Tag Archives: human rights

Where does gender start?

“We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.”-Gloria Steinem

The other day my Sociology professor asked the class? “How do you define a man?”

The responses varied, “strong” “tough” “independent” “good husband” “athletic” etc. What they didn’t say “sensitive” “tender” “imaginative” “good samaritan” “academic”.

I think the gender based inequalities harm both our little boys and girls. We begin to gender children very early. By assigning color codes to distinguish  an otherwise completely androgynous being. We discourage them from playing with toys that don’t match their sex. We excuse rough play of males because “boys will be boys” but I say boys can play like girls and girls just like boys.

Where does gender start?

Well, the first question when approaching an infant or pregnant woman is “Oh what is it?”. This question is asked so that the person knows which stock comments to avoid and what gendered compliments are acceptable. Is it really that inappropriate to say “Oh look at those muscles on little Gladys, wouldn’t wanna mess with her” or “Ralphie has such beautiful long lashes, he could model”  No. They’re babies at this point they have the ut most potential. Gladys might in fact grow up to become a champion Strongwoman, Ralphie may have the look the fashion world has waited for. My point here is why not just be genuine? Say what you think if you’re going to speak at all not what society has taught you to think. If you are the first to point out the natural and unique qualities of one persons child, you might actually encourage confidence and originality rather than just making some empty small talk.

We are tougher on a small young men and sweet to approaching very young women. These small acts of gendering deeply affect the individual psychology, which in turn perpetuate societal gender stereotypes.  By inundating young people with ideas of what is and is not acceptable we force other wise sensitive young males to shut out, “man up” and tell little girls “to hush up” and “be lady like”.

I think the concept of gender-role transcendence or allowing for more androgynous roles is a healthier approach.  As human beings we have complex emotions and modes of operation.  We tell young men that they may not cry because they look weak, and we are shocked when they become insular and numb, capable of violence. We tell women they may not speak out of turn  or be confrontation and we are horrified and confused when they don’t flea or stand up to repeated abuse.

Gender roles are responsible for these seeming illogical acts. Gender constructs breed doubt and fear of alienation.

Helpful Definitions. Sex and gender are not the same.

“Sex” is the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women. [genitals, hormones so forth]

Gender the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.

I contend the there is a spectrum of gender. I am a female but I have many characteristics that my society deems less than lady like. My boy friend is male and he might not be seen as super manly. People are more than gender prescribed to them and the sex to they are born to. When we impose these standard we dull the qualities that make us who we truly are and leave little room for fulfillment and self discovery.

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Why bother?

“Because women’s work is never done and is underpaid or unpaid or boring or repetitious and we’re the first to get fired and what we look like is more important than what we do and if we get raped it’s our fault and if we get beaten we must have provoked it and if we raise our voices we’re nagging bitches and if we enjoy sex we’re nymphos and if we don’t we’re frigid and if we love women it’s because we can’t get a “real” man and if we ask our doctor too many questions we’re neurotic and/or pushy and if we expect childcare we’re selfish and if we stand up for our rights we’re aggressive and “unfeminine” and if we don’t we’re just typical weak females and if we want to get married we’re out to trap a man and if we don’t we’re unnatural and because we still can’t get an adequate safe contraceptive but men can walk on the moon and if we can’t cope or don’t want a pregnancy we’re made to feel guilty about abortion and…for lots of other reasons we are part of the women’s liberation movement”-The Torch

Just leting you all know I’m working on two new but longer posts an exciting project with Jessi Arrington of Workshop and lots more exciting news.

ALSO TRIP TO DC THIS FRIDAY. Will you be there?

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Happy Abortion Provider Appreciation Day

I just want to say Happy Abortion Provider Appreciation Day.
I want to recognizing that abortions alone are not something to celebrate. But the right to exercise ones choices for their body is something to celebrate. I want to thank the courageous women and men who are so often putting their lives and careers at risk by keeping a valued service available so that no woman has to seek unsafe, un-sterile and life threatening abortions.
I hope that fewer women need to seek their service and use birth control and other contraceptives. I am so grateful that women and doctors are safe under the law. They deserve our appreciation.
I’d like to send my condolences to the family of Dr. George Tiller and those who have lost loves ones at the hands of crazed individuals.

Please continue supporting NARAL and your local Planned Parenthood. Also, check out and support Aspen Baker of Exhale, the first non-political forum for women who have had abortions to tell their unique and individual stories and find support.

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busy, busy, busy

Sorry for the quite bit of time . I hope you all had a wonderful International Women’s Day. I’d love to hear how you celebrated.

My panel on the lower status of women globally and the laws that play a role,went very well. I was proud to be told that I “looked very Bella Abzug” à la my maroon hat.

Please take the time to support the people of Burma and tell everyone that you take a strong stance against the vast human rights violations (systematic rape,sexual violence, trafficking,forced labor, portering, relocation, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, harassment, child soldering) taking place in Burma.

