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.

Memorial Day History: “Good Work, Sister”

This holiday weekend, in honor of Memorial Day, I’ve seen this poster circulating quite a bit…

good work sister vintage wwii women poster

But there are some things you should know. (Yes, feminists often don’t have the luxury of taking the holidays off.)

Info on this vintage WWII poster:

“Good work, sister.  We never figured you could do a man-size job!”

America’s women have met the test!

Artist:  Packer.  For Bressler Editorial Cartoons, Inc.

What a lovely backhanded compliment this whole poster is.

The whole gender dynamic is astounding…

…The language — use of “never” and “a man-size job” — is insulting.

…The man being shown as larger to impress upon us both the size of the job and the ‘little lady’ is a bit of visual overkill. (But, hell, shouldn’t that USDA prime cut of red-blooded American beefcake have been drafted?)

Fundamentally, it seems this poster was designed to assuage male discomfort at the notion of “Rosie the Riveter” women working outside the home rather than actually thank women for their work.


During WWII, almost 400,000 women served in the US armed forcesincluding 6,500 Black women who faced even larger racism hurdles to do so. Those are pretty big tests too, poster.

However, despite any of their wishes, women could not serve in combat. Because “menstruation & bears!” or something.

But still, even without combat duty, many women — over 400 of them — lost their lives serving their country in the armed forces. In addition to the fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons we lost, we also lost mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters. More were wounded. Women sacrificed mightily. And not just the danger of “those spreading hips that may come from long hours of sitting” too. They gave their lives and limbs, just as men did; only the women suffered more in secret. Just as they do today. Just as they always have during war: See This.

Whether women & girls worked in factories or shipyards, in the armed forces, in their yards planting victory gardens, in their homes — wherever they worked — they served this country. To the best of their ability — and as much as they were allowed.

This holiday, remember everyone who gave for this country.

Human Auction, 1950

From the December 18, 1950 issue of Broadcasting Telecasting:

During two-hour talent show, men were put on block with auctioneer describing their qualifications. Offers of $5 to $35 were bid by telephone for their services to wash dishes, shine shoes, clean bird cages and many other tasks.


Patriarchal Dads On Dating – Disgusting

Straight out of the creepy files, dads are viewing their daughters as their own property — property which can be defended like some backward “stand your ground” law. The following exhibits were all found at Etsy.

10 Rules For Dating My Daughter includes references to threats of violence & legal prosecution. “Get the 411 Before You Need 911.”

10 Rules For Dating My Daughter

Naturally, this whole “Dads Against Daughters Dating” or “D.A.D.D.” thing appeals to the gun-toting crowd. “Shoot the first one and the word will spread” is another variation.

Dads Against Daughters Dating guns

This version makes it clear that only the pretty daughters will be “protected”.

Guns Don't Kill People Dads With Pretty Daughters Kill People

Oh, and be sure to dress your daughter up with the warning — in a shoulder-baring tee.

Rules For Dating My Daughter Off Shoulder Slouchy

Likely these protective fathers have spent too much time at these “dating sites” and assume all boys are as bad as they were.

I’m also insulted for our sons. Not all of them are predators, worthy of violent disposal at the mere idea of offending some twisted notion of “protective paternity.” Nor are boys completely free of hurt from girls either.

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

Just How Innocent Are These “How To Attract Women” Websites?

The Men’s Right Movement (MRM) may have begun in support of women and feminism, but it’s gone to hell.

How to Get Along With Girls vintage adThere’s always been an element of “I want to be a playboy” in the world of modern Western men. From the somewhat harmless fantasies of bachelors who want to play with sex kittens in what they imagined “the good old days to be like”, to the sincere and earnest pleas of men who feel they are less desired than so-called traditional masculine males, they (and a number of women) have created decades of openly making money off the “how to get girls” marketplace. You can make an argument that this sort of thing gives women the upper hand. That even men in “the game” (often referred to as Game with a capital ‘G’) are at the mercy of women. Certainly, many Third Wave Feminists would agree. And, frankly, many of us struggle with where to draw the line between what is harmless and funny and what is perpetuating negative stereotypes and outright misogyny.

