Thursday, March 29, 2012

Size Acceptance...Close, But Not Quite

I feel like I'm seeing more and more of this type of thing: articles/blogs which celebrate bigger women, but sorta miss the mark. The one here, which I randomly stumbled upon (I know literally nothing about the site I just linked) is called "10 Incredibly Hot Women who are a Size 12 or Larger" and it delivers exactly what it promised.

Except...there are a few other messages I get with this type of curvy-celebration, namely now ALL WOMEN can be sex objects. YAAAAY!

But don't be TOO big. Or TOO dark. Or non stereotypically feminine. Sigh.

I know, I know. I need to appreciate these efforts for what they are, but I can't help but wish it could be so much more. What can I say. I'm a dreamer.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Post-Racial America...HA!

If there's one thing that the past few weeks have proven, it is that a "post-racial America" is a total joke. It's a confirmation of all the things that those of us who study kyriarchy (or people of color) have known for a long, long time. America is still deeply racist.

I'd like to highlight a few things going on right now to illustrate my point.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tattoos and Gold Teeth Don't Justify Murder

I've been following the Trayvon Martin case for over 2 weeks now. I first became aware of it all when my Twitter feed began to slowly show more and more instances of Martin's name. I finally decided to figure out what all was going on. From everything I read, the events on February 26th went like this: Martin, an unarmed teen, walked to a convenience store to buy skittles and ice tea. George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchmen, then racially targeted Martin, pursued him, engaged him in an altercation, and shot and killed him.  Because of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, Zimmerman has not been charged. With anything. At all.

Almost everyone I talked with about the case agreed that this sounded atrocious. I mean, who could not become outraged hearing this?

At that point, the voices talking about the case were mostly limited to social media, people interested in social justice, and Martin's friends and family. But eventually, the bigger news outlets could no longer ignore what was happening and they began to cover the story as well. ABC News has a good rundown of the timeline of events.

So of course, as the ugliness of racism in America has another name and face, more racism is popping up in an attempt to obscure the facts of the case. I'm really uncomfortable with the "token black friend" in movies and TV shows, so of course, when the media provides us with Zimmerman's black friend to come to his defense, I can't help but cringe a little. And then there was Geraldo Rivera's comments about how hoodies are really the reason Martin was shot.

It's all pretty despicable, but by far the most offensive voice I've seen in this discussion is Dan Linehan at Wagist, which I discovered from scATX's Twitter. The title of Linehan's piece is "Was Trayvon Martin a Drug Dealer?" In it Linehan posits that Martin's family has been selling the media a depiction of the teen which is much more fresh-faced and innocent than Martin really was.

I don't typically make it my business to respond to every bigot with a computer and a blog, but I feel that I really must make the point that Linehan--and anyone else who might try to use this argument--is plainly wrong.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

What I Like About Katniss Everdeen

This is part of my series on 2012 blockbusters. Check out the others: The AvengersPrometheusSnow White and the Huntsman, Ted/Abraham Lincoln Vampire HunterBraveMagic Mikeand MIB3.

I saw the The Hunger Games last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm going to run down a list of things that I really like about the main character, Katniss Everdeen. I feel like a spoiler alert is appropriate, even though the book has been out for years. Although, disclaimer: I've never read it. I'm merely responding to the characterization of Katniss in the movies, which others have said is close to the book.

So without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the 10 things I like about Katniss Everdeen.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Femininity As Performance

So a couple of things have had my thoughts spinning on this topic. Firstly, was my blog about Rihanna yesterday and her female owned sexuality. Then last night I stumbled upon an online discussion where a young woman was asking for advice because her boyfriend expected her to fake orgasms since she couldn't achieve them through vaginal intercourse, which he thought would be sexy but made her uncomfortable. And finally, today brought more news that it costs a lot of money to maintain femininity in this culture. In fact, in the US women collectively spend $151 billion more than men yearly on similar personal care items.

What does all of this have in common? Well it drives home the point that stereotypical femininity is a performance and that performance takes a lot of work.

Let's Talk About Rihanna

Content notes: discussions of domestic violence, verbal abuse, weight talk

I've been sitting on this topic for a while now because I wasn't sure how to organize everything I'd like to say. I still don't think I have. I first wanted to talk about RiRi when I heard her dad's super shitty comments earlier this month, but I was too mad at first to form a coherent thought. I think I'm good now so I'll get to that later.

