Posts Tagged ‘feminism’

"Channel Solid Gold" by Abe Atri, CC-G, via Wikimedia Commons

“Channel Solid Gold” (a strip club in Mexico City) by Abe Atri, CC-G, via Wikimedia Commons

"Washington Redskin Cheerleaders" by dbking, CC-G, via Wikimedia Commons

“Washington Redskin Cheerleaders” by dbking, CC-G, via Wikimedia Commons

Seriously. This is a legitimate question, and I’d love some responses.

But first, let me tell you how I got to this question.

A news story popped up because some new cheerleader outfits were being called too skimpy and revealing.

I went to check out the article, and there was a great quote from a guy who claimed that there was nothing wrong with the outfits that bear a striking resemblance to something found in Victoria’s Secret or Frederick’s of Hollywood. But, he was careful to note, his daughter (also a cheerleader) would never be allowed to wear something like that.   “‘I think they’re a little overdressed. Of course, I’ve got a daughter who’s a cheerleader down there, and she will not be wearing anything like that,’ said Dennis Stanek.

Ah, the joys of hypocrisy!

This whole exchange got me interested, though, in the careers of professional cheerleaders. Just why is it worth it for them to engage in cheering on these sports teams? What do they get out of it? Is it just, as the article says, that they “[cater] to that 14-year-old boy or even that 30-year-old woman that they can inspire”? (Which, I’d like to assure you, I find hard to believe – perhaps men of all ages, but unless you assume all women are lesbians, that “inspiration” is lacking.)

So I went and found another article, one that talked about the Redskin cheerleaders, just to use as an example.  The cheerleaders who make the cut get paid – are you ready? – a whopping $75 per home game performance!  Wow, huge bucks in that field!  Now, to be fair, they also receive a pair of season tickets, but, of course, they’re working during the games, so they have to give those away.  Now, here comes all the unpaid work: two to five practices a week, lasting up to six hours each; practicing and studying the choreography outside of the practices; exercising, tanning, dieting, etc. and all those other goodies that they have to do to keep up their “look;” and eight days every year for a calendar shoot (they don’t receive any proceeds from the calendar sale, FYI).  Then there are the game days themselves, which means that most of the cheerleaders are up early in the morning to get ready and be at the field before 8 a.m. for a 1 p.m. game.  Then, assuming all goes well, the cheerleaders are done by 6 p.m.  On top of that, the Redskins won’t state how much the cheerleaders make for their personal appearances at various locations (which the Redskins charge for), plus any of the images of the cheerleaders are used without any fees going to the women, even though the football players are paid for the use of their likenesses.

Sounding like a raw deal?

Let me also note that the average salary for an NFL football player is $770,000 a year (as of 2010 figures), although the low end is a measly $200,000 and the high end a whopping $1.4 million.   To play a sport, and sometimes, I might note, play it really, really poorly.  I wonder if cheerleaders would get contracts like that if they fumbled and dropped the ball, so to speak…

Regardless, let’s get real now.

Strippers.

Forbes, in October of 2011, had an awesome series on strippers.  The strippers they talked to earned a whole lot more than those cheerleaders, and, depending on where they were, sometimes wore just as much.  (Remember, some areas, do not allow full nudity…)  So, one woman earned anywhere from $23 to $31 an hour.  When she worked anywhere from 75 to 96 hours per month (how many hours do you put in? 160 or more?), she took home about $2,200 to $2,900 a month.  On top of that, she was able to deduct all of her expenses for waxing, costumes, make-up, etc.  Another woman they talked to earned up to $4,400 a month, again working only 9 days that month.  The women admit that age can lower their earnings, and some months are worse than others, but we’re still talking about performing in scanty outfits.

Let’s look at it this way:
Similarities: Must be in good physical condition.  Must keep up their appearance.  Must wear skimpy outfits and perform in public.
Differences: $75 for a full day’s work.  $120 for about 4 hours’ work.

So, again, let me ask the question: Why be a cheerleader when stripping pays better?

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From Slut Walk Houston, 2011

I have to say that I lived in Galveston, and while I was there, I pretty much loved it.  There were enough positives that part of me still wishes I was there.  But…someone needs to talk to their police department.

