Women, You Are Your Looks

Right now the Euro 2013 Games are underway, and women’s soccer is receiving loads of attention. The Swedish soccer team has already played a few games, and a sexist backlash of homophobic comments immediately followed the first match, where Sweden and Denmark tied.

According to The Local, post-match comments on Twitter focused not on the Swedish players’ competence, but rather on their attractiveness. Some comments included, “Women’s football is small breasts, lesbians and short hair” and “Swedish women’s football… lesbian whores is what you are.” Swedish handball coach Andreas Stockenberg also weighed in, writing that “When the Swedish squad in women’s football has dinner with their partners there are 40 women and 4 guys” and that “they can hardly trap a sandbag.” Stockenberg defended his comments by saying that the team received “far too much undeserved media attention.” [Read more...]

#talkaboutit – Discussing Sexual Grey Areas

TRIGGER WARNING: this post talks about sexual abuse and sexual grey areas and might be upsetting to readers.

#Talkaboutit is the international version of a project that originated under the name #prataomdet in Sweden in 2010. Its founder, Johanna Koljonen, discussed “sexual grey areas” with a friend on Twitter under the hashtag #prataomdet; eventually, hundreds and then thousands of people joined the conversation to discuss their feelings and behaviors concerning these grey areas as well as abuse, force, and doing things that one does not feel comfortable doing.

[Read more...]

When in Doubt, Go for Sexual Abuse

WARNING: This post contains explicit, offensive, and sexual language.

The past week, a lot of people were talking about Chris Brown and his Twitter fight with comedian Jenny Johnson. Brown apparently deleted his Twitter account after sending of a series of sexually implicit and very vulgar tweets to Johnson when she posted a response to one of his tweets.

Brown posted a picture of himself and commented on his Twitter account that he looked old, despite only being 23. Johnson answered (with the assault of Rihanna in mind), “I know! Being a worthless piece of shit can really age a person.” Instead of ignoring her comment or providing a clever answer, Brown went straight for a sexual abuse approach: Take them teeth out when u sucking my dick HOE.” Brown also tweeted that “Mom says hello … she told me not to shart in ur mouth, wanted me to shit right on your retina” and “Don’t run for support now … Lol. Ur a comedic writer!!! If u can take a dick, u can take a joke.”

Brown does not seem to be the most articulate person out there, but it is both offensive and rude (and upsettingly common) to try to shut a woman up by referring to sexual abuse or sexual activity and by making crude sexual comments. It also appears typical to put a woman down by using masculine power and sexual dominance. For example, we know that most men are much physically stronger than most women and therefore the threat of sexual assault is often a real concern to women. Perhaps this is why Brown attempted to scare Johnson with violent and sexual behavior. Since Brown has obviously been violent before the threat becomes more genuine than if he had not.

Photo of Chris Brown shared by flickr user Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer under a creative commons license.

Quick Hit: MTV’s “No Easy Decision” Airs @11:30pm Tonight

Kudos to MTV for airing “No Easy Decision,” its first show about teens who choose to get abortions. After 3 seasons of “16 and Pregnant,” the coverage is long overdue.

Pro-choice advocates will be live-blogging during the program to show their support for the young woman sharing their stories.

Follow the conversation live on Twitter with the hashtags #16andloved, #WMCwatchin, and #provoice.

Become a fan of Exhale’s on Facebook to get daily updates on the campaign:


Steph Herold: Tweeting to End Abortion Stigma

Feminist Conversations is a weekly column at Feminists for Choice, where we talk to feminists from across the interwebs to find out what feminism means to them. Today we’re talking to Steph Herold, who caused quite a stir earlier this week when CNN caught up with her to ask her about the #ihadanabortion tag that she created on Twitter. Steph is a reproductive justice activist who has worked in direct service abortion care and reproductive health advocacy. She founded the website IAmDrTiller.com to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Tiller and honor the stories of abortion providers. She also founded the blog AbortionGang.org as a space for young people in the reproductive justice movement. She tweets from the handle @IAmDrTiller and lives in Brooklyn, NY.

1.  How did you get involved with the New York Abortion Access Fund?
When I was in college, I worked for the abortion access fund in Philadelphia, the Women’s Medical Fund. That was my introduction to the pro-choice movement, and I fell in love. After graduating, I continued volunteering for the fund so I could remain a part of the community working to make sure that women have access to save abortions. When I moved to New York a few months ago, I wanted to find a way to continue this reproductive justice work. After attending a few NYAAF events, I applied to be on the board, and luckily for me, they accepted me!

