Wednesday, June 29, 2011
I didn't think...I didn't feel engaged (in fact I was dozing off)...basically: I didn't care. So when the super-mega-actiony-jam-packed-with-robotness went down, my mind turned off and the movie just...well... happened.
However, now with a few days for it to simmer in my mind, I've been thinking more clearly about it. At first, I thought to myself, "You should write a blog about the gender of the Transformer franchise." Then I realized that's like saying, "You should write a blog about the sexism of Playboy" or something similarly obvious. The truth is that you can summarize the gender portrayal of most of the Transformer franchise in one sentence. Women are either hot (Megan Fox) or stupid (the mom).
But then a new identity for women emerged through Transformers 3. Guess what guys!?! Now women can be hot, stupid, and/or BITCHES! YAY OPTIONS!
I'm sure anyone who has kept up on this film series knows why Megan Fox is no longer involved. But just in case you're not familiar, I'll catch you up. Megan Fox played the female lead in the first two movies of the series, the main dude's girlfriend, Mikaela. But then Fox had a very public falling out with the director, Michael Bay (widely regarded by most movie buffs as the fourth horseman of the good film apocalypse.) She says she quit, Michael Bay says he fired her...all around bad blood, name calling, that kind of stuff.
Well this real life falling out makes an awkward appearance in the most recent installment of the Transformers series. We learn that the main character Sam Whitwicky (Shia LeBeouf) has a new girlfriend and she's equally super hot, but she's dressed all in white to convey angelness. She's a smart, career oriented, good girl (not at all like Mikaela, the tom boy rebel.) The audience has no idea why Mikaela and Sam aren't together anymore, but we do know that she dumped him and there are at least 2-3 references to Mikaela being a bitch and "Man, aren't you glad she's not around anymore."
Um, excuse me? What?
The thing is, if you watch movies 1 and 2 (which I don't actually recommend for the record) we're definitely supposed to like Mikaela. Here, I could go off on a tangent about how her main purpose is to be eye candy, her character is woefully underdeveloped, and Megan Fox is an underwhelming actress, but I'll refrain and stick with the surface depiction of her. She's designed to be the supportive female character who we want to end up with Sam in the first movie and we want to stay with Sam in the second. Their story is designed to be the human element to an other wise rock 'em sock 'em robots heavy action plot.
So Sam gets the girl (Mikaela) and we are all happy. Never once is it hinted that she's a bitch or that she's anything other than too good for him, really.
But then comes Transformers 3 and Mikaela's just gone.
So let's review. Megan Fox and Michael Bay have a real life falling out. So Michael Bay has to come up with some reason that the new movie is Mikaela-free, despite attempting to convince us for two other movies that she's awesome and they will live happily ever after. But wait! His core audience doesn't see his films for the human story. They don't really care what happens to Sam between rock 'em sock 'em robot fights. So Michael Bay has an obvious option: gloss over the Sam Mikaela break up. Brilliant!
And he does this. And that's fine. But what he didn't need to do was throw in random jabs at Mikaela being a bitch. And make no mistake...those were not merely innocent jokes at Mikaela being a bitch, they had a clear purpose of saying the same thing to audience about Megan Fox (you know, the real life person who had a falling out with the director.) And this message was not subtle. I saw this movie at an advanced screening which was composed of at least 55% fan boys and trust me...those lines didn't go over their heads. They were quite well received with hearty laughter. It was like sitting in a theater with a bunch of dudebros listening to their head dudebro talk smack about his ex. "Haha! She is a bitch!"
It was gross and unnecessary.
Listen, Michael Bay, I get it. Megan Fox called you a Nazi and that's not cool. But from where I'm sitting, insulting her in Transformers 3 makes you look like a petty cry baby. Of course, as I mentioned, Michael Bay isn't exactly known for being classy, so none of this comes as a surprise. But it certainly feels like a big powerful man sitting up on his throne reminding everyone that if they cross him, they'll never work in this town again!!!1!!1
And for the record, if a girl dumps you, it doesn't automatically make her a bitch. Maybe she was just tired of your constant involvement with giant battling robots and wanted a simpler, slower paced life. Or maybe you make really shitty movies and she got tired of straddling motorcycles in booty shorts. Who knows?
