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January 31, 2010

The AFA Embraces Hypocrisy in Support of Pro-Life Super Bowl Ad

I decided to check in with the American Family Association to see if they had weighed in on the Tim Tebow/Focus on the Family Super Bowl ad controversy. I figured they wouldn't miss the chance for one of their famous action alerts, and sure enough:

Urge CBS to stand firm on airing pro-life Tebow Super Bowl ad

Our good friends at Focus on the Family have purchased time during this year's Super Bowl broadcast to air a compelling pro-life ad featuring Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and the decision his mother made 23 years ago to give birth to her unborn son when doctors were urging her to abort him.

CBS has come under withering fire from the left for its decision to air this ad. Joy Behar of "The View" even said abortion would have been an appropriate choice since there was no way for Tim's mom to know that he wouldn't grow up to be a "rapist pedophile."

I must have missed the meeting where we elected Joy Behar as the official spokeswoman for "the left". I'm also going to assume that what Joy meant was that 'don't ever have an abortion because you might give birth to a future college football star!' is not necessarily the world's best argument.
The hypocrisy here is thick. Abortion proponents claim to be all about choice, but they are outraged over an ad that features a woman exercising her right to choose life for her baby son.
Yes, of course that's precisely why we're outraged. As usual the AFA has its finger right on the pulse of the pro-choice movement. And apparently by "the hypocrisy here is thick", the AFA means here in this action alert:
Unfortunately, CBS sent a signal this week that it would be willing to accept "responsibly produced" ads that promote abortion or homosexuality. But a message that promotes death or sexual deviancy is not the moral equivalent of a message that celebrates life, and CBS must be urged to reject any such advocacy ads.

CBS needs to hear from all of us who support the decision to air the Tebow ad.
So while most feminist and liberal groups are arguing that if CBS is going to accept anti-choice ads, they should also be willing to accept advocacy ads from the other side of the political spectrum (several of which they've rejected in the past), the AFA is arguing that only ads that conform to their moral standards should be accepted. And while most feminists are simply asking that CBS clearly state exactly what their new policy is regarding advocacy ads so that the playing field is more level, the AFA is apparently fine with CBS cherry-picking ads and providing vague explanations as long as it means that only AFA-approved ads ever make the cut. And of course the morals card is used to justify their stance.

This morality argument was explored further in a post by Bryan Fischer on the AFA's blog.
Below is a letter I wrote today in response to a CBS affiliate manager in Roanoke, Virginia, who told a member of the AFA network that if a station chooses to air one advocacy ad (e.g., the Tim Tebow ad) they must be prepared to air any and all advocacy ads (e.g., an ad promoting abortion or a homosexual dating service.)


Dear Jeff,

One of our constituents was kind enough to forward on to us your reply regarding the airing of advocacy ads.
I can only imagine how thrilled Jeff's going to be when he receives our boy Bryan's letter.
I'd like to kindly challenge you on one point. You expressed that once one advocacy ad is aired, you have some kind of moral obligation to air all advocacy ads. But I'm quite sure you do not believe this in practice, for I'm guessing you would turn down an advocacy ad for the KKK or for neo-Nazis and feel quite correct in doing so. Please correct me if I am wrong.
I guess we should be glad that he compared a pro-choice ad to a neo-Nazi ad rather than just straight up going for the Hitler comparison.

Now what this means in practice is that if an ad represents a morally objectionable point of view in your judgment, you rightly feel quite free to reject the ad.

The bottom line here is that ads that promote abortion promote the practice of putting an innocent human life to death. Ads that promote the normalization of homosexual behavior promote behavior that is so dangerous and unhealthy that the FDA - hardly a right-wing religious organization - will not allow a man to donate blood if he has had sex with another male even a single time since 1977.

According to the CDC (again, not a right wing organization), homosexual behavior is the single greatest risk factor in acquiring HIV/AIDS. The second highest risk factor is IV drug use. You surely would not accept an ad that promoted IV drug use, but homosexual behavior is even more dangerous than that.

This would put you on solid moral, social and cultural ground to reject any such ads. An ad that celebrates life can hardly be considered the moral or social equivalent of an ad that promotes the death of unborn children or a dangerous and destructive lifestyle.
So are we all clear now? Anti-choice ads are innocent and beautiful celebrations of life, while pro-choice and pro-gay ads are morally bankrupt death orgies that may as well be promoting Nazism. It's so admirable that Bryan has the courage and compassion to look for common ground on this divisive issue.

January 27, 2010

Cosmo's Brilliant Scott Brown Coverage Continues

Well, I didn't think this was possible, but Cosmo has really outdone themselves. They've managed to make their post-election coverage of Scott Brown even stupider than their pre-election coverage. (If you haven't been playing along at home, Scott Brown is a Republican from Massachusetts who was just elected to the Senate. He's also a guy who once posed naked for Cosmo.)

First, they covered Brown's victory speech, in which he charmingly announced to the entire world that his two daughters are "available".
How many people can say they asked a politician to drop his pants and then took naked photos of him? Well, Cosmo can! (Hmmm...on second thought, maybe that's not such a small club after all.) Anyway, we're proud to say that the recently elected senator from Massachusetts once posed bare in the pages of Cosmopolitan. Regardless of your political point of view, you have to admit it's kinda awesome that the guy Cosmo chose for a nudie centerfold in 1982 is now heading to Washington.
No, Cosmo, we actually don't have to admit that. Because it's not awesome. And while we don't think that posing nude is anything to be ashamed of, and we get why Cosmo's making a big deal about this, we're not really sure what they have to be proud of here, unless they feel like Brown's nude photo somehow helped him win the election. Now, as the alleged home of the "fun fearless female", Cosmo might have been a good place to start a conversation about whether a female candidate with a nude Cosmo shoot in her past would have been so successful and why or why not. But the ladies of Cosmo.com are apparently too busy drooling over "their" Senator to address that...
So we obviously watched Brown's victory speech. And you're not going to believe what he said...His daughters had a good sense of humor about it, but we couldn't help feeling a little mortified for them. Unless of course, they end up dating hot D.C. boys thanks to their dad. Then we'll just be jealous of them.
As always, Cosmo's priorities are in perfect order. Further proof of this comes from the slideshow that they put together: 7 More Politicians We'd Like to See Shirtless (And Some Who Should Definitely Keep Their Clothes On). It's a bipartisan list, offering Republican and Democratic politicians from across the country the chance to "exercise their right to bare arms... and pecs and abs."

Next up was "Another Naked Scott Brown Centerfold?", an invitation to Scott Brown from Cosmo editor-in-chief Kate White to pose for a new centerfold, or at least do an interview:
At Cosmo, our only disappointment in yesterday's Massachusetts Senate race is that we lost an opportunity to have another woman in the Senate -- there are way too few and we'd like to see more.
I'm surprised that they suddenly care about that, because they certainly didn't seem to before the election when they were making up campaign slogans for Scott Sixpack.

We don't know for sure what Scott Brown might do as the new Senator...

