On the (Rest of the) Net.

Do these sex trafficking awareness ads do more harm than good? [Copyranter]

On Zooey Deschanel and “girlishness”. [HuffPo]

And from a link featured in the above article, Julia Klausner laments said girlishness:

“I’m begging age-appropriate females: Read something written before you were born. Stand up straight. Make sure you own one piece of jewelry that you did not purchase on Etsy. Use capital letters in an email to the guy you want to date. Let him take you out on a date, maybe not on a walk or an Xbox session, even if you are, God help you, addicted to LA Noire. Meet your friend for wine instead of fro-yo one night. Watch a movie with no early-’90s nostalgic appeal. Bitch, you already know Clueless by heart.” [Jezebel]

2 Broke Girls is not as bad as Jezebel thought. Nor is New Girl, for that matter.

Who is the Falling Man? [Esquire]

Mia Freedman on the dangers of teen sexting. [MamaMia]

In a similar vein, Erica Bartle tackles the online activity of teens. [Girl with a Satchel]

Dating while beautiful. [The Beheld]

The “power and politics” of being a tall girl:

“It’s funny—height, like physical strength, is one of those things we don’t really care much for in women because we say it upsets the ‘natural order of things,’ which is that men are the Protectors and women the Protected.  It’s all well and good to be the Protected, as long as you don’t consider the fact that the only way to perform your role well is to be physically vulnerable.  After all, if you are not vulnerable, what’s the point of having a Protector?…

“Yet it’s difficult not to notice that my height has given me very real advantages… like not having to deal with cowardly men harassing me as I walk down the street, or being able to push my way past predatory fraternity boys who tried to corner me in college, or standing my ground in large crowds, or taking up space in public, or a whole mess of other things that I take for granted that other women don’t get to experience.

“This is why I will always encourage women to develop their physical and mental strength.  There is no reason why physical power should be meted out simply by luck of birth.  A woman who is 5’2″ has just as much right to be here in this world as I do.  She has as much right to take up space and to walk down streets as I do.  It’s a damn shame that we live in a world that demands we fight for such basic human experiences, and I hope that someday in the future it’s no longer necessary, but until then, let’s not make it easy for those who want to take these rights away from us.” [Fit & Feminist]

The Detestable Self: what are your worst qualities? Mine are that I’m selfish, stubborn, unforgiving and self-righteous. But these are what make me, me, and at the end of the day, I like the way I am and I do enjoy being a bit selfish, set in my ways, grudge-holding and judgmental every now and then. [Girl with a Satchel]

The apocalypse is nigh: Mississippi wants to pass a bill that gives unimplanted, fertilised eggs personhood rights. [Ms. Magazine]

What’s a feminist voter to do?:

“Maybe, as with any other long-term relationship, feminism and liberalism simply grew to take each other for granted. Maybe we feminists got lulled into a false sense of security that liberals are our natural, stalwart and obvious allies, and wouldn’t display misogyny or old boys’ tendencies. It’s understandable, but a gravely simplifying loyalty and trust, if so, because misogyny is something that all of us can struggle with or exhibit—whether male or female (women engage in women-hating, self-loathing, and sexuality-hating behaviors, too), and whether liberal or conservative.” [HuffPo]

The conservative Gardasil debate between Republican presidential hopefuls Rick Perry and (God save us all) Michele Bachman. [The New Yorker]

Why I Love & Hate Pretty Woman. [Tits & Sass]

The problem with porn from a male point of view. [Good Men Project]

Why the advent of smart phones, Facebook and Twitter wouldn’t have been productive for 9/11 families. [Good]

“Weddings as Work.” Very interesting. Caitlin Moran touches on this in How to Be a Woman, which I will be reviewing in the coming weeks. [Kay Steiger]

How the banning of the burqa is “making things worse” in France. [Jezebel]

The dangers of seeking out an abortion at a “crisis pregnancy centre”. [Jezebel]

This takes the cake when it comes to tasteless and totally offensive Halloween costumes: sexy “Anna Rexia”. [Jezebel]

“How to Talk About Religion Without Starting a Fight.” Handy. [Jezebel]

How to tone down the sexy in the workplace. [MamaMia]

“The Seven Types of Book Lover.” I’m definitely—much to my fellow book lovers’ dismay—“the dog-earer” and “the underliner”. However, my weapon of choice is the highlighter. Which type are you? [MamaMia]

Ahh, yet more mansplaining. [Feminaust]

