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How to not get raped (video)

Trigger warning.

A satirical film in which a woman tries to follow all of the completely serious tips offered to women by the likes of Cosmopolitan, WikiHow and University of Colorado on how to avoid being raped. One of them is "fight like a psychotic cat." Another, "don't give a guy blue balls."

Directed by Cat Del Buono. Video Link.

(HT: Syd Garon)

The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For: 20 years of op-ed/soap opera


I read Alison Bechdel's Dykes to Watch Out For in various alternative weeklies and online for about 15 years. I always found it enjoyable, sometimes very funny, sometimes a bit raunchy, always very political. Really my kind of thing. But I've just read The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For, a massive, nearly-400-page tome collecting nearly (see below) every single DTWOF strip from its 20+ year run that wound up in 2008, and I've come to realize just how flat-out brilliant the strip was, ranking with Bloom County and Doonesbury in blending incisive editorial with charm and humor.

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Texas passes draconian law limiting women's health care options


Earlier this week on Facebook, Senate Democratic caucus chairman Kirk Watson posted this photo.

The NYT's John Schwartz, who is himself from Texas, live-tweeted the dramatic proceedings yesterday in the Texas Senate surrounding one of the strictest anti-abortion measures in the country. The law was pushed forward by governor Rick “The louder they scream, the more we know that we are getting something done” Perry.

No surprise: it passed. Read John's coverage today, and weep.

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Sloppy statistics: Do 50% of Americans really think married women should be legally obligated to change their names?

Jill Filipovic wrote an opinion column for The Guardian yesterday, arguing against the practice of women taking their husbands' names when they get married. It ended up linked on Jezebel and found its way to my Facebook feed where one particular statistic caught my eye. Filipovic claimed that 50% of Americans think a women should be legally required to take her husband's name.

First, some quick clarification of my biases here. Although I write under a hyphenate, I never have legally changed my name. I've never had a desire to do so. In my private life, I'm just Maggie Koerth and always will be. That said, I personally take issue with the implication at the center of Filipovic's article — that women shouldn't change their names and that to do so makes you a bad feminist. For me, this is one of those personal decisions where I'm like, whatever. Make your own choice. Just because I don't get it doesn't mean you're wrong.

But just like I take objection to being all judgey about personal choices, I also take objection to legally mandating personal choices, and I was kind of blown away by the idea that 50% of my fellow Americans think my last name should be illegal.

So I looked into that statistic. And then I got really annoyed.

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For Anonymous: an ode to the Delhi rape victim, by Nilanjana Roy

"Let there be an end to this epidemic of violence, this culture where if we can’t kill off our girls before they are born, we ensure that they live these lives of constant fear. Like many women in India, I rely on a layer of privilege, a network of friends, paranoid security measures and a huge dose of amnesia just to get around the city, just to travel in this country. So many more women have neither the privilege, nor the luxury of amnesia, and this week, perhaps we all stood up to say, 'Enough,' no matter how incoherently or angrily we said it." For Anonymous, by Nilanjana Roy. Xeni

Nobel scientist Rita Levi-Montalcini, 103, dies in Rome

The Italian neurologist and "senator for life" Rita Levi Montalcini, who won the Nobel Prize winner for Medicine in 1986, died in Rome. She was 103. Rome's mayor says the biologist, who conducted underground research in defiance of Fascist persecution, and went on to win a Nobel Prize for helping unlock the mysteries of the cell, died at her home in the city. More at the Associated Press. (HT: @csanz) Xeni

Amazons with a Cause

Why are women first to pay for every crisis? In every society, capitalist, socialist, or transition? It's because the bodies of women are expendable.

I always noticed how women over eighty in Turin looked incredibly well, beautiful and loved and taken care of: desirable, because old and valuable. I connected this to Italy's long-established and sophisticated health care system. Italian hospitals were famous for methods which preserved the dignity of the patients, in tumor cures, especially breast cancer: the "invisible mastectomy" was invented in Milan. Rather than simply intervening in crisis, they were good at illness prevention and attentive follow-ups.

