Farewell Parks and Recreation, You Exquisite Little Feminist Fish

By Jessamyn Neuhaus

Parks and Recreation was the most feminist show on TV ever—just ask the Internet. Web behemoths, pop culture critics, academics, and assorted bloggers all agree that the show regularly alluded to and extolled feminist principles. The women characters were varied and multifaceted. Neuhaus_image1The men characters wittily satirized masculine stereotypes and at times embodied feminist values. And Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) was a dedicated civil servant and proud feminist who championed women’s empowerment and political advancement. As Marama Whyte summarized: “It shouldn’t feel revolutionary to watch the hero of a TV show declare themselves a feminist, but it does.” Continue reading

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Filed under Culture, Media & Communications

Slaves to Beauty

by Steven Vallas  Originally posted at Work In Progress (here). The piece is cross-posted with permission.
Credit: The New York Times

Credit: The New York Times

LAST WEEK The New York Times ran a set of stories that illustrate just how vital investigative journalism is, especially in an era in which savage capitalism seizes upon vulnerable groups-–immigrant women in powerless positions—and exploits them with impunity, knowing that governmental institutions lack the power, authority, or will to intervene. Written by Sarah Maslin Nir, the stories showed us that the outposts of bourgeois femininity—nail salons–we see in virtually all in commercial areas, have a dark side to them that is often quite hidden, even to the customers: rampant the wage theft and health hazards that are common practices within nail salons. Continue reading

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Filed under Body & Embodiment, Collective Action & Social Movements, Consumption, Gender & Class, Health/Medical, Inequality

In the Field with Mom Bloggers: Living the Interpretive Turn

By Felicia Wu Song

Five years ago, a New York Times article, “Honey, Don’t Bother Mommy. I’m Too Busy Building My Brand,” caught my eye. It described a world of “mommy bloggers” who convened at conferences that combined social media workshops and corporate networking, with a dash of pink boas and mimosas. It made me curious: Who were these women? What motivated them to blog? Was it just another fad? Continue reading

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Filed under Family, Media & Communications, Motherhood, Work & Family

Gay Pay for Straight Work

By Sean Waite and Nicole Denier

Over the last two decades there has been a growing interest in the labor market outcomes of gay men and lesbians. It has long been acknowledged that labor markets are stratified along multiple dimensions, such as gender, race and nativity. More recently new data has shed light on how labor market opportunities and rewards may also differ by sexual orientation. So far research has generally found that gay men earn less than straight men and lesbians earn more than straight women (in our work we show that this still means earning less than all men).

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Filed under Economy, Gender & Class, Sexualities, Work & Organizations

Expanding Gender Stories

By Elizabeth Rahilly

“Call Me Tree also opens up the possibility that it’s ok not to know the gender of a child. … We can learn through nature, history and studying cultures from all over the world and throughout time, that there are more than two ways to identify and express gender.”
– Maya Christina Gonzalez

Maya Christina Gonzalez’s new children’s book, Call Me Tree/Illámame Arbol, represents a much-needed, and growing area, of children’s literature. It expands the gendered representations of characters in storybooks, for children and parents alike. The book uses no gender-specific pronouns, and the protagonist, based on someone assigned female at birth (according to Gonzalez), sports a bright green shirt, blue pants, suspenders, and short hair. This character, whom many might perceive as “boy,” no doubt resonates with many young “girls” and children who do not relate to “female” stereotypes, or to mainstream racial/ethnic norms of whiteness, but who don’t always see themselves represented in media. child running outside Continue reading

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Filed under Adolescence/Children, Gender & Class, Media & Communications, Transgender

Why Are so Many U.S. Babies Born via Cesarean?

By Christine Morton

When I gave birth to my first child in 1995, the U.S. cesarean birth rate was 21%. By 2013, the total cesarean rate had risen to 33%, a nearly 60% increase! What has happened in the 18 years since I had my first baby to reach a point where 1 in 3 women give birth through major abdominal surgery?

A recent article in the Huffington Post highlights the risks of cesarean birth for both mother and baby and asks why the U.S. cesarean rate is more than double the World Health Organization recommended rate.

  • Are there medical factors that explain this increase?
  • Have women’s bodies become less capable of vaginal birth due to age or health issues?
    Are women choosing surgical birth because it’s less painful, or as safe as vaginal birth?
  • Are cesareans being done because women and babies are getting bigger?
    Is the increase due to more women having twins, triplets and so on?
    Has the increase in cesareans resulted in better health outcomes for women and babies?

The short answer to all these questions is NO. Continue reading

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Filed under Family, Health/Medical, Media & Communications

“Burka Avengers” and Pakistan’s Gender Structures

women training fight

Photo credit: AFP/ Getty images

by Fauzia Husain

The BBC’s Facebook page recently featured a story from its radio service. The story depicts the sounds of women training to join an elite force of police commandos who will take on the Taliban in Pakistan. We hear the reporter ask the women trainees’ men colleagues how many of them support the induction of women into their unit, and we hear that all of them raise their hands. Meanwhile, in the background, the men say in Urdu and in English that “there is a need for this.” The reporter understands the men’s response and indeed, this training of women commandos, as signaling a shift in the gender system of this war torn country. Continue reading

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Filed under Gender & Class, Media & Communications, Religion