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
The site is female hetero dating oriented, but I think the advice could apply to anyone, so replace with your pronoun of choice! It looks like I'll be writing a few places other than just here, so keep an eye out for links. Exciting stuff--I'm honored to be asked.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Ok, all of those are great, really. And I'm all of those things. But I have seen an increasing number of liberals and feminists who only really accept you if you believe what they do, all while claiming open mindedness. Put them in front of a woman who wants to stay at home with her kids, or a family that goes to church every Sunday, and suddenly, you'll hear them make assumptions. A lot of assumptions and judgements.
Seriously--that's not ok. Actually being open minded means that you truly accept people as they are. You let them define themselves. I'm all for challenging each other through civil discourse--but not for making unfair judgments about others and certainly not hating people. Not ever.
It's like I say in my line of work: being pro-girl doesn't mean being anti-boy. You can extend this to so many other situations...being pro-queer doesn't mean being anti-hetero. Being pro-religious freedom doesn't mean being anti-Christian, and so on.
So yeah friends, just because you're liberal, it doesn't mean your automatically open minded. It's very easy to accept others who are very similar to you. Try accepting someone who isn't.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
One of my favorite quotes. In that spirit, I don't think I've mentioned this, so here it is. My good friend Cori is doing an internship in Bangladesh. She's learning all kinds of interesting things...and she views the whole thing from a feminist perspective. I thought this one was particularly interesting, so check it out!
Cori Writes HerStory: Internal Struggles vs. Cultural Experience
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
I feel shady not mentioning that I am, in fact, married to the filmmaker, so there's that. But that shouldn't make you think that I'm mindlessly plugging his work simply because he is my husband. The truth is that I'm really freaking excited to see this project come together, because I believe it it. I've seen the entire process, and I've even had my hand in a few of the ideas behind it.
So far, I've seen 6 minutes of this film. Six minutes and I cried. I knew the story was good; I'd read the script, but seeing the actors bring it to life was a whole other thing. This crew and this project are something special...something new and fresh.
The catch is that to finish the project and to give this innovative production a stage, they need help. Please consider donating. Even $10 helps.
I'm not sure what else I can say. You're not going to want to miss out on being a part of this. Don't make me say, "told you so" later.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
But now I give you... A WHOLE NEW LOOK, NAME, AND URL!
Scattered Feminist Thoughts was just something I slapped together. The truth is it's too long...and doesn't have a ring to it. So imagine my joy when I learned that not only was www.nerdyfeminist.com available, but it was also super easy to make the transition through a Google powered URL purchase on Blogger.
I know it can be scary that Google is close to running the entire world, but when you can use go through such a seamless transition as I just did, getting a new domain name in about .25 seconds, you overlook the scariness.
YAY nerdy feminist!
Monday, June 20, 2011
Obviously, fathers play a big role; whether present or not, positive or not, the choices that fathers make can and do have real and lasting impact on their kids. However, Peggy Drexler in the Washington Post takes it too far:
No matter how successful their careers, how happy their marriages, or how fulfilling their lives, women told me that their happiness passed through a filter of their fathers' reactions...I'm sorry. That's bull. Sure, this may be true for many women and in many situations. I'll give you that. But, as Erin Gloria Ryan said over at Jezebel (where I got this link)...
While I realize that the plural of anecdote is not data, when there are enough anecdotal exceptions to a generalization, that generalization should no longer be made. The claim that all women factor their father's judgment into everything seems like a reach, especially considering how often women do things that their parents would probably not care to know about.
