This video is a little old, but sadly still perfectly relevant.

After Tiger Woods got busted for serial infidelity, my 90-something-year-old grandpa concluded that would probably be the end of his career. My mom and I countered that would probably not be the case, as he had only wronged women. Just look at Kobe, we told him. The Pro-Am just concluded and sure enough, nary a mention of Tiger’s ‘personal problems’ as he continues to struggle back to peak form in golf.

That is not to suggest that cheating is even in the same ballpark as battery. Rather, I mean to point out the willingness to forgive high profile men for their bad behavior toward women. Just look at Charlie Sheen, who continues to be one of the highest paid actors in television and has a new show coming out in June.

Shortly after Sheen’s estranged wife is granted a restraining order against him, Sheen was welcomed at the Emmys. At the time, Heather Tooley suggested:

Hollywood and fans have a way of cutting celebrities a lot of slack for bad behavior if they play nice long enough.

No. The court of public opinion has a way of cutting celebrities a lot of slack for bad behavior against women. Period.

I didn’t watch, but I hear Chris Brown performed not once, but twice last night. He also won Best R&B album. A lot of people made light of his triumphant return, while still others glorified the abuse (TW for physical abuse at those links).

As Jay Smooth said, and you think you’re being persecuted?

What is Chris Brown complaining about? I’ve never seen someone complain so much, about getting off so easy, for doing something so bad. …You brutally, physically assaulted a woman, a woman you supposedly loved, that you beat to a pulp and then left there alone in that car so you could go get a head start on your PR strategy.

Last week I participated in a book discussion at the college where I work. We were discussing a book by a journalist who was kidnapped by the Taliban while reporting on the war in Afghanistan. During our discussion, one of my colleagues mentioned how dangerous these combat zones have become for journalists. She then said, “Look what happened to Lara Logan in Egypt. I mean, what was she thinking?”

Today as I listen to reports of the filmmaker and photojournalist killed in Libya, I can’t help but notice that not a single person has questioned their decision to be there. Instead, these men are lauded for bringing us the truth and taking risks in the process. Despite the fact that they chose to put themselves in harm’s way without protective gear, no one is questioning their judgment.

Several reports I’ve heard have pointed out the sensitivity with which Tim Hetherington captures images of war. I dare to suggest that Lara Logan brought a similar sensitivity to her work in Egypt. Simply due to her gender, she was better able to gain access to Egyptian women’s experiences, a perspective often overlooked in the coverage of that story.

The recent loss of these brave journalists in Libya is tragic, and I am not suggesting that they should not have been in a combat zone. I do, however, wish to draw attention to the very different narratives surrounding male and female journalists in conflict areas. With Lara Logan, the story was about her appearance and her gender, and it was chock full of victim-blaming. Newsweek immediately did a story about “Women in Harm’s Way.” Some even suggested she was enjoying all the attention her assault would bring her. She was not viewed as a brave journalist willing to venture into a dangerous situation to bring us the truth, but rather as a woman who took an unnecessary risk.

Over the next few days as you learn more about the story unfolding in Libya, please notice the narrative surrounding Tim Hetherington and his colleagues. They are described with praise, admiration and dedication. All of these words are undoubtedly appropriate, but should not be attributed selectively, based on the person’s gender.

As my community is plastered with the face of yet another missing teen girl, I can’t help but ponder the interconnectedness of things. A registered sex offender is in custody, and there is a strong possibility he was involved in at least one other attack on a jogger nearby. As I read about the outpouring of support for the family and the search effort, something just doesn’t add up on a deeper level. The amount of energy and support put into the search for Chelsea King should now be put into preventing such a thing from happening again.

People don’t connect this incident with larger-scale issues like sexism and misogyny. Some of the same people whose hearts go out to this girl and her family would turn around and deny the inequality that women face. They don’t associate this negative viewpoint of all-things-girly with other examples of hatred towards women and girls. And if you try to connect the dots, they come at you with anger and more personal hatred. If you doubt the anger that women face on a daily basis, just take a look at the comments in articles such as this or this one. Many feminist sites have recurring features about the hate mail they receive. As Jessica Valenti points out in a response to the comments on her Washington Post piece (emphasis in original),

As irritating as it can be to read comments like these, they prove a valuable point: Sexism is not only alive and well; it’s angry. These comments are not taking issue with my article with a ‘well, I don’t really agree women have it that bad’ kind of argument. They’re furious and they’re hateful. And they’re an excellent reminder for why feminist work is so important.

