On the (Rest of the) Net.

The YouTube makeup tutorial as public service announcement. [Jezebel, MamaMia]

After ABC’s Four Corners‘ exposé on the Catholic Church’s child sex abuse cover-up, Sarah Grant asserts that “I’m Catholic & I’m Ashamed.” As so she should be. [MamaMia]

Why the “I’m not like other girls” argument is patriarchal bullshit:

“The real meaning of ‘I’m not like the other girls’ is, I think, ‘I’m not the media’s image of what girls should be.’ Well, very, very few of us are. Pop culture wants to tell us that we’re all shallow, backstabbing, appearance-obsessed shopaholics without a thought in our heads beyond cute boys and cuter handbags. It’s a lie—a flat-out lie—and we need to recognize it and say so instead of accepting that judgment as true for other girls, but not for you.

“What I’m trying to say is, There are as many ways to be ‘girly’ as there are girls in this world. There are always going to be people out there telling you that if you like things pop culture tells you are girly, you’re stupid, and that if you claim to like things pop culture tells you are guy stuff, you’re lying. And what I’m saying is that all these people are full of crap.” [Claudia Gray’s Blog]

Famous women who’ve used their sexuality to get ahead and why we somehow see this as oppression. Can’t a girl make the conscious choice to exploit her sexuality and it not mean she’s a victim of the patriarchy? [The Frisky]

Event: The Catholic Church Is Not a Force For Good in the World.

I’ve always thought religion is bullshit, so when I saw a debate with the topic sentence “the Catholic Church is a force for good in the world” as part of the Intelligence2 debate series, I bought a ticket with my friend Laura immediately.

Going in, we’d both had our minds made up that the Catholic Church certainly wasn’t a force for good in the world, as did 34% of our fellow debate-goers, a door poll reflected.

The affirmative side didn’t do much to sway anyone’s opinion, as lawyer Julian McMahon and Sister Libby Rogerson were pretty poor debaters.

McMahon spoke about how love is the driving force behind the Church and Jesus’ teachings, which has obviously been lost in a lot of hot-button religious topics such as gay rights, and instead we have the “language of The Simpson’s”. I’d say this was true even ten years ago, but the language of today is very much a cyber one, which is perhaps why the Church is losing influence and followers. (Albeit, speaker for the opposition, Anne Summers A.O., pointed out that followers of Catholicism have increased less than one percent in recent years.)

Sister Libby went on to talk about Catholics who volunteer and work in Indigenous communities and in prisons. I don’t know too much about how the Catholic Church has been more of a hindrance than a help in Indigenous Australia, but Laura was obviously upset by the Sister’s assertion, rolling her eyes and groaning. My beef with volunteering being a primarily religious domain is that yes, perhaps a lot of Catholics volunteer, but a lot of non-Catholics volunteer, too. For example, I’m agnostic and I used to volunteer at the RSPCA. As event facilitator Simon Longstaff said, quoting Thomas Aquinas, “Not even the pope has sovereignty over a well-informed conscience.” Amen to that.

In the face of criticism, Sister Libby said the Church is a “flawed, human institution” and makes mistakes just like anyone else. Where have we heard that before?

The affirmative’s only saving grace was Helen Coonan, who actually read from her notes instead of waffling on about dot points. She said there is no excusing the past injustices of the Church, but we need to focus on the present. Coonan spoke at length about the Occupy movement, using their non-hierarchy (un)structure and myriad of messages to undercut all anti-establishment movements. (SlutWalk comes to mind.) That’s the trouble with Occupy: those in opposition to it judge all movements by its measuring stick. But that’s another post for another time.

She spoke at length about wealth in the Catholic Church and using it as a metaphor for how the world should structure its monetary dealings. Hmm… To be honest, as well as Coonan spoke, her focus on economics kind of bored me.

To rebut this, Father Peter of the opposition said the Church favours the idea of “pray, pay, obey” and doesn’t give its followers a voice.

Still with the opposition—debating for the notion that the Catholic Church isn’t a force of good—consisting of Summers, the excommunicated Father Peter Kennedy and writer David Marr, they brought the house down with their poignant points.

