Down With Cosmo!

Everyday Feminism published “10 Things Cosmo Doesn’t Teach Women About Great Sex”. Attention readers, Cosmopolitan magazine is not the sex manual!

Cosmo

The articles and advice that Cosmo features regarding sex are heteronormative (a world view that promotes heterosexuality as the norm or preferred sexual orientation), sexist, and cissexist (“a cis person is one for whom assigned sex, internal sense of sex, and assigned gender and internal sense of gender all match up”, so cissexism is the discrimination or prejudice of individuals who do not fall into the “cis” category).

Cosmo promulgates advice and “crazy hot sex tips” that are disadvantageous for readers. Articles and tips almost always discuss pleasing “your guy” (ugh), but give no mention to pleasing yourself – not to mention, you would have to change your body to experience true pleasure. The sexual experience illustrated by Cosmo is laced with harmful power dynamics and fails to give their primarily female reader-base factual, unbiased, and inclusive information about anatomy, sexual psychology and the factors that influence it, sexually transmitted infections, and safer sex measures including consent. Next time you’re tempted to crack open a fresh issue of Cosmo with a retouched celebrity on the cover alongside a headline such as “75 Sex Moves Men Crave”, consider the personal implications and read it through a critical lens.

Additional reading:

Everday Feminism
Bitch Magazine
The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health
Definitions of cissexism and binarism
10 Reasons Why I Hate Cosmopolitan Magainze

A Lineage of Women Shrinking

“I wonder if my lineage is one of women shrinking, making space for the entrance of men into their lives not knowing how to fill it back up once they leave” – Lily Myers’ Shrinking Women

Lily Myers performing for Wesleyan University at the 2013 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational. This poem was awarded Best Love Poem at the tournament.

However I recommend unless you feel like being disgusted with a huge portion of humanity who has access to YouTube, do NOT read the comments below.

People constantly ask “why does feminism matter” or “when have you experienced sexism?” So many people are unaware of these seemingly minimal ways that society around us constructs views where men are empowered and women are persistently subdued. Myers is addressing a constant struggle that myself and many others I’ve talked with have faced.

It is about the enforced mindset that women cannot take up the same amount of room as men. This oppression is not usually a conscious decision on someone’s part where they actually think “hey I deserve more/less space than that woman/man”, but it is something that individuals should make a conscious decision to change.

It is also important to be aware about eating disorders so below is some more information.

Statistics:
• Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder) in the U.S.
• Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
• 91% of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting. 22% dieted “often” or “always.”
• An estimated 10-15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are male.
• Men are less likely to seek treatment for eating disorders because of the perception that they are “woman’s diseases.”

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

Boston University Eating Disorders Program
Call: (617) 353-9610
Email: bonnieb@bu.edu
Address: 648 Beacon St., 6th Floor Boston MA 02215

Additional Comment:
Within the past few days I’ve been talking to a friend a lot about this video and she brought to my attention that this video seems to imply that anorexia is a problem only women face when this is far from true. This is a problem that applies to both genders. It’s referred to as a “woman’s disease” which is why men frequently won’t admit to dealing with it. THIS SHOULD NOT BE THE CASE. ANYONE facing anorexia or other eating disorders should get help.

15-year-old genius accepted to Harvard…and 13 other schools!

Teenager Saheela Ibraheem is certainly one you should keep your eyes on!Saheela Ibraheem

The 15-year-old was accepted into 13 colleges, choosing Harvard, ranking her as one of the youngest students to ever attend the University.

Now, she’s continuing to set her own pace by making “The World’s 50 Smartest Teenagers” list.

Us Bostonians are lucky to be able to welcome her to the academic community here.

via Black Youth Project

Margaret Sanger

She was a genius at responding to her critics and her oppressors, especially the Catholic Church. Even her friends would joke that she would be nothing if it wasn’t for the Catholic Church constantly oppressing her. Whenever they did, they were always guaranteeing she would make headlines within a week. She’d always find a very clever way to turn it on its head and throw it right back at them, getting a lot of attention at the same time.

Peter Bagge's new book: Women Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story
Peter Bagge’s new book: Women Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story

Check this out!

Women Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story

New England Women’s Center Conference

When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013
Where: Photonics Building 8 Saint Mary’s St, Boston,MA

Boston University’s Center for Gender, Sexuality and Activism (CGSA) is hosting the New England Women’s Center Conference.

The conference “will be hosting speakers and organizations to discuss the importance of communities in the area that foster safer spaces for all individuals regardless of gender. We aim to do so by deconstructing the intersections of oppression and privilege in our communities and cultures.” – facebook page

Register at newcc2013.eventbrite.com and go to newcc2013.org for details

New UN Women Ad Campaign Addresses Gender Inequality

“This campaign uses the worlds most popular search engine (Google) to show how gender inequality is a worldwide problem. The adverts show the results of genuine searches, highlighting popular opinions across the world wide web.” [X]

SOURCE: TIME Magazine

UN Women – The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

TYSK #3: Misandry (and why it’s not a thing)

Misandry (definition: hatred of men) is not a thing.

This is a controversial statement to make.