Another example of a connection that’s not being made is the widespread practice of treating women’s bodies like objects (see here and here). There is such a clear connection between this kind of objectification and a sexual predator who uses his victim and throws her away.

If you are genuinely concerned about this young girl and others like her, you have to acknowledge that sexual assault does not happen in a vacuum. We live in a society that teaches men that success can be measured by access to women as sexual objects (Tiger Woods). A culture that sexualizes young girls, laughs at rape jokes, blames victims or turns the other cheek breeds these predators.

A refusal to acknowledge deep-rooted sexism and pervasive violence against women makes you part of the problem, rather than the solution. If you care about your sisters and daughters, you have to make the connections between these incidents and the bigger picture. Every time. It can’t be selective. It’s got to be consistent. The same people who were out there searching for Chelsea should be dedicating their time and energy into preventing future sexual assault. It can’t just be when it hits close to home, but maybe the close to home ones will open people’s eyes.

Yesterday, in Tiger Woods’ apology for (getting caught in) his marital infidelity, he made the following statement:

I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn’t have to go far to find them, he confessed. I was wrong. I was foolish. I don’t get to play by different rules.

He felt he was entitled. To what? To having any woman that he wanted be sexually available to him. Why? Because he is a wealthy, famous male athlete and that gives him the proverbial all-access pass to what he wants whenever he wants it. It is widely known that high school athletes on recruitment trips to prospective colleges are often offered women as part of the ‘perks’ of attending that college. Current Legal Developments in the Cal State system note:

…part of the strategy for recruiting high school athletes to play football at the university was to promise them alcohol and sex during their campus visit. Female ‘ambassadors’ were asked to escort the recruits around campus and to make sure that they ‘had a good time.’ One ambassador apparently arranged for several football players and recruits, who had been drinking, to visit Simpson’s apartment. Ms. Simpson and Ms. Gilmore were allegedly sexually assaulted and were too intoxicated to consent.

According to this same article, the media has reported on this widespread policy of ‘showing recruits a good time’ since (at least) 1983, yet the practice appears to continue unchecked today. Woods hit the nail on the head with regard to his sense of entitlement toward women, but he is wrong about male athletes and the rules. We clearly judge male athletes’ behavior by a different set of standards.

“There is a mentality among athletes that ‘we can get away with this, that no one is going to challenge us because we are student athletes,’” said Richard Lapchick, professor at the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. (ABC News)

The general population has a conviction rate of 80%. The conviction rate of an athlete is 38%. (Benedict/Crosset Study)

The discourse surrounding male athletes’ transgressions sends them a clear message that we’re willing to turn the other cheek, as long as their behavior does not get in the way of their athletic performance or, as in Tiger’s case, their sponsors’ ability to package and sell their image for millions. But is this true only for athletes?

But former college athlete and coach Peter Roby, director of Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society, disagreed that this is a problem for athletes specifically. The former basketball player for Dartmouth College said damning the athletes misses the larger point. This is how society instructs men in general to behave, he said, and athletes have merely achieved the pinnacle of that goal. (ABC News)

The society that teaches male athletes to view women as prizes they’ve earned is incapable of viewing women, female athletes included, as anything but sexual objects for consumption. Just ask Lindsey Vonn.

h/t watertiger

Oklahoma, you’re seriously NOT O.K.:

On Nov. 1, a law in Oklahoma will go into effect that will collect personal details about every single abortion performed in the state and post them on a public website. Implementing the measure will cost $281,285 the first year and $256,285 each subsequent year.

Under H.B. 1595, the state of Oklahoma is going to spend over a quarter of a million of its taxpayers’ dollars annually to try to shame women into foregoing abortions. Isn’t that special? It’s almost enough to make one long for the martini-clouded days before Roe v. Wade, when women only had to deal with the life-threatening dangers of back alley abortions, without the additional stigma of government-sponsored Internet shunning.

