesh: (settling in) I missed it here. I wonder if anyone’s been by…

There is a sudden sound as if something is skittering across the floor. Meesh stiffens in the chair. The sound of skittering again followed by a thump and then:

Creature: Ow. Damnit.

Meesh jumps to her feet.

Meesh: Who’s there? (silence) Hey! Who’s in here?

Creature: (popping up from behind the desk) Well, la de da. Where the hell have you been?

The Creature is no more than three feet tall, covered in fur that would be brown were it not for all the dust and seems to have a stuffed up nose. She has ears like a fox, the general facial features of a bear and a long tail the ends in a tuft of fur. She is also possessed of a small pair of wings that are inclined to flutter when agitated. These wings are larger versions of what can be found on a dragon fly and do not look at all up to the task of actually achieving flight.

Meesh takes this all in for a second.

Meesh: Excuse me?

Creature: You disappear for months on end without so much as a word, not even an update! And you expect to come barging back in like nothing’s happened. Excuse me, Meesh but as far as I’m concerned you’re the one who should be explaining. So I’ll ask again, where the hell have you been?

Meesh: I don’t think I like your tone. Besides, I’m not inclined to answer interrogative questions from small furry creatures who know my name but don’t have the common courtesy to tell me theirs. (she plops back down in her chair)

Creature: I’m your cyber muse you fool! I’m the one who helps you find all that great stuff to blog about. My Little Ponies with suggestive poses – that was me. The story idea about the birth control pills on campus getting more expensive – me. The Supreme Court passing stupid decisions down about abortion – me again! I can’t believe you don’t recognize me. We used to work together at least once a week!

Meesh: Wait a minute…you’re the little creature in my subconscious that helps me sort through the news and decide what to write about! But I never see you. You always hang out behind the scenes. I thought you didn’t like come out much.

Creature: What’s the point of hiding out? You haven’t been here in months.

Meesh: I’m sorry. Things have been…well…weird lately.

Creature: Weird? You want to know about weird? The Little Ponies you blogged about have been through here every day looking for you and now they’re starting to follow Helen Thomas around. You need to sort out your posts, my dear.

Meesh: Sorry. I will be by more often. I promise. It’s just that my life has been changing a lot and I don’t have much spare time.

Creature: You can make time. What’s been going on anyway?

Meesh: Well…I have a new job at Cal State Northridge that I really like and then I’m taking classes four nights a week. And these are upper division classes with a lot of writing requirements. And I have this amazing new person in my life and we go out every now and then. And then there’re all the doctor’s appointments and the radiation treatments. Not to mention all the home work, did I tell you about the homework and weekends at my mom’s here and there and…

Creature: Back up! What radiation treatments?

Meesh: (all innocence) Hmmm?

Creature: Why are you getting radiated?

Meesh: (sigh) Because I have a stage one cancer.

Creature: (fluttering closer) Say again?

Meesh: I got a little stage one cancer and they have to give me radiation every morning so I kind of feel like crap and mostly want to nap all the time.

Creature: (walking up to her and placing a paw on her knee) Are you going to be ok?

Meesh: Oh yeah. I’ll be fine once it’s all over. It’s just pretty sucky right now ‘cause the radiation is killing a lot of white blood cells and I get run down. My doctors are really good and they’re keeping an eye on things, though.

Creature: Oh. That’s good then. (she sits on the floor near her feet and looks up at her) So are you gonna come by here more often? Your blog misses you and someone has to keep these ponies you wrote about in line. They’re randy little things. They won’t listen to me. I’m just a muse you know.

Meesh: I’d like to stop in more often but what can I write about here anymore? I’m so busy writing for my classes I hardly have the time anymore.

Creature: You could write about your classes…or post some of the stories you’ve written for your journalism class…or tell us about what’s going on in you Women in Media classes. That way you could review your material and share cool info with the other blog people. I bet they miss you too.

Meesh: You might be right. I could easily blog about my classes like last semester. And my Women in Media class is pretty interesting. We did this whole thing on Barbie last week that was pretty cool. Did you know she was modeled after a naughty sex doll from Germany?

Creature: You don’t say?

Meesh: Yeah and then they marketed the doll to mothers as a way of teaching their daughters how to grow up and catch a husband so…hey! I see what you’re doing here.

Creature: What?

The Creature gets up and flutters over to the computer desk. With a flick of a switch she is able to fire up the computer and the screen is soon open to a blank word document. Meesh walks over to the desk in amazement and sits down in front of the computer. The Creature plops down on the floor next to her.

Creature: So…tell me about Barbie…

Fade to black out and

Thursday, August 02, 2007

I [heart] Helen Thomas

She is one of the coolest journalists around, male or female and one of my all time favorites. She has been a White House correspondent since the Kennedy administration and has covered every president since. She worked for United Press International as a correspondent and chief for 57 years. She is practically an institution in the White House press room and is the only journalist who has her name printed on the plaque for her chair. Everyone else has the name of the news organization they work for.

Helen broke through many barriers as a female journalist in a very male dominated profession. She was the first woman officer of the National Press Club, the first woman member and president of the White House Correspondents Association, and the first woman member of the Gridiron Club. Yeah, I had to look that last one up too. The Gridiron club is an old, prestigious group consisting of 65 active members from major news organizations and membership is by invitation only. (So, la-dee-da.)

She was named one of the "Most influential Women in America" by The World Almanac back in 1976. In 1998, she received the International Women's Media Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. And on May 20th of this year, Thomas received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Siena College in Loudonville, NY for her contributions to breaking the gender barrier in journalism.

She has always been an outspoken, bold reporter and has never shirked from asking the tough questions. Up until today I think my favorite Helen Thomas moment was from March of 2006, when she asked President Bush point blank why he really got us into the war in Iraq.

"I'd like to ask you, Mr. President, your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounded Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is: Why did you really want to go to war?"

I have a new favorite Helen Thomas quote today. Let me set this up for you a bit. Context is everything, people. - Helen was at the White House for a press conference with Tony Snow last Friday July 27th. Mr. Snow was attempting to answer questions about the Gonzales hearings and government wire tapping programs. So, he's doing his damnedest to cover his lies upon lies with linguistic double-back-flips. Helen is having none of it and finally brings him to a screeching halt with this: "You're not speaking English, really."

Here's part of the transcript:

Q: Is the administration giving any consideration to declassifying any of this material to try to clear up this controversy and clear Gonzales's name?

MR. SNOW: Not if it involves compromising national security.

