5 Tips On How To Avoid Rape

rape posterWhen I saw a poster outside my apartment complex with big letters saying “5 tips on how to avoid rape,” I thought that this would be further the ideas of victim blaming. Instead, this poster was aimed at men. I truly appreciate this since that removes much of the victim blaming from sexual assaults and rape. Despite the good intentions of the poster and whoever put it up, I still have a few concerns with the information presented and the tips provided. Here is what the poster said (my translation):

Respect a no
Respecting when someone says no is key. It should also be said more often that when a person is unable to give consent, it means no. A person that is intoxicated, sleeping or in any other way cannot communicate a yes, cannot give consent and therefore any sexual act towards this person is sexual assault.

You have a choice
I appreciate the idea, I just think that the phrasing is off. I would have appreciated if the poster said: this choice is only yours or it is only your responsibility. The act of raping someone and the choice involved in that act should not even have to be discussed. Unfortunately, it does. As we have previously experiencened in some of the comments of a post about rape and evolutionary psychology, it is sometimes presented, and believed, that rape is a natural act committed by men against women in order to ensure reproductive success. [Read more...]

What to Give Her, What to Buy for Him!

Gift giving can be tricky. And if you believe in the polarization of gender and biological determinism, be aware that you need to stick to highly feminine and masculine gifts that reinforce the belief in the segregation of women and men.

Red Envelope has a whole section of gifts for her, and for him. Subcategories for women (that are not included in the men’s section and vice versa) consist of “cooking and baking,” “flowers and plants,” and “gardening.” Subcategories for men include “sports” and “electronics and gadgets,” as well as “watches” (there’s a clear distinction between a watch and a piece of jewelry, right?) Some categories are similar, but assumed gender preferences are included. For example, for women there is a section called “for the home,” but for men this similar section is called “home & office.” For women, there is also a section titled “bar & wine”; the same section exists for men, with the addition of cigars. See, this is helpful because we would not want women smoking cigars in their offices and men to dirty their jewelry in the garden.

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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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My Body, Myself: Or, what’s a gal gotta to do make peace with that chick in the mirror?

Inspired by Maureen Shaw’s post about the pregnant body …  

I know I’m probably asking the wrong crowd, but how do men do it?

How the hell do they stand in front of a mirror, grab their beer belly and grumble–and then toss on a shirt and go on their merry way?

How can they stand the heat in those long sleeves? Is it because they’ve never been taught to think of themselves as decoration? Because bare arms and shoulders haven’t been in for men since the gladiator games? Now that I’ve added my arms to the already-too-long litany of body parts I’m iffy about, I’ve developed a serious case of gender envy. Because I’d love to see myself as I see other women–as I’m (almost fairly) certain the men in my life who love me see me. But it’s not happening. Not yet, at least, though I won’t stop trying.

Till then, there are the questions. [Read more...]

Why being anti-porn does not mean you’re being pro-feminist

I have been aware of the “Anti-Porn Men Project” Movement for quite a while, but it wasn’t until I went to the UK National Feminist Conference FEM 11 that I actually sat through a discussion with its representative. And I have to say, what I heard was a little annoying, to put it mildly.

I understand that these guys mean well and they probably really believe their mission statement, by which making porn unavailable would result in “tackling both violence against women and wider gender inequality, as well as an important personal issue in the lives and relationships of many people.” However, my problem with being anti-porn stems from my strong allergic reaction to two things: patronizing adult people by “knowing what’s better for them” and discounting of women’s sexuality and its varied forms of expression which commonly results in a “I don’t believe there are women who actually enjoy it” attitude.

No one – man or woman – should be forced to any sexual act they do not want to perform and sex work should happen in safe conditions and be adequately remunerated. But I can see no problem whatsoever in adult females and males consenting to sexual acts which get filmed and distributed for money, if the participants are treated with dignity and respect. [Read more...]

Birth Control for Men?

New drug tests may put us one step closer to having a birth control method for men.  According to ABC News, the drug would stop sperm production in men. Previous versions of the drug had a negative effect on the male libido (God forbid), but BMS-189453 does not appear to have an negative sex drive effects.

I have one major problem with this study: it has only been conducted on mice. I’ll save you my long-winded rant on the ethics of animal testing and limit myself to saying that until there are human studies done on male birth control methods, I’m going to save my applause.

Apparently I’m not the only one who has doubts about the efficacy of male birth control. Our very own Amy McCarthy is quoted in the ABC piece as saying that she wouldn’t trust a guy to be taking his birth control pills every day. However, she does say that for people in a long-term, committed relationship, male birth control offers the peace of mind that the couple is double dipping on protection.

There are many additional questions that this study brings up for me. First, what role can BMS-189453 play in preventing HIV, since stopping sperm production would certainly limit one mode of transmission for the HIV virus? Second, will male birth control be available in multiple applications, such as the patch, the Pill, etc., when it is approved by the FDA?