Right on. When I read things like Drexler's piece I get a little enraged. I feel that I turned out pretty awesome *despite* my dad. It has taken me many years and a lot of growing up, but I can finally say I understand that my dad always had good intentions for me in his heart of hearts. However, schizophrenia and a tendency for verbal abuse meant that even the good lessons I've learned from him are tinged with sadness and anger. I don't use his flawed judgement as a filter. That would be foolish.
But enough about me...something else happened this Father's Day weekend that makes this piece all the more infuriating. Two of my dearest friends Myranda (who contributes here) and her wife Brittany brought a beautiful daughter into the world. Her name is Liliana.
So when I read something that posits:
Part of this need takes form early in life-when a father is a girl's portal to the world of men. I call fathers a girl's GPS-gender positioning system. It's how women begin to orient themselves in a confusing and (especially of late) fluid landscape of gender expectations.
Absent that GPS, many women find themselves adrift.
...I get a defensive. Not only because I, personally, do not like this reductionist view of what fathers mean to daughters, but also because statements like this paint an unjustly grim view for girls growing up like Liliana and erase their perspectives and very lives. I am all for a nuanced discussion of gender and parents role in gender expectations, but Drexler doesn't do that. She seems to take on a simplistically nostalgic view for times when gender roles were stricter.
Ok, ok. I might be putting words in her mouth. I guess my main point is this: A lot of people grow up like me, with fathers who aren't positive, and yet we find a way to cope and grow. And more and more people are going to grow up like Liliana, in loving, two-parent households that happen to be same sex couplings. Do we really think that this will lead to some deficiency in their development?
It seems some of us do. Drexler would counter:
Nontraditional families are gaining acceptance everywhere, from TV sitcoms to our own neighborhoods. But even in such families that are successful in every other respect, I found that the absence of a father during a girl's formative years resonates into adulthood.Oh wow...
All I can say is that the passing of years will be the proof. I can only hope that by the time Liliana is my age, absolutist claims like this about "nontraditional" families will be laughable.
The more research same sex couples have to show that their kids are as well adjusted and successful as other kids, the less we will hear these type of assertions. I can't think of anything better than for a child to grow up in a house full of love, where she was very much wanted. Every girl who doesn't have a father is not doomed to seek out destructive relationships. So long as she grows up with a model of a healthy relationship and family values which encourage respect and empathy, she'll be ok.
So I'm not worried about Liliana. In fact, I'm kind of jealous of her. She was born into an amazing family with many strong women (and men!) who love her very much. She'll be just fine. Congrats, Myranda and Brittany!
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
However, the more I write and think about HAES, the more I realize that this is not enough. It's not enough to tell girls they can no longer engage in "fat talk."
The real solution is to remove the negative spin on the descriptor "fat" (as I've argued before.) Because, let's face it, some of us are fat. And that's ok.
I mean, I think that getting girls to stop engaging in all kinds of negative talk is great, but we should also be able to use the word "fat" without it having the negative connotations it has. But we gotta start somewhere, I suppose.
Baby steps, people.
Monday, June 13, 2011
To put it in one word: Amazing. I was so happy to be a part of this awesome event. I will say, I got pretty emotional. As Brooke Axtell spoke about her experience as a survivor of rape, I felt chills...the powerful words she spoke to the crowd stayed with me as we embarked on our trek, "Keep talking until somebody listens...Rape is soul murder and the resurrection is extremely painful. Only you can tell the story you need to tell to honor the truth."
I had a lump in my throat as I walked with my dude in support of all people facing rape survivorship, to support them and to clearly display the message: the victim is never to blame.
I was moved by the range of people in attendance. There were people of all ages, colors, gender expressions, sexual orientations, and backgrounds of all kinds. This video, from the story above, much better tells the story:
HOWEVER, I will say, I was very, very disappointed to hear the event organizers say that "this is not a feminist event, this is a humanist event."
