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BLOG | This Week in Feminism: April 12, 2013

[Trigger warning: mentions of rape, transphobia, racism, Islamophobia, ethnic profiling, sexual assault/coercion, intimate/domestic violence, gun violence, and victim-blaming]

The web round-up of the last two weeks includes Margaret Thatcher’s passing, Tyler Perry’s “Temptation” and Adria Richards’ unfair termination.

1) Margaret Thatcher

(Photo by Keystone France)
(Photo by Keystone France)

Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher, passed away earlier this week on Monday, April 8, 2013 from a stroke. Her death set off a polarized international reaction on social media, particularly Twitter, which fiercely debated whether or not she could be considered a ‘feminist’ — even when Thatcher had reportedly said that feminism “is poison.”

Also, check this out: British comedian and actor Russell Brand wrote an interesting piece for the UK Guardian about Margaret Thatcher in which his strange encounter with the Iron Lady “prompted him to think about growing up under the most unlikely matriarch-figure imaginable.” FYI, Brand is a surprisingly good writer.

2) Tyler Perry’s “Temptation”

Promo image of Tyler Perry's film "Temptation." (Yahoo!)
Promo image of Tyler Perry’s film “Temptation.” (Yahoo!)

Tyler Perry‘s latest feature film Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor performed well at the box office but was roundly criticized by movie reviewers. While one could say much about the film’s thin plot and Kim Kardashian’s acting debut, one cannot ignore the troubling moral plot Perry hammered into his drama-thriller.


Lindy West of Jezebel wrote about how Tyler Perry Isn’t Just an Artless Hack, He’s a Scary Ideologue. She made note of the strong sexist implications of Perry ‘punishing’ his main character Judith with HIV for cheating on her husband with her client (actually she was beaten and raped) as a way of pushing harmful gender roles and a vicious Christian agenda.

Openly gay blogger Louis Peitzman of BuzzFeed was especially outraged in his post Tyler Perry’s HIV: Punishment For Your Sins because HIV was depicted as a “sinner’s disease.” In Perry’s mind and as seen in his previous film For Colored Girls, the HIV-inflicted — especially individuals who are LGBTQ — deserved to have such a terrible and fatal STI.

3) Adria Richards

Image from Colorlines. (Courtesy of Adria Richards)
Image from Colorlines. (Courtesy of Adria Richards)

Yet another example of sexism in tech: Adria Richards tweeted a picture of two white coworkers who made an inappropriate comment that prompted a sexual harassment investigation by her company. After one of the colleagues was let go, all hell broke loose. Richards received a score of endless criticism, insults, and death and rape threats from anonymous online commenters for doing the right thing. To add more to the horribleness, her employers fired her for all the bad publicity she was bringing.

In response to Richards’ unfair termination, Colorlines published a hilarious if not depressing post on How to Get a Black Woman Fired in Six Tired Steps which helped magnified the racism and misogyny not only behind her firing but also how white men continually disrespects women of color in professional fields.

Such advice includes Step 1: Wear Down Your Subject and Step 3: Play the ‘Middle’ Between Rational and Frothing Racist.

4) Something Mills-related

Official logo of the organization American Indian Movement-West (AIM-West).
Official logo of the organization American Indian Movement-West (AIM-West).

Mills Professor of Ethnic Studies Melinda Micco will be interviewed on the radio program 94.1 KPFA FM Berkeley by Tony Gonzales of AIM-West about American Indians and sports mascots.

Her segment will run from 8 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, April 19, 2013.

5) Missouri to withhold contraception

CBS News reported that Missouri lawmakers have passed a bill allowing pharmacies to nix contraception.

The Missouri Senate passed legislation by a 24-9 vote on Thursday, April 4, 2013 “that would ensure that pharmacies could refuse to stock certain prescription drugs, such as emergency contraception.” The bill is now headed to House.

The legislation sponsor Republican Sen. David Sater “says a pharmacy — like a clothing store — should be free to sell what it chooses.”

6) Yvonne Brill’s obituary


The New York Times wrote a very troubling and sexist lede about renowned rocket scientist Yyonne Brill in her obituary when she passed away on Wednesday, March 27, 2013. Due to widespread criticism, the Times rewrote the introduction without a mention of revision.

As pointed out by i09 in their post The New York Times fails miserably in its obituary for rocket scientist Yvonne Brill, the original lede used to say:

“She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. “The world’s best mom,” her son Matthew said.”

In which her wifely duties and cooking skills were mentioned first before her remarkable career and groundbreaking innovation. Just imagine if such a description were written for a male scientist? Ridiculous, right?

7) The legislative indecision on sex change

According to The Hill, “The Health and Human Services Department said early Friday that it would accept public comments on whether to reexamine its decision not to cover sex changes.

But a spokesperson said Friday evening that the proposal has been withdrawn. HHS pulled information from its website Friday after various news media outlets reported on the issue.” (Emphasis mine)

In response, Shakesville published a post called There Goes My Newshole! that rightfully criticized the wishy-washiness of the HHS’s decision-making in which the blogger eastsidekate recommended they should “Just f***ing do it already…If anyone asks you questions, explain to them that it’s the 21st goddamned century.”

Well said.

8) Jon Hamm’s penis

(Wikimedia Commons)
(Wikimedia Commons)

I’m mentioning Jon Hamm and his much-talked-about crotch only because of the brilliantly written posts by bloggers who used this gossip fodder to make a point about the objectification of women.

Flavia Dzodan of the blog Tiger Beatdown wrote the post Enough with Jon Hamm’s penis already! in which she deconstructed the fact that the Mad Men actor’s genitalia is being met with much cultish obsession only because it’s attached to “a cisgender, white, heterosexual, conventionally handsome, successful man.”

