Intel: Apple is Simple, ‘For Moms’

Here’s a quick hit from the tech world (courtesy of my father, expert lurker of Mac blogs):

Intel CEO Paul Otellini recently took a swipe at Steve Jobs for what he thinks is a “step back” in the forthcoming Apple TV design. Citing Apple TV’s lack of full internet features, Otellini said that the product would be for his “mom,” while Google TV would offer something more serious, more advanced, for someone like his son.

This is indeed reminiscent of Droid’s hypermasculine campaign, or Dell’s “Della, for women!” Are women & moms really the barometers for simplistic, unsophisticated, dulled-down products? Is that really fair?

Otellini’s comment wasn’t just a factual exploration of the different demographic targets or marketing strategies between the two products; it was an insult. And a somewhat petty one, too, as the backstory shows that Apple had chosen to forgo Intel’s Pentium M processor for their TV, opting instead for an ARM chip. Now that the two companies aren’t business partners, Intel is suggesting the only market for Apple’s product is moms, too confused to use anything advanced. Sounds like stereotyping to me.

Zoolander - "iiiiin the computer?"

Minnesota GOP: “Democrat Women Are Dogs”

Well, this is classy:

The Republican website for a Minnesota Senate race posted a video, highlighting the latest reason you should vote for a GOP candidate this election cycle: Republican women are hot; Democrats are dogs. The YouTube clip shows photos of Republican women in flattering glamorized poses (frequently in bikinis), juxtaposed with purposely unflattering– often photoshopped– photos of Democratic women. Tom Jones’ “She’s A Lady” plays in the background for the former; “Who Let The Dogs Out?” plays for the latter.

I’d expect an immature video such as this to circulate among newly politically-aware college frat boys on Facebook– not to be given legitimacy by a front page spot on a State Senate website. This is offensive to both sides, as once again a woman’s most significant characteristic is her physical appearance.

Republican House candidate Kathy Lohmer, as well as District 56 Senator Kathy Saltzman have spoken out against the video, pointing– rightfully so– to sexism. Lohmer called for the resignation of the website manager, who admitted to posting the video. Without apologizing, the webmaster explained he found the video funny, and asked why it even mattered.

Why does it matter? Because it’s a tiresome, sexist tactic that detracts from real issues and logic, and leaves women as the butt of the joke. Because women’s ability to participate fully in society and politics still hinges on being taken seriously for anything other than physical appearance. Because your own party’s candidates are offended, and it would behoove you to listen to them. But wait. You’re too busy staring at them.

Target Under Fire for Anti-Gay Donations

It was only last December that the HRC released its “Buy For Equality” report on corporate equality practices, highlighting Target’s 100% rating on LGBTQ rights. But now the gay rights group has issued a clear repudiation of the retail giant, calling on them to seriously reevaluate their donation policies, or lose all support of “fair-minded individuals.”

The fallout occurred when the HRC uncovered Target’s donations to a vehemently anti-gay rights politician. Apparently the company gave $150,000 to a group that supports Tom Emmer, a Republican candidate for Minnesota governor. Tom Emmer, as is the case for many Republican politicians, does not support gay marriage; in fact, it’s an issue that’s even made it onto his campaign website. But what’s disturbing about Emmer is that he goes a step further. In a political climate where many candidates, even conservative, are attempting to walk the line and avoid being labeled as bigoted, Emmer shows no real concern in this area. In 2007, he authored a constitutional amendment to block same-sex marriage and civil unions. He also attempted to alter language in legislation to block same-sex partners from receiving any benefits in a variety of circumstances– including employment, parenting, and death.

Emmer also has had a controversial relationship with an extremist Christian group, You Can Run But You Cannot Hide (YCR) Ministry. This group isn’t just concerned with blocking political and societal equity for LGBT citizens— but has expressed support of violent measures against gay people. Advocating the recent Ugandan push to execute LGBT people, YCR leader remarked:

“[Any Muslim country that executes homosexuals] seems to be more moral than even the American Christians do…They know homosexuality is an abomination.”

Emmer has apparently donated money to the group, and has made public statements expressing his approval for the organization. Even when confronted with this particularly extreme language, Emmer commented:

“These are nice people. Are we going to agree on everything? No….but I really appreciate their passion and you know what, I respect their point of view… “

Target’s financial support for this GOP candidate has surprised many. I wrote last December on Target’s 100% approval rating from the HRC, which stood in stark contrast to competitor Wal-Mart’s 40%. In order to get this endorsement from the HRC, a group must score perfectly on inclusion of LGBTQ langauge for diversity policies, EEO policies, and also offer domestic partners benefits. Target additionally has supported gay rights within the community, including sponsoring Twin Cities Pride, and a Minnesota AIDS walk that conservative organizations shy away from.

