If you, like me, missed the Hypatia Anniversary Conference, you’ll be pleased to know that the Founders’ Panel is now available as a podcast! Go here and scroll down past the links to Hypatia’s online content.
Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters —the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? Would these protester — these black protesters with guns — be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that’s what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation’s capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country’s political leaders if the need arose.
Imagine that white members of Congress, while walking to work, were surrounded by thousands of angry black people, one of whom proceeded to spit on one of those congressmen for not voting the way the black demonstrators desired. Would the protesters be seen as merely patriotic Americans voicing their opinions, or as an angry, potentially violent, and even insurrectionary mob? After all, this is what white Tea Party protesters did recently in Washington.
(Thanks, Mr Jender.)
As you may well have heard, today’s the Boobquake. The big test of the theory that lack of female modesty causes earthquakes. It’s been criticised on feminist grounds, e.g. here. Some of these criticisms get responded to at the first link. What do you think?
De Beauvoir’s Style: What may we say? April 25, 2010
The new edition of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex is out; it’s a new translation by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier. And one could get worked up over what the New York Times has done about it. But I am not sure whether we should. See below.
The story so far:
In the US The Second Sex was released by Random House on April 13 of this year. Reviews are just starting to come in; perhaps because of an earlier release, the British are ahead: the Time’s Higher Ed suppl has a short piece; a fuller piece can be found in the Independent. These do not undertake the task of full scholarly assessment. Toril Moi does provide such an assessment in the London Review of Books, and it is decidedly a hatchet job. (The comments are worth reading.)
In contrast, the reviews haven’t started to appear yet in comparable US intellectual magazines, such as the New York Reivew of Books or the NY Times Sunday Book Review. Or the New Yorker. Salon does report on the Moi review, and Slate has a bit by Katie Roiphe, which pronounces it an improved translation of a classic work by an ambiguous feminist heroine. (Roiphe, we should point out, is an expert on ambiguous feminism, at least as a practice.) The ambiguity is due to features of her life, her scandalous life, which includes the presence of pictures of her bum!!
Here’s where it starts to get, well, dialectical. Can we really as feminists approve of talking about de Beauvoir’s fashion style and body bits?
Enter the New York Times. Not its more serious review sections, but its Style Magazine, T, which must be the only part of the Times I never read. Too, too depressing unless one wants to be 21 and a size 0. Or at least could reasonably hope to pass oneself off as something similar.
And Style does pick up on such things as the bum and the hotness issue. I mean, it is Style. To be fair to them, they do see it’s a bit odd and remark that they’ve done such style assessements of a dictator and a literary lion. And they have.
jezebel.com takes them to task for this, saying, I think incorrectly, that they sidestep the question of whether a male philosophy would get the same treatment. Nonetheless, there are very serious general concerns, ones familiar to feminists, and Monkey raised them here with regard to the bum controversy. Can’t we discuss a female philosopher without these reductive comments taking over?
jezebel.com says that it would be nice if we could evaluate Beauvoir the intellectual without also talking about her naked ass. That seems exactly right. And the British publications do that. However, is it a fair criticism of Style that it does not?
Thanks to SG, who alerted us to the issues!
There’s an interesting and depressing video here, which suggests that the classificatory board’s requirement for any genitals shown (in magazines at least) to be ‘neat and tidy’ is partly responsible for the photoshopping of pictures of labia, which in turn creates the strong and unrealistic norms of appearance – in this video a connection is suggested with increasing requests for labiaplasty surgery.
Also, it seems that new restrictions on genital images have lead to a temporary suspension of Betty Dodson’s Genital Art gallery. More details here.
Salma Yaqoob is the candidate of a very small, leftist party. Yet she’s considered quite likely to win her constituency, once considered very safe for Labour. And she’s already a major media figure (who was apparently courted by all three major political parties.) She’s anti-war and pro gay rights. And if she wins, she’ll be the first Muslim woman MP in Britain (though there may be others coming in with her)!
She’s faced some enormous hostility, but is doing a stunning job of winning people over, on all sides.
“I’ve had death threats and criticism that I support gays – because I have a clear anti-discrimination position – and there have been claims that it is haram [forbidden in Islam] to vote for women. People say to me, ‘Have you no shame?’ and they accuse me of immodesty and ask my husband why he lets me speak in public. It’s still an uphill struggle.”