I want to start by clarifying this. Despite what some people think in my personal life because I'll be the first to sing Rude Boy in karaoake and nothing helps me work out better than Where Have You Been?, I don't really LOVE Rihanna. I mean, I've got nothing against the girl, but to me she's mostly just a pop princess who's been through a lot and makes some ridiculously catchy tunes.

Well that's not entirely true.

Rihanna's not just another pop star to me. She is someone who I write about fairly regularly, and is no stranger to being covered by feminist blogs in general. Her very public domestic violence case with Chris Brown has been discussed and re-discussed to death. But beyond that, I've also argued that Rude Boy displays healthy sexual communication--a piece which was picked up by a fairly prominent progressive blog and has given me a huge spike in page views, putting it still as my most read post after two years.

So while some of her lyrics are something this feminist can get behind, the truth is I've never argued and I will never argue that Rihanna herself is a feminist. She's made some questionable choices, it's true. But I'm not in the business of creating identities for people, so I'm not here to make the case that she is or isn't a feminist. Rather, I'd like to just take a look at a few things that are going on w/ Ms. Robin Rihanna Fenty.

This will probably get long(er) but if you're in for the ride...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Good Job, Mrs. Obama--Let's Keep it Going

Last night I caught Michelle Obama's interview on Letterman. As always, she was charming and wonderful. She talked about a lot of things and Letterman even almost made her cry.

But the best part was when she talked about her "Let's Move!" program for kids. I've been very concerned about it in the past because it was pretty fat shaming and overtly about ending childhood obesity instead of being for healthy kids. However, last night I could tell she had changed this mentality. When Letterman made a stupid, throw away fat joke, Mrs. Obama said multiple times that it is about health and building healthy lifestyles. What a refreshing thing to hear!

This is subtle--but it's a small change that can make a huge impact. When fat kids are continuously shamed simply for existing, it's refreshing to hear things spun in a way which is not stigmatizing or perpetuates the myth that all fat people are unhealthy and only fat people are unhealthy. Programs that are against childhood obesity are thereby against obese kids. A much better program is one which simply promotes healthy choices and makes a healthy lifestyle accessible and appealing to all kids.

So good job, FLOTUS. I suspect this came from quite a bit of pressure, but regardless I'm thankful and I really, really hope that this trend can continue; not only in the Let's Move! program, but also through how we talk about childhood health in all contexts.

If you'd like to see more about my thoughts on health, weight, food, and fatness, check out any of the numerous times I've discussed it:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Scarlet Road and the United States

Whelp, SXSW is officially over and all of our lovely visitors are making their way out of Austin. But before we put SXSW 2012 fully behind us, I wanted to drop a quick note about one more film, Scarlet Road. As according to its website,
Scarlet Road follows the extraordinary work of Australian sex worker, Rachel Wotton. Impassioned about freedom of sexual expression and the rights of sex workers, she specializes in a long over-looked clientele – people with disability.
The film is great and is a very compassionate look at Rachel Wotton and two of her clients, John and Mark. It treats everyone with dignity and is hugely eye opening about the sexuality of disabled people as well as sex work in general. I appreciated the story portrayed and think Wotton is an amazing woman. She's even co-founded a nonprofit to bring people with disability and sex workers together called Touching Base.

During the Q&A the topic of feminism came up as well as how the United States' will receive this film. This where I think things get tricky.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Love for Community Knows No Bounds

It's no secret that I dig Community. And I was pretty devastated when its future was uncertain (and to be fair, it still is.) So I defended it, as I will do to the bitter end.

However, today it came back from hiatus and it did not disappoint. Laughs abound! And not one but two story lines made this feminist happy. (Spoilers to follow, of course.)

1. Shirley (played by Yvette Nicole Brown) is a former housewife/divorcee in community college so she can learn entrepreneurship and someday open a restaurant/bakery. In tonight's episode, Shirley and her ex (Andre) decided they wanted to remarry, as they reconciled last season and had their third child together. In talking about their second marriage plans, it became clear that Andre expected things to go back to how they used to be, despite Shirley's dreams to open a business. He even said something along the lines of needing to get back to work so he couldn't be a stay-at-home dad anymore. However, Shirley didn't back down and by the end Andre conceded that her plans, dreams, and prospective breadwinner status were cool with him after all since they were important to her. I think it's pretty obvious why I would like this story line. While the characters of the study group each play distinct roles, they are never stereotypes and each season further deepens their humanity and complexity. This is just one of Shirley's times to shine which showed, yet again, that she is no pushover.

