Monthly Archives: March 2010

Why I’m moving to North Carolina…

My enormous appetite for news has left me this week with three articles that prove what a complete if not diverse mess the state of Illinois really is and why I really should consider moving to North Carolina ( or any other state for that matter.)

1. NY Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/27/opinion/27collins.html?th&emc=th

Gail Collin’s writes a graphic article about the state of politics in IL. It was enough to make me throw up in my mouth a little.

2. NPR story: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125076655

NPR shows the horrible awful truth of the state’s pension deficit: each man, woman and child would need to fork out over $6,000 to get the state out of its pension debt.

3. Tribune blog: http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/entertainment_tv/2010/03/celebrity-apprentice-recap-episode-3.html

With his inability to form a coherent sentence nor add any real value even to a reality TV show, Blago on “The Apprentice” is just embarrassing.

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We have a major problem in America: There aren’t enough explosion-ridden action books to keep our boys reading!

I love Nicholas Kristof’s reporting, from the genocide in Darfur to the empowerment of women business owners in Pakistan to malnutrition of infants in India, the man covers the world better than any other journalist.

With so much love for the man I hate to write this but what was he thinking with this Sunday’s column (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/28/opinion/28kristof.html?th&emc=th) ? The basic premise of his column was boys are lagging behind girls in reading and verbal skills; a devastating problem that can be fixed with books based on wrestling and explosions.

Kristof admits that “men are still hugely overrepresented in Congress, on executive boards, and in the corridors of power” but he sees this trend of boys losing ground on verbal skills as a serious danger to America’s education system and the future for our men in power.

And although I agree with Kristof’s final conclusion of “our future depends on making the best use of human capital we can, whether it belongs to girls or boys,” I can’t agree with his mode of transportation to this future of talented human capital. I do not believe that “nurturing boys with explosions” through action-laden books is the going to make boys’ verbal IQ jump through the non-existent ceiling.

First, let’s examine the inequality. Although girls outperform boys in reading and verbal skills, boys still beat girls in math, an inequality plaguing every generation since standardized tests were invented. Where boys used to beat their female counterparts in every subject, they now lag behind in reading where girls have flourished. And why have girls flourished? Perhaps because they are told they can. Reading is a subject socially acceptable and even mandatory for girls to excel in just as math is a subject socially divvied out to boys. The bulbs flourish and grow where you plant them. Tell girls they are naturally good readers an they will be better readers. Tell boys they aren’t and that reading is a “girl thing” than all the explosions in the world won’t save your boys’ verbal SAT score.

Girls and boys have been captivated by theses tales of two adventurous kids (with only the occasional explosion) for years

Second let’s look at the solution: more “appealing” books for boys or more gender-stereotyped “male” books. The solution to ending a problem created by the bifurcation of gender should be solved by further bifurcating the genders. While we are handing out the fart books to boys why don’t we just give the girls “the joy of cooking” and call it a successful gender-defined day? Boys don’t need action books anymore than girls need math problems written out in purple glitter pens. They need more encouragement and attention given to reading early in life; they need to feel like as boys they can still be readers of any genre (body-function genres included).

And finally, let’s not forget that girls still lag behind in math and science, a fact that is just as detrimental to our “human capital” as boys lower verbal scores.  I don’t have a quick and easy solution to the gap (although algerbra taught by my little pony would be cool). What is needed is a shift in how we look at education. We should not be trying to teach by gender but trying to engage children in learning through what their interests are. Maybe Joey really likes history; get him to read Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Maybe Susan really likes building blocks; show her what a 90 degree angle is. Our children’s education and the books they read should not be determined by their gender but by their true interests. And although it would be much easier to say all boys like explosions and farts (or exploding farts hahaha) and all girls like fairy tails and ponies, our children, thank god, are not that simple.

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Is Feminism Really Outdated? Are Hipsters the new Feminists?

