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...]

Rio +20: Women + Environment = Empowerment

On June 20-22nd, hundreds of organizations will gather in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, while the Heads of State and Government will meet as part of the United Nations Conference on sustainable Development, Rio +20, to review progress on issues about environment and development. Activists around the world come to attend the discussions, share and exchange ideas, make contacts and promote changes – many focusing on women’s rights and gender equality.

The destruction of the natural resources of the Planet and the exploitation of women are two models of domination with common origins and characteristics. Indeed, the links between anti-science and anti-choice have the same detractors : the Christian fundamentalists who play an important role in anti science thoughts such creationism and climatological skepticism.

Women’s initiatives for a sustainable environment are a source of inspiration for actions in favor of environment and sustainable development. There is a feminist trend of thought which deals with such matters named ecofeminism or social ecofeminism according to  the different points of view. [Read more...]

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...]

I Was A Pro-Life Teenager

Today’s guest post comes from Philippa Willitts, a British freelance writer who also blogs for The F-WordWhere’s the Benefit?, and her own personal blog. She can be found procrastinating on twitter both personally (@incurablehippie) and professionally (@philippawrites), and she enjoys good food, good friends, and nature. 

I grew up Roman Catholic. Nearly all my friends were Catholic, I went to Catholic state schools, and I went to Mass weekly. I took my faith very seriously, and although I was critical of some of the Church’s mandates, such as the ban on contraception, I fell for the anti-choice rhetoric hook, line, and sinker.

The thing is that when you are a rather sensitive teenager, and somebody tells you that people are killing babies, there is no way to understand that other than with horror. Killing babies? This must be stopped!

The thing is, I had no access to an alternative viewpoint. The internet was a mere twinkle in Tim Berners-Lee’s eye, and anyway, what possible arguments could there be FOR killing babies?

[Read more...]

Fellated fish and dead chickens or – how a woman’s body can be used to sell just about anything

Sourced from

I spent a day last week off work due to stomach flu , so I was catching up on talking cats, gossip and other wonders I don’t usually have time for during a work day. While I was busy investigating the glory of the Internet, my Mom sent me a link to the website of a chicken slaughterhouse. My Mom’s a law professor and doesn’t usually spend her days trawling the Web in search of places to kill the farm animals she doesn’t have. But one really does not have to have the least bit of an interest in poultry to find this site, or rather its banner, “amusing.”

You can keep rubbing your eyes and it won’t go away. This chicken slaughterhouse in North-western Poland thought it’s a good idea to advertise its chicken killing services by having a “hot blonde” in a bikini pose surrounded by chickens (which will presumably have their heads chopped off at any minute). I don’t know about you, but by golly, I wouldn’t want my chickens killed anywhere else now that I’ve seen this.

This obviously isn’t the first loosely food-related disturbing ad I’ve seen, but one other especially stuck in my mind. My husband and I were on a trip to Southern Ukraine (he was working and I was being the awesome supportive partner), when walking in Yalta we bumped into this:   [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...]

One Last Look at 2011

2012 is barely a week and a half old and the bad news is already pouring in for American women. People are actually  listening to Rick Santorum. 2/3 of all new jobs are going to men. And just in case we rang in the New Year with a smidgen of hope, an anti-choice charmer decided the day would be better spent by setting a Florida abortion clinic on fire.

Before we take a deep breath and stare down whatever else 2012 has in store, I’d like to remember that even in the year that was a war against women we had some good news. In no particular order–and in alarmingly varied degrees of significance–I give you my:

Top Ten Feel-Good Feminist Moments of 2011

1. Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords Appears In Congress (August 1, 2011)

In the midst of that nonsensical debt ceiling debate she was a one-woman argument for gender parity: for at least a second or two. Appearing in Congress for the first time since she was shot, she led by example, showing the nation exactly how having a woman in the room can change the culture of an overwhelmingly (dysfunctional) male institution. [Read more...]

Pennsylvania Wants to Make Abortion Safer by … Closing Safe Clinics?

Apparently Pennsylvania has decided to follow in Virginia’s ill-advised footsteps, at least when it comes to regulating abortion clinics out of existence. The state House has approved a bill that would require clinics to adhere to new structural guidelines and staffing procedures that would likely be expensive and logistically difficult. If it is passed, the bill – which includes requirements like upgrading elevators and doubling the size of procedure rooms – could force “most, if not all” of the state’s 20 freestanding clinics to either move or stop offering abortion services entirely.

The bill’s supporters argue that this level of regulation is needed in the wake of allegations surrounding Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia-area doctor that was charged earlier this year in the death of seven infants and one woman. Republican Rep. Matt Baker, chairman of the House Health Committee, claims that the bill “is about patient safety and preventing future cases of murder and infanticide within abortion clinics.” What Baker and his colleagues seem to miss is that different building codes would not have made a difference in the Gosnell case;  larger exam rooms aren’t exactly going to deter someone from practicing the kind of bad medicine that Gosnell is accused of.  [Read more...]

Women of Occupy Wall Street

Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post comes to us via Emily Matthews. Emily is currently applying to masters degree programs across the U.S., and loves to read about new research into health care, gender issues, and literature. Emily lives and writes in Seattle, Washington.

Objectifying women when they want is to be heard is nothing new. But to demean women, as Steven Greenstreet did in “Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street”, in a venue where Americans should be joining together to speak up for the disenfranchised class that has risen to an estimated 99% of the population, is in especially poor taste. Trivializing women by focusing on their hair, lips, and eyes goes beyond a minor social transgression.

Much like the crime the banks perpetrated against American citizens, objectification is yet another form of exploitation that renders its victims surprised and speechless at first, without an automatic recourse. The damage is done before the victim knows what happened. It doesn’t take  masters degree to see that this act parallels what happened to the average American citizen when the banks’ and investment houses’ greed left most citizens stunned, with diminishing investments and few job prospects, Greenstreet has robbed these women in his video of the right to say, “No.” He invaded their privacy and paraded their images across America in his video for his own enjoyment.

Women across the country weighed in on Greenstreet’s stunt. [Read more...]

Women of the Anti-Choice Movement

Recently, The Washington Post ran an article about anti-choice women. “A Feminine Face for the Anti-Choice Movement” focused on several female anti-choice leaders, including Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List; Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life; and Penny Nance, chief executive of Concerned Women for America, among others.

According to Washington Post writer Lisa Miller, these women were representatives of a “major strategic shift in the abortion war” and not just because they put forth a warmer, less crotchety image than anti-choice leaders like Jerry Falwell. Because while older male leaders were unable to relate to “a poor woman with no support system and a bunch of kids at home” who was facing an unwanted pregnancy, these women are somehow able to relate, simply because they are working mothers.

The idea that no matter how much you disagree with a message, hearing it come from someone of your gender makes it better, is simplistic and sexist. If that really is the belief that the anti-choice movement is working under, then it gives women even less credit than I imagined. [Read more...]