Recently, two joggers were attacked on Seawall Blvd.  In one case, the woman says that about a dozen cars went past during the attack, and no one stopped or did anything.  Now, to be fair, I don’t know that I would stop and get out of my car, but I might pull over, honk, and make it clear I was calling 911.  But that’s not the point.

The point is that the police chief made a lovely statement, as per the Galveston Daily News: “Galveston police Chief Henry Porretto said joggers should be aware of their surroundings. Wearing ear buds could give an attacker an advantage, he said.” 

Damn those joggers wearing ear buds!  They’re asking for it!  I mean, hell, first off, they’re women.  Second, they’re out alone.  Third, they’re wearing ear buds! Oh the humanity! Ear buds, the scourge of the 21st century.

Sigh.

Let me repeat something.
Don’t blame the victim.

One more time.
Don’t blame the victim.

Just because a woman has the nerve to do something that men would do does not mean that they have asked to be attacked or that they should be told that it is their fault if they are attacked.  If it had been two guys who had been mugged, would the police chief have issued the same statement?  I’m thinking not so much.

Oh, and just to add one fun detail: that victim who had the nerve to wear ear buds?  Yeah, she also had the nerve to carry a metal pipe that she used to defend herself.

 

By H16794 U.S. Copyright Office. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By H16794 U.S. Copyright Office. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s kind of sad I have to ask, but I just do.

Here’s the thing: I read the news.  Lots of news.  And I saw a link on my local news for “Glamour Women of the Year Awards.”  And it’s just a slideshow.  Thirty-four photos.  And some of the “thumbnails” are of the women’s waists.  Others are just faces.  And there is nothing on the page anywhere about what these awards are for.  It’s just a bunch of pretty faces.  Nothing to identify what these awards are for.

Okay, that’s odd…normally people care about what awards are for, right?  If we were looking at “Men of the Year Awards,” wouldn’t we care about what they were for?  Wouldn’t there be a mention somewhere?  Somehow?

But going to Glamour’s website doesn’t help.  Instead, there are great headlines that tell me that I should own dresses, know sex tips, and will be judged by my body.  Thanks, Glamour, that’s exactly what I was looking for!

I went ahead and Googled it, thinking maybe eventually I would find the information.  I could find only a single page that wasn’t a bunch of photos.  Celebrity-Gossip.net actually listed the awards and the winners.

Hmmm.  Helpful, but not too helpful.  Then I found it – the best page that told me the true purpose of the “awards.”  The Huffington Post stood up and shouted it – “This Week in Beauty: Best & Worst From the ‘Glamour’ Women of the Year Awards 2012.”   And how awesome, you can judge the women and rank them!  Cause, you know, the awards were only about how they looked.  What else could they be?  And if you check out the comments, it’s clear that is the only point of the awards.  People –both male and female – insult the women in the photos, making fun of their eyebrows, eyeshadow, and roots.

Yes, this is another rant.  But it’s a worthwhile rant.  Why don’t we notice these things?  Why don’t we call them out?  Why don’t we argue and shout and tell these people that we mind what they do?  There are only two options: we don’t mind, or we do and we keep quiet about it.  So let’s not keep quiet.  Let’s talk about it and argue and shout.  Because if we don’t, who will?

One of the first SF authors I was introduced to was Heinlein (“I learned it from watching you, Dad!” – the reference for those who get it).  And for years and years, I fondly remembered the short story “The Roads Must Roll.”  It was a story I’d recommended to others.  Fun.  Interesting.  Awesome starter for anyone who wanted to read SF.  I looked back on it and loved it.

Then, almost 20 years later, I read it again, this time for a grad-level class on SF.  And oh my god! Suddenly I realized that this excellent, amazing, classic of a story was awful.  No, not the writing or the plot.  But the treatment of women! 

As an uber-feminist, I was shocked that 12 year old me didn’t notice just how badly the women were treated – and ignored – as human beings in the story.

