Women In Election History

1958 maidenfom I dreamed election ad photo by john rawlings Whether or not “you’re with her,” you have to recognize the historical step of Hillary Clinton becoming the first female presumptive presidential nominee for a major U.S. political party. However, she was not the first woman to run for president. Rachel Maddow covered the titillating news (and nervous giggling that ensued) when other women ran for president of the United States of America. Maddow’s coverage includes vintage news clips reporting on Maine Senetor Margaret Chase Smith’s run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1964 and when Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American congresswoman from New York State, ran for Democratic presidential nomination in 1972.

Thankfully, there were no advertisements, real or parody, featuring any of the candidates in their underthings. A sign of minimal respect, perhaps. But then, the Maidenform “I Dreamed I won the election” ad from 1958 must have brought many a chuckle & guffaw. (More on the classic vintage lingerie ad series here & here.)

Dare To Go Topless, Ladies, Legally

Americans are obsessed with breasts. Not just looking at them, judging them, but controlling and legislating them. Like the old “children should be seen and not heard,” there are rules about just how, when, and why breasts are exposed. In public and in private. Even if those breasts are doing the most natural thing in the world: feeding babies. According to the “seen but not heard” societal law, the sucking sounds of an infant clearly ought to be held against the child — except that mothers are blamed for everything, including the soft but necessary noises of a nursing infant.

But we all know it’s not the noises thing that bothers people so. It’s the sight of a nipple. Even the fear of seeing a nipple outrages folks. Sadly, we are not winning this fight for the right to bare our breasts. But Robyn and Michelle Lytle, a Chicago-based couple, are on a mission to fight it. In a not-so-subtle way. They are the women behind The TaTa Top Shop, which sells TaTa Tops: bikini tops in various flesh shades — complete with nipples.

free the nipple nude bikini top tata top shop

Now, before you think this is some sort of gag gift thing, like those t-shirts ; it’s not. “The TaTa Top was created in response to current censorship issues regarding women’s bodies.”

Always one to push boundaries and challenge authority, Michelle decided that The TaTa Top was the perfect way to stir things up and get people questioning the current law.

The TaTa Top is far more than nipples on a bikini top. As a brand we work to promote questioning the social norm and digging deeper when it comes to society’s expectations.

…From the very beginning, we knew we wanted to use a sense of humor to shed light on some serious issues while simultaneously raising funds for two areas we are extremely passionate about: breast cancer awareness and women’s rights. It’s great to create a product that makes people laugh, but it’s even better to be able to do something very serious with that success. For each TaTa Top sold, $5 goes directly towards supporting one of our partnered organizations, and this is what it’s all about!

But the couple isn’t above selling a few of these bikini tops for bachelorette parties. I doubt they would mind — or could control — selling them for bachelor parties either. (Because nothing is funnier than a man dressed like a woman, right?) At least the Lytle’s and their charities would get some money. Proving that nipples — at least faux nipples — are good for something.

For more on the TaTa Top, visit their website; follow on Twitter.

I Think You’re Missing The Big Bottom Line In Those “Skinny” Subway Ads

Have you seen Subway’s latest ad ~ the one with the woman who reminds us to “Eat Fresh!” and stay healthy & slim so we can fit into our sexy Halloween costumes?

Jezebel did. And out came the requisite rant. (Have I mentioned I’m getting tired of that?) Of course others had their rants too.

But come on now, let’s face reality. Aren’t all the Halloween costumes for women sexy now? The fact that Subway knows they are shouldn’t really be a surprise. Because just who hasn’t noticed this? There’s a name for it: Slutoween. And, right or wrong, there’s a history behind it. (And, in fact, Hallowe’en began as a holiday for rowdy, bawdy adults, not children.) Whether or not you want to don such sexy apparel is up to you; but stop denying that they are popular. Guess what, $1.4 billion will be spent on adult Halloween costumes. The free-market has dictated that sexy does sell when it comes to Halloween costumes.