Q: But are you considering declassifying --

MR. SNOW: I'm not going to get into conversations that we may or may not be having. We understand how frustrating it is, but again, what we're talking about -- this is what happens when one turns into a political football highly classified programs, knowing that you have free rein to say whatever you want, knowing that the other side can't respond. Cannot respond without violating the law.

Q: Are you saying it was not about the wiretapping that had already been acknowledged?

MR. SNOW: I'm saying that that acknowledged program -- the program that the President disclosed to the American people was not something that was legally controversial.

Q: Wait a minute, Tony you said one thing --
Q: Why are you saying then that nothing --
Q: -- you said there was no controversy, and you also said that whatever controversy there was was resolved. Can you say which it is?

MR. SNOW: Because -- what I'm saying is that there was the discussion of a controversy; the controversy did not hinge upon this program that I've discussed --

Q: Controversy over what?

MR. SNOW: Okay --

Q: Controversy over what?

MR. SNOW: I thought I was pretty clear, but maybe I'm just being too --

Q: No, you're not speaking English, really. (Laughter.)

MR. SNOW: Okay, let me try again. The terrorist surveillance program, as it has been labeled -- it was not so labeled at the time -- was a program of doing surveillance on communications of al Qaeda or suspected al Qaeda members internationally -- internationally into the United States. The legal basis of that was accepted by the Department of Justice" ...blah, blah, blah ad-infinitum...

The Huffington Post has a video of the news conference here. You really should take a look. It's priceless.

For some good reading, check out her columns at King Features. I particularly enjoyed reading "What Planet is Cheney Living On?" in which she discusses our Vice President's concept of reality, his political history and points out how his opinions about Iraq have done a complete 180 in the last few years. I also have to recommend "The U.S. Supreme Court Sets The Country Back" but only if you have a strong stomach and are not prone to beating your computer to death when angry.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Guess What I Did Last Night!

Hey, get your minds out of the gutter people.

Ok, fine…(sigh) Guess what I did before that.

I officially registered for my fall classes at California State University Northridge. I have two honest to goddess, real journalism classes, an anthropology class on women’s roles in ancient to modern societies and a class on comparative art studies. Can you tell I’m putting off the science and math requirements again? (ah-hem) Next semester. I promise.

While it was exciting to finally register for classes at the big kid’s school, the thrill was tempered by the constantly running calculator in my head. How much of this will my student loans cover? How much are the books going to cost? How much is the parking pass going to be for the semester? College is an expensive endeavor at any age, and I would say, a bit more precarious when it’s just little ole’ you paying the bills. I’ve long since passed the time where my parents will be helping out with this sort of thing.

One of the things I have been looking forward to as a student on a state campus, is access to the student health facilities. As a registered college kid, I can get lower cost health care on campus. As far as I can tell, this includes nifty things like eye exams, prescriptions, minor doctor’s visits and the like. I even heard something about massage appointments. I will definitely be looking into that! I was also under the impression that young women could get low cost, discreetly handled birth control pills through the health center should they want to keep the information that they're sexually active to themselves…or at least, not broadcast it to their parents. Apparently, I was mistaken.

Back in 2005, President Bush pushed through Congress and signed a complex budget bill called the Deficit Reduction Act into law. The goal of this nifty bit o’ legislation was to reduce spending on federal programs by $39 billion. Most of this money , of course, is coming from subsidized student loans and Medicaid. One of the effects of this bit of accounting acrobatics was to create a disincentive for drug companies to offer school discounts. The result is that birth control pills, which were once available to young women on campus for about $15 per month, have sky-rocketed to upwards of $50 per month. When you’re trying to pay for $150 text books and eat a decent meal every now and again that adds up.

The Wall Street Journal Online ran an article about this on July 25th. They reported that many students are having to switch to a generic pill (where available) or tell their parents and try to get it covered in their family health plan. Neither of these are terrific options. Once your body is used to a certain dose of hormones, it’s not a great idea to start fiddling around with it by taking a different pill that may have higher levers of hormones. There is also the issue of remembering to take the thing. Young women who were on the Nuva Ring or patch may forget to take their pill if they have had to switch. You have to get into the habit of taking them. Forget once or twice and it’s enough to cause an unwanted pregnancy.

I won’t even go into the issues with having to tell your father you need your birth control pills to be covered on his insurance. Not a conversation I would have wanted to have at the age of 18 with my dad. Ugh.

“Susan Maly, a 22-year-old student at the University of Iowa, says she struggled
with switching pills recently. When she went to her college health center to get
a refill on her Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo prescription a few months ago, she was
distressed to find out that it had gone up to $54 from about $18. Starting this
month, she has switched to a cheaper generic pill that has higher levels of
estrogen than the Lo brand.
"That was an issue for me," says Ms. Maly, but she says she will see how things work out for a couple of months. Initially, she says she felt some heartburn side effects from the new pill, but that has since gone away. She finds the dramatic price increase "unfair" to women who have come to rely on birth control, and feel comfortable with the brand they are on.
"This is the one thing that many females on campus are getting from student health," says Ms. Maly. "It felt like we were a target."

I think I would feel the same way – targeted. Let’s face it; I don’t think my college boyfriend would have offered to go halvsies with me on my birth control pill. The guys can pick up their free condoms, and they’re all set. What do they need to worry about higher pill prices for anyway?

Then there is this little monetary issue for the schools:

“College health centers also say the change threatens to lessen the quality of
service they can provide, since the price increases have eaten into the profits
that they make. Pamela Houle, administrative director for the health
center at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., says the health center
now subsidizes each NuvaRing by about $4. "Previously, we were making $17 a
ring." That may mean fewer educational resources and materials down
the line
, she says.”

Oh well, I’m sure they could save a lot of money if they just stopped offering all STD testing, counseling, birth control and condom programs and just taught “abstinence only” on campus. After all, that’s what the Bush administration advocates for high school students, people up to age 29 and government subsidized programs to fight AIDS in Africa, so it must be what works the best.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

This just in, "Former Bush Surgeon General Says He Was Muzzled"

Sadly, this article that popped up today at ABC News is not at all surprising. Former Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona (2002 - 06), who was appointed by the Bush administration, spoke today about the administration's policies about important health issues being ignored or blocked for political reasons. (What a shock, ah-hem.) He's talking about little things like stem cell research, abstinence only education and reproductive health.Dr. Carmona is quoted in article:

"Anything that doesn't fit into the political appointees' ideological,theological or political agenda is ignored, marginalized or simply buried. The problem with this approach is that in public health, as in a democracy, there is nothing worse than ignoring science, or marginalizing the voice of science for reasons driven by changing political winds. The job of surgeon general is to be the doctor of the nation, not the doctor of a political party," Carmona added.

