Can we equate rape and lying?

I don’t know.

I don’t know and I wish I did. Everyone’s been asking me all day: what do you think? (thanks to Emily for letting me know the link was broken – it should be fixed now!)

Sabbar Kashur, 30, was convicted as part of a plea bargain. According to the indictment, Kashur met the complainant in September 2008 in downtown Jerusalem, presenting himself as a Jewish bachelor looking for a serious romantic relationship…The couple then went to a nearby building and had sex, after which Kashur left the building without waiting for the woman to get dressed.

In short, the man turned out to be Arab, and turned out to not be interested in a “serious romantic relationship.” She charged him with rape because “If she hadn’t thought the accused was a Jewish bachelor interested in a serious romantic relationship, she would not have cooperated.”

I don’t know the answer to the question of this man’s guilt, so I don’t want to talk about that. Instead, I’d like to comment on the reaction I heard today, from some incredibly intelligent people, about this article – because I think some of those reactions were kind of surprising, and some were even a little out of line.

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Sexiness: Good for America (but not the key to a post-racial nation)

When Old Spice first brought Isaiah Mustafa on board for what are, totally objectively, the best commercials ever made, I was really confused. REALLY confused. Blending in with Superbowl Commercials, Mustafa and his Old Spice writers created such an accurate, mocking picture of masculinity in football ads that I didn’t catch the irony. Yeah, whoops.

Since I’ve figured out what was going on, though, all I’ve wanted is two tickets to that thing I love.


I’m on a horse!

In case you were curious, the Old Spice caption text on the video on YouTube reads:

We’re not saying this body wash will make your man smell into a romantic millionaire jet fighter pilot, but we are insinuating it.

Sort of makes you want to ram a Dodge Charger into a brick wall.

Tricia Romano at The Daily Beast seems to think that Isaish Mustafa’s “inherent sex appeal” is good for America. Well duh it’s good for America. That man is HOT. Who DOESN’T need more sexy men?

But Ms. Romano also seems to think that “The choice of a black man as the desired sex object for a national advertising spot aimed at mainstream America, which is to say white America, is particularly perfect right now.” She goes on to imply that a sexy black spokesman will bring about a post-racial America.

After the break: good for America? DUH. Ending the racial divide? Er. No.

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Something to Consider – Chelsea Clinton and Male Ownership

From what I’ve been told (I was too young to really know), Chelsea Clinton grew up awkwardly, never really comfortable in the spotlight. Well, duh. If reporters had been viciously analyzing my every move when I was in high school, I wouldn’t have fared so well, either.

But damn, is that woman successful. She excelled in academics in high school, went to Stanford and Oxford, and proceeded to kick ass afterwards. This with all the negative attention as the daughter of an awkward, not-so-monogamous presidential couple.

After the break, why I care!

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Are They Feminists?

When you all sent in answers to my questions about feminism, I asked you to name someone famous and tell me whether or not you thought she was a feminist.

But as one Georgetown student pointed out, forcing people into boxes based on our individual perceptions of an idea is the exact opposite of what we’re trying to do. So I’d like to make this disclaimer before continuing: I am not explicitly calling any one of these famous women a feminist or not. I am simply using their images to further illustrate how individual respondents view feminism.

After the break: inappropriately using famous women as pawns in an intellectual exercise!!

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“I’m not a feminist, BUT…” – What the feminist community can learn from “outsiders”

Working through all of these responses was DIFFICULT (which is why it’s taken me, like, two weeks to wade through all of them and write something semi-coherent). While it was a daunting prospect to classify and organize the responses of people who were confident that they were feminists, trying to sort the emails of people who were less confident in their answers was far more overwhelming.

Most of the responses that I received, though, were from people who said that, at the core, they are feminists – they think gender roles are silly; they believe equality is important. What is keeping them from calling themselves feminists? This post is set up to demonstrate that the feminist community has a long way to go in defining itself to “outsiders” – even if people who don’t call themselves feminists are drawn to the core message feminism, as a community, we may have failed to make the nuances of feminism accessible to people who aren’t searching for them.

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“What is feminism?” – A Feminist’s Perspective

Finally, here is my first installment of some of your answers to the question I asked last week – what is a feminist? I originally wanted to separate answers based on age, but I decided it would be more interesting to talk about feminism from the perspective of people are, without qualm or question, feminists, and then to discuss answers from people who maybe aren’t feminists, or at the very least, aren’t sure.

Before I continue, I want to thank all of you who submitted answers. Everything that was written was thoughtful, intelligent, and honest. I didn’t agree with all of it – in fact, there’s a decent amount that I didn’t agree with – but I’m so glad I got to see the perspectives of so many different people. The large variety of answers had me rethinking my own identity as a feminist and really questioning what I understand as feminism, which is incredibly important, and really gave me an opportunity to solidify, clarify, and maybe modify some of my own beliefs. I hope that writing your responses – and reading those of others – will help you do the same.

After the break: feminists tell us what the hell they mean when they say that they’re feminists!

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Bella Swan: Decidedly NOT a Feminist

Thank you all for your responses! I’m in the midst of reading and organizing. Everyone who wrote in had really important things to say, and most of it differed quite a bit. I’m really excited to respond in depth to (almost) everything that’s been mentioned a few times.

I currently have 14 responses (feel free to send yours in!). Only 3 are from men. One is from a teenager. gtown girl has apparently gone international! 4 “adults” (a.k.a. not students) were willing to help out.

Here’s a few quick facts about what people seem to be thinking:

Two women said that Stephanie Meyer is NOT a feminist, but another said that Kristen Stewart might be. To quote one Georgetown student: “Oops what would I do without Edward??! I would trip over things…”

Three people specifically said that, in terms of available opportunities, class is a much more important factor than gender or sex. Four other people said that intellectually honest feminists have a responsibility to care about the way class and race (a few mentioned nationality, etc.) affect the opportunities available to us.

Sarah Palin was the most popular not/feminist. People who say that Sarah Palin is a feminist tend to regard feminists as people who do what feminists have driven towards for a century. People who say she is not say that being successful woman in her family life and career is not the only condition for being a feminist.

At least three people say that feminism has alienated those with moderate or conservative political views.

Three people say feminism is no longer really that important.

I got one response from a high school student who was surprised when she realized sexism isn’t confined to “adults.”

Two people said that the experiences of being male or being female are inherently different and should remain that way.

People who responded who are in their 30s or 40s tended to focus on tangible sexism: women getting paid less, women working the “second shift” at home, etc. Those in their teens and twenties barely mentioned anything having to do with money or workload, although a few implied it.

Please feel free to send in your responses to the following questions to mara.hollander@gmail.com

  • What is feminism?
  • Are you a feminist? Why or why not?
  • Pick a famous woman (politician, celebrity, etc.). Is she a feminist?

I’ll have a real response within the next few days, so please send in your answers soon so I can include them!