In sharp contrast to the sheer celebration of Jon Hamm’s tight pants, Anne Hathaway’s wardrobe malfunction (which was aggressively photographed by paparazzi without her consent as it is the case with any famous woman) was met with “horror” in which “shocked bloggers pointing fingers at her faux pas” with “her ‘decency’ called into question.” EVEN THOUGH IT WASN’T HER FAULT.

9) Huong Hoang loses case against IMDb

Huong Hoang, an actress who’s also known as Junie Hoang, lost her lawsuit against the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) on Thursday, April 11, 2013. She was in the process of suing the website for exposing her real age that would lessen her chances of securing acting jobs because, as she had mentioned in her October 2011 lawsuit filing, “In the entertainment industry, youth is king.”

From Huong Hoang's IMDb profile.
From Huong Hoang’s IMDb profile.

While she had the support of the Screen Actors Guild and various fellow actors, the jury ruled in favor of IMDb who they determined hadn’t “breached any legal obligations to the 42-year-old actress.” The trial lasted a little over two days in which Hoang “was forced to answer many tough questions about her own attempts to deceive IMDb into changing or removing her age.”

There were, of course, mixed reactions to this case. I’ve noticed a majority of the commentary was filled with scoffs, eye-rolling and amusement over Hoang’s B-movie credits. I understand that everyone’s initial reaction to reading about Hoang is to immediately judge her for being a little-known actress who dared to ‘complain’ about such a seemingly small and vain thing as her real age being made public.

I get it, I do. But at the same time, it’s hard to ignore that she’s pretty much right about the obsession of youth in Hollywood. As Jezebel has pointed out in their post No Business for Old Women: Actress Sues IMDb for Revealing Her Real Age, “why can’t IMDb just let them opt out of publishing their age?”

10) Notable meme

This graphic was circulating throughout Tumblr. I’m not entirely sure when it was made but I did discover it for myself two weeks ago. The meme perfectly encapsulated the obvious but necessary advice about why the question of what rape survivors and victims were wearing during their assault is inconsequential, unhelpful and insulting.



Rehtaeh Parsons. (Family photo)
Rehtaeh Parsons. (Family photo)

Who failed Rehtaeh Parsons? | The Chronicle Herald
[After a photo of her gang-rape was distributed throughout her school and community] Rehtaeh [Parsons], a 15-year-old Cole Harbour District High School student at the time, was shunned, wrote her mother.

Bra-clad “zombie ex-girlfriend” target bleeds when you shoot it | Salon
(Warning: Disturbing images and inappropriately delightful customer reviews of the “zombie ex-girlfriend.”)
Target manufacturer ZMB Industries is selling a bra-clad “zombie ex-girlfriend tactical mannequin target” that bleeds when you shoot it. How do you know it’s a “zombie” and not just a bleeding woman wearing a half-torn shirt?

The Top Five Ways That White Feminists Continue To Discredit Women of Color | Problem Chylde
1)Say we are too “involved” or biased in regards to the subject, and claim that you are more “objective”.
This is frequently done to silence people who are trying to tell their own story. Academia is famous for this, but it happens outside academia as well.

An image of a niqab, which is a face veil worn by some Muslim women. (Wikimedia Commons)
An image of a niqab, which is a face veil worn by some Muslim women. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Horrifying Effects of NYPD Ethnic Profiling on Innocent Muslim Americans | The Atlantic
Parents are anxious about the effect on their children, and nag them accordingly. A college student said “his parents did not want him to go to Muslim Student Association events or wear his Muslim hat.” Another student “who wears the niqab, or face veil,” noted that “her mother asked her to stop wearing all black because she worried her dress would draw police scrutiny.”

My thoughts on Jada & her colorblind society | The Feminist Griote
Jada [Pinkett-Smith] on the surface appears to be asking a very simple and even noble question. However, I think Jada is missing a serious and critical point. Jada is missing the fact that Black little girls, Asian little girls, Indigenous little girls, and Latina little girls who may grow up to identify as women of color, are told from a very early age that they are not enough!

Wall Street Journal gets a D in feminism | Salon
This just in from the Wall Street Journal: It’s so cute when girls want to go college. Bonus: That’s where the husbands are! The paper of record for rich white men has been taking an active interest in the matriculation habits of females of late, and the impression it would like you to have sure isn’t one that suggests anything resembling academic ambition or intellectual qualification.

Sexism in Games – A Mea Culpa | Welcome to Trixieland
Here’s the thing. If you want to survive or thrive in the industry as a woman you could fight this shit every day of your life and never make a dent in it. All you’d do is destroy your own career. If you want to get along you either stop seeing it or you become complicit.

You Won’t Believe What These Muslims Are Protesting About | Upworthy
When a Muslim fraternity from the University of Texas at Dallas took to the streets to protest against domestic violence, these striking pictures made waves around the world. Muslim America rocks — we just don’t hear about it often.

One of the images posted on Upworthy. (Courtesy of the Alif Laam Meem fraternity)
One of the images posted on Upworthy. (Courtesy of the Alif Laam Meem fraternity)

Word Of The Day: Kyriarchy | Feminist Philosophers
As contrasted to ‘patriarchy’:
Kyriarchy is best theorized as a complex pyramidal system of intersecting multiplicative social structures of superordination and subordination, of ruling and oppression.

I Was A Teenage Misogynist | Oh Dear God Bees
I used to be a misogynist, too.
That’s a hard sentence to write, and a hard thing to own up to. But I feel like it’s important to do so. Another woman I’ve spoken with seemingly went through the same thing and said to me something I’ll never forget: “I think that some of the people most embroiled in making this a better, more inclusive community used to be part of the problem.”