Well, maybe the reason why you don't know is that you were too busy talking about his "amazing body" and making "stimulus package" jokes to do any research into his positions on the issues.
...but we do know a bit about his character from having featured him in Cosmopolitan in 1982 as the winner of Cosmo's 1st Male Centerfold Contest when he was a law student at Boston College. Even then he knew what he stood for and what he was about. He admitted to being patriotic despite the fact that it "wasn't cool" at the time. And, of course, he was hot--and not afraid to show it.
So he's patriotic and confident about his own hotness. Yep, that's an amazingly detailed and insightful character sketch, thanks Cosmo.
How refreshing compared to politicians who pretend to be all modest and pious and then get $400 haircuts and cheat on their wives.
Um, what? So he's patriotic and he posed nude, which means he'll never cheat on his wife? Or, because he knew that he was hot enough to get naked for Cosmo, that means we'll never have to worry about him pretending to be modest? Or, if John Edwards had just done a nude centerfold early on, he would have...oh hell, I have no idea.

Finally, there's "Scott Brown: From Cosmo to Congress" by Ashley Womble. This one's my personal favorite.

Since we, um, thrust him into the spotlight back in the 1980s, we think it's only fair that the former bachelor does a few favors for us during his term. His to- do list is probably pretty schlong, oops, we mean long, but what are ten tiny requests among friends?

Hottie Scotty, we hope you're taking notes.

Is Ashley Womble 13 years old?

1. Senators don't usually have Inaugural Balls, but since you've definitely got a pair, turn the Senate floor into a dance party on your first day in office.
Okay, seriously, is Ashley Womble 13 years old? A dance party? Maybe next they can all have a sleepover and prank call some lobbyists.

2. Once you find suitable boyfriends for your gorgeous daughters, start auctioning off hot Washington male staffers to single women.
Yes, Scott Brown should definitely focus on the important task of "finding" some "suitable" boyfriends for his adult daughters. Then he should get in his time machine and travel home from the 1830s. (Auctioning off other human beings was also popular during that time.)

3. Create a congressional committee to launch a special investigation into Snooki's poof and pickle consumption.

Okay, I agree with this one. With all of the horribly depressing political developments lately, I think we deserve the opportunity to gather in front of C-SPAN with pizza and beer to watch Snooki testify before Congress.

4. Once a year, use the National Mall for touch football games in which all of America’s soldiers can participate… as long as the dudes are shirtless.
Cosmo supports the troops. It's so inspiring.
5. Go across party lines and work with Michelle Obama to create the ultimate work-out video- "Washington Abs and Arms of Steel."

Look, I know that Scott Brown is the only nude Senator that Cosmo has ever had and probably ever will have, and they have to work with what they've got, but...he's not that hot. He didn't even have "abs of steel" when he posed naked back in 1982, so he certainly doesn't have them now.

6. Make Cosmopolitan subscriptions tax-deductible. Hey, we all know it's one of life's necessities.

I can add nothing to this brilliant suggestion.

7. Women are still underrepresented on the Supreme Court. Fix that.

I must have missed that clause in the Constitution where it states that if a Senator poses naked for a women's magazine, the President's ability to nominate Supreme Court justices transfers to them. Yes, the Senate does vote to confirm any Supreme Court nominations, but Scott Brown only gets one vote. That's if another vacancy happens to open up on the court anytime soon, which it might not. And if it does, there's no guarantee that the Republican Brown is going to support whoever our Democratic president selects, which might not be a woman anyway. This is where the list turns from 'it's funny how dumb this is' to 'it's insulting how dumb this is'.

8. Go to spring training for the Red Sox- and get in the spirit by wearing some tight white baseball pants (when there are plenty of paparazzi around.)

You know who's already at spring training? Hot young baseball players. So no matter how much Cosmo keeps exaggerating Brown's alleged hotness, his presence really isn't required.

9. Since "Cash for Clunkers" was a huge success, draft a bill that will allow us to get a refund on all the money we spend on ex-boyfriends.

Because it's cash for clunkers. Get it? Man, between this and the hilarious schlong and balls jokes earlier, Ashley Womble is just on fire.

10. No matter what happens to the health care reform bill, make sure safe and affordable contraception is available for all Americans.

This is where I completely lose it. This plays into the old stereotype that women will vote for the cute candidate without having a clue what he stands for. And if Cosmo really cared about this issue, maybe they could spend just a little more time educating their readers about which politicians (and which party platform) actually come closest to supporting the goal of access to affordable contraception. Here's a hint, Cosmo: it's not your Hottie Scotty's Republicans, and none of this is the colossal joke that you seem to think it is.

January 26, 2010

Cosmo Quickies: February 2010

So this very-late edition of "Cosmo Quickies" is going to be kind of short and crappy this month. Why? Because Cosmo sucks! I had actually ordered a subscription to Cosmopolitan magazine. (We just felt so dirty going into stores and actually buying it in public... and hey, it's a write-off!) We also thought it'd be super convenient to get the issues a little bit earlier, so we could get to our making fun of the issues earlier. But no... Cosmo insists on sending my issues later than every other person on the planet. Every month it got a little bit later and now finally, the February 2010 issue has come to my house so late that I just snapped. (Um, hellooo they've been on the newsstand for weeks!) I was so annoyed that I cancelled the subscription right away.

So that explains why this month's "Quickies" are so late and so short. It's not because we're slackers. (Okay, we totally are slackers, but we didn't actually slack on this.) It's because Cosmo sucks! Pretty much everyone else in the blogosphere has already made fun of this issue - and they did a really great job - so instead of doing the full magazine we're just going to mock a few things and provide you with everyone else's awesome commentary. We recommend you check out GlossedOver and The Pervocracy's two-part Cosmocking (and look for a few other awesome links below).

  • Vaginas Are Totally In!
This month on the "Hot Sheet" we've got lesbians and vagina jewelry. (First it was penis jewelry, now it's jewelry shaped like your vagina.) While I have nothing against vulva pendants, I refuse to believe that it's one of the hottest "trends on the rise". On the other hand... are they calling lesbians a "trend"? Apparently there's been a little bit of girl-on-girl love on TV lately, but it's primarily on the CW so that doesn't count as real TV. (Sidenote: Apparently they're going to give Adrianna on 90210 a female love interest... first she's a drug addicted actress, then a pregnant high schooler, and now she's going to date a girl? It's like they're pulling out all the soap opera cliche on one character!)
  • More Male-Decoding
Cosmo has another series of secret tips to help us get to know our guys better (instead of the obvious way - actually getting to know them). They're training a bunch of little relationship detectives apparently. Now in addition to examining the way he holds his beer or how tidy his email inbox is, we're also supposed to believe that the position he sleeps in can reveal clues about his personality and his sexual desires. (For example: The guy who sleeps on his back probably likes doggie style... because... well, they don't clearly explain why, but Cosmo says it, so it's got to be true.) Now here's my question: If you're already examining the way your guys sleeps, is it safe to assume that you probably have already slept with him? (Unless you're sneaking into his bedroom in the middle of the night like a stalker.) So if you're already at the point where you want to participate in his sexual desires, why not just ask him what they are?
  • Don't Emasculate Your Man
I don't know why I'm even surprised when I see such blatantly sexist and stereotypical articles like "Are You Turning Your Boyfriend Into a Girlie Man?" but sometimes I really am shocked at how low Cosmo can go. Rehashing such lovely oldtime stereotypes as the "girls think sports are icky" and "personal hygiene and health eating is for chicks"... this article annoyed me so much that I can't even go into much detail on it. Instead, I recommend you check out the write-up on Contexts.org. (They also mentioned it, among other features, on Jezebel.)
  • Tap Into Your Seductive Powers
Cosmo advises women on some crazy, never-before-heard-of seducation secrets, such as talking to him. (I know! Crazy right? Telling him you want him will make him think you want him! Shocking!) Of course, you might not know why you want him... because girls are like, dumb. So Cosmo has provided us with tear-out cards that have examples of reasons we might want him.Seeing you read from a prewritten list of reasons because you couldn't think of any on your own will really make him feel wanted. You really have to read their awesome suggestions, so here's a sampling.
I would like to have sex with you because:
  • I noticed your feet are rather large.
  • I'm dying to try a move I read about in Cosmo.
  • I do lots of yoga.
  • I don't want this Brazilian to go to waste.
  • I'm feeling generous.
  • I was going to wash my sheets tomorrow anyway.
Yep. Nothing makes your man feel sexier and more wanted than "well, I have to wash the sheets anyway and I'm feeling generous, so let's have sex". (Side note: They gave four identical cards, so you can use this trick on four different guys!)

