Posts Tagged ‘Feminism’

Skechers (Yeah, more shoes)

November 16, 2009

So, the trend of shoes as “exercise technology” is pretty popular lately. I actually remembered seeing these Skechers commercials over the summer, a video on loop in the store while I shopped.

I like skechers because of the focus on comfort, and am overall more pleased with this video than the Reebok one.  Well, maybe “pleased” isn’t the right way to put it, because I’m still pretty annoyed.  Maybe just less offended?

The video above shows a workout that doesn’t require you to go to the gym.  The “stronger, healther, happier you” part is all well and good, as well as the alleged health benefits and the “natural” way to walk.  At the same time, I’m not happy when the woman announcing speaks of a “more attractive you” or emphasizes multiple times that these shoes will get rid of cellulite.  As far as I’m concerned, cellulite isn’t exactly an unnatural phenomenon.  I don’t like the way it is picked on as something wrong here.  You can be in good shape and healthy yet still have cellulite, or still be “overweight” and I really don’t like the way this is pitched in that manner.   It suggests that you cannot view yourself as attractive unless you fit what they and the rest of the media are selling, that you cannot find your own shape attractive, nor can anyone else, and there is the assumption that you will automatically be unhappy if you don’t.

I was surprised to find out that Skechers also makes Shape ups for men. Why? Because I don’t see any of them in this advertisement.  In fact, I only googled them to double-check my assumption that they didn’t exist.  I’m curious as to how many men buy shape ups versus women and what part of the marketing gets them: cellulite or healthy workout? Both? I don’t know.

I’m all for healthy toning of muscles and exercise, a little hesitant to accept these “shoe miracles” as a solution for that, and very peeved that the “more attractive you” means getting rid of all your “flaws” rather than just feeling good about yourself/your health.

What do you think?  Is skechers really significantly better in this campaign than Reebok?  Worse in some way? Do you prefer their infomercial, exercise technology appeal? Let me know.


Remember those Reebok shoes?

November 16, 2009

Remember those really offensive, sexist Reebok ads?

Well, I decided to write them at their corporate address and tell them what I thought.  Here is my original email, which I will admit is rather angry, but can you blame me after seeing the ads?

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing because I am disgusted by your campaign for the EasyTone Shoe line. The commercials I have seen are revoltingly sexist and don’t even seem all that targeted to women, unless, of course, our sole purpose is to attract men. (It isn’t.)  I see this marketing as a giant step backwards. I don’t find the “pervy cameraman” angle funny, or the “jealous breasts” or any of the statistics about men and “jealous women.”  While I have worn Reebok in the past, I will not be making another purchase until your company makes a public apology for these advertisements. That doesn’t mean just making them disappear. It means admitting that they are wrong and objectifying.

Hometown, State

Today I was surprised to open my inbox and find that I had received a reply. Here is what they had to say [Anything in bold is my emphasis]:

Hello M,

Thank you very much for your feedback.  All consumer feedback is helpful, as it provides us with an understanding of the public perception and opinion of our products and marketing.

The Reebok EasyTone ads were created to clearly illustrate the unique benefits of the footwear in a fun and bold way. The feedback we have received tells us that many consumers look at the ads in exactly that light, however we acknowledge that some consumers do take exception with the content of the ads.

You can be assured that your feedback will be relayed directly to our marketing team.

Reebok Corporate Communications

So, I am glad that my words will be “relayed” to marketing.  At the same time, I’m a little annoyed that rather than apologizing in any way, they merely “acknowledge” that I am one of “some” people who take offense, while “many” see it their way.  Why do those “many” come first in the response to me?  How many people wrote in saying these were “bold and fun”? Can we count the men making obscene, objectifying comments about the lead woman? They’d probably agree.

See, the ads aren’t really about what Reebok is advertising… They are only as bad as the public makes them.  It’s all about “perception” and so they company could not possibly admit they have made an error at all.

And in what manner do they clearly illustrate the benefits of the shoe? These are typical images of sexualized women with a few glorified butt shots and a lot of nudity if you watch all the ads in this campaign… The statistics given don’t just provide  numbers on muscle build, but refer to the percentage of men who will be attracted to you if you use the shoes (more than 80%) and women who will be jealous of you.  I’ve hear suggestions that these stats don’t match in the aired versions versus the paper versions over at Ad Rant.

