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January 31, 2013

The 5 Worst Things About Save the 1

Last week the anti-choice group Personhood USA put out a press release announcing, essentially, that they've decided to get even more in your face about how extreme and ridiculous their views are by creating a new group called Save the 1. Go ahead, soak up the idiocy (we only included the worst of it and bolded the worst of the worst because we're nice like that):
For the first time since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, a new organization has formed to focus on the demographic of babies most ignored by the pro-life movement, yet most often singled out by pro-abortion groups: babies conceived in rape. Savethe1.com has launched an effort to educate politicians on the 100% prolife position; disallowing for any "exceptions" sentencing babies to death. These so-called "hard cases" include babies who have a poor in utero diagnosis as well as babies conceived in rape. 

...Following the widely publicized misstatements of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock , Save the 1 has been created to equip politicians who hold to the 100% prolife position, educating them on the statistics and facts that support 100% abortion bans. Save the 1 will include the personal stories of rape victims and people conceived in rape who seek legal protection for all unborn babies, no matter the circumstances of their conception.

Save the 1 intends to remove and prevent 'rape exceptions', starting with the Hyde Amendment. Save the 1 is a reference to the parable of the lost sheep in Matthew 18:10-14, in which the shepherd leaves his 99 sheep behind to find the 1 sheep who was lost.

"Rape and abortion are wrong for the same reason; they are both violent acts of aggression against another person," continued Kiessling. "If you really care about rape victims, you should want to protect them from the rapist, and from the abortion, and NOT the baby. A baby is not the worst thing which can happen to a rape victim — an abortion is."
Well, it's a good thing Ms. Kiessling cleared that up for us, right ladies? Now, there are a lot of important conversations that we could have about rape exceptions. For example, we could talk about that fact that often when people say that they support abortion rights only in cases of rape, what they mean is that they're willing to be magnanimous enough to "allow" a woman to have an abortion, but only if she's not a big old slut who got pregnant because she chose to have sex. In that sense, we have to at least give it up to the "no exceptions" crowd for consistency - they think we're all horrible evil people for ever considering abortion or supporting abortion rights.

So of course we had to check out this Save the 1 site. And although it can sometimes be hard to measure such things, we can safely say that it's one of the worst things we've ever seen on the internet, and we watched Bam Margera's new music video. So allow us to present, in no particular order, the five worst things about Savethe1.com.

#1 - The fact that it exists

Are we really still trying to make the "personhood" thing happen? Personhood bills and amendments have been solidly defeated at the polls in every state where they've managed to get them on the ballot, including very red states like Mississippi. Sometimes they fail in the courts or before they even come up for a vote. Colorado even rejected it twice. (And yes, I know that just because something is defeated on Election Day, that doesn't make it wrong. Gay marriage should be legal everywhere but it's been voted down a bunch of times, but this is different for a few reasons, like the very wide margins by which these personhood amendments have gone down, and the fact that gay people aren't trying to marry fertilized eggs. But I digress.) Polls have shown that only a small portion of Americans actually agree with the "100% pro-life position", and there are even a lot of people within the anti-choice movement who reject the personhood agenda, either on principle or because the wording of the proposed amendments is always way too vague and broad or just as a matter of bad strategy.

You would think that Personhood USA would have picked up a clue about how popular this whole "no rape exceptions" idea is by the fact that men like Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin and Richard "What God Intended To Happen" Mourdock are not serving the Senate right now. But no, according to them all that the Akins and Mourdocks of the world lack is a little finesse. Just explain it better and then everyone will understand that it's a great idea to force rape victims to continue their unwanted pregnancies. But not to worry! Save the 1 is here to help with their list of tips for candidates. Here are a couple of their suggested sound bites:
“According to the U.S. Supreme Court, rapists don’t deserve the death penalty – not even child molesters, and that it’s cruel and unusual punishment to sentence them to death. I certainly don’t believe that an innocent child deserves the death penalty for the crimes of her father. Just as the death penalty can’t undo a rape, neither will an abortion.”

“Rape and abortion are wrong for the same reason — they are both violent acts of aggression against another person. I care about rape victims, so I want to ensure that they are protected from the rapist, and not the innocent baby. More violence within her body is not the answer.”
Because if Todd Akin had said that instead he would totally be a Senator right now.

#2 - They almost made us kinda sorta agree with Ann Coulter a little bit

There's a section on the site where Save the 1 director Rebecca Kiessling responds to a column that Ann Coulter wrote after the election. Here's some of the relevant part of Ann's column:
No one can be blamed for the hurricane that took the news off the election, abruptly halting Romney's momentum, but Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock can be blamed on two very specific people: Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock.
The last two weeks of the campaign were consumed with discussions of women's "reproductive rights," not because of anything Romney did, but because these two idiots decided to come out against abortion in the case of rape and incest.
After all the hard work intelligent pro-lifers have done in changing the public's mind about a subject the public would rather not think about at all, these purist grandstanders came along and announced insane positions with no practical purpose whatsoever, other than showing off.
While pro-lifers in the trenches have been pushing the abortion positions where 90 percent of the country agrees with us -- such as bans on partial birth abortion, and parental and spousal notification laws -- Akin and Mourdock decided to leap straight to the other end of the spectrum and argue for abortion positions that less than 1 percent of the nation agrees with.
In order to be pro-life badasses, they gave up two easy-win Republican Senate seats.
 She's right. Well, mostly right. As right as Ann Coulter can ever be about anything. Akin and Mourdock (and quite a few other Republican candidates) tanked their campaigns and did damage to Mitt Romney's campaign by expressing extremely unpopular views in extremely stupid ways with extremely bad timing.