2. In a subplot, well-intentioned but often misguided hardcore-liberal-feminist Britta (Gillian Jacobs) learned that she is really, really good at some things she hates. Namely, flower arrangement and wedding planning. While Britta hates marriage and finds it a disgusting manifestation of traditional gender roles, she's unable to deny the fact that she's good at these "girly" things. It does send her into a bit of a frenzy and she almost drunkenly marries Jeff, but in my view, the lesson for Britta is's not really productive to hate on femininity. Each of us have both masculine and feminine qualities, and to hate either part is really to hate on ourselves.
    This is the kind of stuff I need on TV. I laughed the whole time and I wasn't ashamed of how the women were portrayed. This is why the female actors and writer on Community are proud. Now if I could only get Community and Parks and Recreation showing on the same night, I might die of feminist-friendly-TV happiness.

    On the same topic, I'm watching Up All Night right now, which I think is still figuring itself out. But I have a feeling that when it hits its stride, it will be another great one. The relationship between Reagan (Christina Applegate) and Chris (Will Arnett) is fantastic. They're best friends and partners who talk to each other how my friends and I talk to our partners. Chris is a stay-at-home dad who the writers treat with respect--there's simply no mockery. They show him realistically dealing with what it means to be a full time caregiver and still allow him to display masculinity. Reagan on the other hand, is a strong yet relatably imperfect woman who is both a great mom and working to get ahead in her television career.

    I haven't always loved what NBC has going on (like how they treated Conan--shit.) But Thursday night has some gems.

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    How Twitter Reflects The Themes of Our Society

    Let me set this all out from the get-go: I love social media. I'm an early adopter and heavy user of the biggest platforms. I was Facebooking it back in late 2004 when you had to request your college to be added to the network and I've been a regular tweeter since 2008. In fact, I've racked up almost 6000 tweets. I'm even into Tumbling now. All of this is just to demonstrate that the following is not me hating on social media or fearing progress. (We know how I feel about that.)

    Besides, Twitter has been proven to be hugely influential in some really big things, like the Arab Spring, as well as many other grassroots, activist movements including Occupy. It also regularly allows me to connect with feminists from all over the country and world, making the theory feel united, my thoughts more widely informed, and allowing me to be supported and lend support.

    But the fact of the matter is that for all the good Twitter can do, it is still is a direct reflection of the "-isms" that still exist in our society. A vast majority of its users are not necessarily engaging in activism, but rather sharing "funny" quips or personal thoughts. Unfortunately, racist, heterosexist, classist, and sexist hashtags often are amongst the top trending topics. So much so, that as a self-preservation tactic (read: I don't want to get pissed off all the time) I've stopped regularly looking at them...which is a damn shame, since it could keep me from knowing about the great stuff I just referenced.

    Despite my recent decision to ignore trending topics, I took a little glance last night and, of course, one of them was problematic.

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    Don't Mess With Texas Women!

    Tonight, a few friends and I went to Planned Parenthood's Don't Mess With Texas Women event at the state capital building. God, was it ever powerful to stand there with so many other people who are sick as hell of women's health paying the price for anti-choice extremeist views.

    Monday, March 12, 2012

    Podcast with Kelli of Wear The Cheese

    SXSW has descended upon Austin and aside from the annoyance of increased traffic, there's a lot of really cool stuff going on. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending one such SXSW event which was open to the public. It was hosted by the women who made Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines. It was an awesome clip screening and panel discussion that sparked inspiration between me and and my friend Kelli about female characters and geek culture.

    So check out my guest spot at the Crashdown podcast over at Kelli's website, Wear the Cheese.

    Thursday, March 8, 2012

    International Women's Day!

    Happy International Women's Day!


    While I do offer this exclamation genuinely, I can't help but also intend a layer of snark... disappointment... irony... sarcasm... frustration... anger... pain... despair...  sadness... ambivalence...

    I truly believe that things have never been worse for women in my lifetime than they are right now. I can't stop thinking about the current war on women and the toll that it is taking across the country and in Texas in particular.

    It makes me sick.