  • Cosmo Is Still Easily Surprised
Last month they declared "girl on top" an outrageous new sex move and masturbation a brand new sex habit. In December they let us know that you can avoid catching swine flu by not kissing people. In November, they taught us that it's dangerous to text while driving, light or inexperienced drinkers have a higher risk of alcohol poisoning, and if you make a sex tape someone might see it. (They also called vampires and twitter new trends.) In October they let us know that if you quit taking the Pill then you should probably use another birth control method, if you're sick you should stay home from work and men can shave their pubes with... shaving cream! And let's not forget when they discovered the amazing new invention: lube! (We could keep going, but you get the point.) So what are some of the shocking discoveries for February 2010?

  • Allergies can put a damper on your sex life (because itchy eyes and runny noses aren't sexy).
  • Shoplifting is uncool.
  • Brad Pitt's beard is weird.
  • If you feel happy when something bad happens to your friend, you might be a jealous bitch.
  • Bran muffins are healthy.
  • You probably shouldn't smoke if you're trying to get pregnant.
  • Guys like to be liked.
  • The secret recipe for chocolate-covered strawberries: melt chocolate and then dip strawberries in it.
  • 99 Recycled Sex Moves
We have so much to say about this one, we're going to give it it's own blog entry.

Is is spring yet?

Okay, I know the winter's been pretty mild so far, but I'm still over it. We had a random snow storm earlier today, and now it's like 40 degrees and sunny enough for sunglasses, which I wouldn't actually wear because I feel like they're not a winter thing. I know that's totally stupid and it's probably just my weird mental thing, because there are plenty of sunny winter days, and in fact the winter sun actually seems brighter sometimes. I just feel like they're a spring/summer accessory.

Of course, the real issue might be that I abuse sunglasses so much - toss them into the bottom of purses, hook them on a belt loop and end up banging them into things as I walk, let them rattle around my car. I'm constantly buying new ones. So if I had to wear them all year around, I might as well just invest in wholesale sunglasses and keep a carton of them in my closet. Or I suppose I could just be more careful, but where's the fun in that? Just like there's no fun in accepting that summer's not coming anytime soon. We reserve the right to complain.

*This 'it's supposed to be 18 degrees tonight' rant brought to you by cheapwholesalesunglasses.com.

January 25, 2010

Reproductive Health Act (Phone) Call to Action

Calling all pro-choice New Yorkers! Wednesday, January 27th is NARAL Pro-Choice New York’s Reproductive Health Act (Phone) Call to Action.

January marks the start of New York ’s legislative session and the goal is to pass the Reproductive Health Act this year! This critical bill will protect the fundamental right of a woman and her doctor to make private medical decisions here in New York State.

Call-in to kick-off the legislative session and the New Year by learning more about the Reproductive Health Act and what you can do to get it passed in 2010! (They will go over everything included in the bill and share opportunities for all pro-choice New Yorkers – from Buffalo to Staten Island - to get involved.)

RSVP to Community Organizer Lalena Howard at lhoward@prochoiceny.org or 646-520-3506 today. The conference call number, agenda and materials will be provided when you RSVP. (The call will take place at 6:30-8:00 PM EST, is toll-free and open to everyone throughout New York State.) Check out the Facebook Invitation: here

NARAL Pro-Choice New York is a political and advocacy reproductive rights organization that works at the state and local level to protect and advance access to the full range of reproductive health care to help men, women and teens stay healthy and safe.

January 24, 2010

Joaquin Phoenix: Famous Puerto Rican?

Time For Kids Almanac 2010My father gave my daughter a copy of the Time For Kids Almanac 2010 because she's just so incredibly awesome and smart (hey, I'm her mom, I'm supposed to say shit like that... although it is true). It contains info on current events, art, science, literature, government, sports, movies and so much more. She's been on kind of a trivia kick lately so I thought it was a great gift.

So we're flipping through it and get to the section on the United States. It has the usual stuff for each state - the capital, the biggest city, the state flower and tree, etc. - and also a famous person from that state. For example...
Famous Californian: Sally Ride, First American woman in space

Famous Idahoan (we really think this should say famous "Ida-hoe" but that's just us): Gutzon Borglum, Mount Rushmore sculptor

Famous New Yorker: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, abolitionist and women's rights advocate (go New York!)

Famous Utahn (yes, "Utahn"): Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of the television
You get the idea. Then we got the end of the states and noticed that they also had information on U.S. territories and possessions, like Puerto Rico and Guam... and this is what we found:
Famous Puerto Rican: Joaquin Phoenix, actor
Um... what? Joaquin Phoenix is the famous Puerto Rican? Really? That selection just really rubbed me the wrong way.

He is Puerto Rican - he was born in Río Piedras, San Juan - but that was primarily because his parents moved around like crazy. He only lived there until he was four and was raised mainly in the states. He is the only Puerto Rican in his family (River was born in Oregon, Summer in Florida, and Rain in Texas; his mother is of Hungarian/Russian descent and his father is of Irish/Spanish descent). Out of all the famous Puerto Ricans to choose from, they basically found the least "Puerto Rican" Puerto Rican to use as an example.

Now I hope no one takes this the wrong way and gets offended... I'm not trying to say that he isn't a "real" Puerto Rican or anything like that. There's absolutely nothing wrong with him identifying as Puerto Rican or being called Puerto Rican. It just strikes me as odd (and almost racist) that they overlooked so many other other notable Puerto Ricans for the light-skinned, light-eyed (and originally light-haired) Phoenix. It's kind of like calling Charlize Theron "African-American"... yes, she is... but at the same time, she isn't.

