In Chris Lynch's 2005 young adult novel Inexcusable (2005 National Book Award Finalist – Young People's Literature, 2005 School Library Journal's Best Books, 2006 YALSA Best Books for Young Adults) is a disturbing tale of the effects of rape culture from the inside. In narrator Keir Sarafian, high school senior and football star, Lynch has created a sickeningly realistic embodiment of a teen rapist.
Since 1954, Sports Illustrated has honored the "Sportsman of the Year." Roger Bannister, the man who broke the four-minute mile, was the first Sportsman cover boy; Michael Phelps was the most recent one. In fifty-four years, the only female athletes honored have been the U.S. Women's Soccer Team (1999); runner Mary Decker (1983); and tennis player Chris Evert (1976). Three others shared the honor with men: tennis legend Billie Jean King with John Wooden (1972); gymnast Mary Lou Retten with Edwin Moses (1984); and speedskater Bonnie Blair with Johann Olav Koss (1994).
Total count: Two female standalone athletes and one team were honored, while three others were honored alongside a male sports figure, for a total of six times out of fifty-four opportunities that Sports Illustrated has celebrated the accomplishments of women athletes with its most prestigious yearly title. (I am leaving aside the time that the amorphous, "Athletes Who Care" were named Sportsman of the Year in 1987).
It begs the question: what's the deal, yo? Not enough female athletic talent out there?
A few weeks back I was tipped off to the Curious Case of Justin Bieber. If you are not one of the 80 MILLION people who have watched Bieber's videos on YouTube, there are just a few things you need to know. One, Bieber is 15 years old and looks, in traditional adolescent boy style, even younger. Here he is, in all his backwards-hatted glory:
The second thing to know is that Bieber is rapidly making a name for himself as a pop musician who sings songs about loving girls and having fun and being romantic. The last thing that is important to keep in mind is that, apparently, our nation's youth are OBSESSED by this pint-sized popster. He doesn't even have an album out yet and he is all over the place. (And by place I mean the Internet, the Billboard Top 40 Chart, the talk show circuit, and probably your younger cousin's bedroom wall.) Usher and Justin Timberlake had a bidding war over this kid, for Pete's sake.
Bieber appeared on Ellen this afternoon (video after the jump) and watching him got me thinking, What the heck is going on here? Why are America's youngsters losing their shit over this guy? And why is Justin Bieber making me feel like such an old lady?
Young, Fat and Fabulous (YFF) is a super-fun fashion blog that caters to fat women. The philosophy behind the blog is that there's no reason why a bigger woman can't be trendy or express herself through fashion, and also that building a community of fat fashion lovers means women can share tips and trends with one another and not feel like the only fat girl in a sea of skinny girls (you know, the girls fashion publications usually target). YFF blogger Gabi describes herself on the blog as, "a fun loving girl who happens to have a flair for fashion. I'm just trying to change the world one fat girl at a time." Yay! Here's an example from a recent YFF post:
So cute, right? Read on for more fat fabulousness!
I spent most of this past spring and summer rolling my eyes every time I heard a news story about the swine flu. Almost every day local reporters got hysterical about 5 or 10 or 20 confirmed cases. Entire schools closed in response to a handful of kids with fevers, and as if there were no war in Afghanistan, no economic crisis, and no other epidemics claiming ten times as many lives, newscasters talked about H1N1 (the proper name for swine flu) for hours.
I have a degree in public health and my work focuses on preventing rape and other acts of violence and supporting survivors in healing from abuse. When I see all the attention swine flu is getting, I'm jealous. Other than intermittent news stories about sex offenders on the loose or why women who accuse professional athletes of rape are lying, sexual violence rarely gets any widespread coverage. Certainly no state of emergency declared by the President of the United States.
What would our media, our public discourse, and our institutional responses look like if people cared as much about rape as they do about H1N1?