But Ms. Kiessling disagrees. She calls Coulter a "Republican party apologist" who just doesn't get that Akin and Mourdock's losses were because of "how poorly they expressed their positions", not the positions themselves. She also says that Ann wouldn't know anything about what goes on in the "pro-life trenches" because she's been "missing in action", and claims that it was actually Mitt Romney who hurt candidates like Akin by running "ads in battleground states suggesting that it’s extreme to be 100% pro-life".
I know that the number of 100% pro-life Americans would be much higher if the pro-life movement as a whole actually went after this ground. Instead, Coulter is right in pointing out where the effort has been focused – on things like parental notification laws and efforts to ban partial birth abortion. The lives of children conceived in rape are often minimized with the standard dismissive language of: “Well, it’s only 1%.” Why continue to minimize? Why not stand up and really defend our lives? We need to try to gain ground on this issue, by educating the public, by equipping candidates and legislators on how to most effectively respond to the rape question, by making ads with children conceived in rape available for anyone who wishes to utilize them, and by removing rape exceptions from the law, beginning with the Hyde Amendment.
I fully support this Republican infighting and hope that it goes on for a long time, and that Save the 1 is able to encourage a lot more Republican candidates to Akin themselves and lose their elections.

This part is just fascinating to me:
Back to Ann Coulter’s article – she wrote that “No law is ever going to require a woman to bear the child of her rapist.” I don’t believe that. Laws DID protect children like me and these protections can and should be restored. She went on to add: “Yes, it’s every bit as much a life as an unborn child that is not the product of rape.” Ann, your words speak volumes as to what you really believe. A preborn child is not an “it.” He or she is a life, a human being, a person, a son or a daughter. They have a gender. This is not a mere philosophical or political exercise, but real people’s lives are at stake. When I represented the mother inMichigan’s “frozen embryo” case, the fertility doctors testified at deposition that from one cell, they are literally male and female, and ascertainably so! Just as it says in Genesis, “male and female, He created them.” Using words of gender serve to demonstrate the humanity of these children.
So you're more valuable if you have a gender. Or, at least, one that conforms to the gender binary. Interesting.

And then there's this:
We must not discriminate! Children conceived in rape are surely the most outcast members of our society, being unfairly demonized and portrayed as a “horrible reminder of the rape,” “the rapist’s baby,” “tainting the gene pool,” and even “demon spawn.” This not only affects the pre-born, but also those born under such circumstances. Can you imagine if a law was introduced with an exception in cases of bi-racial rape? I could hear the rationale, “Well, it’s only 1% of 1%,” and “the child would look more like the rapist and would surely be more of a reminder of the rape” – an argument which I’ve actually heard before. There would be a national outcry for such discrimination! Civil rights leaders would be outraged and demand that the exception not only be removed, but that the legislator who introduced it must immediately step down. And yet, half of pro-lifers think nothing of discriminating against children conceived in rape, and it’s wrong!
You know, we always try to make posts like this informative, witty, and/or insightful, but sometimes all we really want to say is...wow, fuck you.

#3 - The total disregard for women in general, and rape victims in particular, as individuals with lives and voices and any rights to control their own bodies or make their own choices

The language that this site uses to talk about rape victims is so disrespectful and disgusting. Like the suggested sound bites for candidates we quoted earlier that go on about how rape victims need to be "protected" from abortion, and those who choose abortion are "sentencing" an "innocent child" to the "death penalty" - a worse fate than rapists and child molesters suffer.

Here are a few more of their suggested talking points:
“That child is not ‘the rapist’s baby,’ but her mother’s child. The majority of rape survivors choose to raise their children who were conceived in rape. After everything the rape victim has endured, what an insult to her to suggest that somehow her child’s primary identity is marked as ‘the rapist’s baby,’ and what an unfair stigma to attach to an innocent child.”

“I’m tired of these children being demonized like this. Women are capable of great love for their children and must be given more credit for this.”
"Rape victims need real help – to be protected by ensuring the rapist does not have any parental rights, to make sure the rape victim mother will be able to receive governmental aid, even if she is unable to name who the rapist is.  Tragically, the rhetoric surrounding abortion has left the majority of rape victims mothers unprotected because too many seem to think that a real rape victim couldn’t possibly want her child, when this is simply untrue.  I will work to protect rape victims, and their children."
So they preach about not forcing an identity on a child because its father is a rapist, but they're fine with forcing the identity of "rape victim mother" onto a woman whether she wants it or not. I think that "after everything the rape victim has endured", the real insult is that the Save the 1 crowd tries to shame and manipulate and even legally compel her to conform to their agenda rather than respecting her choices.

#4 / 5 - The Visual Aids

Okay, I accidentally lied twice - there aren't five things on this list and they're not in no particular order. But there's a very good reason for that, and it's because number fourfive is so ridiculous that...just look:

It's a poor innocent baby being run over by a bus that's apparently being driven by a rape victim whose desire for an abortion is such pure evil that it turned her invisible. I think I have that right. The Save the 1 team suggests that you put this lovely graphic on facebook, which is awesome. I was sick of grumpy cat memes, arguments about gun control, and photos of people's gluten free vegan lunch anyway.

If you're not into the whole bus thing, don't worry. They have a bunch of choices, so they've got you covered whether you need a new facebook cover photo or just want some fun graphics to freshen up your Jim Bob Duggar fan site. Perhaps this baby enjoying a nice nap on a lamb is more your style:

Sometimes the best way to get an important message across is with a really stunning and powerful piece of art, you know? I feel like this image really captures the essence of the futility and ineptitude of the personhood movement. Well done. At this point I'd also like to mention that all of the babies that they used for these graphics are white, but I'm sure that was a total coincidence or accident or something since they've already proven how aware and sensitive they are about race issues with that whole "biracial rape" thing.

