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...]

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!

Human Trafficking Report Sheds Light on A Hidden Crime

Guest blogger Darci recently graduated from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration with her Masters in Social Work, and currently works in an anti-trafficking organization in Chicago. She has volunteered, interned, and worked at her campus rape crisis center as well as the rape crisis center serving the Seacoast. Darci is very passionate about women’s issues, ending violence against women, and portraying women with dignity and respect in the media. She blogs at

In early August, the Polaris Project released a report ranking the states on their response to human trafficking. This report is similar to the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report released by the U.S. government as a tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking. Similarly, the Polaris Project’s report on the United States ranked states by tier determined by a point system. The tier descriptions are as follows:

[Read more...]

Women, Assault, and the Illusion of Statistics

Guest blogger Saira currently works in publishing but dedicates her free time to social commentary on her personal blog. She will soon be a Master of Science candidate at Columbia University. Follow her on twitter @sairakh.

**TRIGGER WARNING: This post contains graphic images and descriptions of physical assault**

Here’s the thing about domestic violence and physical assault: You can list off all the statistics available out there (one in four women has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime) without realizing what they really mean. It’s not like abuse is something you can immediately spot. Abuse victims learn to cover evidence or it simply isn’t in a visible place. Emotional scars – well, we all know how those work. It’s easy to brush off statistics because they appear as nothing but numbers and research.

Think about it this way: The next time you’re in a room full of men and women, look around and think of those statistics. Chances are that multiple women in that room have been victims of abuse; they’re just not wearing stickers that identify them as such. Some of the men in that room have also been victims of abuse; those men tend to do an even better job of hiding it. The problem with a statistic is that it’s just a silly number until someone you love becomes one and when that happens, your world feels like it’s crashing down.

[Read more...]

Feminism and The Politics of Choice

Today’s guest post comes from Juli Myers, a middle-aged trans woman who lives west of Phoenix. Originally from the Amish Belt of central Pennsylvania, Juli is new to Arizona, new to writing, new to activism, and new to being a woman.  Juli regularly blogs for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.  In Juli’s opinion, Arizona is amazing; blog writing is as enjoyable as she thought it would be; activism is full of too many cranks; and she’s loving the hell out of transitioning.

This was supposed to be an essay about sexuality, and it was going to be until I read something this morning that discomfited me a little bit.

In one of the groups to which I belong, a rather long conversation thread was carried out regarding the objectification of women. A series of photographs which were done as part of a protest portrayed scantily clad women (as well as men), and these pictures were published with cutesy slogans. The pictures of overly attractive, under-dressed people were the hook, and the captions were the message. By about a 3:1 margin in this group discussion, this use of sex was seen as gratuitous and demeaning to the women in the photos and, presumably, to all women everywhere.

There was some give and take in the discussion. Interestingly, it seemed that the few who voiced the opinion that there was nothing wrong with the use of sex to make a point felt compelled to almost apologize for expressing their views. Indeed, while they were willing to be conciliatory about their side of the argument, the contrary point of view did not defend as much as aggressively pursue their side.

The argument for the anti-sexuality side appeared to boil down to a few key points: the use of a woman’s sexuality is sexist; any use of a woman’s body that appears to emphasize her sexuality is exploitative; a woman may not feel empowered by using her sexuality in such a way; if you disagree with any of this, you are not a feminist.

My problem with this argument? I disagree with every one of those arguments against the use of sexuality, and I DO consider myself a feminist. [Read more...]

If Catholics support life so much, where were they when Troy Davis died?

Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post comes from Saira Khan, a Pakistani-American woman who is vehemently pro-choice. She currently works in publishing but dedicates her free time to social commentary on her personal blog. Saira graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and hopes to pursue a Master’s in Journalism.

Over the past few weeks, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has made it very clear that they do not support the Obama Administration’s recent birth control mandate. Their main argument against it is that it violates their right to religious freedom. In regard to this notion, journalist Dante Atkins asks: “Where Were the Catholic Bishops when Troy Davis Died?,” referring to the recent execution of the man millions believe to have been wrongfully accused.

Anti-abortion Catholics and the bishops in question subscribe to the belief that all life is sacred. They don’t believe in birth control and most definitely don’t believe in abortions. More so, the Catholic Church officially opposes capital punishment. Atkins adds,

“This doctrine is in the same vein as those opposing abortion, birth control, and physician-assisted suicide: church doctrine dictates that life begins at conception and is a gift from God. Consequently, it is beyond the scope of any soul, no matter how high the earthly authority, to terminate a human life. It does not matter if it is legal, and it does not matter if the rationale is to relieve suffering: the taking of life is God’s department, not ours.”

[Read more...]

A Day in the Life of a Clinic Escort

Editors’ Note: Today’s guest post comes to us from Miranda Pennington, a clinic escort from New York City who is in her first year of a Creative Nonfiction MFA at Columbia University. You can follow Miranda on Twitter, and check out her blog.

Saturday Morning, 26 Bleecker Street

What could they have said to her?

What could convince a young, pregnant Latina woman walking up to the doors of Planned Parenthood for a scheduled abortion to change her mind, to walk away with two bikers and the novice nun they pulled away from the rosary procession hailing Mary around the corner?

Was it a persuasive promise of affordable counseling, prenatal care, parenting classes, postpartum checkups, and birth control?

No, wait, that’s what Planned Parenthood offers. [Read more...]

Do Pro-choicers Need to Chill Out?

Today’s guest post comes to us via Abigail Collazo from Fem2pt0. Abigail serves as the Editor for Fem2pt0. Abigail has worked on women’s issues in both the nonprofit and government sector for over 10 years, with a particular focus on global women’s rights.

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post thinks the debate surrounding abortion, or what he refers to as “Roe Week,” is absurd.

In his latest column, Milbank criticizes abortion provider Merle Hoffman for raising a ‘false alarm’ about the threat to reproductive rights in this country.  He then goes on the cite the numerous marches and events that will take place on both sides of the debate over the next week as the country celebrates – or laments – the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion legal in this country.

All of this attention troubles Dana Milbank.  He writes, “if these groups cared as much about the issue as they claim, and didn’t have such strong financial incentives to avoid consensus and compromise, they’d cancel the carnivals and get to work on the one thing everybody agrees would be worthwhile — reducing unwanted pregnancies.”

He chastises the choice movement by telling us that “not every compromise means a slippery slope to the back alley.”  He tells us to stop with the “sky is falling” argument and to acknowledge that the majority of Americans have legitimate concerns. [Read more...]

Tribute to Jeanette Rankin: First Woman in Congress

This post comes to us from guest blogger Talia bat Pessi bat Feige bat Ita bat Gittel. Talia regularly blogs over at Star of Davida.

Women currently make up 17% of Congress. While this number is certainly much lower than it should be, less than a century ago, there was only one woman in Congress: Jeanette Rankin. Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress, opened the door for women to enter politics in the United States and worldwide.

Jeanette Rankin (sometimes spelled Jeannette) was born on a Montanan ranch on June 11, 1880. She helped her parents run the ranch and raise her five younger siblings, which gave her the confidence that she could take charge and lead, a mindset she continued to go by in her later years. [Read more...]