The PC crowd can’t stand Barbie’s slender figure–that’s “fat-shaming”!:
American artist Nickolay Lamm created a prototype of a Barbie-like doll last year based on US government measurements for an average 19-year-old American woman and the response was huge. He now wants to produce his doll and is close to crowdfunding the $95,000 (£57,000) he needs to start production. “What if fashion dolls were made using standard human body proportions? This is the question I asked myself after comparing fashion dolls to typical body proportions,” he says on his website.
Barbie’s figure has regularly come under fire over the years. Critics argue her proportions are unrealistic at best and damaging at worst. Lamm says rather than waiting for toy companies to change their doll designs he would manufacture his own.
“Finally someone has been brave enough to show what a woman really looks like,” says Pat Hartley, body image expert and author of Body Images: Development, deviance and change. “It’s taken such a long time for a doll like this to even get close to production because a lot of people have been making a lot of money from projecting the image of the stick-thin woman as the ideal. People in the diet and fashion industry. It’s time someone fought back.” Barbie manufacturer Mattel defended the doll’s proportions in an interview earlier this year saying they are designed to make play easier, not be realistic.
In another divergence from Barbie, the Lammily has minimal makeup, and a less flamboyant wardrobe. Gone are the pink miniskirts, diamante denim jackets and glitter stilettos, in are chic dresses, casual denim shorts and trainers.
Gee, that sounds like a fun doll! Who wants a doll that that shows what the the “average” woman “really looks like”? Guess what? The average woman looks average–that is, just like Lamm’s prototype doll in the photos: so-so face, thick-ish waist, and well-fleshed thighs that may not say “thunder” but certainly say “storm warning.” There’s a reason why average women aren’t hired as supermodels. They look, well, average, and who wants to look at average? And how about those “chic” clothes on Lamm’s prototype–this is supposed to be a fashion doll? (Hints to Lamm: If you have a thick waist, a wide white belt isn’t going to make it look slimmer. Also, a skirt that hits the exact middle of your um, average, thighs is not the most flattering length for you.)
For decades feminists have been harping about the Barbie doll’s “unnatural proportions,” especially her narrow waist, Barbie is supposed to promote teen anorexia–as though teenage girls still played with Barbie dolls.
But do you know what? There’s a simple reason why Barbie has the equivalent of a 14-inch waist in a human. It’s called doll clothes. Doll clothes may be tiny, but they’re made–as they must be–out of human-size fabrics and stitched with human-size thread. That means they’re far bulkier for their size than human clothes, and their seams are even bulkier. Barbie’s tiny waist was a deliberate choice to accommodate the thick seam that’s inevitable when a doll-size skirt is attached to a doll-size bodice.
But feminists don’t sew–that’s a “gender stereotype.”
H/T: Amy Alkon
Posted by Charlotte Allen
One of the most awkward occurrences for me when I go out to an Arabic restaurant is the portion of the evening when the white belly dancer comes out. This usually happens on weekends, and I’ve learned to avoid those spaces then, but sometimes I forget. The last time I forgot, a white woman came out in Arab drag — because that’s what that is, when a person who’s not Arab wears genie pants and a bra and heavy eye makeup and Arabic jewelry, or jewelry that is meant to read as “Arabic” because it’s metallic and shiny and has squiggles of some kind — and began to belly-dance.
Women I have confronted about this have said, “But I have been dancing for 15 years! This is something I have built a huge community on.” These women are more interested in their investment in belly dancing than in questioning and examining how their appropriation of the art causes others harm. To them, I can only say, I’m sure there are people who have been unwittingly racist for 15 years. It’s not too late. Find another form of self-expression. Make sure you’re not appropriating someone else’s.
So, go away with all that Firebird, Misty Copeland–it’s our ballet! Ballet is white! It’s for white people. It’s by white people–Stravinksy was a Russian. White people invented the tutu–and we feel personally offended when you go onstage wearing one. We say, “Oh, drat, there’s the black ballet dancer!’ We also invented the symphony orchestra, so what I’m saying goes for you, too, Yo Yo Ma, Chinese guy with the gall to play our cello–in public!. Stop with the “appropriation” of “someone else’s culture,” you non-whites. Find some other form of self-expression.
Posted by Charlotte Allen
UNESCO’s International Women’s Day is March 8, and guess what’s at the top of the agenda of abuses? No, not female circumcision, honor killings, or forced marriages of underage girls. It’s this:
Women and girls carry out two to 10 times more of the unpaid care work in the Global South and even the most progressive countries in the global North have not achieved full equality in domestic work and childcare.