But this image has got to be my favorite:

The fetus is on fire! The fetus is on fire! Red alert! Call 911, or better yet call Rick Santorum and tell him that he's needed at the Towering Fetus Inferno immediately.

#Whatever, the format is fucked already

Okay sorry, I thought I was done but then I realized that the Resources page has essays in addition to those awesome graphics. One of them is called No Exceptions!, which I didn't read because it looked like just a rehash of the rest of the site. The other one is called Rebecca Kiessling Philosophical Essay, so that's obviously where all the magic is happening. There's a hilarious disclaimer about not plagiarizing this brilliant work, which has "been ranked as the #1 philosophical abortion essay in many search engines for a long time" because "your professor will likely be aware that it’s not your original work". It's extremely long and full of fun phrases like "pre-birth killing", as well as lots of very persuasive and thought-provoking philosophy. Here are a few examples:
As will be discussed in detail below, one cannot legally and morally kill someone else in order to prevent that person from stepping on one’s toe.
That's quite true, and clearly very relevant to the issue of abortion because...well, if you step on someone's toe that's really not nice and therefore...yeah, I got nothing.
...if a doctor does not wish to assist in aborting an unborn child when the pregnancy is innocently placing the mother’s life in jeopardy, the doctor must not be punished for choosing not to personally intervene — even if it is medical necessary in order to save the mother’s life. 
Yes, she is actually saying that if a doctor chooses to stand by and let a woman die rather than perform an abortion that is medically necessary to save her life, that's totally cool and the doctor shouldn't face any consequences.
As we have seen, if you leave your harbor open, an innocent boat — out of necessity — may still permissibly dock in your “safe harbor” under the “necessity doctrine.”  Again, this is not because the boat was constructively invited into your harbor, but merely because it needs to and is able to dock there.  The same reasoning readily applies to an unplanned pregnancy.  The unborn child has a right not to be unjustly killed, not because the unborn child was necessarily constructively invited into the mother’s womb, but merely because the unborn child needs to and is able to be harbored there.
Yes, so when a fertilized eggboat sails through the ocean of your womb and attaches itself to the harbor that is your uterine wall, you should try not to get seasick because...dude, what the fuck are you talking about? My uterus is not a dock and my unplanned pregnancy is not a sailboat in distress.
It is just for a pregnant woman to prematurely terminate her pregnancy to save her life because in such a scenario, it is much harder for her to facilitate her unborn child’s right to life and it is much harder for her to fulfill her own duty to her unborn child.
So it's okay for a woman to have an abortion if it's necessary to save her life, not because it saves her life but because if she were dead she wouldn't be able to continue the pregnancy and then take care of the kid anyway.
Finally, the world would be much different if Moses or Jesus, Einstein or Newton, Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King, Jr., or simply any person had been aborted.  The world may in fact be much different now because of people who have been aborted.  Mother Theresa shared that she had been praying to God as to why he had not sent someone to find a cure for the A.I.D.S. virus.  After praying for many days, she said she finally received an answer from God.  His response, she said, was that He had sent someone, but that person had been aborted.  Whether you are a spiritual person or not, you must realize that the world is necessarily different because of those who have been aborted.
Oh good, this argument again. Insert the standard "but doesn't that work the other way too, like what if Hitler had been aborted blah blah etc." rebuttal here. And of course if Mother Teresa says something that means it must be true.
Just think, if scientists found an unborn child just after conception — a “cluster of cells” — on the planet Mars or on Antarctica, the next day world headlines would read: “Scientists Have Found Life on Mars” and our president would be making a special televised address to the nation to announce these “spectacular” findings that scientists have found life. 
Yeah, just think about it. What if someone found a zygote just straight chillin' on an iceberg in Antarctica? That would be totally sick, bro. 
In addition, it is an indisputable fact that an unborn child is a living human being since no human “fetus” has ever been known to develop into a dolphin, a rabbit, or a carrot.
Indisputable fact. I do not think that phrase means what Rebecca Kiessling thinks it means. But if you take nothing else away from this whole thing, please take the mental image of a human woman giving birth to a giant carrot. You're welcome.

January 30, 2013

Cosmo Quickies: January 2013

It's time for Cosmo Quickies in the new year! We're getting this one just under the wire (since the month is almost over) but let's take a look at the January 2013 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine.

The cover promises "EPIC SEX" and "your hottest year ever!" so it's... totally like every other issue of Cosmo?

Carly Rae Jepsen is the cover model and just like last month, her cover story headline focuses on her in terms of her connection to a guy. "The Secret Bond She Shares With Bieber". Okay, so I'm sure that a lot of Cosmo's readers might be interested in her connection to Justin Bieber, but is this really the only cover-worthy tidbit of information they could find about her?

 In the Fun, Fearless Celeb section, there's a stupid feature called "Celebs by the Numbers". In it, they compare "star stats" that no one really cares about, like the number of people following Kim Kardashian on Twitter (16,573,908+) compared to the number of people Kanye West follows on Twitter (1, it's Kim).

Most of it is pretty innocent, but then we saw that they compared the rings of Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie:

8: Estimated carat count of Jen Aniston's bling from Justin Theroux
16: Carats in Angelina Jolie's flashy sparkler from baby daddy Brad Pitt
69.42: Carats in the famous Taylor-Burton diamond, given to Liz by hubby Richard (Her ring was 33.19 carats)
Aside from the fact that who cares how many carats are (estimated) in the rings of any celebrities, the fact that they chose to compare Aniston to Jolie is interesting. The media has been pitting these two actresses against each other for years and Cosmo has been no exception. We've had to read for years about how Jolie "stole Jen's man"... so now that Aniston is engaged to Justin Theroux they can't let us just be happy for her. We have to know that the ring Brad Pitt gave Jolie is twice as big as the ring Theroux gave Aniston!

