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French National Assembly approves ban on face veils – latimes.com

Posted: July 14th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on French National Assembly approves ban on face veils – latimes.com

In what I hope will be judged by history as one France's most idiotic moves ever, "The French lower house of Parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a ban on wearing face-covering veils in a public place," Alison Culliford reports. "[T]he ban would affect only an estimated 1,900 of the millions of Muslim women in France," like Kenza Drider, an outspoken critic who said, "The government can accept my decision or not, I am not an outlaw. If I’m fined by the police, I will take it to human rights in the name of my freedom."

French politicians are calling the ban a victory for "values of freedom against all the oppressions which try to humiliate individuals." Y'know, like the freedom to choose one's own clothing. If the new ban survives a test of constitutionality, wearing a veil (a niqab) and "covering one's face in a public place will be subject to a fine of about $185 or community service."

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Stereotype: Debunked. Latinos Are MORE Progressive on Gender – COLORLINES

Posted: July 14th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Stereotype: Debunked. Latinos Are MORE Progressive on Gender – COLORLINES

Moral panics often seem to go along with Republican xenophobia. As Michelle Chen writes, "the country's changing racial and ethnic landscape alarms conservative elites for deeper reasons than only skin color. It's what the browning of America represents: the gradual displacement of a homogeneous status quo with pluralism by necessity."

To wit, surveys by the Center for American Progress reveal facts challenging media stereotypes: "Latinos overwhelmingly view the rise of women in the workforce as good for society." (87% of Latino women, 82% of men, 7-10 points higher than men and women overall) Also, "Latinos express some of the highest levels of support for changes to governmental…policies" like increased paid medical leave. "Maybe when it comes to some social issues, including gender," Chen opines, "hardship has a way of pushing people to embrace new ideas."

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More Women Without Children – Pew Research Center

Posted: July 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on More Women Without Children – Pew Research Center

"Nearly one-in-five American women ends her childbearing years without having borne a child, compared with one-in-ten in the 1970s," according to a recent Pew Research report. Childbearing and rearing is arguably the most telling indicator of attitudes towards gender, and this report is full of interesting tidbits of that sort: "children increasingly are seen as less central to a good marriage. […] About half the public…say it makes no difference one way or the other that a growing share of women do not ever have children. Still, a notable share of Americans…say this trend is bad for society."

The authors write, "social pressure to bear children appears to have diminished for women and that today the decision to have a child is seen as an individual choice. Improved job opportunities and contraceptive methods help create alternatives for women who choose not to have children." The issue is partially classist, as white, well-educated women are still the most likely to be child-free.

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Korean Sociological Image #42: Sunset for the Red She Devils? | James Turnbull

Posted: July 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Korean Sociological Image #42: Sunset for the Red She Devils? | James Turnbull

The story begins with a single-panel cartoon, showing a white woman wearing a low-cut top, jeans and flip-flops walking in one direction on a street, and a Korean woman wearing a high-necked t-shirt, very short shorts and heels walking in the other direction. A dotted line indicates that the white woman's vision is glued to the Korean woman's legs, and a thought balloon above her head reads "Geez, could you show any MORE skink?" A similar line-of-site depiction runs from the Korean woman's eyes to the white woman's chest, but the words in her thought bubble are in Korean. James Turnbull, the author of the article tells us they transliterate to "yahada" which means "too revealing" or "too sexual." This clash between Western and Korean ideas of what makes women's clothing "too skimpy," combined with the fact that pushing the boundaries on these norms doesn't fix underlying problems of sexual and gender repression or body image, makes for another great article from SexGenderBody.

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IRIN Asia | BANGLADESH: Educating girls lowers maternal death rate | Asia | Bangladesh | Gender Issues Health & Nutrition | News Item

Posted: June 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on IRIN Asia | BANGLADESH: Educating girls lowers maternal death rate | Asia | Bangladesh | Gender Issues Health & Nutrition | News Item

Maternal mortality rates (MMRs) in Bangladesh have more than halved in less than a decade, down from 724 deaths per 100,000 births to only 338, and correlate with higher education levels, according to a study in The Lancet, a British medical journal. "Improving the education of women has been a key factor in bringing down the MMR," an IRIN News article reads. "Increased access to education has had huge ramifications in socioeconomic development and maternal mortality. […] Women who are better informed are also more active in making family planning choices."

The article says lack of female medical professionals is a major cultural obstacle, because women "are not comfortable with male health workers." Associate health director of BRAC, a Dhaka, Bangladesh-based NGO, said, "If we want a long-term and sustained decline in MMR, we have to invest in the education and employment of women."

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On Being Anti Anti-Porn | Sex In The Public Square

Posted: June 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on On Being Anti Anti-Porn | Sex In The Public Square

At a press event on Tuesday, anti-porn activists Dr. Gail Dines and others called on Congress to use obscenity laws to curb the proliferation and prevalence of porn. "We are now in the midst of a massive social experiment, as no other generation has been so bombarded with so much pornography," Dines said, but assistant professor of sociology Elizabeth Wood says the anti-porn movement's drum-banging is nothing other than an "overblown metaphor."

Wood challenges Dines' statement with simple logic, and urges activists to counter moral panic with real information. "Rates of HPV and of Herpes are high across the US and are rampant even among those with no connection to the porn industry. And we are not in the midst of a great social experiment. Porn is not new. Access to porn is not new. […] If this were really akin to an experiment we'd have to hold everything constant except the porn, and that's obviously impossible." She says a War on Porn will be as (in)effective as the War on Drugs.

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Hot New Dance Craze: Slamming Your Butt Into Someone’s Face

Posted: June 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Hot New Dance Craze: Slamming Your Butt Into Someone’s Face

In the "so you think you can dance" category of sexuality-related news, a "hot new dance craze" is sweeping Brazil. As Maureen O'Connor explains at Gawker.com, "Brazil, home to the world's most celebrated butts, has invented a new dance move. It's called the Surra de Bunda ("ass licking [or punching?]") and it involves hooking your feet over a man's shoulders and sledgehammer slamming your butt into his face."

Sledgehammer slamming your (presumably very womanly) butt into someone's (presumably shit-eating) grin. "There are dozens of videos of Surra de Bundas on YouTube," Maureen writes. "Nobody there seems to understand what the heck this phenomenon is, either. Is this a dance move or a sex act that we are witnessing? It appears to have migrated to non-hetero, less-bootylicious groups as well."

Unless it's a new kind of alternative energy, I can't wrap my head around this. Watch the video, see for yourself.

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Update: It turns out the dance is called “Butt Spanking,” and the song is a tale sung by a stripper who’s contemptuous of a drunk man watching the show.


Just How Bad Is Porn, Anyway? : The Thoughtful Animal

Posted: June 5th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Citing numerous studies, developmental psychology post-grad Jason G. Goldman writes, "in general both males and females report overall positive effects of pornography UNLESS they are not sexually fulfilled […] in which case they report negative effects." His research was sparked by claims to the contrary made by religiously-backed Stop Porn Culture, whose upcoming conference features Women's Studies Professor and character assassin Donna M. Hughes.

Goldman notes it's "impossible to infer causality" from current literature but "this data suggests very strongly that pornography is not a direct cause of aggression against women; rather, pornography moderates the relationship between sexual promiscuity/hostile masculinity and sexual aggression." According to him, "people who are meeting…to denounce pornography might redirect their efforts at improving the quality of sex education in our schools."

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Update: A key figure in the pro-porn argument, Violet Blue, says Goldman’s research “is a huge change for the entire discussion.”