Feminist Book List

Now that we are celebrating women’s history month we wanted to acknowledge and share some great books on different feminist related topics.

The Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to Confrontation (Updated Edition) Doris Zames Fleischer and Frieda Zames

This is a great book that discusses disability rights activism over the last few decades and describes the struggles of disabled individuals and their fights to gain access to a number of institutes and buildings. The Disability Rights Movement is at times truly disturbing and effectively highlights discrimination and prejudice.

Pray The Gay Away – The Extraordinary Lives of Bible Belt Gays – Bernadette Barton

Pray The Gay Away is an amazing book which critically discusses the impact of homophobia on the lives of homosexual individuals. Bernadette Barton has interviewed gay men and women across the Bible Belt and shows how devastating homophobia is on the well being of homosexual individuals. Pray The Gay Away is very critical of homophobia and the role that religious beliefs and Christianity play in the treatment of homosexual people.

Let’s Talk About Sex: Histories of Sexuality in Australia from Federation to the Pill – Lisa Featherstone

Featherstone traces the history of Australian sexuality from the “start of the new Australian nation in 1901” to when the pill came out  in Australia (in 1961). As such, Featherstone touches on the issues of gender, ethnicity, marriage, women’s reproductive rights, and just about everything surrounding sexuality in Australia. The book can at times be rather sexually graphic and detailed, but it is a very interesting read.

The Richer Sex: How the new majority of female breadwinners is transforming sex, love, and family – Liza Mundy

According to Mundy, the percentage of female breadwinners and stay at home dads is on the rise. Therefore, the changing nature of breadwinning brings about fundamental changes in the gender structure, with “role”switching occurring more often than before. Mundy uses research from the past decades to discuss female breadwinning. Even though we do not necessarily agree with everything Mundy says, the book is an interesting account of women’s changing roles.

When Mars Women Date – Paulette Kouffman Sherman

Even though we are not big into dating books, When Mars Women Date is quite different. It questions and takes a critical look at gender stereotypes and dating tips that are often aimed at women. Paulette Kouffman Sherman writes that: “These dating rules proposed by female authors include things like telling women not to talk too much, not to return a man’s calls or ask him out, only to see him twice a week, not to have sex too early, not to go dutch on dates, to ignore your dates and seem disinterested, never to be overweight, to always wear makeup”. (p. 36). The book is refreshing because it tells women that they do not need to “act” in order to find a good partner and that men do like strong, independent and successful women.

Book Suggestions for the New Year

Now that the New Year is approaching, we’ve compiled a list of books that we’ve read this year and found interesting, valuable, or controversial.

The Origins of Sex: A History of the First Sexual Revolution, Faramerz Dabhoiwala

Dabhoiwala describes and analyzes the way that people viewed sex between 1660 and 1880. The focus is on in England, but European nations and the United States are mentioned regularly. At close to 500 pages, reading this book is quite an undertaking, but readers will learn about the role of religion, about hospitals or asylums for women, and why it is that women are now considered less sexual than men, when this was not always the case.

[Read more...]

At Least Someone Gets to See You Naked!

We have been writing quite extensively about advertisements that we find sexist, stereotypical, or in other ways bothersome. Whether overt or covert, all advertisements send a message about not only the product they are selling, but also society as a whole. Gender battles are typically played out in advertisements, pitting men and women against each other in a biologically driven battle (because it is so much easier to view gender from a strictly biological perspective) where drinking beer and watching sports is strictly “manly,” while shopping for the latest Glade product and worrying about residue on dishes is strictly “feminine.” This is exactly the way gender works, right, both on and off the screen?

One specific advertisement has been bothering us for a while now because of its play on gender and sexual behavior. The advertisement, from Direct TV, wants consumers to switch from cable to their services.

[Read more...]

Home-Based Testing Method Detects Sex of a Baby

A home-based test can detect the biological sex of a baby as early as seven weeks of pregnancy.  Although these tests have been available for several years, their accuracy has been questionable – until now.  According to the Associated Press, researchers “analyzed 57 published studies of gender testing done in rigorous research or academic settings — though not necessarily the same methods or conditions used by direct-to-consumer firms.” According to the study, the blood test is 95% accurate at detecting the biological sex of the baby.

Many critics of the Pink or Blue test (yes, that’s the actual name) say that the blood test will contribute to higher abortion rates when women discover the sex of their baby. I don’t take this criticism seriously, since there is very little evidence that sex-selective abortion is common in the United States, despite what Arizona’s state legislators would like us all to believe.

My criticism of Pink or Blue is printed right there in the name – pink, or blue? The test reinforces a binary gender model that fails to account for the multiple permutations of biological sex that can occur. Intersexuality is far more common than most of us realize. So is transsexuality. A simple blood test is hardly conclusive – and the 95% “accuracy” rate is questionable if it only looks at two possible biological outcomes.

What’s your take? Do you trust a home-based test, or the squiggly sonogram pictures at the doctors’ office for that matter? Do you wonder about pink, or blue?


Weekly Pro-choice Roundup

Everyone Wants to Have More Sex – Feministing
Who Will Replace Weiner? – Seattle Times
Do You Know the Symptoms of Chlamydia? – Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona
New Poll Shows Most Dangerous Countries for Women – Planned Parenthood Illinois Action

What Will Reproductive Rights Look Like in Outer Space?

I’ve been reading a lot about space travel lately, and not just because I’m jazzed for the final shuttle launch.  I’ve been geeking out on space literature because I will be coaching at a high school debate camp this summer, and the students will be debating about space exploration and development.

