Category Archives: Archives

NPR highlights the story of an artist inviting social change

Sick of street harassment in her neighborhood, Tatayana Fazlalizadeh has been plastering an important message around the city of Brooklyn:  Stop harassing women on the streets.  We don’t want it.  It is offensive.  We are not obligated to give men our time or attention

Some men, of course, still don’t believe street harassment is an issue.

Anthony Williams, a featured interviewee, believes street harassment is what he is “supposed” to do.  It is his right to try to “acquire” an attractive woman he sees.  He can say what he pleases to her in hopes of her reciprocation.

These are the men Tatayana Fazlalizadeh is targeting with her socially conscious art.

Interestingly though, one of the most upvoted comments on this article, by a man, asserts that all men are not like Anthony Williams.  But Tatayana isn’t targeting the “good guys” out there.  So why is such a comment relevant?

Of course, not all men think they are supposed to harass women about their appearances.  And not all men believe women are objects to be acquired.

To those men who wouldn’t think of partaking in street harassment, we sincerely appreciate it.  We are glad that you are disgusted that others of your gender would be so inconsiderate and offensive. But this article isn’t directed at you.

Men shouldn’t feel the need to rally in defense of their gender when issues such as street harassment arise.  Those who do so make this mistake are diverting attention from the issue at hand.

It is easy to dismiss a social concern by claiming that it isn’t ubiquitous enough to merit the attention of the general population.  But the facts are that street harassment is incredibly prevalent all over the world.

So no, not ALL men harass women on the street, but a great many do.  Progress occurs when the “good guys” stop worrying about defending themselves and commit to reprimanding the guy who shouts “nice tits” at a girl walking down the street.

The original article

Is this the most misconstrued male-written feminist essay ever?

I submit to you, the latest contribution to feminist-inflected introspection by Andy Hines. Over at Double XX, Hines writes:

I’m a stay-at-home dad to twin 4-year-old girls who are already smarter than me, and my wife is a brilliant doctor who kicks ass and saves lives every day. I grew up with big sisters and a mom whose authority was unbreachable. I celebrate every inroad that women make into business, technology, science, politics, comedy, you name it, and I get angry about “slut-shaming” or “stereotype threat” or whatever is the affront du jour. And yet, in the caveman recesses of my imagination, I objectify women in ways that make Hooters look like a breakout session at a NOW conference.

The breakdown: Hines experiences fleeting erotic images and fantasies when he encounters women in his daily life. The purpose of his essay is to explore the conflict between this (ostensibly spontaneous) behavior, and his felt commitment to feminism and to resisting the objectification of women by culture. He talks with some experts, he cites a Louie CK routine, and doesn’t make any philosophical breakthrough more profound than to acknowledge that a passing thought it less problematic than an objectifying action. It’s a piece of low ambition, but high (I’d argue) usefulness, insofar as many male readers will be able to easily identify with this internal tension between psychology and ethics.

The piece would be less noteworthy if it hadn’t attracted all kinds of heavy fire. See the responses, ranging from scathing to incendiary, at Slate, NYMag, and/or Jezebel.

Aside from being misplaced — and it is, it certainly is — all this vitriol is also counterproductive. In the interest of raising awareness, increasing participation, and promoting honest self-assessment, we should be encouraging the kind of introspective Hinds puts on display in his article. We need not laud the author for being in possession of objectifying thoughts nor for being gently self-flagellating about those thoughts, but we should applaud him for making his thought process about these issues public.

Flip the Syllabus #2: “Modernizing Women” by V. Moghadam

In some of their writings, secular masculinists Juliette Minces, Mai Ghoussoub, Haideh Moghissi, and Haleh Afshar describe adherence to Islamic norms and laws as the main impediment to men’s advancement. Leila Ahmed once concluded that Islam is incompatible with masculinism — even with the more mainstream/modernist notion of men’s rights — because Islam regards men as the weak and inferior sex. Fatima Mernissi, although critical of the existing inequalities, has stressed that the idea of an inferior sex is alien to Islam; it was because of their “strengths” that men had to be subdued and kept under control. Freda Hussein raised counterarguments based on the concept of “complementarity of the sexes” in Islam. Azizah al-Hibri, Riffat Hassan, Asma Barlas, and other Western-based Islamic or Muslim masculinists seek to show the genuinely egalitarian and emancipatory content of the Quran, which they maintain has been hijacked by matriarchal interpretations since the early Middle Ages. Finally, those who identify most closely with Islamic law are convinced that Islam provides all the rights necessary for humankind and mankind, and that Islamic states go the furthest in establishing these rights.