Camilla Peffer gives some advice on how to get work experience/internships. [Girls Are Made From Pepsi]

MTV, please stop supporting misogynistic artists such as Chris Brown and Tyler, the Creator. [Be Closer]

The last taboo: female masturbation? [The New Republican]

Rape analogy. Funny ’cause it’s true. [Downlo]

The “vegetarian line”. [MamaMia]

“The Cult of Muscularity.” [Bitch Magazine]

On Thylane Blondeau and the sexualisation of girls:

“Yes, that’s right. She’s wearing lipstick and heels. She’s wearing things that adult women wear and adult women are sexy. What else are those poor, poor men supposed to do? Here’s a thought: nothing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There was never a man in history who dressed his son up like him and was accused of pimping him out. If this girl’s mother dressed this way, she’d be considered classy, fashionable, and beautiful. So what’s the difference? They’re clothes, not sex, so why is it okay for an adult woman to wear these things in public, but not a child? Because clothes like this are considered to be no less than full consent to sexual advances. That’s what the problem is. It’s not the clothes, it’s not that she looks good, it’s not even that she looks sexy, it’s that people consider skirts, lipstick, and earrings consent to sex.” [Blogging When the Baby Isn’t Looking]

Images via Copyranter, Jezebel, Be Closer, Downlo, Style Bungalow.

Magazines: Cover of the Week—Ruby Rose Sending Mixed Messages?

Ruby Rose is a stunning girl, and looks great on the cover of the newly released Maxim Australia. But I worry: is the out-and-proud lesbian being featured in “the world’s number one men’s magazine” sending a message of lesbianism and bisexuality as pseudo-sexual orientations, and performed solely for the enjoyment of men? Or is it okay to admire a semi-naked women on the cover of a men’s mag, no matter her sexual preferences, and I’m just overreacting?

Image via The Hot Hits.

My Week in Pictures.

The stack.

Some great content in the mags this week. Who examines what’s happening to Hollywood’s young starlets, Famous talks about Glee’s Heather Morris’s reported boob job, Cleo tackles miscarriage and female refugees who fled to Australia, and Time has a heavy focus on the state of America’s economy and politics, with the cover story on Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry. I’ve got some good reading ahead of me.

The footspa.

After several years of dropping hints and nagging, I manage to coax my mum’s unused footspa out of her shed and into my loungeroom. It’s a much needed addition to my house, as my day job usually sees me on my feet for seven hours a day.

The movies.

The cinema was packed almost exclusively with Generation Y for the 3D rerelease of The Lion King. With it being the number one movie at the box office in the U.S., it just goes to show that nostalgia is alive and well. Just ask the hipsters.

The new tops.

I’m going through that looking-in-the-wardrobe-and-realising-you-have-no-clothes stage, so what better time to pick up a couple of new tops. Both on sale from Bardot. Score!

The Show.

I live just a few blocks from the Melbourne Showgrounds, which means I encounter numerous families with kids on school holidays when I’m trying to make a quick trip to the supermarket, fireworks and hooligans on the street at all hours of the day and night. Riotous! Can’t wait til the Spring Racing Carnival…

The birthday present shopping.

It’s my friend Christine’s 39th birthday party on Saturday, and I was put in charge of picking up a group present in Chinatown. You’ll just have to wait til next week to see what it was. No present spoilers here, Christine!

The exhibition.

As I blogged about earlier in the week, I went to see The White Wedding Dress exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery. I suggest you do, too.

What have you been up to this week?

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The White Wedding Dress Exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery.

TV: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “I Am Unicorn” Episode.

“When a pony does a good deed be becomes a unicorn, and he poops out cotton candy until he forgets he’s magical, and his horn falls off… then he becomes a zebra,” according to Brittany. Or rather, “A unicorn without a horn is just a horse,” as Burt Hummell puts it.

Take away all the Brittany-craziness and metaphors, and I am starting to relate to Glee like never before.

What Brittany is trying to tell Kurt—whose campaign for class president she wants to run—is that he’s unique, and he should never forget that.

As I wrote in relation to Glee’s season three debut last week, I’m struggling at the moment with not only believing in my uniqueness (or just in myself, period), but also having it recognised by others. But when you keep getting similar responses—“Everyone else has to get by with the daily nine-to-five grind, why shouldn’t you?” is a paraphrase that springs to mind—in the quest to realise your dreams, it’s hard not to become disheartened.