So since Time left them out, here are a few other famous Puerto Ricans that are a little more important and influential (and a little more Puerto Rican) than Joaquin Phoenix:

  • Hiram Bithorn (born in Santurce, San Juan) - pitcher for the Chicago Cubs and the first baseball player from Puerto Rico to play Major League Ball
  • Roberto Clemente (born in Carolina) - right fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the first Puerto Rican member of the Baseball Hall of Fame
  • María Bibiana Benítez (born in Aguadilla) - Puerto Rico's first known female poet and one of its first playwrights
  • Jesús Colón (born in Cayey) - writer, known as the Father of the Nuyorican Movement
  • Dr. Maria Cadilla (born in Arecibo) - writer, educator, women rights activist and one the first women in Puerto Rico to earn a doctorate degree
  • Ricky Martin (born in San Juan) - award-winning pop singer who has sold more than 60 million albums worldwide
  • José Rivera (born in Santurce, San Juan) - playwright and the first Puerto Rican screenwriter to be nominated for an Oscar
  • Roman Baldorioty de Castro (born in Guaynabo) - abolitionist and spokesperson for the islands right to self-determination, known as "The Father of Puerto Rico's Autonomy"
  • Herman Badillo (born in Caguas) - the first Puerto Rican to be elected to Congress (New York)
  • Nydia Velázquez (born in Yabucoa)- the first Puerto Rican woman to be elected to Congress (New York)
For more: Famous Puerto Ricans

January 22, 2010

Blog for Choice: Trust Women Starts With You

Today is Blog for Choice Day. It's also the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The past year has been a mixed bag for reproductive rights, and it seems like things have been especially tough recently. From Stupak to Scott Brown, the last few months have been full of setbacks, frustrations, challenges, and WTF moments for the pro-choice community. The current climate has even prompted a new discussion about whether Big Feminism has failed us, and what we can do about it.

No, not that kind of feminism. Not the theory of women's equality or the history of suffrage or the First Wave or the Third Wave or 18 million tiny cracks in the glass ceiling. I'm talking about FeminismTM, as in the largest feminist advocacy organizations in the country raising millions of dollars to fight on behalf of women.

And I'm wondering if FeminismTM is really such a good investment.

You know those emails? The ones from NOW and NARAL and Emily's List that declare, with great urgency and lots of ALL CAPS and exclamation marks, that you must give money right now? Stop this bill! Block this nominee! Protect Roe! Save the Supreme Court! And give, give, give!!!

And since you often agree -- why yes, I do want to stop this bill; why no, I do not want that nominee confirmed -- you click and give. It won't stop this bill or block that nominee, but you will get another email at the next crisis.

And it's always a crisis. Even under a Democratic president, with a Democratic supermajority in Congress, the nation's biggest feminist organizations are in crisis mode, raising money but unable to deliver results. They're just as effective as they were under Bush. Which is to say, Not. At. All. [From "Feminism Fail" at Daily Kos]

I've had a lot of the same thoughts and criticisms of big feminist organizations that the author articulates. I'm still in shock that health care reform might pass with a huge set-back to women's rights and access to abortion. Under a Democratic super-majority.

I've spoken to young women who have felt unsupported and marginalized in big feminist organizations. I've seen leaders of those organizations say and do things that I don't support at all.

And then, yesterday, I got a press release from the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) that the former President of the National Organization for Women (NOW), Kim Gandy, is now a Vice President at FMF. The current President of FMF, Ellie Smeal, is a former President of NOW. This kind of nepotism, of trading leadership, is a huge part of what I critique about the big feminist organizations. Every movement needs new leadership, and I think the feminist movement is no exception. Especially at such a pivotal time in our history. [Feministing]

In a little over a week Roe v. Wade will be celebrating another anniversary, yet feminists are still engaged in the fight of our lives for rights that seemed guaranteed by this ruling. And we can begin the finger pointing and blame shifting. But the truth is, the recent Nelson compromise was a collective loss for all women. As such, it should be treated like a collective failure.

Although I do not donate after every crisis claim, I have still maintained my membership in some of these mainstream feminist organizations. I have done so simply because my quality of life has improved from things like "This is What a Feminist Looks Like" T-shirts, The Love Your Body Campaign and the endless reservoir of sex education information that exists on websites like Planned Parenthood. Supporting attempts for justice even if they aren't always successful is reasonable; But Angry Mouse's analysis about the returns of our investment in the movement can't just be wanded away by a few great campaigns, a long track record and well spent foundation money. [Feministing]

dear NOW, NARAL, etc: i appreciate the work you do, but you gotta STOP emailing me asking for $! i'm an activist. money is scarce. [IAmDrTiller on twitter]

So, that's the atmosphere surrounding this year's Blog for Choice Day. Um, yay? Even the theme, while great and thought-provoking, is a reminder of one of the worst blows to the pro-choice movement in the past year.
This year, we are dedicating Blog for Choice Day 2010 to the legacy of Dr. George Tiller. Dr. Tiller often wore a button that simply read, “Trust Women.” As we reflect on Dr. Tiller’s contribution and the current state of choice, our question to you is this: What does Trust Women mean to you?

Maybe you were one of the thousands who wore a Trust Women wristband to pay tribute to Dr. Tiller’s legacy and demonstrate that you won't let those who use violent or hateful rhetoric go unanswered. Whether it’s Dr. Tiller or any other topic of your choice, you can write from your heart about what Trust Women means in your daily life. The possibilities are endless and your support is critical.
I'm all about honoring the legacy of Dr. Tiller. But I think the message that we really need right now is...don't trust women.

Okay, obviously I don't mean that literally. What I'm saying is that it's time for many of us to stop trusting other women to get the job done when all of us need to get to work. So, Big Feminism is far from perfect. So what? We can work with it, in it, through it, and around it. We can work together, but start with ourselves. And before I break out into a dramatic musical number over here, let me just shut up and give some examples and resources.

Don't trust other women...to be informed, to tell you what's worth knowing or what matters most.
Start Now: You could just sign up for NARAL's email action alerts and call it a day. Or you could check out RH Reality Check. SIECUS. The Guttmacher Institute. Our Bodies, Our Blog. National Advocates for Pregnant Women. National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. Choice USA. The Center for Reproductive Rights. The Society for Menstrual Cycle Research. Advocates for Youth. The SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective. The Pro-Choice Public Education Project. Learn (or revisit) a little women's liberation movement history: CWLU Herstory Project. Have you met Jane? We have. Stories like Jane's remind us of what's possible if we arm ourselves with knowledge and trust ourselves and each other.

Don't trust other women...to challenge the status quo for you, or to tell you that it can't be challenged.
Start Now: During the recent debates about the Stupak amendment and other abortion-related language in the House and Senate health care reform bills, we kept hearing about the Hyde Amendment being a line that can't or shouldn't be crossed, or even a decent compromise that pro-choice people should just learn to live with. Well, screw that. Educate yourself about the Hyde Amendment - what it is, why it needs to change, and what we can do about it: Wikipedia: The Hyde Amendment. Meet Rosie Jiménez. Abortion Funding: A Matter of Justice. Hyde - 30 Years is Enough. Watch Not My Tax Dollars: Hyde, Health Care, and Your Money and then join the No Abortion Ban campaign. Challenge the idea that abortion, a legal medical procedure, shouldn't get federal funding because some people find it morally objectionable, when the same does not hold true for moral objections to issues like war and the death penalty.

Don't trust other women...to do the constant hard work that it takes to turn "choice" from a concept into a reality.
Start Now: Become an abortion provider or support those who are working towards that goal: Medical Students for Choice, APC Toolkit. Become a clinic escort or do other volunteer work, or support those who do: Planned Parenthood. I Am Emily X. The National Abortion Federation has a list of ideas, or check for opportunities with the organizations listed above. Are you a college student? Join the Great American Condom Campaign. Learn about abortion doulas and support their work: Amplify, Radical Doula. Support the Exhale after-abortion counseling talkline. And speaking of doulas, don't forget that reproductive rights also include the right to reproduce: The Doula Project, The Business of Being Born, The Birth Survey, The Big Push for Midwives, Choices in Childbirth, Coalition for Improving Maternity Services. Help women who need abortions to access and afford them: National Network of Abortion Funds, Haven Coalition, Lilith Fund, Abortion Access Project. If there's no abortion fund near you, start one with the help of NNAF.

