Tag Archives: Women

Another great one from “Best of the Web”

From here:

Advocates of birth control and abortion frequently fly the banner of “women’s reproductive health,” as if the prevention and termination of pregnancy were intrinsically therapeutic–which is to say, as if the capacity to become pregnant were a disease or defect. The same logic would treat the freezing of eggs as a therapy and the normal decline of a woman’s fertility with age as a disease or defect.

We understand how these technologies can be construed as liberating for women. But just as our hypothetical osteotomy advocate is no friend of the wee, reproductive-choice feminism can also be seen as a form of misogyny.

One more point: This column has noted in the past how the pill, now ubiquitous and generally seen as benign and liberating for women, was also harmful to women. By giving them control over the reproductive process, it absolved men of responsibility. By promising consequence-free sex, it expanded male sexual options. As a result, it became harder for women to demand commitment either as a precondition of sex or in the event of unintended pregnancy. That contributed to the decline of marriage, the rise in illegitimacy and the demand for abortion.

Imagine if cosmetic osteotomy caught on, so that a significant percentage–let’s say one-third–of short men were having the procedure. That would have similar systemic effects. The average male height would rise considerably, while the number of short men would decline. Short men who were content to live in a society with a natural height distribution would feel more isolated and diminished, increasing the pressure on them to get stretched. Men of average natural height would find themselves slipping below average, as former 5-foot-6ers shot up to 6-foot-2. At that point even tall men would have to have the procedure in order to maintain their advantage.

It would be like the arms race, only with legs.

Smart.

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Concise summary of true love for my demographic

This quote from very funny, newlywed fashion blogger Man Repeller perfectly sums up exactly what I’m looking for:

“Leandra: [S]eriously, I’m married to the most understanding human on this planet. We don’t have fights about these types of things and that’s why I keep pushing him because I feel like we’re at this stage in our lives where we can be so wholly selfish without having to wonder what’s going to be because, at the end of the day, we come home to each other. It’s not like I’m working really hard on the blog and also wondering what’s going to happen to my personal life.”

From Into the Gloss.

Isn’t that EXACTLY what calm is: predictability?

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After 28 Years, What Should We Keep and What Should We NIX?

Richard Nixon signed Title IX into law on June 23, 1972. Title IX most famously applies to women’s sports, but in fact the law is much broader than that:

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance.

The U.S. Department of Education gives grants of financial assistance to schools and colleges. The Title IX regulation describes the conduct that violates Title IX. Examples of the types of discrimination that are covered under Title IX include sexual harassment, the failure to provide equal opportunity in athletics, and discrimination based on pregnancy.

On its 28th anniversary today, Title IX continues to elicit controversial opinions with regard to its extension from sports to science. Though extenders’ laudably recommend supporting women in a male-dominated field, the problem with legislative “support” is that it leads to twisted legal realities.

In school sports, Title IX has developed a controversial reputation for its creation of a de facto “quota” system. Just as true supporters of civil rights disdain quotas as racial basis for education, it makes little sense to impose equality on high school students at the expense of their choice.

Title IX supporters promote the legislation as permitting women to enter athletic fields formerly reserved exclusively for men. Dissenters argue that we should not cancel men’s sports if there is no female equivalent — if women are more interested in the arts, for example, it makes more sense to encourage participation there, rather than require young women to match the interests of their Y-chromosomed counterparts in the interest of quota metrics.

Feminism is, after all, about choice. Stated the New York Times in a 2008 article:

The members of Congress and women’s groups who have pushed for science to be “Title Nined” say there is evidence that women face discrimination in certain sciences, but the quality of that evidence is disputed. Critics say there is far better research showing that on average, women’s interest in some fields isn’t the same as men’s.

In this debate, neither side doubts that women can excel in all fields of science. In fact, their growing presence in former male bastions of science is a chief argument against the need for federal intervention.

American law is premised on protecting negative rights. This means that we are “free from” interference with our right to live as we please. If there is some outside force restricting our choice, legally we are entitled to ask for that force’s removal.

Yet if, as the NYT reports, women’s interest is lagging in pursuing scientific careers, there is no infringement. Feminism is about choice, not about forcing women into certain careers simply because there are few women already represented in those fields.

