Friday, September 19, 2008

Iron Jawed Angels

Here's an interesting forward I received from my mother today on the topic of women's suffrage. Even I didn't know that most of these events occurred.

This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-Grandmothers.
They lived only 90 years ago.

Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.

And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'

They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above
her head, and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed, and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack.

Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the
'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917. This is when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there, because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote. For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.

When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because -why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new
movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history,
social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum. It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane, so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: "Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity."

We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so
hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.

History is being made.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Racist Election Commercial of the Day

Check out this new "product" released at the Family Research Council's Value Voters Summit in Washington D.C.:

The box features some of the most blatantly racist comments I have seen in a long time. The likeness to Aunt Jemima, rap lyrics, sombrero, Muslim turban...its like an entire hate-filled emblem. Not to mention that the "makers" of the "product" are absolutely clueless as to why it is offensive.

In response to a question about the box being racist:

"The accusations of racism being an issue - think about Newman's Own or Emeril's food line. Is that racist because he's an Italian, or cause he's a white guy?"

Oh dear God.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sarah Palin: The Debate Continues

Okay, fine. I've avoided the issue long enough. Alaskan governor Sarah Palin was recently chosen as the Republican party's vice presidential candidate. Is this an important feminist achievement, or every liberal's worst nightmare?

The folks over at I Blame the Patriarchy are busy debating the issue, and I think reader Virago's comment says it all:

"Sarah Palin isn’t going to do anything for feminism. She’s way too pro-life. She opposes policies that will help working women and their children. Yet, she was privileged enough to have a job where it was made easier for her to combine work and family. She cut funding for pregnant teenagers while her own pregnant teenage daughter has access to resources poor teens don’t have. She’s for abstinence-only education, which certainly didn’t work very well for her own family. When she was mayor of an Alaskan town, rape victims had to pay for their own rape test kits in the emergency room. Ordinarily, I would like to see a woman V.P., but not if she’s going to pander to the patriarchy. She’s a woman who has enjoyed the fruits of the feminist movement, but she wants to put policies in place that will only destroy the progress that feminism has made for women."

Well said. As a seasoned feminist, it's difficult to see that ANY action being done by a woman ANYWHERE is instantly labeled as "feminist." It's a testament to the fact that our country still thinks that feminism is about "grrl power" and ousting men, rather than dealing with very real injustices that women experience on a daily basis.

Who needs healthcare, anyway?

Since I just graduated from the University of Iowa in May, I'm currently on the alumni insurance plan. This plan is $90 a month, and actually gives me better coverage than my old plan, which I had through my parents.

This week, I opened my insurance bill to discover the shocking total of $113, which is due this month. I promptly called the University, and was informed that all health care plans have undergone rate increases. I inquired as to why I was not informed of this change, and was told that there was no formal announcement, and that University employees have found out through word of mouth.

As I hung up the phone and took my dog on his afternoon walk, I started thinking about health care. I mean, seriously? $113? I tried adding up all of my monthly healthcare expenses related to medication (birth control, etc.), and decided that I'm better off with the insurance. But still, when did our country get like this? I know this has been an issue for quite a while now, so this isn't a revolutionary question or anything, but I still have a right to ask it. How the heck are we supposed to be a happy, healthy country when only the rich people can afford to be well?

My research into the economy (mostly done because of my blogging job at shows that American companies are losing money across the board - and I mean a LOT of money. General Motors lost a total of $38.73 billion last year. So everyone is taking a hit, and that means higher bills for us all. I know that I've been feeling particularly squeezed this month as a result of wedding planning. Engagement party invitations: $125. Engagement picture prints: $400. Wedding dress: $1200. Dear God, where does it end?!

But I digress. My point is that I know the economy is in a slump right now, but it seems that healthcare should still be a top priority for our country, regardless of how the stock market is doing. I still don't understand why we have to spend billions of dollars on guns and none on cough medicine. It seems a bit backwards to me. Oh yeah! It's because all of the members of Congress get their health care for free, and that's why they don't really care about the rest of us. Glad we cleared that one up.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Campaigning Reaches A New Low

Wow. Even I'm shocked by the egregiousness of the following campaign ad. I knew things were going to get ugly, but in this bold and falsified commercial, McCain alleges that Obama voted in favor of sex education for kindergartners.

