Time Magazine Cover Sucks

Okay, like most people, I’m a little uneasy at seeing a 3-year-old boy pose for a photo by sucking at his mother’s breast for the cover of Time Magazine (there is a discussion on parental attachment in the issue).  Is it a sick version of kiddie porn or a cheap shot at showing a breast on the cover?

I’m not sure how Time can get away with this photo at a time when seeing women breastfeed babies in public is receiving controversy. I think Time could have used more tact. Why is it we have to show our body parts in order to get attention on important issues? Would they show a covert penis by a clock if they talked about viagara’s side effects? Would they use the image of a man’s bare back while jacking off to porn? Well, you get it. Men simply don’t have to show their penises in public to stir public discourse.

Time Magazine cover

“Are you Mom enough?’ Are they serious? Nothing says “Happy Mother’s Day” like a cover that continues with today’s parody of moms – wasn’t the Toast of the Town available?

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New York Times: The Disposable Woman

The Disposable Woman by Anna Holmes

Kudos to the New York Times for getting a conversation started about our apathy towards misogyny.

Here’s the evidence of Sheen’s violence against women:

Our inertia is not for lack of evidence. In 1990, he accidentally shot his fiancée at the time, the actress Kelly Preston, in the arm. (The engagement ended soon after.) In 1994 he was sued by a college student who alleged that he struck her in the head after she declined to have sex with him. (The case was settled out of court.) Two years later, a sex film actress, Brittany Ashland, said she had been thrown to the floor of Mr. Sheen’s Los Angeles house during a fight. (He pleaded no contest and paid a fine.)

In 2006, his wife at the time, the actress Denise Richards, filed a restraining order against him, saying Mr. Sheen had shoved and threatened to kill her. In December 2009, Mr. Sheen’s third wife, Brooke Mueller, a real-estate executive, called 911 after Mr. Sheen held a knife to her throat. (He pleaded guilty and was placed on probation.) Last October, another actress in sex films, Capri Anderson, locked herself in a Plaza Hotel bathroom after Mr. Sheen went on a rampage. (Ms. Anderson filed a criminal complaint but no arrest was made.) And on Tuesday, Ms. Mueller requested a temporary restraining order against her former husband, alleging that he had threatened to cut her head off, “put it in a box and send it to your mom.” (The order was granted, and the couple’s twin sons were quickly removed from his home.) “Lies,” Mr. Sheen told People magazine.

Lies? Why is it the public hates a woman that “slanders” a man’s “reputation” yet allows men to do it – and get away with it, with ease? Holmes, the writer, notes how Sheen is idealized, while the women in his life, who’ve suffered from his abuse, are slandered

This hasn’t been the case with Mr. Sheen, whose behavior has been repeatedly and affectionately dismissed as the antics of a “bad boy” (see: any news article in the past 20 years), a “rock star” (see: Piers Morgan, again) and a “rebel” (see: Andrea Canning’s “20/20” interview on Tuesday). He has in essence, achieved a sort of folk-hero status; on Wednesday, his just-created Twitter account hit a million followers, setting a Guinness World Record.

But there’s something else at work here: the seeming imperfection of Mr. Sheen’s numerous accusers. The women are of a type, which is to say, highly unsympathetic. Some are sex workers — pornographic film stars and escorts — whose compliance with churlish conduct is assumed to be part of the deal. (For the record: It is not.)

Others, namely Ms. Richards and Ms. Mueller, are less-famous starlets or former “nobodies” whose relationships with Mr. Sheen have been disparaged as purely sexual and transactional. The women reside on a continuum in which injuries are assumed and insults are expected.

Gold diggers,” “prostitutes” and “sluts” are just some of the epithets lobbed at the women Mr. Sheen has chosen to spend his time with. Andy Cohen, a senior executive at Bravo and a TV star in his own right, referred to the actor’s current companions, Natalie Kenly and Bree Olson, as “whores” on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program on Tuesday.

I couldn’t even fathom hearing similar epithets from a group of women discussing men – first, it wouldn’t get aired; second, if they did it would be rightfully called a man-hating bitch session, to put it mildly. But slam women, most of whom have been victims of Sheen’s own misogyny, and get worshipped. What does that tell you about the climate we live in?