The Times goes on to quote psychologist Susan Pinker:

Now, you might think those preferences would be different if society didn’t discourage girls and women from pursuits like computer science and physics. But if you read “The Sexual Paradox,” Susan Pinker’s book about gender differences, you’ll find just the opposite problem.

Ms. Pinker, a clinical psychologist and columnist for The Globe and Mail in Canada (and sister of Steven Pinker, the Harvard psychologist), argues that the campaign for gender parity infantilizes women by assuming they don’t know what they want.

Women know what we want. Feminism is about feeling empowered to achieve whatever it is that we want. Feminism is not about imposing some mandated quota across fields, be they professional or athletic.

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Global Governance Requires Rule of Law, Even for Women

This week the United Nations approved the Islamic Republic of Iran’s bid to join its Commission on the Status of Women. To quote a particularly prescient observation: “When a country that stones women to death for adultery is chosen to serve in a leadership role on the U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women, we know most of what we need to know about the U.N.”

Yes. That Iran. The very same Republic with a rich history of raping, stoning, and whipping women.

Reason magazine’s Tim Cavanaugh compiles media reactions. Says Cavanaugh:

I understand that all religions, in their all-too-slow surrender to enlightenment, have to deny, cover up, or otherwise disappear important sections of their retarded holy books. But Iran has forefronted its devotion to the literal foundations of its rapist religion. So it’s Iran, not the UN, that needs to recognize its choice. You can have liberal, rational modernity or you can try to bend the world government to your religious psychosis. But you can’t do both.

Iranian women themselves, too close to the storm to find humor in the UN’s ironic choice, protest this particularly egregious judgment error in global governance:

The letter refers to Iranian laws that gender-equality groups say discriminate against women. These include statutes relating to such matters as divorce, child custody, education, and the ability to choose a husband.
Women have been “arrested, beaten, and imprisoned for peacefully seeking change of such laws,” the letter says. “The Iranian government will certainly use [CSW membership] to curtail the progress and advancement of women.”
Radio Farda spoke to Shadi Sadr, a women’s rights activist and one of the letter’s signatories. Sadr explained that for years the UN has asked Iran to sign the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Iran, however, has refused to do so.
“Under such conditions, Iran’s attempt to join such an institution [as the CSW] is doomed to fail,” Sadr said.

Was the UN aiming at irony? The relevant portion of its press release suggests that every portion of the world should enjoy representation in this esteemed Commission, evidently regardless of whether the government actually promotes or even protects women:

Next, the Council elected 11 new members to fill an equal number of vacancies on the Commission on the Status of Women for four-year terms beginning at the first meeting of the Commission’s fifty-sixth session in 2011 and expiring at the close of its fifty-ninth session in 2015. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Zimbabwe were elected from the Group of African States; Iran and Thailand were elected from the Group of Asian States; Estonia and Georgia were elected from the Group of Eastern European States; Jamaica was elected from the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States; and Belgium, Netherlands and Spain were elected from the Group of Western European and Other States.

Finally, Cavanaugh points out that many Western feminist groups have declined to make the case for Iranian women’s liberation. Perhaps these groups are afraid to step on the toes of cultures whose mores simply do not conform to our own, or perhaps women’s groups are simply afraid of incurring the same terrorist threats that South Park encountered with its controversial 200th episode.

Rather than attempt to persuade American feminists into making a Western case for protecting women from tyrannical governments, Cavanaugh reliles on the Quran to make the case for him:

While western feminists are declining to make the feminist case against Iran’s participation in the commission, I’d like to raise a Quranic objection. The commission’s website says it is “dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women.” That position is in direct violation of the Holy Quran, which was handed down by Charles Nelson Reilly Himself to the Prophet Muhummunah (PBUH). The holy book makes clear that one woman is equal to half a man in inheritance, in legal testimony, in financial matters, and even in capital murder cases. How can a self-declared Islamic Republic support an equality that goes against a holy book filled with commandments like this:

Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them.

Indeed. There are many good sovereignty-based arguments for countries who wish to work out governmental problems amongst themselves. But for world government to condone and in fact to promote such egregious treatment carries a powerful statement.