But now, too much of the behavior from the MRM removes any notion of this being a fun “game.” It has crossed that line and angrily morphed into a hardcore hatred of women. Even if it seems hidden behind benign men’s help sites.

Typified by phrases about “reclaiming their balls”, as if the fact that women are equals somehow feminizes men, and given the supposedly harmless name of “The Manosphere”, it has grown on the Internet, connecting like-minded males and converting others. Dagonet of The Quest For 50 explains:

The history of the Manosphere is nebulous.

…Like an echo, a shadow, a vague thought that has reverberated louder and louder with time. You can trace its DNA through the works of ancient poets and philosophers– great men throughout history who identified truths of human nature– through to the modern era. For millennia, these truths were regarded as common sense, and they were integrated functionally into the way society was organized, and the social standards of each population. But with the cultural revolution beginning in the 1960s and reaching a tipping point in the 1990s, a need arose for men to more explicitly teach each other these lost truths. The Manosphere might have begun with Tony’s Lay Guide, The Mystery Method, or other forums hidden in the dark crevices of the nascent internet of the 1990s (such as alt.seduction). It might have begun with The Futurist’s essay “The Misandry Bubble.” It might have begun with Roosh (f/k/a DC Bachelor), Matt Forney (f/k/a Ferdinand Bardamu), and Heartiste (f/k/a Roissy) coalescing around a shared worldview at the crossroads of sex, politics, and a restless sense of lost masculinity, awaiting a revolution.

As more voices began to join the swelling chorus of disenfranchised, horny, clueless men looking to reclaim their balls and dignity, the “Manosphere” as we currently know it was born.

Lest you believe this sounds harmless enough, Dagonet goes on to complain about how so many in the Manosphere have been “‘outed’ and had to delete their blogs in hopes of preserving their privacy and maybe keeping their job/relationship/reputation.” How innocent could these poor victims have been?

And Dagonet’s the guy who claims to be part of Red Pill Thinking yet he feels that the #YesAllWomen response to an all too typical tragedy is not part of reality but rather is an “absolute shitstorm of idiocy, misinformation, and narcissism.”

His collaboration with The Real Christian McQueen should relegate that site to “questionable” at best.

Then you’ve got guys like Jeff Allen, an “Executive Coach” with Real Social Dynamics Nation, a site the exists to sell a boatload of “how to be attractive to women” books, products, and seminars. Again, this might seem innocuous, maybe even helpful; but take a look at Allen’s Twitter account and you’ll be enlightened. These are some of his stellar tweets:






All this, & we didn’t even get into the series of nauseating legislation proposals or anything.

Manosphere diminishing? You’ll get no tears from me.

(Some screen caps in case the tweets disappear.)

FireShot Screen Capture #357 - 'Twitter _ JeffreyLAllenIX_ If a woman vomits blood after ___' - twitter_com_JeffreyLAllenIX_status_369307985798914048

allen tweet about strippers and rape incest

FireShot Screen Capture #358 - 'Twitter _ JeffreyLAllenIX_ Girls date unemployed filthbeard ___' - twitter_com_JeffreyLAllenIX_status_397525867116519424

More #YesAllWomen Backlash & Myth-Information (It’s Math, Really)

If you don’t follow me on Twitter, then you may not have noticed how in love I am with the #YesAllWomen phenomenon. Personally, it became very difficult for me to maintain such conversations when Maya Angelou passed, but despite that, and the hashtag’s bump off the top trends at Twitter, I manage to maintain conversations. (My goal, and yours, should be to talk about the realities of women’s lives daily to ensure the conversations continue. The hatred and misogyny, the misinformation and bad defensive attitudes, they all continue so the conversations must.

Today’s example comes from the Washington Post: One way to end violence against women? Stop taking lovers and get married.

Oh, sure, they went and changed that horrible title & subtitle…

yesallwomen backlash

But that’s not much better, is it?

The general point of view in the article itself is one of victim shaming. Along with that, there’s the whole shaming of single women, especially single mothers (see history of this here). — and the assertion that “single women who date more” are the problem is rife with problems. Simple, obvious problems.

