February 14th isn’t just Valentine’s Day: it’s also V-Day, the day dedicated to raising awareness about violence against women. The playwright Eve Ensler, whose play “The Vagina Monologues” is performed all over the country on V-Day to raise money for local shelters and crises centers which help women, is commemorating this year with One Billion Rising. The One Billion Rising campaign is asking people all over the world to go on strike for the day, and to hold gatherings and parties to protest against the violence instead. I won’t be striking, but I have been sending Eve Ensler’s “Man Prayer” video to some of the men in my life. It’s recited by men and boys from around the world, each in their own language. The prayer for men asks them to question toxic masculinity which are constricting, like solving problems by hitting, holding negative feelings inside and seeking to control. No matter what your faith, I think any feminist can join their hands together in this prayer. [YouTube]
Did you know that House Republicans go on a retreat every year? (I imagine Democrats do the same, by the way.) Do they serve tea sandwiches and practice trust falls? Who knows. On last night’s “Rachel Maddow Show,” Maddow discussed one of the scheduled retreat activities we do know about (which took place between between archery and crafts, I assume): a lecture of sorts taught by pollster Kellyanne Conway on how the GOP can better talk to female voters and get their conservative messaging across. One of the things Conway focused on what the subject of rape, which was a popular topic for more than handful of dingbat GOP politicians up for reelection in 2012. Nearly all of them lost their respective races, in part because of how offensive their comments about rape (and how it relates to abortion) were to their female constituents. So what did House Republicans learn from Conway? As one GOP strategist put it, “This is actually pretty simple. If you’re about to talk about rape as anything other than a brutal and horrible crime, stop.” Conway’s advice to GOP representatives, according to The National Review, was ”to tread carefully on language, particularly on sensitive matters such as rape, which she called a ‘four-letter word’ that should be used sparingly, or not at all.” In short, “Don’t say rape. Ever,” said Maddow.
Maddow brings up an interesting point — do Republicans actually think they have a policy problem with women (i.e. that their policies are unpopular with female voters and they need to change them) or just a language problem (i.e. it’s the way they talk about those policies that’s the problem, not the policies themselves)? Watch the full segment above!
Abortions could be banned as early as six weeks into pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant, under a new bill proposed in Arkansas. Keep reading »
In South Florida, one man’s romantic gesture to his wife has turned into a legal battle with the DMV and a moment to reflect on traditional gender roles. Keep reading »
This is disgraceful: a 15-year-old Chicago high school sophomore named Hadiya Pendleton died yesterday in a park where she was murdered as a bystander to gang violence. Less than two weeks prior, Hadiya and her classmates performed in Washington, D.C., for President Obama’s Inauguration ceremony. The Chicago Tribune reports that Hadiya and other students from King College Prep School (one of the top prep schools in the city), were dismissed from class early on Tuesday and so they went to hang out in a park. A gang war broke out and Hadiya, a majorette and volleyball player, was caught in the fray. In addition to her death, a 16-year-old male classmate was also injured and is in serious condition. [Think Progress]
Jon Stewart’s latest crusade: picking apart the right-leaning backlash stemming from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s decision to allow women to serve in combat roles. A former U.S. Marine penned a piece in the Wall Street Journal [second item] fretting that in combat soldiers often have to urinate and defecate in front of each other — often in close proximity to a fellow soldier’s face. Stewart points out: In a war zone, are you really worried about “dying from embarrassment?” Keep reading »
Following a spate of gang rapes in India in the past several months, the Times Of India newspaper is running quarter-page ads imploring men to treat women with respect through the stark statement, “The true test of your manhood is how you treat a woman. All women. Any woman. Every woman.” I’m pleased the newspaper is questioning traditional aspects of toxic masculinity, like “rash driving” and “drunken brawls,” which some men do think defines their manhood. Yet I also think their conclusion about proving your manhood by behaving a certain way (even if it’s the right way) is problematic: “If you do not respect women, you are only half a man.” That’s the flip side of the same thinking that says guys aren’t manly if they don’t want sex all the time. Just like sexist expectations of femininity can imprison women, sexist expectations can imprison men, too. I’m all for eradicating rape culture everywhere. But the answer isn’t to tell men to act like “real men,” it’s to tell them to act like good human beings. [Our Mobile World]