Gender Issues

Recent posts

Remember: We’re Not The First Advocates for Equality

As I wait with bated breath for the Supreme Court to make a decision on the repeal of DOMA and Proposition 8, I’m reminded of all those that came before me. In the past several years, the LGBTQ community has seen some incredible legal, social, and political advances. Just in my lifetime, I’ve seen several states pass laws that recognize same-sex unions, gays and lesbians in the military be allowed to discuss their sexuality openly, and have experienced a huge growth in cultural acceptance of the queer community. To put this in a different perspective, here are some numbers. A document from the Movement Advancement Project recorded that between 2000 and 2010, the United States experienced a 1300% increase in states outlawing gender discrimination based on gender presentation, a 600% jump in the number of high school Gay-Straight Alliances, and today, majority (57%) support for marriage equality. Continue Reading →

Some Thoughts On Harassment And Consent

How to deal with harassment – street harassment like catcalls, as well as persistent attempts to flirt – is an ongoing topic in feminist circles (as it should be). There are frequently misunderstandings, however, about what harassment actually means, and why it’s considered a big deal. This Brute Reason post lays out a lot of reasons why the men who say “But I’d love that kind of/that much attention!” aren’t actually talking about street harassment. They fail to understand that harassment is, by its nature, unwanted attention. Continue Reading →

Daily Sexual Violence, In India And America

The rape and murder of Jyothi Singh Pandey in New Delhi brought the world’s attention to the problem of sexual violence in India, with many calling for police reforms as well as culture-wide changes. And it is a culture-wide problem: as this article in The Atlantic demonstrates, there are a host of subtle cultural oppressions, which add up to “ongoing attacks on women, be they decisions to feed them last, marry them as teenagers, skimp on their medical care, or gang rape them on a bus.” But then read this piece, which focuses on the sexual violence American women face. With our rape rates -  there is a reported rape every 6.2 minutes, and one in five women will be raped in her lifetime – we also have an epidemic of ongoing attacks on women. Sexual violence is not an isolated phenomenon, and it’s not something our modernized culture has stamped out: it is systemic oppression. Continue Reading →

Experiencing Gender Differences In Spatial/Visual Abilities

We’ve all heard it before: boys are better at math and spatial reasoning, girls are better at relational thinking and language skills. There’s always more to the story than that, however. The fact that scientists and scholars are still trying to disentangle cultural conditioning from biology means that these concepts must be treated with nuance and approached skeptically until empirical evidence is brought forward to clarify them. But what’s a feminist scholar to do when life experiences rub these supposed gender differences in her face? Over dinner with my partner once, we were playing a spatial reasoning game (Pentago, for those who want to check it out – it’s actually a pretty fun game, when I’m not constantly losing). Continue Reading →

Gender And The Marriage Name-Change

What happens when a man adopts his wife’s last name upon marriage? A boatload of trouble, apparently. A Florida man legally changed his name in order to take his wife’s last name, doing all the necessary paperwork to get a new passport, Social Security card, and so on. However, after receiving a new driver’s license, the Florida DMV accused him of fraud. His license was suspended, and only just now was the suspension lifted. Continue Reading →

An International View Of Women In Combat

The decision to lift the ban on American women serving in combat has led to mixed reactions. Some marines, for instance, are skeptical that integration on the front lines will be beneficial or realistic. However, National Geographic’s overview of 8 other nations that send women into combat shows that a variety of solutions to these dilemmas exist. Israel and Canada both provide examples of integration (the Canada link is especially worth reading since its author dispels many of the assumptions that female soldiers will be weaker or more frightened, citing the traumatic effects of war for soldiers of both genders as well as male soldiers’ underreporting due to constructions of hyper-masculinity). Of course, there are numerous examples of historical women in combat, so none of this is necessarily new ground. Continue Reading →

Queer Alphabet Soup: Moving Beyond Sexual Inclusivity

LGTBQIA…and the list goes on. What we once simply called gay expanded to gay and lesbian, then to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender, and then further to include the umbrella term queer, as well as intersex and asexual. A recent New York Times article by Michael Schulman tackles this expansion of inclusive terms, discussing the new generation of queers and the gender inclusivity that they are striving for. “If the gay-rights movement today seems to revolve around same-sex marriage, this generation is seeking something more radical: an upending of gender roles beyond the binary of male/female. The core question isn’t whom they love, but who they are — that is, identity as distinct from sexual orientation. Continue Reading →

Why Firing A Sexy Employee Reflects Implicit Sexism

By now, the news that an Iowa court upheld a (male) dentist firing his (female) assistant for being too sexy has made the rounds. It doesn’t seem to matter whether the employee has been flirtatious or dressed inappropriately; the employer’s comfort level was the main factor in the decision. Other bloggers have tackled why this is a problem, pointing out, for instance, that this ruling sends a negative message by objectifying women (which is not technically illegal) – so maybe the law should change. Perhaps a new law preventing employers not just from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender, but also discrimination based on the employer’s feelings of sexual attraction (or lack thereof) would help. However, I believe that this case reflects an unconscious level of sexism that many Americans don’t even question, which is what we really need to be discussing in order to change things for the better. Continue Reading →

Gender Theorists Are The Enemy (According To The Pope)

In a recent speech, Pope Benedict XVI asserted that heterosexual marriage is a sacrament of creation, and that because gender theorists seek to disrupt marriage and similar institutions, they pose a danger to humanity. Riiiight. Here come the gender theorists, who will DESTROY EVERYTHING YOU HOLD DEAR. I would instead argue that the pope should be taken to task for giving his blessing to Ugandan legislation that institutes a death penalty for homosexuality. Who’s doling out the harm, here? Continue Reading →

Hasbro to Produce “Gender-Neutral” Easy-Bake Oven

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McKenna Pope, a 13 year-old girl from New Jersey, is a bad-ass. After searching for an Easy-Bake oven for her younger brother for Christmas and discovering that the Hasbro product only comes in pink and purple, Pope decided to make a change. She headed over to Change.org (you know, the people behind those daily emails with inflammatory headlines that you can’t quite figure out how to unsubscribe from) and started an online petition, which received over 40,000 signatures. Hasbro recently announced that they would be releasing an Easy-Bake oven in “gender-neutral” colors (black, silver, and blue), and have promised to include boys as well as girls in their advertisements. This is great news! Continue Reading →