Summers spoke about the women’s movement in relation to the Church which, when Summers and fellow Catholic school-educated feminists such as Germaine Greer were at school, consisted of either “being a nun or a mother of six”. She spoke about abortion, birth control and choosing whether and when to become a mother.

During the floor debate, one woman about my age tried to debunk Summers’ theory that women who subscribe to the teachings of the Church don’t make their own choices. The fact that her mother was born in the ’30s, has several (Catholic school?) degrees and NINE CHILDREN leads me to believe that she wasn’t making a choice to do these things so much as she was brainwashed to do them. As Marr said during his time, sex as a non-reproductive act is frowned upon by the Church.

Speaking of Marr, he was by far the best debater and is my new favourite person! He talked about sex as a sin and that followers of the Catholic Church are supposed to engage in “no sex at all, ever!” unless it’s between a married, heterosexual man and woman for the purpose of procreation. How boring!

He pointed out four main problems with the view the Catholic Church has of sex:

1. Celibacy as purity. And we all know how damaging that is to young sexuality, in particular.

2. Condoms being outlawed. When Marr asked the affirmative panel if they support the banning of condoms to stop the spread of disease, like HIV/AIDS in Africa, McMahon awkwardly and roundaboutly agreed with the Church’s position. He said that abstinence and sex only within marriage would stop the spread of disease in Africa, forgetting that in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo rape is rife and abstinence only sex education doesn’t work. His response was laden with racism and rape-apologist attitudes, in my opinion. For all his accomplishments, this debate illustrated that McMahon is severely out of touch with the realities of our world.

3. Homosexuals are bad, okay? I think we all know the Church’s stance on homosexuality, despite most Catholics, according to Marr, believing in granting the right of marriage to the gays.

4. Shame. That sex, being sexual and looking sexy is shame-worthy. I would argue that this attitude has permeated secular society, but that secular society also laughs in the face of point #1, and also prude-shames those who aren’t having sex, being sexual or looking sexy. You can’t win either way.

By the end of the debate, in which Coonan rebutted that “ordinary Catholics”—those who acknowledge and agree with most points from both sides of the argument, and who aren’t caricatures of fanatical militant Catholics—“need a voice”, which I certainly agree with, 57% of the audience was against the Catholic Church as a force for good in the world. Hope for atheism—or at least agnosticism, which is the philosophy I subscribe to—isn’t dead yet, which is more than I can say for the Catholic Church.

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

“Who The Bloody Hell Are We?”: The Sentimental Bloke at the Wheeler Centre.

Ain’t Nothin’ Gonna Break My Slutty Stride.

The Underlying Message in Glee‘s “The First Time” Episode.

Elsewhere: [The Telegraph] Tiger Woods Says “I’m Only Human” After Mystery Crash.

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! [Scarlett Woman 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? [Scarlett Woman 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: On Stalking.

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 (Rest of the) Net.

 

Attack of the cupcakes!:

“… Badassery and toughness aren’t mutually exclusive with cupcakes. A woman can go home from her power-suit-wearing corporate job and unwind in front of Cute Overload. A ‘supermom’ can enjoy a vintage cocktail—and even wear a vintage apron, if she wants to—without becoming squishy and ineffective…” [Feministe, HuffPo]

Gloria Steinem’s not the feminist hero we think she is, according to Suzanne Venker. [National Review Online]

The Catholic Church respects women more than feminism? Laughable. [National Catholic Register]

Erica Bartle writes on the perils of being a Christian in a sometimes-misunderstanding world. I don’t think what she’s experiencing is a uniquely “Christian” thing. (More on that next week.) I abhor organised religion, but I still feel “hyper-sensitive”, as she puts it, to the small-minded bigots around me. I think it comes down to what kind of person you are, regardless of religion and faith, which aren’t mutually exclusive.

I think you can still keep your “awesomeness”, “pride” and “talents” and fight like Mike Tyson (minus the ear-biting and sexual assault). Those are the things that make us good people, in my opinion. [Girl with a Satchel]

Gala Darling on how “to be the person in the photo, instead of the person looking at it.”