With so much money being spent on the costumes, is it any wonder Subway would latch onto our vain desire to look better in those costumes? If our cultural definition of “better looking” is thin (or at least “thinner”), it makes dollars and cents to pull that marketing string. And if you want to cry out in body image outrage (apparently not seeing the shirtless man in the Viking costume at the table, as well as the humor of the commercial itself), go ahead. I’ll cynically counter with the point that Subway also wants us to be alive next year ~ if only to be customers. Having a business that’s all about eating healthier really is a great business model; it really does cost more to acquire new customers than to retain existing customers, you know.

jared_subway_pants Anyway, I think the negative response to this Subway commercial is itself sexist.

Where were the complaints about men having to slim down so they didn’t have to wear those huge pants?

The collective “we” saw that as a healthy move. There was no out-cry then.

But a woman wants to be sexy? A woman who dares to admit she wants to be sexy?

Oh hell no! We simply can’t have any of that!

Meanwhile, Natalie Mitchell, the actress in the ad who models all the sexy costumes (complete with “Foxy Fullback”), is keeping mum until this latest, mainly feminist, frenzy passes. Keep an eye on her Tumblr page for comment.

natalie mitchell foxy fullback subway ad

Politicians: Erect & Standing Up, But Not For Women

Maybe you don’t want to call it a “war on women”. Maybe you find the word “war” to be over-the-top, despite the facts regarding bombings, shootings, rape, and other violent attacks against women, including the places where they seek access to medical care. Perhaps you just don’t think that violence is enough to be called a “war”. But what about when you factor in the legislative bombs aimed directly at women here in the USA?

Legislating against women’s rights is at the center of politics. In the past three years, state legislatures in the US have enacted a record-setting 205 restrictions on women’s reproductive rights. That exceeds the total number of such restrictions enacted during the entire previous decade — and that last decade was no small potatoes either. Between 2001 and 2010, states passed 189 abortion restrictions. (Data from a Guttmacher Institute report.)

women's rights restrictions in states

Legislating against women’s rights is so popular right now, that one candidate for congress in Virginia, Richard Black, thinks that marital rape should be legal again, like it was in 1965, and that military rape is “as predictable as human nature”. That says a lot about his nature. And a lot more about a society in which someone espousing such beliefs can run for office.


Maybe 1965 isn’t so far back that we need a stone tablet to mark the date, but we sure are moving backwards.

And all this while, from 2006 to 2011, Medicaid was paying $175 million for 473,620 claims for penis pumps — you know, so men can have sex. Sex that maybe their spouses didn’t want to have. Sex that maybe resulted in unwanted pregnancies, because, you know, birth control isn’t always an option. It’s a limited option with many private insurance companies and with Medicare. And it’s even less likely that your insurance or Medicare will cover an abortion. But let’s just be glad that men not only have the right to those erections but the access to medical help to force those erections too.  Isn’t it nice to know that men are all about standing up for themselves?

Infuriated & Embarrassed To Be From This State (Abortion Laws In North Dakota)

After calling Gov. Dalrymple, I called my state legislators too. And then I sent this letter via email to all as well in response to all the insanity occurring in North Dakota right now:

Stop these anti-abortion bills. Stop them now.

To wit:

HR 1456, HB 1305, SB 2303, SB 2305, SB 2368

And stop this sort of illegal anti-constitutional actions going forward.

Women’s rights to abortions services, clinics, birth control, and other health services are constitutional rights. If you were a woman and didn’t personally want any of these services, you just wouldn’t partake of them. It’s the same way with religion; walk right past the clinics as you would any church, synagogue, mosque, etc. If you worry about the unborn, trust your faith and leave that to God. You are not to judge. And legally you do not have the right to infringe upon the rights of others.

We women see through your blatant desire to not only remove choice but control women’s bodies and lives. You were not put into office to do this. You have better things to do, better ways to spend your time — our time and money — than on fundamentalist objectives which punish women and their families and indeed takes lives. Lives of actual people here, living, and voting as your constituents. Do your jobs and leave women’s bodies to women.

For more information, see here and here. You can track anti-constitutional anti-choice legislation in North Dakota here; and start here to track in your own state.

Breast Obsessed

John Timmer brings new attention to breasts, from a scientific point of view. According to a new article in Archives of Sexual Behavior, a study indicates Men’s Oppressive Beliefs Predict Their Breast Size Preferences in Women:

Further analyses showed that men’s preferences for larger female breasts were significantly associated with a greater tendency to be benevolently sexist, to objectify women, and to be hostile towards women.