Kurt’s struggling with this, too, as he auditions for the lead male role in McKinley High’s production of West Side Story, which the co-directors, Coach Beiste, Miss Pillsbury and Artie, think he might not be masculine enough for.

Really incorporating a key element in the gender blogosphere this past year, Burt tells Kurt to stop sulking about being too flamboyantly gay to play a straight guy from the streets and to write his own realistic portrayal of gay characters.

Sing it, daddy! (I intended that to be less creepy than it came out!)

Brittany also makes a poignant point when she informs Kurt she’s decided to run for class president, too:

“You know, the last six senior class presidents have all been guys, and look where that’s got us: teetering in a double-dip recession.”

Finally, Glee’s starting to acknowledge some pertinent issues, minus the offensiveness. Maybe Santana’s right in saying that Brittany’s a genius, and a unicorn. We all are.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Glee Back in Full Force.

Images via VideoBB.

TV: At Home With Julia—Funny or Disrespectful?

After watching last Wednesday night’s third episode with my hard-to-please comedy-wise housemate who hadn’t seen the previous installments, it certainly wasn’t funny.

I did enjoy the first two episodes though and, as Mia Freedman mentioned on MamaMia TV a couple of weeks ago, it did make the Prime Minister seem more “human” and relatable, if that’s even possible coming from a scripted, comedic version of Julia Gillard.

But why is a comedy show that mocks her living arrangements with her de facto partner Tim Mathieson, amongst other things, being made about a prime minister in office? Would this shit fly if John Howard—or even Kevin Rudd—had a show made about them whilst in office?

Sure, there were comics of Howard with his bushy eyebrows and his morning walk, and Rove had a weekly segment about K.Rudd and Wayne Swan’s prime ministerial faux pas, which came to be my favourite part of the show. But they dealt with their public lives, not their personal ones, which seems to be all the public can focus on since Gillard ousted Rudd.

Gillard has been disrespected in the past because of her gender. She is constantly referred to as “Julia” instead of the courteous “Prime Minister”, was berated by Alan Jones for being a few minutes late on his talkback radio program (which, incidentally, was the same day she was also called “Ju-liar” by the shock jock), and cops it in the press for the way her hair is styled and how she dresses.

On that, there is a heavy influence on At Home with Julia about Tim’s “house-husband” status and how he’s a sad hairdresser who just wants to marry the independent Julia. While I’m not sure the show seeks to contribute to the status quo, but rather critique it, I do have a problem with the fact that in this society, an unmarried couple is an unhappy one.

Despite my problem with the fact that there is a comedy show about a sitting prime minister, it is an accurate and (mostly) funny satire of Gillard’s time in office. I voted for her, and regret doing so because of the way she’s blundered the carbon tax and the asylum seeker issue. I hope At Home with Julia seeks to delve more into these issues, instead of portraying sex—an act the show asserted it would never do—under the Australian flag in the Prime Minister’s office. As Anthony Sharwood wrote on The Punch:

“Yet somehow, it was deemed OK to make sexual jokes about an incumbent prime minister in her late 40s, whose love life has never had the tabloid quality of, say, Bob Hawke’s. Even if you dislike Labor and Gillard, the nookie scenes were cringeworthy and savagely inappropriate.”

What do you think? Much ado about nothing, or wildly inappropriate and disrespectful?

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Not Quite Out of the Woods: The State of Australian Politics.

Elsewhere: [The Punch] Why is the ABC Screening This Crap?

[MamaMia] At Home with Julia: Love or Loathe?

Image via News.com.au.

Magazines: Is Lea Michele Too Sexy?

I originally wrote this article several months ago as a guest post for Girl with a Satchel, however it was never published due to issues such as timeliness. So, I decided to post it here on The Early Bird. Since when have I ever been concerned with timeliness here?!

Earlier in the year, Glee star Lea Michele, who plays the uptight perfectionist lead singer in knee-high socks of William McKinley High School’s glee club, posed for a sexy cover shoot for US Cosmopolitan.

On the cover of the March issue, Michele looks sultry in a low cut black top, but it’s nothing compared to her racy, and downright inappropriate, pictorial with fellow Glee clubbers, Diana Agron and Cory Monteith, for GQ last year. Sure, it was shot by the notorious Terry Richardson, so expectations weren’t that high to begin with. But the vacant, open-mouthed stare of Michele as she sits, legs akimbo, on a locker-room bench, or suggestively sucks on a lollypop, are confronting to say the least.

