I have a thing for advertisements, especially when they portray sexism, gender stereotypes, or the pornification of sexuality. Elin and I frequently write about advertisements that we find disturbing, annoying, or just plain sexist. And there are many kinds to choose from, as different forms of advertising are everywhere. Some of my favorite analyses and discussions of popular culture and advertising are Jean Kilbourne’s series Killing Us Softly and Tough Guise: Violence, Media, and the Crisis in Masculinity. I also wrote about the documentary Orgasm Inc, concerning female sexual dysfunction.
Orgasm Inc. is a documentary by Liz Canner focusing on the recent “discovery” of FSD or Female Sexual Dysfunction. We know that pills such as Viagra can help men with erectile dysfunction. And we also know that the prescription drug industry is big, profitable business. Just how big you might wonder? According to the documentary “The pharmaceutical industry is the third most profitable in the world”. But it is also extremely profitable in America as “The USA makes up just 5% of the world’s population but it accounts for 42% of the world’s spending on prescription drugs”.
Canner explores how pharmaceutical companies scrambling to make a huge profit by telling women that they indeed are abnormal frame FSD as a disorder, even though there are no actual medical discoveries that point to FSD as a disorder. In fact, we find out that all initial meetings discussing FSD were sponsored by pharmaceutical companies and that pharmaceutical companies have made it their plight to help define and discover FSD.
Feminist Conversations is a regular series at Feminists for Choice. We spotlight activists from across the interwebs to find out what feminism means to them. Luci Westphal is a documentary filmmaker whose latest film, “All’s Well and Fair,” can be viewed here.
1. When did you first call yourself a feminist, and what influenced that decision?
I’m not sure when exactly the word feminist entered in my vocabulary. I was raised in Germany, which I consider a rather progressive country when it comes to gender roles; and my mother has been a great role model as long as I can remember. So I was raised to believe that women are equal to men.
But if I’d have to pinpoint a specific event of becoming frustrated with gender inequality, I’d say it was reading the novel “The Mists of Avalon” by Marion Zimmer Bradley, when I was maybe 12. Even though it might seem a trivial semi-historic fantasy novel, it was really eye-opening to me. For the first time I realized that some things are only “The Truth” because those in charge tell you so. It’s when I “lost my religion” because I realized that Christianity wasn’t the original religion in my country – it had come with the invaders from the South, it suddenly appeared man-made. And I realized that most of our legends and histories are told from the perspective of men. Bradley decided to tell the King Arthur myth from the perspective of a woman – and it changed the story drastically. Of course I’m aware that both versions are fictional.
So I think this is when I first became frustrated with the inequality of who was in charge of telling the stories and how they were being told and felt the urge to speak out about women’s perspectives and rights.
2. What does feminism mean to you? [Read more...]
Tonight, MSNBC will air an hour long documentary about last year’s slaying of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.
As I’m sure you remember, Scott Roeder walked into Dr. Tiller’s house of worship and shot him in cold blood, claiming that it was to protect the lives of unborn children. The documentary will feature never before seen footage of Roeder and people close to him, including his ex-wife Lindsey, who will detail his spiral from anti-abortion advocate to murderer.
“The Assassination of Dr. Tiller” will also include interviews with nurses in Tiller’s clinic, and most importantly, the singling out of Operation Rescue as an inciting force in Tiller’s murder. If you read Feminists For Choice often, you’ve probably seen the blogs about Operation Rescue leadership – Randall Terry, Cheryl Sullenger (who has unique ties to Scott Roeder and the murder of Dr. Tiller), and others. I urge you to read up on these posts before you watch this documentary.
Check out this trailer of the documentary from The Maddow Blog. After the show has aired, please come back and leave your thoughts and comments on this thread. We’d love to have a good discussion about the documentary and the case.
Most importantly, though, we’d love to have a discussion about the rampant harm that Operation Rescue is causing. This quote, from Shelly Sella, one of Dr. Tiller’s fellow doctors, sums up exactly why we need to have discussion about these groups and their hate-filled rhetoric:
“The anti-abortionists who don’t carry guns definitely incite the ones who do,”