I’m outraged at how far we still have to go to achieve equality even as we have achieved so much.
At the same time, I think that too much of the work to achieve full rights for women and girls lets men off the hook
Achieving full economic equality for women… means that men and boys must do 50% of the world’s unpaid care work: that includes washing dishes and waking up for 2:00 a.m. feedings.
I have a question: Why doesn’t “unpaid care work” ever include washing the car, fixing the leaky toilet, shoveling snow off the driveway, cleaning the leaves out of the rain gutters, and managing the household finances?.
This International Women’s Day, let’s affirm that we’re in this together as women and men. Our lives our [sic] intertwined.
So how about having an International Men’s Day where husbands can complain about their wives not doing their “fair share” of changing the tires?
Posted by Charlotte Allen
On Wednesday evening at McGill University in Montreal, a group of students and community activists assembled to discuss when “yes” doesn’t actually mean yes. The Forum on Consent, which was also open to the public, featured several panel participants who spoke to the question of what we understand as “consent.” The theme was similar to a campaign launched by a Nova Scotia coalition earlier this month — the More Than Yes campaign — which contended that “sexual consent is more than just a yes.” According to that campaign, and echoed by the forum participants at McGill on Wednesday, real consent “must be loud and clear. Sex without enthusiastic consent is not sex at all. It’s sexual assault or rape.”
At McGill, campus advocates launched a petition after learning that three of the university’s football players were facing sexual assault charges. Though the players quit the team after the news of their charges was made public in November, members of McGill’s Union for Gender Empowerment blamed the university for failing to take an active role against “systemic forms of rape culture” on campus.
Despite all the alarm about McGill’s “rape culture,” the actual turnout for the Forum on Consent was, uh:
About 75 students and staff showed up to engage in a discussion about the thorny issue of consent, and to listen to keynote speaker Abigaël Candelas de la Ossa, a PhD student at Queen Mary of London University, who does research on consent.
McGill has 39,000 students.
Here’s another telling demographic fact:
Joey Shea, one of the co-chairs of the event and vice-president of student affairs for the Student Society of McGill University, said it was frustrating that not a lot of men showed up despite outreach attempts by the organizers.
I wonder why.
Posted by Charlotte Allen
A television commercial called “An open letter to the armpit” features several women in white tank tops taking turns reading a letter. “Dear Armpit,” begins the spot, which is directed by Pam Thomas and was introduced in January. “In the lottery of life, you drew the short stick. People shave you, pour hot wax on you, and your name is ‘armpit.’ People don’t treat you like skin because frankly, they don’t think of you as skin.”
After the product is shown, the women continue, “You can be a softer, smoother, more beautiful little armpit — you deserve our best care ever, and don’t you ever forget that.”
Print ads and billboards will also take the form of a letter written by Dove.
“Dear Razors,” says a print ad in the issue of People magazine that comes out on Friday. “Sixty-four percent of what you remove is hair. Thirty-six percent is skin. You should be ashamed of yourselves.” Another ad, addressed to Merriam-Webster, features a woman with her armpit proudly displayed, and asks in reference to one of the dictionary’s definitions, “Does this look like ‘the least desirable place’ to you?”
So naturally, Slate’s Katy Waldman has this to say:
I just wish they had honored hairy, scaly pits as well as smooth ones, since it’s hard to celebrate something while simultaneously policing every detail of its appearance.
Right–because we feminists just love hairy, scaly armpits!
Waldman’s post reflects the latest feminist obsession:
Some forty Swedish women gathered at a Malmö square in the afternoon on Thursday, taking a stand against the recent internet storm vilifying women’s hairy armpits.
We want to take a stand for all those that are insulted. It is about gender roles and letting everyone be themselves,” said Anni Isis, one of the armpit baring protesters, to the local Sydsvenskan paper.
The demonstration was organized by the Malmö Feminist Network (Malmös Feministiska Nätverk), which decided to “Reclaim the Hair” after Sweden’s online community had been whipped into a frenzy due to one woman’s hairy armpit being exposed during a live television broadcast of the Melodifestivalen song contest finals on Saturday.
Lena Ehrin from Ludvika in central Sweden was cheering the Swedish Eurovision candidate Loreen when her clearly visible underarm hair appeared momentarily on live TV and in the living rooms of an estimated 4.1 million Swedish television viewers.
A Facebook user then managed to take a screenshot of Ehrin’s hair, which he posted online – an image which then spread like wildfire across the site.
Within hours, thousands of people had “liked” the image, and hundreds had shared the image on their own Facebook pages, with an overwhelming number of crass and bullying comments attached.
