Sunday, September 2, 2012

The F-Word: Feminism in Jeopardy by Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner (2004) QUOTES

The first piece in this article that really stood out to me was in dealing with the issue of contraceptives for women and married men. Men were allowed contraceptives in some situations, but distributing birth control to women was illegal.
 “In 1916 Sanger, her sister Ethel Byrne, and Fania Mindell opened the first birth-control clinic for underprivileged women in Brooklyn, New York, only to be arrested and indicted under New York’s Comstock Law, which banned the distribution of birth control and birth-control instructions…Many doctors prescribed condoms to protect men from sexually transmitted diseases when they had extramarital or premarital sexual intercourse, but wouldn’t prescribe them for birth control for married men.”
The fact that Doctors, who were all men at that time, didn’t want to supply married men with birth control, to me, shows how women were looked at as reproductive machines. Once men were married they were encouraged to have many children and their wives were forced to do so. The quote suggests that even if a man did not wish to have any more children with his wife, he would still not be “prescribed” condoms. I feel that this law most likely encouraged men to cheat on their wives so that they were able to have sex without the ties of children that sexual intercourse comes with.
One topic in Rowe’s article that I felt personally connected with discussed women’s sexual appearance, and the ways that different women viewed feminism because of it. On page 25 is a quote from The Good Wife’s Guide, a text from 1955, now credited to Housekeeping Monthly, saying,
“Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking. He has just been with a lot of work weary people.”
I couldn’t help but laugh when I read this. I rarely put on makeup at all or do my hair in any special manner, let alone would I ever “prepare myself” 15 minutes before my husband would come home everyday so he could stand to look at me. I’m glad that I can read that text present-day and laugh at it rather than actually feel obligated to follow its ridiculous instructions. My favorite section came from page 30 where Ellen-? is discussing how today, women often try to be sexy as a way to have their own kind of subliminal control over men. She states,
“Young women see the disapproval of extremely sexy clothing as giving up one of the powers women have. I didn’t even know this was happening.”
After I graduated high school in 2010, I took a year off to work before starting at RIC last fall. Two of the four jobs that I held during that year were at a restaurant called Casey’s Bar and Grill as a hostess, busser and food runner, and at the women’s clothing store, Wet Seal, whose main target are teens and 20-somethings. On separate occasions, both employers sent me home from work to change my clothes because I was not dressed sexy enough as a hostess at Casey’s or as a sales associate at Wet Seal. The manager at Wet Seal actually said to me that my appearance was not, “appealing enough in the eye of the customer [their] establishment hopes to gain the support of.” I was obviously offended, but especially now with the recent scandal over Urban Outfitters’ ‘back-to-school’ t-shirts, I gladly went home and never to return, confident that I was not one of Wet Seal’s or Urban Outfitters’ target consumers.
I found this article to be a really good reminder of the issues women face everyday without even realizing, and a great introductory piece to start the semester. The issues raised in this article on birth control, marriage and a married man’s right to the number of children he wants makes me wonder if love was even a factor in marriage in the past. Also, with the growing number of pregnancies of unmarried couples today, is marriage now becoming the legal bond making having children socially acceptable? Around 11 million women in the United States take a daily birth control pill, including myself, many without ever thinking that at one time, taking contraceptives was illegal, and that someday it could possibly be made illegal again. I am excited to talk in class about birth control, and to see what everyone thinks about its future depending on who wins the upcoming election. Other than the issue of women’s rights, are there environmental consequences that would lead to the possible illegalization of birth control pills?
Here is a video I found on when i searched "women as reproductive machines." HA! 


  1. Hey, Maggie! First off, awesome background on your blog! The first quote that you posted completely frustrated me as well. The fact that doctors promote men cheating outside of their relationship, and using sex solely to procreate while in a relationship is terrible! My girlfriend used to work at Casey's bar and grille. She never mentioned having an issue with the dress code, but I believe what you said. Good for you leaving those jobs, though! I hope that you are working some place now where you and your choices in clothing are respected. That OvaCue commercial is ridiculous! I thought for sure that it was a spoof, or a joke! I can't believe they'd create machines to determine the "perfect" time for women to try and get pregnant. It really does make them seem like reproductive machines!

  2. totally i agree with the last part Jen said...I swear some man only look at us as baby making machines and nothing more. And I so glad I never say that commercial on TV I cant believe that was real, I totallly thought it was fake as well.

  3. Its pretty crazy to think about the aspect that women were seen as machines for pushing out babies. I would have never of looked at it that way, and is interesting to think that Doctor's were advocating that type of behavior. And the commercial couldn't have been anymore perfect

    And to think they legitimately sent you home for not being dressed in a manner that was sexual is appalling and bullshit if you ask me. Good for you standing up for yourself and not going back!