Masterchef Australia’s New ‘Boys vs Girls’ Season is Cheap Sexism for Ratings

I don’t mind tucking into cooking reality television shows with my dinner every night. After a long day, it’s sometimes comforting to watch people sweat over stoves, bicker about biscuits and quake with fear at a mean judge’s raised eyebrow. So I rapidly became incensed as I watched the trailer for Masterchef Australia’s new season, where teams will be split into Men vs. Women.

As a cultural trope, it as old as time. Masterchef itself, as a franchise ever in pursuit of ratings, has to change constantly in order to maintain viewer interest. There’s the Juniors series, where children who look too small to handle knives whip up complicated dishes. There has also been a Professionals series, solely designed to break the spirits of people who already cook for a living. Celebrity Masterchef is a yearly opportunity for the washed-up to invigorate their careers.

So it’s almost not surprising that the brain boxes at Shine Australia have cooked up this fresh hell.
But what’s next? Masterchef Cats vs. Dogs?

Splitting teams along gender lines is bad enough, but Masterchef Boys vs. Girls is here to perpetuate gender stereotypes. The trailer linked above is blatant – pastel pink and powder blue dominate the set and the male and female contestants taunt each other with sex-specific insults.
Man: “Physically, we’re better in the kitchen.”

Woman: “Women are better at presentation; we’re used to grooming ourselves.”

All that was missing was a ‘Get back in the kitchen!’ or ‘Make me a sammich, bitch!’ I assume that eventually someone will actually say those things. And we’re meant to take it as a joke, because jokes are meant to be funny, and gosh, lighten up!   [Read more...]

Gosnell Found Guilty (Mostly)

Guest blogger Sarah Cohen lives in Philadelphia with her husband and their cat.

gosnellToday a Philadelphia jury found Kermit Gosnell guilty on three counts of first-degree murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter, and acquitted him on one count of first-degree murder.  This outcome is, in short, excellent news.  I want to distill the outrage and bluster over Gosnell’s practices and prosecution into a few simple talking points.  The most basic is that everyone, regardless of his or her stance on abortion, should be appalled by Kermit Gosnell.

A quick recap of the case: Women’s Medical Society [WMS] in West Philadelphia, run by Kermit Gosnell, was billed as a clinic that provided health care from geriatrics to OB/GYN, including abortion services.  It had a reputation for seeing patients who may have been turned away from other abortion providers due to lack of money, absence of parental consent, unwillingness to comply with Pennsylvania’s mandatory 24-hour waiting period, or the advanced stage of their pregnancy.  [Read more...]

Dispatches from Abortionland

Today’s post, the final is our Roe v. Wade series, is by guest contributor Sarah Cohen, who worked at the National Abortion Federation hotline for several years and currently lives in Philadelphia with her husband and their cat.

Once you move to abortionland, there’s no moving back. Once you start thinking hard about abortion, it touches everything—it’s like a new lens that you see the world through. I can turn any conversation into a conversation about abortion. I see the links to it everywhere—in poverty, the social safety net (or lack thereof), education levels, unemployment, race, urban-rural divides, gender relations, religion, and just about every other dimension of modern life.

I moved to abortionland almost five years ago, when I began working on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline. I’d been pro-choice my whole life, and I’d been interested in abortion politics for a long time, but this was brand new. I did options counseling, I looked up clinics and gave out their phone numbers, I talked about money with all kinds of women. I stayed after my shift ended almost every day, thinking I could take just a few more calls and help just a few more women before going home.

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Hurrah for Israel’s Photoshop Law!

Guest blogger Talia bat Pessi is a Harvard-bound teenage Femidox (feminist Orthodox) pro-Israel Jew. Her work has appeared in over 40 publications, including the Jewish WeekMs. Magazine blog, Jerusalem PostGirl w/ Pen!, Jewish Press, and FBomb. She’s not quite sure how she manages to find spare time, but when she does, she enjoys going to rock concerts, fuzzying with her rescue dog, eating (a lot), messing around in Photoshop, and procrastinating on the Internet.

As of January 1, what the media has dubbed the “Photoshop Law” has gone into effect in Israel. This law mandates that models working in Israel have to have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 18.5, the lowest healthy BMI possible, and companies have to clearly label advertisements containing pictures that were even slightly Photoshopped. Foreign ads must also comply. Considering 10% of teenagers in Israel suffer from eating disorders and anorexia is the number-one killer in the 15-24 age group, this law was sorely needed.