Besides being categorically wrong (there's not much more feminist things than SlutWalk!) this idea perpetuates the negative stereotypes of feminism as a movement. When we are afraid of the word "feminist" and opt for words that people don't find so scary (ie humanist) we give more power to feminism's detractors. We've got to stop accepting the "I'm not a feminist but" mentality and understand that those of use who want to end sexism, who care about empowering girls, and who walk to end victim blaming are feminists. The solution, is to advocate for widespread acceptance of the term, not avoid it.
Anyway, I loved SlutWalk. I loved chanting with other feminists (and YES men can be and are feminists!) about the end of victim blaming. I loved everything about it!
Thursday, June 9, 2011
A: So much, that "Skinny Bitch" is a popular book and line of weight loss related products.
As I'm sure you can guess, I have a big problem with this. Not only do I generally dislike anything that labels someone a bitch, I'm also not a big fan of shaming any woman's body...even people who fit beauty ideals.
The problem with labeling thin women as "the enemy" is that it does nothing to help the acceptance of fat women. It just creates more division between women and falls into girl-on-girl crime. It perpetuates the idea that a thin body is one to be envied/desired.
Body acceptance is a multi-faceted process, and I believe that you can't truly love your body if you continue to hate other people's, be they fat OR thin.
Plus hating on another woman's looks is just all around misogynistic...tired...and cliche. Stop thinking that skinny girls (or girls with great hair...boobs...perfect teeth...nice skin...etc.) are bitches.
They're just living their lives. Live yours.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
This case of classic victim blaming spoke to the world of feminists and dozens of sister SlutWalks popped up around the world out of solidarity and in an effort to end victim blaming once and for all.
In case you're not up on victim blaming, I've written a bit about it before. The simple definition is any time someone identifies any attribute of the victim as a possible source/provoker of her rape/assault. Common examples include:
"She drank too much, she was out of control."
"She sleeps with everyone anyway."
"Well did you see how she was dressed? She was asking for it."
OR that idea's much more mild cousin "Well did you see how she was dressed? When you go out like that you know people will look."
OR perhaps the most well accepted of all, "sexual assault prevention programs" that essentially put the responsibility not to get raped back on women and the things they do in their daily lives.
Just in case all of this isn't gelling with you yet, let me put it like this.
The following things DO NOT get you raped:
where you choose to walk and when
whether or not you've chosen to have sex in the past, how many times, and with who
how much you drink
whether or not you pay attention to your surroundings
anything else you do or say
The following things DO get you raped: A rapist. That's it.
Anyway, back to SlutWalks. If you would like a really good read and interview on the topic, check out the links in which Jessica Valenti speaks about SlutWalks' place in contemporary feminism and the controversial use of the term slut within the moment's name.
Honestly, I'm really excited to participate this weekend. Ever since I had my eyes opened up to the wide scale prevalence and acceptance of victim blaming, I've been horrified. And I've paid closer attention, leaving me further horrified to see how very common it actually is.
While SlutWalkers often don "sexy" clothing to drive home the point that women should be free to wear/do what they want and that clothes/actions don't get your raped, I will be wearing my normal clothes. I will be making this choice 1) because I'm me and "sexy" clothing ain't my thing. and 2) I will be representing the other half of the coin as the women in slutty clothes, namely the fact that it doesn't matter what you dress like, look like, your age, color, ability, or "attractiveness." We're all, sadly, potential victims of sexual and gender based violence in this world.
I'm sure I'll be writing about my experience sometime soon, and hopefully with pictures.
Friday, June 3, 2011
I'm in the IU School of Social Work Master's program and this semester I did my first practicum at IYG, which is fantastic organization that serves LGBTQ youth and their straight allies. It was, by far, the most I've learned in any given professional or educational setting yet. I enjoyed it so much that I am continuing to volunteer, regardless of the fact that I'm not done with grad school, have a full-time job, and a baby on the way. It's that good.
One of the main reasons my experience was so incredible was due to the fact that the youth constantly challenge me, my ideas, my biases, and my beliefs. I love it. This blog is an example of one of these instances.
