Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Oh my God! Curves are good????

A new study shows that curvy women might be smarter and have more intelligent kids. You can read more about it EVERYWHERE (note: link is not to everywhere, just to one example).

Is this news? Sure, it's cool. I struggle with weight just like everyone else in the world, so yeah, it's nice to know there's something good about curves. "Curvy women" for this study meant women who's waist was smaller than their hips. The omega-3 fatty acids make us all brilliant.

The media has taken the opportunity to evaluate which celebrities are "curvier" and therefore smarter. Am I surprised? Guess not. But it's offensive and ridiculous. The New York Post has a whole photo essay detailing who's smart and who's not with ACTUAL hip to waist measurements. Who the hell cares?!? People are starving and dying. Why is this front page news?

"Jennifer Lopez's waist-to-hip ratio suggests she's got all that and is smart, too! (AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)"

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Yoga Stick of Death

We've all heard by now that Linda Stein's PA, Natavia Lowery, has been arrested for Stein's murder. Lowery confessed to beating Stein with her own four-pound exercise stick six or seven times. Case closed, murder solved.

This is a bizarro case in which no party comes out smelling rosy. Linda Stein apparently verbally abused Lowery. She waved the stick at her and blew pot in Lowery's face.

Lowery has been accused of identity theft and was in charge of things like social security numbers and bank accounts belonging to really rich people.

Anyone who's been a PA knows that it's thankless, tiring work. I've never wanted to kill a boss, but then I've never actually been a PA. If you aren't treated like a human being, you're not going to behave like one. For some, it takes longer than others. For Lowery, it only took four months. Why didn't she just quit?

Regardless, this is an issue of humans treating other humans like garbage. It happens every day and sometimes there are consequences.I'm not in any way condoning what Lowery did. She was stupid for not quitting a job that made her feel the way she did. But maybe this is the pound on the head people need to start treating each other better.

Just saying for the record: I love my bosses. They treat everyone equally and never condescend. Actually, I've been lucky most of my life to have good people telling me what to do. But I can only imagine what it must've been like for Lowery.

Aside from all the general human being stuff, what does this mean for women?

Linda Stein was a powerful woman. She managed The Ramones and went to Studio 54. She was a breast cancer survivor. She was a loud New Yorker. And Elton John is writing a song in memory of her. Lowery...all we know is she has this identity theft thing in her past and she murdered Stein.

The crime, the people involved, it all adds up to "those crazy women doing crazy things." All the papers are ringing with it. They love a good "catfight." I hate it. Sure, she was sort of famous. But would her murder be getting as much publicity if it weren't so...juicy?

And this yoga stick thing makes us all look bad. It's like a D-movie, where women pull hair and wear short skirts. It's like Chuck (seriously, cat fights factor in way too often in that show). I know neither party was thinking about the implications for women, nor should they have. But I, for one, can only hang my head and say: we're not all like that. I don't even USE a yoga stick.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Chuck's Women (some spoilers)

Just finished another Chuck Palahniuk novel (Invisible Monsters) featuring crazy people doing crazy things. I've only read three Palahniuk novels, but in the last two, women were the protagonists. Well, as much as there is a protagonist in any of Palahniuk's novels.

Though Diary is written in the voice of a woman, it was really Invisible Monsters that got me thinking about the way Palahniuk treats women in his novels. Palahniuk's worlds are magical in a grotesque kind of way, but his characters always have one foot in reality. Even if it's an unsteady foot.

Diary is the diary of a woman trapped in a city that happens to be sucking the life out of her for the sake of tourism dollars. Misty Marie Wilmot keeps a "coma diary," keeping track of her husband's attempted suicide coma. Misty is unwittingly at the mercy of the town, but she's a strong, sensible woman (again, to the degree that anyone's sensible in a Palahniuk novel). I think he did a good job here.

But Invisible Monsters was more my speed. The book takes place in a supermodel, Hollywood, sex-change fantasy. The main character is a model. When we meet her, her jaw has just been shot off. She can't speak, has to write everything down. She's hideous. She meets a man who's going through a sex change op. Brandy Alexander takes the main character on a wild ride where the main goal is to score pills from old ladies as they pretend to look at said old ladies' houses. A man joins them, but the main character, who goes by many different names, starts feeding him female hormones to make him un-lovable.

The plot has a lot of twists, some more predictable and believable than others, but the woman in this novel...her goal is to be ugly. Her goal is to leave a life where everyone is telling you how to breathe, how to look, where to sit. Her life has been a lie.

When looking at Palahniuk's women, (in the two I've read with women for main characters) you have to remember that his worlds are fantastical. Okay, normally I wouldn't buy that a woman shot her own face off because it was the only thing she could think of to make her less beautiful. And Misty has a very real relationship with her daughter...until she believes that her daughter's dead based on loose evidence. But within the walls of these worlds, Palahniuk writes very honestly. His women have a true voice. And it's one of the main reasons I like his work so much.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A Female President isn't necessarily a Feminist President

The Washington Post came out with this shocker yesterday. Gasp! Some feminists don't like Hillary Clinton! But she's a woman. We have to be behind that, right?

Not exactly. A FEMINIST in the white house is the goal. So is Clinton a feminist? NOW thinks so. She is the first first lady to have a postgraduate degree, and the first to maintain a full-time career outside of her husband's, according to Salon. And she kept her maiden name until it supposedly cost Bill Clinton his second term as governor of Arkansas.

I think the real question is: can a feminist stay true to his or her beliefs and get ahead in politics? Hillary is a good politician. But is she still the woman who equated marriage to slavery (it's historically accurate)? Did she "stand by her man" because she wanted to? Or because she wanted to maintain her career? (I have to call out those feminists who baldly accuse her of this, though. She's allowed to make a personal choice even if it doesn't fit in the feminist paradigm. Because that's what it is - a PERSONAL decision. That whole situation was ridiculously public for a private affair.)

Another interesting quote from the Washington Post article: "Women who do nothing to enact feminist policies will be elected and backlash will flourish. I can hear the refrain now: 'They've finally gotten a woman in the White House, so why are feminists still whining about equal pay?"

This is from an article written by Lisa Jervis, co-founder of Bitch Magazine. She's responding to this assumption that a woman president will get support from feminists. She's right, but I don't know if it would be a problem with Hillary. That's what we need to find out.

I didn't answer any questions here, but I'll end with this: if we vote for Clinton because she's a woman, we're no better than those who vote only for white men. I think Clinton's female attributes are part of her personality, and yes, that goes into our decision about who our next president is. But electing someone just because of their sex or race is ridiculous. If Hillary stands strong on issues she clearly believes in - choice, equal pay, etc - I'll vote for her. If she continues to make decisions like her vote on the Iraq War, I won't. Seems simple.