Having spent most of my adult life in the “large to very large” categories of breasts, I can attest to some of this in a personal sense. The very fact that I know the category of my breast size is due more to male attention than bra shopping. Really.

Food for thought in terms of beauty standards — and I wonder how this fits in with masochistic “women’s magazines” which push not only the standards but beauty products as well.

In related news, Sociological Images there’s nipple talk. The comments are worth checking out as well.

Image: Cherri Knight

The Cost Of Rape

Below is an image purported to be an actual statement showing the monetary cost of treatment a rape victim receives at a hospital in the United States. While the estimate, or average, financial cost for surviving rape victims vary, especially if the crime is far more violent, the shocking truth is that rape costs victims — all rape victims, be they straight or gay, in urban settings or on reservations, etc. — financially as well as physically and emotionally. This bill doesn’t even show the lost income from missing work, the cost of a new door lock, counseling, etc. This is one reason why the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), imperfect as they may be, are so important.

The Political Shades Of A Colorpillar

When I grabbed this Romper Room Colorpillar toy, I had vague memories of the Romper Room TV show…

But not enough, apparently. A quick look at the Wiki entry and it turns out this toy is most fitting for this political season.

First, there’s the whole problem with children’s television shows and hosts pitching product during shows. Romper Room was the first target of the newly formed watchdog group Action for Children’s Television who leveraged the power of an threat FCC threat into ceasing “host-selling”.

Then there’s the whole Romper Room abortion scandal.

In 1962, the hostess of the Phoenix franchise of Romper Room linked her own name with that of the ongoing controversies over abortion. Sherri Finkbine, known to television viewers as “Miss Sherri”, sought hospital approval for abortion on the ground that she had been taking thalidomide and believed her child would be born deformed. Finkbine made a public announcement about the dangers of thalidomide, and the hospital refused to allow an abortion, apparently because of her announcement and its own fear of publicity. Finkbine traveled to Sweden for the abortion. Upon completion, it was confirmed that the fetus had no legs and only one arm. The incident became a made-for-TV movie in 1992, A Private Matter, with Sissy Spacek as Finkbine.

I guess this really is an educational toy — if you research it, rather than play with it.

In terms of memories of the show, as I said, they are fuzzy. Not all warm and fuzzy; just not clear. Also according to Wiki:

The hostess would also serve milk and cookies to the children, with prayer offered before eating. The famous Romper Room prayer went “God is great, God is good. Let us thank him for our food. Amen.”

Now that’s the prayer I remember saying. But that’s really odd, because our home was not a praying home. Perhaps this praying business is why I don’t recall much of the show… Perhaps when my folks found out prayer and indoctrination was part of the program, they switched the set off. That is something I will have to ask them.

Happy Birthday Me

Birthdays are a time of reflection — but don’t worry, this isn’t one of those sentimental personal pieces full of beauty and gratitude, a wistful and wise piece about aging, or even one of those sad yet triumphant stories of survival. While I have moments of deep gratitude, brief bits of wisdom, and small moments in which I feel triumph sits on the horizon like a ship I can see and might one day board, I’m still working on all those things.

Instead, this birthday is like most birthdays since I was to turn 16. That year I told my parents that I didn’t need or deserve a party; I had achieved nothing and they deserved the credit for having kept me alive. Today I feel rather the same — only with a much heavier sense of futility. For in 48 years, neither the world, my status in it, nor my feelings about it has changed much.

I was born on June 21, 1964; I joined this world, as Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney left it. My mother’s screams may have been dulled by the twilight sleep of that time’s hospital deliveries, but I passed through the same veil, entered the ether echoing with the agony, pain, and fear of those men, their families and friends, and all who possess any shred of humanity… And I have lived in a country filled with those sounds and the stink of racism ever since.

I was born white; but such privilege doesn’t preclude the ability to know how wrong racism is, to hate what separates and enslaves.  …To feel the futility of such efforts even to educate that we the privileged have an obligation to do what is right is a heavy rope around my own neck.