Referring to stem cell research:

“Carmona said he was prevented from talking publicly even about the science
underpinning the research to enable the U.S. public to have a better understanding of a complicated issue. He said most of the public debate over the matter has been driven by political, ideological or theological motivations."I was blocked at every turn. I was told the decision had already been made -- stand down, don't talk about it," he said.

My favorite part of the article was at the very end. Referring to some of Carmona's predecessors including Dr. C. Everett Koop who served under President Reagan,

"Carmona said some of his predecessors told him, "We have never seen it
as partisan, as malicious, as vindictive, as mean-spirited as it is today, and
you clearly have worse than anyone's had."

I really wonder what these people in the Bush administration are thinking sometimes. Hasn't history shown, that you may be able to keep people in the dark for a while, but eventually the truth leaks out? No matter how hard these conservatives try to stifle common sense and proven scientific facts and statistics, eventually the people are going to figure it out. Take abstinence only education for example. No matter how hard they try to convince a high school full of teenagers that sex is an evil, dirty thing, most of these kids are going to come to the conclusion that their abstinence only sex ed class is full of you-know-what. Scaring people with religion is no way to prepare them for real life. Education and awareness is good. Fear and misinformation is disastrous.

This all comes as Congress is preparing to review Bush's new appointee for Surgeon General, Dr. James Holsinger. Sounds like George has gotten tired of censoring the rational voice of science and is looking for someone who will toe the line a little better. This guy is a real gem.

According to the article at Think Progress, he was a member of the United Methodist Judicial Council and tried to block the appointment of a female pastor who was also a "practicing lesbian." What the heck is a practicing lesbian, anyway? Does she only practice lesbianism on alternate Thursdays and Sunday afternoons? More importantly, why is her sexual orientation any business of the church? He has also been quoted as saying that he sees homosexuality as “an issue not of orientation but of lifestyle.” Which is probably why he founded the Hope Springs Community Church with a commitment to curing people of their homosexuality. Nice.

This sounds like a rational, scientific guy that I feel comfortable putting in charge of informing the nation about important health issues.I can't wait to hear what he has to say about Plan B contraceptives, stem cell research and abortion. Let's just hope Congress asks the tough questions in the upcoming confirmation hearings.


Here's this morning's article at The New York Times.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Here's a thought...

I know there are a lot of awards shows out there and more "Top 100" lists than we could ever hope to ingest. We've got the Oscars, the Grammys, the Pulitzer Prize, the MTV Movie Awards and a few hundred others. I really think we need a new one, though. Just hear me out, people.

I propose that one of the toy companies, say Mattel or someone, gets together with us feminists and nominate someone every year for their own action figure. There could be a whole on-line campaign, we could all vote and at the end the person with the most votes gets a collectible action figure of their likeness manufactured for retail sale. The nominees would have to be people who have taken significant action and worked towards making the world a little bit better for women (and therefore society as a whole). By making a cool toy out of the winning person's likeness, little kids would see that you don't necessarily have to be an X-Man or a Marvel character to be a hero. Also, all the proceeds from the sale of the toy would have to go to a charitable organization that helps women and kids.

If such a campaign existed, and if I could nominate someone this week, it would be Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She rocks and here's why:

She has delivered TWO oral dissents this session regarding the ban on partial birth abortion and the recent shenanigans concerning the 180 day limit for women to sue for workplace discrimination. This is highly unusual for Justice Ginsberg who has usually opted for a more congenial approach to dealing with decisions she disagrees with and has never delivered two oral dissents in one session. Clearly, she's concerned about where this new court is headed. I have to say I agree.

She became the first woman to be on both the Harvard and Columbia law reviews. She earned her L.L.B. degree at Columbia and tied for first in her class. So, the lady studied and worked hard!

She was a Professor of Law at Rutgers University School of Law from 1963 to 1972, and at Columbia Law School from 1972 to 1980, where she became the first tenured woman and co-authored the first law school case book on sex discrimination.

In 1977 she became a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

In 1972, as the chief litigator of the ACLU's women's rights project, she argued several cases in front of the Supreme Court and attained a reputation as a skilled oral advocate. Over the next eight years, she sought to persuade a majority of the Supreme Court that sex-based legal distinctions should trigger some form of heightened judicial scrutiny.

Her distinguished teaching career and ACLU achievements won her a national reputation and prompted President Jimmy Carter to appoint her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1980.

In 1993 President Bill Clinton had the opportunity to become the first Democratic president in twenty-six years to make a Supreme Court appointment. Clinton announced that he was looking for a nominee with "a fine mind, good judgment, wide experience in the law and in the problems of real people, and somebody with a big heart." Calling Ginsburg "the Thurgood Marshall of gender equality law," he concluded that she possessed the requisite intellectual and emotional stature for the job.

She's listed in the Encyclopedia Britannica and there is a very interesting piece about her at

"Between 1972 and 1978, Ginsburg argued six cases before the Court involving sex-role stereotyping and won five. In Craig v. Boren (1976), the Court finally accepted Ginsburg’s view (expressed in a "friend-of-the-court" brief) that gender-based legal distinctions deserved heightened scrutiny.
A later generation of feminist legal scholars has criticized Ginsburg's equal protection theories. They argue that her approach failed to take account of the real differences between the sexes that may sometimes warrant laws giving women preferential treatment. Critics and admirers agree, however, that Ginsburg's work in the 1970s fundamentally altered the legal and social landscape, creating unprecedented personal and professional opportunities for women."

So - to recap- she's been fighting the good fight in regards to gender equality for most of her professional life. She's smart, tough and she knows how to work within the system to effect change. This might not be as visually stimulating as actually leaping over a tall building, but I think it's much more impressive.

I would totally buy a Ruth Bader Ginsberg action figure.

Who would you nominate?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Would You Take It?

The FDA just approved a new birth control pill, called Lybrel. It's designed to allow women to suppress their periods indefinitely by providing a continuous low dose of hormones all month. It's being manufactured by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and is poised to hit the market in July.