But she has been winning even her fiercest critics round. “Some people who made out fatwas against voting for a woman have now been saying that I’m the right candidate. I have been invited into mosques – some of which don’t even have facilities for women to pray – to give the Friday sermons.”…
She recognises that many non-Muslim voters can feel threatened by her as a Muslim. “I’m between a rock and a hard place,” she says. “I have to jump hurdles because of the way I look. Firstly, I have to make it clear that I don’t support terrorism, secondly, that I’m British, thirdly, that I don’t just lobby for Muslims and lastly, that I’m not a Trojan horse for sinister Islamist plots.
“People still question me about the hijab as a symbol of oppression. I try to stay patient and build a relationship of trust. For a real discussion, people have to be able to hear each other: someone has to pull the barriers down. People have a genuine fear, and you need to deal with it or you are dehumanising them – it won’t just go away.”
According to this article.
Hazardous chemicals pose myriad risks to people of all age groups, especially infants and the elderly. But women face a disproportionate brunt of the problem because of their extra susceptibility during child-bearing and lactation years, she said.
In a phone interview yesterday, Ms. Steingraber said the time has come for women to rise up against pollution as a human-rights issue. “We’re inherently exposed to toxic chemicals without our consent,” said Ms. Steingraber
From The Guardian:
In the heady world of high fashion, few issues have ruffled feathers as much in recent months as that of size. And now further fuel has been added to the debate about the use of larger models thanks to an edition of Vogue edited by the actor Penelope Cruz.
Cruz was chosen to edit the French edition of the title and has promptly waded in with a provocative shoot that stars the size 12 [US size 8] model Crystal Renn in photographs styled by the magazine’s influential editor, Carine Roitfeld.
Cruz’s intervention comes at a key moment within the industry for models with body shapes more akin to those of the majority of women. Last month, a special “curvy” edition of French Elle lavished praise on cover girl Tara Lynn’s “adorable belly fat”…
Vogue’s images of Renn – who is almost naked in some shots, and clad in tight leather in others – seemed proof that the campaign to broaden definitions of beauty, spearheaded by British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman among others, is gaining ground even among the famously slender Parisiennes.
But then came comments attributed to the highly influential fashion blogger Garance Doré that cast doubt over whether the Paris fashion world was ready to endorse women who do not fit the catwalk samples, which are now usually a British size six. Doré told Sky News: “it’s not such a good thing to show plus-size because it’s not really physically healthy and not always flattering to fashion.”
Wow– I never knew that stick-thin models were there as exemplars of health. Dore’s comment changes my view totally. (The good news is that Dore has been frantically backpedaling, apparently.)
The Sunday Cat is always pleased to see a dog dance April 24, 2010
As for how cats and a cat lady do it:
And finally, because it is, after all, Britain:
Pregnancy and vulnerable academics April 23, 2010
A friend made me aware of this situation a while back, but I’d been waiting for permission from the person concerned before posting about it. A junior academic – let us call her A – has been teaching in the same department for the past six years. She has been employed on a succession of temporary contracts to cover teaching when permanent members of staff go on research leave. Her contracts are always for ten months – so she isn’t paid over the summer – and she has no research time built into them. They are solely teaching plus some administration. A became pregnant last year, and despite having been employed by the same department, doing the same job for the past six years, she wasn’t entitled to any paid maternity leave, because her contracts always have a two month break between them. She planned to take two weeks off after the birth of her baby, and then return to work straight away because she couldn’t afford to take further unpaid leave. She was also concerned about jeopardising her chances of obtaining further employment with the department, by taking too much time off for her pregnancy. When birth time came around, A had to have a caesarean. Since it’s major surgery, the doctor signed her off work for six weeks. In theory, that meant that she should have received a month’s sick pay from the university. However, when she contacted them, the HR department pointed to a clause in her contract which states that the university will not make any sick payments for pregnancy-related illness in a case such as hers. A few weeks later, A was then contacted by someone from HR, who said if she wanted to be paid for the four weeks she was signed off work, she would have to produce a medical certificate, which A has done. Nothing was said about the reason for this change of heart. She is still waiting for the sick pay, after being told they would pay her in arrears. This means that she has not received any money for over a month. The situation seems pretty despicable.