Wear these shoes -> Be a sexual commodity.

Also, the shoes are designed to be “harder” to walk in, yet “comfortable”, so you can walk less but get more exercise I guess?  An “easy fix” if you can’t fit into a perfect mold yet, eh?

While “many consumers” might think this is all well and good, I’m not one of them, and I will be sticking with my decision not to buy Reebok.

EDIT: You can email them too at corporate at

Religion and Healthcare Hand in Hand (Since When?)

November 16, 2009

So one of my latest peeves in this whole Stupak mess is that the Catholic Church can lobby. I don’t just mean members of the church. I mean the church as a powerful, political body (one that apparently is not separate from State). Why is it they can pull these strings and call these meetings and do so much damage? I’m so irritated, because I know the truth, that even Catholic women get abortions, that many Catholics are pro-choice, not adhering to every declaration of the religion. That doesn’t seem to matter though, and I’m just supposed to offer up the rights to my own body so the church doesn’t cause a fuss and help tank healthcare? No way.

Whose Team Is It, Anyway? By Katha Pollitt

Feminism Friday: Politics, Medicine and Religion – Three’s a Crowd

Stupak’s God in Our Government

Self Explanatory

November 13, 2009

Watch Jon Stewart tackle the guys who voted against the Franken amendment (all Republicans) and who are more interested in protecting Halliburton than rape victims.  Stewart says it all.

Today I’m reading…

November 12, 2009

Wimpy, Wimpy Wimpy: Democrats Are Dithering On Issue Of Abortion

anti stupak [I recommend signing the Open Letter.]

When Actresses Turn Ugly [An article provided by CNN on how actresses get down and “dowdy” to win awards, calling their “after” pictures outright ugly and praising them as beautiful in the “dolled up” shots.  According to this writer, gaining 20lbs apparently means “trashing an enviable figure.” Way to suck, CNN.

Oh, and Stupak promises, “There will Be Hell To Pay” if people don’t support his amendment.  I, on the other hand, think there will be hell to pay if they don’t eliminate this because we cannot stand for this kind of ignorant, misogynistic legislation.

A Gathering Storm… A Political Lysistrata


Rejecting genre fiction vs growing up [“The attitude talked about here, where women will read books aimed at women OR men, whereas men refuse to even try books written by or marketed to women, is so common as to be systematic. Little girls will happily read books with a male or female narrator/main character; little boys want male leads. Women will respond to ads with voice-overs by men or by women; men will ignore ads voiced by women (unless it’s an extremely sultry voice implying super hotness in an ad for alcohol). Men will get quite shitty with and contradict their GPS navigation system when the voice is female. I am not kidding. They did a study or something.”]

Really, reebok?

November 10, 2009

I’m a little bit proud, not of this commercial (for Reebok Easy Tone Shoes], but the fact that my boyfriend was the one to notice it first and point out how horrible it is.  Am I supposed to be amused that to this “camera guy” the woman in the advert is only a butt and nothing else about her matters. We don’t even need to hear here, just see butt + shoes… great combination.  I’m in no rush to pick up a pair of reeboks anytime soon.

[This commercial aired at about 3:00 today on the CW]

I know youtube comments are notoriously foul and stupid, but here are a few of my favorite responses to the ad:

illadelp28 (2 hours ago) 
She has no booty!!! WTF. They need to have…lets say…Serena Williams, now that booty is not only big but in shape.
VikingsDefenseFan (4 hours ago)
If I were Adam, she would be my Eve. I don’t care about her butt. My brain already had an orgasm at her stunning face and body. Mmmm…
So, we can claim her as our “eve”, we can critique her “b
ooty” or lack thereof and pick her apart, and the guy who argues:
If this commercial wasn’t promoting shoes that are supposedly going to give a woman a better butt I would agree with you. Since they are going through so much trouble to focus on the ass though they should give women something to truly aspire towards lol. A booty can be toned AND a little plump.
The “ass” debate goes on for ages, it seems, but the first page ends with this illuminating comment:
BIGBOY219900 (16 hours ago) Show Hide
yes there r better ones but i would still f*** her
I keep hearing the argument that women aren’t so objectified by the media, that they take pride in displaying their bodies in this manner, that this is what women want and are around for anyway.  You can argue that youtube commenters are often the lowest of the low and that trolls abound, but look at this, and try to tell me that this doesn’t reflect real conversations in society, real commentary, and the fact that everyone is so accepting of this disgusting objectification of human beings.
[The comment thread is here:
and I wouldn’t recommend looking at it for too long. I’ve only found one comment calling the commercial demeaning in the first twenty or thirty comments.  I’ve found a ton of disgusting ones including  a joke “I bet she got raped” after this. Um what? I wish sometimes people had to be responsible for what they wrote there. I’d love to just have a few moments to tell one of these people in person what I think…]