Venus Zine, a Chicago-based magazine dedicated to covering everything indie, grrrl and feminist for the last decade, has been sold to the 47-year-old Ms. Beardsley who believes that feminism or the “f word” as the new publisher refers to it, is “old-fashioned” (as reported in the Chicago Reader: http://www.chicagoreader.com/gyrobase/venus-magazine-amy-schroeder-sarah-beardsley/Content?oid=1570058&storyPage=1.)

From a grass-roots zine paid for by the young creator Amy Schroeder’s side jobs to the next “Oprah magazine for hipster ladies” as one loyal reader refered to the new Venus design, it seems Venus magazine like the third wave of feminism is headed for the mediocore town of mainstream consumerism.

What the new feminist looks like

Quoted from the Chicago Reader article about the “new” Venus, Ms. Bardsley has this to say about that dreadful “f word.”

“That’s such a word fraught with interpretation and meaning,” she said. “We don’t use that particular F word around here. It just doesn’t seem relevant.” She called feminism “an old-fashioned concept” and explained that “it doesn’t enter into our discussions about what we’re going to cover and what have you.” She said, “We’re much more into discovering trends, talent, whatever they are, and they can come in all shapes, sizes, genders, and forms.”

Or she is discovering that you can’t sell feminism but you sure can sell American Apparell to any quasi-hipster girl who wants to be “different.” (For proof of this thought just see the zine’s new website: http://www.venuszine.com)

And what does the creator have to say about all this change headed for her zine?

“That’s the unfortunate thing about feminism,” she said. “People are scared of the F word. I think when a lot of people nowadays think of feminism they think of sort of the 1970s version of feminist women burning bras and being very intense and setting up lots of rules and structures. I have a great deal of respect for all the feminism movements. It was a very strong political movement and a lot of good came out of it and it took years and years for that good to occur. But I don’t know that people make a direct correlation between that and their doing feminist things—like working.” She laughed. “And getting an education. Today more women are getting educations than their male counterparts…In my time at Venus, my goal was to make feminism acceptable. When there’s a day when women get the recognition they deserve in the arts that will be a wonderful day and maybe Venus will no longer need to exist. But until then Venus does need to exist.”

Unfortunetly for young women in Chicago, the feminism they crave from Venus is being replaced by mainstream, socially acceptable, hipster-ridden version of “female power” Beardsley is selling.

And for this 24-year-old FEMINIST writer, feminism is not “old-fashioned” ; it is not out of date and it is not mainstream. Unfortunetly for feminists everywhere it is also not marketable nor cool enough to be seen in skinny jeans. For those feminists of us who don’t want to wear anything spandex from American Apparell that costs $45.95, I guess you are just out of luck for this wave. Maybe the fourth wave will be more forgiving with its fashion trends.

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One psychiatrist says “Let men be men” on CNN.com. I say let “Feminists be Feminists and Shut Up Louann Brizendine.”

The title is catchy, intriguing and says absolutely nothing substantial: “Love, sex and the male brain.” So of course, we all must read it (at http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/03/23/brizendine.male.brain/index.html?hpt=C2) . What new news could this well-established psychiatrist have about the men and women and the separate planets we live on?

The Breakdown of the Male Brain

It turns out nothing really new except a slight spin on 21st century patriarchy. Let’s look at some of the highlights.

1)      Testosterone=Beer

“If testosterone were beer, a 9-year-old boy would be getting the equivalent of a cup a day. But a 15-year-old would be getting the equivalent of nearly two gallons a day. This fuels their sexual engines and makes it impossible for them to stop thinking about female body parts and sex.”

Ms. Briz seems to imagine an obvious connection between alcohol, a substance that depraves the brain of oxygen making vision blur, relaxing muscles and making men much better dancers/singers/lovers than previous thought, with testosterone, a substances that makes boys voices drop, balls hang and genital hair sprout. I’m missing that “obvious” connection. Testosterone is a naturally occurring chemical in both men and women that creates human responses varying from increased aggressiveness to increased libido to increased acne. Testosterone does not equal a man-made substance often used to create excuses of man-made behaviors such as bad dancing, singing or love-making.

