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What is the Worth of a Woman?


Licia Ronzulli is an Italian member of the European Parliament; however, she is more often recognized as the “poster child for working mothers everywhere” (Peck). Since one month after her daughter’s birth, Ronzulli has been utilizing the flexible, family-friendly rules that allow parents to bring their children to work at the European Parliament (see photo right). To some, Mrs. Ronzulli exemplifies a bold “women can have it all” position in the “Mommy Wars”, a term that refers to the ongoing battle between “working moms” and “stay at home mothers”. She is indeed praised for her unusual balance between working and caring for her child. But why is this considered such an achievement?

Giving up a career to work in the household presumably signals familial economic instability. Unfortunately, the ability to maintain and balance the jobs as both a successful parent and a source of income is considered an unrealistic dream. Society assumes that any stay-at-home parent has either made the mistake of sacrificing their career or is somehow incompetent and only able to perform household and caretaking duties. Due to this misconstrued stigma, the familial duty is greatly dismissed, unappreciated, and undervalued by our national community; however it is obviously deemed essential to sustain a family.

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"The Intelligent Plant"

Hi Class!

Just read this interesting New Yorker article by Michael Pollan that follows a group of scientists who are seeking to prove that plants are a lot more like us than most people realize, capable of learning, memory, cognition and computation! I thought that this was incredibly relevant for the ecofeminist argument against specism. Skim through the article if you get a chance to take a break from finals week. 

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Unbinding the Housewife: Why Men and Women are Perfectly Able Parents

In March of 2013, New York Magazine posted an incredibly controversial trend piece titled The Retro Wife by Lisa Miller. The article features the stories of two progressive, “neo-traditionalist” women, Kelly Makino and Rebecca Woolf, who have decided to become the primary caretakers, also known as “homemakers” or “housewives,” of their families. The narratives of Makino and Woolf were aimed at exposing an alternative and empowering path for women, one drifts from the Lean In feminist mentality presented by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. Miller believes that Sandberg’s book “argues that the new revolution needs to start with women themselves, that what’s needed to equalize U.S. workplaces is a generation of women tougher, stronger, wilier, more honest about their ambition, more strategic, and more determined to win than American women currently are” (Miller). Shortly after this description, we encounter Miller’s complete doubt and hesitation to support this manifesto, stating that not all mothers can sacrifice the urgent demands of their families in order to become workingwomen. At this moment she reveals the true intentions behind the article—to promote and commemorate modern day “feminists” who make the decision to not pursue a demanding career.


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The Reality of Who Actually Works For Minimum Wage...

 I saw this pie chart on and immediately thought about Heidi Hartman's discussion of feminist economics! This is such a shocking statistic- that 48.5% of minimum wage workers are adult women. During Heidi Hartman's public presentation, she went through graph after graph that made clear the economic consequences of being a "woman" (which was especially reflected during the recession). Here are a few take-aways from her presentation that I thought you all would enjoy.

• The wage gap is narrowing! Men's earnnings have leveled out since the 70's, while women's have increased.
• Women have always had higher unemployment rates. Single mothers have the highest.
• People with children have higher poverty rates, especially single mothers.
• Women in low-paying jobs STILL get less money than men in the same low-paying jobs.
• Men have a higher growth rate in every industry during the recession recovery, while women have a higher loss rate in every industry but two- Manufacturing and Financial Activitites. 
• More women are attending college than men. 

The above statements are based on research done by the Institute of Women's Policy Research.

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Lily Allen's "Hard Out There"

There has been a lot of hype recently about Lily Allen's latest song, Hard Out There. It makes quite a bold statement about the objectification and hypersexualization of women in media and music. Some people absolutely love the song, and some are horribly dissappointed.

Here is a really interesting article from Scarleteen that addresses why the music video can be interpreted as quite controversial and insulting (especially with regard to racism and slut-shaming: 

In case you haven't seen the video, it's definitely worth a watch! You can check it out here:

P.s. Check out ari_hall's post too! 

See video
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"Why are bad guys bad"

I had mentioned a powerful RadioLab podcast in class last week about a prolific serial killer, the Green River Killer, who was never really able to understand why he killed. I made this reference to connect with Eva's inability to understand why she killed Davis and that maybe the deep, underlying reasoning for the killing of another human being may never be understood.

7:30 is when the story begins on the RadioLab podcast titled "Why are bad guys bad?": It's really a fascinating story that is worth your 10 minutes of time! 

After an intensive interrogation with Gary Ridgway, the Seattle-based serial killer, special detectives tried to get Gary to divuldge the details and secrets to the 49 murders of female prostitutes, including the one question that everyone really wanted to know: why?

Gary's most satisfying confession still does not present us with a concrete answer, "I just needed to kill because of that." Neither Eva nor the people around her seem to understand why she killed Davis, but outsiders seem to believe that there must be a true reason hidden beneath her silence.

In Gary's case, after talking to psychiatrists, forensic psycologists, and detectives, a clear patter in conversation would begin and point to the musing that we would never figure out the underlying reason why some humans kill other humans. 

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You Are You: Looking at the Sexism and Intolerance of Gender Non-Conforming Children

The photograph to the left features a child prepared to celebrate Halloween, clad in a hybrid superhero-princess costume, titled “Iron Flower Captain Bat Man” (Levi Sable 2013). At first glance, we praise and admire both the creativity and courage of the young girl, and her parents for that matter, for going against the norm of dressing as strictly feminine archetypes. But the moment we learn that the child is actually a young boy in a gender-clashed costume, our perceptions change entirely towards confusion and concern. Is something wrong with him? Is he gay? Halloween is intended to be a joyous time to become a character that you normally couldn’t be. Why is it that a boy and a girl in the same exact costume are interpreted so differently? Embedded in our culture is an attitude that a masculine female is strong, empowered, and independent, while a feminine male is weak, sensitive, and queer.

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Exciting News from Germany!

"Germany has become Europe's first country to allow babies with characteristics of both sexes to be registered as neither male nor female."

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The Duality of the Gaze: An Exploration of the Beauty and Shame Found Found in the Female Body

In 2009, I visited an art exhibition at the Austrian Cultural Forum New York, titled “The Seen and Hidden: [Dis]Covering the Veil.” The show created a clash of western and eastern cultures in order to display the controversial interpretations of what it means to be covered, objectified, and sexualized in the preconceived notions of Arabic and Islamic cultures. The pieces in the show invoked a vivid sense of both frustration and mockery at the overall confusion and misunderstanding found across the globe, which has ultimately resulted from the potent duality of the gaze.

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Waking Life Movie Quote

"I had a friend once who told me that the worst mistake that you can make is to think you are alive, when you're really asleep in life's waiting room. The trick is to combine your waking rational abilities with the infinite possibilities of your dreams. 'Cause if you can do that you can do anything."

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