Later in the same issue, in an article called "Take Your Love to an Epic Level", a sidebar on "Passionate Paris" featured Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt with this caption:
Jennifer Aniston may have had Brad Pitt first, but he and Angelina Jolie are the ultimate alpha couple.
Ugh, seriously? They couldn't just call them "the ultimate alpha couple" (questionable) without having to go back to this nonexistent rivalry between Aniston and Jolie? Yeah, you know who else "had" Brad Pitt first? Robin Givens, Jill Schoelen, Juliette Lewis and Gwyneth Paltrow. And Angelina Jolie has been divorced twice. Jennifer Aniston has dated several guys before Pitt and after Pitt/before Theroux, so god, can we please just get over this Aniston-Jolie thing already? They have.

This month's Cosmo Question asks "Is It Good to Be a Bitch?" We're not sure that this is necessarily a "hot topic" (although it's at least a little more interesting than the "what's with the bodyguards?" question from last month). However, we're actually a little bit impressed by the article itself. It was written by Nahnatchka Khan (creator/executive producer/writer on the hit show Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23) and not a Cosmo staff writer, so automatic plus right there. It starts off with a definition of "bitch", which the author rejects as unsatisfying, so she gives her own:
Someone who lives by her own rules; unconcerned with the opinions of others; free.
We're obviously all for reclaiming words and giving them new meaning (ahem, sluts). Not completely sure that the character Chloe from Don't Trust the B is a good role model, but she is certainly unapologetic and unconcerned with the rules and opinions of others. Overall, we think you should be able to be that way and still be a generally good person (and we're not sure Chloe is), but we can definitely get behind Khan's final lines:
I truly feel like women are embracing their inner bitches more than ever. They're going after what they want with a confidence that's both empowering and a bit reckless...in the best possible way. We all could benefit from a dose of Bitch Think. It might make things messier, but it sure as hell makes life a lot more fun.
And now, our "favorite" part of every issue of Cosmo (ugh): Sexy vs. Skanky!

Caped Crusader: Jennifer Hudson vs. Big Ang. (The photos below are not the exact pics in the magazine, but were taken at the same time and show the same outfits.)

It kind of makes no sense that they're comparing these two photos. Hudson doesn't seem to actually be wearing a cape, she's just got her jacket over her shoulders (you can clearly see the sleeves hanging). And the Big Ang photo is from a portrait photo shoot that may or may not have been for Christmas, but is no doubt supposed to be playful and fun. Why is it skanky? Because she's Big Ang. That's the only reason. Because she's from a reality show about mob wives. That's the only reason.

A little further down, they list "Sliding with your mini-mes" (Chris Martin and his kids) vs. "Sliding in your minidress" (Rochelle Wiseman). It's actually kind of interesting that Cosmo chose to slut-shame Wiseman for this photo because they make it seem like she did it on purpose, when she was reportedly really upset about it. The pic was taken back in October 2012, when Wiseman and her bandmates were at a pumpkin patch. She looks mortified and like she's struggling to keep her skirt down. So why is this skanky? It was a bad idea maybe, but skanky? Isn't shaming someone for an embarrassing mistake also pretty skanky? Isn't posting photos of someone's embarrassing mistake pretty skanky? Wiseman was reportedly furious about the photos being posted and the comments being made. She vented on twitter "I'm SO embarrassed! Surely there's some sort of law against this?"

And finally... Hanging out with your girls (January Jones, Jennifer Aniston, and Isla Fisher) vs. Letting your girls hang out (Joanna Krupa). Ugh. It feels like every month they make some kind of obnoxious joke about a woman being "skanky" for showing off her boobs. Now, we'll admit, maybe Krupa's outfit isn't exactly conservative. But the shirt might not be that revealing in the dark (it's obviously evening in those photos) but when a dozen paparazzi flash their camera flash bulbs on you at once, something "sheer" becomes "see-through".

Also, it's not as though she's wearing this outfit on the red carpet or a TV talk show. She was out to dinner with her fiance. Most likely, Cosmo singled out Krupa because she is a former Playboy model and on a reality show.

In the man-thro-pol-ogy section, Cosmo continues to try to confuse and torment women "What He Texts vs. What He Means".
He texted: Hey, what are you doing?
He means: "If he doesn't follow up with an invite, he's just checking to see if you're available. This is a text guys use to keep you interested without expending time or energy."
Maybe "what are you doing?" means "what are you doing?" Cosmo does some kind of decoding every few issues, so of course we're not surprised that they're trying to find hidden meaning in text messages. And the truth is, sometimes guys do mean more than they say... but not all men are the same. Not all men mean the same thing when they say what they say. You can't generalize all men to know what "Hey, what are you doing?" or "Take care" means. It's a text message! It's not that complicated.

Also in the "man" section this month is yet another shout-out to Tosh.0! Dude, Cosmo, stop trying to make Daniel Tosh happen! He's a misogynist! He thinks rape jokes are cool! Get over him already. There are like a zillion other male comedians much funnier than you could talk about instead of him. And you know, there are also about a zillion female comedians much funnier than Tosh. Here's a newsflash, Cosmo: Some men like female comics too!

And yet again (again!!) Cosmo has "discovered" a brand new trend that isn't even remotely new! "The New Hollywood Leading Man" is... funny guys.
Funny guys are the latest arm candy (e.g., PDA-loving Jason Sudeikis and Olivia Wilde). But is a laugh-a-minute type the one for you? It's the funnies vs. the hotties vs. the smarties -- who's the ultimate catch?

