Archive for May, 2009

26
May
09

Warning: Men With Spatulas

There’s a million things to blog about, including President Obama’s new pick for SCOTUS and the ruling about to be handed down by the California Supreme Court on Prop 8. However, these are topics I’ll actually need to do research about, so for right now I’m going to discuss a pet peeve instead.

My father does most of the cooking in our house. Mom’s entirely able to cook, and there are some dishes designated as hers (taco shells, egg salad, cookies..), but in general, Dad cooks.

I’m not sure how the pattern got started, but I’d guess that convenience was a big factor: Dad was always home at least an hour and a half before Mom was. That’s not really the important part.

It was when I got old enough to realise that according to advertisements, I lived in a bizarro world where normal laws of space and time did not apply.

Then, and now, it is next to impossible to find a commercial or print ad for cooking (aside, of course, from the manly art of grilling) that depicts men in the role of cook/food maker. It is always, always always the wife or mother or any other females in the scene that do this. (Just as it is always the female worried about the cleanliness of or engaged in the active cleaning of the domicile. For a more detailed analysis of that topic, see Sarah Haskin’s expose on Target Women.)

I remember one ad for McDonald’s from a few years back where the mother was out of town for the weekend. She’d left an entire fridge full of colour-coded tupperware containers so that her apparently completely useless family could feed themselves, but, overwhelmed by the insurmountable challenge of the microwave (and following directions), the idiot father takes his offspring to McDonald’s instead, which is, of course, a way better experience than eating her carefully premade food would have been anyhow.

This preponderance is ridiculous, of course, but it’s also unfair and demeaning to women and men. It tells my father and my boyfriend (thank goodness, a better cook than I am) that they (and their needs) don’t exist in the minds of advertisers or the companies they’re advertising. It tells them they can’t possibly be competent in a kitchen. It tries to tell me that any other needs I have are secondary to my ability to cook and keep house (seriously, are we still in the 1950’s?), and that I can’t expect to be in a heterosexual partnership that shares duties.

Next time you’re watching TV, keep count. It’ll scare you.

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26
May
09

Sorry I’ve been so hard to find lately….

Yes, I am continuing this blog, I even hope to expand it. Unfortunately, this is the time of year when the semester ends and I make my seasonal migration north for the summer, and driving cross-country takes a lot out of me. (As does job hunting in this economy.) Bear with me while I settle in and I should be back to posting shortly.

12
May
09

In Defense of LOLcats

They’re not just adorable, they’re good for you.

A new study suggests that looking at cute things can actually improve your performance on certain tasks.

See, I’m just here to help.

(disclaimer: I don’t know enough about the study to know how well it was handled or how many grains of salt it should be taken with. That being said, unless it is debunked I am fully prepared to use it to justify my obsession.)

10
May
09

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

It would take a book to cover all the reasons I’m grateful to you, but since this is a blog about feminism, I’m just going to mention a few that seem especially pertinent:

Thank you for yelling at my summer camp instructors so I could play soccer instead of doing cheerleading.

Thank you for keeping your birth name. I wouldn’t love you any less if you hadn’t, but the fact that you did meant growing up I always had an example of how you didn’t have to do things just because society told you you were supposed to, especially if you’re female.

Thank you for having such a great marriage. You and Dad set an amazing example of how a healthy adult relationship between equals is supposed to work, and while it gives me a lot to live up to, I’m grateful to have had the example.

Thank you for never telling me I wasn’t fine the way I was.

Thank you for teaching me math. When I’m out with a group of friends, I’m still commonly the one that’s fastest at calculating divisions and tips and stuff.

Thank you for liking my art.

Thank you for always supporting my interests, no matter how weird I’m sure they did (and still) seem.

Thank you for always taking me seriously.

Thank you for teaching me humanist values, and for teaching me you don’t need religion to have values.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, and thank you.

06
May
09

Gay Marriage in Maine!

Maine’s Governor has just signed the gay marriage bill into law! This makes Maine the fifth state in the US to cease marriage discrimination against homosexual couples.

Five years after Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriage, we now have five states (aside from Iowa, all are in New England) where you can get hitched no matter who you love.

And that’s just in the US. Worldwide, gay marriage is legal in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden.

Civil unions are currently recognised in Andorra, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Slovenia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay.

And the world hasn’t ended yet.

Now to work on the other 45…

(I should mention right now that in parts of the world it is still actually illegal to be gay, sometimes punishable by death. Iraq is currently facing an upsurge in murders and executions of homosexuals and suspected homosexuals, often by their families or the police.)

06
May
09

International No-Diet Day

Happy International No Diet Day!

Celebrate by educating yourself! Lessons from the Fat-O-Sphere: Quit Dieting and Declare a Truce with Your Body has just come out.

Why no diets? Because diets don’t work, cause yo-yo weight that’s extra bad for your health, feed into the diet industry’s multi-million dollar campaigns to make you feel inherently inadequate…. and, oh yeah, can kill you.

And even if they don’t kill you, they’re torture. Literally.

A Huff Po blogger reports that the Bush Administration Torture memos reveal that one of the “techniques” used was restricting the prisoners’ diets to 1000 calories a day, delivered by Ensure shakes and other methods. They justified this as “medically safe” and not torture because commercially available diet plans in the US frequently practice the same caloric restriction.

Let me repeat, with emphasis:  Diets were used as a torture technique.

This isn’t the first time the government has gotten involved in caloric restriction.  During WWII, the goverment actually ran a study on the effects of calorie restriction on healthy individuals, so they could figure out how best to help the malnourished and starving survivors of war-torn Europe get back to health.  You can read about the study here at Junkfood Science, it was a pretty interesting study, with applications to contemporary dieting and misunderstandings about weight.

Like that fat people are fat because they overeat:

The Minnesota Starvation Study also demonstrated that “overeating” and starvation-induced hunger only remained evident as long as weight was below what was natural for each person. It is very rarely seen when people aren’t dieting and they allow themselves to eat naturally and their bodies to be whatever they are genetically meant to be. In fact, healthy fat people actually eat no differently than a naturally thin person; they maintain a stable weight and energy balance just like a naturally thin person, just at a different set point range.

And in the meantime, fat individuals are subject to constant harassment because everyone knows they are lazy, hygenically-challenged, badly dressed slobs who spend all day shoving food in their mouths. But it’s okay to discriminate against them, because it’s for their health.

And bringing up the weight of potential Supreme Court nominees in an effort to disqualify them? That’s not being sexist (since they’re only an issue for female potential appointees), that’s just being concerned.

Dieting is one more way that society tries to police the bodies of women. Whatever your weight, you weigh too much. Unless you weigh too little, in which case you probably have an eating disorder. And it’s everyone else’s job to judge and police your body to make sure you’re fitting within acceptable societal norms, whether it’s dieting or shaving or wearing makeup…

Reject the diet. Respect your body. Love yourself. Be well.

02
May
09

Awesome Web Discovery 8 – Instructables

Want to know how to do something? Of course you do.

Have no idea how to do it?

Go here. They’ll show you.

Instructables.com is where people can post and watch videos/instruction on how to do bloody anything, from the practical (Four Hour No-Knead Bread) to the truly obscure (Viking Wire Inlay).

Is it feminist? Well, it’s definitely awesome. But what better way to dismantle aspects of gender roles than to make it possible for everyone to have access to knowledge of how to do stuff?

Now excuse me while I research the finer points of building a foundry so I can sand-cast aluminum.