Don't trust other women...to mentor girls and young women.
Start Now: Girls Write Now. Girls for Gender Equity. Big Brothers Big Sisters. Get a subscription to New Moon Girls for a special little girl in your life. Girls Inc. Help teens get accessible and accurate sex ed info by supporting Scarleteen. GEMS. Girls Quest. Rock 'n Roll Camp for Girls (or the girls rock camp near you.) Or find something in your area that works for you: Idealist, Volunteer Match. Or start your own new program or mentoring relationship.

Don't trust other women...to support women's sports and arts and all of things that help us to be strong and creative and confident.
Start Now: Read Women & Hollywood. Support movies with well-written, complex female characters and movies that tell women's stories well, and speak out against stereotypical sexist crap. Support talented women directors and screenwriters. Check our Cinewomen and Women In Film. Buy Whip It on DVD, then support (or join!) your local roller derby. When a movie or TV show takes on topics related to women's reproductive health, pay attention and speak up about it - praise accurate portrayals, correct misinformation, and call out stories about unplanned pregnancy in which the characters aren't allowed to even say the a-word. Go to a WNBA game, or support whatever sports you like at whatever level you want, from the professional and college levels to high school and Little League. Check out the Women's Sports Foundation. Support women artists, whether it's the Sackler Center for Feminist Art, a small local gallery, a feminist with an Etsy store, or a talented friend. Meet the Guerrilla Girls. Support women's creativity wherever you find it.

Don't trust other women...to speak out against sexism and for feminist and pro-choice views in the mainstream media.
Start Now: Start a blog. The Women's Media Center and the Progressive Women's Voices program. Women In Media & News. Women, Action & the Media. Media Matters for America. Women's eNews. American Women In Radio & Television. The Association for Women in Sports Media. Call out sexist advertising when you see it, and tell companies that it's unacceptable. About-Face. Write an op-ed. Seriously, write one. You have valuable knowledge and a unique perspective to share, and the op-ed pages desperately need the voices of pro-choice women. Trust yourself. The Op-Ed Project can show you how through their awesome seminars and the helpful tools on their website.

Don't trust other women...to support (and participate in) feminist media.
Start Now: Start a blog. Support, subscribe, and submit to Bitch, Bust, Shameless, make/shift, off our backs, $pread, Feminist Review, Herizons, Lilith, and more. Or your favorite feminist blog. Submit a feminist/pro-choice piece to a "mainstream" women's or news magazine. Or start your own new publication.

Don't trust other women...to get involved in the political process - vote, get out the vote, campaign, run for office!
Start Now: League of Women Voters. Register to vote, or help other register. Emily's List. She Should Run - ask a woman you know to run! The White House Project. ActBlue. TweetCongress. OpenCongress. Sunlight Foundation. Act.ly. MOMocrats. Women & Politics Institute. BlogHer brings members of Congress and Obama administration officials together with its members. Center for American Women and Politics and Ready to Run. Or volunteer for a local pro-choice candidate that you believe in!

Don't trust other women...to say thank you.
Start Now: In saying that we all need to step up right now, I'm not trying to suggest that there aren't lots and lots of women out there already doing amazing feminist work that deserves to be recognized. All of those awesome feminist and pro-choice organizations and publications that we mentioned above? Write to them and tell them you love them. When a politician makes a strong statement (or even better, takes a strong action) in support of women's reproductive rights, call, write, or email their office and give them some positive feedback. When you read a great pro-choice blog post, comment. So much of our time is spent fighting for our cause and defending ourselves against anti-choice attacks, but we've got to make positivity a priority too sometimes, especially in challenging times like these.

Don't trust other women...to speak your truth or tell your story. Find your voice and use it.
Start Now: Start a blog. (Have we mentioned that one yet?) Or start a journal, write songs or poems, perform some pro-choice spoken word, make jewelry, make balloon animals. Whatever helps you to learn who you are and express it. And find other women who can help you, challenge you, push you, and support you. Join SheWrites. (Lilith and I belong to the International Women's Writing Guild, an amazing diverse community that has helped dozens of women to find their voices and believe that their stories are worth telling. The word sisterhood might seem dated and the word empowering might be overused, but I'm using them both now because the IWWG deserves them.) Listen to other women's stories. Trust their choices, and your own.

Basically what I'm saying is that now would be a good time for less agonizing and more organizing. And I admit that part of what I'm doing is trying to make myself feel better about our current challenges by reminding myself of how much potential is out there. So if you prefer, feel free to insert the rah-rah platitude of your choice here. You know, like "think globally, act locally" or "sisterhood is powerful" or "Donna Martin graduates!") I know that this list is incomplete. Add to it, subtract from it, challenge it, take it and run with it, or shred it and make your own list. Go ahead. I trust you.

January 20, 2010

Glenn Beck Reaches Out to His Female Audience

On his radio show today, Glenn Beck shared some profound insights about women and men. It started out as a discussion about the moment during Scott Brown's victory speech last night when he decided that it would be a good idea to announce on national television that his two daughters are "available".

GLENN: Exactly right. Okay. So you've got a question. Now again this is 1982 but you've got to question, what were you thinking? And then last night after the victory speech his family is up next to him and his daughters were there. Now, I have three daughters. So I have a little bit of experience of saying and doing the wrong thing with my every dad has done stupid things that you get home and your wife says, what the heck were you even thinking about? These are our daughters.

PAT: Absolutely.

GLENN: Right?

PAT: Absolutely.

GLENN: Because guys, you cannot figure women out. You can't you don't know the psychosis that is chickdom. Oh, see, Sarah, look at Sarah. Sarah just looked at me like, what are you

STU: She knows it better than anyone.

GLENN: You want to bring that up

STU: That's right, you heard me.

GLENN: Psychosis. Guys you can figure out: Food, sex. That's it.

STU: Two step process.

GLENN: It really is. Feed me, make love to me, let me sleep.

STU: Sleep, yeah. That would be the third, sleep.

GLENN: Come on.

STU: That's pretty much the bottom line.

GLENN: That's pretty much it. That's pretty much it. We're simple.

STU: Uncomplicated begs.

GLENN: Women are psychos.

STU: A tad of a generalization. It's possible that's a

GLENN: No, here's the thing, and I mean this one sincerely. I can't there are times that I just walk into, you know you know what? I feel like, you know, when Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and he's running out and he's got the, you know, he's got the statue, "Throw me the statue! Throw me the whip!" And he throws the statue and the guy doesn't throw the whip. And then he goes underneath the door and he sees the other guy impaled? You know what I mean? Like, oh, yeah, should have thrown me the whip. That's the way I think dads feel once in a while if you have daughters. That you'll just all of a sudden step into it and you are just like... and you're impaled on the side of the cave. Am I right? [GlennBeck.com via Media Matters. Emphasis mine.]

There's nothing that I can possibly say to add to this one. Oh yeah, except this...Glenn Beck can suck it!

January 18, 2010

The Sexies!

The winners of the 2009 Sexies have just been announced! If you're not familiar, the Sexies are the Sex-Positive Journalism Awards.