Then they proceed to pit three "types" against each other in the fight for who is the ultimate catch. In addition to "The Funnies" (Sudeikis), they list Channing Tatum as an example of "The Hotties" and James Franco as an example of "The Smarties". Here's how they break it down:
The good morning message he'll send you.
The Funnies: A YouTube video of a kitten giving the weather report
The Hotties: A pic of his freshly showered, still-glistening abs
The Smarties: A link to an inspiring TED talk

Hanging out with his friend is like being in a scene from...
The Funnies: New Girl
The Hotties: Magic Mike
The Smarties: The Newsroom

The compliment he'll whisper into your ear
The Funnies: "I'm so excited to see you, I peed myself a little. I don't do that with just anyone."
The Hotties: "Your hair is, like, so soft."
The Smarties: "God, if only someone like you were in charge of social security reform."

The sex move he hopes you'll be into
The Funnies: Motorboating your twins
The Hotties: Getting steamy in front of a mirror
The Smarties: Cerebral dirty talk (say he's "too big to fail" and watch his "NASDAQ" skyrocket)
Okay, this whole section is so cheesy that it's kind of cringe worthy that someone on Comso's staff actually wrote this shit down and then they actually published it. But going beyond how dumb it is, it's also pretty offensive. A funny guy has to be "on" all the time and is incapable of also being smart or hot? (If anything, being funny is kind of dependent upon being smart.) The "hotties" aren't funny or smart... and they're also extremely vain. So hanging out with a hot guy and his friends is like being in a scene from Magic Mike... because that's what hot guys do right? They just hang around together with their shirts off complimenting each other on their abs. We think Channing Tatum should be offended. (And the fact that he reportedly has ADD and dyslexia, we should all be offended that Cosmo is basically calling him stupid because of his looks. Because they basically just told us that being hot and being smart are mutually exclusive.) Apparently smart guys are boring. And all men only hang out with other men who are exactly like them.

Hey Cosmo, I think I want my next "arm candy" (a totally non-offensive way to refer to a significant other) to be a "new" hybrid that I've "discovered": The Smart-Funny-Hottie!

In the Fun, Fearless Work section there's an article entitled "Man Up and Brag a Little". While the advice isn't terrible (claim the credit you deserve) the term "man up" is just annoying and sexist.

In Love, Lust & Other Stuff, there's an article "I Fell for a Woman -- While I Was Engaged to a Man". We have to give Cosmo a little credit that they managed to print this story with little-to-no judgment. (Sadly, that's a huge deal.) However, it's not 100% perfect. We're not completely sure what makes this story worthy of being printed in a magazine. It's basically about a woman with a live-in boyfriend who cheats on him with a female friend and then gets engaged to him, only to pull away from the relationship because of her feelings for the female friend. Replace "female friend" with "male friend" and this isn't a sympathetic story at all, so why print it? The author doesn't even use what happened to come into a realization about herself (is she a lesbian? is she bisexual? does she consider herself to be fluid in her sexuality or does she think this was an anomaly?) and she doesn't end up with either the guy or the girl.

There's also this:
At 25, Sarah* had the big three down pat: great job, great guy, great friends. Then a girl crush came along that pulled the rug out from under her perfect life. 
The "big three"? Does "great guy" really fall under the big three? And did the girl crush really ruin her perfect life, or did it just let her know that her life wasn't as perfect as she thought? We also noticed that the photo acompanying this story (of two women laying next to each other with the caption "Straight, gay...it's not always that simple") has a disclaimer: "These are professional models" because god forbid anyone think these unnamed models in the magazine are lesbians or something. The story says "Names have been changed" so why would we think they used their real photos?

January 27, 2013

We Hate Valentine's Day But We Love Shameless Self-Promotion

Okay, so we don't actually hate V-Day. We're mostly indifferent to it. February 15th, aka Half Price Candy Day, is where it's at as far as we're concerned. But we do love our ESC merchandise, so we wanted to do a quick recap of all of the stuff that we have that can meet your Valentine's Day needs, whether you fall into the For, Against, or Candy! camps.

I do..........  anal!

 I do.... (PG version)

I Love Myself

You Are Perfect

I Am Beautiful

And last but not least...
ESC Hearts

Cafepress is doing a weekend sale right now - up to 50% off of select products with the code COOLDEAL. If that one doesn't get the job done for you there's also a 30% winter weekend code: WWSALE. We'll update this post during the week after this sale ends with whatever comes next. Happy Valentine's Day / Valentine's Day sucks / Candy is awesome!

January 19, 2013

Occupy Rush Limbaugh

We normally don't bother to write about the offensive stuff that Rush Limbaugh says on a daily basis. Like Ann Coulter, he's fueled by bitterness and thrives on outrage, particularly from us "feminazis" out there, so often we choose just to ignore him.

Of course, Rush knows this about us. And so he pushes. A day when he's not mentioned on Media Matters and MSNBC is a day without sunshine to him. The Sandra Fluke "slut" controversy gave him life. (It also and more importantly cost him advertisers, but back to that later.) So when he was looking for a little attention in the wake of the Obama administration's press conference on gun control this week, he knew what to do - find a way, no matter how convoluted, to tie the issue to the true root of all evil...slutty young women:
CALLER: It's terrible that 26 people died in Sandy Hook and 20 of them were children. Terrible. Very sad, coming up to Christmas, hopes and dreams that young children had; their parents and weddings and graduations that will never occur.
However, on any given day in Americans [sic], more than 3,000 children are killed from abortion and we have no problems with that. We're OK with that. It's not an issue.
So you can't spend 40 years of telling people and telling children that if I make a mistake, if something comes up and this child I don't want is in the way of my future and in the way of me graduating high school, is in the way of me going to college, is [in] the way of me being happy, is in the way of whatever I want out of life, that it's OK for me to kill the baby, but later on when I become a disgruntled employee, when I become an unhappy student at school because children are bullying me, that I want to eliminate them and get them out of the way?It's the same concept.
LIMBAUGH: Well, it's a good point. You know how to stop abortion? Require that each one occur with a gun. [via Media Matters]
First, here's a puzzler for you - who is more twisted here? Is it Rush, for his brilliant gun abortion plan, or his caller for suggesting that there's any connection at all between a man who walks into a school with a gun and murders 20 children and a teenage girl who chooses to have an abortion so that she can do awful things like finish high school and go to college and have a future. (Which is obviously not to say that young women who get pregnant and choose to continue their pregnancies can't do those things too, I'm just following this caller's "logic" here.) I really can't decide. But I guess it's nice that when right-wingers don't want to point the finger for a tragedy like this at guns, gun culture, the NRA, Reagan's slashing of mental health funding, or any number of other actually relevant things, they feel free to hang the blame on women instead.

