Monday, April 28, 2008

Final thoughts on current events.

we talked a lot in class about the polygamous sect in southwest texas. our discussion focused on what would happen to the children involved. some people thought they should stay with their mothers, while others said they should be taken away from their mothers. after reading this story today i feel strongly that they should be taken away from their mothers. there were 31 out of 53 TEENAGE girls (14-17) who were either pregnant or had children of their own. that's just disgusting. and i seriously doubt it would be in their best interests to be put back into their mothers' care because obviously that didn't go so well the first time around. how can mothers let their own children be forced upon/ raped/ have sexual relations with men triple their age? here's the link if you want to read it:

and second, i'm sure this is old news by now, but i mistakenly thought that someone had already posted it. here, a yale art major documented herself having different self-induced miscarriages over a nine month period. the exhibit was supposed to include video recordings of each instance, but has since been banned/ postponed indefinitely. her goal was to spark conversation and well, it worked. now every rational human being thinks this chick is a crackpot that needs to be kicked out of yale. seriously, this is up there with the goldfish in blenders exhibit & the dying dog exhibit--all in the name of "art." i mean i'm all for art & abstract, but this crosses the line. i think those before us worked so hard for the roe v. wade decision & the whole premise of this "art exhibit" is just disrespectful and non-appreciative of what that decision meant as far as its impact on women's rights. not to mention it adds fuel to the pro-lifers' fire. this girl needs to get smacked in the head.

You've Come A Long Way, Baby

As I prepare for the final for this class, I am struck again on how often it has seemed like htere was no real answer to problems and situations presented by the various topics we covered. Over and over again, it seems, we would hit upon a problem and come to the conclusion that the only way to truly solve the problem would be to end discrimination against women. So much of the time it seems like time and education are the only real solutions - hopefully we are rasing our children with different attitudes than the ones we grew up with and hopefully our children will act differently as a result. I wonder, however, if this is really the case. While it does sometimes seem like children are growing up around fewer instances of out-and-out prejudice/discrimination, is this indeed enough? I think that belief systems are exceddingly slow to evolve and change - and this is depressing. Before this class I think I would have agreed with the statement "You've come a long way, baby" but now I am not so sure that I would. I think we may have come a long way but we still have a long way to go.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Television Observations

so i've been needing to post this for FOREVER, but hadn't gotten around to it until now. obviously being in this class has made me more aware of women's issues in many areas of my life. well lately, tivo has been my main activity and highlight of my day. i am posting to reflect on the issues that constantly irritate me on television. my first complaint is directed toward "the moment of truth," in which a contestant is asked personal questions about his or her job/ family/ relationships/ etc. the contestants must answer truthfully or they will lose prize money. (sorry for those who watch the show - that was a VERY brief synopsis) anyway, aside from people ruining their lives by answering the most intense personal questions EVER (e.g. have you ever slept with someone other than your spouse during your marriage?, etc.), i noticed a trend of blatant sexism in the beginning in terms of questions posed to men & women. while men were asked harmless ethical about their jobs or life accomplishments, the women were asked a series of sexual questions (e.g. have you ever engaged in a sex act to get a promotion?, have you ever had sexual relations with a customer for money?, etc.) so this was the trend over the first few episodes when i had initially planned to post my disdain for the show. BUT the show has changed it ways and now doesn't only ask the women personal sexual questions, but finally the men as well. good to see formal equality at work.
my second complaint revolves around the drama "er." i feel that i can be more of a critic about this show as i have watched 5 or 6 seasons in the last few months on tnt. i give full props for er casting one of the most diverse set of characters in a tv show (men, women, gay, straight, single parent, happily married, british, croatian, etc. etc.) but the real problem is the rampant sexism & sexual harassment that occurs in the "county general" workplace. in my opinion, er portrays strong female characters, whether doctors or nurses, which seemingly provide good role models for young children; however, males on the er staff routinely make comments belittling & demeaning the females on the show. i admire the women targeted by these comments for their ability to brush them off, but i hate the idea that the show portrays this behavior as ok in a professional setting. instead, the writers could throw in a disciplinary hearing or sensitivity training or something along those lines. other professional dramas (hello law & order) show the ability of men & women professionals to interact with each other in respectful & efficient ways. that's all i can think of for now.

