“These are not your decisions to make. These are not your words to define.”

Eve Ensler has put it best.

The award-winning playwright of The Vagina Monologues penned a column entitled “Dear Mr. Akin, I Want You to Imagine,” published two days ago by The Huffington Post which directly addresses Todd Akin, the Missouri Congressman running in the GOP Senate race who recently asserted in an interview that a woman could not get pregnant if she were the victim of a “legitimate rape.”

Read the column and tell ARK what you think.


Arizona: Working hard to limit your freedoms


I thought the Arizona Congress was messed up upon the passing of the racist SB1070 bill, but this new bill puts them at a new low.

If this new bill, HB 2625, were to pass, employers would be allowed to deny health care coverage for contraceptives, if they are morally opposed to contraception.  One congresswoman, Debbie Lesko, said on the subject: “I believe that we live in America. We don’t live in the Soviet Union.  And so government shouldn’t be telling employers, Catholic organizations or mom-and-pop employers to do something that’s against their moral beliefs.”

Guess what, Ms. Lesko?  I believe we live in America, too.  And I believe that taking basic health care services away from people is a huge infringement on their rights.  This bill runs completely counter to the idea of personal liberties.  It would be allowing some citizens to impose their moral views on others, and decide for other citizens how they should live their lives and manage their health.

The inherent sexism makes me sick too.  This bill aims to directly limit the freedom of women when it comes to healthcare.  Imagine the reverse, if men’s health services were being restricted.  What if an employer were morally opposed to erectile dysfunction medications, and denied access to them?  Or prostrate cancer screenings?  I seriously doubt that the bill would have gotten as far as it has.

It’s amusing to think about how far this bill could go, letting employers determine what health benefits their employees get.  Would someone who didn’t believe in evolution not allow coverage for vaccines for mutated strains of viruses?  Would someone who disapproved of travelling to foreign countries not allow malaria immunizations?  How about the people who say to have faith in God for everything?  The next religiously-minded health plan: only enough money to cover the costs for a Bible.

I shudder at the idea of any bill that allows some citizens to control the lives of others.  It would let people’s arbitrary personal preferences to influence others.  This sounds much more like totalitarianism than any sort of democracy that I want to be part of, Ms. Lesko.

Another ticked off Arizonan,


So what, about Adele?!


She just won the Grammy in the Album of the Year category.  She even won an award in all six of the categories she was nominated for.  I love to hear Adele sing. And I love that she is so popular.  Especially considering how her sound is so different from other popular female artists like Ke$ha, Katy Perry, or Lady Gaga for instance.

Something I’ve always admired about Adele is that she seems to not care a bit about the media’s comments on her appearance.  She is comfortable with her body and her self-image.  Yet, I’ve been wondering if she is a good role model.  She definitely has talent, and has worked extremely diligently to get to where she is today.  Adele is tremendously confident about her own image.  Yet, she was also quoted saying,

“I love food and hate exercise. I don’t have time to work out… I don’t want to be on the cover of Playboy or Vogue. I want to be on the cover of Rolling Stone or Q. I’m not a trend-setter… I’m a singer… I’d rather weigh a ton and make an amazing album then look like Nicole Richie and do a shit album. My aim in life is never to be skinny.”

While she does put talent and merit above appearance, she also is expressing that it is acceptable to not care about health.  I think that it is reasonable to not want to be skinny, especially considering all of the other stick-figure celebrities that seem to be in the media spotlight.  But, is health something to be ignored, or underrated?  I love Adele’s dedication to her talent and music, and I respect that she is satisfied with her appearance.  These are qualities that I think people should be looking up to.  Yet, at the same time, people also need role models who care about their health.  Many people look up to Adele, and so by admitting that she doesn’t care about her health, she seems to be setting a questionable example for others.

I’m not sure if there is a real winner here.  You have Adele on one side, and on the other celebrities that starve themselves, or almost seem to sell their bodies.

As Adele stated again, “I love seeing Lady Gaga’s boobs and bum,” she says. “I love seeing Katy Perry’s boobs and bum. Love it. But that’s not what my music is about. I don’t make music for eyes. I make music for ears.”

The sad truth is, music nowadays isn’t just about selling the music.  Every music artist tries to have a unique style, be it Lady Gaga’s meat outfit, or Katy Perry’s candy-colored outfits.  Adele also has a certain “look.”  She doesn’t show off her body to sell her music.  She also ignores the industry’s pressures to be thin.  While some might say that this is what sets Adele apart from the other artists in the music industry, at the same time, every celebrity makes unconventional choices about their appearances in order to stand out.  So why does Adele’s choice to not diet cause more controversy than the lyrics of Katy Perry’s California Gurls song, or even her scantily-clad outfits in the music video?  And is it so bad not to be skinny that the media must Photoshop her appearance (this actually occurred in Vogue…)? 