Yes, it may be safer for women (& their children) if they remain with one man — but that’s because the majority of gender-based violence is committed by someone the woman knows. Ditto child abuse. So, even as the percentage of abusive men remains the same, the more men a woman knows, the greater the number of bad men she knows and so grows the likelihood that she will be attacked, raped, abused, etc.  Yup, that’s how math works.

So what W. Bradford Wilcox and Robin Fretwell Wilson proclaim is that women, the victims and potential victims, once, must again, be the ones taught to control rape culture & misogyny. That way, if it happens to them, they are to blame. We give permission to men because the women didn’t protect themselves enough.

Why can’t the men be the ones educated and blamed?

One of the fundamental points of #YesAllWomen is that our culture has it all backwards. The burden should not be on women to take actions to prevent themselves from what men do, but that men need to cut this shit out. And we all need to stop justifying bad & violent behaviors.

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?

When Cowboys Wore Pink

To modern eyes, this is surprising. “Pink is a girls’ color,” we think. This association has become so firmly entrenched in our cultural imagination that people are flabbergasted to learn that until the 1950s, pink was often considered a strong color and, therefore, was associated with boys.

Deanna Dahlsad‘s insight:

See also, When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink? at the Smithsonian: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/When-Did-Girls-Start-Wearing-Pink.html

See on thesocietypages.org

From Chanel to Burberry, fashion is now a branch of the porn industry

These days, models like Keira Knightley (inset) pose open mouthed, their eyes half-closed as if in a state of arousal. Sometimes they lie on their backs, like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley did recently.

Deanna Dahlsad‘s insight:

Despite the fact that this issue was discussed back when I was in college decades ago — and likely long before that, this article makes the following claims:

  • Fashion adverts no longer sell fashion – they sell sex
  • The pornification of the fashion world is affecting our young girls
  • The advent of airbrushing and rise of internet porn are responsible

See on www.dailymail.co.uk

Ye Olde Male Facial Hair

Because I’m not a sexist, I thought I’d do a companion piece of sorts to this post and cover a bit of history regarding male hair — just a little link round-up of male facial hair history.

Did you know that there was once a beard tax for men? Yup, at least in 1705 there was. Per Russia’s Peter The Great, men either had to shave or pay a tax. They even got a little token to prove they had a legal, and taxed, beard.

There’s a whole book out now on the history of gay beards — the facial kind, not the companion kind (NWS).

Tour a retro pop culture line-up of mustached celebs.

It’s Movember, and the hubby and I love mustaches (or moustaches, if you prefer) and Nick Offerman; but are mustaches campy or sexist?

In fact, some are rethinking this month of Movember that is intended to raise awareness for men’s health issues, saying it can quickly turn into an unfair fetishized game of “hot or not”.


The Way To A Man’s Heart Is Through His Stomach & Other Lessons In Vintage Cookbooks

This is the cover of The Way To His Heart “A Cookbook with a Personality”, 1941; note the figures on the cover.

the way to his heart vintage

The five female figures on the cover of this vintage cookbook depict the five cooks featured in the book itself. These five women are said to be three generations of one family. From the bottom left working our way to the top right are “Grandmother” Grace Toulouse Hunt, “Mother” Priscilla Wayne Sprague, “Newly Married Daughter” Dorothy Hunt Hales, “Collegiate Daughter” Jeanne Wayne Sprague, and “Teenage Daughter” Nancy Grace Sprague.

While I can admit to certain body changes in terms of aging, I find the rounding of age in proportion to hem length somewhat amusing… Not only is Grandma rather stout, but combined with her nearly floor-length dress she closely resembles a Russian nesting doll. And notice how only newly married Dorothy has curves in all the right places — illustrating her appropriate fertility status. (Heck, her proportions make me want to ask the new wife when she’s going to have a baby!) Perhaps even more amazing, this illustrated figure study of body image stereotypes is the artwork of one of these women; at least Dorothy “Dot” Hunt Hales is the artist credited. (More on that later.)

way to his heart author and artist credits

The story or “personality” behind this cookbook is that newlywed Dot writes home to her mother asking for some recipes. The occasion is the wonderful celebration of their 6 month wedding anniversary and the young bride has learned how important cooking and food is to her marriage:

I have discovered one important thing in the past six months — glamour and romance can be preserved in marriage if one’s husband is well-fed and comfortable.

