The Toronto Star reported yesterday that a woman named Jenna Talackova, 23, was disqualified from the Miss Universe Canada contest last week “after it was discovered she was born male.” The article goes on to emphasize the “authenticity” of Talackova’s female gender identity, saying that she “knew by age 4 that she was a girl…began hormone therapy treatments at 14 and underwent sexual reassignment surgery when she was 19 years old.” Aside from the somewhat sensationalist language of “discovery” and the way the phrasing of this reportage kind of re-centers the issue of birth sex as an underlying reality, the article seeks to offer critical, social justice-oriented opinions on this situation as an example of trans* discrimination.
David Wong's article on Cracked, "5 Ways Modern Men Are Trained to Hate Women," has 6,132 comments and counting, and 1.6 million (million!) people have read it since yesterday, so obviously it's striking a chord. What's your take? Is Wong sparking an important conversation about social constructs and sexism, or is he just trying to give sexist straight guys a pass for staring at women's boobs?
Emily Nussbaum's cover story for the current issue of New York magazine, "It's Different for Girls," is about how Lena Dunham's hotly anticipated new HBO series is, well, different. As much as an HBO show about white 20-somethings in New York can be different, anyway. And it's a great profile piece for anyone interested in the show (which I am), as it gives some insight into how it's being made and how Dunham is operating as the show's creator and star. What I don't understand, though, is how this profile inspired this cover:
I noticed a friend’s Facebook share the other day of a Maxim “article” along with a critique of the language of “lads mags.” Here's the magazine feature, which is disgustingly violent in the most straightforward of ways, in order to give some context, but what I really want to talk about are some of the public conversations that have followed it.
The idea was that a study capable of producing statistics and other empirically grounded information could be used as a way to get more funding for existing services and in the creation of new services for trans people. Of course Scanlon and Travers already knew there was a pressing need for better health services, but they had to find a way to formalize and support what they already knew so that the government would have a harder time ignoring their requests.
With a community-based research model directed in significant part by a community engagement team of trans people, researchers Greta Bauer from the University of Western Ontario (my alma mater!) and Robb Travers from Sir Wilfrid Laurier University were (rigorously) interviewed and hired to help out on the project with the provision that they met a specific set of criteria, one of the most important being their ability to let trans people be experts in their own issues. Trans PULSE has used respondent-driven sampling, where access to a comprehensive online or paper survey is shared through networks of trans people who already know each other. This method allows the project team to access an appropriate sample of what they’ve called “hidden populations” who can’t be randomly sampled.
One of the most troubling anxieties of the public bathroom is one that purports to care about the safety of women and youth, but really only ends up further marginalizing, and perhaps sometimes outing, trans* people and other gender-variant folk. This space of the illicit—a place where we perform excretory functions, inextricable from all their associations with sexual functions—has all kinds of confused conceptual proximity to the vulnerability of children and what might happen to them in these semi-private spaces of semi-nudity.
Users of the app select six trusted friends—Circle of 6 provides tips on choosing them—to form a "circle." The app then allows you to send pre-programmed messages to your circle like "Come and get me. I need help getting home safely," and "Call and pretend you need me. I need an interruption" with just two taps of your phone.
Apparently, we have to get an education in some land of make-believe shot through a vaseline-covered lens in order to get a “real” job, and then endure the “real world” where we won’t have it so easy, and then, at some undisclosed point in the future, “it gets better”? If we don’t expect the level of community and political engagement that is growing all the time at all educational levels to translate into “real life,” then how are things going to get better? Are people suddenly going to start taking seriously the labor laws that compel companies to give perfunctory seminars on how not to sexually harass your coworkers? Probably not. I think it’s going to involve breaking down some of the boundaries between “school” and “work” that treat theorizing and activism and even a little naïve enthusiasm as immaterial to the way the rest of the world works.
The New York Times ran a profile of Gloria Steinem by Sarah Hepola on Friday that asked the question, "Where is the next Gloria Steinem, and why—decades after the media spotlight first focused on her—has no one emerged to take her place?"
How could one person speak for all of capital-F Feminism at this point? Why would anyone want to? Of course, I can't speak for everyone either, which is where this open thread comes in. What do you think? Does a monolithic feminism even exist anymore? Should it?