In the words of my friend MaryAnn Martin, "Obama's bill in the state legislature would have, besides giving parents the ability to opt-out, TAUGHT KIDS TO RECOGNIZE INAPPROPRIATE TOUCHING BY STRANGERS. In other words, the bill that McCain claims (and remember, he "approves of this message") would teach little kids about sex would actually help prevent child molestation."

Good God. Is it freakin' November yet?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Feminist Writer Posts Humorous Pictures; Goes to Bed

Okay, these are too funny not to share with you all. And yes, this is what I do late at night, when I'm done with my work for the day and my fiance has already gone to bed.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Japan Love Hotels: We're Not in Kansas Anymore

I've always found it interesting to compare the sexual customs of cultures around the globe, and Japan love hotels are definitely a great example of this. Love hotels in Japan are literally rent-a-room facilities in which couples can go away together to have sex in private. Rooms are typically rented by the hour, and you can't schedule an overnight stay until after 10:00 PM (ha!). Daytime visits usually receive discounted rates, and discretion is top priority for hotel staff. In fact, the lobby has shielded vestibules that occupants can wait in until their "date" arrives, and simply exiting the hotel is accepted as a usual method of check-out.

Traditionally, love hotels have been frowned upon by the Japanese public, and their services have been forced into creepy UFO-type buildings with gray walls and no windows. However, within the past couple of years, several architectural projects have been designed to improve the comfort, aesthetic, and "sexiness" of love hotels. Take, for instance, this project, which was a book published in 2006 containing photos of some of the most creative new love hotel rooms being built in Japan today. I especially enjoyed the Cosmic Galaxy Room (the "rocket" similes are endless):

As well as the Ice Cube Room:

On the other hand, some of the rooms are extremely creepy, such as the "Kiddie" Room (shudder):

And the "Subway" Room ("Step right up and grope a stranger today!"):

Note the comments left from visitors who are quite disturbed by the hotel room pictures. However, poster ceejay makes an interesting point, which may serve to show that being freaked out by another culture is usually the same thing as not understanding it.

"An important point about love hotels is that they are not just for illicit affairs. Traditionally and still in rural areas, the whole extended family lived together. So husband, wife, grandmother, grandfather, children... all under one roof. The only way married couples can get some privacy and nookie would be to check into one of these love hotels."

So, Japanese love hotels: creepy or functional? You be the judge.

How much is that doggy in the window?

So, my fiance and I got a dog a couple of weeks ago. His name is Martin, and he's a 3-month-old miniature dachshund. He's pretty much the best dog ever. And yes, he's wearing a t-shirt in the picture, because he gets cold and shivers when the AC is on.

I have wanted a dog for as long as I can remember, but I guess I didn't think it would be so life-changing to have a puppy. I want to be careful about comparing dogs to kids, because I fully realize that they're TOTALLY not the same, but this is the first time that I've actually been responsible for another life aside from my own, and it's kind of a big deal. I mean, you're not only forming a friendship with them, but also taking care of all of their needs as well as guiding, teaching, and disciplining them. I guess you're sort of raising them, in a way. And frankly, you care so much about the darn thing that you can't give him any less than your best when taking care of him.

It's been an interesting change for my fiance and I to shift the focus of our relationship from each other to the dog. I mean, a lot of that is temporary of course, since he's still a puppy right now and needs so much time and attention, but it gives us a slight inkling as to what raising children might be like. We've had to be a lot more intentional about making time for ourselves and our romantic relationship since we got Martin.

And the funny thing is that having Martin has made me completely uninterested in ever having children, whereas it's made my fiance more excited about the idea. I'm not sure how that works, but it probably has something to do with some complicated gender role issue that I'm too tired to think about right now. Toodles.