Mother is, of course, no doubt delighted her daughter has seen the light and become a believer in the old adage that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Not only is mom thrilled to help her wise and dutiful newly married daughter Dot, but mom enlists the help of Dot’s grandmother and sisters. These are their “letters” from the front of the vintage book:



And then, the most amazing thing happens! “One of the top men of Jack Sprat Foods, Inc., heard about it” and they decided to publish the cookbook! Enter Western Grocer Company, owner of the food brand, as publisher; enter the advertisements for Jack Sprat brand foods.


While the “homey, friendly” premise seems rather contrived to the jaded consumers of today (and the corporate ads themselves also draw into question Dot’s artwork), the book’s editor, Priscilla Wayne Sprague appears to be an actual author. But the proposed family relationships get a bit confusing…. My research continues and shall be reported soon. (Watch this space.)

I also have to share some information from the vintage cookbook’s section by college daughter Jeanne. Jeanne’s appearance certainly tones down any sex appeal, and we are likely to suppose any fears about daughters in college along with it. And even if such imagery might lend itself to jokes about college girl experimentation and stereotypical lesbian dress, the experimentation in the kitchen appears to have been limited — at least for sorority girls.

A College Girl (this one at least) doesn’t really cook at all — sororities provide cooks and sincerely hope they can keep the girls out of the kitchen. There are certain things, however, that the cook just isn’t in on, such as late Sunday sandwiches with you and your date — or rush teas and other occasions of state.

When the cook is out and the girls have free rein in the kitchen, here are some of the foods they can cook. All of these recipes are of the type that can be prepared quickly, cheaply and (for the benefit of the dates) charmingly.

Oh, how can poor Jeanne ever get her M.R.S. degree if she doesn’t cook?!

when a college girl cooks

This vintage book from 1941 has some of the racism you might expect from the 1930s and 40s. At the bottom of the page, Jeanne starts a story which continues on the next page:

One of the girls at the sorority house is Irish — shanty Irish — we call her, because she has simple tastes — fried potatoes, baked beans and such. But one time I tasted the baked concoction she used to make and believe me there was nothing “shanty” about it — it was pure Park Avenue — here it is:

vintage shanty irish baked beans

It is recipes like this one, based on canned goods, which certainly marks a change (if not decline) in cooking itself. This turning point in American history turns out to be a good thing for Jack Sprat Foods, Inc. and the Western Grocer Company. The grocery store addresses this issue in one of the advertisements for the Jack Sprat brand:

“Now, when I was a girl,” said Mom

“They used to joke about ‘cooks who were lost without can-openers.’ But it’s just a pleasant smile these days.”

“Why, Mom?” questioned Nancy, giving just the opening Mom wanted.

“Because now we get the very finest foods in cans — just take these Jack Sprat Peaches, for example.” Mom emphasized her point by holding a can at arm’s length.

“These are peaches at their very best — completely ripened on the tree, and canned quickly, to capture the fresh flavor and the precious vitamins all fresh fruits contain. No more sweating over a hot stove for me, when Jack Sprat will do the job for me so well!”

Of course Nancy agrees with Mom. What modern girl wouldn’t rather play tennis or swim on a summer afternoon, instead of helping can fruit in a sizzling kitchen?

Mom’s verdict applies not only to Jack Sprat Peaches, but to pears, apricots, pineapple, and an arm-long list of fine berries. You’ll find it pays to let Jack Sprat do your canning too.

jack sprat canned food cooking jokes

If the convenience of modern canned foods was the advent of more free time for girls and women, perhaps it can be linked not only to the decline in cooking skills but to the decline in the “way to a man’s heart” adage. Men such as Barry Popik say this approach works for dogs and not men; however ironic the dog reference may seem to me, Popik seems to be saying this food-as-lure lore doesn’t work. Also, men at AskMen no longer find cooking on their top list of skills necessary in a female partner. Enlightenment reaches us, maybe? Would that such enlightenment about female body images would change as well.

