A Working Mother Asks: Can We Please Talk About Working Parents Instead?

Another week, another spate of stories and “debates” about motherhood and working mothers and the right age to become a mother and on and on until oh my god, is there nothing else to talk about besides the ovaries and uterus of The American Woman? What about—just for funsies—the testicles of The American Man? After all, in a whole lot of cases, women are getting pregnant by their male partners. What say The American Man about the best age to become a father, or the ideal career path that fathers should take, or the struggle between financial security and a stable family?

I understand quite well that for many years—nay, decades—women have had a unique set of issues to contend with if they wished to have both children and a career. I also understand that while those issues have shifted over the years, there are still specific challenges to being a mother that earns a paycheck, whether she works outside the house or from home. But focusing just on the challenges and questions encountered by one gender perpetuates the notion that only this one gender needs to meet these challenges and ask these questions.

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Masculinity and Violence: School Shootings and Mass Shootings

In June of 2012, a man opened fire inside a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado. He killed 12 people and injured 58 more. Only days ago, a man in Oregon opened fire in a mall and then killed himself. On Friday, December 14 it happened again, only this time it was at an elementary school where 27 people were killed, most of them children, in Newtown, Connecticut. Mass shootings like these make us wonder how people can simply take the lives of so many others. We think about motives, the shooters complete disrespect for human life, and most often we cannot think of how to describe such atrocities without using words such as monstrous, horrendous and sick and we wish something like this would never happen again. Mass shootings and school shootings are rare, but leave us mortified every time. Many of us also remember other school shootings, some of the more high profile ones being the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, and the Columbine High shootings in 1999. There is an overall pattern in terms of both school shootings and mass shootings; the perpetrator is almost always male, and is often emasculated in one way or another.  [Read more...]

When Will We See a Female U.S. President?

Even though the 2012 presidential election was only last month, speculations concerning the next election in 2016 are brewing. According to an interesting article from ABC News, a majority of voters (57 percent) have stated that they would back Hillary Clinton in the next election. As noted, the article does mention that Clinton’s popularity and approval would depend to a great deal on the candidate running against her, but in terms of voting patterns, we notice that there’s quite the divide based on gender, age, and ethnicity when it comes to supporting Clinton.

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It’s (Still) Good To Be King

The other day we found some Christmas ornaments that reinforce the notion that the home is the man’s castle, the couch is his throne, and other examples that likens a man to being a king for no apparent reason. The ornaments are shaped like ties, for the male breadwinner of the family, and say “King of the Remote,” “It’s Good to be King,” and “CEO of this House.”

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The Flip Side: Women as Hysterical

This is the first of a two-part series about the short film The Flip Side: Dating.

The Flip Side is series of short movies that “flip” the way we believe women and men act. In these scenarios, men supposedly act like women, and women like men. In the short movie about dating, the scenes are more likely to portray women as hysterical and overly sensitive and men as dirty brutes, even though these scenarios are played out by the opposite gender.

When women are portrayed as unable to control their emotions, there is almost always a hint to the underlying role of biology when explaining the way “women act.” Women are inherently unstable, emotional, needy and hysterical, and men are viewed as distracted, unavailable, emotionless and unfeeling. Just look at the scenarios played out where women act out male stereotypes: they pee on toilet seats, fart in bed, play videogames, are on their phones constantly, and look at other men. But emotional unavailability is not deemed as “embarrassing” as being emotional or sensitive; and, as many find potty humor extremely amusing, these “male traits” are really not portrayed in an unflattering way (just look at the funny commercial depicting Mandles, “candles for manly men”), as the stereotypical “female traits” are.

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Nils Pickert Talks Fatherhood and Fashion Choices

Feminist Conversations is a regular series here at Feminists for Choice. Today we are talking to Nils Pickert, a father we wrote about earlier this year who received global attention, support, and criticism for simply backing his son’s fondness for wearing skirts and dresses. We admire Nils’s persistent support of his son in face of such fuming controversy over a piece of cloth, and asked Nils a few questions concerning the issue. 