From ABC News -
"Lybrel, a name meant to evoke "liberty," would be the fourth new oral contraceptive that doesn't follow the standard schedule of 21 daily active pills, followed by seven sugar pills -- a design meant to mimic a woman's monthly cycle. Among the others, Yaz and Loestrin 24 shorten monthly periods to three days or less and Seasonique, an updated version of Seasonale, reduces them to four times a year."
Something about this just makes me sad. I know it sounds silly, but I really miss having my period. Yeah, yeah, I know. I remember the cramps and the water retention and the bloating...and the zits.(ugh) It was a drag some of the time. But it was also a very powerful thing. It meant that I was a woman and it was a natural part of life.

Our society looks on this amazing thing us women can do as a "curse" and that's just not cool. It is not a curse. It is not shameful. It is not something to discuss via embarrassed whispers in the ladies room, damn-it! If men could could bleed continuously for five days and live to tell the tale every month do you really think it would be a shameful thing? Hell no, there would be parades and national holidays devoted to the phenomenon. C'mon people have you seen the Washington monument? Uh-huh.

So, now we have a pill that will eradicate this icky, shameful, awful thing us gals have to put up with every month. That's just great.
I particularly enjoyed this passage from the ABC article.
She [Dr. Mindy Wiser-Estin] has seen a big increase in the last year in patients asking about it, but has one concern that leads her to encourage younger women to take a break every 12 weeks. About 1 percent of oral contraceptive users become pregnant each year, and young women taking continuous pills who have never been pregnant may not recognize the symptoms, she said. "They may not know it in time to do something about it," Wiser-Estin said.

Wyeth obviously thinks otherwise. (I'll bet they do. ah-hem)

"It allows women to put their menstrual cycle on hold" and reduces 17 related symptoms, from irritability to bloating, said Dr. Amy Marren, director of clinical affairs for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.
Call me cynical, but I don't think Wyeth has our best interests at heart here. That quote sounds like she read it off of the pamphlet for one thing. For another, they are set to make a considerable amount of money off of convincing us that our periods are unneccesary, obsolete functions that we would all be better off without. I find it disturbing that this pill creates a situation where a woman is so out of touch with her body that she may not notice that she's pregnant. This does not sound like a great idea to me. had this intersting little tid-bit back on Oct. 18, 2006

"In two different surveys of college women, Ingrid Johnston-Robledo, associate professor of psychology and women's studies at the State University of New York, College at Fredonia, found that women who were asked to name positive aspects of menstruation reported that it was a sign of health and fertility and that it helped connect them to other women and the rhythms of nature. This may sound like an ode to the inner moon goddess, but it has relevance. Johnston-Robledo found that women who didn't like their periods were also more ashamed of their bodies."
I know there are women who have terrible cramps and pain every month who may be looking forward to this new pill. I understand why they would want to take this. I just hope that they do it it responsibly and with great care.

I personally wouldn't take one of these things if you paid me to.

Would you?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

I'm ba-ack

Hi everyone,

I kind of disappeared there for a month or so. Uhmm..sorry about that. It's not that I haven't had anything to say, 'cause I always have something to carry on about. Recently, though, my mind has been a little occupied with personal matters. Nothing bad. Quite the opposite, really. (Grinning from ear to ear) You see, I met someone a little while ago and I've been so damn happy I can barely concentrate. It's all I can do lately to get my school work done. Stringing together whole sentences is a trial because I keep finding myself doodling little hearts in the margins of my notes.

Makes studying for finals difficult, let me tell you. Sure feels good, though.

This is just a post to say "Hey, I'm still here!" and to promise that I'll come up with something interesting to write about this week. Honest.

There's got to be something going on that I can make a post out of that doesn't involve my twitterpated ramblings and carrying-ons about my new love. (happy sigh) I mean, surely Hillary has been busy or the preview for the new Bratz movie has come out or maybe Good Morning America has pissed me off again. Something.

In the mean time, I hope everyone has a great week and that you're all making plans for the holiday weekend coming up. I know I am.

More to come...


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What To Do?

Last week I mentioned the appalling decision our oh-so-wise-and-virtuous Supreme Court just passed down regarding the recent federal ban on certain abortion rights. I've been doing a lot of reading this past week, trying to make heads or tails of the facts. As you can imagine, there has been quite a lot written in just a matter of days (more like hours, really) about this case. Pro-choice organizations have lost no time organizing protests and actions against it.

Pro-life organization have mostly been gloating.

To them I say this: Enjoy your brief moment of what you think is a victory. All this has done is mobilize a once complacent majority who foolishly believed they had a right to their own bodies. Those of us who have grown up in a post Roe vs. Wade era had no idea what government invasion into our most basic rights truly entails. Let me assure you, we won't stand for it. We're calling 'bullshit' on this one, kids. Oh yes.

In case you are unfamiliar with the decision, here are the basics:

* The Supreme Court has ignored past precedent and has outlawed a vaguely determined kind of second-trimester abortion.
* They have made no exception in cases when a woman's health is in danger.
* They have ignored findings by the most respected aspects of the medical community regarding the safety and necessity of such procedures in certain cases.
* The decision was passed with a narrow 5 to 4 margin with the most recent Bush appointees voting in favor of the ban.

Lynn Harris over at has written an amazing and easily understood piece about this. I highly recommend you check it out.
Another fun fact - over 85% of abortions are performed before the so-called "partial birth abortions" would come into play. Also, there is no medical term for what the Supreme Court has just outlawed. The term "partial birth abortion" is a phrase cooked up by pro-life legislators to sound more like someone is killing a baby. Ah, fun with semantics.

I didn't want to write about this little news story until I had something to offer in the way of action. Luckily, there seems to be a lot mobilizing going on in response to this attack on our freedoms. Senator Barbara Boxer of California and Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York are sponsoring the Freedom of Choice Act. This act, if passed, would restore our reproductive rights as outlined in Roe vs Wade. It's crucial that our representatives hear from us on this issue. A "national call in day" has been organized for TODAY (4/25) to show congress how much support there is for this bill. You can bet the pro-life folks are going to be very vocal in their opposition, so we have to call in too. Go to the link below for information on who to call and don't forget to tell your friends who may be interested.

Here's some additional information from the National Organization for Women (NOW):
You can help jump-start the legislative reversal of last week's Supreme Court
decision, by making a phone call or sending an email. Join NOW and our allies
for a National Call-in Day on Wednesday, April 25, the anniversary of our 2004
March for Women's Lives, to ask your members of Congress to co-sponsor the
Freedom of Choice Act.