2) The “Man Trance”

“All that testosterone drives the “Man Trance”– that glazed-eye look a man gets when he sees breasts. As a woman who was among the ranks of the early feminists, I wish I could say that men can stop themselves from entering this trance. But the truth is, they can’t.”

I have not often been witness to this naturally occurring “Man Trance.” Maybe it is because I live in Boystown, and apparently this “man trance” along with the rest of this article only inflicts itself on extremely heterosexual males. The fact is not all men glaze over when a breast is in a 10 foot radius. The fact is not all men even like breasts. So saying this as some sort of inevitable truth is like saying all women need a pint of ice cream during their periods when some of us prefer deep-dish pizza or a good lay.

3)      Men’s breasts= Women’s butterflies

“Men look at attractive women the way we look at pretty butterflies.”

I hate butterflies so this is obviously wrong. One astute commenter had this witty response: “So if i cover myself with butterflies women will look at me more?”

4)      Women don’t have sex they only make love

“The female brain is driven to seek security and reliability in a potential mate before she has sex. But a male brain is fueled to mate and mate again.”

This myth just needs to die. Not even Ms. Briz has any “scientific” proof of this one other than her own authority as a psychiatrist and a woman. The fact is woman have sex, make love or just plain fuck for a lot of different reasons; just like men. Unfortunately we are not all simplistic enough to only have one motivation behind the potentially life-giving action of sex.

5)      Men are hard wired for poker faces

“Studies of men’s faces show that the male brain’s initial emotional reaction can be stronger than the female brain’s. But within 2.5 seconds, he changes his face to hide the emotion, or even reverse it. The repeated practice of hiding his emotions gives men the classic poker face.”

This seems to be refuting all of Ms. Briz’s points. A man has an initial emotional reaction and then 2.5 seconds later his actions change not because of a natural difference in the way his brain responds but because of a learned response. At the heart of Ms. Briz’s article is this conundrum. How do we determine that these brain reactions are “natural” and not “learned”? As countless studies have shown, we can change the ways our brains react whether through therapy or meditation. Nature is not has natural as Ms. Briz would like to assume.

6)      Men are problem solvers not feelers

“With practice and because of the way their brains are wired, men use their analytical brain structures, not their emotional ones, to find a solution.”

I’ve had too many boys crying on my very womanly yet rationale shoulder over easily solvable life problems to believe that men are somehow more solution-driven than women. This “fact” is also rather insulting to those of us “rationale” women out there who also love to problem solve; an activity that surprising enough is not mutually exclusive from emotion. If we are to believe this one, we must also believe men are naturally better at the sciences and all women are meant to be teachers, social workers or homemakers. I think we already had a revolution to disclaim this one.

7)      Boys will be boys

“The best advice I have for women is make peace with the male brain. Let men be men.”

Yes boys will be boys; that is until we start being women. It has taken women centuries, if not a millennium, to learn to be subordinate to men. It might take another millennium to even the playing fields of gender back to their rightful non-condescending ways. But until women start being the women they were born and want to be, boys will continue to live the way they are taught, chasing after each and every butterfly that flits their way.

The largest flaw Ms. Briz’s logic is the idea that women must let “men be men”; that women have to ignore there own possible nature or nurture instincts in order to let the habits of men prevail. If he wants to check out other women but your “natural, womanly” instinct is to get upset, well you better suppress that god-given brain synapse because a man’s natural desire to impregnate everything he sees is more worthy than your desire to slap that stupid bug-eyed look out of his head.

I hate to say it but this type of logic is still evidence of patriarchy in our society. (Ugg I know patriarchy; that horrible awful feminist word. Aren’t we all equal yet?)  We may be able to give our babies’ lengthy hyphenated last names but in the end we still must defer to the emotions and natural instincts of men. Why? Because men’s natures are more worthy? More just? More reasonable? Or are they somehow just more natural? Or could it be that men’s emotions have just ruled this unjust world for so long that we somehow now believe even patriarchy is natural?