Rachel Adato, the sponsor of the bill, has been very involved in women’s health throughout her career. She served as the Chairperson of the National Council for Women’s Health and Advisor to the Minister of Health on Women’s Health, and was a member of the Steering Committees for Prevention of Violence Towards Women and Establishing Medical Centers for Victims of Sexual Assault, as well as a member in four delegations to the UN on women’s health.
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Check out the Star of Davida Essay Contest!

GetAttachmentGuest blogger Talia bat Pessi is a Harvard-bound teenage Femidox (feminist Orthodox) pro-Israel Jew. Her work has appeared in over 40 publications, including the Jewish WeekMs. Magazine blog, Jerusalem PostGirl w/ Pen!, Jewish Press, and FBomb. She’s not quite sure how she manages to find spare time, but when she does, she enjoys going to rock concerts, fuzzying with her rescue dog, eating (a lot), messing around in Photoshop, and procrastinating on the Internet.
I am thrilled to announce the Second Annual Star of Davida Essay Contest!
I established the Essay Contest last year because I noticed a serious lack of feminist-themed writing competitions. Although I’ve found a few in the past year, the number is not anywhere nearly as high as it should be. Regardless, the Star of Davida Essay Contest is now in its second year and accepting submissions!

Beyond Abortion: Roe v. Wade and the Right to Privacy

January 22, 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wadedecision. All month, we’ll be running posts examining various aspects of this landmark ruling. If you’d like to contribute, let us know!

Today’s guest post is by Emily Martin, Vice-President and General Counsel, National Women’s Law Center; and Cortelyou Kenney, a Fellow at the Center.

What most people know about Roe v. Wade is that it is the landmark decision establishing a woman’s right to end a pregnancy. What is less well known is that the decision strengthened the legal foundation on which other protections are based as well. In Roe, the Supreme Court solidified the “right to privacy” as part of the liberty protections under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. This protection of liberty and privacy is responsible for certain fundamental guarantees—including the rights to obtain birth control and to procreate, to marry, to develop family relationships, to rear one’s children, and to create intimate relationships. While the concept of a constitutional “right to privacy” predates Roe, Roe is an important affirmation of and foundation for these rights—rights that could be threatened if it were overturned.

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I’m Pro-Choice (And So Can You!)


bfcd-2013

Today’s guest post, which was written for Blog for Choice Day, comes from Saira Khan. Saira currently works in publishing but dedicates her free time to social commentary on her personal blog. She will be Master of Science candidate at Columbia University in Fall 2013. Follow her on twitter @sairakh.

I was raised in Pakistan, where abortion is illegal. So as you can imagine, there’s a big market for illegal abortions there, and it’s horrific.

In 2012, Nele Obermueller reported for The Guardian:

“Shamin was not married when she got pregnant. Rather than face the shame of being a single mother in Pakistan, she secretly sought out an untrained birth attendant who gave Shamin anti-malaria pills to induce an abortion. ‘But part of the baby stayed inside – and my Shimi got an infection,’ says Jino, who works as a maid in the province Punjab. ‘That’s when she came to me and told me everything. I took her to a clinic but it was too late. She died that same day.’

“Shamin’s story is common in Pakistan, where, according to estimates by the Guttmacher Institute, 890,000 women have unsafe abortions annually. Eight hundred of these women will die and a further 197,000 will be hospitalised due to complications. ‘However even these figures are a gross underestimation, as so many cases go unreported,’ says Nighat Khan from the Guttmacher’s research team in Pakistan.”

As Obermueller indicates, Shamin is not alone in Pakistan. [Read more...]

Abortion 101: What to Know Before You Go

Today’s post comes courtesy of FFC contributor Sarah Erdreich and guest contributor Sarah Cohen, who worked at the National Abortion Federation hotline for several years and currently lives in Philadelphia with her husband and their cat.

January 22, 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. All month, we’ll be running posts examining various aspects of this landmark ruling. If you’d like to contribute, let us know!

When you work in reproductive rights, people pepper you with practical questions about getting an abortion. How much does the procedure cost? How long does it take? Does it hurt? While the answers vary depending on the particular circumstances, there are a few tips you should know.

First, confirm that you actually are pregnant. This might sound obvious, but as many of us know, it’s surprisingly easy to lose track of when your last normal period occurred. If a home pregnancy test shows a positive result, you are probably pregnant; home test kits rarely give a false positive. If a home pregnancy test shows a negative result, it’s possible that you’re too early for the test to detect a pregnancy. Most test kits come with two in the package, so wait a few days and, if you still think you might be pregnant, take the second test. [Read more...]

