Legos Are For Everyone

March 6, 2008

I’ll be the first to admit that I was a nerdy kid who loved to read; in addition, I was also a huge fan of Legos.  My brothers and I could spend hours building elaborate castles and pirate ships and space stations; then we would spend more time playing “war” and destroying them, only to start over the next day with even more fantastic creations.  In fact, I’d probably still play with Legos if I had the chance (and not the candy pink ones either).

Lego Castle picture

That is why this article kind of surprised me – apparently, the powers that be over at Lego corporation are trying to market to girls.  As Chief Executive Jorgen V. Knudstorp says, “There is something about the idea of constructing and deconstructing or destroying which frankly is an important part of Lego play that is a very boys-type of activity.”  Now, either this was taken completely out of context, or he is completely discounting a whole bunch of creative girls here.  More from the article:

“Girls are an area where “we’ll never stop trying,” Knudstorp, who joined the family-owned firm in 2001 from consultancy McKinsey & Company, told Reuters.

“I think there is something that genetically skews us towards boys, but we can do better.”

To win girls over Lego — whose iconic plastic bricks have entertained children and wounded unwary barefoot parents since the late 1940s — is working to change its mindset, and taking its bid for their custom online.”

Now, the online lego world actually does sound kind of awesome, but the optimistic side of me hopes that this article was more of a bid for publicity than anything else; sort of a “you say girls don’t play with legos!  We’ll show you!” kind of thing. 

Found via Jezebel, where the piece got 200 comments in a few hours, mostly from girls who loved Legos.

*I just discoved they now have Indiana Jones legos.  DO want!

Feministing Rocks

February 1, 2008

Congratulations to Jessica Valenti and the other Feministing bloggers for their very complimentary mention in the New York Times today, in an article about the lack of unity among feminists, and women in general.  Here’s a key quote:

“That’s part of why she believes the future of feminism lies in online activism, not old-school organizations. Young women today don’t need “the iconic leadership of a NOW or a Gloria Steinem,” she said. With online communities like her own, women have access to vast clearinghouses for information, support, even consciousness-raising. “We have each other,” Ms. Valenti said, “and that’s pretty important.”

It also touches on the 2008 election – and how there is a general feeling that if you don’t support Hillary, you are not a good feminist.  I don’ t think I even need to explain how ridiculous that is, but seriously, supporting Hillary just because she’s a woman isn’t being a good feminist, it is being an ill-prepared, uniformed voter.  Vote for the person and their future plans, stances on issues, and everything else that is actually relevant, not for their gender (or their race, now that I mention it), please.   

More Blog For Choice Posts

January 22, 2008

Some links to great posts for Blog For Choice Day:

Erica Jong in the Huffington Post: If Men Could Get Pregnant, Abortion Would Be A Sacrament.

Anna J. Cook: The Radical Idea That I Am A Person(here’s a bit, but you should really go read the whole thing):

“Over the last twelve years, however, I have been forced to recognize how fragile my right to bodily integrity and self-determination is. I have gotten the message loud and clear from politicians, judges and activists: My personhood is conditional. My body is not my own. I am one broken condom, one impulsive sexual encounter, one sexual assault, one anti-abortion, conscience-ridden pharmacist away from becoming less than a person in the eyes of the law.

The modern political and legal struggle over abortion rights, and reproductive rights more broadly, has developed a hyper-focus on the question of fetal rights and the definition of when life begins. We have forgotten to consider an equally important question: regardless of how we determine when human life and constitutional rights begin, when do women’s basic human rights end? I ask this question of anyone who supports anti-abortion, fetal rights policies: do I somehow become less of a person in the eyes of the law the moment I become pregnant?”

And Cristina Page’s article in the Huffington Post about Huckabee is just scary:

“Today, Governor Mike Huckabee is scheduled to travel to Georgia to commemorate the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. There he plans to join Georgia Right to Life to lend his support, as well as the focus of the national media, to HR 536. This legislation, also called the Human Life Amendment, is a state constitutional amendment that reclassifies the most effective and popular forms of contraception as abortion. The goal of the amendment is to create a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade while also defining life as beginning at fertilization. The anti-abortion movement believes that hormonal contraception (the pill, the patch, the depo shot, the nuva ring, the IUD) can destroy a fertilized egg. By setting in law the assertion — the unproveable assertion — that life begins at the moment of fertilization, the most common forms of contraception become abortion.

James Bopp, a leading anti-abortion attorney, in a memo to pro-life activists, explained what the practical applications of HR 536 would be. Establishing in law that life begins at the moment of fertilization could lead to, he writes, “enforcement of homicide laws against pregnant women, restricting the activities of pregnant women, outlawing contraception and so on.” He continues, “The big picture is that the Human Life Amendment creates uncertainty in the law leaving it up to future legislatures to establish implementing laws and up to enforcement officials and courts to sort out what the law might mean in various applications.” In other words, let’s leave your right to use contraception up to your local assemblymember, district attorney and sheriff.”

“What the Huck?” indeed.

It’s Blog For Choice Day

January 22, 2008

Today is the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and NARAL America is hosting Blog for Choice Day in honor of that historic decision.  To take a page from Feministing’s book, here are the reasons why I vote pro-choice:

Because I believe that in everyone’s right to complete bodily autonomy.