Personally, I’m with Adele on one thing—you don’t need to have a “perfect” body to succeed.

What do you think, fellow Armed RevolutioKnits? Is Adele a role model? Or should someone who doesn’t care about her health be considered a role model?


Abortion–the common ground.

Okay, everybody ready for a hot-button issue? I am! But you all need to promise to get into this conversation and comment on this post and send us e-mails and like us on Facebook and share this with your friends and ask them about it. I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about abortion as a woman, as a feminist, as someone who doesn’t want a kid yet but (maybe?) wants to have sex, as a person…

I struggle with this a lot. And I’m guessing you do too. So you better have your fingers and keyboard at the ready!

I think a good place to start would be the arguments I’ve heard about abortion in the past:

–A woman has the right to abort a pregnancy if she wants, and nobody else’s moral or religious ideals can take away that right.

–An abortion stops a beating heart. A woman’s “right to choose” violates that unborn person’s right to live.

–What about in instances of rape, incest, or a threat to the mother’s life? Should a woman’s safety or mental health be the put on the line for the sake of a fetus that may or may not survive (especially in instances where the mother’s life is in danger)?

–If someone really doesn’t want the child, they can put it up for adoption.

–If abortion is illegal, some women will still abort pregnancies on their own, which is really dangerous and harms both mother and fetus. Nobody wins.

–What about people who abort fetuses because of its gender or because it will be born with Down’s syndrome or a serious defect? Isn’t that discrimination? Isn’t that human rights abuse?

–Children are expensive. Should low-income or young mothers have the option to abort a pregnancy that they can’t take care of?

–I don’t like abortion when it’s used as birth control. Once is one thing, but regularly is not okay.

–What about a woman’s emotional health? Unwanted pregnancies can be shameful, and if a woman doesn’t have the means or isn’t old enough to care for a child, motherhood can put her under stress that impairs her ability to care for a child.

–Women can also go through emotional trauma after an abortion and after putting a child up for adoption.

–About half of all fertilized eggs do not implant to the wall of the uterus and the female body menstruates them away. Are those fertilized eggs also considered human life? What do we do about them? Are miscarriages a form of child neglect or abuse? What are the implications of defining life at conception? Will we eventually define eggs and sperm as invaluable potential human lives which shouldn’t be wasted?

–Abortion goes against my religious or moral beliefs–and even though I understand that people’s situations are different from mine, and that my beliefs shouldn’t dictate what other people do, I feel like this is different. (this is the category I usually fit into)

Phew. It really doesn’t seem like there’s any common ground, is there?

So a person like me, who does not see abortion as a good option, but doesn’t want to institute laws that violate another person’s rights for what I believe is sort of left in the dust. As a feminist, there’s also pressure to support women’s rights. But there are also women out there who oppose abortion. Does that mean religious people, people who see abortion as amoral, and people who oppose abortion can’t be feminist? Where do men fit into this? Can men have an opinion or any sort of active role in the process? Does this mean that I’m not a feminist?

What I’ve come to realize is that this fight about abortion is more about politics and political divisions than it is about human rights, either for women or for fetuses. People who don’t think abortion is the right answer and people who believe a woman has the right to do what she wants are not to be reconciled, at least not in the near future. If we take a cue from the current group of people in Congress and on the Republican primary ballot, we know that yelling and digging our heels in the ground on issues like this doesn’t get us anywhere.

So maybe we should turn away from this issue and look at other ones instead, ones that don’t raise moral questions, and ones that don’t ostracize whole groups of feminists.

Most people talking about abortion agree that if a woman’s life is in danger, abortion should be an available option. If you don’t think that’s a good reason for abortion to be available, I’d like to hear why, because I can’t really think of one. If a woman could die from carrying or birthing a baby, she should be able to talk with her doctor (and partner, if present) and decide how she wants to handle the situation.

Okay. So now we’re left with some other serious problems, including instances of rape, general unwanted or unplanned pregnancy, people who are too young to care for a child, people who can’t afford children, etc. These are cases that are all unique and I don’t think it’s right to pass sweeping judgement or try to pass laws that will impact all of them. So we’ll work through them one by one.