The board and judges of the Sex-Positive Journalism Awards are proud to announce the winners of the 2009 Sexies. Selected from about 100 entries (not counting multiple nominations of the same piece!) submitted by both writers and readers, the winning entries cover subjects from teen pregnancy to conjugal visits, vaginal plastic surgery to prudish responses to public art. The winning articles come from all across the United States and Canada, and represent a range of genres, from news to advice columns.

What they all have in common, however, is that they succeed in embodying the Sexies criteria for sex-positive journalism far better than the vast majority of their counterparts, helping to improve the quality of dialogue around sex and create a more well-informed reading public. "Without clear-eyed, informed journalism about sexuality, the public runs the risk of seeing sex-related issues through a murky scrim of ignorance and biased attitudes. The Sexies help show the media—and the citizenry—how it can and should be done," says Carol Queen of the Center for Sex and Culture.

Definitely check out the full list of winners, but here are some of our favorites:

Plastic Surgery Below the Belt,” Laura Fitzpatrick, Time Magazine
Judges said: “Balanced, fair, well reported and well-written - I actually wanted to read the whole thing even though I find the topic - vaginal plastic surgery - depressing. Love the conclusion! This story reflected a strong feminist perspective, which is sometimes lacking even from the most admirably sex-positive journalism.”

Growing Up Gloucester,” Rachel Baker, Boston Magazine
By unanimous acclaim. Judges said: “This piece looks closely and sympathetically at working/lower-middle-class teen American girls to show their passivity AND their agency in having babies while unmarried. While laying that groundwork, it goes on to show how vulnerable these girls and their desires are to being used as sex-panic grist by the mass media. I loved how the piece described the making of a nationally publicized sex panic, using all show and no tell to do so. Refreshing, creative, poignant, infuriating, educational.” “The story also reveals corporate media's role in fostering a conversation that exploits teen sexuality for adults' guilty kicks rather than supports their healthy development and expression.”

"Red Sex Blue Sex," Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker
Judges said: “An intelligent compare and contrast of the sexual cultures in the red vs. blue states that reminds you that 'family values' are often more aspirational than actual descriptions of daily life among evangelicals. Professed abstinence often leads to teen pregnancy, STDs, early marriage-and early divorce. And lots of shame. Talbot is too much the mainstream journalist to come out and say it, but her article shows us that religiously motivated sexual repression leads not to happy families but instability and sadness.”

The Sexist, Amanda Hess, Washington City Paper. Winning entries: "Yes, We Have No Birth Control," "Electoral Dysfunction," and "What the Fuck Is a Peter Meter"
Judges said: “There is an indulgent quality to these long pieces (they seem almost too longwinded to be 'columns'), but they're funny, creative, well reported, and the topics well chosen. A reminder of why we still need alternative weeklies-pieces like this take time and can't be done by unpaid bloggers, and won't be done by the mainstream because it's too bold and too quirky!”

A Poverty of Solutions,” Judith Levine, 7 Days
Judges said: “As Levine points out, challenging child molestation laws is the real taboo. But she nonetheless offers an articulate and forceful reframing of the real threat to children: our social neglect of the poverty in which too many live. Excellent.” “Tells the truth about a problem society likes to be hysterical about rather than solve.”

In Partial Defense of Eliot Spitzer,” Tristan Taormino, Village Voice
Judges said: “Taormino rightly calls complete fidelity a 'fairy-tale notion' and seeks to explore why a high-powered, highly-public man like Spitzer might stray, with a prostitute. She doesn't just speak for herself, but interviews actual sex workers about why we shouldn't only feel pity for the woman then known as 'Kristen.' At the same time, she doesn't let Spitzer off the hook for lying to his wife, but questions the entire paradigm of monogamy as something everyone should strive for.”

They're already accepting submissions for the 2010 Sexies, so if you see a great piece of sex-positive journalism out there, check the criteria and then submit it here. And of course we're hoping to bring you a great year of sex-positive journalism right here at Evil Slutopia as well. Happy reading!

January 15, 2010

Nevada Clears The Way For More Sexist Stereotypes

Apparently a small brothel in Nye County, Nevada (about 150 miles outside Vegas) recently got permission to hire male sex workers. So of course, the first question that comes to my mind is "what took so long?" How could it be possible that it took until 2010 for men to legally join the world's so-called oldest profession?

Nevada is the only US state which currently allows prostitution, which is only legal in counties with a population under 400,000 (so that excludes all the major metropolitan areas like Las Vegas and Reno). Prostitution has been "tolerated" in Nevada since the 1800s, although the state didn't begin to formally regulate it until 1971. In addition to mandatory condom use, Nevada law also requires that registered brothel prostitutes be tested weekly for gonorrhea and Chlamydia and monthly for HIV and syphilis.

The problem was that the law was female-centric (specifically, the requirement of a "cervical specimen") and therefore did not technically allow for male prostitutes... until now. The Shady Lady brothel fought for the right to hire men on the grounds that the gender-specific language of the law was discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional. They fought to get waivers from the Nevada Board of Health and the nine-member county licensing board to allow male prostitutes to undergo weekly urethral testing, instead of the required cervical exams (you know, seeing as they don't have cervixes). In doing so, they will go down in history as the first brothel in Nevada to legally hire male prostitutes - achieving what Heidi Fleiss was unable to five years ago (she tried to open an all-male brothel in Nye County in 2005 but was met with a lot of opposition and ultimately gave up the idea).

Now it's a little annoying that it took so long for this sexist loophole to be closed but that's not really the biggest issue I have with this story. It's the community's response to the idea of male prostitutes in Nevada - including comments made by the Shady Lady's owners, Jim and Bobbie Davis, themselves - that have really irked me. It seems that Nevada has not only cleared the way for legal male prostitutes... but also for more sexist stereotypes!

First of all, their quest for justice has little to do with fighting discrimination and everything to do with making more money. "With the economy the way it is, why don't we try it on a small scale and see how it works out," Bobbi Davis told ABC News. Now we can't fault them for wanting to explore a new market in these tough economic times, but if they were really looking to expand their horizons they might consider not being so... limited in their scope.

For instance, they are only seeking men to service women or join heterosexual couples in threesomes. While they technically can't refuse gay men from asking for a "lineup" of men to choose from, the prostitutes always have final say over what they do and with whom and the Davises have made it clear that they're not looking to "turn [their] business into a 'gay property'." They even went so far as to say that they would probably stop having male sex workers if they attracted a lot of interest from gay johns. "We're not interested in running that business," said Jim Davis.

The Davises aren't the only ones concerned with gays entering the industry. George Flint, president of the Nevada Brothel Association (who spoke out against the waiver) has admitted that he fears that male prostitution will lead to homosexuality activity which will make state legislators uneasy and in turn threaten the legality of prostitution in general.