As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg put it in her stinging dissent, "the Act, and the Court's defense of it, cannot be understood as anything other than an effort to chip away at a right declared again and again by this Court." That effort to chip away at reproductive rights is well underway in state legislatures around the country and we have every reason to expect that this decision will galvanize those efforts. What can we do?

In addition to vigilantly opposing abortion restrictions that are proposed in our state houses, we need a federal law that will protect this right and place it beyond the reach of individual state legislatures. The Freedom of Choice Act would do just that. The Act would guarantee that women can exercise the reproductive freedom that was promised in Roe v. Wade and additionally would preserve that freedom should Roe be overturned by the new 5-4 anti-abortion majority on the Supreme Court

Call Your Members of Congress - 202-224-3121

Join women's rights supporters across the country for this national call-in day on
Wednesday -- and keep calling until you get through. Use the switchboard number above, and ask for your members of Congress -- or get their receptionist's direct phone number from our
directory. Ask for the staff person who handles this issue, and request politely that the member co-sponsor the Freedom of Choice Act. If your senator or representative is already a co-sponsor (see a list of Senate and House co-sponsors), say thank you (trust us, they're hearing from the other side!) While you're at it, drop them an e-mail for added impact. Send a message to both of your senators and to your representative today using our easy alert system.
I just called all my representatives. Here's the breakdown.
Congressman Berman - has already signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill. I expressed my thanks.
Senator Diane Fienstein - The staff member I spoke to wasn't sure if she is a co-sponsor, but did assure me that she is pro-choice and would be supporting the bill. I said "thank you" again!
Senator Barbara Boxer - She is already a sponsor on the bill so I just called to say "thank you" again and voice my support.
It was really easy to make the calls. Just ask the operator who answers to send you to the appropriate person's office and their staff will answer any questions you have and take note of your opinion.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Grab Bag

I've been thinking that I want to post something this week, but I'm having a terrible time focusing on one thing. There's so much going on in the world and in my life right now, it's impossible to pluck one item out of the air and write about it. I have therefore decided, to choose a few things and jot down some impressions. I hope you don't mind...

First, the news from Virginia Tech this week is heartbreaking. There aren't powerful enough words to express what's going on for those students, their families, the staff and community there. The healing process is going to be long and painful for those left behind.

I have a little experience with this, having managed to survive the events of September 11th, 2001 when I was working near the World Trade Center. I have one little bit of advice for anyone connected with this terrible incident: Turn off your television. Seriously, get out of the house, avoid newspapers, TVs, radios - just get away from it. The media is going to be feeding on this story for weeks. You don't need to see it. It's not healthy.

After 9/11, it was impossible for anyone to avoid all the news reports and disturbing images. They will take a toll on you and your delicate state of mental health at times like these. Get outside, go for a walk, go to a silly movie...anything. You'll drive yourself crazy if you immerse yourself in the evening news. Take care of yourselves and your friends/family. Don't worry about what's going on with the reporters.

And please know that people are praying for you and sending out all the good healing energy we can.

On to other shitty news. What the hell is going on with the Supreme Court? Wait, don't answer that. I know exactly what's going on. Our lovely president has appointed just enough scary, Christian conservative, S.O.B.s to the court to start chipping away at Roe vs. Wade until every woman in this country is legally no more than a barefoot-baby-producing-machine beholden to the old white men in power for any decisions that concern her own health. Y'know, I think the less I write about this today the better. I'll probably just get myself into trouble. Besides, I'm thinking the recent 5 to 4 decision to ban partial birth abortions is worthy of it's own, detailed and well thought out post. Yeah...more on that later.

In other thoughts:

I got my admission letter from California State University Northridge this week! I'm going to be a junior in college. I've never been that before. Very, very cool! I am really looking forward to finding out what classes I can take (women's studies?) and actually getting to take a journalism class or two. Hooray!

Also, a thought about spring cleaning.

I finally sold my old car this week! I'm also getting rid of an old computer desk. All of this purging of stuff is requiring me to go through closets, reorganize, prioritize and generally throw away lots of miscellaneous stuff. Some of these things are connected with an old relationship that I've been sloughing off for a little while now. I would have expected it to make me sad, but actually... it's incredibly freeing.

Who new spring cleaning could be so liberating?
Hmmmm, there's a few other things I could carry on with but I'm going to wrap this up now. I hope everyone is having a great week and is looking forward to an even better weekend. I'll catch up with y'all in a day or two!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Spring Has Sprung

Happy Spring everyone!

I'm sorry I've been lax in my posting lately but who can think about blogging when it's so beautiful outside? I have the spring fever something terrible right now. It's so nice out I can barely drag myself back to the office after I escape for lunch. Not to mention that this week is (gasp!) mid terms! Oh, the horror.

One very cool outdoor activity I got to partake in was going to a horse show this past Saturday. In the past I've talked a little bit about my mom and her horse Kahlua-n-Cream. Mom and my step-dad got Kahlua from a group that rescues horses from Premarin farms in Canada. She's been growing up into a beautiful horse and she and my mom have been working very hard together, getting ready for this dressage show last weekend. I was lucky enough to get to hang around and see what all the hard work has been leading up to.

Horse shows are generally early morning affairs. When I was in high school, I remember many mornings, getting up well before the crack of dawn and trying to convince a sleepy horse to get into a trailer. Poor Shadow (my horse) would look at us like, "You have got to be kidding, right?" Mom would help me get all my tack together, make sure I had all my show clothes, all of Shadow's wraps and blankets and treats (a horse needs cookies too!) and we'd set off for yet another horse show. I usually went to hunter/jumper shows with Shadow. This involved a lot of me memorizing courses of jumps and Mom...not looking. She'd do all the hard work with me and then it would be just too much for her to watch.

I look back over my childhood and it is just filled with band concerts, horse shows, choir concerts, school plays, piano recitals, solo and ensemble festivals etcetera ad infinitum. My poor parents sat through endless hours of this stuff. They really should get some kind of medal or merit badge for all that time and unconditional support. Those seventh grade band concerts alone make me cringe for them.

Last Saturday, though, the shoe was on the other foot. There I was with my mom at a horse show and she was the one trying to remember her dressage test and I all I could do was pat Kahlua on the nose and tell Mom that she was going to be great. She rode two different training level tests which means she had to memorize two different "routines". No mean feat when you're riding a five year old filly who isn't always interested in staying in the arena, much less picking up the right lead in a twenty meter circle. I could barely watch the first test. I was so excited and nervous. I really wanted her to do well because she'd worked so hard and it meant a lot to her.
Well, they came out of the arena and everyone who had been watching clapped. They did great! We found out later that Mom and Kahlua got the highest score in that class so they got the blue ribbon! It was all very exciting and quite an accomplishment at their very first show. I felt like such the proud...daughter.