Shrek the 3rd

I watched Shrek the 3rd last night with a friend and her children and I was struck by the ambiguity of its overall message. On first glance, it's got a feminist message - namely that Princess Fiona and her friends can rescue themselves from the clutches of Prince Charming...who needs a man (or an ogre for that matter)? The scenes where Fiona and her mother and the various princesses made their way out of the castle overcoming many obstacles should not be discounted - the "girl power" theme was strong and believable. Unfortunately, the filmmakers chose to muddy the waters by having Shrek be the ultimate hero in the end - I guess people are expecting that when they pay for a movie called "Shrek the 3rd." I just wonder if the girl power message was completely negated by having Fiona and her friends fail to save the day in the end - needing Shrek to do it for them. Worse yet, does it send a message that girl power can only get you so far - ultimately a man is going to be needed to solve any MAJOR problem? While I applaud the filmmakers' efforts to celebrate the strength of women I was disturbed by their overall lack of commitment to the message.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Laugh Track

Since our discussion on sexual harassment in the work place I have noticed several sitcoms use sexual harassment in comedic situations. So, I think the question becomes is this helpful or hurtful in promoting the sexual harassment problem in America.

Some might say that it is helpful because it raises awareness to the problem.  I would argue that it is actually much more hurtful than helpful to raising awareness of sexual harassment issues.  Using sexual harassment as a piece of comedy diminishes the severity of the problem.  While in the end the show might condemn the act itself (though not always), the portrayal of sexual harassment as something to be laughed at in any situation can lead to watchers believe that real life sexual harassment is also something to be laughed at.  I leave you with this ultimate example.

Monday, April 21, 2008

"You are emotional because you are a woman"

Unfortunately, the title of this blog post is a quote that was directed at me this weekend. I had my final trial for my Trial Advocacy class on Saturday and the gentleman who played our judge said this to me. After our trial was over and I had lost, sending my battered woman of a client to jail for attempted manslaughter and aggravated assault, the Judge asked us all to stay so he could give us our critiques. The whole trial had been a little rough on me, mostly because I did not get much sleep the night before and all of the built up stress and emotion of having a newborn seemed to be busting out of me in the middle of court. So when it got time to tell the judge what we thought we could have improved on I burst into tears. Some because I really thought I should have prepared more and done a better job but some just because I lost. Through the tears I told the judge that I was just sleep deprived and that I was sorry for crying. My co-counsel and opposing counsel told him that I just had a baby. That is when he said "I hope you don't take offense to this are just being emotional because you are a woman." At the time I guess I thought he was referring to the almost endless hormonal roller coaster that I have been on post pregnancy (and a little during pregnancy if you ask my husband's opinion). I did not take offense to what he said until later when I realized he never said it was because I had a newborn just that I was a woman.
I guess I better get used to being talked to like that since I will soon be entering the male-dominated field of law. Hopefully, things will change in the future and emotions won't be blamed on sex.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Another Women in Sports First

I came across a headline today that I found interesting. It seems that Danica Patrick has become the first woman to win an IndyCar race.

After reading the article, I was encouraged but somewhat surprised that no one mentioned the controversy that has surrounded her in the last couple of years. Many of the men in the IndyCar circuit have complained repeatedly that she had an unfair weight advantage in the races. Apparently, the regulation of the cars they drive is rather rigid when it comes to weight, but the weight of the car was taken without a passenger. The male drivers have complained that because Danica is a woman and lighter, that the weight of her car as she is driving is lower than the weight of the cars with male drivers, and as a result, she can go faster. Or something. I don't follow racing and don't really understand the rules and regulations, but I have friends who do and brought this to my attention.

It was nice to read the supportive comments by the other drivers and have no one take away from her win by mentioning the weight issue.

So as another barrier falls and another first occurs, congratulations to Danica Patrick. Maybe sports writers and commentators will begin to give her the respect she deserves.

Edit 4/21/08 : Or not... Today's Yahoo Sports opinion column. Putting Patrick’s Victory in Perspective