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012

    You Can't Teach the Next Generation By Insulting What They Love

    So, I finally had a chance to see Miss Representation from start to finish. I liked it, overall. I do think it was very 101 level and didn't delve into intersectionality as much as it could have...but I don't even want to talk about that. Instead, I'd like to discuss my feelings about the Q&A that followed.

    In short, it made my blood boil.

    Monday, March 5, 2012

    The Joke of "Small Government" Republicans

    Keep Your Bohner Out of My Uterus shared this image today and it got me thinking again about the utter lie we are told that the republican party is the party of small government.

    I know the point of this image is that they always talk about jobs creation and don't make it happen in favor of other stuff, but frankly I was distracted. I couldn't help but notice the sheer number of "big government" stuff the right is dealing with. Look through that list. What could be more emblematic of a big government than one which is in your uterus, your personal relationships, and tries to regulate religion or family?

    COME ON.

    I very much feel like I am beating a dead horse with how much I talk about this extremely obvious concept, but here's the thing: I keep interacting with people who say, "I don't like much of what the Republican party does, but I am in favor of a small government." So I just keep coming back to the fact that even the one thing that Republicans are supposed to have right, they are wrong.

    How is anyone even taking them seriously as a national party anymore? It's mind boggling to me. And while we're talking about super big, overreaching, in your uterus government I'd like to take another page from KYBOOMU's book and remind y'all of two things:

    1. In nine days, Texas has plans to take action which will cut off 130,000 poor Texas women from access to cancer screenings, exams, and contraception. Unconscionable.

    2. It is day 28 that Texas has had mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds in order to obtain an abortion. Horrific.

    Saturday, March 3, 2012

    Kick Ass Feminist of the Day: Amber Tamblyn

    My friend shared this story with me this morning and I couldn't resist talking about it. Apparently, actress Amber Tamblyn was cc'ed on an email to Tyrese Gibson by a mutual friend. Tyrese thought Tamblyn was Amber Rose, (because her middle name is Rose). He proceeded to email her asking for a collaboration and Tamblyn strung him along with HILARIOUS results.

    Her songs, while a fantastic prank on Tyrese, are also going to be the new feminist-laughing-time soundtrack to my life. Here's a sampling of her set list:

    Dancefloor Etiquette
    Contraception Matters
    All in Favor (about reproductive rights)

    When Tyrese's response was basically WTF, this sucks, Tamblyn replied, "The first one I sent called Dancefloor Etiquette is important to the feministical evolution and fourth wave movement of Woman-Beats and Girl-Music. Ya know?" Heh! And people think feminists can't be funny.

    I highly recommend you check out the link at the top of the article and listen to Tamblyn's flow. It's totally worth your time.

    I remember feeling a particular connection to Tamblyn's Tibby in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants back in the day when Myranda made me watch it. She was the sarcastic, alterna, artsy one with glasses, blue hair, and fishnets. Little did I know that real life Tamblyn would make me even more happy many years later. Kudos, Amber Rose Tamblyn, for making my day!

    In other news, she's engaged to David Cross? WHAT?! Who knew?

    Thursday, March 1, 2012

    Managing Activist Burnout

    This post is a part of my “Out of the Kitchen” weekly column at The Progressive Playbook in which various news and pop culture items will be examined through a feminist lens.

    I recently joined the community over at Persephone Magazine and I am kiiiiiinda geeking out about how awesome it is over there. (Seriously, if you'd like to be a part of an awesome online group of feminist minded people who are kind, thoughtful, and intelligent, head over that way.)

    The other day, Elfity over at Persephone posted about being a fatigued feminist. She said:
    At times I fear that I’m going down the path of learned helplessness. I feel like no matter how many letters I write, how much money I give, how much time I volunteer, or how many protests I attend, nothing will change.
    ...I bring up this subject because I believe that others feel the same thing. We put on a strong front, but it does get to us. That’s okay. It’s alright to be weary and battle-worn every now and then, because we know that our victories will keep us fighting. The next time you start feeling the fatigue or the stress or the burnout, remember that while you have to take care of yourself first, we’ll always be here, and we’ll always need you. Keep on fighting, y’all. These victories won’t come easily.
    I suspect anyone involved in activism can nod their head reading Elfity's feelings. How often do we all feel that the things we pour our soul into are hopeless when we interact with someone who makes a rape joke, says "no homo," or tells us that abortion is murder?