2.  What inspired you to start the IAmDrTiller website?
Instead of trying to summarize that in a few words, I actually wrote an article about this for On the Issues Magazine. I wanted to create a space to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Tiller and share the experiences of abortion providers.

3.  What was the motivation behind the #ihadanabortion hashtag on Twitter?
It is not, as some have suggested, politics. I could have done this a week ago or last year with the same motivations. Unfortunately, abortion carries a stigma no matter who is in power. Last week, I read this blog post where the writer compares the modern pro-choice movement to the gay rights movement in the 1970s. What strengthened the gay rights movement then, according to her, was people coming out, and the general public realizing that homosexuality is more common and prevalent (and normal!) than they ever imagined. The author of the post posed an interesting question: why don’t we do that for abortion rights? That really struck a chord with me. The anti-choice movement has tried to make abortion the sin of a few bad women. In reality, abortion is a regular part of women’s lives. [Read more...]

Liveblogging a Medical Abortion

I’m not really sure what to make of Angie Jackson, a 27-year-old mother who’s live-Tweeting her medical abortion.

In an interview with blogger Jessica Wakeman at The Frisky, Angie discusses her reasons for sharing her abortion in such a public way:

“[W] what I was trying to say to people who find themselves in this position is that I was relieved to find out that I had this non-surgical option [the abortion pill] and that I was early enough [in my pregnancy] to get it. I was so relieved to see how simple it’s been. The actual process has been like a menstrual period. It’s not foreign or scary.”

De-mystifying both medical and surgical abortion is an admirable goal; a lot of women who seek abortion care don’t really know what to expect, and this lack of knowledge can cause unnecessary worry and stress. And just as it’s every woman’s right to choose what is best for her and her family, it’s also every woman’s – heck, every person’s – right to share their reasons in as public a manner as they want. It would be nice to think that Twittering an abortion is one more step in the long-overdue normalization of a very common medical procedure, but is anyone well served by reducing a complicated subject to 140 characters?

More Thoughts on the Generational Divide

social-networking-logosThe New York Times had a story yesterday about the generational divide that exists in the pro-choice movement. Author Sheryl Stolberg argued that women who have come of age in a post-Roe world take their reproductive rights for granted.

“Here is a generation that has never known a time when abortion has been illegal,” said Anna Greenberg, a Democratic pollster who studies attitudes toward abortion. “For many of them, the daily experience is: It’s legal and if you really need one you can probably figure out how to get one. So when we send out e-mail alerts saying, ‘Oh my God, write to your senator,’ it’s hard for young people to have that same sense of urgency.”

Stolberg does go on to state that although Gen X and younger hasn’t lived in a world where abortion is illegal, they are active in the fight to protect reproductive rights. She quotes yours truly, and then gives an example of the Stop Stupak group on Facebook. Stolberg argues that the current generation of feminists is using the internet to change the face or organizing, but she neglected to mention that social networking and blogging has substantially changed the movement’s ability to efficiently mobilize its members. [Read more...]

An accused “cis sexist” seeks to educate herself and others, gives big thanks to Twitter

The butterfly is an international symbol for the transgender community.

The butterfly is an international symbol for the transgender community.

I have to thank Twitter for educating me about an issue that continues to have an increasing importance in all societies. Although I was hesitant to start a Twitter account in the first place I now admit it has really broadened my horizons!

One area that I have had my awareness raised by Twitter is in the area of language. One term that I have learned is “cis sexist” or “cis gay.” I fully admit I was not familiar with this term  before seeing it on Twitter, but after seeing in in several Tweets I did a few Google searches on the term.

Although there is actually very little on the web about cis sexism, my understanding is that “cis” refers to a person who is comfortable identifying with the gender they were born with. “Cis sexist” or “cis gay” is being used, most commonly on Twitter, to describe cis individuals who do not respect or acknowledge the struggle of transgender individuals, or those who muddle gay rights issues and transgender issues together inappropriately.

Last week I was “drop kicked” by one of my followers on Twitter and publicly accused of being “cis sexist.” Ouch! [Read more...]

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