When I was in middle school, I was required to create a diorama illustrating a hypothetical synagogue sanctuary (as you do, at Jewish day school). All I remember about my project is that I glued a picture of Gene Siskel to one of the walls. My teacher rightly called this out for being inappropriately idolatrous, but in the moment, I’d thought that I’d been paying appropriate reverence to an important man. After all, Siskel was Jewish, he had just recently passed away, and, until his death, I watched him and Roger Ebert weekly on television. I loved movies and knew I wanted to be a filmmaker, so I valued the words of Siskel and Ebert as highly as any of the words I was reading in school. These men cultivated my already-growing passion for cinema, and I’m certain that their enthusiasm was a contributing factor in my eventual interest in writing and film criticism.
In the years that followed, I’ve paid attention to Ebert’s ever-expanding body of work, and though I knew of his illness, I was shocked and saddened by his passing last week. I’ve now read plenty of articles praising him for his accomplishments and successes, and I can’t disagree with anything that’s been said. His writing was prolific, his persona was friendly, and he made the general public give a damn about film criticism. His absence will be felt by all who love movies.
Where I begin to disagree with the accolades, however, is the claim that Ebert was a feminist. Keep reading »
“Margaret Thatcher was a pioneer, willingly or unwillingly, for the role of women in politics. Her hard-nosed fiscal measures took a toll on the poor, and her hands-off approach to financial regulation led to great wealth for others. There is an argument that her steadfast, almost emotional loyalty to the pound sterling has helped the UK weather the storms of European monetary uncertainty. To have withstood the special hatred and ridicule, unprecedented in my opinion, leveled in our time at a public figure who was not a mass murderer; and to have managed to keep her convictions attached to fervent ideals and ideas — wrongheaded or misguided as we might see them now — without corruption — I see that as evidence of some kind of greatness, worthy for the argument of history to settle. To have given women and girls around the world reason to supplant fantasies of being princesses with a different dream: the real-life option of leading their nation; this was groundbreaking and admirable.”
— Here’s Meryl Streep, who portrayed former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the 2011 film “The Iron Lady,” remembering the politician, who died today at age 87.
After the jump, others remember the controversial yet pioneering Thatcher, who was Great Britain’s first and only female PM: Keep reading »
Fathers, lock up your daughters: the government is going to be forcing slutty slut pills down their throats!
That will be the Fox News version of events. But here in Reasonable, Common Sense-land, the story is different: a federal judge — a man! — has struck down the age limit on the morning-after pill, meaning sexually active young women age 16 and younger will be able to access it. Ruling on a lawsuit by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Judge Edward Korman decided that the government’s refusal to lift the age restriction is “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable” and said the FDA’s feet-dragging has been an “obstruction.” He ordered the FDA to lift the age restriction within 30 days.
Reproductive rights activists pushed the FDA for years to make Plan B accessible to all and in 2011, they finally did. But it never happened: Health and Human Services Secretary swiftly overruled the FDA recommendation to make Plan B accessible to everyone, citing alleged concern about its safety for young teens — but in reality, kowtowing to a game of keep-conservatives-happy hardball. Keep reading »
Over the past few months, India has been racked with high-profile gang rapes and deaths of little girls and women. From the three sisters under age 11 who were sexually assaulted and murdered to the student who was gang raped with a metal rod, which mangled her insides so badly it eventually killed her, the brutality of the country’s rape culture is horrific. One of the main problems with the rape culture in India has been placing the onus on the victim instead of the perpetrator — society as a whole, including police, had been blaming women for being out in public where they could be attacked, instead of punishing the men who hurt them.
The new laws aren’t perfect. First of all, as legal scholar Karuna Nundy for the BBC notes, the laws only protect the “modesty” of women, not boys, men or transgender folks. Additionally, marital rape is still legal (including if the wife is a minor ages 15 through 18) and homosexuality is still criminalized.
Alas, it is with cautious optimism that we welcome India’s new spate of laws criminalizing rape and other acts of violence which went into effect yesterday. Keep reading »
Late last month, in the midst of several recent and prominent examples in the steady stream of stories about the challenges that women in the tech industry face, Complex.com published its list of “The 40 Hottest Women In Tech.” Tone deaf move, fellas! People were understandably upset. Maybe if it had been published a month or two earlier or later, a big website that caters explicitly to the libidos of straight dudes tossing up a list that ranks accomplished women on a scale of “hotness” would have just been another eye-rolling example of the sort of overt-yet-casual sexism that women in the industry (and many others) have to deal with on a regular basis. But the timing couldn’t have been worse. The author of the piece, Luke Winkie, went to The Daily Beast to explain why he’d taken the assignment and how, after his editors got their hands on it, it didn’t turn out the way that he’d planned.
Luke is my friend, and I know the position he was in: Dude is a young freelancer who got offered almost a month’s rent to write something that he knew was kind of shitty. He thought that he could make that shitty thing a little bit better (he wrote at the Beast that he “got the idea that maybe we could make a list called ‘The Hottest Women In Tech’ sound as earnest and empowering and good-hearted as it could possible be”), and then it didn’t work out. I’m not here to defend the guy – he can do that himself – but I can relate, because I had been in similar positions in the past. When you’re a straight, white, cisgender dude who benefits materially from living and working in a sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic society, it’s easy to overestimate the amount of power you have. Keep reading »
Finally, something positive happening for the reproductive rights of women in Kansas. Four years after abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was fatally shot by anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder in Wichita, Kansas, his clinic is re-opening.
Activist Julie Burkhart, who worked with Dr. Tiller for seven years, started the nonprofit organization Trust Women Foundation in 2010. The foundation purchased Tiller’s old office, and after raising nearly $1 million, is ready to open the South Wind Women’s Center.
There will be some changes: unlike under Dr. Tiller, the clinic will not provide late-term abortions. The Kansas City Star reports that despite the fact that Kansas allows abortions 22 weeks into a pregnancy, the clinic’s cutoff will be 14 weeks. South Wind Women’s Center will also provide other women’s heath services including fertility counseling and other routine health care, like Pap smears. Keep reading »