NBA Players Apologize for Nude Photos on the Internet

The San Antonio Spurs’ George Hill became the second NBA player within a month toapologize for nude pictures of him that popped up on the internet.  Previously, the Portland Trailblazers’ Greg Oden apologized for nude photos of him that he had sent to his girlfriend but got onto the internet.  Here is what Hill said (through a statement released by his team): A year ago I made a mistake and take full responsibility for my actions. I have matured and learned from this episode. Somehow, I doubt that it will hurt their careers.  In fact, since George Hill is not very well known, it might even help him.  (Of course, he will be hearing a lot of things from fans when he is at away games.)  I wonder what would have happened if it had been a female professional athlete in a female professional league whose nude photos had surfaced on the internet....
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Delayed Sex, or Safe Sex?

There’s an editorial today in the New York Times, summarizing a recent study that seems to have favorable findings for abstinence-only education. The study focused on 622 African-American middle schoolers, and found that those who received abstinence-only teachings were less likely to have had sex in the follow-up period than those who received more comprehensive lesson plans. The NYT article is appropriately skeptical about absintence-only groups using this information as proof that their argument is correct. A key difference between the approach tested and the Bush Administration agenda, is that morality and marriage is left out of the equation. The students in this study weren’t taught to wait for marriage, specifically, just to wait until they’re more ‘mature.’ And the focus was on avoiding pregnancy and STDs, not about morals, or virginity for some religious reason. Furthermore, I have doubts about the the findings being completely reliable. For one, is this replicable across other demographics? Secondly, there’s no hard evidence – only self reports about sexual activity. It doesn’t seem wholly implausible for those in the abstinence group to have a lower rate of reported sexual intercourse. If kids in this group were told to abstain, they may feel less comfortable with reporting otherwise. But most importantly, the study focuses on delayed behaviors– not safer ones. Nowhere in the NYT article does the author call in to question whether the goal of sex education should be to delay sex, or teach healthy, safe methods? Is this about not having sex early, or not having sex dangerously? Ultimately, what are we trying to ...
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Women and Computer Games

Last week, I wrote about a survey that had asked nearly 1,000 middle school students to rate the way they used cellphones.  The result was that both the girls and boys used their cellphones to talk and text, but, the boys, in addition to talking and texting, also used the phones to “play games, share photos and videos, listen to music and send e-mails.” I took issue with the assumptions that the author (sociologist Shelia Cotten) had used when talking about what the results meant.  She said she was surprised that the boys used the phones just as much as the girls for talking and texting because she thought that more “girls would use cellphones for talking and texting because females are socialized to communicate more with others than males.”   She also said that her assumption for why more boys than girls used the phones for game-playing, music, and e-mail was that “emales traditionally have perceived themselves as less skilled in terms of technology, especially with regard to computers.”  My point was that it would have been better for the author to talk about the stereotyping that underlines “socialization” rather than her “assumptions” about perceived differences. In any event, her assumptions about electronics use don’t necessarily hold up.  I just saw an article in the United Kingdom Marketing Week that talks about the “2009 UK National Gamers Survey.”  According to Stephen Yap, one of the managers of the group that funded the survey, the results show that “ has increased in popularity across all age groups. It’s ...
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Boys vs. Girls on Cellphones

In December, there was a study published in the journal New Media and Society by University of Alabama at Birmingham sociologist Shelia Cotten.  Cotten had asked nearly 1,000 middle school students to rate the way they used cellphones.  The result was that both the girls and boys used their cellphones to talk and text, but, the boys, in addition to talking and texting, also used the phones to “play games, share photos and videos, listen to music and send e-mails.” I don’t know if other studies show similar results.  But what bothers me about the study were the assumptions that Cotten used when talking about what the results meant.  She said she was surprised that the boys used the phones just as much as the girls for talking and texting.  The reason that she was surprised was because she thought that more “girls would use cellphones for talking and texting because females are socialized to communicate more with others than males.”   And her assumption for why more boys than girls used the phones for game-playing, music, and e-mail was that “emales traditionally have perceived themselves as less skilled in terms of technology, especially with regard to computers.” I’m always nervous when I see the words “socialized” or “perceived themselves.”  All that really means is that different cultures cause stereotypes to be used for different groups and that many individuals in those groups come to think of themselves in terms of the stereotypes.  In other words, if a girl thinks that the culture thinks of her as being ...
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Ecofeminism: The “Last Great Hope” for the Environment?

