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Forget “Bossy”: the real key to women’s leadership is body peace.

This week, Sheryl Sandberg and LeanIn began their “Ban Bossy” campaign. I like the idea  of being more sensitive about how seemingly innocuous words we use primarily to describe young girls can affect their confidence to lead and contribute in the future (although I hate the word “ban”), but something else came out this week that made me more concerned about women leaders..

This week, The Atlantic published an article about how young girls who played with a Barbie as opposed to a Mrs. Potato Head were less likely to believe that they could do jobs in the future as well as boys could:

barbieThe children played with their respective toys for five minutes. Then they were presented with photos of 11 male- and female-dominated professions, so appointed according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

[…]

Depressingly, all of the girls thought a boy would more likely be able to do more of both the male- and female jobs:

But the girls who played with the Mrs. Potato Head doll thought they could do more of both kinds of jobs than the girls who played with either kind of Barbie. And the “Doctor Barbie,” they found, did not yield better results than “Standard Barbie.”

(Via The Atlantic)
Sure, Barbie has a nice doctor’s jacket and a stethoscope, but what good is that when girls don’t see it as a path to doing the same? Add this together with the fact that women in swimsuits perform worse on math tests than women in sweaters, and the message seems pretty clear to me: when women have looks at the forefront of their mind, they doubt and underestimate themselves. 
40-60% of elementary school girls are worried about their weight, and 20 million American women suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime. That’s a lot of women feeling that their natural bodies and selves are inadequate – from a very young age.
If we teach girls that what’s more important is what’s inside their head instead of what their body looks like, maybe they won’t beat themselves up about their bodies, or feel held back by standards of beauty. Here’s hoping that the Lammily doll takes off, promotes realistic beauty standards, starts all sorts of careers (including quite a few in STEM fields), and gives Barbie at least a brisk walk (if not a run) for her money.

Learning to love myself: Feminist on a diet

I used to weigh twice of what I weigh right now.

Note: This is an extremely difficult post for me to write about an extremely personal journey, so please – if you have nothing nice to say, please don’t say it. Feel free to click “More” to hear about my roller coaster couple of years and share a moment in having a think about the messages we send about women & their bodies. Thanks!

Read More…

New post up on Grrrl Beat!

It’s on Paul Ryan, his views on abortion/rape, and the agony of short media attention spans. Read it here.

Ah, Rush. So We Meet Again.

I’m sure you’ve seen Rush Limbaugh’s face all over the news yet again this week – this time, for saying:

“What does it say about the college coed [Sandra Fluke, Georgetown University law student scheduled to testify before congress on contraception] … who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.”

Now, this is not out of the ordinary for Rush. He has quite the history of saying degrading, patronizing, and downright disgusting things about women in the past. And Rush apologized, as he has rarely done before. But this time is different, and I’m not going to lie to you – I’m pleased as punch about it.

Limbaugh is not being let off the hook this time. Oh, don’t get me wrong – the right-wing media rushed to his defense as always, and Rush was as defiant as ever when the scandal first broke. But as time went on, the incident didn’t just blow over – people fought back.

President Obama called Sandra Fluke to make sure she was okay after the extremely slanderous and personal attacks, the Georgetown University President condemned Limbaugh, and Fluke herself spoke up and  essentially outlined why Limbaugh’s comments were so ridiculous; nothing that she expected some criticism over the issue but nothing on the scale of personal attacks that Rush had issued against her; and many articles noting that this kind of language was the kind used to keep women down and “in their place” for centuries. And best of all? Advertisers began pulling out. And that got through to Rush.

Limbaugh finally issued an apology on Saturday, defending his comments as “humor”. But even Ron Paul saw right through him, noting that the apology came only because he was too concerned with his “bottom line”. The apology was too little, too late – many of his advertisers decided to still pull their ads from his show.

Aside from the ability to do a little happy dance over the news that Rush is getting a little less money to gold-plate another microphone or huge seat or something with his name on it, I am absolutely thrilled that we finally have an instance where public attention and outcry around an offensive comment from a conservative radio show host has made a difference. HALLELUJAH! Let’s keep it going – keep writing letters to businesses sponsoring shows like Limbaugh’s that focus on derogatory comments towards women and minorities, posting links to the crazy things these people say, and encouraging an intelligent debate on issues instead of just screaming one-sided into a microphone.

UPDATE: 46 advertisers have pulled out of Rush’s show, and he closed his first hour with dead air this morning. The sweet sound of silence! 3/8/12

An Open Letter to Rick Santorum

Dear Mr. Santorum,

Recently, you wrote in to the Wall Street Journal in a letter called “My Fight for Life.” In it, you discussed your feelings on the controversial topic of abortion. I just wanted to take a moment to talk a few of your points through with you.

Firstly, I take issue with the idea that you are fighting for life while, conversely, those of us who support a woman’s right to choose must be fighting for death. In reality, I am fighting for life in a far more meaningful way than you are – the right for women to live life the way that they choose; for children born into this world to always feel wanted and welcome in their own families.

Second, your invoking your “Creator” in the same sentence as the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence is counter-intuitive. Our founding fathers felt strongly that citizens should not feel that they have to abide by the rules of any one religion. Americans are a diverse group racially, culturally, and spiritually. Not all feel the same way you do about the rights divined by your “Creator”. If you are campaigning to be the President of the United States of America, please remember that America is a very large country.

Your quote that “40 million babies” have died from Roe v. Wade discounts the importance of women’s lives. Approximately 50% of all maternal deaths resulted from illegal abortion during the first half of the 20th century, and abortion has been going on for centuries – whether or not it was legalized. Roe v. Wade has allowed for women to go to real doctors and clinics to get this procedure done safely.

The 14th Amendment’s guarantee of “life, liberty and property” applies to citizens, not groups of cells that are barely an organism; and President Obama’s recognition of civil rights extends to a woman’s reproductive rights and support of LGBT rights – which is far more than I can say for your sorry butt.

Mr. Santorum,  I believe staunchly in women’s reproductive rights, and I also want children one day. I want my children to grow up in a world where they are wanted, and loved. I don’t want to have them before I’m ready. Effective birth control – which, yes, may have to include abortion – will ensure that I can stick to my own plans. Not that you’re listening to any of this, anyway.

What happened to Huffington Post Women?

HuffPo Women, you had such potential. The Huffington Post is a liberal-leaning site. Ariana Huffington prides herself in being a supporter of women’s rights and issues. So imagine my surprise when I logged onto Huffington Post and saw this:

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Blugh. I felt like I was reading nothing new – the only article I was even remotely interested in was the one on female stereotypes in “New Year’s Eve”, but that was buried all the way at the bottom of the page. My question is: What Happened?! And how is a news website touting this as newsworthy and important information?

Women and girls need to know that this isn’t news. In fact, it’s the opposite. These are things we DON’T need to know. I don’t need to know that how I speak might be ruining my career, or hear about a woman silently taking a male friend’s statement that “fat” women are unattractive. I don’t want to know that clear communication is considered to be overrated, or my horoscope. I understand the need to combine this “magazine” material in with harder news stories; but the news that HuffPo thinks women are concerned about is downright insulting. It’s all about fitting into a man’s world and shedding aspects of being a woman, such as being a clear communicator; and silently shouldering a comment a man makes with no understanding of the struggle of women to maintain a healthy weight and body image in today’s society.

Hey, Huffington Post Women? Let’s be a little more female-friendly and a true advocate for oh, I don’t know – WOMEN.