The following is the posted information that the Gilead Oklahoma legislators believe will be generic enough to avoid that irksome HIPAA:

1. Date of abortion
2. County in which abortion performed
3. Age of mother
4. Marital status of mother
(married, divorced, separated, widowed, or never married)
5. Race of mother
6. Years of education of mother
(specify highest year completed)
7. State or foreign country of residence of mother
8. Total number of previous pregnancies of the mother

That’s a whole lotta information about the mother, that, while it doesn’t identify her by name, certainly narrows her identity down, especially in the small towns that dot the Oklahoma landscape.

And another thing: Notice anything missing? Go ahead, re-read the list — I’ll wait.

[whistles, files nails, looks up]

Figure it out yet? Bingo! The father, whom we assume had something to do with the pregnancy in the first place, doesn’t have to account for his actions at all. Way to put women in their place, Oklahoma!

Thank goodness this law is being challenged.

Former state Representative Wanda Jo Stapleton, D-Oklahoma City, and Shawnee resident Lora Joyce Davis have decided to fight against these new restrictions in the form of a lawsuit. ” The lawsuit alleges that House Bill 1595 by Sen. Todd Lamb, R-Edmond, and Rep. Dan Sullivan, R-Tulsa, covers more than one subject and thus violates the Oklahoma Constitution ( Tulsa World News) Ranging in areas from abortions based on gender, to the re-defining of several abortion related terms, to creating an entire new job for the OK Department of Health to deal with, this law, is simply doing too much. The bill is set to go into effect on November 1st of this year. However, Davis and Stapleton hope that their lawsuit can delay this law from going into effect until they are able to present their appeal to the Oklahoma courts. This lawsuit comes after the most recent Oklahoma overturn of a 2008 law that would have required women to submit to an ultrasound and description by their doctor of the baby before scheduling an abortion.

San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman was arrested early this morning for allegedly choking and restraining Tila “Tequila” Nguyen. The coverage on sports sites unsurprisingly focuses on how this will hurt Merriman’s team, and frustration that this could happen so close to the start of the season. According to SR at the Bleacher Report:

The real questions is…What in the world was Merriman thinking? After all this time in working to come back into the NFL, why would he do something so stupid to not only hurt himself, but his team as well?

To the author’s credit, he does assert that NFL players can’t be choking women and getting away with it. But his immediately concern for the player and the team, with very little consideration for the health of the alleged victim (a sentiment echoed by several articles) is staggering.

Check out this poll:

MerrimanPoll

Misogyny in the sports world is thriving. If you have any doubts, read the comments section of any article covering this story. As a woman who loves sports, it’s growing harder to support any professional team because they condone violence against women.

Late last year, Brian Giles, outfielder for the San Diego Padres, faced assault charges by his former girlfriend. At first, the Padres came out with a strong statement insisting that they would not condone any form of violence against women and, much like the Chargers are doing, vowing to watch the case carefully as it unfolded. Despite video evidence showing Brian Giles throwing his girlfriend on the ground in a public place, the story was swept under the rug. At first, I tried not to support the Padres, a team I’ve rooted for my entire life. Eventually, I started watching games again, secretly rooting against Brian Giles each time he played. But why am I forced to choose between loving professional sports and condoning violence against women?

Sadly, Michael Vick has faced a much stronger backlash for his role in dog fighting than any recent athlete accused of violence against women. Is it because no one was able to turn the tables in the Vick case and blame the dogs? Shawne Merriman’s alleged attack on his girlfriend happened this morning. How long will it take for the media to blame his victim and then forget anything ever happened? Michael Vick has inspired boycotts and angry petitions from sports fans and non-fans alike.� Where’s the “NFL Fans Against Violence Against Women” group?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responds passionately and eloquently to Rep. Smith’s concern that the Obama administration supports women’s reproductive freedom abroad. Michelle Goldberg calls it thrillingly unequivocal. You can read a transcript of the exchange here, via Shakesville.

On a side note, why is Hillary Clinton referred to as “the gentleman” on several occasions?

Now that’s equality!

Just a taste…

Michelle Obama’s European Outfits: Which did she wear best?

Michelle Obama Makes a Fashion Statement in London

Michelle Obama: Fashion icon?

Michelle Obama: Fashion diva or disaster?

There was also the contrived media drama over Michelle Obama and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy’s “fashion faceoff,” about which Melissa McEwan noted:

Why is it, when any two powerful womenespecially beautiful powerful womenare in the same place at the same time, the media has to treat it like a grudge match?!