Objectification and abuse, it follows, is not only an accepted occupational hazard for certain women, but something that men like Mr. Sheen have earned the right to indulge in.

Sheen treats women the way he wants – getting his own way and attacking – verbally and physically – those that dare go against his wishes. His backtalk against his bosses is what brought him such media attention, while his treatment of women has gone virtually unnoticed. Even colleges are asking for him to be their commencement speaker. This would never be acceptable if he treated another group like this – it’s time we treat misogyny with the same contempt as anti-semitism and racism.

Sentencing disparities

The news article Crack Cocaine and Powder Cocaine Punishments Modified, which discusses sentencing parity, got me thinking. First, let’s start with a snippet from the article:

The sentencing disparity was viewed as unjust because everything about the two drugs is pharmaceutically the same, except the demographic who buys them. African Americans accounted for 82.7 percent of crack cocaine convictions in 2007. Powder cocaine tends to be purchased by upper class suburban youth, according to the Wall Street Journal. Though the new law only applies in federal courts, which only hears a small fraction of cocaine possession cases, many states have significantly lowered the sentencing disparity already. Virginia, for instance is 2-to-1.

I knew of this disparity for some time, so I was quite happy to see that it will be resolved. I’m sure there are a lot of other sentence disparities involving race & ethnicity (rape comes to mind – I believe minorities receive  longer sentences). But, it made me think about the gender disparities in sentencing. I’ve often seen comments by men (and some women) that women receive shorter sentencing for killing a man or that female teachers get off easy when they sexually abuse their students. I’ve certainly seen some cases like this, but why don’t people recognize the gender disparity when women get charged more often than men or have longer sentences than men?

Failure to protect” laws come to mind. Here’s a paper posted on the Liz Library about how mothers are more often charged with failure to protect than fathers. I’ve often seen these cases in the news.

Who’s failing whom? A critical look at failure-to-protect laws by Jeanne A. Fugate

I’ve also seen news articles where women are charged with false allegations – but are men? Research (Bala & Schumann) finds more men make false allegations than women in family court.

I’ve seen articles about women being gagged from talking to the media about their family court cases – but are men? 

And from:  Defending justice

Women can be charged with child abuse or drug trafficking if they test positive for drugs during pregnancy. It is estimated that at least 200 women in 30-40 states have been “arrested and criminally charged for alleged drug use or other actions during their pregnancy,” the majority of them being poor women of color.22 This criminalizes a medical problem, violates women’s privacy rights, and undermines the doctor-patient relationship, without doing anything to help women to have healthy babies.

Or, how about testing positive for alcohol during pregnancy? This seems Taliban-esque, don’t you think?

…laws that have been passed in five states that make it legal to place a woman under “civil confinement” if she drinks while pregnant. She’s not confined to prison but to an institution where workers can monitor what she imbibes. The rationale being that drinking–as we all know–is not good for a fetus. (From: ABC News)

And, why do incarcerated mothers more often lose their children than fathers?

Prison shouldn’t be a bar to motherhood

Most women in prison are mothers, and they are five times as likely as imprisoned fathers to have children in foster care. (When a father goes to prison, the children are most likely to live with their mother; when a mother is in prison, the children are most likely to live with a grandparent, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reports.)

And females can be further punished if they served time for drug use:  Out of jail, mothers struggle to reclaim children

A federal law signed by former President Bill Clinton prohibits people with a drug felony from receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the federal welfare program that provides temporary assistance for five years or less to families living below the poverty line.

“The ban singled out drug offenses, but not rape or murder or other kinds of offenses that one might consider much more heinous and you’ve singled it out for lifetime punishment,” says Jacobs.

Prostitution also comes to mind. More prostitutes are charged with crimes than are Johns, or even pimps.

Incest, although it’s more traumatic to victims, also results in shorter sentences for men than stranger-perpetrated sexual assaults. Is there a patriarchal reason behind this (ie. that fathers “own” their daughters or that men are more prone to stranger-perpetrated crimes)?

