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Sarah Palin and feminism June 2, 2010

Posted by dailyfeminist in Uncategorized.
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Later this month Sarah Palin will be the guest of honor at an event intended to raise funds for the institution at which I work.  I had nothing to do with her selection as the speaker at an event intended to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the campus, and have openly indicated my concern with her receiving over $90K in speaker’s feeds and travel support when she has no history of connection with our institution, or a political or social platform that supports higher education and/or the traditionally underrepresented students our campus recruits, retains, and graduates.   I have no problem with Palin speaking at the campus as part of an open discussion about issues, but I do have a problem with her being paid so much, the campus foundation board charging $500 per person to attend a dinner event to hear her talk, holding the event in the summer when students and faculty are least likely to attend/learn from the guest speaker, and the selection of a divisive and controversial guest of honor for an anniversary event that should be drawing together the campus and community.

However, Sarah Palin is still coming to town, and will be at my university while I’m teaching an online section of Women’s and Feminist Activism.  I’ve decided to use the occasion of Palin’s visit as an opportunity to have the students consider her role as a feminist and a leader (and perhaps as a feminist leader).  Palin has often publicly indicated that she is a feminist, and has mentioned some feminist organizations to which she belongs (most especially Feminists for Life).   Some have welcomed Palin as a feminist icon, while others challenge or openly reject her feminist claims.  At the heart of the issue is what it means to be a feminist – and who decides what it means and who can claim the identity. I’ve been reading many of the articles/essays/blogs written on this subject in the last few weeks (and the many comments posted to the documents)- and am still working on the assignment for my students.    At the heart of the issue is what is gained or lost by defining feminism in particular ways and by having specific individuals claim allegiance to feminist ideals.

Here are some of the articles/statements that are informing my work (note that many have great links embedded in the posts):

Sarah Palin’s speech at the Susan B. Anthony List Celebration of Life Breakfast on May 14, 2010  – http://www.c-span.org/Watch/Media/2010/05/14/HP/A/32908/Fmr+Gov+Sarah+Palin+Address+at+Susan+B+Anthony+List+Celebration+of+Life+Breakfast.aspx

Carmen Siering – Sarh Palin is Not a Feminist – http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2010/06/01/sarah-palin-is-not-a-feminist/

Jessica Valenti – the Fake Feminism of Sarah Palin – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/28/AR2010052802263.html?sid=ST2010052804193

Ann Gordon and Lynn Sherr – Sarah Palin is no Susan B. Anthony – http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/guestvoices/2010/05/sarah_palin_is_no_susan_b_anthony.html

Taylor Marsh – Sarah Palin is not a Feminist – http://www.taylormarsh.com/2010/05/17/sarah-palin-is-not-a-feminist/

Sarah Seltzer – A Feminist Appalled by Palin (from 2008) – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sarah-seltzer/a-feminist-appalled-by-pa_b_122489.html

Jennifer Ginsberg – Sarah Palin is a Feminist – http://www.momlogic.com/2010/01/is_sarah_palin_a_feminist.php


So what do you think – is Palin a feminist and does it matter if she is or isn’t?

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Hard Times… June 1, 2010

Posted by dailyfeminist in Uncategorized.
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I first read about the Hard Times of RJ Berger in an article posted to Yahoo news – http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100601/ap_en_tv/us_ap_on_tv_hard_times As MTV’s own website indicates, the show is about socially awkward 15- year old boy who obtains respect and attention after he accidentally exposes his penis while playing in a basketball game.   As the actor who portrays RJ indicates in the video trailer, “the entire schools learns of his talent… RJ is extremely well-endowed.”  Talent??? Say it ain’t so.   But as the trailer continued, there was attention to issues of how sexuality is experienced in high school, and commentary that addressed the ways in which people become insiders and outsiders in school or other social settings.  Perhaps amid the expected low-brow humor and premise there will be a valuable lesson about interpersonal relations.    For more on the series from the folks who produce it, see http://www.mtv.com/shows/hard_times/season_1/series.jhtml

The first episode airs Sunday June 6th- I’m going to be watching, and will post my thoughts.    Although all series set in high school are ripe for feminist analysis, this one seems particularly valuable for consideration.  I, however, will do my best not to pepper my commentary with several dozen euphamisms for penis and erection.

For now, let me offer an mini-rant about the age  of the actors portraying high school students.   Paul Iacono, playing 15-year old RJ, is 21, while Jarbe Dauplaise (playing his best friend) is 31 years old.  The “ideal girl/love interest” is played by Amber Lancaster, aged 29.  The two other lead actors don’t list their birthdate in easily-accesible online sources.   When teen boys and girls view as their “peers” characters portrayed by people with much older body types, it sets up unrealistic expectations of how a person is supposed to look – especially those deemed the “beautiful people” (see the PSA on beautiful people syndrome via the Hard Times link above).   This recurs in shows like Gossip Girl, 90210, and One Tree Hill (esp the original version prior to the leap forward in time).   While I recognize that hiring actors over 18 makes filming easier (labor laws, schooling needs, inability to drive oneself to work), I simply cannot figure out why a 29 year old woman is hired to play a teenager.  If you can’t find the “look” you’re desiring among girls close to the right age, perhaps it’s because that look doesn’t exist among real teenagers.   And why is a 30-something male playing a high school sophomore?  Are there no good teen actors around?  And don’t get me started on the very white cast for a show on a TV station that caters to a very diverse teen demographic…. couldn’t MTV do better than this for one of their scripted shows?

welcome to the start of the blog…. June 1, 2010

Posted by dailyfeminist in Uncategorized.
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One of the courses I most enjoy teaching is one about Women’s and Feminist Activism. In this class we explore a variety of means of engaging in activism from high-profile, persistent, national and/or transnational projects to those engaged in on an individual level on a one-time basis. During the course students are asked to participate in activist projects to gain greater insight into the myriad ways in which activism can occur and the benefits and challenges of engaging in activism.

In preparation for the Summer 2010 section of this course, I have decided to begin a blog on which I will post information about some of the feminist activities in which I have been engaging on a daily basis, providing some background information as time and interest permits. My hope is to draw attention to some of the organizations and people who inform and inspire my own work to eradicate sexism and all forms of oppression, and perhaps to inspire others to intentionally engage in activities that improve the quality of life for all.

On this first day, I will highlight California NOW’s Monday Action Checklist http://www.canow.org/canoworg/2010/06/mondays-action-checklist.html The checklist provides some brief background information and links to activist resources for several issues of likely interest to feminists – sometimes with a California focus, but more often of national/transnational interest.

This week California NOW draws attention to several issues of interest, but I was especially interested in their attention to the MomsRising.org campaign to support the Paycheck Fairness Act. The following link provides an easy mean to ask your senators to support the act – http://action.momsrising.org/cms/letter/fairpay_5-28-10/?akid=2130.239772.mHVXUg&rd=1&t=6 I sent the message off my to senators, but did so with much more background knowledge than was provided in the easy link. For more on the Paycheck Fairness Act, see

HR.12 Paycheck Fairness Acthttp://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-12

OpenCongress http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-s182/show