All this reading has started to make me wonder what reproductive rights would look like in a spacefaring civilization.  Cuz let’s be real – you have to put limits on reproduction on a spaceship – there just isn’t space for people to breed willy nilly. (Before you try to pump the breaks by saying that NASA claims sex isn’t possible in zero gravity, this video from The History Channel proves that the Russians have figured out how to get it done in outer space, complete with bom chicka wah wah music.)

So I open the discussion to you, the readers.  When humans are zipping around the intergalactic neighborhood, do you think there will be limits on who can give birth and how many children they can have?

AZ Legislature Takes Anti-Choice to a New Level

In case the rest of the world has any doubt that Arizona is full of gun-slinging, ignorant assholes, one look at the state legislature’s agenda should clear up any confusion.  Several anti-choice bills have been introduced at the legislature in the past few weeks, and they make the already draconion abortion restrictions in our state look like a cake walk compared to what is potentially coming down the pike.  Let me summarize the worst offenders in the bunch.

HB2416 would introduce several new restrictions on abortion access, including:

  • Expands the definition of abortion clinic from those that perform surgical abortion to also include those that dispense medications which induce abortion without surgery.
  • Requires Arizona courts to appoint guardians ad litem for minors who are asking courts to waive the state parental consent requirement.
  • The bill expands required components of informed consent to include mandatory ultrasound and “auscultation” (using a stethoscope to listen to fetal organs, including the heart).
    - Both components must be provided at least one hour before medication is administered or the surgical procedure is provided.
    - Must offer the patient to view the ultrasound and to hear the heartbeat, etc.
    - Must offer to provide a detailed explanation of what the ultrasound depicts.
    - Must offer the patient a print version of the ultrasound.
    - Patient must certify in writing that the ultrasound and auscultation were offered, and whether she accepted or declined the offer.
  • Bans use of “telemedicine.”

There are so many problems with this bill it’s hard to know where to start the tirade. For starters, how many pills are considered a form of surgery? Can you imagine if a doctor had to have admitting rights at a hospital if they wanted to prescribe Viagra? The men of this state would be rioting in the streets! What if they needed to have admitting rights to prescribe allergy medicine, or insulin? I think you get my drift. Taking a pill is not the same as having surgery. It’s a total no brainer. [Read more...]

When Does Defining Your Sexuality Matter?

I think it’s fair to describe myself as a pretty sexual person. Before I met my current partner, Jason, and got married, I identified my sexuality as bisexual because I thought it was the only “don’t really care” category of human sexuality. But since then I’ve learned a lot more about myself, gender and sex. If I were to define my sexuality today, I would identify as pansexual or omnisexual.

I say “if” because this thought recently occurred to me: Does defining my sexuality matter anymore? [Read more...]

Virgins Last Longer! Where Has All the Science Gone?

You might have recently read about a study that concluded that couples who wait until they are married to have sex have longer, stronger marriages than those who fornicate before they get hitched. The study was originally published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Family Psychology and has been picked up by Live Science, PsychCentral.com , WebMD , AOL Health, and U.S. News Health Report.

The findings of the study were based on results from an online marital assessment called “RELATE.” Researchers selected a sample of 2,035 married individuals from the database to match the demographics of the married American population. The press release does not indicate which demographic study results they used to match their sample to, nor does it detail whether the demographics of the married population included homosexual couples, common-law marriages or polygamous relationships.

The crux of the study results hinge on the assessment question: “When did you become sexual in this relationship?” Results of the study showed the relationship stability of the abstainers was 22 percent higher than those who had relations before marriage, the abstainers’ relationship satisfaction was rated 20 percent higher, the sexual quality of their relationship was rated 15 percent better, and their communication was rated as 12 percent better than those hussies who shamelessly rolled in the hay before the wedding.

Lead study author Dean Busby, professor at Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life is quoted as saying: “There’s more to a relationship than sex, but we did find that those who waited longer were happier with the sexual aspect of their relationship.”

According to Brigham Young University’s press release: ‘because religious belief often plays a role for couples who choose to wait, Busby and his co-authors controlled for the influence of religious involvement in their analysis.’ Busby also says: “Regardless of religiosity, waiting helps the relationship form better communication processes, and these help improve long-term stability and relationship satisfaction.”

The press release then goes on to quote sociologist Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin, who was not involved with the study, and just happens to be the author of “Forbidden Fruit: Sex and Religion in the lives of American Teenagers” and the forthcoming “Premarital Sex in America,” a study of the sexual lives of emerging heterosexual adults. Regnerus teaches courses like The Making of American Christianity and Introduction to Sociology, Judaism and Christianity in Sociological Perspective. Regnerus had this to say: “Couples who hit the honeymoon too early – that is, prioritize sex promptly at the outset of a relationship – often find their relationships underdeveloped when it comes to the qualities that make relationships stable and spouses reliable and trustworthy.”  What those qualities are, exactly, he does not share with the class. [Read more...]

NYPD Narcotics Detective Charged for Demanding Sex from Women he Arrested

NY Daily News

Detective Oscar Sandino, a 13-year veteran, was charged today for demanding sex from two women he had arrested. In addition, Detective Sandino has been accused of coercing a third woman into having sex in exchange for assistance with her cousin’s criminal case. If convicted of the federal civil rights violations, Sandino faces up to three years of prison time.

The alleged attacks date back to 2006 when he was assigned to the Queens North Narcotics Bureau, court papers say.

That August, he had sex with a woman whose cousin he had arrested after falsely telling her he faced a long prison sentence, prosecutors charged.

In February 2008, while arresting a woman and her boyfriend on drug charges, he allegedly took the woman into a bedroom and forced her to undress.

When he brought the woman to the 110th Precinct for booking, Sandino warned she would lose her children unless she had sex with him, prosecutors said. [Read more...]