Women & Children Should Be Scene & Not Heard

We’ve all heard the expression “Children should be seen and not heard”, an expression particularly aimed at girls. Well, apparently it was updated in the 1970s to be “Children should be scene and not heard”. Enter Exhibit A, a vintage advertisement for Mary Maxim needlecraft kits which features a little girl dressed to complete a festive holiday scene:

mary maxim vintage ad 1978

The girl wears a floor-length red dress, much like the table wears a red floor-length tablecloth. Both decorative small female child and small table each wear overlays of fancy white crocheted creations (the Mary Maxim pinafore and tablecloth kits).  If anyone can show me an example of this done to boys or men, please do.

The ad was found in the September 1978 issue of Decorating & Craft Ideas Magazine.

A Geriatric Problem: Vintage Advertising For Little Blue Pills

A vintage advertising blotter, likely from the 1930s — 1940s, which focuses on a male geriatric problem.


The blotter reads as follows — and it should be noted that the print gets smaller as it goes along (which is cruel in many ways for an aging male, I say):


One of the problems of middle age is loss of sexual power in men who are still capable of raising a family. In such cases and effective aphrodisiac may be indicated.


XANTHINUX (Cole) stimulates masculine potency through the spinal cord, just as a strong cup of coffee stimulates the thinking centers of the brain. The result is a firmer, more vigorous erection and orgasm.

Reports from various physicians show that XANTHINUX not only boosts male potency but also has a euphoric action.

Because of its strong aphrodisiac action, XANTHINUX is not recommended in cases where sexual intercourse should be curtailed; elderly men with severe cardiac conditions or arteriosclerosis.

Samples & Professional Literature on Request.

From the Cole Chemical Co., St. Louis 8, MO. U.S.A.  [Printed in U.S.A. (form) 549.]

Further research shows that Xanthinux was a combination of strychnine (yikes!), caffeine, and theophylline. Big shocker here: in 1963, medical reports on Xanthinux state that there’s “no evidence that it acts as a sexual tonic.”

Plus there’s that whole strychnine-poison thing.

However, culturally speaking, I do find the reference to “men who are still capable of raising a family” a line that’s absolutely missing in today’s recreational & romantic messaging about ED. Which, naturally, speaks extra loudly in today’s world of restricted women’s rights.

See also this vintage pharmaceutical advertising blotter  for women.

What Are Women Earning? (And How Are Men Shrinking?)

If you’re following my Dare To Be A Feminist topic at Scoop.It (or have just been paying attention to the news), you probably noticed all the discussion about the Pew Research Report that states that women are earning more than their husbands in 40% of American families with children:

A record 40% of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The share was just 11% in 1960.

These “breadwinner moms” are made up of two very different groups: 5.1 million (37%) are married mothers who have a higher income than their husbands, and 8.6 million (63%) are single mothers.1

The income gap between the two groups is quite large. The median total family income of married mothers who earn more than their husbands was nearly $80,000 in 2011, well above the national median of $57,100 for all families with children, and nearly four times the $23,000 median for families led by a single mother.2

If you, like many other people, just skimmed that headline, here’s what you need to really know about this discovery:

Compared with all mothers with children under age 18, married mothers who out-earn their husbands are slightly older, disproportionally white and college educated. Single mothers, by contrast, are younger, more likely to be black or Hispanic, and less likely to have a college degree.

The growth of both groups of mothers is tied to women’s increasing presence in the workplace. Women make up almost of half (47%) of the U.S. labor force today, and the employment rate of married mothers with children has increased from 37% in 1968 to 65% in 2011.3

(There’s also discussion of the dreaded single mothers; so I urge you to read the entire Pew findings.)

One should also note that this is not simply a matter of “feminism having won, so just let it all go away.” For the findings also reveal that “total family income is higher when the mother, not the father, is the primary breadwinner.” Thanks, pink collar ghetto, unequal pay, and continuing notions of gender inequality in the workplace. Not to mention all the BS traditional notions of motherhood.

Never mind the facts, however; let’s just get to the million dollar subtext question Liza Donnelly put forth regarding the 37% — the married mothers who have a higher income than their husbands: Can Husbands Handle Being Outearned By Their Wives?

