Friday, December 5, 2008

Top 10 Must See Movies for Any Young Feminist

Here are my pics for the Top 10 Must See Movies for Any Young Feminist:

10 - "The Stepford Wives" (2004)
This movie is a remake of a 70s sci-fi horror movie, but has been turned into a comedy. I recommend it not as a great movie, but as a thought piece because when you realize what they do to the women in this movie and then realize that this movie is supposed to be funny, it somehow loses its humor.

9 - "Memoirs of a Geisha" (2005)
Feminism in the world of Japanese geisha was nonexistant. These women were taught that they had no right to speak out, no right to have opinions, and especially no right to love. For Sayuri, the main character, the life of a geisha, which she so desparately wanted, proves to be less glamorous and more subservient to men than she expected.

8 - "Ever After" (1998)
This movie is somewhat of a feminist approach to the classic Cinderella tale. "Cinderella" (Drew Barrymore's character, Danielle) frees herself from her "wicked stepmother and stepsisters" and saves the prince.

7 - "Jurassic Park" (1993)
Another one that I recommend as a thought piece. It's interesting how all of the dinosaurs in this movie are created to be females because they are supposed to be easier to control. When things go awry and the "women" fight back, the men demonize them and do everything in their power to stop the classic monstrous women.

6 - "Mean Girls" (2004)
Not your obvious feminism movie, I think it actually has quite a bit of feminist principles in it. Tina Fey's character Ms. Norbury sums it up best when she says "if you girls are calling each other sluts it just makes it okay for the boys to keep do it."

5 - "Clueless" (1995)
Clueless is a modern take on Jane Austin's novel Emma in which Cher (the 90s Emma) plays matchmaker and winds up getting herself into a great deal of trouble. Jane Austin's novel from the early 1800s shines an interesting light on womens' roles in society and Clueless carries that into the 1990s by showing just how little things have really changed.

4 - "Elizabeth" (1998)
Queen Elizabeth I of England is one of the most independently powerful women in history and this movie is a great depiction of her ascension to the thrown and the early years of her reign. Her decision to never marry was extraordinarily controversial, but she refused to have any man control her life or her throne.

3 - "Whale Rider" (2002)
Whale Rider is the story of Pai, a young girl from New Zealand who makes a name for herself as a leader of her generation among her people. Pai's grandfather, however, refuses to allow a girl to learn the ways of the chief of their people and discourages her from pursuing the leadership. Pai has a vision for bettering her community that is filled with crime and poverty and must overcome many obstacles to prover her right to be chief.

2 - "Akeelah and the Bee" (2006)
This is probably the most inspirational movie I've ever seen. Akeelah is a young, black, inner-city girl who has one dream: to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Along the way she learns to love herself for being the fabulous person she is and unites her community.

1 - "Mona Lisa Smile" (2003)
Julia Roberts (one of my all-time favorite actresses) stars in this movie set at Wellesley College in the 1950s about an art teacher who comes to the women-only college and shakes things up in a big way. This movie is like a feminism explosion, touching on topics including birth control, marriage and families, domestic abuse, women in the workplace, sexuality, and so many others.

Now that you've seen my picks, what are your thoughts? Did I leave something off that you can't believe I missed? Did I include something that you disagree with? Tell me what you think.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Hey everyone out in Bloggerland.

I took this thanksgiving break to really reflect on the past semester and on where I want my life to go. I also took a look back on what I'm thankful for, being that this is the holiday season of thankfulness and all. So while we may have a while to go in feminist movement in terms of total gender equality, there are many things we as Americans really should be thankful for. Here are some of mine:

I'm really thankful I'm a man.

I'm really thankful I'm a gay man, believe it or not.

I'm really thankful I live in a country where women have access to safe and affordable abortions.

I'm really thankful women aren't caned, stoned or otherwise physically harmed for going out of their house without their heads covered.

I'm really thankful that we just elected a president (who is non-White!) that is respectful of women's rights and who aims to advance the protection of rights for gender and sexual minorities.

I'm really thankful for the opponents of Proposition 8 in California being able to pass their hateful, divisive and discriminatory amendment, because now activism has reawoken in the GLBT community on a grand scale, and I'm really excited to be a part of that.

I'm really thankful to be an American.

I'm really thankful that I was born into privilege and that I've been able to achieve what I have because I have a well developed social support system.

Anyway...I'll stop talking now. Please feel free to comment with any thanks YOU have for this year!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Last night while watching the documentary I had an epiphany. There's a concept in women's studies that we've talked about several times in class now and it took this movie to clear things up.

The concept is that homophobia really springs from misogyny - that is to say, it's the hatred of women that is the root of homophobia.

Something about that just never clicked and, though I could see the relation of the two, it was hard to imagine that hatred of gays and lesbians really came from the hatred of women in general.

But think about it - what causes fear or hatred from some heterosexual men toward gay men specifically? It is the thought that gay men are somehow taking on "women's roles" or "giving up their male privilege." This scares the hell out of many men.

For some men there is nothing scarier than the thought of losing power and "becoming a woman." But it is often these same men that deny or refuse to accept the fact that simply for being a male, they have privilege.