So, Rush Limbaugh is a disgusting vile reprehensible and pathetic excuse for a human being. Women's lives and bodies are a joke to him, and violence against us is a punchline. This is not news, but every time he tries to make news by saying horrible sexist bullshit like this I wonder if there's anything we can really do to make it stop. Obviously you can't call in and try to reason with him, although it might be fun to designate a feminist call-in day and give his call screeners a hard time. Do we show up at the studio where he does his show and Occupy Rush until he agrees to stop being a dick? Probably not - I don't think any of us have that much free time - but lets take a moment and enjoy the visual of a horde of angry women going all Ladies' Home Journal 1970 on him and staging a sit in at his "Excellence in Broadcasting" studios, shall we?

The only thing that seems to give him any pause at all is losing advertising dollars. He lost so many after his Sandra Fluke comments that he actually issued an apology, half-assed as it was. So maybe our best strategy is just to keep reminding his remaining advertisers that we're still listening and we're still pissed and it's still not okay. For example, if you go to Rush's website right now there are huge LifeLock ads all over the place proudly proclaiming that "Rush Limbaugh is a paid endorser of LifeLock". So every time Rush says something like this, I might just pay a visit to LifeLock's twitter or facebook page and say "hey guys, today Rush Limbaugh said that he wants to shove a gun in my vagina and shoot me if I want to have an abortion, and you paid him to say it. I'm not okay with that, and I will never buy your product. Have a nice day!" Until we can all coordinate our schedules to Occupy Rush, I think it's our best bet, but I'm open to suggestions.

January 17, 2013

Cosmo's Ky Henderson Continues to Give Bad Advice

Cosmo's horrifying "guy guru" Ky Henderson gives more terrible advice in the January 2013 issue in Ask Him Anything...
On Vacation, my guy always wants to have hotel sex first thing. Why is that?
Guys pretty much want sex no matter where they go--work, the mall, funerals, etc. It just so happens that having sex when they get to a hotel room is socially acceptable and won't potentially lead to their arrest. That, plus the naughty factor of doing it in a new place, is why doing the deed, not a walk tour, is priority number one.

Now, we get what he's saying about hotel sex... but it's 2013, can we please get past the stupid, sexist stereotype that men want sex constantly and are always ready. It's not always true, so not only is it offensive to label all men as sex-crazed... but it also puts an unfair, unrealistic expectation on men to always be ready for sex. And then when they're not ready (at a funeral? really?) we're supposed to feel confused and rejected.
I am traditional and won't have sex until things are really serious. How do I handle the third (or fourth or fifth) date and let him know that even though I'm really attracted to him, I'm not there yet?

There's a two-prong approach to getting the message across. Drop not-so-subtle hints, and avoid situations that'll make him assume sex is imminent. Let's talk about the first point. I'm not saying you need to tell him on the first date that he's not getting any until 2017, but do be open about the way you feel, especially after the first date when it's clear that you have chemistry and you're both sussing out LTR potential in each other. When you're sharing your dating histories, make sure you tell him that you've always had long-term relationships and aren't really into flings. Or just come out and say, "I'm pretty traditional when it comes to waiting to have sex." Now, it's very likely that initially he'll think he'll be able to turn you into a sex fiend by date three--it's that kind of bravado that allows men to change into battle during war and approach women in bars during happy hour--which is why you them need to back up your words with action. Or, really, a lack of action. Cut off make-out sessions at a point when most of your clothes are still on so that tings never come to a head, so to speak, and so that it doesn't seem like you're just torturing him for fun.
Huh. Okay, well there's some good advice hidden in there but there's a lot of problematic shit in there too. Starting with "avoid situations that'll make him assume sex is imminent." We all know that Ky Henderson has a problem understanding consent, so it's not surprising that he'd suggest that it's ever okay for a man to assume that sex is "imminent". (And it's not surprising that he'd imply that it was up to the woman to make sure the guy doesn't make that assumption instead of putting the responsibility on the guy to not assume that sex is "imminent".)

Then there's the phrase "I'm pretty traditional when it comes to waiting to have sex." This could actually be misleading. What does "traditional" really mean nowadays? Does that mean waiting until marriage? Or waiting until you're in love? Or waiting until you're exclusive? Or waiting until you're just ready? It's probably better not to use buzz-words like "traditional" because we all have different definitions and connotations of what that means. I think a lot of men are open to waiting to have sex, but waiting until marriage is very different than waiting until things are "serious", so it's probably better to be specific.

Then there's the suggestion that the guy will likely try to change your mind. Ugh. Not only is that fucking obnoxious, but it's not something that should be accepted. If you are open and honest with the guy you date about what you are or aren't ready to do, then he should respect that. If he pressures you or tries to turn into a "sex fiend" by date three, then he's a jerk. But for some fucked up reason, Henderson thinks this is a good thing! "It's that kind of bravado that allows men to charge into battle during war and approach women in bars during happy hour." Ugh. I'm not really comfortable with associating the same impulses that drive men to kill opposing soldiers to those that encourage a man to pressure you into having sex. I also don't agree with the idea that this is something we should feel good about.