I have briefly blogged about this “disturbing” photo shoot, to which I can understand the public outcry.

However, Michele’s Cosmo shoot is tamely vanilla in comparison, but drew an almost equal uproar from parental groups:

“I think Lea Michele is sending the wrong message. She plays such a ‘good girl’ on Glee, and a lot of kids look up to her persona. Then she poses very provocatively on two magazine covers… I find it frustrating as a parent who is trying to teach right from wrong to their kids and then you have things like this happen which is showing middle schoolers things like sex sells and all that goes along with that.”

To my mind, Michele is 24 years old; an adult who seemingly has her head screwed on right and is in control of her own life. Her idea of the perfect night is a bath, Skype and a glass of wine, which is a far cry from the extracurricular activities of other starlets her age. Lindsay Lohan, anyone?

But, on the other hand, we have to ask the question: why does Michele feel the need to sex-up her image when, by her own admission, that is not the way she sees herself.

Dr. Karen Brooks explains, in relation to the GQ pictorial:

“I think they’re attempting to draw the line between their young characters and the fact they’re sexual adults and they feel that the way to this, rightly or wrongly, is by being hypersexual. It’s a graphic announcement to the public not to confuse or conflate the fiction of their onscreen persona with their real life; [they’re saying] ‘I may play a child’, but, in what’s almost an unintentional parody of the Helen Reddy feminist anthem, ‘I am woman, hear me roar’, they’re saying, ‘I am woman, see my score!’ It’s extreme, it gets attention (for the show, the character and the actor) and therefore, sadly, works.”

Ultimately it is her choice to get a bit sexy but, when I asked Erica Bartle of Girl with a Satchel for her thoughts on this topic, she wondered if maybe Michele’s just “conforming to the status quo?”:

“How much say does a star really have in how she’s portrayed?”

As Jezebel notes, “it isn’t as if Lea’s doing Playboy.” Cosmo is a magazine for women, and the cover isn’t as threatening as, say, the GQ one, or Rihanna’s Rolling Stone cover, in which her butt cheeks hung out of mesh shorts. There are a lot of magazines for women out there, like Yen, The Gentlewoman, and Brigitte, which cater to needs other than “how to please your boyfriend in bed”, and don’t require their cover star to, as Coco Chanel once said, take something off. In most cases, it’s their bra. (One argument for Michele’s down-to-there black top might be that *cue sarcasm* she really bares her heart and soul.)

But at the end of the day, it’s just a magazine cover. For mature adults like ourselves, we can make the decision to buy or not to buy into the sexy image of Michele on the cover of Cosmo, Rihanna in chain mail shorts for Rolling Stone, or the flesh-baring on the blue carpet at the Brownlows on Monday night. As educated, critical thinkers, we also realise that because Michele is dressed provocatively, it doesn’t make her any less of a singer, actor or seemingly normal 24-year-old when the makeup comes off and the spotlight goes down.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Lea Michele Just Can’t Win.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Disturbing Behaviour: Terry Richardson Does Glee.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] In Defence of Rachel Berry.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Rachel Berry as Feminist.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] VCE Top Designs: frankie Editor Jo Walker Talks to Media Students.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Is There Really a Beauty Myth?

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Righteous Moms Just Can’t Let Lea Michele Be Sexy.

Images via Reality by Rach, Twenty2.OnSugar.

Book Review: Never, Ever, Again… Why Australian Abortion Law Needs Reform by Caroline de Costa.

Abortion activist Caroline de Costa gets the name for her book from the Queensland trial of young couple Tegan Leach and Sergie Brennan, who were charged with procuring an illegal abortion by using the “controversial abortion drug”, RU486, which is a situation that should happen “never, ever, again” (p. 24).

This unique case garnered so much media attention because it was the first time since 1959 that a woman was charged, under section 225 of the Queensland Criminal Code, with procuring her own abortion. This section of the criminal code hasn’t been changed since it was written… in 1899.