A group of teenage lesbians that hang out at IYG on a regular basis have this way of labelling each other...bros and hoes. The more "butch" type of lesbians are bros, and the more "femme" type of lesbians are hoes. I first heard this and thought it was a joke, so laughed it off. Then I began to realize that they were literally categorizing themselves according to gender expression, using this phrase that douchebag straight guys use for their friends and girls they sleep with. You know...those guys that wear cargo shorts and air max's out to the club. I was offended, as a feminist and as a lesbian. I corrected one of the girls and told her that was inappropriate and not to say that anymore.
I mean...right? As a feminist lesbian, regardless of where I am on the butch-femme spectrum, I wouldn't want to be called a bro or a hoe. I'm not a man, never wish to be, so don't call me your bro. And I'll be damned if anyone calls me a hoe. I don't care if you mean it in jest or not. Not funny. The girl I corrected in this situation got pretty upset with me. She said, "Never mind you just don't get it" and walked away. So...I've been thinking.
I can't stand when I hear or read about a second-waver who feels as if our third-wave feminism isn't as valid or revolutionary because it doesn't look or sound like their revolution. It gets under my skin something fierce. I've vowed to never be so stuck in my own ideas and visions for the future that I'd be resistant to a younger generation's picture of change. Have I done that already? At the ripe old age of 25?
These girls are in the prime of their adolescence. They've all come out in their schools, to their friends, and to their families. They are secure in who they are and what they want. They easily identify as gay women, and they are not afraid to express their sexuality or their gender in the way they feel free to (which I definitely could not have said about myself as a teenager). Some of these girls express their female masculinity proudly. They have this connection to each other that they don't have with the other girls who don't share this sense of masculinity. They are, in fact, bros. Some of the other girls have a femininity that is uniquely their own. They strut into the center with their lip gloss and pumps on like they were walking down a runway. They are proud to be feminine gay women. They have reclaimed a term that was, and still is, used against women to be degrading. They don't see it that way. They're not promiscuous or dressed scantily clad. But they're the hoes, and they'll tell you so.
Even as I just wrote that last sentence, I did so uncomfortably. This is not my language. I will not be calling my friends bros...or hoes. But should I be correcting this language to make it mimic something more similar to my own? I'm not so sure anymore. This blog is meant to be a question, not an answer. But challenges like these are refreshing, to say the least. Those kids give me hope for our future.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
I am here to get this month rolling! First here are a couple of fun bits of info:
1) It's Pride Month!
2) Sorry, Indiana. Your law sucks!
3) I've decided to start a list of what I'm calling "A Feminist's Guide to Working in the Nonprofit Sector" from my experience of studying and working in nonprofits. Truth be told, many of the observations are probably applicable to everyone, but since this is a feminist blog and I view the world through a feminist lens, I'm calling it a feminist's guide. Deal. Here's what I have so far:
- Get use to wage depression: I mean, come on. They're called "nonprofits" for crying out loud. You don't go into them to make bank. However, as a feminist in the nonprofit sector, I am also able to realize that my field has low wages for a multitude of reasons, many of them including sexism. In other words, when a career is associated with feminine traits (like helping others), it is compensated much lower than other fields. There's the prototypical example of teachers. Nonprofit workers are the same. So while I can sit back and objectively say that my hard work is as valuable to our society as, say, an electrician, I'm going to have to suffer crap pay. And there's not a whole lot to do about it. Nonprofits are funded by the generosity of supporters, be they corporations, foundations, individuals, or governments. Often, funding is uncertain year to year, so you don't get the chance to ask for many raises. Any training you've had in negotiation is relatively wasted. It's just not possible when most nonprofits are simply concerned with staying afloat. Which brings me to my second point...