The Help from a porcupine and bumblebee’s point of view. You’ll get it from mine next week. [Jezebel]

In the wake of recent assertions that Hillary Clinton might have made a better president than Barack Obama, I came across this 2008 article pitting the “Madonna” against the “whore”; “the hard-ass” against “the lightweight”; “the battle-ax” against “the bubblehead”; “the serious, pursed-lipped shrew” against “the silly, ineffectual girl”; “the bitch” against  “the ditz”, and why the Clinton/Sarah Palin debate was a futile one. [New York Magazine, The New York Times]

It’s all about the discontent of young Asian women, and how they want to look more Western. [Gender Across Borders, Sydney Morning Herald, SBS Insight]

To the inconsiderate douches who use the word “rape” as a joke. Brilliant. [Lipstick Feminists]

“The Deficient Single Woman.” [Zero at the Bone]

Discrepancies in the way college men and women dress are lauded as anti-feminist by Lisa Belkin, while Amanda Marcotte contends the sight of a woman dancing in her underwear on Halloween doesn’t mean she’s a) not a feminist, b) going to insight yearnings of violent assault in all men who lay eyes on her, and c) dumb:

“Men are perfectly capable of being turned on by a woman dancing in her underwear while never forgetting that said woman has a family that loves her, a mind of her own, and ambitions that are equal to his.  We don’t allow men’s sexuality to dehumanise them in our eyes.  If a young man spends his weekends partying and flirting with women, and spends his time in the classroom pulling down As, we don’t see that as a contradiction. The belief that female sexual expression is uniquely dehumanising is a double standard, no matter how much you dress it up in feminist language.” [The New York Times, Slate]

Somewhat in response to Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman (I’m eagerly awaiting my copy in the mail), Jason Sperber tells us “How to Be a Man”. [The Good Men Project]

Baby Beyonce is inciting debate about motherhood, race, and “doing it the right way”. [Jezebel]

Gay marriage is a human rights violation of children to be brought up by a female mother and a male father. Hmm… [The Australian]

“Professor Feminism” and the “Chronicles of Mansplaining”:

“I’m pretty confident that Professor Feminism is not Professor Understands Sarcasm, either, so I’ll spell it out: The point of listening to women and feminists is to listen to women and feminists. Because if you listen to them, you might start to understand certain basic points, such as: Women do not automatically have to accept you as an expert, particularly not when the subject under discussion (sexism!) is something you’ve never experienced first-hand. Women do not have to make you ‘comfortable’ and ‘welcome’ in every single conversation. Women do not automatically have to grant you a space in their discussions, on their blogs, or in their lives. Women do not have to permit you to enter their political movements, their self-created spaces, their personal space, their bodies, or anything else that belongs to them; you, as a man, are not entitled to women’s attention, praise, affection, respect, or company, just because you want it. And when a woman says ‘no,’ you respect that this particular woman said ‘no,’ and you stop. You don’t make excuses, you don’t explain why you should be able to get what you want, you don’t throw a tantrum, you don’t call that woman names: You just stop what you are doing. Because she said ‘no.’” [Tiger Beatdown]

See here for another example.

What Adele… and Lil Wayne… can teach us about love. [This Single Life]

“I Thought Success Meant Wearing a Suit.” So did I. I used to fantasise about working on Southbank, wearing suits (I had a penchant for an imaginary hot pink one!) and carrying my files in a suitcase-on-wheels. My how the tables have turned. In my day job, I wear a uniform that I try to spice up every now and then with biker boots and studded flats, and for my unpaid blogging duties, it’s usually trackies or pyjamas. This morning it’s raining, so I’ve invested in some extra insulation with my dressing gown. What do you were that indicates “success”. (In no way am I equating my mundane daily grind with success. I loath my paid job. Just doing it to pay the bills.) [MamaMia]

The facts and fictions of television’s crime dramas. [Jezebel]

Apparently, “Confronting Men About Sexism Makes Them Nicer,” and from my experience, I believe it. [Jezebel]

Sarah Wilson contemplates stopping for optimism. What am I optimistic about when I have to stop? The last two bouts of gastro I had I used to lie in bed and catch up on box sets between running to the bathroom. I don’t have an excuse for doing this every other day!

Images via YouTube, Jezebel, BuzzFeed. Bump Shack.