The answer is, quite clearly, “No.”

Exhibit A: Lou Dobbs and his all-male panel of guests. Here, the comments range from Doug Schoen’s “a catastrophic issue” that “could undermine our social order” to Erick Erickson’s statement that this is the real “war on women.”


If you want to dismiss all this as the ramblings of irrelevant talking asshats on Fox (for which I will gently remind you that their rhetoric is often too dangerous to be dismissed), you’ll need to also know about this other study, called In Sickness and In Wealth, from Washington University in St Louis’ Olin Business School.

This research found that “men are more likely to experience problems with erectile dysfunction and other forms of mental and physical anguish as a result of his female counterpart being the primary breadwinner”.

Olin Business School professor Lamar Pierce and Michael S. Dahl of Aalborg University in Denmark write: ‘Male sexual desire and behavior is tied to cultural and social factors such as patriarchy and money, potentially causing men to suffer reduced sexual desire or dysfunction when perceiving their traditional role of provider to be usurped.

‘In fact, the medical literature has shown that anger and frustration can lead to serious sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction (ED), a problem also linked to unemployment and decreasing household income.’

Additionally, Pierce told NBC News: ‘There is a powerful social norm for many men that it’s important to make more than their wives and, essentially, when that social norm is violated, what this does is make them feel emasculated.’

And men do not usually suffer alone, as research found that the female breadwinner also has problems with insomnia and anxiety.

Men in such a relationship have also been found to be more likely to cheat in an effort to regain their bedroom mojo.



It seems we have not come a long way, baby, in terms of marital duties, especially not in terms of how men think. Shudder. Bigger shudder. Because this all sounds like a lot more permission slips are about to be handed out.

Of course, not all men are this primitive. But for some reason, primitive still prevails in the politics (and libidos) of our lives.

guys love it

The Perfect Essay To Go With That Little Black Dress (Or Whatever Else You Want To Wear)

From Greta Christina‘s Fashion is a Feminist Issue:

Fashion is one of the very few forms of expression in which women have more freedom than men.

And I don’t think it’s an accident that it’s typically seen as shallow, trivial, and vain.

It is the height of irony that women are valued for our looks, encouraged to make ourselves beautiful and ornamental… and are then derided as shallow and vain for doing so. And it’s a subtle but definite form of sexism to take one of the few forms of expression where women have more freedom, and treat it as a form of expression that’s inherently superficial and trivial. Like it or not, fashion and style are primarily a women’s art form. And I think it gets treated as trivial because women get treated as trivial.

What’s more, there’s an interestingly sexist assumption that often gets made about female fashion — namely, that it’s primarily intended to get male attention and male approval.

In my experience, this is very much not the case. Female fashion is often as much about women’s communication with one another as it is about our communication with men. More so, in many ways. When women who clearly care about fashion and style pass each other on the street, there’s often a sort of silent conversation: a moment of acknowledgement, a nod of recognition. (And the conversation isn’t always silent — I’ve been known to go up to totally strange women in bars or on the street and compliment them on their outfits. As other women have with me.) At parties, at conventions, at social and professional gatherings of all sorts, if there’s a decent number of women, there are almost certainly women checking out each other’s styles: appreciatively, competitively, enviously, companionably, subtly jockeying for status, in a spirit of co-operation and camaraderie, and in just about every other angle on human connection you can imagine. And it has little or nothing to do with men.

Now, granted: I’m a dyke, a lesbian-identified bisexual, and as such I have a different angle on this issue than many. I do have some interest in whether men find me attractive, but for the most part it’s only a passing interest, and my sexual self-esteem is only tangentially related to men’s opinions of me. (And my attention to other women is often driven by, shall we say, something other than our silent conversations about style.) But I’ve talked with other non-dyke women who are interested in fashion and style, and they say much the same thing: They dress for other women as much as they dress for men — and in many ways, more so. In particular, they dress for other stylish women. And this assumption that women’s fashion is aimed solely or primarily at men… well, there’s more than a little sexism behind it.

vintage fashion ad

The Smell Of Fear (Or Something Stinks In Vintage Film Ad)

From the Corpus Christi Times , March 29, 1957, comes this frightful ad featuring scary movies boldly warning things such as “Do not judge by anything seen before!” and “Girls! Come with a Big Strong He-Man to Protect You When Lights Go Out!”