“It is proof that many live in a narrow-minded and normative world. We have to challenge these structures,” said Isis to the paper.
All the women gathered in Malmö on Thursday had reacted to the massive online outcry that erupted against the woman and her hairy armpit.
“We need to show that this is a form of oppression based on a beauty norm and controlling the female body,” said Anna Gagliardo to local paper Skånskan’s web TV.
Plus ca change, plue c’est la meme hairy armpit.
Posted by Charlotte Allen
If you’re going to write a magnum opus titled “The Dark Power of Fraternities,” shouldn’t there at least be a parade of rapes and other foul deeds by the brothers somewhere in there? Especially since the subtitle of your purported expose is “A yearlong investigation of Greek houses reveals their endemic, lurid, and sometimes tragic problems—and a sophisticated system for shifting the blame.”
After all, the Caitlin Flanagan who penned this rambling, seemingly endless piece for the Altantic is the same Caitlin Flanagan who in 2011 wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal describing Greek-letter houses as dens of sexual assault so pervasive–”male power at its most malevolent and institutionally condoned”–that that they should be shut down immediately. Flanagan herself had been so freaked out by the mere existence of a “sinister” Fraternity Row at the University of Virginia that she dropped out of U.Va. after a mere four days of classes. As evidence for her argument for immediately shuttering frat houses, Flanagan cited a single incident–the sexual asssault of a female U.Va. freshman at a fraternity party that had taken place in 1984, some twenty-seven years before Flanagan wrote her op-ed.
OK–so now Flanagan has had ample time–that “year” we’re told about–to to make her case that the SAE house should actually be called the RAPE house. So, what is “Dark Power” about? It’s about…um…building safety. Did you know that some frat houses don’t have railings around their porches, and they sometimes leave the windows open and students fall out?
Here’s the lead:
One warm spring night in 2011, a young man named Travis Hughes stood on the back deck of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house at Marshall University, in West Virginia, and was struck by what seemed to him—under the influence of powerful inebriants, not least among them the clear ether of youth itself—to be an excellent idea: he would shove a bottle rocket up his ass and blast it into the sweet night air. And perhaps it was an excellent idea. What was not an excellent idea, however, was to misjudge the relative tightness of a 20-year-old sphincter and the propulsive reliability of a 20-cent bottle rocket. What followed ignition was not the bright report of a successful blastoff, but the muffled thud of fire in the hole.
Also on the deck, and also in the thrall of the night’s pleasures, was one Louis Helmburg III, an education major and ace benchwarmer for the Thundering Herd baseball team. His response to the proposed launch was the obvious one: he reportedly whipped out his cellphone to record it on video, which would turn out to be yet another of the night’s seemingly excellent but ultimately misguided ideas. When the bottle rocket exploded in Hughes’s rectum, Helmburg was seized by the kind of battlefield panic that has claimed brave men from outfits far more illustrious than even the Thundering Herd. Terrified, he staggered away from the human bomb and fell off the deck. Fortunately for him, and adding to the Chaplinesque aspect of the night’s miseries, the deck was no more than four feet off the ground, but such was the urgency of his escape that he managed to get himself wedged between the structure and an air-conditioning unit, sustaining injuries that would require medical attention….
And here’s another incident reported by Flanagan:
It was at the [University of Idaho] that the 19-year-old sophomore and newly minted Delta Delta Delta pledge Amanda Andaverde arrived in August of 2009, although she had scarcely moved into the Tri Delta house and registered for classes before she was at the center of events that would leave her with brain damage and cast her as the plaintiff in a major lawsuit filed on her behalf by her devastated parents.
It would have been an unremarkable Wednesday evening—focused on the kind of partying and hooking up that are frequent pleasures of modern sorority women—save for its hideous end. Andaverde and her sorority sisters began the night at Sigma Chi, where the “sorority ladies” drank alcohol and spent the evening with “dates” they had been assigned during a party game. (The language of Andaverde’s legal complaint often seems couched in a combination of ’50s lingo and polite euphemism, intended perhaps to preclude a conservative Idaho jury from making moralistic judgments about the plaintiff’s behavior.) The charms of Andaverde’s assigned date ran thin, apparently, because close to midnight, she left him and made her way over to the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house, where she quickly ended up on the third-floor sleeping porch.