November 8, 2009

This Stupak amendment has me furious.  When will we stop shoving women’s healthcare and women’s rights aside. Why can’t religion take its nose out of politics and out of my uterus too?  Sure, abortion is still a legal, medical procedure. They haven’t outlawed it, and won’t by introducing this amendment that outlaws any govt funding through insurance for abortion.  What happened to comprehensive healthcare. First the govt gets to decide how people pay? And now they get to say what kind of treatment you can have? Why aren’t other procedures or medicines under attack: viagra, invitro,  lung cancer treatment for smokers (after all, they asked for it right), liver treatment for alcoholics? Oh, wait, I forgot pregnancy isn’t a real medical condition of any sort.

So rich women will still be able to get abortions. Poor women who rely on any govt funding or who just cant afford anything else won’t. I’ve read that you could still buy separate insurance coverage to cover abortions. Wtf? A completely different policy? and for how much more money?

I want fair comprehensive health care, which is supposed to be what reform is about, not a bunch of people working one step closer to eliminating access to women’s healthcare. In the meantime they arent pushing for better contraceptives or reproductive care.

I’m hopping mad.

High School Observations

October 26, 2009

Today I got a little reminder of what I’m going to be up against in high school.  My observation class was watching the tail end of Million Dollar Baby, a movie I had heard a lot about, but not actually seen.

I got to see the big fight seen with the infamous stool.  I got to see the opponent who fights dirty.  I got to hear students call her a “heman” and a “sheman” as a result of her musculature, her facial structure, her lack of hilary swankness.  While the character is an antagonist, the actress herself is a real person, and a real woman, and in no need of an attack on whatever gender she may be… Judging from her IMDB page Lucia Rijker fits into society’s norm for a “woman” well enough. (She appears “softer” in other photos, and more sexualized in some.)  But the 9th graders I saw today thought Billie the Bear was a horrific example of sheman androgyny and made sooo many jokes against her in such an inappopriate fashion.  Imagine what it’s like to live with those comments made about you everyday, yet these comments come with no remorse or thought for this person, no recognition that we don’t have a world of two perfect, separate genders- especially if we are basing them on sex, which society allows only one definition of (male or female).  In reality biological sex is not that simple with many people experiencing variations, and gender just renders it all the more complicated.

Another question- why is the antagonist so much more masculine and ungirly as far as stereotypes are concerned? Why does Swank’s hair have to be “prettier”?   (And why do we consider any style prettier than another?)Why is it the the transgression to a more masculine build and the bear nickname makes a villian while Swank has a sweet nickname that the students explained to me means “Beloved” or some variation thereof?

Here’s the other part that bothered me… When protagonist Swank is paralyzed in the hospital, she receives a highly non sexual spongebath. She is suffering from skin ulcers. Her body is largely covered by a towel, no more nude than if she were in a sun dress or something… yet I heard at least one boy say “hey dude you can almost see her boobs.”  Where is the compassion in these kids or the recognition that this is a portrayal of human suffering that should not be watched for the kickback of almost seeing boobs… What are their parents showing them at home?

What is society showing them?  Am I the only one bothered by this?  When she tries to kill herself by biting her tongue, why do they joke and laugh loudly? Why do they joke about killing her and not getting caught? Are they just immature and unable to handle the content? Is there more to it?  Why do they laugh at people getting punched over and over, losing blood and teeth? Is it okay as long as it’s a villain? Is it okay because the directors intend it to be humorous? Is it okay because it’s only a game? It’s only a movie?

Psst PS: After further googling and reading on I realized that this woman is actually a boxer and also assisted in training Swank for the movie.  I didn’t catch this at first because, well, I don’t know anything about boxing.

Life updates, Taking back the streets, & Cosmo critiques

October 23, 2009

So, after my last shadowing visit at the local high school, I am actually a bit more excited about shadowing.  I mean, it did have perks before, but it figures it’d only get really interesting once I got to my last few hours.  I only have two required visits left, but I may do a few bonus hours.