I can never say thank you enough to my mom for the years she's spent supporting me. Any time I've jumped into some new phase of my life, she's been there for me no matter what. I could call her tomorrow and tell her I've decided to take up Yak herding in the Andes and, as long as it made me happy, I know she'd help me pick out the best Yak herding gear and send me on my way. (as long as i promise to call often and come home for Christmas.) There is no "thank you" big enough for that. So, I'll just have to try and repay the favor as best I can...

Mom and "Lulu" riding training level test #1:

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Artsy Outings

This past Saturday I got to go to the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Los Angeles to see the exhibit, Wack! Art and The Feminist Revolution with my friend, T3. It was at the Geffen Conemporary gallery, which is right next to Little Tokyo. I had never been to either place so it was quite an adventure! It was so cool to have a great friend to go with too.

Now, my art expertise begins and ends with Art History 102, a class I took last semester to fullfill a fine arts requirement. We covered the proto-Renaissance through about 1915. We didn't really get much further than "Suprematist Painting" and a little Picasso. So, modern art is still something of a mystery to me. Nevertheless, I was really excited to see this exhibit. Another big plus was that all of the artists featured are women! What a contrast to my searches through Art History to find one or two female artists!

This is how they introduce the pieces at the website:

"During the late 1960s and early ’70s, feminism fundamentally changed
contemporary art practice, critiquing its assumptions and radically altering its
structures and methodologies. WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution is
predicated on the notion that gender was and remains fundamental to the
organization of culture, and that a contemporary understanding of the feminist
in art must necessarily look to the late 1960s and ‘70s. While the American
feminist art movement coalesced in the late 1960s in the United States and is
embedded within the exhibition, this international survey of 120 artists,
activists, filmmakers, writers, teachers, and thinkers necessarily moves beyond
the now-canonical list of American feminist artists to include women of other
geographies, formal approaches, socio-political alliances, and critical and
theoretical positions. This exhibition argues for simultaneous feminisms
internationally that together and retrospectively can be viewed as the most
influential movement in postwar contemporary art."

One of the things I was excited about was that they included artists from all over the world. Feminism is more than a middle-class white woman's movement. I think it is just as important (if not more so) that women from other classes and cultures be able to identify and benefit from what feminism can achieve. By including these works in the exhibit, I think the museum is helping to bridge that gap that is sometimes felt between the perceived face of feminism and the reality of what all women experience.

We were surprised at the size of the exhibition. T3 and I were there for a few hours and I don't think we saw the whole thing! There were a lot of pieces that I really liked. Mary Beth Edelson's collages were interesting. She took famous paintings, like The Last Supper and replaced the heads of the men with cutouts of important women artists. They also had some of Judy Baca's mural art work. There was a piece called "Uprising of the Mujeres" that I thought was just breathtaking. This large, colorful piece depicts "an indigenous woman at the forefront of political struggle against the prioritization of military spending, the formation of a police state at the expense of social welfare and the exploitation of workers to further capitalism." Pretty heady stuff. She had another piece there that showed a Rosie the Riveter type woman being sucked into a television by a 1950s-esque happy house wife and her vacuum cleaner. I wish I knew what it was called, but it sure gave me pause. I think my favorite painting though, was by Sylvia Plimack Mangold. It simply shows an empty mirror in a room with a wood floor. You realize as you're looking at it that the artist should be reflected in the mirror, but she's not there... perhaps because women have been invisible in the art world.

A lot of the pieces were film or video works. We saw some short animated pieces that dealt with art history as a male dominated institution, a mesmerising video of a woman almost violently brushing her hair and one of Yoko Ono where she sat looking stone faced as a man literally cut off her dress piece by piece with a pair of scissors. I had read that a lot of feminist artists rejected painting and other typical (and mostly male dominated) mediums for uncharted territory, like video and certain sculpture work.

There was so much to see, I couldn't begin to tell you about all of it. You can see and read a lot more at the MOCA website which I linked to above. I didn't post any pictures because I'm not sure what the rules are for posting original copyrighted art on blogs. My guess is that it's not allowed without express permission from the artist. You can get an idea of what they have at the museum's site and if you live near Los Angeles, you should definitely check it out. The show runs until July 16th

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

These are a few of my favorite things...

I was looking through some of my previous posts the other day, and I realized that I seem to focus on negative stuff a lot. Not that there's anything wrong with that! I think it's important for people to keep and eye on government policies and big business nonsense, so we can recognize when situations are just totally out of whack. Still, it's not all doom and gloom. Lots of folks are fighting the good fight out there or just being their own cool little selves.

So I thought I'd make short-ish list of some of some of my favorite things - people, publications, commercials and other what-not that put a smile on my face. This is by no means a complete list and please feel free to add an item or two of your own in the "comments" section.

Some of my favorite things are:
(hey, if it's good enough for Oprah...)

Red Fraggle - this independent, mouthy little muppet just makes me giggle every time I watch one of my Fraggle Rock DVDs. (Yes, I have Fraggle Rock DVDs)

Bitch Magazine - Always great, insightful, writing with amazing, influential and smart articles. I will consider myself an accomplished writer when I get an article published in this magazine.

Post Secret - This is an ongoing art project where anonymous people send in post cards with a secret written on it. They can decorate the post card any way they want. Every Sunday new secrets go up on the blog and there are a few books out now as well. Something about reading the post cards every week makes me feel a little less alone in the world.

This commercial - for the HPV vaccine, Guardasil. I don't usually like the pharmaceutical industry, but their choice of young women in this 60 second spot is fantastic. Girls come in all shapes and sizes and with all kinds of interests (skateboarding, dancing, soccer) and they all deserve to be protected from STDs and cervical cancer. Oh, not to mention that Kaki King has little part in it. She's one of the most amazing guitarists around these days. Check her out, too. :)

Now i have to put Kaki King on my list! Go to her website (linked above) and scroll about half way over to the frame that has the word "ears" highlighted. Click on "video" then "Playing With Pink Noise."

Yep, new favorite gurl musician.