There are also a lot of assumptions being made about the differences between men and women when it comes to sex and sex work:

"The minute a guy says so-and-so, and I have an 8-inch penis, we tune them out. When they say that, they're thinking just sex, but we're talking about entertaining women. They've got to be able to laugh at a lady's joke." -- Bobbi Davis

"Some women need to pay for that affection that makes them feel human. There are some people who need that and there are some people who are willing to be the tool to make that happen." --Les Brandt, Los Angeles-based actor who was originally interested in becoming one of Fleiss' "studs" back in 2005

"...women don't have the same sex drive as men. Men are pigs. They'll do a helluva a lot more to get laid than a woman would." -- John Hessling, owner of the Blue Moon Resort, Las Vegas

"Women wouldn't feel an immediate connection with the men they'll be hiring. They want someone who's charming and attentive. It would require significantly more time." -- Hawk Kinkaid of Hook

So basically... women go to prostitutes for entertainment, attention, affection, a "connection" and to feel human. Whereas men go to prostitutes for... sex. Even Markus (not his real name), the first male prostitute hired by the Shady Lady has reinforced this tired old stereotype:

Q: So you'd rather be called a gigolo than a prostitute.

A: I think for a male, if you want to be successful in this type of venture, you're not a prostitute. You're a surrogate lover. You encompass everything that's required of you—not only emotionally, physically—but psychologically. Because women are wired differently. They're much more sensitive creatures. You actually have to enjoy what you do. You can't necessarily say, "Oh, it's just a job." You actually have to say it's a passion.

America's first legal male prostitute doesn't want to be called a prostitute... and he based that on the whole "men and women are different!" explanation. So let me get this straight, women are more sensitive and emotional, so they need their sex partners to be the same... and so therefore, as a man, the term "prostitute" is beneath him. But apparently it's okay to call female sex workers "prostitutes" because they can say "Oh, it's just a job". But... wait, I thought women weren't capable of that kind of sex. Okay, now I'm confused. Maybe because it's all a bunch of sexist double standards that contradict each other!

Seriously, everything that comes out of this 25-year-old former Marine and failed adult actor's mouth is so hilarious and offensive, that it was so hard narrowing down which excerpts from his interview to quote. (So I pretty much quoted almost all of it.)

[...] In the porn world, they say it's like a menu: BJ, double penetration—that's prostitution. That's not feeling affection or love. [...] I view myself as an artist, a performer. It's a craft, and it has to be learned. In porn, they have to have these degrading acts. I consider myself a classier person than going below myself to do that. This is much different. It's closer and more personal. Whichever woman may walk through the door, she's appreciated. A surrogate lover will love that woman for a whole hour, for however much we charge here and she'll leave feeling much more empowered, and much more confident in herself.

Ah okay, so now women go to prostitutes gigolos to feel appreciated, empowered and confident. Okay, we'll add that to the list of everything-except-sex that women go to sex workers for.

I think it's the same situation as with anything that happens when you break apart a social institution. There has to be some kind of change in terminology to describe persons like myself. And it's more of a civil rights thing now. Basically this is the first time in the economy of the United States that a male has actually stood up and said, "I want to do this for a living." And be protected under law to do it. It's just the same as when Rosa Parks decided to sit at the front instead of the back. She was proclaiming her rights as a disadvantaged, African-American older woman. And I'm doing the same. I'm actually standing up now, and hopefully I can be supported by the male community and be understood as a person. This actually isn't about selling my body. This is about changing social norms.

Oh okay, I get it now. He's changing social norms! He's standing up for the male community... the poor oppressed white male community. Now, I do think that it's about time that the outdated and sexist language of the laws was changed, but men aren't exactly a terribly oppressed group and letting them be sex workers isn't exactly a boon for civil rights. And Markus is no Rosa Parks.

I'm an equal opportunity employer. I don't discriminate based on race, color, creed, ethnicity, or skin tone. Notice I left gender out. That's for a reason. [...]

I think gay people are very put-together. I think they're very classy, very well-organized people. They have great personalities. I have nothing against them, but that's not me. And as the first male that's entering this field legally in the entire United States, I'd like to assert my rights and say that I can sit here and have a decent conversation, but I draw the line at that. In the adult industry they said, "Well you're not going to make enough money. The equation's already set—you have to go gay for pay if you want to make the big bucks." So, that's prostitution, in my opinion. That's disrespect to the artist. My sphincter isn't for sale. But what is for sale is companionship—total appreciation for whoever walks through that door. I'm not saying I'm special. I'm not saying that I'm better than anyone, but I'm definitely unique. And I think it's a good thing. [...]

There's going to be times where there's an ugly woman—ugly physically—but there's going to be something inside of her that has to be released, and if I can release it through sexual activity or just conversation and companionship, that's what I have to do.

He also explained that he's specifically suited to be a gigalo because of his parents' divorce (because, you know, that's how all prostitutes are made right?) Apparently when your parents divorce, you suffer sensory deprivation and that makes you want to have sex with your mother... which of course, leads to becoming a prostitute gigolo.

Psychologists say a child should be hugged at least, you know, two or three times a day for him to be a functional human being. Then, once I reached adulthood, I didn't have any sexual relationships. So naturally, when someone is in the psychological state that I'm in, I don't think of it as a disadvantage. I think it's more of a prerequisite for what I'm fixin' to do. You're striving to make up for lost time, basically. You're trying to remake the things that you were missing out on as a young adult. Psychologically, Freud always said that every man inherently has an innate desire to copulate or have some sort of relation with his mother—regardless of whether he wants to admit it or not. I think this engenders what it means to be a gigolo. A gigolo is looking for a surrogate mother. And basically he's filling the need for someone, but at the same time, he's getting the respect and the compassion that he missed from an earlier developmental deficit.

He wasn't hugged enough as a child, so he never had sex as an adult, so he is perfectly suited to have sex for a living. (You'd think that they would want men who had some experience having sex, no?)

There's five things I think that separate a gigolo from the average man: number one being the psychological profile—how he was raised, his upbringing, his thought, his morality, what he views as right and wrong. He must have the heart of a saint, the mind of a philosopher, and the skills of the devil—that's the second qualification. The third one is I never refer to any woman as a bitch, ho, twat, cunt, or any of those terms. It offends me. Women don't pay for sex, they pay for experience. And luckily for me, I don't have that much experience with sex, but I have the mentality and the emotion and gumption to make them feel the way they want to feel. And if I complete that through sex, too—which I'm a very good performer in that respect, too—my mission's accomplished. The fourth thing that separates a gigolo is a gigolo knows how to cook, clean, and do the things necessary to upkeep himself. He's totally independent. He can cook a 3-course meal, and at the same time, serve wine.

[...] I knew if this was going to be a viable business, you have to have a level of discipline. I think that a gigolo should have no relations outside of the brothel because it's his playground. Through engaging with a female, he's actually rewarding himself in a way he's never been rewarded before. It's a very beautiful, almost holy experience. I'm changing the way people think. I'm not college-educated, but I'm well-read. That's the fifth thing that a gigolo must have. He must be literate, he must have a sense of honor and dignity to himself. He should just be an all-around good guy.

What the fuck? I'm sorry... but I'm really lost here. What does his upbringing, his ability to cook and clean and "serve wine" have to do with being a prostitute gigolo? (I'd really love to hear what he thinks separates a female sex worker from the average woman.) Shouldn't the #1 priority be his ability to HAVE SEX? Why is everyone obsessed with the idea that women don't pay for sex? Some women do want sex! Not the "experience" or affection or love... but sex! Hot, dirty, emotionless sex! Maybe some women do want the type of experience he spoke about, but it's just a really annoying generalization to suggest that we all want that.