- You'll probably feel like a suck up: Your very job depends on other people opening their wallets. And unlike the for profit sector, the item you offer them in exchange is very intangible. So you find yourself apologizing for things that aren't your mistake and continuously thanking people. Continuously. It gets exhausting, but that's one of the rules of the game. There's no room for cut throatedness in this sector. So get used to be very, very gracious. Practice saying "thank you" a hundred times a day. In every email. In every interaction. Thank you. Many thanks. Much appreciation. With gratitude. Thanks a million.
- You will make an impact, but you very rarely will see it directly: This can be very difficult for those of us who are results oriented. When you work in nonprofits aimed at the empowerment of women and girls (like I do) you can't expect to see a young woman change her entire viewpoint from participating in one workshop or one summer camp. It takes a shift in your expectations; one which helps you understand that you are merely planting the seeds of change that will hopefully take root as the years pass.
- Your hard work will be belittled: This goes hand in hand with the pay thing. Despite the fact that nonprofits are everywhere around us, they are vastly misunderstood. The organizations I have worked for seek to give girls very practical skills and/or impact their world view. They have the goals of producing socially conscious, informed, confident women. However when I'm talking to your layperson, I often hear "Oh, so do you all offer dance classes?" or "So you probably do a lot of crafts then." Now, I've got nothing against dance or crafts. They're both great. But when I'm neck deep in creating a curriculum designed to help girls understand how to get help for a friend who's in an abusive relationship, I can't help but roll my eyes at these questions. People seem to hear "working with girls" as "doing really stereotypically girly things." Which, of course, is exactly the opposite of what I do. Which leads seamlessly to...
- Either figure out a short hand for what it is exactly that you do at your particular nonprofit, or just get used to people misunderstanding it: Had I prepared an elevator speech going into my jobs, I could have saved a lot of annoyance.
- You will discuss everything. To death. Twice. And then again: One of the benefits of the nonprofit sector is that there are a lot more women in director/executive positions. The sector allows women to advance and grow professionally, so there are tons of opportunities for female leaders. Also, the nonprofits I have been a part of are a lot more flat and less hierarchical. They rely upon group input. I feel this also leads to a lot of discussion. Like a lot. Now, far be it from me to rely on stereotypes...I don't think that women are annoying talk-a-lots. I realize that not ALL women are naturally more discussion oriented. Regardless, discussions tend to be much longer and much more detailed than I've encountered in the other settings. This is both good and bad. On one side, you feel heard. You get a chance to share your thoughts and your supervisor isn't making unilateral decisions to the detriment of the organization. On the other hand, it can take a REALLY long time to come to any conclusions and oftentimes things feel unproductive for those of us who are concrete sequentials. Just prepare for that.
- Surround yourself with people who motivate you to keep going: Every setting has a negative Nancy, and the nonprofit sector is no different. However, I've had the good fortune to find coworkers who truly care about me and the mission, and who keep me grounded and excited. I hope that the nonprofit sector continues to have so many women who fit this description, because I've found them to be the heart and soul of each organization, without whom there would be failure. Bond with the people who can be this support to you. You need each other, because the job's not going to provide you with incentives like high pay or low stress. Besides, there's something really beautiful about women working together for a shared purpose.
- Ask for help: This is a lesson that flies in the face of what we, the modern woman, are told. We're supposed to be smart, strong, confident, and capable. However, the truth is that we all find ourselves stepping in shit every now and then. Good nonprofits have many of the qualities I've already described: they allow women to advance (so you should be able to find helpful mentors) and they have a support system. Use these things to your benefit and when you need help, seek it out.
- Take time to recognize the victories: Like I said, it can be hard to go into work at a nonprofit and think, "I accomplished THIS today and I feel great." It's not like Dunder Mifflin where Dwight can say, "I sold 1,000 reams of paper!" Because things are much more intangible, YOU have to make the choice to pause and recognize what you've accomplished. No one is going to do this for you. You've got to allow yourself the time to reflect and brag a little (at least to the people who don't mind you doing so, like partners and best friends, for example.) It's really, really important to do this because otherwise the overworked and underpaid nature of it will eat you alive. You've got to remember why it's worth it.