Ms. Brizendine, feel free to let your men be men and let yourself go on being the self-denying woman you have been trained so well to be. As for me, I’m going to let myself, and the wonderful men in my life, be the fair, just, rational, emotional, beyond-sexual-definition human beings our brains and bodies mean us to be regardless of how society chooses to define our genders.

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Hallelujah! Health Care for All has Passed! Well almost….

Let’s all just be honest for a second. The majority of us have no clue what this new Health Care Reform bill is really about. I don’t even know what it is officially called. At one point it was the Affordable Health Care for America Act…but I think that had too much of a “socialist” sound to it for the Republicans. Maybe it is now the watered-down-we’re-not-Canada-health-care-reform bill?

Nancy Pelosi is credited for getting the final Democrat votes needed to pass the health care reform

Whatever the name and whether or not the “average” American can understand it, the news is still huge. Under the new act, millions of uninsured will have the opportunity to buy health insurance at reasonable prices, insurance companies can no longer deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, and people will not be saddled with thousands of dollars of medical debt because of one car accident, one cancerous lump or one medical misfortune.

Oh and women covered under this new glorious health care bill can no longer receive abortions. Or more specifically, women who want “abortion insurance” will have to pay a separate monthly premium for the service if they chose to enroll in the federal insurance program. The extra premium is meant to keep federal money out of the abortion business and keep the socio economic disparities enacted with the Hyde Amendment in the 70’s alive and well. Low-income women or under-insured women now have to make the decision whether or not they want to pay extra money every month incase they have an unwanted pregnancy.

What woman when filling out her federal insurance form is thinking, oh yeah better check the abortion box! You never know when the condom will break or my birth control will fail? No one will. No woman is using abortion as her main source for reproductive health. And no woman wants to wants to pay monthly for a service she never intends on using.

Despite attempts to create a bi-partisan bill, the health care reform act recieved all nays from the Republicans

And the Stupak Amendment (seriously why does his name have to look so much like stupid), instead of improving the health of women in the United States, will only complicate newly federally insured women’s medical decision to have an abortion. The stupid amendment will only add confusion and frustration to a process that is already confusing and frustrating enough.

All that said, the health care reform bill will do great good for millions of uninsured women. It will give them access to preventative health care, mammograms, cholesterol screenings, prenatal care, and a whole list ofother wonderful health benefits that every woman should have the right to while only denying the right to a safe, legal abortion. In the grand scheme, many are saying not such a bad deal for women.

The question for me remains, why does a Stupak get to decide what medical rights I have and what medical right I don’t have? Why does a man in Washington D.C. get to decide what is best for a single mother of two who can not afford another child? Why is abortion even part of this debate? And where will the provisions, amendments and sanctions end?

But, like I said, none of us really know what this new bill is. So I suggest we all keep reading and investigating and fighting for our right to have ALL our health care needs met including that right to choose. Below are a few sources for additional information:

Chicago Tribune did a decent job reciting what the president said in his speech late last night. “This is what change looks like,” the president said. Man, that guy has a good speech writer! http://www.swamppolitics.com/news/politics/blog/2010/03/obamas_healthcare_win_this_is.html

NY Times gives an interesting view on what Obama lost and gained with the passing of the reform: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/22/health/policy/22assess.html?th&emc=th

Also at the NY Times, specifics on abortion provisions:
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/03/19/us/politics/20100319-health-care-reconciliation.html?ref=policy#tab=12

Salon’s Broadsheet gives the opinion of the former President of Catholics for a Free Choice:
http://www.salon.com/news/abortion/index.html?story=/mwt/broadsheet/2010/03/21/repeal_hyde_amendment

Salon also gives a summery of the democrats who voted against the bill:
http://www.salon.com/news/healthcare_reform/index.html?story=/news/the_numerologist/2010/03/21/courageous_and_cowardly_democrats

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Health Care and my Uterus: How I came to be on the sides of Catholic Nuns over House Democrats

The front woman for "liberal journalism"

I’ll admit it. I have hated Maureen Dowd. There was one notorious day back in ‘09 when she decided the first lady’s bulging biceps were somehow NYTimes-Sunday-OpEd worthy; and I threw in the towel.

