Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Are You a Feminist?

The other week in class Dr. J asked if after taking this course any of us would call ourselves feminists. Few hands, if any, shot up. I thought this was interesting after a semester of provocative readings, heated blog posts, and of course interesting media/film discussions. Awareness seems to be a common theme throughout the readings. By taking this course we have all become more aware. The question is not then whether or not we believe we are feminist but what will we do with this awareness?

While flipping through a Marie Claire magazine on the elliptical the other morning, I came across an interesting page titled, “BULLETIN.” Fashion magazines tend to focus on superficial areas like ten ways to tighten your butt for the beach, sex games for couples, or a celebrity red lipstick trend. As I read through the blurbs on this page I discovered some interesting facts that relate well to our class.

The first blurb by Lynn Harris was titled “Condom Mania: Can Carrying Condoms Get You Arrested?” It goes on to say that in San Francisco, New York, and D.C. carrying more than two condoms is reason to suspect one of prostitution. Don’t empty your purse just yet. In order to be suspected of this one must be practicing other illegal forms of soliciting sex. The main controversy comes from the rise in HIV and STD rates. If this is actually enforced will safe sex still be practiced? Harris says, “Even more ironic, in New York, the condoms confiscated from arrested prostitutes are often official condoms given out by the city’s Department of Public Health, according to the Urban Justice Center, which provides legal advocacy for sex workers.” Is practicing safe sex a criminal activity?

Harris wrote another blurb on the same page celebrating the 50th anniversary of the FDA’s approval of oral contraceptives, May 9, 2010. She gives four facts in honor of this:

  1. It was illegal in many states for married couples to use the Pill until 1965, when the Supreme Court declared that such laws violate the right to privacy.
  2. Loretta Lynn’s 1975 musical homage, “The Pill,” made top 10 country charts. Lyrics: “The feelin’ good comes easy now/since I’ve got the Pill.”
  3. The Pill is currently used by 12 million women in the U.S.
  4. There are more than 40 different brands of birth-control pills in America.

The final blurb (sorry I really don’t know what other term applies) was written by Abigail Haworth, “The Crying Game: A new DVD of girls in tears aims to make Japanese men feel macho. Boo-hoo!” Seriously? The fact that there is a market for watching “a series of starlets weeping inconsolably as they recall real-life bad events, such as breaking up with a boyfriend or being humiliated at a party… the film pitches itself as a self-help tool to empower men and stir up their ‘macho instincts’ by showing the ‘vulnerability’ of women.” Haworth talks about modern Japanese women rejecting marriage and this possibly being the male response. Why don’t they just watch The Hills?

After reading these, I immediately ripped the page out of the gyms magazine. I stomped out ready to write a blog. While talking with Courtney today, we both had similar instances of irrational anger regarding oppressive issues for females. Our reactions were the same, put it on the blog. This is my final course for the gender studies minor and I still don’t know the answer to Dr. J’s question. Am I a feminist? Are you? Does it matter? I believe that awareness and advocacy against what one believes to be injustice are fundamental.

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