Because I believe that reproductive freedom is not a reward for those who have the means and access to birth control and who can easily afford medical care.

Because I know that outlawing abortion will not cause it to disappear, rather, it will become a dangerous underground procedure that can seriously harm or kill the women who undergo it.

Because President Bush’s Global Gag Rule, a.k.a the Mexico City Policy, is detrimental to the health of women and children around the world.

Because I trust women to make the choice that is best for them and their families.

Because I believe every mother should be willing and every child should be wanted.

Because I am sick and tired of wealthy old white men telling women what they can and can’t do with their bodies.

Because I am horrified by the fact that pharmacists, doctors, and hospitals can still deny sexual assault survivors access to Plan B.

Because the lack of access to birth control, reproductive counseling, and yes, abortions disproportionately affects poor women.

Because women will never achieve total equality with men until they have complete dominion over their bodies, including reproductive freedom.

Because in the United States, no one has the right to force their religious views, beliefs, or opinions on anyone else – and I’ll like to keep it that way.

And for more information on the current state of reproductive rights in the U.S., here is a great article from the Nation by Frances Kissling and Kate Michelman.

And a link to Jezebel’s post on the topic.

Seemingly Sexist?

January 11, 2008

Is anyone else getting really sick of the way that the Clinton campaign is being covered?  Now, I was expecting a certain amount of “wow, this is first time a woman has been a serious presidental contender” and hey, it is an historic event, but seriously, stuff like this has to stop.

Also, how were the protesters yelling “iron my shirt” anything but straight up sexist?  Yes, it was all kind of ridiculous and silly, but the underlying meaning was was clear.  To some people, the concept of a woman being elected to this country’s highest office is a joke.  Call me a humorless feminist if you want, but I’m not laughing. 

Stop the presses!  Hilary Clinton has dared to show some emotion!  Big news!

Is it just me, or this just not that big of a story?  So she got a little choked up during her speech.  Who hasn’t done that when speaking about something they are passionate about?  Big freaking deal.  However, judging from the press coverage that “the moment” got, apparently this was the biggest story of the day in New Hampshire.

Honestly, I’m not Hilary’s biggest fan.  But it bothers me that this completely normal display of emotion is being reported on as a crack in her facade, or as some of kind of breakdown or a reason why she wouldn’t be a good president.  When the men cry, it is looked upon as a sign of courage in the face of difficulty, or as a way of showing their compassionate side.  When a woman displays any kind of emotion or passion, however, she is damned if she does (breakdown! Women are the weaker sex!  We need strength and resolve in the White House!) and damned if she doesn’t (Hilary is cold, calculating, and ball-busting bitch, etc.). 

It’s fitting that this editorial by Gloria Steinem about sexism is indeed still a huge factor ran in the Times today – and like Hilary herself said “the remnants of sexism are alive and well“. 

Update: Hilary’s “moment” is also being credited as a reason she won (the robot is human! yay!).  That’s nice.  Shouldn’t we be voting on based on candidates’ policies and stances on key issues, not on how personally likeable we find them to be?

The brilliant Jessica Valenti (founder of Feministing.com and author of Full Frontal Feminism has another book coming out! 

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It’s published by the Seal Press, which has also published some other thoroughly excellent titles (check out their blog as well), and you can pre-order it here.

First of all, I wish that this book had been around when I was, oh, fifteen or sixteen.  In fact, I’d recommend giving copies to any girls in your life who are around that age – or any women who constantly say “I’m not a feminist or anything, but…”.  Like author Jessica Valenti says, if you have to preface any statement with that kind of caveat, you probably are whatever you’re denying. 

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Clearly, I enjoyed the book.  In my case, however, Full Frontal Feminism was preaching to the choir – I’m a card carrying member of NOW, I already identify as a feminist, and I even subscribe to Feministing.com, the website Jessica founded.  Obviously, I didn’t need to be convinced of anything – but I have kind of a sinking feeling that the people who would really benefit from reading it might not give it a chance.

In case you weren’t aware, feminism is not particularly cool.  If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard a woman or girl use the phrase “I’m not a feminist, but…”, I could retire tomorrow.  This includes my experience in womens’ studies classes – if there was anywhere where you’d be unlikely to be attacked for being a feminist, you’d think it would be there.  Seriously, are the negative connotations of feminism really that bad?  Do people just assume that all feminists hate men and want to subjugate or punish them?  Because I assure you that’s just not the case here (quite the contrary, in fact). 

Anyways – whether or not you consider yourself a feminist, whether you’re a man or a woman (but especially if you’re a woman), do yourself a favor and pick up this book, check out feministing.com or similiar sites (check out feministing’s blogroll for TONS of related blogs and other cool sites), and get beyond the stereotypes for once.  Because seriouslu, here’s the dictionary definition of feminism:

1.  Belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.

2.  The movement organized around this belief.

That’s all – and honestly, what woman can’t get behind that?

Link the Amazon page for Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Women’s Guide To Why Feminism Matters.

Edit: I know that some people might not appreciate the author’s casual tone, but I have a feeling that the engaging, conversational style will probably appeal to more people than a more formal voice.  Besides, a book doesn’t have to be a hyper-serious academic text to be smart, informative, and powerful.  That said, I think this is an excellent “gateway” book for those unfamiliar with feminist literature.