The economic crisis and financial harassment of Italy has reached this safe haven of health and dignity. In Turin, one of the best clinics for cure and prevention of breast cancer is about to be closed. The patients are on the streets, their appointments cannot be scheduled, they are paying for their urgent operations because their doctors cannot help them. The doctors are on the streets too.

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Sexy breast cancer campaigns anger patients

A wonderful article by Liz Szabo in USA Today on "I heart boobies," "save the ta-tas," and all those other horrible sexualized breast cancer campaigns that raise dubious funds for dubious goals and leave those of us who have the disease feeling demeaned. There is nothing sexy about breast cancer, and Szabo does a fantastic job in this piece explaining why. Above, one of the worst such campaigns I have ever seen.

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Honda designs a car "for women," the Fit She's

At left, the new Honda Fit She's, a car available in predictable pink or what the maker calls "eyeliner brown." The vehicle is designed for the female market in Japan, and costs around $17.5K USD at current exchange rates. Official website here, in Japanese.

The Honda Fit She's features a “Plasmacluster” climate control system the maker claims can improve skin quality, a windshield that prevents wrinkles, a pink interior stitching, "tutti-frutti-hued chrome bezels," and an adorable heart instead of an apostrophe in “She’s.”

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Amazon reviews for "binders" (full of women) are funnier than Romney's original gaffe

You knew it was coming. Binders full of women, the funny Amazon reviews. (HT: Tara McGinley)

Cassandra Clare, author and internet-bullying victim, "on hiatuses and hate blogs"

Fantasy author Cassandra Clare, writing about her experience at the receiving end of some fairly serious and organized internet bullying.

These sort of attacks are so shocking/upsetting because they break the social contract we have come to expect decent people to adhere to: that people don’t attack your personal relationships, that they don’t sneer not just at your friends but at the idea that you might have friends, that they don’t attack the way you look or your family or your ethnicity/religion. The thing is, to the hate bloggers, and to the kind of people who send anonymous hateful messages, the object of their hate isn’t a person. To them, I am not a human being. My family are not real people.

Been there. It sucks. (via Maureen Johnson)

Why not to hire a woman, Australia edition, 1963

An Australian Department of Trade document listing the reasons women should not be hired to be trade commissioners. "A spinster lady can, and often does, turn into something of a battleaxe with the passing years. A man usually mellows." (HT: @christinelhenry) Xeni

Native American women twice as likely to be raped

"One in three American Indian women have been raped or have experienced an attempted rape," according to a Justice Department statistic cited in the NYT. The rate of sexual assault among indigenous American women "is more than twice the national average," and it's particular grim in "Alaska’s isolated villages, where there are no roads in or out, and where people are further cut off by undependable telephone, electrical and Internet service." Xeni

Natural history and the rights of women

Really fascinating talk coming up at the Royal Society in London. Sharon Ruston, a professor of 19th century literature and culture, will be talking about the scientific texts that influenced Mary Wollstonecraft—the pioneering feminist who wrote Vindication of the Rights of Women in 1792. Wollstonecraft isn't known for a connection to science, but during the time she was writing Vindication, she was also reading and reviewing books on natural history for a journal called Analytical Review. Ruston says those books played a role in shaping Wollstonecraft's philosophy. Sounds cool! Event is September 28 at 1:00 pm. Recorded audio will be available online a few days later. (Via Alice Bell) Maggie

Women in atheism: a tour through history

Here's an hour-long lecture and Q&A with Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). The lecture recounts the long, honorable history of women in atheism, and explicitly connects feminism and freethought. It's a great tour through the history -- the often secret history -- of women who fought and gave all, risking persecution for speaking out against religion and for women's rights to control their destinies. The lecture was recorded at the Center for Inquiry's 2012 Women in Secularism Conference, and FFRF was founded by Gaylor and her mother, Anne Nicol Gaylor.

CFI's Women in Secularism Conf. | Annie Laurie Gaylor: "The History of Women in Freethought" (via Skepchick)