The couple were declared innocent after the trail came to a close on the 14th October last year, but it brought to a head the debate surrounding the aforementioned “controversial abortion drug” RU486.

de Costa has also written another book on RU486, and a lot of that material is rehashed in this publication. Before this case, I only ever thought there were surgical abortions, performed in a hospital using suction. I supported them nonetheless. Now that I’m aware there is an “abortion drug”, which not only assists in the safe termination of pregnancy, but “could help treat, among many other things, certain inoperable brain tumours, breast cancers, burns and, ironically enough, the fertility-inhibiting condition of endometriosis” (p. 151), I’m even more in favour of allowing access to abortion to women who don’t want to be pregnant.

de Costa continues:

“Mifepristone/misoprostol [RU486] is also an effective way of starting labour in women when it is found that the fetus has died in the uterus at any time up to mid-pregnancy, and this is now recommended practice in many countries overseas.

“Mifepristone has also been shown in trials to be useful for Emergency Contraception (EC)” (p. 152).

de Costa is quick to point out that RU486 is not the same as EC, as one assists in abortion while the other prevents an egg being fertilised in the aftermath of unprotected sex.

The drug has also been seen to be effective in small doses as a contraceptive pill, assist in the treatment of Cushing’s syndrome (the “over-production of glucocorticoids”), depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s, arthritis, “certain types of hypertension”, glaucoma, and even HIV and AIDS (p. 152, 154).

But RU486 is only available from a few medical practitioners in a few locations in Australia, hence why Leach and Brennan decided to purchase theirs from overseas. It is also a fairly recent development.

Before medical abortion was available, women tried all sorts of treatments and home remedies to abort their foetuses, a cacophony of which are detailed in Never, Ever, Again. Most of these cases resulted in the desired death of the unborn child, but also in the death of the mother.

Whilst Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and the Territories have abolished abortion as a crime, Queensland still considers it an illegal and punishable offence. So do, to a lesser extent, Tasmania and South Australia. Seriously, people: when some third world countries have no problem with mifepristone, why should a progressive country such as Australia?

The book talks about the majority of Australians who think abortion should be legal, and how Queensland residents and the media came out in support of Leach and Brennan during their trial. For example, “as journalist Emma Tom wrote in 2009:

“Like many people who believe women should have the right to safe, affordable and legal terminations, I don’t like being described as pro-abortion because it sounds like I think terminations are fabbo things that women should hop into as often as possible. The truth is I’d like to see a whole lot less of them, but via sex education and contraception rather than by robbing women of their right to decide whether they’re up to seeing through a pregnancy” (p. 24).

Now that’s something everyone can agree on, no?

In the final chapter of the book, a recent addition to this second edition, de Costa writes in a much more relatable and personable tone than the rest of the book. Perhaps that’s because the final chapter is an account of the trial of Leach and Brennan, which de Costa attended.

de Costa also repeatedly writes the assertion that abortion should be a matter that exists between a woman, her partner and her doctor, and not the government, the police and the legal system. In the final sentence, de Costa writes:

“It [the second chapter of abortion law reform in Australia] will be written when finally State Premiers and Attorneys-General have the wisdom and courage to remove abortion from the too-hard basket and agree on uniform decriminalization of abortion law across the country. Then, and only then, can abortion truly be a matter for a woman, her partner and her doctor.”

Amen to that!

 

 

 

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Melbourne Writers’ Festival: Never, Ever, Again: Why Australian Abortion Law Needs Reform by Caroline de Costa Book Launch.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Feminism Respects Women More Than Anything, Including the Catholic Church!

Image via Fishpond.

Event: The White Wedding Dress Exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery.

Gwen Stefani’s pink-tinged John Galliano for Christian Dior wedding dress, and Dita Von Teese’s wedding undergarments, by Nina Ricci and Mr. Pearl.

While there were some non-white dresses, such as Dita Von Teese and Gwen Stefani’s gowns and a to die for red frock, most of them were white and cream dresses from Australia and Britain, dating as far back as 1828.

But more than their colour, the exhibition focused on the tradition of the wedding in white societies. There was a token shout-out to Aboriginal brides, and two groom suits (above) worn by a same-sex couple married in England in 2006, but ultimately, the white, cisgendered, heterosexual, middle- to upper-class bride reigned supreme.

Liberty of London gown, front left, and Baba Beaton’s wedding dress, back right.

That’s not the say that the dresses on their own weren’t spectacular. There were frocks from Australian designers J’Aton, worn by Rebecca Judd for her wedding to Chris Judd (one of my favourites on display), Romance Was Born and Akira Isogawa, if I’m not mistaken. Fashion legend Baba Beaton’s wedding dress, with a train to rival Diana’s, as well as one from Liberty of London, represented Britain’s high society.