Target’s CEO has issued an apology and explanation, confirming that it makes its donation decisions based on business interests, not social causes. But after weeks of negotiation with HRC, Target has chosen to take no corrective action, and not to offer an equivalent payment to a pro-gay organization.

That Target’s primary objective is to look out for business interests makes sense. But LGBTQ-rights advocates have a right to feel thrown under the bus by an organization they thought was socially progressive. I find Target’s lack of concern for this issue disconcerting. A symbolic $150,000 to an equality organization is a drop in the bucket for a company consistently reaching earnings higher than analyst projections, even in hard economic times. Unknowingly supporting a candidate who is anti-gay marriage is one thing– but supporting one who appears complacent with extremist, hate crime violence is indeed another.

Women face off in Oklahoma Gubernatorial Race

Whether Oklahoma elects a Republican or Democrat as governor this November, one thing is clear– it will be a woman.

Republican Mary Fallin & Democrat Jari Askins

A woman has never before occupied the gubernatorial position in Oklahoma, a gender disparity that exists for 26 other states, as well. And as NPR reports, an all-female face-off for a state’s top elected position has only happened 3 times in United States history (once in Nebraska, and again in Hawaii).

For these two candidates, there are almost more similarities than differences. Both women bring to this race a history of breaking gender barriers in state politics. Mary Fallin, the Republican candidate, was the first woman elected to Congress from Oklahoma since 1921. She is currently Vice Chair of the Congressional Women’s Caucus. Her opponent is Jari Askins, the current Lieutenant Governor of OK. Askins was previously the first female to lead a caucus in Oklahoma’s legislature. Both Fallin and Askins are the first two– and only two– women to have occupied the position of Lieutenant Governor in the state’s history. (Fallin served from 1995–2007).

Both women faced difficult elections to become their party’s nominee. Askins only narrowly eclipsed the NRA-endorsed candidate who was favored to win. In the Republican primary, Fallin faced gendered criticism when her opponent, Randy Brogdon called on her to “stop hiding behind the skirt of Sarah Palin.”

The race should be an interesting one, particularly because it is predicted to be a close one.

As the NYT puts it: In Oklahoma, it’s not the year of the woman. It’s the year of the women.

Doctor Tries to Vaccinate Against Lesbianism & Interest in Male Careers

A steroid known as dexamethasone has been making headlines in its connection with prenatal usage and health risks. Yet one team of doctors remains committed to the drug, and is currently conducting studies to prove the effects of its use on reduction of homosexuality and ‘masculine life choices’ in girls.

Yes, you read that right. Dr. Maria New and her team are offering pregnant women injections of the steroid in hopes of preventing female fetuses from growing up to be lesbians, disinterested in “childcare/housewife roles”– or just generally uppity. They’re focusing on fetuses that may have CAH– congenital adrenal hyperplasia– which results in excess male hormones in the womb, but does not affect internal sex organs.

Studies have apparently shown that women with CAH have higher rates of homosexuality and lower rates of a desire for motherhood. As Dr. New’s research partner writes:

“CAH women as a group have a lower interest… in getting married and performing the traditional child-care/housewife role. As children, they show an unusually low interest in engaging in maternal play with baby dolls, and their interest in caring for infants, the frequency of daydreams or fantasies of pregnancy and motherhood.”

And this, the doctors believe, is an illness that must be treated– an imbalance that must be rectified. CAH isn’t some life-threatening problem, nor does it have any noticeable health effects. But for Dr. New, disinterest in performing the housewife role may as well be a disease. Dexamethasone is a potentially dangerous treatment thats experimental use has been denounced by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Lawson Wilkins Pediatric Endocrine Society, the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology, the European Society of Endocrinology, the Society of Pediatric Urology, the Androgen Excess and PCOS Society, and the CARES Foundation. But that doesn’t concern these doctors. They have categorized interest in “men’s careers and games” as abnormal, a desire that has to be fixed.

“[We must try to] restore this baby to the normal female appearance which would be compatible…with her eventually becoming somebody’s wife, and having normal sexual development, and becoming a mother. And she has all the machinery for motherhood, and therefore nothing should stop that, if we can repair her psychologically to continue to grow and develop as a girl.”

I always figured my childhood disinclination for Barbie, my lack of ‘fantasies of pregnancy,’  my skepticism of the institution of marriage & my desire for a career were byproducts of second wave feminist progress, solid education, quality parenting and independent, critical thinking. But hey, maybe I just needed some experimental steroids to fix my faulty female brain.