Many fraternity houses, especially older ones, have sleeping porches—sometimes called “cold airs” or “rack rooms”—typically located on the top floor of the buildings’ gable ends. They are large rooms filled with bunks, some of which are stacked in triple tiers, and their large windows are often left open, even in the coldest months. Many fraternity members have exceedingly fond memories of their time on the porches, which they view—like so many fraternity traditions—as a simultaneously vexing and bonding experience. Although these group sleeping arrangements were once considered an impediment to a young man’s sex life, the hookup culture, in which privacy is no longer a requirement of sexual activity, has changed that, and the sleeping-porch experience is once again coming into favor. For a variety of reasons, sleeping porches feature in a number of lawsuits, pointing to an astonishing fact: despite fraternity houses’ position as de facto residence halls for so many American college students, safety features are decidedly spotty; about half of them don’t even have fire sprinklers.
According to the complaint, shortly after arriving at SAE, Andaverde ran into a friend of hers, and he took her up to the sleeping porch, where he introduced her to a pal of his named Joseph Cody Cook. Andaverde and Cook talked, then climbed into Cook’s bunk, where the two began kissing. It is at this point that the language of the suit finally frees itself of euphemism and reveals the fearsome power of the unambiguous, declarative sentence: “Amanda rolled onto her shoulder toward the exterior wall, and suddenly, quickly, and unexpectedly dropped off Cook’s mattress into the open exterior window, falling from the third-floor ‘sleeping porch’ to the cement approximately 25 feet below.”
The injuries were devastating and included permanent brain injury. Andaverde was airlifted to a trauma center in Seattle, where she remained for many weeks; in the early days of her care, it seemed she might not survive. Eventually, however, she improved enough to leave the hospital and was transferred to a series of rehabilitation centers, where she spent many months learning to regain basic functions.
This is a sad, sad story. It’s horrible that some young people have to pay with their lives or their mental functions for their momentary foolishness–in this case rolling around while intoxicated on an upper bunk next to an open window–while other equally foolish young people get lucky and escape unscathed. I feel for Andaverde and her parents.
But, uh, the “dark power” of fraternities?
Flanagan’s article, illustrated by bros ‘n’ beers photos that look lifted from Colorado’s kegger-centric Obamacare ads, would actually be a great article if it stuck to its two sub-themes: the partying/hookup/way-too–much-alcohol scene, financed by tuition hikes and massive student and parental debt, that is now an expected part of he “college experience”; or even more interesting, the ingenuity of plaintiffs’ trial lawyers in concocting ingenious ways to hold colleges and national fraternity organizations legally liable for the just plain stupid actions of students whose consequences, unfortunate as they might be, are the students’ own fault. Flanagan has written what could be a great tort-reform story. In the butt-bomb case, for example, Helmberg’s lawyer argued that the ATO house should have had a railing on its deck and managed to wring an undisclosed settlement out of the fraternity. In the Andaverde case, the judge had the sense to dismiss the lawsuit, pointing out that any reasonable person could see that the windows were open–this was a sleeping porch!–and that neither the fraternity nor the university could be held responsible for Andaverde’s foolish decisions, despite their hideous consequences.
But Flanagan is determined to stick it to fraternities. She regards their very fraternity houses as the equivalents of the hotel in The Shining: anthropomorphic entities with malevolent minds and wills of their own; they push people out of their windows, they drop them from their decks. Flanagan cites numerous statistics regarding window and staircase falls and hazing mishaps among fraternity members–without comparing them to similar accidents involving college students who don’t belong to fraternities, not to mention the thousands of alcohol-related automobile collisions, sometimes fatal involving young people either in college or right after their high-school graduations. Greek houses are far from the only college setting where hazing, binge drinking, and indiscriminate sex are ordinary occurrences. The real problem is simply that college students in general–or at least a significant portion of them–drink and party way too much, and that there are few social institutions either on campus or off to encourage them to act responsibly and take their educations seriously.
Finally, Flanagan does get around to what may be the single fraternity-linked rape incident she found during her year of combing the files of the personal injury lawyers she contacted. That U.Va. rape story from 1984 is now getting quite old–it’s now thirty years in the past–so Flanagan eventually came up with another: an alleged sexual assault in the fall of 2010 at a party inside the Beta Theta Pi house at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. A Wesleyan freshman was criminally assaulted–but not by a “frat boy,” as Flanagan dismissively calls them, but by a non-student ne’er-do-well who had been a high-school friend of one of the brothers. (Campus security people at Wesleyan were nowhere to be seen, because the fraternity had been de-listed as campus-approved housing in a long-running dispute over a since-rescinded Wesleyan decree that all fraternities allow women to live in their houses.) Her lawsuit against various entities resulted in another of those undisclosed settlements.
But that’s OK. Rape, open windows, non-existent ceiling sprinklers, whatever. It’s all part of the Greek-house “dark power.” It’s “sinister.”