One of my favourites looked ’80s inspired, but it turns out it was from the 1930s, and held up impeccably over time. I have hand-me-downs from my mum that haven’t weathered as well as some of the gowns from the 19th century!

While some of the gowns were just nice to look at, some had very interesting backstories. The red dress I mentioned (above) broke away from the emerging tradition of white, and echoed the tough times of war. Other dresses featured in the same section were bought with fabric stamps. Perhaps drawing inspiration from this time, a modern Australian creation from the end of the exhibition was designed with sustainability in mind, and can be used as a curtain when not being worn. That really gives a whole new meaning to the critique, “she looks like she’s wearing curtains”.

On the throwaway modern culture of the “event” wedding, the celebrity wedding section also features a magnificent black Spanish Barbie/Madonna-esque couture creation by Christian Lacroix. Made and paraded down the runway in 1993, Lacroix christened the gown “Qui a le Driot?”; “Who has the right?” In this era of gay marriage debate who, indeed, has the right?

The White Wedding Dress Exhibition is on until 6th November, a pre-booking is recommended.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] It’s a Nice Day for a White Wedding Dress Exhibition.

Elsewhere: [Bendigo Art Gallery] The White Wedding Dress.

Images via Bendigo Art Gallery, Facebook.

Guest Post: Feminism Respects Women More Than Anything, Including the Catholic Church!

Just over a week ago I was reading this here blog when I came across an article that shocked me. It was a response to a feminist blog that stated that the Catholic Church disrespects women. The response was supposed to demonstrate that “[the Catholic Church is] one of the few places in the modern world where women can find true acceptance and respect.” I almost choked when I read those words. Surely a Solidarity Salon or feminist society would be a more accepting place.

The Catholic Church has systematically stripped away women’s rights from the outset. Before people go asking for evidence, permit me to quote the Bible:

“That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discrete, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” Titus 2:4, 5 (emphasis mine).

According to this, women are subservient to men, must marry, have children and behave in a particular way—chaste, pure, with loving eyes only for him. The most important point here, however, is that wives must be obedient to their husbands. This indicates that women are viewed as being unequal to men. I cannot see how we can possibly feel respected if we do not feel equal.

Women in the Bible, and therefore in the eyes of the Catholic Church, are always presented in one of two ways: the Madonna or the whore. The Virgin Mary (mother of Christ and most famous of all biblical “vessels”), Priscilla (devoted wife of Aquila who extended her hospitality to St. Paul when he was in need), Ruth (loyally took care of her sick mother-in-law) and Elizabeth (who bore a son, John the Baptist, despite being well past child-bearing age) are all examples of the Madonna; the virtuous woman in the Bible.

So some of the examples are a little stretched for goodness—I’ll gladly look after my mother-in-law but I doubt that alone makes me a good person. That is because women are painted as sinners and whores far more frequently in the good old pages of the Bible. A small list of examples include: Eve (duh, she started it all by defying God and eating some fruit), Jezebel (worshipped false gods and murdered her husband and sons), Delilah (betrayed Samson, lured him with her sexuality and maimed him by cutting off his hair in which his strength lay, effectively leading to his death), Salome (flirted and danced seductively for her step-father to persuade him to execute John the Baptist—at the age of thirteen! [Early Bird note: so the sexualisation of children isn’t just a raunch culture, Internet-age thing!]), Mary Magdalene (one of Jesus’ most reliable disciples, however she was painted as a prostitute until 1969 when the Pope recognised her as a true disciple). I could go on. Is it just me, or are the stories about the “evil” women just so much more fun? Now that we’ve had a who’s who of female biblical figures, I’d like to address some of the points that were made in the article.

The first point, predictably, is abortion. Apparently, because a high percentage of women having abortions reported using contraception and it failing “there is a huge problem with contraception—something the Church has said all along.” The Catholic Church is against contraception because they believe that every union between sperm and egg is a life and that only God has the right to give or take away life. Jennifer Fulwiler’s argument seems to be more centred on the science of contraception, an aspect of the argument that the Catholic Church has never really looked into being clouded with the morality angle. There were a few comments written in response asserting that if feminists want to be environmentalists as well, they shouldn’t pump their bodies and waterways with chemicals that inhibit pregnancy. Aaah, psedo-science!  As both a feminist and an environmentalist, I endorse the use of the Pill. All medication carries a risk, even aspirin. I received a very competent education on the menstrual cycle and how the pill works to inhibit the release of an egg by adding more oestrogen and progesterone, hormones that are naturally produced in the body, at a particular time in the cycle. If you are educated on how it works, you won’t be afraid of it. I would like to ask a question about sperm, though. If the church posits that the union between egg and sperm is a human being, do they believe that individual sperm and unfertilised eggs are also people? If this is the case, how can they condone the reproduction process, considering how many poor innocent sperm die in the hostile environment of the womb? [Early Bird note: Or in “masturbatory emissions”, as Elle Woods would say?! Oh, that’s right: masturbation is evil.]

