I am absolutely fascinated by people’s reasons for holding onto stiffly defined gender roles. For that reason, this weekend’s New York Times Magazine article, “Housewives of God,” was an absolute treat. Journalist Molly Worthen profiled Priscilla Shirer, an evangelical Bible teacher who has published numerous religious books and workbooks and accepts 20 out of 300 speaking engagements per year. She is also the mother of three young boys and depends on her husband, Jerry, to pick the kids up from school, do laundry and prepare dinner. As journalist Worthen put it, “Priscilla Shirer’s marriage appears to be just the sort of enlightened partnership that would make feminists cheer.”
But Jerry Shirer is the head of the Shirer household. All phone calls regarding Priscilla’s career and decisions — including what to name the couple’s youngest baby — go through him. Priscilla also sees herself not as a rah-rah-independent woman, but as a “complementarian”: She and her hubby both have separate, defined roles from their gender and are “complementary” to each other. Keep reading »
Bad news, ladies: being described as “caring,” “sensitive,” “kind” or “nurturing” in a recommendation letter can work against you. According to research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, of 624 letters of recommendation submitted on behalf of 194 applicants for eight positions at a university, women are more likely to be described with stereotypically “feminine” adjectives by both male and female letter writers and they are less likely to get offered the job if tainted with these “feminine” descriptions. Researchers took the letters, removed identifying, gendered information, and controlled for things like papers published and honors received. The search committee rated the letters in which the subject was described as “feminine” the lowest for both men and women, but women’s letters of recommendation letters are where these descriptors were most likely to appear. What are some of the words more likely used to describe men? “Confident,” “aggressive,” “ambitious,” “independent,” and “daring.” According to Inside Higher Ed, scholars who analyzed the research said there are “clear patterns” of word choice in recommendation letters. Keep reading »
Do you know some reality stars from TV who look like they could use a real-life kick in the pants? A “desperate bachelorette” maybe? A “d-bag”? An “angry black bitch”? These are just a few of the stock characters you see over and over again on reality TV — excuse me, “reality TV.” Media critic Jennifer L. Pozner — who just happens to be my mentor and friend — has just published Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV, which examines the past decade of “reality TV” and how its statements on race, gender and class just happen to echo cultural stereotypes. (For example, men and women of color were pretty much absent from “reality TV” until Flavor of Love — a “dating” show where women clean up after and perform sexual favors for the rapper Flavor Flav.) Keep reading »
How on earth did we even try to understand the differences between the genders before Google Instant? Everything we could ever want to know about men vs. women can be illuminated by autocomplete. (For the record, Google, I also need to urinate. Too much Diet Coke today.) [via I Love Charts] Keep reading »
The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) is in a bit of a bind right now—thanks to a set of policies which some believe discriminate against transgender athletes. Golfer Lana Lawless is suing the LPGA for its “female at birth” policy, which requires that all competitors must have been born biological females. Lawless, who was born male, had gender reassignment surgery in 2005 and was a high-ranking golfer in the Long Drivers of America organization. But then Long Drivers changed its gender policy to match the LPGA rendering Lawless ineligible for competition.
“It’s an issue of access and opportunity,” Lawless told The New York Times. “I’ve been shut out because of prejudice.” Keep reading »
This is the sweetest story: this little boy likes to wear princess clothes and that’s just fine with his mom. Cheryl Kilodavis has written a children’s book called My Princess Boy about how it’s OK for boys, like her son Dyson, to enjoy pretty dresses. It warms my dark, craggy heart. Some moms are the best. [My Princess Boy via Colorlines] Keep reading »
Tomorrow the United States will execute Teresa Lewis, 41, the first woman to be put to death in the last five years, by lethal injection. In 2002, Lewis left the door of her Danville, Virginia, home unlocked so her lover, Matthew Shallenberger, and his companion, Rodney Fuller, could murder her husband and 25-year-old stepson with shotguns she had purchased. Her husband didn’t die immediately after being shot, but Lewis waited 45 minutes before she called the police. Lewis allegedly wanted to kill her family so she could collect life insurance and inheritance; she allegedly offered sex with her 16-year-old daughter if the murderers went through with the killings.
Lewis’ lawyers have claimed that she is borderline mentally retarded, was allegedly addicted to painkillers, and therefore was not an appropriate candidate for the death penalty. Keep reading »
I don’t know how much stock I take in Vanity Fair‘s lists of the most powerful and influential people. There’s no denying someone like Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, or Rupert Murdoch has an enormous ability to influence people. But there’s always people in lists like that who I sense are just getting a blow job from the magazine. Besides, who each of us is influenced by is such a personal thing! I personally find Tina Fey and Ani DiFranco enormously “influential,” but they are never listed on anything. Alas, Vanity Fair‘s 2010 list of the 100 people in “New Establishment” has another reason for you to scoff at its credibility: If my counting skills are to be trusted, of the 114 people on the list, there are only 13 women. That’s nine percent. Nine! Keep reading »
I’m channeling my inner Stephen Colbert to offer a “tip of the hat” to Levi’s for advertisements that don’t make us wanna scream and pull our hair out. Walking to work this morning, I saw two print ads from their summer campaign that I just love. One depicts a man and a small child, presumably a father and son, and reads, “Everybody’s work is equally important.” The other depicts an older man standing with a young woman and a young man, with the same tag line. Wow, I thought. How cool that a clothing company would make such a progressive statement about gender? Keep reading »
Politicians and stupid remarks go together like 90-degree days and Frappucinos. But you’d hope that in 2010, politicians would know better than to sling mud about each other’s gender. Recently, Jane Norton, a U.S. Senate candidate from Colorado, made the sexist comment that her opponent, Ken Buck, was not “man enough” to criticize her himself and instead had others do his dirty work. Then yesterday at a fundraiser, Buck sniped back with a remark about Norton’s femininity — by way of her footwear. When an audience member asked the Colorado cowboy why he deserved their votes, Buck responded, “Why should you vote for me? Because I do not wear high heels.”
In other words, because he’s not a woman. Or maybe a transvestite. But we think he meant a woman. Keep reading »