The reason I am excited is that my mentor-teacher told me about a program she is doing for high school age girls after school.  It involves discussions about a spectrum of issues from body image to relationships.  Of course, you’ll agree, these are all intertwined if you remember high school.  I asked to stop by for their first meeting and she accepted quickly, so I’m hoping to get involved.

I’m considering asking to observe a few foreign language classes just so I can get a feel for those as well in case I pursue my secondary certification. (Which I think is basically going to be a requirement for my marketability back up North.)

Another bit of information: I’ve been browsing through Hollaback NYC which lets men and women report street harassment. I’ve seen programs like this before and have to say I’m a fan of it.  I don’t think I’m overreacting when I explain that having people yell and catcall at me from cars or streetcorners makes my blood boil.  It’s not acceptable behavior, period.

And now… a few looks at COSMOPOLITAN based on my browsing of this all-knowing mag’s website.  I’ve found three highlights for today:

1. 5 Signs Your Boss is Secretly Hitting on You (Ashley Womble): This article outlines signs your boss is into you or moves that indicate “there’s a good chance your boss wants to get it on.”  These include things like asking too many questions about your personal life or sharing too much of his.

Womble is correct when she suggests,

But when your boss starts to pry about who you’re sleeping with or mentions that he’s tired of going home to an empty bed (or the one with his wife in it), he’s crossed the line.

But she misses the mark with her advice…

Here’s how to deal: You don’t have to answer any questions that give you the “uh-oh” feeling. Instead, wince and say, “Oh, it’s really complicated.” When he’s the one giving you way TMI, try to end the conversation as quickly as possible by acting bored

While these might work to end a conversation, Womble doesn’t suggest telling him that the topic is too personal. Instead you have to point out how “complicated” your life is? Or hint at some sort of problem that isn’t his?

This brings me back to the subtitle I almost missed:

Cosmo tells you how to ward off his advances without losing your job.

What? Since when is that the natural result of “warding” off unwanted advances or rejecting a man who may be interested in you. While a normal date invitation doesn’t warrant much more than a polite “No” or an “I’m unavailable”, it also shouldn’t yield a repeat event.

Not until tip number 5 does Womble suggest going to HR (or your division of the EEO or another forum for a discrimination/harassment complaint)- and a boss who asks who you are sleeping with, buys you secret gifts, or frequently makes personal calls to you is engaging in inappropriate behavior.

Why is it that even a woman’s magazine tells us how to just “deal” with these things without losing our jobs?

Here’s how to deal: You can try piling papers and coffee cups on your desk so there’s nowhere to sit, but if he’s touching you and making you feel uncomfortable, you should really head straight to HR. When it comes time to face him after filing a complaint, say, “I have respect for you as my boss, but this job is very important to me and I take my work seriously. To be honest, I’m afraid that your attentions will end up hurting my chances of success.” He may be pissed, but, trust us, that’ll be the end of it.

There should be no need to defend a desk.  You shouldn’t have to make up the popular fake boyfriend. It might seem nicer, but it’s no necessity. No one should question your decision not to date a coworker or boss based on the fact that you are single. (Also, having worked in the field of discrimination and harassment claims for a time, I know that the complaint is not necessarily “the end of it” and that the process can be very trying.)

Other nitpicks:

*Secretly? Really? Because these examples don’t seem like such a big secret, and maybe shutting down the tiny problems with something other than fake excuses that aren’t supposed to hurt his feelings would prevent the eventual big problem… Why let them step so far over the line before actually stating “This is unwanted attention.”

*That the article is also advertised with the phrase “Office Romance: Bad Boss Behavior” as if the boss is a naughty child who must be thwarted and out-smarted.  And Romance? Sexual harassment is not romance. Unwanted, non-consensual attention is not a romance.


2. 10 Ways to Get Revenge on an Ex: This one speaks for itself…

You know his best friend — the guy he can’t live without? Show up at his apartment wearing only a trench coat.

Ah, yes, sexual warfare. Always healthy. Nevermind all the Cosmo articles about how awful men are who sleep with their girl’s BFF pre or post breakup…

Number 3 is a reminder that women too can practice sexual harassment:

Decorate his car with a bumper sticker that declares “Small penis onboard.”

Because believe me, few people would stand for a guy spray painting
“small breasts” on his ex’s car- even if she did “break his heart.”