Posted by Charlotte Allen
Update: A reader informs me that the incident at Wesleyan occurred in 2010, not 2011 as I’d originally stated–and that the assailant was not a party-crasher but a friend and guest of one of the brothers. He later pleaded nolo contendere to simple assault, not sexual assault. I’ve made the appropriate corrections.
First there was this report, characterizing the tweedy philosophers of UC-Boulder as a rabid wolf-pack of “bullying” and “sexist” skirt-chasers whose very presence in classrooms terrorized trembling female students into inchoate muteness. The report, from the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on the Status of Women, so terrified the UC-Boulder administration that it promptly fired the the department chairman and ordered the entire philosophy faculty to attend mandatory
re-education sexual harassment awareness classes.
The University of Colorado at Boulder on Friday announced that it was changing the leadership of its philosophy department and requiring mandatory training for all faculty in an effort to change a culture that is hostile to women.
The university also released an outside report that found that the department “maintains an environment with unacceptable sexual harassment, inappropriate sexualized unprofessional behavior, and divisive uncivil behavior.” The report found the department lacking the professionalism to handle alcohol or faculty-graduate student interaction at social events, saying that drunken behavior was linked to many incidents of harassment.
Further, the report found that many faculty members work at home to avoid the department. Departmental email has become so uncivil that the report urges the elimination of all departmental listservs except for those that could be used to make basic announcements to which people cannot reply.
Women in the department — faculty members and graduate students — are described as the primary victims of the situation. A disproportionate number of female faculty are currently trying to leave. Efforts to recruit new women to the department, which many see as essential to improving the environment for women, are hampered because of its reputation (worldwide, the report says) for sexism and harassment. In addition, the report says that “some male faculty have been observed ogling undergraduate women students.”
Then Slate‘s resident higher-education feminist attack dog, Rebecca Schuman, got into the act:
For anyone familiar with the discipline of philosophy, the CU report does not come as a surprise—or, rather, the only surprise should be that there weren’t also detailed allegations of racism and homophobia (although, not to worry, the report also references “divisive” and “bullying” behavior to members of “various” underrepresented groups). The ugly truth is that the situation at CU is far from unique in philosophy, which among the humanities is perhaps the last relic of the good old days of academe, before the feminazis and the ethnics ruined everything.
When proud philosophers like Duke’s Alex Rosenberg laud “the canon’s” tenacious preservation, what they forget (or, perhaps, ignore) is that those good old days also depended upon a culture of total white male domination, both on the syllabus and behind the podium. In this culture, professor meant man, and it was often that man’s prerogative to seek out the affections of female inferiors—grad students, and oh, those “co-eds,” impressionable, nubile, and smart (you know, for girls).
When, in the 1980s, much of the humanities decided, gasp, that women and people of color were worthy of inclusion and study—and, simultaneously, most American universities began instating sexual and racial harassment and discrimination policies—philosophy largely managed to hold out, and today it remains one of the whitest, malest fields in all of academia (worse, in fact, than most of the sausage-fest sciences).
I’ll bet you had no idea that philosophy was so exciting!
I always had my suspicions about that report, because, at least in the summary form issued by UC-Boulder, it didn’t allege a single specific incident of sexual harassment, even a dirty joke in class. My theory was that the report was more about departmental politics than any conceivable wrongdoing.
And now, this has emerged:
Six women with ties to the department released a joint statement Tuesday that describes the negative impact the report’s release has had on male philosophy faculty members and graduate students.
“We are all distressed that the report may damage the reputations of male colleagues who are completely innocent of sexual misconduct,” the statement’s authors wrote. “It could also harm the prospects of our male graduate students currently on the market.”
The women who co-wrote the statement are Sheralee Brindell, senior instructor and associate chairwoman for undergraduate studies; Carol Cleland, professor; Alison Jaggar, professor of distinction for philosophy and women and gender studies; Mitzi Lee, associate professor; Diane Mayer, senior instructor emerita; and Claudia Mills, associate professor.
The six women write that they believe a small number of men in the department are responsible for the sexual harassment or unprofessional sexualized behavior described in the report.
“We faculty women strongly believe that none of our currently untenured male colleagues or current male graduate students has engaged in sexual misconduct (nor, indeed, have most of our tenured colleagues),” the women write. “We believe that many have heard about the problems, if at all, only through the rumor mill.”
The statement also points out that the women in the department have “different takes on the content of the report.”
My guess is the “number of men in the department responsible for the sexual harassment or unprofessional sexualized behavior” is exactly one. Kudos to the six women who stood up for their male colleagues in a climate of palpable hysteria.
Posted by Charlotte Allen