Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Slutty is not a costume

Now the epidemic is catching on with children. At least Newsweek agrees with me.

Some popular childrens' costume names:
Shipwrecked Pirate, Wayward Witch, Child's Chamber Maid Costume and Miss-Behaved

A girl isn't an Army cadet, she's a "Major Flirt," and who knew female firefighters wore fishnet stockings? Even Little Bo Peep comes with a corset, short skirt and lacy petticoat.

Joe Kelly, founder of the advocacy group Dads and Daughters comments: He sees the trend as symptomatic of a deeper issue. "The hypersexualization of younger and younger girls only serves to reinforce gender roles. When an 8-year-old girl can't find a doctor costume because all they have are nurse outfits, that's a problem."
The article points out that most websites selling costumes have more options for boys than girls.

Not that there's anything patently wrong with young girls wanting to look pretty. Child psychologists agree that embracing and understanding their attractiveness is a key part of early-adolescent development for girls. But when sexiness and body image become the sole criteria by which they judge themselves and each other, "That's when we start to see problems," says Dr. Eileen Zurbriggen, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who last year chaired the American Psychological Association's (APA) Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. Their report, issued in February, declared that, "Throughout U.S. culture, and particularly in mainstream media, women and girls are depicted in a sexualized manner."

This is a disturbing trend. The article asks Are we prudes or is this practically kiddie porn? I don't care if I am considered a prude, this is not appropriate. I can't even imagine what I'd say if I had a daughter who wanted to be one of these costumes, especially when peer pressure is a strong influence. How do you get a 9 or 10 year old to understand that slutty is not appropriate? I know some people don't like the use of the word appropriate but that's really the most appropriate (ha) word. I think it is up to the parents to decide what they allow to be appropriate (after all, I suppose anyone could say that wearing a mohawk isn't appropriate, or being gay, and I see the possible implications here). I'm of the school of thought (and I say this without having had any children) that you should let your kids wear what they want as far as personal expression goes (i.e., they don't have to match every day, they can dye their hair pink if they want) as long as it doesn't harm them or others.

Where I do have an issue is what the article said, that it's not the best message to be sending to a young girl that her idea of herself is that of "Major Flirt" instead of Army Cadet.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

More Domestic Violence Events

Who: Anti-Violence Project of the Equality Virginia Education Fund and The Gay Community Center of Richmond

What: My Girlfriend Did It, a documentary about lesbian battering. The film includes several women sharing their stories as well as organizers and anti-violence advocates discussing resources and barriers from a community perspective. Following the film will be an open forum discussion where the community can come together to explore the anti-violence movement and the unique needs of the LGBTQ/HIV-affected communities.

When: Wednesday, October 24th, 7-9p.m.

Where: The Gay Community Center of Richmond at 1407 Sherwood Ave Richmond, VA 23220. It is accessible to persons using wheelchairs. Childcare available upon request. Light refreshments will be available.

For more information please call 804.643.4816 and ask for Quillin or email

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Oh Style Weekly, how I love your spot-on snark

From The Score: A weekly rating of the city zeitgeist.

Chesterfield Edition: Written Entirely in English

+8 Official Language: English. Kelly Miller, chairman of the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors, has reminded all of us how many problems could be solved by simply making English the official language of the county. ¡Gracias, Kelly! Language to be enforced by Media Watchdog Greg Pearson of the Chesterfield Observer, a fine, fine newspaper written in English.

+3 Official Hot Drink: Tea with lemon. To shake off any unfair backwoods stereotypes and help show off our class. Plus, it will underscore our heritage with Philip Stanhope, the late British secretary of state and Fourth Earl of Chesterfield, for whom the county is named. The lemon reminds us all how good we are at puckering.

+4 Official Road: Route 288. It allows us to bypass everybody.

+7 Official Currency: Smart Tag. Everyone has one, and what better way to painlessly extract the money we need from residents to cover the increasing costs of illegal aliens? Plus, we can use the Smart Tag to track the whereabouts of illegal aliens. And Ed Barber.

+6 Official Church:The Richmond Christian Center. Present it a plaque during Black History Month, which we already support. Doing so will divert attention from the way we successfully blocked the church from buying Cloverleaf when no one else was interested. Then let the media try to call us bullies. Extra points for racial tolerance to offset the county’s official Confederate History Month.

+7 Official NASCAR Driver: Denny Hamlin. OK, this sends mixed signals, we know. But it is his hometown.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Well done, Dear Abby

Dear Abby is a vocal straight ally. From MSN.

Jeanne Phillips, who formally took over the column when her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease five years ago, has continued plugging the group, as well as its affiliate for parents with children who identify as transgender, and a suicide hot line aimed at gay teenagers.

“I’m trying to tell kids if they are gay, it’s OK to be gay. I’ve tried to tell families if they have a gay family member to accept them and love them as they always have,” she said Friday.
PFLAG director Jody Huckaby said Abby is the perfect choice for the first “Straight for Equality” award, part of the group’s new campaign to engage more heterosexuals as allies.

Monday, October 08, 2007

October is Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Domestic violence is an issue very personal to me. Here are a few facts about it and some local events.