Neither Emily nor I are fans of using labels to describe different aspects of the feminism movement.  That was reinforced to me when I read an article titled “Ecofeminism: our last great hope?” by Allan Irving, who is an environmental professor at King’s Univerity College of the University of Western Ontario.  Although I had never been aware of the term “ecofeminism” before, according to Irving, it has been around since 1974, when French feminist Francoise d’Eaubonne used the term “ecofeminisme” in her book Le Feminisme ou la mourt, which “strongly linked the devaluation of both women and the earth.”  The book opined that women had used sound ecological methods, but that they were almost always disrupted by male-dominated interests.  d’Eaubonne said that a complete revolution in thought and action was necessary and that, if ecofeminists were listened to, “our planet, close to women, would become verdant again for everyone.” So far, so good.  Unfortunately, Irving gets into a discussion of how, in his view, women came to be associated with nature because of being “passive” compared to males who were “active” and that “this dualism between an active subject and passive object suggests literally man who receives, interprets, and organizes the sense data of a passive objective nature.”  He even provides the quote from Aristotle that ““the female, as female, is passive and the male, as male, is active, and the principle of movement comes from him.”  He brings Francis Bacon into the picture by saying that Bacon: urged his new “man of science” to force from nature ...
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Burqa and Other Veils

Britain Joins Debate Over the Burqa

In my last post about French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s support for a proposed ban on women wearing burqas in all public places, I wrote that he had essentially stopped trying to say he was proposing the ban in order to help women’s rights and now was simply showing his prejudice against Muslims. His countrymen shared his prejudice, since a majority of them agreed with him that burqas should be banned from public places. Because of the prejudice shown by the French, along with the move by the Swiss to ban minarets, I ended my post by saying “Yes, some truly frightening things are going on in Europe.” The prejudice by European conservatives has now spread to the United Kingdom.  The leader of the UK Independence Party has now called for the burqa to be banned in public places.  The reasons he gave are the “growing threat of Islamism” and that the burqa is a symbol of an “increasingly divided Britain“.  Predictably, he added that “We are not Muslim-bashing, but this is incompatible with Britain’s values of freedom and democracy.”  Other efforts in Europe include the four-year attempts in the Netherlands to ban the burqa and, more generally, to ban religious clothing in schools.  In Germany, several states have implemented bans on veils and scarves and their courts have upheld them. A French parliamentary report on the issue of burqas is due at the end of January.  Will anyone be surprised if the report agrees with Sarkozy?...
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Advertising

Consumerism, Sexualization, and Breast Cancer

I was on Facebook yesterday when I started noticing my friends posting names of colors on their statuses. “Beige!” some of them said. “Black,” and “Purple,” were other popular posts. And then there was one notable “Hot Pink!” paired with a wink face emoticon, that received about 10 ‘likes’ from male users. I had no idea why my Facebook friends were naming colors, and so I googled it. Apparently, yesterday Facebook users were supposed to write the color of the bra they were wearing, a meme designed in the name of “Breast Cancer Awareness.” Typing bra colors would take over Facebook’s News Feed, as the viral campaign intended, and would therefore prompt users to ‘think’ about breast cancer. I definitely  noticed some reaction on my Facebook News Feed by my friends’ bra color announcements, but none of it seemed to be breast cancer related. In fact, I’m pretty sure cancer wasn’t on anyone’s minds. Rather, there were a bunch of ‘thumbs up’ from guys, or comments like “ow ow!” or “purrr” or “sexxxy,” from male and female users alike. This certainly isn’t the first time something ‘sexy’ or commercialized has been done in the name of breast cancer awareness. In fact, ‘breast cancer awareness’ is everywhere. Absolutely everywhere. Walk down any aisle of the grocery store, and half the products you see will come with a pink ribbon on the packaging, or advertisements that some portion of a sale will go to breast cancer research. Products like Kraft Mac & Cheese or Fritos vow that by purchasing their good, you’re joining the ...
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Is Sarah Palin’s Newsweek Cover Sexist?