The L Word - kind of a guilty pleasure since the writing ain't all that (lately) and I have no idea what they were thinking when they plotted out the third season. Why was Alice crazy all of a sudden and what the eff is goin' on with Tina!? Still, I can't seem to turn an episode off until the credits roll. Check out season 1 on DVD if you're so inclined.

Good Magazine - "For people who give a damn." Right on. Check out this new magazine if you have a minute. I love their optimistic outlook - real people actually can make a difference. The website has a blog, links to some of the articles and a "project" section where they ask readers to submit different art projects every few months.

Fables by Bill Willingham - a rare graphic novel series that is not only clever and well written, but has some kick ass female characters. You've never seen Snow White like this before.

Lush - Not only are they totally free of animal testing, not only are their products divine and effective, but going there for me usually involves a day out with my best girls. How can you possibly beat that? - this is where I go for my daily dose of feminism. Always something going on there! What I really get a kick out of is the fact that actual discussions go on in the comments section. This gives me hope for the future.

I could go on like this all afternoon, so I'm gonna stop it here.

What are some of your favorite things?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Say It Isn't So

It has been one hell of a week, friends! I am very excited to report that I am writing this post from my very own, brand new laptop computer. Hooray! This is soooo cool. :)

Another very cool event this week was finding the latest copy of Bitch magazine waiting for me in my teeny tiny mailbox. (Why do they insist on stuffing all the junk mail in there with my real mail? Gah!) There was an article in the "Love It/Shove It" section that really got me thinking. It's titled "My Little Calliponian" and was penned by Jesse Rutherford. In this article she compared the original My Pretty Pony released in 1981 by a Hasbro subsidiary, to the subsequent My Little Pony that most women now nearing their thirties probably remember.

These were the little plastic horses with long brushable hair that came in all kinds of different colors. Each one had a little symbol on it's rear end that sort of went with it's whimsical name. There were unicorn ponies, Pegasus ponies, sea horse ponies (for bath time!) and little baby ponies, to name a very few. Being a horse crazy little girl, I had a whole herd of these plastic equine facsimiles. I used to spend hours playing with them. One year I received the My Little Pony stable for my birthday and I don't think I came out of my room for a week. There were pony clothes, shoes, and every accessory under the sun. I hate to think about how much money my parents must have spent on them. I loved all of my ponies and I still have many of them packed away in a box with other childhood treasures.

So imagine my horror when I read Jesse Rutherford's article about my beloved pastel ponies. She had some very astute observations about the drastic change the ponies underwent at the hands of Hasbro executives. According to her the original My Pretty Pony was:

"Brown with flat set feet, straight legs and a lowered chin concealing a switch that made her wink, flick her tail, and twitch her ears."

She continues: "In 1982 the toy now called My Little Pony, was released in a rainbow of pastel colors with longer tail, more brushable manes, and names like Cotton Candy, Minty, Butterscotch and Blossom. Though their feet remained flat, the front legs had been shortened, pushing the callipygian pony's rump up higher than it's chest - a display of sexual availability known in studies of animal mating behaviour as mammalian lardosis, and more commonly called, "asking for it.' "

Oh god, say it isn't so. There's more though.

"This toy...was positively child like with it's small nose and large eyes, which are traits of infancy in humans and other animals. My Little Pony featured... bigger pupils than the original My Pretty Pony. Bedroom eyes are not just an armchair sociologist's observation: Barbara and Allan Pease explain in their book The Definitive Book of Body Language that bedroom eyes are another sign of sexual availability."

Here are some my own ponies from back in the day (ie. circa 1985).

After reading this, I went home and dug out that old box of treasures. Now, I also have to admit that I received a brand new My Little Pony for Christmas this year. I had seen them around and thought it was so cool that my old toys were out again. My mom spent yet more money on plastic ponies for me this year. Bless her.

Another of my old ponies
After I found (read: took out of the box and played with for half an hour) my old ponies I immediately saw other differences in the design. The ponies I have from my youth do indeed have the slightly raised back end and the large eyes and pupils described in the article. However, compared to the newest pony, they look downright chubby. The latest model is a little smaller, much slimmer and has longer legs in proportion to her body. At least my old pastel ponies had a bit of healthy pony chub. This pony has been on a diet!

I also noticed that her eyes are even bigger and the shape of her head has changed again. The old ponies had a sloping forehead and more horse-like nose and cheeks. The new ponies have a scooped forehead and an even more childlike face.

I thought it was sad that not only is this new pony more sexualized, she's downright slim and petite. There's a lot of talk these days about the pressures to be slim, celebrity diets and eating disorders. I'm not saying that toy ponies are responsible for any of it, but I do think it shows our culture's obsession with the impossible thin ideal when we even alter girl's toys to fit into the thin mold. I mean, have you ever seen a real live, skinny pony? I've seen one in my life, and that poor animal...well, that animal was very sick.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Blog Against Sexism

I just found out that March 8th is Blog Against Sexism Day. Damn, I almost missed the memo! It's also International Women's Day. So there's a lot to celebrate, I guess.

This works out great though 'cause there is a series of commercials I keep seeing that are driving me berserk. They're the ads for Sunsilk hair products that use the tag line "Get Hair-apy!" The first ad that I just found annoying was the blond girl who "stuffs" her hair. Stupid and poorly written, but it's just a commercial.

Then they started in with these blonds vs. brunettes commercials.

Ah, yes. Nothing like a cat fight to sell your product, right? Not only are we supposed to be obsessed with our looks because, you know, that's all we as women have to offer, we're also evil catty little things. Ugh. At the website, you can join either the blond or brunette team by clicking on the icon that says "Grab your weapons, girls. The color showdown in ON!" Once you're there, you have to choose between the Blond or Brunette "VIP lounge". There are nifty little polls with questions like "How many dates have you gone on in the last month?" and "How many people have you hooked up with at one time?" I kid you not.

The really fun thing about this, is that Sunsilk is part of the Unilever Company. Unilever is the company that also owns and manages Dove. So, while they use happy-touchy-feely-everyone-is-beautiful marketing on one product, they turn around and use girls-are-shallow-and-will-claw-each-other's-eyes-out-over-hair-color humor on another. Just another reason I'm glad to be a red head, I guess. (sigh)

Madison Ave. has done a fantastic job over the years making women the prime consumers in our society. Even back in the "happy homemaker" 1950s we were the ones getting all the pitches for high end items like the fabulous new washer and dryer and the vacuum cleaner that will make house work a breeze! In the 70s and 80s it became more about their commercialized idea of empowerment. They took the reality of the women's movement and repackaged it into expensive skin creams and Virginia Slims cigarettes. Now, they've co-opted "Girl Power" and turned it into anything pink and sparkly with a bit of an edge to it. Is it any wonder more and more of us are opting into the DIY (Do It Yourself) movement? It may take a while to design and sew my own clothes or make my own soap, but at least I'm sidestepping these creeps who think blond jokes are a reasonable way to sell shampoo.