·Domestic violence is virtually impossible to measure with absolute precision due to numerous complications, including the social stigma that inhibits victims from disclosing their abuse and the varying definitions of abuse used from study to study. Estimates range from 691,710 incidents of violence against a current or former partner per year to three million women who are physically abused by their husband or boyfriend per year.

·In 2001, about 85 percent of victimizations by intimate partners were against women (588,490) and 15 percent of victimizations were against men (103,220).

·Nearly one-third of American women (31 percent) report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives.

·Every nine seconds in the United States, a woman is beaten by her husband, boyfriend or live-in partner

·Thirty percent of Americans say they know a woman who has been physically abused by her husband or boyfriend in the past year.

·70% of men who abuse their female partners also abuse their children

·Domestic violence is often passed on to the next generation: Boys who witness domestic violence are three times more likely to hit their wives than those who have not. Data also suggests that girls who witness maternal abuse may tolerate abuse as adults more than girls who do not.

·Up to 50% of all homeless women and children are fleeing domestic violence. (Schneider, Legal Reform Efforts for Battered Women, 1990)

Things that might be keeping you from saying something:
The violence can’t really be that serious. Dating violence includes threats, pushing, punching, slapping, choking, sexual assault, and assault with weapons. It is rarely a one-time occurrence and usually escalates in frequency and severity. Even if the violence is “only” verbal, it can seriously affect the victim’s health and well-being, so any act of dating violence is something to take seriously.

My friend must be doing something to provoke the violence. A victim of dating violence is never to blame for another person’s choice to use violence against her/him. Problems exist in any relationship, but the use of violence is never acceptable.

If it’s so bad, why doesn’t s/he just leave? Your friend’s emotional ties to her/his partner may be strong, supporting the hope that the violence will end. Perhaps your friend doesn’t know about available resources, or maybe social and justice systems may have been unhelpful in the past. Perhaps when your friend has tried to end the relationship in the past, her/his partner may have used violence to stop her/him.

I shouldn’t get involved in a private matter. Dating violence is not a “personal problem”. It is a crime with serious repercussions for your friend, your friend’s partner, your campus, and your entire community.

I know the abusive person– I really don’t think he/she could hurt anyone. Many abusers are not violent in other relationships and can be charming in social situations, yet be extremely violent in private.

The abusive person must be sick. Using violence and abuse is a learned behavior, not a mental illness. People who use violence and abuse to control their partners choose such behavior; viewing them as “sick” wrongly excuses them from taking responsibility for it.

How can my friend still care for someone who abuses her/him? Chances are, the abuser is not always abusive. S/he may show remorse for the violence after it happens and promise to change. Your friend may understandably hope for such changes. Their relationship probably involves good times, bad times, and in-between times.
If you are living in an abusive relationship, help is available:
Virginia Family Violence & Sexual Assault Hotline - 1.800.838.8238

I am delighted to see that The Clothesline Project is reappearing at VCU this year. I'm just devastated that they're only having it during the day so only VCU kids can see it.

The Clothesline Project gives victim/survivors who have been affected by violence a chance to express their emotions through the decoration of a shirt. The shirt is then hung on display as a testimony to the problem of violence against women.
Date: Wednesday, October 10th, 2007
Time: 10:00am – 4:00 pm
Place: VCU Student Commons Plaza
Beating Hearts--Stories of Domestic Violence. Interactive.

Some of these just make your heart pang. I almost get teary at work reading these again.

Then he turned to me and his eyes scared me. He just stared at me, like a blind person does, without blinking. And he told me he was going to get the back hoe, and after he dug the hole, he was putting me and the kids in it. He said the only thing he hadn't decided was whether he'd kill us first, or just bury us alive.

Sexism, Identity, and Intimacy in a Pornographic Culture
Lecture by Dr. Gail Dines;
What does it meant to live in a stomach stapling, breast enhancing, diet loving, hook up junk-sex culture? Why is porn to sex, what McDonald’s is to food? Why does porn ruin men’s sex lives as well as women’s? Why do women’s magazines do stories about the dangers of over-dieting and then only use size two models? Why do the media celebrate Paris, Brittany and Lindsay and denigrate feminists? Why is porn more profitable than the Hollywood film and music industries combined? These are just some of the questions answered in Gail Dines’ compelling lecture.

Sponsored by: VCUVOX - a student run organization affiliated with the nationally-run Planned Parenthood- Contact: Leah Fremouw at
Date: Thursday, October 11, 2007
Time: 7:00 pm
Place: VCU Student Commons - Richmond Salons 3 & 4
A Rose for Toni - A dramatic monologue about the dynamics of dating violence. The story is conveyed through the character of Toni, a nineteen-year-old young woman who grew up in a physically abusive home. Although, Toni recognizes physical abuse, her current relationship depicts symbolic, emotional, and verbal abuse. The audience will become emotionally engaged with the plight of Toni as the story of this abusive relationship unfolds.

Date: Tuesday, October 16th, 2007
Time: 7:00pm
Place: VCU Commons Theater