I was born a girl; I joined this world with my rights up for debate and my womb under the control of others men. Any progress towards equality and the right to my own person has been met with struggle, abated with state allowed terrorism, and, indeed, is being wrestled away as I sit here today. Such abuse, rape, and control by the state fills me with the same pain, indignity, helplessness, and shame as the abuse, rape, and control experienced at the hands of individuals. …And then there are the more subtle, less violent, means of control — disrespect, dismissing, muzzling, belittling, economic inequality, shaming — used to assert government control, which perpetuates the abuses by individuals.

I was born “straight”; but, like being white, I know that my privilege of heterosexuality obligates me behave as a human being towards my fellow human beings. Ostracization and inequality based on orientation &/or gender identity is still in practice, in vogue in some places. It sickens, saddens, and wearies me as if it were my own personal struggle. …Then again, since this is very much tied to male power, beliefs about sexuality, it really mirrors — nay, is, my personal struggle.

I was born without silver spoon in mouth, or nearby. My parents worked tirelessly to provide a better future for their children. It was achieved; but brief. Those born with silver services and gold flatware have worked just as tirelessly to ensure that the poor and middle class would assume their place at the feet of their economic masters. I now work tirelessly to ensure my children survive; “thrive” is a question which lies under the boot heels of social and economic masters — i.e. wealthy white men and their corrupt corporations which are allowed human status.

Survival isn’t as easy as it sounds.

So you’d think I could hang my proverbial birthday hat on that, give myself some credit for just having made it to 48.

But I am just too tired.

Too tired to even go, as is my birthday custom, and visit graveyards and cemeteries. For when I see how the nuns who gave their lives in service and faith are buried like paupers, adoringly facing the monuments of their male leaders — presumably to serve even in death, I cannot bear the energy such emotion evokes. Not even when I see that the little cement slabs which mark where the nuns lay are less lavish, less cared for, than the markers for the never-born, the aborted. Really? Are female lives given in such service worth so little that they must still be treated as less-than virtual beings, ideas of beings?! It’s all just too-too much.

A lifetime of so little progress is just too much.

Your Right To Bare Breasts

Given all the ruckus about breast feeding in public (something which relegated me to the isolation of many a stuffy room, even during family gatherings), I consider the right to bare breasts right up there with the right to bear arms. So meet crusader and an activist Moira Johnston, aka The East Village Topless Lady, who is working to spread the all-important message that it is legal for women to be topless — at least in New York City, since 1992.

Johnston is interviewed here, at the Gothamist, complete with NWS video:

Among other things, the 29-year-old discusses being harassed by middle-aged men and debating going topless with passersby (including one man who says topless women are “going against God’s law”). Johnston also tells how she was detained by cops for over an hour this week (because she was topless near the children’s park in the square), then released when they realized they couldn’t keep her. The arresting officer told her “it could be considered endangering the children…I asked his personal opinion, and he said he didn’t think it was endangering the children.”

And then there are the bare breasted broads abroad, taking to the streets, using their bare breasts to sell more than merchandise or sex itself. The women of Ukrainian based FEMEN use it to sell social change. They demonstrate for everything from women’s rights and the economy to terrorism and corruption, including against politicians like Putin.

FEMEN was founded by three young women living in Khmelnytskyi, Oksana Shachko, Anna Hutsol, and Sasha Shevchenko, primarily university students whose parents hoped that they would get married early. From an interview with Shachko:

There were hardly any jobs to be had, and the men drank. The girls, for their part, spent long evenings discussing philosophy, Marxism and the situation of women in post-Soviet society. They decided that instead of getting married, they would bring about change.

There were only three of them at first, but now the movement, whose ranks include students, journalists and economists, has spread throughout Ukraine and includes more than 300 women. Calling themselves “Femen,” they have started a movement that has also caught hold among women in Tunisia and the United States. It’s a movement that even encourages experienced women’s rights activists to undress.

Not surprisingly, FEMEN activists appear all over Europe, including in the Vatican City.

You can keep up with the FEMEN rights movement at their blog and curated stories in the news here.

Should you wish to take to the streets to defend your right to bare breasts, or to bare your breasts for social change, you’d better know the laws. [It’s currently illegal for women to be topless anywhere in the US, save for breastfeeding (which still raises hell), except for New York.] Not that imprisonment is always seen as a barrier to activists of social change; but you should know what you’re up against and make your educated decisions.

PS I refuse to mark this post NWS or NSFW because I don’t fear bare breasts or even nipples.