So, since it is International Women's Day and since I'm Blogging Against Sexism, I'm putting a call out to all my sisters. Let's turn off the damn TV when these stupid catty stereotypes come at us. Let's remember that we're all in this thing together. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the media bullshit, just remember that you can turn it off. You can go outside and enjoy a walk. You can read a book. You can volunteer as a mentor to a girl who doesn't have the life experience yet to sift through all this nonsense. You can simply choose not to buy the lie.

Or you could not buy the shampoo. Whatever.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Gratuitous Puppy Stealing

You probably already know this, but most of what we see on the local evening news isn't really news. The stories about celebrities, or studies that show that "milk can make you lose weight." are heavily influenced by commercial concerns and sensationalism. I usually find no more than one or two actual news items on my local evening news. Sad, but true.

So, last night this story came on the local ABC 7 news that got me so angry I was talking back to the TV. This morning, I saw the same story on Good Morning America so it has now garnered national attention. It was so stupid and just plain infuriating that I have to tell you about it. 'Cause it's my blog and I can do that.

The story was this:

A family in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles put an ad in the paper (I'm not sure which paper) for Yorkshire Terrier puppies. They were asking $2,500 per puppy. (!) They had recently installed a home security system with surveillance cameras. A couple of young men answered the ad and arranged to come to the home and look at the puppies. When they got there, they held up the family at gunpoint and stole the puppies as well as the family pet, a three year old Yorkshire Terrier named Tan-ja. The whole thing was caught on the new security cameras.

You can read the original story at the ABC 7 Los Angeles website.

This makes a fantastic television news story! You've got violence, cute puppies, sad people to interview and a color video of these guys chasing the puppies around the living room. Could a news producer ask for anything more? I think not.

Now, let me just say right here, that nobody deserves to be threatened like this. It's a terrible thing that happened and it's a blessing that nobody was shot or otherwise harmed. It's also pretty disturbing to watch the theives stuff those poor little puppies into the big black trash bag they brought. I sincerely hope those little dogs are OK and are found soon.

What really got my blood boiling is that in every instance I've seen or read about this story, they keep saying that the dogs were valued at $2,500 each. That may be the amount these people were asking for their dogs, but I highly doubt they are really worth so much. Here's why.

No real breeder would ever sell a dog like this. These people are what we call back yard breeders. Any reputable breeder would have had potential homes lined up for their puppies before they ever bred their dog. They would have information on the health of both parents, a fairly long and detailed history of the health of the puppies' ancestors (or "line"). They would never sell their dogs to someone who simply answered an ad in the paper. Reputable breeders usually do home checks on potential owners and reserve the right to refuse sale of the animals if they feel the situation is not acceptable. They also usually agree to take the animal back in a certain period of time if there should be an unforeseen, genetic health problem. Finally, they often insist that the dog be given back to them if at any point in it's life the owner is no longer able to take care of the animal. Reputable breeders don't want to see their animals end up in a shelter or worse.

Back yard breeders are a problem for so many reasons. The most evident and infuriating reason for me is that they are adding to the pet overpopulation problem we have in this country. Thousands of animals are killed in our animal shelters every week. Every time someone buys an animal from some bozo who's trying to make a buck off of their cute family pet, they are condemning another shelter pet to death. Backyard breeders steal homes from dogs in animal shelters. They also tend to disappear when your $2,500 puppy starts to show signs of poor breeding such as chronic seizures, breathing problems and heart conditions. I'm not even going to start in about puppy mills and pet store animals on this post. I just don't have the stomach for it today.

If you're thinking of adding a pet to your life, please always consider your local animal shelter or rescue organizations first. Most animal shelters provide an initial vet check as part of their adoption process. Many rescues do a home visit. If you are really interested in a particular breed, consider adopting from a breed specific rescue. (ie. Greyhound rescue, Dalmation rescue etc.) When I adopted my cat, Nicodemus, from the shelter, I had thirty days to take him for a free vet visit and I did have the option of bringing him back to the shelter should he have had a medical condition that I couldn't handle. The idea of returning him after I fell in love with him at first sight is pretty abhorrent to me, but it's something to consider. And, of course, when you adopt from the shelter or rescue you're saving a life.

If you are dead set on buying a dog, you want to make sure that you are dealing with a reputable breeder with a stable history. The best place to start is with your local breed club. These are people who know a lot about the breed and have dealt with breeders for their show dogs. Dog shows are great places to hang out and chat with owners and possible breeders. Always do your research and make sure the breed is one that you really can live with. You may think Chesapeake Bay Retreivers are gorgeous, but do you have the space, time and energy that the breed requires? These are all things you can find out with a little research and time. A great resource to start with is the American Kennel Club.

I really do hope the Lee family gets their dogs back unharmed. Once they have their puppies safely at home again, I further hope that they get them all vet checked, spayed and neutered...including their "beloved pet", Tan-ja that they seem to be using as a "cash cow".

Friday, February 23, 2007

Is it Friday Already?

I feel like a walking jigsaw puzzle these days. There is so much going on in my head this week, I don't even know where to start. I was going to tell you guys about my fabulous experience trying to buy a car this week. (gah!)

Then I thought I'd write about my psychology professor and his creepy misogynistic lecture examples. ("Little Mary makes the bed and her mommy gives her an M&M.")

I read a news story about the Olympic women's ski jumpers who I wrote about a year ago. They're trying to get the Canadian officials to let them jump in competition and maybe get those fools at the winter Olympics to let the women compete too. They say that it is not appropriate for ladies to jump. Their concern is actually the landing part, which they say will damage our bones and reproductive systems. Yet, women can run marathons and participate in figure skating. Go figure.

I saw the new Dove ad at their website and had all kinds of thoughts about that one.

Somehow Tuesday turned into Friday and I hadn't posted a thing. Maybe it was all the classes, work assignments, auto loan applications and that exhilarating episode of Grey's Anatomy last night, but I haven't written a thing.


We'll try again next week, 'kay

Here's a random picture of The Cat That Ate Cleveland for your viewing enjoyment.