If a woman is raped, and she becomes pregnant, should she have to go through nine months of pregnancy (which involves a lot of attention and questions and could mean re-living the rape every single day, to put it really simply) and then the grieving process that can follow an adoption or completely change her life around to raise the child? Does she deserve that? If she’s a victim of rape, will she get child support from the perpetrator? But then I wonder about the child, and you hear stories of mothers and the children they gave up after being raped, and the joy and closure they can experience, not to mention the life that child gets to live. So should the victim be able to have that abortion? It’s a difficult question, and I’ve never had an answer.

I still don’t have an answer to that, but here’s my solution. What if we left the abortion question alone, and instead worked to eliminate those rapes in the first place? Rape will always happen, because the world isn’t perfect, but it happens in our world way more than it should. As you’ll see on this blog and all over the internet, violence against women is so normal in our society that rape is not taken as seriously as it should be. We can all say that we are against rape, right? So let’s work to end rape. Educate people about what it is. Inform people about their rights and the consequences of rape. Work to silence the voices that objectify women and blame victims of rape. If the number of rapes in our society goes down, so will the number of pregnancies resulting from rapes. That will limit the number of abortions on that front.

Okay, so what about people who can’t afford medical bills or childcare? Or just don’t want a kid right now? You can work to make health and childcare more affordable, but I’m not going to have that debate in this post (it’s already pretty long!). So I’m going to say, let’s try to eliminate those unwanted pregnancies to begin with. If they never happen, it’s not an issue. That means giving people more access to birth control and sexual health education. Modern condoms, if used properly and with enough lubrication (usually more than the natural stuff than the bodies involved produce naturally), are becoming more and more effective on their own.

Of course, if you want to have full-penetration sex and not get pregnant, it’s always best to use medical birth control in addition, but that’s not an option for everyone.

First, some people object to medical birth control. I’m trying to be as inclusive as possible here, so that means we need to find an alternative route. People are never going to stop having sex–and they shouldn’t…it feels good and it’s good for you–so they need options. I think that the best course of action is to make all types of birth control as available and affordable as possible, and if you have issues with pre/extramarital sex and don’t believe birth control is a good option, have that conversation with your kids and let everyone else and their kids make their own choices.

Also, adequate sex ed is important too. There are sooooo many myths surrounding pregnancy and birth control just because there’s a lack of scientific communication (really, ask any sexual health educator, and they’ll tell you the comic at the right isn’t far from the truth). Sex ed isn’t going to encourage kids have sex: those that weren’t planning on it will likely still wait, and those that were thinking about it anyway (or already engaging in it) are going to do it safely. Education means that people understand that non-penetration sex (including manual, oral, anal, etc.) won’t cause pregnancy and can feel just as good if partners communicate. Moreover, kids and young adults need information to make their own decisions eventually–that’s part of growing up.

Unplanned pregnancies will always still occur, though, so if we’re trying to limit the number of abortions on that front, what else can we do? In many circles, an extramarital pregnancy means many negative and harmful labels are cast upon the mother–irresponsible, sinful, lustful, promiscuous, etc–and some women get abortions so that they don’t have to deal with all of that. It’s a little counter-intuitive, though, to discourage abortions but simultaneously treat single moms so poorly. I think that eliminating the negative impressions and labels that surround single parenthood would decrease the number of abortions because single or extramarital parents might not feel so ostracized.

And, of course, many unplanned pregnancies are carried full-term, so we don’t need to worry about those.

Whatever you think about abortions, I think that putting all your money behind the abortion fight might not be the best approach. Negative connotations about single parenthood, a lack of education about sex, and rampant rape are bigger issues that we should cope with first. I’m not saying abortion isn’t an issue, I’m saying that focusing on it alone ignores the big picture. People should have rights in America. The funny thing is, people already have the right to not be raped, the right to be a single parent without negative social repercussions, and the right to honest and scientific sex education. So maybe we should work to protect and enforce the rights people already have, be proactive instead of reactive, and unite against problems that affect all of us rather than divide over issues that don’t. If we approach the abortion issue this way, eventually the abortions that occur will only occur as acts of true need, and that’s what we want anyway, right?

I know that this approach might seem idealistic. But if all the people fighting the abortion fight were to pool their efforts towards a common cause, things might just get better. It’s sad that our nation is so divided that a unifying approach seems idealistic, but maybe that’s what we need. I think the one of the best parts of this approach is that it is activist-driven, rather than policy-driven. I would really rather not have a Congress dominated by men who will never understand what it’s like to be a woman in this society pass legislation that controls my or any other woman’s body, no matter how I feel about the issue at hand.

So what do you think? Now you’ve heard me out, and remember that you promised to respond! Get on it! I can’t wait!