As if that weren’t sexist enough, there was a special promotion targeting women in this vintage horror film ad too:

We Double Dare Girls! Win This Too In Addition

So much scarier than other shows — we bet girls don’t sit thru it.

If you have the never to sit thru it all — you win a FREE full dram of one of such famous perfumes as Arpege, Chanel No. 5, Indonesia, Black Leopard, My Sin

Or at least it would seem to be targeting women… I mean, on the surface it seems a ploy to appeal to women, to get women into the theaters once again; but if you look at it long enough, it sure seems to be an ad targeting men to bring a date to this movie. They get to play “big strong man” and provide her with a gift of perfume too.

Father’s Page

Found inside a 1940 Nabisco Shredded Wheat cook book, a page for fathers. Don’t worry, it means all men. All men were called “Father” or “Daddy”, even by their wives. And grown men who weren’t married parent? Oh, society wondered what was wrong with them. While we’re stating at this, the sepia-toned photo makes it appear as if Father is on a cordless telephone. (The opposite page promotes the “new” salted Triscuits.)

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.

Watch The Objectification

I’ve often viewed sexual objectification as a passive-aggressive thing. As in the human being objectified (most often a woman) is passive to the aggressive actions (usually from men). What clinches the deal and makes it textbook passive-aggressive behavior is how the perpetrators are so insistent in their disavowal and sullen in their complaints of being misunderstood. These vintage watches (from martonmere at Etsy) are the perfect illustration of such sexual objectification of women. Note how the male penis is the automaton, moving up and down as the watch ticks, while the females remain unmovable, unfazed, objects to receive. (Not to mention, the watches need winding, and this whole subject winds me up!) More on these sort of watches here.

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

Sexism In Collecting Vintage Valentines

Today we celebrate Valentine’s Day. I wrote about why many collect old Valentines at CQ; but wanted to share this one from my own collection.

As a feminist, I obviously take issue with a woman professing “I’d like to be your little homebody.” And there she sits, knitting socks, with the ever-present female-as-feline domesticated cat.

Since these little vintage Valentine’s Day cards were, then as now, passed out in schools all over the USA, it’s only natural that you’ll find some cards not only signed by boys but presented to boys. Still, the fact that Edgar signed this gender stereotype card to Ralph makes me take pause…

This literally is how gender stereotypes have been passed along — and it’s just another example of the rote mechanical nature of boys getting the task of forced Valentines sending over with.

More of my vintage Valentines here and here.

How Masculine Or Feminine Are You?

A quiz straight out of 1948. I forced hubby to play along. We had identical answers; so, no surprise, our scores were the same, landing us both in the “mixed interests” grey area of the quiz. Which probably just means we are modern, non-stereotypical humans. You?

Binders Keepers

Morning Joe is a show that continues to frustrate me. A recent example, Joe Scarborough’s comments on Romney’s rudeness to moderator Candy Crowley during the second presidential debate:

One, you don’t run over a female moderator. You just don’t. Stylistically you don’t. It’s very dangerous. Jim Lehrer, fine. You can get out a knife and, you know, have a knife fight with Jim Lehrer, fine. But you don’t do that with a female moderator. It’s problematic.

This from a man who continually interrupts and talks over his co-host, Mika Brzezinski. In fact, the nearly-incomprehensible-he’s-so-hypocritical Scarborough tromps over Brzezinski so often that I’ve theorized Brzezinski’s contract limits the number of syllables she may utter, making Scarborough’s rudeness of interjecting “I, I, I” a mere dotting of the fiscal “i”s to limit her speech. But it’s the poor theory of a woman amazed as she watches such perpetual rudeness. You keep it classy, Scarborough.

Scarborough also mocks “Binder-Gate”, completely missing the point of the reaction to Mitt Romney’s “Binders full of women” statement. Which is exactly what the tap-dancing Romney was trying to do. Romney want’s to hide his record, his stance, his very negative attitude towards women. It’s not the ill-phrased statement made by the perpetually awkward Romney, but the very negative scenario he was attempting to illustrate as a positive.