Ellen Page stands up for Human Rights

Tila Tequila stands up for Human Rights

Today I’m excited to attend a Lunch with Susan Herman president of ACLU and Pnina Knopf president of NCJW Peninsula Section followed by a talk.

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MYTH: The Big Scary Ugly Feminist

Recently someone posted a response to a status update on my Facebook asking if it were necessary to stop shaving my armpits in order to attend The Young Feminist Leadership Conference in Washington DC.

The comment.

The comment that got me thinking.

This statement says a lot. First and most obviously it says that all feminist are ‘hairy armed’. Second it implies that to be allowed admission into a feminist event one cannot fit into the current aesthetic of feminine beauty. Now, it perpetuates the concept of the “ugly feminist”. Okay I know what you’re going to say. “Just because I want to have the same equal human rights as the next fella, to be paid the same, to not have an unpaid ‘second shift’ after work, to feel my job safe if I chose to have children, to know my culture status is not at risk if I do not [etc.] Doesn’t mean I’m ugly!” And you are right. You are beautiful. Most of the men and women involved in feminism are. So, let us examine the myth of the ugly feminist and set the facts straight. Since this is my first post I’d like to start with me. I am 21 years old. I love reading, tea, coffee, art , especially printmaking. I wear dresses. I like pretty things. I wear make-up with some frequency. I like to painting my nails and I shave my pits…There’s more to me but what am I forgetting? Oh right and I AM A FEMINIST! [pardon the caps locks].

Arielle Cohen
Me. I am a feminist.

Now that’s out-of-the-way. You ask ‘What is a feminist any way?’

Feminism-

Pronunciation: \ˈfe-mə-ˌni-zəm\

Function: noun

1 : the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
Basically, it’s this funny idea that ladies are equal to gentlemen. We have some work to do to make sure that this idea is reflected in the law, economy and society. So, women (and men) have joined forces throughout time and have made huge strides to make everything more equal. Let’s face it- men and women are different. That’s a good thing. As time goes on and society evolves, things change. Gender roles are always in flux. There are inequalities that face us all and things that just don’t work no matter what our race, class, or gender. These issues hurt us all. It’s complex. However, we all deserve respect and we all deserve the same human rights. Feminism is a way of talking openly about these issues instead of ignoring them. Plus when we get together better things happen.


But do we still need feminism? Isn’t that, like, a 60’s thing?

So, a little background. There are three ‘waves’ of feminism: The first wave happened way before the 1960’s. These women got us the right to vote in the US. They also focused on property rights for women and they fought against “chattel marriage,” which legally allowed a man to own his wife [and children] Their main goals focused on overturning legal obstacles that stood in the way of equality.  The second wave is what you’re thinking of. They did a lot of work. They had a lot of great ideas and basically shaped the way we live today. They didn’t actually burn their bras. The movement starts with Simone de Beauvoir and ends when Sandra Day O’Connor becomes the first woman nominated to the Supreme Court with a unanimous vote by the senate. Read Gail Collins’s book for the fullest historic overview that I know of, it’s also a fantastic and easy read.
Now the third wave. That’s where I fit in. The third wave had the realization that women come in all shades and sizes and are everywhere. We come in many colors, and from all nationalities, religions and cultural backgrounds. We “embrace contradictions and conflict, and accommodate diversity and change. There is, in this wave, no all-encompassing single feminist idea.” [1] Which is great! And it means we all have different ideas about sexuality, the law, policy, everything—including beauty.
Some women see pin-up queen Betty Page as an iconic, beautiful, liberated women. She is to some a feminist icon. Others may disagree and say Betty Ford reigns queen over their feminist world view. Libbers may recall that Betty Friedan is the penultimate feminist ruler. These three Betty’s are totally different and give a very small sample of the varied images of women and feminists alike.

So what does a feminist look like?

Well a feminist looks just like me.  They look like you, and my boyfriend, and your boyfriend and your girlfriend and your mom and her mom … Oh yeah and my Dad too.

I’d like to thank the girl who posted the comment, because it was what sparked the need more me to blog this.

More examples:

Please share feminists that you find beautiful.

OR ADD YOUR PRETTY/HANDSOME/GORGEOUS FACE!

Gloria Steinem often deemed too beautiful.

Gloria Steinem, often deemed too beautiful.

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Erykah Badu, stunning black feminist.

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Performance Artist, Musician, Writer, Actress, Film Director, Feminist

Miranda July, Performance Artist, Musician, Writer, Actress, Film Director, Feminist

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Yoko Ono and John Lennon

Yoko Ono & John Lennon. Both feminists!

Aung San Suu Kyi Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Feminist

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Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill, Queen of hip hop, feminist.

Joan Jett sexy rocker feminist.

Joan Jett, sexy rocker feminist.

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Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston, groundbreaking and beautiful.

Liz Phair Indie Queen

Liz Phair, Indie Queen

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Tori Amos redheaded siren of Feminism.

Tori Amos, redheaded siren of Feminism.

Jessica Valenti in her wedding dress looking lovely.

Founder of Feministing, Jessica Valenti in her wedding dress looking lovely. OMG Feminists get married!

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