The United Nations has long been a flaccid protector of human rights. This move to endorse Iran’s horrific treatment of women further compromises the UN’s legitimacy, and speaks to the need for a principled, private revolution in favor of real human rights and, indeed, for women to protect the rights of women everywhere.

Cross-Posted at The New Agenda.

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Links

Starting ’em young: Retailer apologizing for sexualizing seven-year-olds.

Holder decides to try KSM in Manhattan after all, despite everything.

Here’s the soundtrack for my paper-writing week. I can’t stop listening to the first song.

Tough Love: “Your anorexia is not welcome at our new house.”

TED: Science can answer moral questions.

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Girl Scouts and Entrepreneurship

Girl Scout cookies, arguably the most delicious American delight, represent an equally delightful history of feminism.

Just a few years after the Girl Scouts tradition launched, troops began selling cookies to finance their endeavor. In 1922 the official Scouts magazine, The American Girl, published a recipe. Girls baked their own wares, and sales followed the girls who baked the best cookies.

During the butter and sugar rationing that came with World War II, young women sold calendars instead of cookies to keep their troops alive. Thus began a tradition of entrepreneurship, rather than baking expertise. When the War ended, cookies returned. In 1948, 29 American bakeries provided cookies for Scouts to sell.

Every year Girl Scouts find new methods and venues for selling their cookies. In the 1950’s the rise of the suburbs meant that girls resorted to hawking cookies in malls rather than knocking on neighbors’ doors. Thus the evolution of Girl Scout traditions traces not only social evolution, but also changing cultural mores. Through learning subtle changes in social norms, Scouting prepares girls to become adults sensitive to what society expects and, indeed, what the neighbors will buy.

Similarly the 1970’s proved another decade full of lessons for young women. With the rise of government intervention came Scouts’ understanding of economic strategy. In the late 70’s the Scouts limited bakeries licensed to bake Girl Scout cookies to only four. The Scouts’ rationale for this business decision was to “ensure lower prices and uniform quality, packaging, and distribution.”

In the 1990’s the Girl Scouts again honed the business end of their enterprise, focusing even further on saleswomanship rather than niceties, by cutting the number of licensed distributors again, this time to only two. Cookie varieties swelled to eight, including new low-fat and sugar-free options to reflect the tastes of the times.

This year Girl Scouts responded to recession sensibilities by shrinking box sizes on three cookie varieties. In these tough economic times, the thinking goes, Americans hardly need the extra centimeter of cookie goodness Scouts permitted in a more expansive era.

Indeed, economics lessons are only part of the benefit to salesmanship through cookie lore: cookie sales also expose American Girls to marketing and a debate that would pass them by were it not for the Do-Si-Do culture. This year Girl Scouts discover the Internet Age and negotiation with the growing intervention of Big Scouts.

When Girl Scouts attempted to sell cookies via YouTube, Girl Scouts headquarters cracked the whip on internet sales, while permitting “marketing” online unrelated to individualized sales. On its website, Girl Scouts formally bans Internet sales because “[t]he safety of our girls is always our chief concern.” Also, “Girl Scout Cookie activities are designed to be face-to-face learning experiences for the girls.”

Headquarters preserves the notion that girls should have to approach and learn to get along with neighbors in order to sell cookies. Disparaging Internet interaction makes sense for a group responsible for the well-being of very young women, while protecting them from evolving mores can only last so long.

Girl Scout cookie sales have long traced social development and, indeed, provide a microcosmic illustration for evolving feminism itself. This year while enjoying your frozen Thin Mints — the undisputed Queen of cookies — thank the Girl Scouts for teaching young women about entrepreneurship and social grace. Most of all, thank goodness that the evolving sense of womanhood allows young ladies to learn both social skills and salesmanship, all while promoting an annual learning tradition American cookie monsters have grown to love.

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Spanx

Here’s the Spanx angle on that eternal question: Do women dress for men, or do we dress for other women?

I think I know how a woman wants to undress. How she wants to undress, in front of a man. The Spank [sic] has done wonderful things for women, but every time they wear it, they say: ‘I have to go the toilet to get undressed.’ And I think that is sad. Men love curves. And if a man could help to take off a Spank, it would become even more famous. But women don’t want to be seen unpeeling out of a Spank. My dresses are for undressing. We all dress up to undress.

— Roland Mouret to the Guardian UK.

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