Let me spell it out for you: We don’t want to hear about binders full of resumes from qualified female candidates — which were given to you, not sought by you, Romney. We want to live in a world where hiring women, at equal pay, is common practice.

Binders Keepers, Binders Full Of Women

Mitt’s binder comment exposes the gender gap in terms of employment, wages, and benefits. Here, the binders represent keepers, exposing the sexist values of binding and keeping women in their place, which is, of course, beneath men. Holding women back, holding women down, limits and hurts families and our nation as a whole. And we know it.

Romney, Scarborough, et al., they seem to be mistaking fact for fiction, mistaking the female fantasies of sexual submission a la Fifty Shades for real world desires to be held down economically. While these guys substitute fiction for fact, we are not confused. We see them for what they are: Liars and anti-feminist.

To commemorate 2012, how about this Western-print binder featuring rope, customized with the words “Binders Keepers”. You can fill it with all the news stories this year.

A Pen Is

Resisting all jokes and puns about what a pen is, euphemisms for swords, and even the pragmatic discussion of women’s rights to wield the power of writing implements, I bring you the folly of the BIC For Her Amber Medium Ballpoint Pen. There’s little I can say, really… This pen, “A gel pen essentially for women!” is only sold in Europe and the fine folks there have responded accordingly, filing the following reviews (and more) in retaliation for a poorly thought of product designed “for women.” Enjoy. And take heart that there are sane people.

I never knew I needed this so much, 16 Aug 2012
By Butch McCassidy

Oh. My. God. I’ve been doing it all wrong. There was me thinking I didn’t need to worry about whether my writing implement sufficiently reflected my gender. Thank you so much Bic for showing me the error of my ways. Perhaps Bic will also bring out a new range of pink (or purple) feminine spanners, screwdrivers, electric drills and angle grinders so that I can carry out my job as a bicycle mechanic without further embarrassing myself? Luckily my male colleagues have managed to keep their disapproval of my use of their masculine tools to themselves. I’m so ashamed. And re-educated as to my place in society. Thanks again Bic!

At Amazon, the above review, “The most helpful favourable review,” is pitted against this next one, “The most helpful critical review.”

No good for man hands
I bought this pen (in error, evidently) to write my reports of each day’s tree felling activities in my job as a lumberjack. It is no good. It slips from between my calloused, gnarly fingers like a gossamer thread gently descending to earth between two giant redwood trunks.
Published 6 days ago by daveyclayton

But there plenty more; this one may be my favorite, simply for the title:

Such a useful little tool (and that’s not just a description of the man in charge of the marketing campaign), 21 Aug 2012
By zak jane keir “decadent media” (UK)

How could I have missed my own deep inner need for such a product? It’s just perfect for ramming straight up the hogs’ eye of any sexist man I happen to be oppressed by – no more tabasco-dipped nasty old medical catheters for the misogynists in my life!

But perhaps this one is most sarcastic:

Send from Heaven by the Angels, 20 Aug 2012
By Siobhán

I could never write until now because I’m such a thick little Princess that I refused to. I just drew pictures of my pink little bike, with the lilac streamers. I thought I’d just grow up and let a big manly man come and marry/save me.
Now I’ve found this pen, I’ve learned to write. It’s so pretty, with it’s comfortable grip, not like the razor like surface on ordinary mens pens. It will help me list all my household chores and record my calorie consumption in my diary. Who knows? Maybe it will give me the confidence to take the stabilisers off my bike.

Or maybe it’s this one…

This product cured my girly dyslexia., 21 Aug 2012
By I am a private person, not a real name!

Before I bought this product I couldn’t write but now I’m an engineer. Mind you, I only design pink, flowery bridges, motorways and sewers. Blue ones would be wrong wouldn’t they.

Men Are Big Babies

That’s a factual statement; look how the man drapes over and out of the old pram. However, I do have to pause and wonder why so many men prefer to dress like giant babies than as women… Is it because there’s nothing lower than being a woman? Or do they shirk the effort of taking care of giant man-babies even for a few hours? I think any answer is as revealing as another. Vintage photo for sale here; via.