The Debate Surrounding Health Care Administration and Reform Continues

Guest blogger Cheryl Jacque is a contributing researcher and writer to the online health administration resource The Health Administration Project. Today, Cheryl examines what health care reforms mean to health care administration and its clients, including women that are now eligible to receive certain services without being charged co-pay fees.

As many estimate that health care in the US could soon rise to 20% of GDP spending, lawmakers have been debating a massive overhaul of the entire system. Passed in 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) estimates that its reforms will allow 32 million more Americans to receive insurance. Although many of these changes are already underway, debate continues on how to best care for the country’s large and uniquely diverse population.

For many struggling American families, the ACA undoubtedly offers many appreciated benefits. Under the new regulations, those with family plans can keep their children covered until age 26 regardless of marital status, student status, living situation, or if they have a pre-existing condition. As increasing numbers of young people are graduating from college without immediate job prospects, parents and their children are collectively breathing a sigh of relief knowing they can remain covered while looking for work in a struggling market.

This measure has increased the number of insured Americans aged 19 to 25 from 64% to 73% between 2010 and 2011, suggesting that while the US health care crisis has not yet been solved, some actions are having a positive affect.

One of the most controversial aspects of the health plan has been the changes to Medicare, which don’t begin til 2014. Under some Medicare drug plans, after an individual’s drug plan has spent a certain amount of money for covered drugs, the individual is responsible for paying the full costs of prescription drugs until they reach the amount required for catastrophic care coverage, a period widely referred to as the coverage gap, or “donut hole.” While the Affordable Care Act is making an effort to shrink the coverage gap, it won’t be fully closed until 2020, a fact that the plan’s opponents continue to criticize.

Perhaps the most surprising group to see major changes in coverage is also the largest. Beginning this past summer, all women were given assured access to preventative health services and are no longer subject to additional insurance fees and charges. These services will include annual visits to doctors, AIDS virus screening and counseling about sexually transmitted infections, breastfeeding supplies, and even screening and counseling services for domestic violence. Women aged 30 and over will be offered even more services, including DNA testing for the human papilloma virus, which can lead to cervical cancer. In addition, beginning in 2014, insurers will no longer be allowed to charge women higher premiums than men. It is estimated that these additional preventative services will save millions annually.

The final aspect of the health care bill that is causing opponents, like the CEO of Papa John’s pizza, to declare reform akin to socialism is that all companies with more than 50 employees will be subject to fines if they do not provide their employees with health insurance. Many industry analysts say this will cost companies millions annually and will continue to give the United States a reputation that is unfriendly towards business interests.

Health care reform is still a work in progress. While the Affordable Care Act provides coverage at lowered rates to millions who would otherwise go uninsured, the coverage gap in Medicare illustrates that there will still be those that do not receive the care they need. Many also argue that until Americans begin to make health decisions, health care will always be expensive, and this reform still fails to address that.

Gay and God-Fearing

Guest blogger Talia bat Pessi is a teenage Femidox (feminist Orthodox) pro-Israel Jew. Her work has appeared in over 40 publications, including the Jewish Week, Ms. Magazine blog, Jerusalem Post, Girl w/ Pen!, Jewish Press, and FBomb. She’s not quite sure how she manages to find spare time, but when she does, she enjoys going to rock concerts, fuzzying with her rescue dog, eating (a lot), messing around in Photoshop, and procrastinating on the Internet.

As well as being a feminist, I am an Orthodox Jew. While I had always been active in gay rights advocacy through my feminism, I never really thought about how Orthodox individuals who are LGBT+ grapple with their sexuality. I recently did some research into this. Considering that the religious right, including the mainstream Orthodox Jewish community, is known for its anti-gay stance, it may seem surprising that there are observant Jews who also identify as LGBT+. However, they do exist.

Over the past two decades, observant LGBT+ Jews have organized in order to petition for increased recognition and inclusion within the Orthodox Jewish community. In 1994, the Gay and Lesbian Yeshiva Day School Alumni Association (GLYDSA) was established as a social group for Orthodox gay and lesbian Jews. Jewish Queer Youth (JQY) was created in 2001 by observant Jewish undergraduates who “were looking for other people in similar ­situations that could understand and relate to each other’s struggles” about sexuality, according to the JQY website.

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