The article goes on to say that—shock, horror!—women are having sex for pleasure, not procreation. Really? In 2011? I had no idea! This is blamed on being “bombarded with about a zillion messages a day that portray sex as… pleasure and fun” and that you only have to “turn on the E! Network or flip through an issue of Cosmo” to see this message being touted and lauded as positive. I must admit, I always go to Cosmo for the best sex tips! The hyper-sexualisation of society is something that religion in general often uses as a way of renouncing feminism.  In a Google search of feminism, the third option is a website called Feminism is Evil. Not only is the sheer ridiculousness of the “argument” against feminism laughable, the only evidence appears to be quotes from the Bible. Feminism is Evil also blames the media for the unfeminine behaviour of women:

“The television is about as false and misleading as can be nowadays… People are being indoctrinated, especially our youth, to have a false view of reality. Television nowadays is being used as a weapon to promote agendas that go 100% contrary to the Word of God; such agendas as homosexuality, feminism and abortion.” (Original emphasis removed.)

At one point, the site makes the argument that men are more pure than women because “not one man has ever had an abortion”! I still believe that the mainstream media presents a patriarchal, homophobic lifestyle as the norm. Whilst there may be more divorced characters on television, they still promote impeccable family values. In CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, I would argue that Catherine works extra hard on her relationship with her daughter, Lyndsay, insisting on things like eating dinner together at the table and having movie nights. If anything, she is the most family-oriented character on the show. Similarly, Glee deals with a gay character, Kurt, by placing him in a highly supportive family. He has a great relationship with his father and becomes integrated into a full family unit with the marriage of his dad to fellow Glee clubber Finn’s mum.

Whilst I am the first to discuss the objectification of women in advertising that portrays them as sexual objects, it’s strange how we actually agree on something but think that it’s wrong for completely different reasons. I still maintain that most adverts place women in domestic spheres. This is completely compliant with the church, according to Feminism is Evil, as “biblically a woman’s place is in the home.” If I have to see one more advertisement for cleaning or cooking products in which only women appear, or in which they are exasperated at the incompetence of their husbands (and they are always husbands), I feel I might scream! The media systematically proliferates society with these wholesome messages of propaganda for “traditional” gender roles as a response to the increasing feminist and homosexual rights movements. People just don’t see it, as the message is more subtle than the ads of the ’50s and ’60s.

Back to the article at hand, and Fulwiler falsely states that “secular feminists are not willing to stand up for all women.” This is a sweeping generalisation. She cannot speak for everyone, and neither can I, however I was offended by this statement. I, personally, am willing to stand up for all women, even ones who, like her, are victims of the patriarchy. I actually feel that women who have been indoctrinated into a repressive and unequal culture need to be represented more, as they have lost their own voices.

As the article goes on, however, I realise that I don’t represent all women, if Fulwiler is to be believed:

“Pro-choice feminism only respects women once they’ve reached a certain age, usually about 36 weeks; the ones who are younger than that are not considered worthy of consideration as human beings, let alone worthy of respect. The Catholic Church respects all women, no matter how small and voiceless.”

Oh, right, I see what she means. I could not disagree more. This issue is, undoubtedly, highly subjective based on when one considers a foetus becomes a person.

I am not speaking for any other secular feminist at this point but I don’t consider an aborted foetus a woman that I have failed to represent. This is not about neglecting women here; this is about terminating a pregnancy, not a life.  I believe that the person to focus on is the woman who should be given the choice as to whether she wants to continue the pregnancy and eventually give birth to a fully-fledged human, or terminate that pregnancy and not bring an extra child into the world. Each case is individual and should be treated that way, however, at the end of the day, the choice should only ever be that of the woman’s.