But she has redeemed herself with this Sunday’s to-the-chauvinistic-point OpEd about the Catholic churches and Bart Stupak’s dismissal of the voice of the Catholic nuns. (Read Dowd’s article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/21/opinion/21dowd.html?th&emc=th).

Quite simply she framed the plight of Catholic nuns as the same fight I am having for control of my uterus with Rep. Stupak. As Dowd says “For decades, the nuns did the bidding of the priests, cleaned up their messes, and watched as their male superiors let a perverted stain spread over the entire church, a stain that has now even reached the Holy See.” And now when they tried to give their much humbled and experience opinions, they are shushed by bishops and dismissed by Stupak at “knuckle wrapping” nuns.

In much the same way, I have watched Stupak and others debate the “abortion language” and decide whether or not my right to chose would be included in the sweeping health care reform. The voice of reason does not seem to matter on this one; the male house Democrats’ ears are closed to the simple fact that this debate is about health care not abortion; that my uterus has nothing to do with saving the lives of the uninsured.

The dust still has to clear on the health care reform but the debate on abortion will continue and the lines will be with drawn. But for one Sunday I can say I was on the side of Maureen Down and Catholic nuns everywhere.

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From Jezebel: 5 Things Every Girl Should Do Alone (plus a few more I threw in there)

According to an article on jezebel.com (http://jezebel.com/5494785/5-things-every-woman-should-do-alone-at-least-once) there are 5 things every girl (single or otherwise engaged) should do alone at some point in her life. I’ve created my own list of 5 things every Chicago girl should do alone!

5 Things a Girl Should Do Alone in Her Life

1. Eat Out Alone: Whether is is sashimi or a philly steak sandwich, a girl has got to eat. So why not treat yourself to a meal free from any one else’s picky eating habits. Bring a book, the New Yorker, or just your own marvelous company.

2. Go to the Movies: Without having to worry what your friend’s will think of your NEED to see the Twilight saga, go to the movies, sit where you want, eat that giant bucket of popcorn by yourself and enjoy!

3. See a Rock Show: Maybe your friends don’t have an appreciation for hard-core Christian Rock like you do, maybe no one else wants to see the reunion tour of Ace of Base (a girl can dream), either way go rock out by yourself and know no one is judging your sweet Jersey Shore dance moves.

4. Travel: Morocco or Miami? Toronto or Trinidad? London or Lithuania? Wherever you go, traveling alone means never having to say “Sorry I just threw up on your lap,” or “Sorry but I just can’t see one more Roman Catholic Church from the 17th century no matter what saint got his head chopped off there.”

As long as you are stocked with sugary treats and "Gone with the Wind" on audio, road trippin' it by yourself is the perfect get-away

5. Take a Road Trip: Armed with a passenger seat full of junk food and your very own personalized mixed cd, road tripping it by yourself can be enlightening, rewarding and occasionally constipating (go easy on the Doritos and throw in an apple every 100 miles).

Five more Things Every Chicago Woman Should do Alone

1. Visit the Art Institute on free Thursday nights. One never does really know what to say to a friend at the Art Institute besides “Boy that van Gogh sure knew his shit.” Take out the need for clever, artsy observations and you’ve got yourself a night full of art and free of pretension. Check out the AI newest exhibits on their website: http://www.artic.edu/aic/

2. Take in a comedy show. This is Chicago; home of second city, SNL legends and more free comedy than should be legally allowable. A single gal can mix right into the comedy crowd in Chicago; just get yourself a PBR and a corner table and let yourself be entertained. Here are just a few of the comedy venues throughout the city:
Second City: http://www.secondcity.com/
Lincoln Lodge: http://www.thelincolnlodge.com/
IO Theater: http://chicago.ioimprov.com/
Every Tuesday Beat Kitchen has an underground comedy show: http://www.beatkitchen.com/calendar.htm
Lake Shore Theater: http://www.lakeshoretheater.com/default.aspx