Amazing what happens when we read something from a new perspective.  Which is why I now find myself in possession of the 75th Anniversary Edition of “Is Sex Necessary?” by James Thurber and E.B. White.  This version, unlike the one I read as a child, has a forward by John Updike that discusses many of Thurber’s issues and sheds light on why this comedic masterpiece may not be as funny as all that after all.

So here I go, plunging into the depth of another memory and seeing if I’ll emerge unscathed or soaking wet.  Wish me luck!

Yeah, it’s from 1975, and, yeah, we can’t be all too surprised that it’s horribly sexist, but wow.  Just wow.

The group of us have recently begun watching the original Wonder Woman series.  And the lines in it make all of us groan and shake our heads.  In the first episode, Woman Woman is hired as a secretary to replace the evil Nazi secretary for the “Air Force” Major Steve Trevor after she is ousted and found out.  They hire her because they need to find an ugly woman who won’t distract them with their looks – so they hire her because, while she’s good at typing, she’s a dog.  (Okay, maybe they didn’t call her a dog…wait, no, I think they did!)

And, shockingly, the episode was written by William Marsten and Stanley Ralph Ross.

We’re only on episode four, but each episode has at least a few lines that seem to be completely against the point of Wonder Woman – there is no female empowerment.  While she may have to save Steve (who seems awfully incompetent…which might explain how he managed to become a Major) in just about every episode, Woman Wonder does such classic things as lose her lasso and enter a beauty contest.

Out of these four episodes, only one – Wonder Woman Meets Baroness Von Gunther – includes a woman in the writing credits: Margaret Armen.

They recently tried to do a reboot, which, sadly, was not even as good as the original series.

So will we keep watching?  Yeah.  And will we keep being shocked and horrified by the view of women in 1975?  Definitely.

And that’s probably a very good thing.  If nothing else, it lets us know quite how far we’ve come.

I don’t really have time to be blogging right now, but there are just a few things that have popped up lately that have my ire going enough that it can’t wait…

First, in today’s news on CNN, we have confirmation that Cain may have actually done something wrong.  Is it because a woman came forward and reported it?  Nope, we’ve gone back to “good ole days” standards: it’s because the boyfriend of the victim reported it.

Yeah, I wish I was kidding, but there’s the headline – “Former boyfriend of Cain accuser backs her account.”  Wow, thanks, ex-boyfriend!  Now we can believe her!

And if that was the only thing in recent days to get me going, I probably wouldn’t be writing this now, but sadly, there’s more…

In today’s news in Sweden (going a bit afield, but hey…), a high school principal was kind enough to tell one of his female students “Guys do this kind of thing, you have to get used to it.” when she got up her nerve to tell him she’d been raped.  He discouraged her from going forward to the police because – “this is not a prioritized case as no serious crime has been committed.”

Uh-huh.

And it only gets better (worse?)…

In Turkey, just over a week ago, 26 men who had been convicted of having sex with a 13 year old girl were told it was okay because it was “consensual.”  We can ignore the fact that they were paying money to two adults for “repeated access to the girl” for just over six months.  Personally, though, my favorite part of the article is when it mentions that “any rape or sexual assault [that] happened with the consent of the girl or the woman, then the sentence would be reduced.”  Ummm, consent? Rape?  Aren’t these kind of contradictory terms?

But, hey, at least we have the right idea here in America.  Don’t we? Nah, I guess we don’t.  Because, according to an “excellent” (read: heavy sarcasm) article on CNN again, we should “make a rule on sexual harassment.”

The highlights that CNN is kind enough to pull out on the side, according to expert Barbara Risman, “society hasn’t reached consensus on what’s OK in the workplace.”  Cause, you know, we don’t have any rules in place that are based on a consensus of what shouldn’t be done.  In fact, in her brilliance, she suggests rules that make it “illegal for bosses to make sexual overtures to subordinates.”

Don’t we already have those rules? And that consensus?  I could swear there’s this who thing…what’s it called? Oh, yeah, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission…  They talk all about laws and regulations and prohibited practices…so are those “rules”?

Maybe we can’t fix problems in other countries (unless you talk to the Republicans), but we sure should be able to fix them here.