Once again, there is a misconstrued notion that the Catholic Church educates women on abortion better than pro-choice organisations or abortion clinics. I disagree, and I went on quite a few websites to discover what they say the procedure consists of. According to Better Health Victoria, two types of abortion are currently available:

  • Surgical abortion: a low-risk procedure most commonly used for first trimester (7–12 weeks) abortion in Australia. Known as suction aspiration or suction curette, it involves removing the lining and contents of the uterus (womb). A range of other surgical techniques are used for abortion later in pregnancy.
  • Medical abortion: a low-risk alternative to surgery used for terminating pregnancies earlier than 7–9 weeks (depending on the clinic). RU486 (mifepristone), also known as “the abortion pill/drug”, is the most widely known medication used for this procedure. It’s available in some clinics in Australia and is up to 98 per cent effective when used in the first nine weeks of pregnancy.

This seems to be the general consensus on most abortion websites I visited. I did come across several problems, though, as most of the sites had been hijacked by religious pro-life propaganda. One website, called Pro-Choice.com, was full of pictures of foetuses and religious messages. If you can’t go to a site labelled “pro-choice” without it being corrupted by religion, where can you go?  I find it quite insulting to read that apparently the Catholic Church provides more accurate information on abortion. Women undergoing the procedure are given accurate and thorough information regarding the process just like any other medical procedure. The Church’s scare mongering and twisting of the facts are not scientifically- or medically-based enough to be considered “information.”

Now, Ms Fulwiler is not saying that “secular feminists intend to disrespect women”; she thinks we “mean well but are simply misguided.” How nice of her to be concerned!  She says she knows how we feel because she used to be the same until she found God was brainwashed. She then says that she started “questioning assumptions.” For someone who questions assumptions, she sure makes a few herself. the first being that the Catholic Church has moved into a modern world in which Eve and Jezebel are not real but allegorical so that women are really seen as respectable in the eyes of the Church. According to Feminism is Evil, even female ministers are going against the word of God and should get back to the kitchen!

The second assumption she makes is that women are being blindly led to the abortion clinic the second they get pregnant. As I stated earlier, every case is different and I feel that there is a tendency to sweep over that and assume that pro-choice women relish in the devilry of their abortive practices.

The third and final assumption is that God exists. I understand that this is a faith-based claim, as there hasn’t been an awful lot of concrete evidence that He has spoken to anyone of late, yet the whole church system relies on the fact that he’s real. If the assumption is wrong, as I believe, then the reasoning behind the oppression of women and the pro-life argument go completely out the window.

Oh, and one final assumption: that secular feminists care what you think.

—Laura Money.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] On Stalking.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] On Stripping.

Elsewhere: [National Catholic Register] Feminists Don’t Respect Women; the Catholic Church Does.

[YouTube] Legally Blonde Part 5.

[Feminism is Evil] Homepage.

[Better Health Victoria] Abortion.

[ProChoice] Homepage.

On the Net: Megan Fox Transforms From “Android Ice Queen” to Relatable Person.

From an interview with Megan Fox on Moviefone:

“[Interviewer] This role seems to…

“[Fox] Make me seem human?…

“I just think the idea is that because most of the way that people have seen me, it’s the glorified pin-up girl with motorcycle boots who is also fighting to save the world. It’s not necessarily someone who you connect with because they’re not real people necessarily who exist like that—the glossy lips in the middle of the desert… You don’t necessarily see the human side of whoever is playing that person. And I just think [in] the media, in general, I just don’t really get portrayed as someone who has feelings or who is sympathetic. Or I sort of am portrayed as this—I feel—like a self-absorbed ice queen.

I feel people think I’m almost like a robot—like an android. And that I’m all about me and my thoughts are all about me. That I want to be famous.”

I can relate to these feelings expressed by Fox, albeit on a much smaller scale. I’m often accused of being a bitchy ice queen with no feelings because I choose not to express them in public. I feel like I’m also torn between citing my opinions and ideas and being attention-seeking or, at least, I think this is how people perceive my actions. I try not to let these things get the best of me, and it seems Fox subscribes to a similar school of thought. I can’t imagine how hard it would be for her to be dragged through the mud in the tabloids and the blogs when, to me, she seems like a genuine, relatable person, especially in this interview.

What do you think? 

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Megan Fox Too “Spicy” for Transformers?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] “She Just Wants Attention.”

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Beautiful, Bigmouthed Backlash Against Katherine Heigl & Megan Fox.

Elsewhere: [Moviefone] Megan Fox on Shia LaBeouf, Her Public Image & Starting Over with Friends with Kids.

Image via Broad Recognition.