There’s been a lot of buzz about the latest Newsweek cover, which depicts Sarah Palin posing like a beauty queen in running shorts and sneakers. Palin herself has spoken out against the cover, stating: The choice of photo for the cover of this week’s Newsweek is unfortunate. When it comes to Sarah Palin, this “news” magazine has relished focusing on the irrelevant rather than the relevant. The Runner’s World magazine one-page profile for which this photo was taken was all about health and fitness – a subject to which I am devoted and which is critically important to this nation. The out-of-context Newsweek approach is sexist and oh-so-expected by now. If anyone can learn anything from it: it shows why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, gender, or color of skin. The media will do anything to draw attention – even if out of context. A lot of people agree with what she’s saying, even if they don’t like her politics. Still, others make the point that she did participate in this photoshoot, even though it wasn’t for this magazine, and she’s made the decision to shape her image this way. I’m torn. Personally, I want Sarah Palin to go away. But, you know, if wishes were horses… Therefore, given what we have to work with, I don’t agree with Newsweek’s choice to use this photo. (Though from a business perspective I understand why they’d do this). Palin’s right that it’s been taken out of context to make her look silly and trivialized. I’d make the argument that ...
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Health Reform Win, Right-to-Choose Loss

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, the House passed the health reform bill last night. It’s a big step toward health care reform in the US. Although there’s certainly a long journey ahead for the bill, after months of infamous townhall meetings, bickering over inclusion of a public option, and vicious attacks from both Democrats and Republicans, it’s a pretty big accomplishment. But amid the cautious celebratory mood progressives are undoubtedly in, there’s a shadow that should be looming over all of us. The House has passed a bill that has an absolute and utter lack of protection of abortion rights. Congresswoman Schakowsky says, via The Nation: This amendment goes far beyond current law which already bans the use of federal funding for abortions. It goes far beyond the language already in this bill that guarantees no federal dollars are used for abortion. This amendment says that a woman CANNOT purchase coverage that includes abortion services using her own dollars; middle class women, using exclusively their own money will be prohibited from purchasing a plan including abortion coverage in every single public OR PRIVATE INSURANCE PLAN in the new health care exchange. Basically, not only is abortion coverage excluded from any public option, and federal funds blocked from covering the procedure, but any woman who receives any form of subsidy or government support for health care will not be allowed to purchase insurance relating to abortion. This includes any private insurance plan. And any private companies that participate in the new system will have to drop any coverage ...
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Off Topic: What Type of a Vegetarian Are You?

I call myself a vegetarian.  By that, I mean that I don’t eat meat, poultry, or fish.  However, I do eat dairy and egg products and therefore am not a vegan.  Technically, I am an octo-lavo vegetarian. I think my definition matches up with the definition given by the Vegitarian Society of Britain (which I read today on the BBC’s web site).  That definition is: A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish or crustacean, or slaughter byproducts. This also matches with the definition given by Juliet Gellatley, director of the vegan and vegetarian group Viva, who was responding to whether fish eaters can call themselves vegetarian: They cannot. The definition is very clear. It’s someone who doesn’t eat anything from a killed animal. And so it was funny to read in the article about other categories used by people who consider themselves some type of a vegitarian.  Here are some of those names: Strict Vegetarian Othodox Vegitarian Proper Vegetarian Flexi-Vegan Fish-eating Vegitarian Pescetarian Partly Vegetarian Flexitarian Meat Avoider Meat Reducer Veggie Ethical Meat Eater Fauxgetarian I guess the important point, no matter what type of a vegetarian one calls oneself, is that more and more people are cutting back on the eating of dead animals.  Let’s keep moving in that direction....
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