What’s your take on male birth control?  Are you taking a wait and see attitude?  Or do you think this is the next big thing?  I’d love to hear your opinion.

How Do You Change Oppressive Gender Dynamics in Your Own Family?

I am currently visiting my family in Utah. I love my family, but the gender dynamics in their household have really got me down. My stepmom works a full time job, then comes home to cook dinner, water the garden, and clean up after my dad and brother. My dad and brother both work full time, but that shouldn’t excuse them from contributing to the household chores. It’s easy to dismiss the dynamics as being part of the Mormon culture, but that is simply unacceptable in my opinion.

I was really angry about this last week, but I decided not to run my mouth about the patriarchy. I have found that my family members just roll their eyes when I say things in anger. But this week I’ve spoken up. I’ve asked my dad to give my stepmom a night off from doing the dishes. I’ve suggested that my brother should be responsible for his share of the household work. And I’ve offered to help teach the men folk how to cook a simple meal so that my stepmom doesn’t have to cook on Sundays. All of this has fallen on deaf ears.

How do you change oppressive gender dynamics in your own family? It’s far easier to petition voters to protect reproductive rights than it is to talk about the patriarchy within our daily interactions with family members. Part of that is that familiarity breeds contempt. If a stranger slams the door in my face when I ask them to vote for a pro-choice candidate, it doesn’t hurt as much as a family member telling me that I’m “just a feminazi” when I ask them to pick their shit up off the floor. I don’t think that my dad or brother intend to be sexist. But they just assume that it is women’s work to clean the house and cook the meals. Boy wouldn’t they be surprised if my stepmom ever decided to go on strike? [Read more...]

Clinic Escort Explains Why Men Must Get Involved in Pro-Choice Movement

Feminist Conversations is a weekly column here at Feminists For Choice. We spotlight activists from around the country to find out what feminism means to them. Today we’re talking to Henry Howard, a long-time anti-war and and reproductive rights activist, originally from New York, who is now a writer in Los Angeles. Henry is a member of World Can’t Wait and the National Organization for Women.

1. When did you first get involved in clinic defense, and what influenced that decision?
I first got involved in clinic defense in November, 1989, when Operation Rescue decided to make Los Angeles its first national battleground. I was active in every major defense from then until 1992, when Operation Rescue folded its tents and finally left L.A. alone. Next they focused on Wichita, KS and Dayton, OH, throwing themselves by the thousands at Dr. Tiller’s clinic, and clinics in Ohio, for weeks at a time. I was not part of those national campaigns, but I went to Wichita in 2000 to defend Dr. Tiller, and last summer to Bellevue, NE to defend Dr. Lee Carhart. I would have to say that Dr. Curtis Boyd will probably be Operation Rescue’s new public-enemy #1, and we will eventually be required to stand in front of his clinic, too.

As for what got me involved in clinic defense: it was really a natural evolution of my activism in the women’s movement, which I date back formally to 1980 and the ERA campaign. I have always been unrelentingly pro-choice; I believe abortion rights are a red line in the sand that must never be crossed again in this country. I have met too many survivors of back-alley abortions, refugees from a time in this country when to be a woman daring to exercise her own biological destiny meant seeking out an underground world that often lead to her death. My own mother had two illegal abortions before I was born—both without anesthesia. [Read more...]

Redefining Masculinity: Are Feminist Men Getting the Job Done?

protesting violence - cartoonThis has been an exciting week when it comes to men, masculinity, and feminism. From so called “men’s rights” groups, to male feminists strategizing about ways in which masculinity can be redefined; the male-feminist hype has definitely surfaced. I’ve always operated from the assumption that men are completely capable of being feminists. Hell…i’m a feminist. With that being said, things tend to get tricky once you move past the basics.

Can feminist men contribute to feminism? If so, to what extent? Do men threaten the feminist agenda? How do the perspectives of queer men differ from heterosexual men, and what does that mean in terms of feminism? Is rejecting hegemonic notions of masculinity enough? The litany of questions could go on for days, and the responses to those questions could last even longer. [Read more...]

When Will Men Do Their Fair Share of the Housework?

Last week I shared a clip from NBC’s “Today Show,” where California’s First Lady Maria Shriver discussed the changing roles of men and women. Shriver has co-authored a new report, called “A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything,” about the impact that the economic downturn has had on women in the US. Women have taken fewer job hits in the recession, and more men are becoming stay-at-home dads as a result of a contracted work force. However, despite these changes, women still do the majority of the housework and childcare – 86% of it, in fact.

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Shriver makes an accurate statement – that women’s lives will never be truly equal with men so long as they continue to remain the primary caregivers in our society. Although twice as many men are contributing to housework and childcare responsibilities as they were in the 1960′s, that number is still only at 30%. So my big question to you is this: when will men do their fair share of the housework? And why are we as women not demanding that the men in our lives become more self-sufficient? [Read more...]