The Radigals Blog
Name: Radigals
Home: New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States
About Us: A pretty rad group of guys and gals dedicated to feminist activism, arts and crafts, community involvement, changing the world, and snacky treats.
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  Saturday, August 29, 2009  
 
 
Feminist Book Review: The Tiffany Aching Series
While I originally thought of doing the Twilight series as my first feminist review, I decided to pull back because I feel like everything that could be said about those books has already been said and I honestly couldn't add anything to the conversation. I was originally going to point out how I thought that the series was just as poisonous as Barbie towards young minds and how Edward Cullen's sweet nothings read from the novel of a murdering lunatic. So, I decided to present my antidote to that series with another one that's just as long and much more feminist friendly.

The Tiffany Aching series by Terry Pratchett is an offshoot of Prachett's normal narrative home of the Discworld. The Discworld being a place that is very much like ours except it's flat and rides on the back of four elephants who are themselves on top of a turtle, which is flying through space, is a place which produces some of the best satire this side of Vonneghut. The targets of this satire are God, consumerism, Christmas, newspapers, taxes and pretty much anything under the sun. He even handles the feminist movement in the third book of the series, Equal Rites, boiling down any argument against women's rights to the only one that people ever seem to use: "we can't do this because it's never been done" and then rips it to shreds to show us how incredibly stupid this argument always is. The books are filled lovingly with humor and insight and you can pick up any one of them and spend an enjoyable few days reading them.

This brings us to the Tiffany Aching series which, I can best describe as being for anyone who wished that Hermione Granger would have shoved Harry Potter out of the way and taken the spotlight for herself. Tiffany shares much with Hermione Granger in many aspects, she's incredibly bright, strong and responsible. Sure, she has a group of incredibly strong tiny blue men to protect her called the Wee Free Men, but she hardly ever actually needs them and half the time solves whatever problem she's facing by sure willpower and cleverness alone. She has no powers, she's the young fantasy female protagonist version of Batman except she doesn't even need gadgets.

Terry Pratchett does fantasy very well in that he creates a world that you can wholly immerse yourself in while tearing away the more extraneous and useless parts of it. This is by setting himself up as an enemy of Disney's world of make believe. If someone appears in his books and is described as being beautiful, you can assume that they're an evildoer. Secondly, he creates a new concept of "witch" that destroys the idea of the wicked witch, in that he takes the more traditional and historically accurate version that witches were the ones that looked to the edges of life for people and made sure that they were doing the right thing to one another and themselves. Y'know the kinds of things that feminists do.

The most teling of his manner of writing is in a quote between a witch and Tiffany Aching:

Miss Tick sniffed. "You could say this advice is priceless," she said. "Are you listening?"
"Yes," said Tiffany.
"Good. Now...if you trust in yourself..."
"Yes?"
"...and believe in your dreams..."
"Yes?"
"...and follow your star..." Miss Tick went on.
"Yes?"
"...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy. Good-bye."

And that's about it, I honestly can't recommend these books any higher than this. I would love to tell you more about them but I fear I would ruin some of the surprises. Pretty much, I think these books are a good addition to a young person's bookshelf to get them to start thinking about things in a different manner. I would suggest getting these for them this year for school or the holidays or just to be an awesome older person in their life.

Next year: the Bell Jar and the Feminine Mystique
posted by HighFiveMachine @ 6:55 PM   0 comments
 
 
  Thursday, August 20, 2009  
 
 
Oh Media, if you only understood biology and feminism
Covering the news today is the "controversy" about the South African runner, Caster Semenya, who is currently under investigation. She will be under going various tests including a genital examination by a gynecologist, an ultrasound to see if its ovaries or testicles that have not descended, and a hormone test to see if she has high levels of testosterone circulating.

The Critique: I'm not in the field...yet...but wouldn't a genetic makeup test be easier and possibly less expensive than all of these separate examinations. Not all intersex individuals can be easily placed in the male or female category (because gender is a spectrum damnit!). I have a bone to pick with the media. Gender and sex are not the same thing. What they are searching for is her sex (male, female, intersex). She could identify with any gender she feels like. Wouldn't it make sense to knock out the old XX or XY question in one test.

The rest of the controversy goes on to state that:

The 18-year-old won gold in the 800 meters race Wednesday but she may be forced to return the medal if she fails a gender-verification test imposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
Her failing the test would be what exactly? being male? And what if she displays hermaphrodite qualities? This is all really interesting how this will play out. If Caster is intersexed could their be an intersexed division of athletics or would they not be allowed to participate at all?


For the full article please visit: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/08/20/gender.athlete.intersex/
posted by Red Stocking Lady @ 11:41 PM   0 comments
 
 
  Sunday, August 16, 2009  
 
 
Mad Men...Something for the Feminists
The third season of Mad Men premiers tonight on AMC at 10:00. Not only does the television series provide a glimpse into the gendered working world of the 1960s, but also shows how advertising towards women was crafted, and laregely influenced by a dominantly masculine viewpoint.

In this article below, Jezebel, the pop culture feminist blog, selects the top feminist moments from the show thus far.

Enjoy! And don't forget to tune in tonight!

http://jezebel.com/5314370/15-feminist-moments-from-mad-men
posted by honey b @ 4:27 PM   0 comments
 
 
  Wednesday, August 12, 2009  
 
 
Idealizing Masculinity at the Cost of Your Health
Science Daily put out an article today which cites a recent study conducted which looks at "Macho Men", a bunch of middle-aged guys that are everything man. These "middle-aged men who strongly idealize masculinity are almost 50 percent less likely than other men to seek preventative healthcare services, according to a study—the first population-based analysis of men's masculinity beliefs and preventative healthcare compliance—to be presented at the 104th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association."

Interestingly enough the PI (principal investigator) on this piece of research is the lovely Kristen W. Springer, an assistant sociology professor at our alma mater, Rutgers, New Brunswick. She investigated these manly men in both high socio-economic status circles and their low-status, blue-collar brothers. Her research concluded that those in white-collar, high paying jobs are threatened by seeking health care (especially preventative) whereas blue-collar workers put aside fears of threatening their masculinity and seek health care. She also mentions that education had no pull in getting these burly men into a prostate check-up as both highly educated and uneducated men avoid preventative care.





The Critique
: This lady did a study on middle-aged men from Wisconsin. That means all white and at the very least holding a high school diploma under their belt. I would have liked to seen what the subjects in this study thought about homosexuality. This could have placed the group of men into one of two groups:


  1. Ones who are in defense of their own sexuality and/or fear undergoing a rectal examination by a man.
  2. Ones who believe that everything they do is right and law, therefore they view doctor's orders as a challenge to their masculinity.
Too bad these silly men are putting their health on the line. Then people wonder why women outlive men.



For the full article please visit: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090810174209.htm

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posted by Red Stocking Lady @ 12:05 AM   0 comments