It is not about being monetarily privileged, but about the privilege to do things (i.e. walk alone in the dark without fear of being attacked, serve in a combat position in the military, etc) that may seem insignificant, but force women into a position of second-class-citizenship.

It all goes back to that white supremacist capitalist patriarchy that is so rampant in our country and threatens and often succeeds at undermining and oppressing anyone outside of the power group.

Oh men...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Must think TV

Tonight is Sunday and that means 3 things for me - Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Desperate Housewives, and Brothers & Sister!

I just finished watching Desperate Housewives and I was reminded of an article I read a few weeks back in class.

The article is a conversation between two feminists arguing about the feminist/anti-feminist messages being sent in the show Desperate Housewives.

I'm a HUGE fan of the show and have never missed a show, but I'm not sure how I feel about this argument.

What do you think? Is it sending positive messages to women or is it a tired throwback to old-fashioned misogyny?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Lately I've been seeing a lot of studies showing that women are beating out men nowadays in the academic world. Women are attending college in higher numbers than men. In high school exit exams across the nation, girls are outperforming boys almost uniformly.

I want to explore something else that you might not have thought of, though, because if women are now outnumbering men in academic settings, then why has the glass ceiling not yet been shattered? Hell, why is there not now a glass ceiling in place for MEN below WOMEN?

Unfortunately, this has a lot to do with the KIND of things each gender is going to school for (or for those who don't go to college, which professions each gender ends up holding ultimately), and a lot less to do with who's actually going to school.

A 1994 study published in economic journal Contemporary Economic Policy was arguably one of the first studies of its kind on this issue: the study examined major choice as a function of wages. It turns out that women predominately major in tings that will bring them more pleasure in life but that are usually less profitable: education, fine arts and the social sciences tend to be areas laden with lots of female alums. On the other hand, as far as men are concerned, we tend to gravitate toward majors that will enable us to make more money and have a better living in the future: business majors and hard sciences are two shining examples.

So to what can we attribute this division? The old adage that women are right-brained and men left (or is that the other way around? haha) really isn't true, because everyday there are increases in the number of women found in high-profile business and science sector jobs.

I would say my only reasonable conjecture is to go back to the Parsons argument: the expressive (women) versus the instrumental (men). It seems to me that women tend more to use college as a tool for better themselves and for learning more in general. Men, who are classically instrumental, see college as just that, an instrument for them to use to go on to better employment, to in turn provide for themselves and their families.

Anyway, that's enough dime-store psychology for today.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

What about the girls?

Op-Ed columnist Bob Herbert of the New York Times wrote an article called "Why Aren’t We Shocked?" in October of 2006. This article captures a growing and ignored issue in our culture - misogyny. He starts off the article talking about the school shootings that had happened at the Amish school in Pennsylvania and the shootings at a public school in Colorado (both recent incidents at the time of this article's publication). In both schools, the killers deliberately separated the girls from the boys. At the Amish school, the killer shot 10 girls and no boys. In Colorado one girl was shot and several were molested.

This article questions why so little was ever reported on the fact that the crimes were enacted against girls and that the girls were specific targets. He goes on to question if an ethnic or religious group was targeted would there have been an outcry - "Imagine if a gunman had gone into a school, separated the kids up on the basis of race or religion, and then shot only the black kids. Or only the white kids. Or only the Jews. There would have been thunderous outrage. The country would have first recoiled in horror, and then mobilized in an effort to eradicate that kind of murderous bigotry. There would have been calls for action and reflection. And the attack would have been seen for what it really was: a hate crime."

So, why are so many crimes committed against women not labeled as hate crimes?

Policy makers and legislators have traditionally given many reasons for not including gender in hate crimes statistics: gender-based crimes are covered under other crimes which are already tracked, such as sexual assault and domestic violence, and thus there is no need to add them to hate crimes statistics; crimes against women are so prevalent that it would distort statistics for all other bases to cover them; and crimes against women are considered "different," because, unlike many other hate crimes, a victim often knows her perpetrator and was selected by the perpetrator for her particular characteristics.

But ask nearly any feminists and they'll argue that the real reason these crimes aren't labeled as "hate crimes" is because we fail to recognize the gender bias in crimes against women such as rape and domestic abuse. Both crimes are committed against women to show men's dominance over them.

So, why aren't we shocked? I know I am. How about you?

(Special thanks to Katie for her help with this post!)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sarah Effing Palin

Sarah Palin is in no way, shape or form a feminist. And I think it's really important to know that before you decide on who to vote for this Tuesday (if you haven't already absentee or early voted). Here are three simple reasons why not:

1. Sarah Palin supports a complete and total ban on women's reproductive rights. She is pro-life, even in cases of rape and incest. I'm sorry, but I think Feminists for Life is a joke of an organization; isn't that kind of like calling a group "Children's Advocates for Deadbeat Dads?"

2. Her husband works for a major oil company that is currently doing drilling in Alaska. She directly benefits (financially) from seeing the world's resources diminished and depleted, and she is pro-destruction of the environment: this flies in the face of ecofeminism.

3. She favors the subjugation of LGBT people. She does not support gay marriage, civil unions or gay adoption and has favored bills that would strip gay couples of many rights straight people take for granted simply because of their sexual orientation, citing that "preserving the family structure is just that important" to her.