Number 5 is a reminder that women can only win men with their bodies, and that their bodies are the perfect tools for just about everything. (No problem in a society where you can use a woman’s body to sell anything from a hamburger to a car.)

Become really, really, really hot.

Same goes for

Casually mention to him that you finally got around to all those kinky sexual fantasies he was dying to try with you and, well, they’re fantastic.

Let’s not pretend there is anything healthy about this, or the pregnancy scare idea proposed in number 9.

The other suggestions are meant to elicit a few chuckles with great ideas like pyrotechnic vandalism or remote control burglary, none of which are really funny.


3. Guy Confessions: Let’s start with Cosmo’s own description

Tell us all about your most outrageous behavior and disgraceful deeds. Whether it’s a romantic ploy, workplace scam, or revenge on an ex, send in the details and your story might appear in a future issue of Cosmo. Don’t worry about ruining your rep; names are changed to protect the guilty.

Now, apparently you can’t read these juicy tidbits online, at least not that I can find so far, but I’ve flipped through them a few times in the store.  It’s a nice little glory spot for guys who lie to and trick women, often in the most disgusting ways, and while participating in or maintaining what we’ll call “intimate” relations.  (I will add that there a bound to be a few funny date flubs or the caught-my-ex-cheating scenarios, but I’ll focus my anger on the nastier ones full of ill-intent) Feel free to send a few my way if you find them, so we can wonder why anyone would read them and still be able to laugh. The letters that have stuck with me from past perusals only bring degradation to mind, and tend to outnumber the tamer confessions. (Cheating on a woman is not funny. Neither is cheating on a man. Apart from the severe moral dilemma of being unfaithful, you are also opening your partner up to sexual risks they did not sign on for, and in your care-free affairs you might be passing on a few things no one wants.)

Oh and don’t worry, women have their own confessions section which can prove equally as disturbing though the section does tend to have a broader base (meaning more letters about questionably humorous sexcapades and some wardrobe mishaps make it in too).

“”My friend Liz had just been dumped by her boyfriend of two years, and she was obsessed with the idea of finding a hot guy to hook up with…A bunch of us were going to Las Vegas for the weekend, and she had been sending e-mail all week about how it was our job to find her a man while we were there. I was sick and tired of hearing about it, and it was the last thing I wanted to think about while I was trying to have fun. When we arrived, Liz was being really annoying, and she kept pointing out guys and telling us to go talk to them for her. That night, I saw her flirting with a gorgeous guy at the bar. He got up to go to the bathroom, and I walked right up to him and said in my most serious voice that I thought he should know she had a long history of mental problems. He ended up going home with me.” –Sarah, 27

“Back in college, I had been hooking up with my friend Jack, but we weren’t exclusive. At his frat house one night, Jack told me that we were going to have to put our relationship on hold for a while because he had started dating a girl named Sarah. I was so jealous, I went upstairs and took a pair of Jack’s dirty tightie-whities from his hamper, mounted them under the glass of a huge frame, and sent it to Sarah’s dorm with a note that read ‘Jack’s a great guy. Welcome to our circle of friends.'” –Leann, 24

There is really too much to go into in all this mess and it really makes me wonder about people in general and why we have such a tough time being nice to each other and not mutually objectifying each other.

As a friend of mine wrote recently:

I thought it was common knowlege that Cosmo encourages mutually exclusive goals of snagging as many men as possible yet keeping a steady relationship going, as well as enforcing absurd body images for women.

So here’s my last jab at cosmo, and my suggestion to readers… Take a look at the article headlines on each page and see how many don’t fit in to one of these:

The ____ you must try! (to make yourself attractive)

The solution to make (body part) (fuller/longer/straighter/skinnier/toned/sexier)

The sexy new _____

X Ways to Wow your Man

X new moves you have to try

X tips to maintain a relationship

X tips to snag men (and to date many of them)

The Secret to _________

Guys’ Secrets, Girls’ Secrets

Why he cheats

And some examples

Ten Things Men Don’t Want to Hear in Bed (Including “I’m a Virgin” because,  “A virgin in the sack means she will probably be both terrible at sex and emotional before, during, and after.” ‘Cause heaven forbid he have to consider her emotions…)

Alright, I feel like this analysis is getting out of hand because there is just too much out there that is wrong, wrong, wrong.