3. Take Guitar Lessons… or pottery classes, or learn to sketch or learn to make jewelry; just take a class by yourself in Chicago. Walking into class not even knowing how to hold a guitar is an surprisingly exciting feeling. Embrace all that you don’t know and try something totally different. Below are a few recommendations but let your spirit animal guide you to your creative outlet.
Music lessons: Old Towne School of Music http://www.oldtownschool.org/strummer/
Art: Lill Street Art Center http://www.lillstreet.com/
Pottery: http://comeplaywithclay.com/

Learning G can make your hand cramp, but taking a class by yourself unleashes all that creative power you thought you lost in 2nd grade art class

4. Go to a bar…yes alone. Go check out that corner pub you have always wanted to go to but isn’t your usual “scene.” Get a beer, a martini, a wine spritzer and chill out.
Personal favorite sitting alone bar: Towne Hall Pub in Boytown http://www.myspace.com/townhallpub

5. Try a stranger’s “mingler.” This one could also be interpreted as “don’t go on Match.com” single ladies. The principle behind the mingler is no one knows each other and every one wants to get to know a stranger. Through food, a few ice breakers and probably some wine, strangers in Chicago become friends, business partners and, yes, dates. One chicago enterpenuer has set up her own mingler site: http://macncheeseproductions.com/Minglers.html. There are also more official networking versions of the mingler through YNPN: http://www.ynpnchicago.org/s/269/start.aspx

The message of the story ladies is this, you should really be able to do anything you want to do alone. This world if filled with an infinite amount of gloriously single-appropriate opportunities; don’t miss out just because you didn’t have the right date for the occasion!

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Small Stature, Tremendous Talent: Company of Thieves’ Front Woman Steals the Show

For almost two years, the Chicago-native band “Company of Thieves” has been hawking their debut album “Ordinary Riches” in every city and venue that would put up a stage in the corner; and at every city and venue all 5-feet-nothing of lead singer Genevieve Schatz steals the stage with her free-flowing vocals that vibrate with all the emotion of the lyrics matched with her seemingly seamless improvised stage performance.

Despite having to nurse her cold-scratched throat with tea before going on stage, Schatz delivered a full-bodied performance at last night’s St. Patty’s Day performance at Mystic Celt. Schatz whirled and jived to each song, while guitarist Marc Walloch danced with his guitar along side. Even keyboarder, Mike Miamone, infused the band with energy, standing on top of his chair for the band’s claim to fame song “Oscar Wilde,” inciting cheers from a Miller lited up crowd.

Genevieve Schatz's vocals rock the Celt

Although the band only had a chance to play four of their songs, they plugged one new song “Queen of Hearts” from their yet-to-be-released album. With Schatz’s distinctively raw yet hushed vocals backed up with strong chords, the sample of the new album promises to bring Chicago even more reason to be proud of this native band and their powerhouse front woman.

If you missed last night’s performance make sure to check out the band at Lincoln Hall tonight at 7 p.m. http://www.lincolnhallchicago.com/

To learn more about the band see their site at http://www.companyofthieves.net/.

Matisyahu, who also performed at the Mystic Celt on St. Patty's Day, beatboxes and harmonizes in the same breath

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A new spin on sensationalism journalism: The Red Eye’s attempt to make chastity news

Chicagoans were greeted this morning by this blaring headline on the RedEye: “No Sex in the City for these Chicagoans. Let’s cut to the chaste: Some Chicagoans are reclaiming their virginity.” (see the article here: http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/redeye/2010/03/no-sex-in-the-city-for-these-chicagoans.html ) Although the RedEye gets half a point for managing to use chaste as a pun, they lose 10 heavy points of credibility for trying to pass off this article as “news.”

Just because Bristol Palin and a “real” Jersey housewife have recently vowed to stay sex-free till marriage, does not mean an abstinence trend is locking up the chastity belts of men and women across the U.S.  Let’s not forget a time with Brittany Spears and Jessica Simpson were both also going to stay chaste till the chapel.  Now Brittany is the half-naked mother of two and Jessica is “sexual napalm.”  The fact is (as printed in the RedEye) a whopping 78% of young Americas have gotten their sexy on this year, and no one should be claiming Americans are brining chastity back.