Henderson has repeatedly tried to make this point - guys are just like, super horny, all the time, so women should, like, feel totally flattered, even if they're being assholes - barf. It's really problematic. There's just something very wrong about encouraging women to view unwanted advances from a man as compliments. Trying to push someone's sexual boundaries isn't "bravado" it's harassment.

Then there's also his advice to cut off make-out sessions "at a point when most of your clothes are still on". Why? Because if you take off your clothes, then he's entitled to sex? And then if you deny him, you're doing something wrong because you totally led him on? (Even though you already made it clear that you wanted to wait.) And it also suggests that if you don't want to have sex that automatically means that you don't want to do anything but make-out fully clothed. (When really, there are a lot of varying degrees of physical intimacy that can take place before intercourse happens.)
On a first date, I'll always do the wallet grab, even though I'd be turned off if he wanted me to pay. Do guys know it's an act? 

Yes...but that doesn't mean you should stop doing it. Why? Because it shows that you're not a princess who needs everything done for her and that you understand the value of money. There is a trick to doing the wallet grab without giving him the wrong idea that you actually want to split the bill. What not to do: Say something like "I'd really prefer we split this." If you do that, a guy who had every intention of paying may panic and fear that you'll be annoyed if he doesn't let you pay for half. Instead, let him make the first move for his wallet. When he does, reach for yours, and silently continue going through the motions of paying until he stops you. Most guys will.
This advice isn't terrible, but what I object to here, is that he never calls her on the fact that she would be "turned off" if he accepted her offer to split the bill. Why is it such a turn off to pay for yourself? Why does it have to be an act? The idea is not to seem like a "princess who needs everything done for her" but it's totally cool if you are a princess like that?
I get hit on when I'm not dressed up, but when I wear a cleavage-baring top, I'm ignored by guys. What's the deal?

Do you have a giant skull and crossbones tattoo between your boobs? If you do, I'm guessing that's a pretty big factor. If you don't, then it's probably a combination of how a low-cut top changes both a guy's perception of you and your own behavior. Hitting on women can be extremely stressful, so men will often choose women who look approachable. I'm guessing you're not wearing sweatpants with your cleavage-baring top? So while you may look fantastic, that right there could be the problem -- because guys may assume you'll need a lot more than a friendly hello to be impressed. In other words, they're intimidated by you and your sexy top. On the other hand, if you're not comfortable with your look and are wearing it to get guys' attention, it probably shows. Your body language will come off as self-conscious, which turns guys off. Dress in a way that makes you feel confident--no need to bust out the Sofia Vergara costume.
Okay, first of all... what's wrong with a giant skull and crossbones tattoo between your boobs? A lot of people might think that was pretty fucking hot. Like this woman. Don't be so judgmental Ky.

I will give Henderson a tiny bit of credit on this one, that it wasn't nearly as slut-shamey as I expected it to be. Of course there's a little bit of subtle slut-shaming innuendo hidden behind "how a low-cut top changes both a guy's perception of you and your own behavior", but I'm actually really impressed that he didn't outright say something like "he'll think you're a slut" this time.

However, that doesn't mean that his answer isn't still a bit problematic. In an earlier question he went on about how men think about sex constantly and likened the "bravado" that helps them approach women in the bar to going to war. But now they're intimidated by a low-cut top? And the Sofia Vergara reference is odd. She's gorgeous, but what exactly would a "costume" of her look like? A low-cut top? His phrasing just rubs me the wrong way.

Overall, this isn't the worst advice Ky Henderson has given... but it's not good advice either. We're still not sure what qualifies him to be Cosmo's "guy guru" other than the fact that he allegedly has a Y chromosome. All we can say is, Cosmo, please, stop trying to make Ky Henderson happen. It's not going to happen. The only guy that would be a worse choice for Cosmo's resident guy expert would be Hugo Schwyzer (although we think he's well on his way... more on that soon. Ick.)

January 14, 2013

EVI goes to California

Last week we went to L.A. with Dee Dennis to attend Xbiz 360 and work on some CatalystCon business. The Catalyst staff never travels without our official good luck charm - the Evi by Aneros - and since we had Evi along for the ride we decided to document her West Coast adventures. If you follow us or Aneros on twitter (which you really should be doing anyway) you may have seen a few of these already, but we wanted to put them all together in one place for the full effect. Evi had quite a trip: Of course we had to submit this little travelogue to Toy With Me Tuesday - check out this week's roundup for more fun sex toy photos.

January 1, 2013

Cosmo thinks "normal"-sized women are a new breed

Okay, so remember last month in the December 2012 issue of Cosmopolitan, how Cosmo talked about this "new breed" of men who like, raise their own kids and stuff? Well, now they've "discovered" another breed (that has always been around)... the female celebrity who isn't a size 0. Gasp! They do exist!?
There's a fresh breed of powerhouse in Hollywood today: A smart, beautiful star who's too busy being successful to worry about a few extra pounds.
Yes, that's right. In the January 2013 issue, in the Fun, Fearless Celeb section, Brittany Talarico claims that women who aren't obsessed with being skinny are a new breed and "The New Normal".
With the runaway success of The Mindy Project, there's no question that Kaling is sitting pretty on top these days. But for all the buzz, shes' oddly middle of the pack in one regard: her weight.