All-the-rage Weight

I can remember being told in my middle school history class that way, way back in the middle ages, when class divides were huge(r than they are today, apparently), it was fashionable to be curvy because it showed that you had more than enough to eat. Weight was a class statement, a physical demonstration of how wealthy you were–and probably how healthy you were–in comparison to the leaner, poorer peasants and servants doing much of the manual labor.

“No sex appeal to that bean pole!”

I really did think that that fad had gone out of style with the feudal system, but then I saw this post on the blog Loose Garments with vintage advertisements encouraging women to buy products to gain weight: http://loosegarments.com/2012/01/25/surreal-vintage-ads-our-obsession-with-controlling-womens-bodies/

It got me thinking how much style has changed over the generations, and how much the desired shape of women’s bodies has changed.

The Victorian-era, turn-of-the-century woman wore corsets and sought an S-shaped curve to her body. We can just imagine the torture she had to go through to get her waist that tiny, especially compared to her bust size. Her posterior also looks a little too small for her frame, which means that either the bust is a little emphasized or the rear end made a little more subtle.

We can marvel at the sacrifice women made and how crazy they must have been to even go near those corsets. But when you think about how much time, money, and comfort women have sacrificed for style over the years, it’s not so shocking. It’s also not shocking that there’s room to speculate about tampering with the form of this woman to make her more appealing, given the amount of tampering that advertisements undergo today.

According to PLUS Model Magazine, the majority of plus size models are between the sizes of 6 and 14, while more than half of women wear a size 14 and up.

The mother in Hairspray may have been skeptical that Jackie Kennedy ratted her hair to make it bigger–“How else would it look that way?” her daughter asks; “I believe her hair is naturally stiff,” the mother responds–but we all know better, right? Really, we often forget that though women from different decades can look so different, their bodies haven’t changed. Each woman’s body is different, certainly, but women in the early 1900s did not just magically have skinnier waists, 1920s women smaller busts, 1980s women bigger shoulders–it’s all about what’s fashionable, and therefore emphasized. To put it shortly, our bodies just don’t look fashionable by themselves. Everybody “knows” that our society today emphasizes being thin, but it seems like we often forget that desirable body shape, like big jewelry or poodle skirts, changes over time.

From Plus Model Magazine–this spread of nude “plus-size” (often average weight) models made news recently.

Way back in the day, the fashion of weight was associated with health—though their definitions of health and our definitions of health are much different, of course. But maybe we should try to get back to that. If we, as a society, quit responding to 000 models (I mean, really, their jeans probably couldn’t fit my little sister), companies will stop using them in advertisements and on the runway. And if we as a society quit buying drop-weight-fast products and getting ourselves nipped and tucked, maybe the excitement surrounding that would disappear too. You can say whatever you like about self-expression, but ask the girls who got made fun of for being flat-chested or having labia that are “too large” why they’re getting breast implants or labia reductions, and you’ll see we’ve got bigger problems to think about than protecting free expression.

The answer, of course, is not to regulate these things more harshly, but rather to eradicate the stigma and the source of the problem. What if no woman felt that her breasts were too small or too big? What if no woman ever felt like she had to lose weight for any other reason than to improve her health? What if modeling companies stopped seeing models as mannequins, lifeless forms to drape clothing on, and instead used real women whose bodies add life and curve and reality to clothing?

Think about it.


Animals > Women ?

Some food for thought… “America has 3,800 animal shelters, but only 1,500 for battered women,” writes Schrager.  She raises an interesting point about how, in many ways, our society cares more about helping animals than people.

Why is this?

Well, in many cases, people don’t think that anyone they know is being directly affected by domestic violence—despite the studies that have indeed shown that domestic abuse occurs in all socio-economic circles.

Schrager suggests that people are less likely to donate money to support women’s shelters, because the issue of domestic abuse is not necessarily visible within our communities—it happens behind closed doors.  It is more difficult for people to give support to the “faceless,” and so instead they choose to support animal shelters.

While I do think Schrager’s article is somewhat biased, I agree with her that people shouldn’t ignore the issues of domestic violence occurring in their communities because they seem invisible.  Seen or unseen, the problem still exists, and there are women who do need help.

Personally, I think that bringing attention to violence committed against women is especially difficult.  Many people are likely to give support to an animal shelter after seeing commercials with photos of the animals, but you don’t exactly see the same type of tragic commercials for battered women. The sad truth is, most people aren’t likely to give to an organization that they don’t feel like they can relate to, unless a celebrity decides to support it as well.

If you are interested in reading the full article, visit: http://moreintelligentlife.com/story/does-one-abused-woman-100-abused-puppies

What do YOU think??