Sarkozy’s Anti-Burqa Policy

French President Nicolas Sarkozy his declared that burqas, a garment worn by some Muslim women that covers all but the eyes, are “not welcome in France”. His reasons seem pretty good, as he said that burqas are a symbol of women’s subservience, not a religious symbol. Which is all very nice, but who gave him the right to decide?

I really don’t know that much about the culture of burqas I guess, but from what I’ve gathered I really don’t think that choosing to wear a body-covering garment should be forbidden by the government. A law that says all women must be covered in the company of men would be discriminatory, but so is forbidding women from wearing a certain kind of clothing. Thoughts?

Newsweek’s Obsession With a ’50s Style Woman

I keep reading these crazy articles online at Newsweek and trying to keep myself from writing about them, but this is getting pretty silly. This week there’s a genius article about how brides are getting to sexual. Apparently this is linked to the fact that women are getting married at the advanced ages of (gasp!) 26 or 28. Somehow that doesn’t seem wildly old to me, and the fact that women are more self aware by the time they get married is actually reassuring considering the current divorce rates. 

I’m not going to dwell on this one much, but the idea that equality is a problem bothers me. “They saw their fiancés going out and having these nights where they were drinking, and thought, ‘It’s not fair that I’m in this stilted ritual where I have to act very feminine and proper while the guys are going out and having fun’.” is a quote included apparently to highlight the depths to which modern brides have sunk. I’m not personally into the whole having a giant party with lots of drinks and hookers the night before you get married, but to think that it’s only okay if the guy does it? Well, that’s crazy and entirely sexist. Nice one, Newsweek…

Letterman Update

Okay so as you can see from the previous post, I’m not defending David Letterman for his inappropriate jokes regarding Bristol and/or Willow Palin. But of course, the people who are covered by the media for defending the Palin girls are doing it for all the wrong reasons. 

Huffington Post has an article about the 15 hardcore Palinites trying to get David Letterman fired and their oh-so-genius remarks. Apparently the way to protect a young girl from sexist and statutory rape based humor is to attack the wife and 5-year-old son of the “humorist” who started it. Huh. Somehow I have trouble believing that saying Letterman has a “bastard son and a slut for a wife” is really helping to protect underage kids from slander…

I fully believe that Letterman’s attempts at humor were repulsive in this situation. But attacking his wife and child only makes the problem bigger. We have to stop making sexist attempts at humor or calling people sluts and bastards to get to their family. This is getting ridiculous and sickening.

Letterman, “Humor” and The Palin Girls

As I’m sure everyone is aware, there’s a lot of to-do about David Letterman’s sexist comments about Sarah Palin’s teenage daughter(s) getting pregnant while in New York City. Letterman’s latest apology included the explanation that he didn’t mean 14-year-old Willow Palin but rather 18-year-old Bristol. He says he made sure that she was a legal adult before making the “joke”.

Now I’m not the biggest fan of Sarah Palin (actually make that a serious opponent of her policies and not particularly fond of her personality), but these comments by Letterman are in ridiculously poor taste. He appears only as a wildly sexist pig who has a remarkably sick sense of humor, and he also manages to make Sarah Palin a sympathetic figure. It’s harder to make logical arguments against her when you get lumped into the same category as people who make these comments.

Why can’t we get substantive criticism about policy, or even the number of Alaskans angry that their state is being ignored while their Governor unofficially runs for President and present this in a humorous way? Why does everything have to be about the objectification of girls and young women? And why on earth are the children of politicians fair game? They didn’t chose this life and I’m sure neither Palin girl appreciates being made fun of in such a sexist way on television.

I’m not even going to go into how mad these “I’m sorry but don’t blame me” apologies make me. Suffice it to say that the Palin girls deserve to be left alone by any comedy show, particularly ones with such sexist intent. They already have a mother who wants to take away their right to choice and who simultaneously capitalizes on people’s feelings that women are treated unfairly and forces rape victims to pay their own medical expenses. Don’t these young women have enough on their plates without Letterman’s sick attempts at “humor”.

Faith-based Initiatives & Abortion

Another thing I found in my federal budget digging (and oddly exciting activity) was a little document that President Obama is apparently applying to his Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, Title X of the Public Health and Services Act. Most of the act seems pretty good, supporting sex ed programs and the like, but Section 1008 struck me as troubling. The little passage states that “None of the funds appropriated under this title shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”

Hmm. Apparently just saying that you’re not anti-choice doesn’t mean you’ll fund programs that mention non-medical abortions… If we’re going to choose something about the President’s plans for Family Planning, please let’s use his support for PHS Act Title X, and not his appointee to run faith-based programs.

The Miss USA Competition’s “moral standards”

A few days ago, Carrie Prejean was dethroned as Miss California. I don’t personally take much of an interest in beauty pagents, but this is an odd one. Ms. Prejean became “newsworthy”, of course, as the contestant who supported “opposite marriage” and not gay marriage, but the reason behind her de-crowning seems even odder to me. Apparently she wouldn’t follow pagent guidelines, including lying about semi-nude photos.

This confuses me to no end. As far as I can tell, the point of the Miss USA pagent is for young women to walk around in bikinis having their bodies judged. They make themselves in to sex objects in the hopes of attaining a prize. But if, heaven forbid, they chose to pose with an inch more skin showing than the skimpy bathing suits do, that’s reason to be dumped from the competition.

I don’t get it. The Miss USA contest objectifies women’s bodies but if they do it themselves they’re out of the running? I’m not a fan of the contest or of Ms. Prejean’s views on marriage, but this seems to be something of a double-standard.

Faith-Based Initiatives and Abstinence-Only Programs

I’ve been reading lots of blogs with VERY negative comments about President Obama’s pick for Director of Faith-Based Initiatives, Alexia Kelley. She’s anti-choice, which apparently means it’s time to attack the President. I get the argument, like it or not, government money goes to Faith groups for many social initiatives including family planning education. If she’s anti-choice and Catholic, it’s easy to see how Kelley could funnel money to abstinence only programs. Even a few kids who don’t get taught about contraception is a problem, right?

Well, that’s something I’d agree with, but after an afternoon of pouring over 2008, 2009 and 2010 Health and Human Services budgets as well as the President’s 2010 Budget, I am pretty well convinced that she CAN’T just give money to Faith-Based, Anti-Choice “family planning” programs. Obama’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative very clearly limits funding to evidence-based programs that promote abstinence and delay the age of sexual activity but ensure that when people do start having sex, they will more frequently use contraception.

In fact the President’s 2010 Budget Request, grandly entitled “A New Era of Responsibility”, “Supports State, community-based and faith-based efforts to reduce teen pregnancy using evidence-based models. The program will fund models that stress the importance of abstinence while providing medically-accurate and age-appropriate information…” (Emphasis mine)

So basically what it comes down to is that the choice of family planning programs (apparently our federal government feels uncomfortable actually using the word sex… Ever…) is way above the head of Alexia Kelley. Not that I’d mind seeing as many pro-choice federal employees, especially in HHS. But let’s all calm down. Obama’s funding for comprehensive family planning programs essentially replaces Bush’s abstinence-only funding, so our government is really only funding programs now that have been proven to work. Obama’s not crazy or trying to keep today’s children in the dark. He’s just put someone with a religious perspective in charge of Faith-Based Initiatives. And really, can you blame him for that?

I do have a little issue with some abortion wording in Obama’s Teen Pregnancy Initiative, but let’s leave that for another post.