And while I definitely think it's nice that he doesn't throw around words like "bitch" or "cunt" in a derogatory way, it's annoying that he says he won't use them (and that any good gigolo shouldn't) because he's offended by it. Sometimes women want to be talked dirty to. Of course that concept is probably impossible for him to wrap his head around, seeing as he thinks that his ability to cook a 3-course-meal and being well read has anything to do with qualifying him to work at a brothel.

[...] I tried applying for anything from waiter to car washer to any of these menial odd jobs, and felt like I was really wasting talent and time on it. I felt that my youth was being wasted.

Q: Did you get any of those jobs?

A: Nope. It's just the economy. The economy sucks.

January 14, 2010

Cosmo Campaigns for GOP Senate Candidate and Former Nude Model

Well, here's a headline I never thought I'd write, but it's true. Scott Brown, a Republican who's currently running against Democrat Martha Coakley in a special election to fill the Senate seat formerly held by the late Ted Kennedy, once posed naked for Cosmo.

Here's the centerfold, straight from Cosmo's website:

Many of you probably hadn't heard about this nude photo, but there's a good explanation for that. You see, Scott Brown is a man. If a female politician had a nude magazine photo shoot in her past, we all would have heard about it because it would have provoked a lot more media/blogosphere/tabloid/AFA action alert coverage than this photo is getting. In fact, would a female politician even be able to get to the point of being a candidate for the U.S. Senate with a photo like this in her past? I think it's doubtful. Opponents would use it to question her character and there would be plenty of slut-shaming going around. And even if party leaders didn't personally see the photos as a big deal, they'd probably be more likely to pass over a qualified female candidate rather than risk dealing with a potential scandal.

You might think that since Cosmo is supposed to be the home of the "fun fearless female" and is packed full of sex tips every month, they might mention something about this sexist double standard. Unfortunately they're too busy drooling over Scott Brown:

Long before he was a politician, the Republican candidate vying for Ted Kennedy’s U.S. Senate seat posed nude for the centerfold of Cosmo. Scott Brown won our “America’s Sexiest Man” contest and appeared in the June 1982 issue. In those days he was a 22-year-old law student at Boston College who was cramming for finals just days before stripping down for our photographer.

“Here at Cosmo we’ve had bachelors go on to be actors, models, and reality show stars, so we’re thrilled that one has gone on to become a politician,” says Kate White, Cosmo’s editor in chief. Obviously we know how to pick ’em. This particular bachelor has always had political ambitions and even admitted to being “a bit of a patriot” when we interviewed him.

Compared to some men in the GOP, this politician looks pretty damn good for his age. We bet he still has an amazing body underneath his suit and tie. There have been plenty of pics of our president running around without his shirt, so now that a precedent has been set, we’re hoping to see Scott shirtless again.

Since we know the candidate so, ahem, well, we thought we’d help him out with a few campaign slogans:

Who Needs Joe Plumber When You Can Have Scott Six-Pack?

Scott Brown: A Name You Can Trust, Abs You Can Believe In

Vote for Brown. He Has One Hell of a Stimulus Package.

Leave your own slogans for Scott Brown below!

I understand why Cosmo wanted to highlight the random fun fact that a candidate for the U.S. Senate was once naked in the pages of their magazine, but I don't think they also needed to "help him out" with a fluffy post about how "thrilled" they are over his political career, complete with links to his campaign website and campaign slogans, but minus any comment about his actual positions on the issues that will most affect Cosmo's young female readership.

I know, I know. What did I expect, right? This is Cosmo we're talking about. And I get that their brilliant campaign slogans aren't "real", just really cheesy and cringeworthy. But it's still annoying to see such a shallow cheerleading post about the cute guy running for the Senate when this election is so important.

Cosmo can joke about Scott Brown's "stimulus package", but not mention his opposition to health care reform. They can brag about how they "know how to pick ’em", but not point out that his opponent, Martha Coakley, would be the first female Senator in the history of Massachusetts. They can talk about how good he looks for his age, but not mention a recent press conference in which "Massachusetts' leading advocacy organizations for women’s reproductive rights denounced Republican Scott Brown’s poor record on a woman’s right to choose". They can fantasize about seeing more shirtless pictures without letting their readers know that "In 2005, he sponsored legislation to allow doctors and nurses to turn away rape victims from Massachusetts emergency rooms if they objected to providing rape victims with emergency contraception."

In short, the fun fearless females who read Cosmo might have a lot to fear if Scott Brown is elected. Obviously I don't turn to Cosmo for deep political analysis or think that anyone should depend on them for coverage of important issues. But it would be nice if their editors could at least acknowledge that this election is critically important and not just an excuse to tell "package" jokes, and stop propping up the dated old idea that women will vote for the "cute" candidate regardless of his positions on the issues that matter most to them.

January 12, 2010

We're baaaaack!

Our fan page on Facebook is back up and working again!

If you're not already a fan, then add us today!!!

January 10, 2010

Shopping for Fitness is More Fun Than Actual Fitness

Like everyone else on the planet, we made a bunch of 'hey let's get more active and healthy and fit in the new year!' resolutions. Now, we haven't really actually done too much towards that goal yet, but it's not our fault. We have to be prepared first, and by prepared we mean we have to shop for a bunch of fitness-related stuff that we may or may not ever use.

First, we need the proper attire. This Timex Ironman watch line says it's for "the female athlete" and "the active woman", and it has many useful features that should come in handy in case we ever decide to go for a run. Hey, it could happen. Maybe. It's a possibility.

But you know what, we're going to need proper footwear first. (Can you sense our procrastination yet?) These Asics sneakers have potential:Of course, it we were going to (maybe possibly hypothetically) go for an actual run, we'd have to deal with the weather, so we'd better look for deals on Patagonia fleece or something else warm.

Yeah, okay, screw that. It's hard enough to get excited about exercising in general most days. We can't even pretend that we're going to get ourselves psyched up to go out running the freezing cold. So, getting fit indoors it is. And as we all know, the first step to a good indoor fitness program is to shop for a large piece of exercise equipment that you can put in a prominent place so that it's very presence will attempt to shame you into using it each time you walk by, like this ProForm Elliptical:

Oh, screw it. We're just going to get ourselves a Reebok exercise ball, because unlike some of this other stuff, we know that at least we can use that to bounce around the ESC offices while we're watching bad reality TV. Because we're deeply committed to fitness.

Send Mail to ESC Headquarters

The decoration of the imaginary ESC World Headquarters had turned into a running joke for us. We've got the bounce house and we've got the themed signs, but we've realized that we're also going to need a way to handle all of our important correspondence. (By that of course we mean our subscription to Cosmo, all of our angry letters to Cosmo, our many many fan letters, product shipments from our stores, and other critically urgent things.) We need mailboxes. Maybe even a whole mailroom, but we'll start small because we're realistic and practical.

We're thinking we may need one of these fancy locking mailboxes, because of our many top secret and classified and sensitive projects.

We've also considered doing some multi-unit commercial mailboxes, so that we can keep the Cosmo-related mail in its own separate box and hide our shame. We could also have separate boxes for each member of the ESC. Don't tell her we told you, but Chiquita gets a lot of weird stuff.

The only problem with these choices so far is that they're not very attractive. We may need to go with one of the residential mailboxes instead so that we can find something prettier, because we're classy ladies.

There's the log cabin look:

The quaint garden look:

Or maybe a nice lighthouse motif:

Wait a second, I think we've found our winner. Check it out:

This is going to be the best office ever.