When did you figure out that your son liked wearing dresses and skirts?

There was never a turning point or a special moment when I had to realize that my son wanted to wear skirts and dresses. I never taught my son to alienate clothes as being strictly associated to the opposite sex, therefore there was no need for him to decide against something. Skirts and dresses were always an option. About the age of three he found his own voice and started to make his own decisions. Since then he sometimes likes to skirt up.

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Gendered Sexualization in the Young!

In many ways gender construction begins very early in life, often even before a child is born. Many parents tend to design the space around their child in ways that indicate gender belonging. Whether or not we agree with the notion that pink is for girls and blue is for boys (it did not used to be that way), we are likely to follow “accepted” norms and performances of gender, which are further built upon with the use of toys, clothes, and other items for young children and infants.

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Quick Hit – Gender Inequality and Income

A recent article by Slate Magazine on gender inequality and income depicts the states and counties where the income gap between men and women is the greatest and the smallest in America. The map depicts the median income of women compared to the median income of men and is measured in how many cents per dollar that women make in comparison to men. The article states that the average income for women is 72 cents per dollar of what a man makes.

Slate also reports that even though women make less in all states than men, some states have moved closer to income equality than others. The state with the greatest income gap is Utah (at 55 cent per every dollar), followed by Wyoming and Louisiana. In these states, women’s earnings do not reach 60 percent of men’s. The districts and cities where women’s earnings are around 80 percent of men’s include Washington D.C., Dallas, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Even though we have moved away from many overtly sexist laws that increase and maintain gender inequality, such as restricting women’s rights to own property, women’s right to vote, to attend college, or the marriage bars that banned married women from employment and single women from work once they married, gender inequality is very much alive and well, and women are literally paying the price.

Photo of map depicting the United States of America uploaded by Flickr user Marxchivist and shared under a creative commons license. 

Attempted rape of transwoman not classified as rape

A man in the Swedish city Örebro was acquitted from charges of attempted rape against a transwoman since there was no possibility of the rape ever being achieved, according to the judge. Since the woman did not in fact have a vagina, she could not be raped and thereby the man was freed from charges. The judge stated that: “The intended crime never had the possibility of being fulfilled” and that: “We believe that he wanted to rape this woman in particular. But as she turned out to be a man, the crime never was actually committed”.

Even though the attacker did “grab at the victims crotch” the charges of attempted rape were denied. Since the attacker also severely beat the woman he was found guilty of assault and made to pay a sum of around $ 2,000. [Read more...]

American Idol Has a Woman Problem

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.

American Idol was really part of my childhood. My family started watching during Season 3, and we watched every year obsessively. We still watch it, although we’re getting kinda sick of it, especially since Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul left their judge positions and the contestants who have won recently aren’t our taste. (That’s code for “aren’t very talented, especially compared to the runner-ups and other finalists.”)

Recently, the media has been buzzing that Idol has a woman problem. Well, the stats don’t lie.

Kelly Clarkson (Season 1, 2002)
Justin Guarini
Nikki McKibbin

Reuben Studdard (Season 2, 2003)
Clay Aiken
Kimberley Locke

Fantasia Barrino (Season 3, 2004)
Diana DeGarmo
Jasmine Trias

Carrie Underwood (Season 4, 2005)
Bo Bice
Vonzell Solomon

Taylor Hicks (Season 5, 2006)
Katharine McPhee
Elliott Yamin

Jordin Sparks (Season 6, 2007)
Blake Lewis
Melinda Doolittle

David Cook (Season 7, 2008)
David Archuleta
Syesha Mercado

Kris Allen (Season 8, 2009)
Adam Lambert
Danny Gokey

Lee DeWyze (Season 9, 2010)
Crystal Bowersox
Casey James

Scotty McCreery (Season 10, 2011)
Lauren Alaina
Haley Reinhart

Phillip Phillips (Season 11, 2012)
Jessica Sanchez
Joshua Ledet

Out of the winners, 4/11 are women. [Read more...]