"I am not model skinny but also not superfat and fabulously owning my happiness," she writes in her memoir, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). "I fall in that nebulous 'normal American woman' size that legions of fashion stylists detest. For the record, I'm a size 8 (this week, anyway)."
For the record, we love Mindy Kaling for the most part. We were fans of hers back when she was on The Office and although her new show isn't exactly perfect, it's smart and funny, just like its creator. We're glad that Kaling has been able to be successful in Hollywood without meeting our society's screwed up stereotypical definition of beauty (being neither white, nor emaciated). However, we'd hardly say that she is part of a "fresh breed" of women. Yet, Talarico seems to be convinced that she is, among other curvy celebs:
Mindy is hardly alone. Lena Dunham, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, Khloe Kardashian Odom... they're all members of the same club: normal-size women who wear a few pounds here or there as a badge of honor -- and with badass equanimity.


It's interesting that Cosmo can call these women "normal-size" and then in the same sentence suggest that they "wear a few pounds here or there". Don't all women wear "a few pounds" somewhere? Even the skinniest woman out there who is a size zero, doesn't weigh zero pounds. By saying that they wear "a few pounds here or there", what they're really saying is that they wear a few extra pounds that they're not supposed to be wearing. If these are "normal-size" women, then lets stop referring to them in this way. Do we refer to women who are super skinny as being "missing a few pounds here or there"? Even the title refers to them as the "New Normal"... as if it isn't actually normal. It's not the real normal, it's the "new" normal. It's the abnormal that we're newly accepting as normal. (And as we've seen in the past, Cosmo has a totally skewed perception of what "normal" weight really is - remember when they called Hilary Duff "plus-sized"?)

Also, who is to say that these women are actually really "normal" size? What is "normal"? Just because they're not excessively underweight does that mean that they really are the norm? The average American woman wears a size 12-14, so at a size 8, Kaling would still be below "normal". Most of the celebs they featured in this article are similar in size. They're curvy, but not big enough to be considered plus-size. Why didn't they focus on any plus-size celebrities? Where's Melissa McCarthy, Gabourey Sidibe, Rebel Wilson, Brooke Elliott, Adele? Aren't they smart, beautiful, successful stars too? Why aren't they part of the new normal? Or are they too "fat" to qualify for this so-called trend of "normal" women?

Regardless, we agree that all of these women are beautiful at their various sizes. However, we're not completely convinced that all of the examples Talarico gave wear these "pounds" as a "badge of honor" or with "badass equanimity". Both Kardashian and Simpson have been pretty public about trying to lose weight. They're constantly running to the press to talk about their weight issues and shilling for various diets (like Weight Watchers), so while they may be good examples of celebrities who are beautiful without looking like they're starving, they're hardly examples of women who don't "worry" about their weight.

And what about the stars who were curvy and proud before it became the so-called "new normal"?  Marilyn Monroe's weight fluctuated over the years and at times she was super curvy, but to this day she is still considered to be one of the most iconic sex symbols our society has ever known. Plus-sized Beth Ditto has posed nude on more than one magazine cover and has been an outspoken advocate for body positivity. Queen Latifah has been successful and confident about her body for a long time... this concept is nothing new. So why is this a new "breed"?

Why does Cosmo continue to act like they've discovered some new pattern, when it's usually a "trend" that has always been around?

I'm thinking that maybe there is a "trend" here, but it's not the actresses who are normal-size and dare to still feel good about their bodies. They have always existed. I think maybe the trend is that for whatever reason these women have managed to actually be successful in show business without being super thin. It's not that they're doing something new or different, but maybe the new "trend" is that we're more accepting of their bodies. Perhaps the "new breed" isn't the celebrities, but the TV, movie and music executives that have actually allowed these not-super-skinny women be on shows and in movies, etc.

And even then, it's not perfect... in order for Melissa McCarthy to get a leading role on a primetime network sitcom, she has to star in a show where literally the entire gimmick is "look, a show about a couple... and they're both FAT!" But at least we're making some progress. And it's not as though male celebrities have ever really had to struggle with the fat-stigma in the same way that women in show business have. A few years ago, McCarthy's Mike & Molly co-star Billy Gardell might have still managed to get a leading role on a sitcom... but Molly would've been played by someone thinner, like in The Honeymooners, King of Queens, According to Jim, and a slew of other shows. (The last TV couple I can think of that looked even remotely like Mike and Molly was on Roseanne in the 80s-90s, but that show was somewhat of an anomaly in a lot of ways.)
These women aren't just fearless; they achieve so much more per pound than most of us could ever hope to achieve in a lifetime. And that's because slipping into a size 00 is not a priority for them. They choose to focus on doing amazing things instead. And with everything they've accomplished so far, we'd say they're in excellent shape.
We know that Talarico and Cosmo probably meant for that last paragraph to be empowering and for the readers to walk away feeling good... but no. The message is trying to be positive, but the language still comes off as slightly negative underneath. "More per pound" almost sounds like the excessive pounds they carry on them are justified by their success... so if they weren't this successful, would we be less accepting of their size? And yet, we could never hope to achieve this level success in our lifetimes, regardless of our weights? "They're in excellent shape" also rubs me the wrong way, because, Talarico is basically saying that they're in "good shape" when it comes to their accomplishments, even though they're not actually in good shape physically. I think her language choices are just a little off.

And the fact that she even had to write this article says something about her and Cosmo's mindset. Why not put one of these curvy celebrities on this month's cover instead of the tiny Carly Rae Jepsen? Why not do a feature on Mindy Kaling or Lena Dunham and not even address the fact that they're not super skinny? Most of the celebs they mentioned aren't even big enough to be called "overweight" by most medical standards, so why are we even talking about their size in this context?

If being "normal" size really is the new "normal", then let's stop talking about it like it's some outrageous new concept and just start actually accepting these celebs for the beautiful, intelligent, creative, successful women they are, without the disclaimer.