Here’s a case in Iowa, with lots of facts interspersed:  Case shows frustrations of proving allegations of incest 

Here’s a PDF on differences between stranger and non-stranger crimes: Violence between lovers, strangers, and friends

Look at the royal treatment incestuous adults are given in California: Child sexual abuse and the state

And, of course, there’s virtual impunity in rape cases: US Senate Committee to hold hearing on rape investigations

Blaming the victim

Here’s a prime example of blaming the victim. In this case, a woman who has been the victim of domestic violence is blamed for child abuse (exposure to violence committed by her husband). In this case, the perpetrator, the husband, is responsible for the abuse committed by his actions on his wife and the indirect actions of this violence to his child. She is not responsible for his actions. She is a victim. Estimates place child exposure to domestic violence at 3-8 million. Society will not hold mothers (or fathers, as the case may  be) responsible for another person’s behavior.  If she can barely keep him from beating her, how can she be expected to protect her child? Furthermore, why is he not charged with child abuse when he’s hitting the mother – isn’t it the same idea as this case? Clearly, it’s a double standard and blaming the victim mentality to charge a victim of violence, and not the perpetrator of violence, with child abuse.

Supreme Court:  Agency had no authority to place woman on child abuser list

Myths, stereotypes and lies…oh my!

The myth of mean girls

But this panic is a hoax. We have examined every major index of crime on which the authorities rely. None show a recent increase in girls’ violence; in fact, every reliable measure shows that violence by girls has been plummeting for years. Major offenses like murder and robbery by girls are at their lowest levels in four decades. Fights, weapons possession, assaults and violent injuries by and toward girls have been plunging for at least a decade.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reports, based on reports from more than 10,000 police agencies, is the most reliable source on arrests by sex and age. From 1995 to 2008, according to the F.B.I., girls’ arrest rates for violent offenses fell by 32 percent, including declines of 27 percent for aggravated assault, 43 percent for robbery and 63 percent for murder. Rates of murder by girls are at their lowest levels in at least 40 years.

You go, New York Times!

Wow! I was amazed to read this article by Jere Longman in the New York Times. I just recently saw this story covered on the Today Show and thought the same thing – double standards (and this feeling that the producers just looove to show the negative side of women – like their “fembot” episode, or their “wife-in-chief” segment, or…)

For all the wrong reasons, women’s soccer is noticed

Here’s the problem:

Lambert, 20, has been suspended indefinitely by New Mexico after she engaged in shoving, punching, tripping and yanking an opponent down by the ponytail last Thursday in a 1-0 loss to Brigham Young.

But the reaction – including airtime on the Today Show – has clearly been blown out of proportion:

Bruce Arena, the coach of the Los Angeles Galaxy and the former coach of the United States men’s national team, said in an interview Sunday: “Let’s be fair, there have been worse incidents in games than that. I think we are somewhat sexist in our opinion of sport. I think maybe people are alarmed to see a woman do that, but men do a hell of a lot worse things. Was it good behavior? No, but because it’s coming from a woman, they made it a headline.”

~ ~ ~

Similarly harsh play by men does not seem to provoke the same visceral reaction and incredulous scrutiny that Lambert received, Dorrance said.

“The world has changed,” Dorrance said. “Women play with just as much intensity, work ethic and sometimes aggression as guys.” But although men can be celebrated for extreme aggression, like knocking out a quarterback in the N.F.L., “women are held to a different standard,” Dorrance said.

“I hate to call it a higher standard,” he said. “It’s almost like they crossed a gender line they weren’t allowed to cross, like we want to take them out of the athletic arena and put them in the nurturing, caring role as mothers of children.”

~ ~ ~

The Lambert incident has also been sexualized, as was the jersey-removing celebration by Brandi Chastain after she scored the winning penalty kick in the 1999 Women’s World Cup. Lambert’s behavior has been referred to as “hot” on some blogs. On Monday night, “The Late Show” with David Letterman used a male voiceover to portray the video in a sexy manner.

This is a way to trivialize, or make less threatening, women’s sports, said Pat Griffin, an emeritus professor of social justice education at the University of Massachusetts.

“It isn’t about women’s soccer and how great its players are,” Griffin said. “It’s about titillation, about sexualizing women in a catfight, that weird porno-lesbian subtext: let’s watch two women go at it.”

This article definately looked at the situation with a gender lens – without any backlash to feminism, denial of women’s use of aggression/violence or or any condescension  or any of the negativities that can get in the way. Kudos to the NY Times for providing such a clear gender analysis of the subject! Wow! Keep it coming! 🙂