It’s been 24 years since homosexuality was removed entirely from the DSM. Yet this scientific crusade wants to believe that never happened, that homosexuality is a disorder to be fixed in the womb. The good news is that many have criticized their work on grounds of being ethically and even physically harmful.  Columnist Dan Savage picked up the story and castigated Dr. New’s research– highlighting the accomplishments of ‘untraditional’ women:

…The existence of adult women who are not interested in “becoming someone’s wife” and “making babies” constitutes a medical emergency that requires us to treat women who are currently pregnant with a dangerous experimental hormone. Otherwise their daughters might grow up to, um, be nominated to sit on the Supreme Court, serve as cabinet secretaries, take 18 Grand Slam singles titles, win Grammies, and take their girlfriends to prom.

Even if this sort of research is met with widespread criticism, it still has scary implications for classifying homosexuality as a disorder, as something to be avoided. Or for women who break out of the feminine mold, who seek to devote their energy not to birthing babies but to challenging gender norms by rising to the top of traditional male industries. Perhaps the salient, lamentable irony in this whole story is that Dr. Maria New herself is a female trailblazer– studying medicine at Cornell and UPenn in the 1950s, when there were only three other women at the time. As noted in her oral history transcript, she was driven, smart, and successful– but also came to believe that her main calling was to be a mother. So perhaps ‘male careers’ are acceptable for a woman– provided you have enough female interests to qualify you as the right kind of woman.

Regardless of Dr. New’s team’s genuine interest in treating a hormone ‘imbalance,’ their advocated angle & word choice is unacceptable. They’d rather inject pregnant women with steroids that have a host of unexplored, detrimental side effects than let babies grow into adults who might be gay, might be childless, and might just be successful.

Anti-Rape Condom Distributed at World Cup

What I’m about to say will fall into the “typical feminist buzzkill” stereotype– but, hey, it wouldn’t be the first time:

While most of you are undoubtedly watching the World Cup US v. Ghana game, think about the following: During one typical 90 minute game, 317 women in South Africa will be raped. It isn’t fun to think about, but one South African doctor is taking action against this sobering statistic. Sonette Ehlers has invented Rape-axe, a female condom-like device that painfully attaches itself to the perpetrator’s penis.

Rape-ax can be worn inconspicuously, but upon penetration, a man will experience teeth-like hooks that do not break the skin, but are very painful. Rape-axe can only be removed by a doctor, which Ehlers hopes will increase the sexual assault arrests in her country. Currently, only 7% of reported rapes result in a conviction in South Africa.

It’s an interesting idea, but there are two things that concern me:

  1. This is being marketed as an “anti-rape” condom, but the fact is, once the rapist becomes attached to the device, rape has already occurred. It may shorten the assault, but it certainly doesn’t prevent it.
  2. It’s generally considered fact that rape is about power and aggression, not sexual pleasure. If an already-aggressive rapist comes into contact with Rape-Axe, I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume he could become more violent. Amidst intense pain and a foiled assault, he could likely take his rage out on the victim. In this case, the attack has the potential to become more traumatizing, more deadly.

Perhaps if it were widely distributed, the condom could have a deterring effect. But I’d be cautious about predicting the positive effects of Rape-Axe thus far. Solving Africa’s sexual assault and HIV/AIDS crises isn’t going to be accomplished through a toothed condom, because it’s much too linked with social attitudes, corrupt legal systems, hypermasculinity and war. Still, in a country where women are resorting to inserting razor blades wrapped in sponges, maybe this device can empower some women to protect themselves in a safer way.

Spirit Airlines Ad Objectifies Women, Mocks Oil Spill

Via Jezebel:

Today Spirit Airlines came out with this advertisement for coastal flights, featuring a greased-up woman in a bikini, with the header: “Check Out The Oil On Our Beaches.”

This ad is particularly tacky for multiple reasons– exploiting women as well as the oil crisis. This time, it’s not just the feminists who are upset. Spirit received so many complaints, it took down the ad and posted this apology on its site:

It is unfortunate that some have misunderstood our intention with today’s beach promotion.  We are merely addressing the false perception that we have oil on our beaches, and we are encouraging customers to support Florida and our other beach destinations by continuing to travel to these vacation hot spots.

I guess it’s really too much to expect from a company whose previous ad campaigns featured a game of “digging for Jimmy Hoffa” as well as the following tag line: We’re No Virgin! We’ve Been Cheap and Easy For Years!

What are your thoughts on this ad?