However, when feminists use this catchy slogan, we are completely aware of the fact that there are, indeed, situations in which men are disadvantaged by their gender. We are not disputing this fact, we are simply pointing out that, given the current reality that men hold the “one-up position” in society, true misandry does not occur and cannot occur on a large enough scale for it to merit the same amount of attention and activism that misogyny does. In other words, the current societal climate necessitates that issues of misandry are not our primary concern.

Hence, the feminist slogan, “Misandry is not a thing”.

Feminists are consciously refusing to spend an equal amount of time and effort addressing misandry, because an equal amount of time and effort should not be allocated to solve the subsidiary issues of the privileged group.

Even so, often in the midst of conversation regarding feminism someone points out how men are left out of the discussion. This person (if not arguing from the standpoint that feminism is secretly advocating  men’s oppression) argues that if feminists wish to get men on their side, they ought to include talk about both men and women’s issues. Focusing solely on women supposedly alienates the people feminists need to ally with in order to enact social change.

This is why there is such opposition to the term “Feminism” as used to describe the movement towards gender equality. If it is a movement based on eliminating pernicious social norms and structures which disadvantage both men and women, why not call it “Equalism” or something of the like?

The answer is that feminism is named thusly to put the focus on the disadvantaged group: women. The pernicious social norms and structures are damaging to women far more often than they are to men. This is true to such an extent that in our society, the supposedly neutral human – the default – is a man. So when we choose to use the term “Feminism,” or the slogan “misandry is not a thing,” we do so intentionally to direct the focus to the group who is most often ignored, underrepresented, and harmed.

Yes, men, we need you on the side of feminism for this whole thing to work. But we do not need to mitigate our efforts to solve women’s issues by addressing misandry as much as we address misogyny. To do so would be to enforce male privilege, not lessen it. The process of achieving equality of the sexes requires men to give up their privileges, one of which is their expectation to be included in and catered to by every institution and discussion.

Feminists are not in any way advocating the systematic oppression of men by using the slogan “Misandry is not a thing.” We are not telling men that it is impossible that their gender could somehow disadvantage them, either. We are simply asserting the point that misandry, here and now, in this discussion, is not relevant. Misogyny is.

The unfortunate day could hypothetically arrive when men are the underprivileged group and misandry does merit our attention, but that day is nowhere in the near future. Those who cry “Misandry!” when they hear “Feminism!” need to stop yelling fire before someone has even lit a candle.

For further reading:

If I Admit That ‘Hating Men’ Is a Thing, Will You Stop Turning It Into a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

Sorry, Men, You’re STILL Not Oppressed: Reexamining the Fallacies of “Misandry”

This post was written in partial response to:

On the Misandry Isn’t a Thing Thing

Support My Rack (Because the Rest Doesn’t Matter?)

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Everyone knows that. October is also Halloween. Everyone knows that, too. Some lesser known holidays that occur in October include Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, National Popcorn Popping Month, Clergy Appreciation Month, and Sarcastic Month, just to name a few.

Slogans such as “Save the Ta-Tas”, “I love boobies!”, and “Support My Rack” are used all year-long to raise money for breast cancer awareness and research, and have proven to be successful marketing strategies for various foundations. But how do these slogans affect us, and what do they mean?

During October it seems like we can’t escape phrases that sexualize breast cancer and breasts in general. Using euphemisms like “rack”, “boobies”, or “ta-tas” reduces women to one aspect of their bodies. Breasts are not neutral territory in our culture, but rather a part of the human body that is already highly-charged. Breasts have a long history of being fetishized by some, revered by others, or used as a mechanism of oppression. Who are we “Saving the Ta-Tas” for– the patriarchy or ourselves?

Pink Everything!

The color pink has become synonymous with breast cancer, but pink also represents love, romance, nurturing, and understanding. This non-threatening color has been completely co-opted by corporations to represent breast cancer and breast cancer awareness. Susan G. Komen has an entire online store dedicated to the sale of pink objects. And 5-Hour Energy, the 4-calorie, caffeinated energy shot, has a “Pink Lemonade” flavor, whose proceeds support the Avon Foundation for Women Breast Cancer Crusade. These foundations are capitalizing upon a medical illness that affects real people with real experiences, whom we know and love. Supporting breast cancer awareness and research is trendy.

Breast cancer is most commonly found in women, but also occurs in non-female-bodied individuals. It can occur regardless of your biological sex, but you wouldn’t know that from the marketing campaigns. The rhetoric surrounding breast cancer is pink, frilly, welcoming, and inherently feminine, alienating “non-traditional” breast cancer survivors as well as survivors of other types of cancers, who may feel unsupported as breast cancer takes up so much public space and discourse.

This month, try to be cognizant of the sexualization of breast cancer. Try to alter your language to honor the experiences of survivors, and to internalize that breast cancer affects everyone. Think about the notion that breasts are a powerful symbol in our culture, but that they are also just a part of the human body. Organizations using slogans such as “I love boobies!” have made great strides for breast cancer awareness and research, but a little attention paid to rhetoric surrounding this cause can go a long way in making Breast Cancer Awareness less of a seasonal trend and more of a socially-responsible, feminist statement.

*Many thanks to the Feminist Collective at Boston University for the discussion and thoughts that contributed to and inspired this post.