Although the RedEye attempted to abide by journalistic standards of “fair and balanced “by including both a male and female sexless single, from the front cover of the pouty-lipped Susan Anthony to the gender-defined quotes throughout, it is clear they were as successful as Fox News.

Anthony is quoted as saying, “Don’t get me wrong — I used to enjoy sex and I’m looking forward to experiencing that with my future husband.” Although her choice is respectable, when this quote is put next to a sexy head shot photo of Anthony in a fur coat, hair whipping in the wind, it becomes less plausible. Her statement seems to be saying women should be most sexy by not having sex; a double standard that should have been burnt with the bras in the 70s.

As for the male perspective, George Souri claims he was just sick of manipulating girls into sleeping with him. Now he basically wants to “respect IT [my emphasis, Souri was referring to a woman’s body] in the right way.” He continues to say a woman’s body is sacred and not just a set of parts to use or take for granted. To say this is to take away a woman’s own control and determination of her body and to deny the connection between a woman’s body and her being. It is also puts the emphasis on a woman’s purity and on a man’s responsibility to keep her pure.  But perhaps if society stopped looking at IT or a woman’s body as a thing that needed to be either honored (or manipulated) and started seeing women as entire beings of mind, heart and body, we would not need to restrict a woman’s sexuality.

Finally, this focus on chastity, abstinence or the sexless single life, however one chooses to look at it, is not beneficial to society especially those choosing to have sex. The Guttmacher Institute(http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_sexEd2006.html)  has proven that abstinence-only sex ed programs directly increased the number of unplanned teen pregnancies. The reality is not everyone chooses to withstand from sex; for many reason men and women chose to enjoy sex, experiment with sex and make sex part of their lives.

Pardon the blatant feminist rant, but perhaps we need another sexual revolution. This time instead of woman’s body being something to be separated and honored on the altar of purity or something that can just be purely enjoyed; it should be a part of the woman just as her mind and soul is part of her. Perhaps in our revolution we can learn to love each other and fuck each other equally with a kind of respect that demands no one to stay pure in order to find sexual satisfaction, intimacy or love.

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To be a feminist director, you have to not be a feminist

After Kathryn Bigelow’s glass-shattering Oscar win a few weeks ago, there has been endless discussion about the first woman in Oscar history to win best director. Everything from her too “macho” movies to her “willowy” frame, has been discussed, dissected and eventually devoured by feminist writers, anti-feminist writers and writers with out any gender alliance at all.

This Sunday’s NY Times (read here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/14/movies/14dargis.html?th&emc=th)  featured another glimpse of Bigelow as a female director carefully and skillfully treading the line between empowered Hollywood woman and brilliant gender-neutral director.

Nothing points out this politically daunting feat better than this anecdote about a 60 Minutes interview with Bigelow.

“During the interview Ms. Bigelow explained to the apparently baffled Ms. Stahl [60 minutes interviewer] the meaning of scopophilia, a significant word in feminist film theory, though Ms. Bigelow kept gender out of her definition (“the desire to watch and identify with what you’re watching”). She insisted that there was no difference between what she and a male director might do, even as she also conceded that ‘the journey for women, no matter what venue it is — politics, business, film — it’s, it’s a long journey.’”

While using the language of feminism, Bigelow explains the intricacies of gender in film without offending either male or female audiences. She is able point out obvious inequalities in the film industry, while still making her larger point that audiences want to watch something they identify with whether that is directed by a man or woman.

What the Bigelow’s of this great American art world teach us is that women need to be given free reign to create art without the restrictions of categories and without the obligatory vocabulary of feminism. The art women create should be valued because it is art and beautiful not because it was created by a woman and not because it somehow is a ode to feminism.

We will know that world has changed when a “chick flick,” that is a movie for which female audiences identify, wins an Oscar and nobody even notices if the director is male or female. But as Bigelow so diplomatically says that could be a “long journey.”

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