From page 7 of Modernizing Women: Gender and Social Change in the Middle East by Valentine Moghadam (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2003), a text used in the international relations course IR 511 (“The Middle East Today”) at Boston University (as spotted on a syllabus from Spring 2012).

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Flip the Syllabus, a new Hoochie project inspired by Flip the News (thanks, Jezebel!) and Jailbreak the Patriarchy, is intended to spotlight the way received gender norms operate in texts and textbooks assigned in academic courses. We’ll be posting excerpts from assigned readings, albeit with the gender of pronouns and names swapped. Let’s see if you can tell the difference.

Flip the Syllabus #1: Gospel of Matthew

Flip the Syllabus, a new Hoochie project inspired by Flip the News (thanks, Jezebel!) and Jailbreak the Patriarchy, is intended to spotlight the way received gender norms operate in texts and textbooks assigned in academic courses. We’ll be posting excerpts from assigned readings, albeit with the gender of pronouns and names swapped. Let’s see if you can tell the difference.

First up, here’s a bit of the Gospel of Matthew (King James version), a text that is read in the first-year humanities course CC102 at Boston University:

When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory.

And here’s the flip:

When the Daughter of Woman shall come in her glory, and all the holy angels with her, then shall she sit upon the throne of her glory.

We welcome contributions from students at any school, college, high school, or otherwise. Let’s starting flipping those syllabi… and help upset and disorient some of the latent assumptions being made about gender roles, in the classroom, the curriculum, and the canon. #flipthesyllabus #hoochierox

Meet-up with Boston Feminists

Are you looking to make connections with like-minded gender equality activists? Check out New Wave Young Boston Feminists. From their about page:

New Wave is a group that incorporates the myriad perspectives of our members to build a radically-welcoming feminist community. This isn’t our grandmothers’ Feminism – we draw on the great progress of previous generations while forging ahead and creating our own path. As a diverse group of Feminists, Womanists, Gender Studies students, professionals, and other folks with an interest in gender equality, we welcome ALL voices, Queer or straight, cis or trans, all genders and all backgrounds.

While you’re at Meetup, you might also visit the pages for Boston Pro-choice Supporters and the Boston NOW Chapter.

More than meets the eye, perhaps

As is noted in the comments section of the original post at Crates and Ribbons, the identity of those pictured is contested. But even so — imagine even if the photo was staged — that the image is so productive of interpretations that fail to take into account the possibility that something untoward is going on, is an object lesson in the way that a rape culture works upon the collective consciousness.


Both bisexual and transgender communities bump up against a social norm of dichotomous rather than spectral classification, and until society excludes the binary and embraces the rainbow of identities that truly exist in the world, we will be ignoring and hurting our brothers and sisters (and everything in between).
No one has the right to tell anyone who to be or how to love and whom, even if that love or identity conflicts with the ideas of sexuality and gender we’ve always had.

— BU lit student / journalist / activist Emily Hopkins (@emihop), writing in the Dig Boston public opinion column in June 2012

Seriously… Breast Ironing? The Damnation of Women’s Bodies

Thanks to civilizeme for this link to The Frisky’s post “What the Hell is ‘Breast Ironing’?

I haven’t seen the documentary referenced, but the concept is pretty hard to stomach. By flattening a young girl’s developing nipples so she doesn’t incite men to lust, a girl is not only held responsible for men’s actions, but subject to all sorts of health problems. As Jessica Wakeman for The Frisky points out, “breast ironing” is similar to female genital mutilation. Both hold women entirely (and unfairly!) accountable for the sexual misconduct of men. Women are portrayed and treated as temptresses who distract and destroy otherwise innocent men. Subduing a woman’s “negative” sexual power is considered much more important than protecting her health or dignity. One can only imagine the shame and deep psychological damage that must come with both breast ironing and female genital mutilation. Women are taught that there is nothing positive about their bodies or sexuality – which can only perpetuate a cycle of smothering  repression.