Not surprisingly, there was little mention of the male G-20 spouses’ fashion choices. They didn’t even bother to show up for the G-20 spouses dinner (or at least, they missed the photo). I mean, who could blame them?

It can all be quite overwhelming sometimes.

I woke up to this: a reminder that some people have a very different definition than I do of “life,” and skewed ideas about who decides whose lives are worth saving.

Then I stumbled upon this discussion of the sexual assault in the Watchmen and the general narrative of a rape victim falling in love with her rapist. Apparently, some people laughed at the rape scene in this movie. I worry that some of those people that laughed may live near me, or may even be people I know. I also worry what message this movie sends to young people, especially boys, about sex.

I not only found the scene not funny, but felt that it was rather explicit rape apologia and victim-blaming. Dr. Manhattan was evidently violating Laurie’s trust and expressed wishes in a sexual context, and then justified his actions by pointing to her alleged failure.

Last night at dinner, the waiter joked with my friend that if she wasn’t careful, he might have to Chris Brown her. Because punching your girlfriend in the face until her mouth fills with blood is hilarious. Yet the discourse surrounding that incident managed to allude to the fact that Rihanna was at least somewhat to blame as well.

Then I just came across this article, discussing how we’re still blaming women for the violence perpetrated against them.

The findings of the poll, conducted for the Home Office, also disclosed about a quarter of people believe that wearing sexy or revealing clothing should lead to a woman being held partly responsible for being raped or sexually assaulted.

Several reminders of why International Women’s Day is important, Obama’s new post for international women’s issues is necessary, and how far we have to go.

When I check the stats on my blog I can see what search terms brought people here. More often than not those searches include “boobs.” Really. “Fake boobs,” “animated boobs,” “beautiful boobs,” and of course, a celebrity’s name with the word “boobs.”

It’s not news that our society is obsessed with women’s breasts. Recently I shared this great article by Samara Ginsburg with friends and family and the responses I got were incredible. Many people had similar experiences to the author or knew someone who had. It made me wish we had more of a dialogue through which women could talk about how they are measured.

Women’s complex relationships with their bodies, especially their breasts, become even more complex when illness is involved. As if it were not enough to deal with the health implications of breast cancer, women often face aesthetic questions about their breasts that have nothing to do with health. As Amy DePaul describes in her article Replacing Things Lost, it is often assumed that women will want to increase their breast size after a masectomy. Check out this excerpt:

So it was off to the plastic surgeons officenot a place I had ever envisioned myself, to be honest. My husband accompanied me for moral support, and we idled in the waiting room and then the exam room; he was reading Breast Cancer Husband while I flipped through a magazine. The doctor walked in, introduced himself and sat down on a stool with wheels that allowed him to scoot around the office at lightning speeds to snatch papers and files as needed. A chatty and energetic sort, he explained early on that no one has to undergo reconstruction, which I appreciated, but that if I wanted to, he would help me determine my options. I told him I was certain I wanted to reconstruct.

He pulled out his pen and opened his file and began asking questions, looking over my medical information: Do you smoke? No. Did they find cancer when you had your cervical cone biopsy? No. Good, he said. And then: What is your current bra and cup size, and what would you like to move up to?

Huh?

No, I thought. No, he didnt just imply that I am an obvious candidate for breast augmentation, though some might argue that I was. I looked at my doctor and then my husband, both of whom studiously avoided eye contact with me. In the awkward silence, it occurred to me that my husband might be tempted to weigh in favorably on the augmentation, a move I would have found highly uncool. After all, its one thing for a plastic surgeon to point out your supposed anatomical shortcomings, but its quite another to hear it from the guy whose laundry you fold and put away.

Similarly, the breast cancer awareness movement has turned into an emphasis on “Saving the Boobs” rather than “Saving the Women.” What if we valued women as much as we valued their breasts? And what if we valued women’s health as much as we valued them as decorations? Several examples of advertising that sexes up breast cancer are here, here, and here.

Sexualizing breast cancer will only discourage young women from becoming familiar with their bodies, what is healthy, and what is natural. It trains women to think of their breasts as something for men to look at, or as Ginsburg mentions, objects that don’t even belong to them. Our dialogue surrounding breast cancer should be person-centered not breast-centered, as we are not hosts for our breasts, but rather they are a part of us.

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