Friday, April 27, 2012

The Rage, It Fills Me

I'm sitting here sort of stewing. And so I'm about to engage in a cathartic, rambling post. My apologies in advance.

It's just that--I'm sick of being told to lighten get over stop talking about stop being so angry.

Seriously. Take a good look at this world. How could I not be angry?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Sexification of Breast Cancer

While I was on my trip, the amazing Jessica Luther brought this to my attention. As she said:

THIS is ultimate result of breast cancer awareness campaigns that focus on breasts instead of people. This is exactly how campaigns that are motivated by goodness (supposedly) can be co-opted for misogynistic garbage like this. Why create the umbrella under which this bus can exist comfortably? It’s why I say repeatedly and LOUDLY: FUCK “SAVE THE TATAS” and all campaigns like them. That link (post and comments) will explain in detail why I hate this shit so much.
I'm not sure that I can add anything more to this discussion, because it has already been said, really well. I guess I can just add to the chorus of hatred for this campaign and all the "save the tatas" "I <3 boobies" BS that's out there. Time after time, the sexiness of breasts is pushed forward as what's really important instead of the saving of lives. As I tweeted to Luther when she first brought all of this up, "I'm OVER the sexification of breast cancer. When my mom had a chunk of her tit cut out her focus was LIVING not staying sexy."

I remember when my mom was first diagnosed with breast cancer and her course of treatment was not yet discovered. She, from the start, said over and over again "Just take them both if it means I'll live."  Now I know that mastectomies and other breast cancer treatments change a person's body and can certainly affect their personal sense of sexuality. I do not mean to diminish the pain this causes this in any way--but I think we can all agree that the really important thing to save is the person's life.

Furthermore, breast cancer so often receives way too much attention. It is pushed forward as the biggest health issue facing women, when in reality other diseases kill more women. But those diseases are not sexy! They don't include boobies! SO WHO CARES, AMIRIGHT?

I guess what I'm getting at is that I'm just so sick and tired of shallow, objectifying, dehumanizing, and meaningless "awareness" raising campaigns. It's old guys. Really, really old.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Oh. Hi there. I'm back. Thanks for noticing.

I visited my little niece and she is perfect. I also helped my aunt through an eye surgery, which was successful. All around a trip well spent. And one which gave me a chance to get a little inspiration for blogging.

You see, I have XM radio in my personal car here in Austin. As such, I can pretty carefully listen to whatever I'd like on the radio. But in Indy, driving my aunt's car, I had to listen to normal radio (yes I'm a radio snob.) And I heard this song by One Direction.

It's called "What Makes You Beautiful" and it made me FUME.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Messages for Girls and GOOD NEWS!

When you work daily with girls in the 9-18 demographic, you see just how shitty the world can be to them. You watch them struggling with conflicting messages about how they should act, what they should wear, who they should like, what their bodies should be like, what dreams they should have for the future, on and on and on.

So when my friend shared this open letter with me, I couldn't help but relate. It's by Mur Lafferty and is writing to her 9 year old daughter about how the world views her...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Boys Will Be Boys? Huh?

My love of NPR is well documented and I like to listen to it in the morning, when I'm in my car. However, I moved extremely close to my job, so my only chance to catch a story is when I run to get coffee or other errands, here and there. As such, I can admit I'm falling a bit behind on my current issue awareness. Today, I caught a snippet of Michele Martin's Tell Me More (one of my favorites!) Martin replayed a clip from another NPR program Talk of the Nation in which they were discussing the scandal involving Secret Service agents and prostitution.

The man in the clip, said something to the effect of "boys will be boys."

I rolled my eyes so hard, I pulled a muscle. Listen, I'm not here to discuss the Secret Service scandal, because, as mentioned, I know too little to do so, but I would like to tackle this "boys will be boys" shit.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Swedish Racism is Leaving a Bad Taste in My Mouth...

You'll get my pun in a moment.

Sometimes American liberals like to go off into a kiss-ass-fest with Scandinavian countries. Places like Sweden, Finland, and Norway are touted for being examples of socialism going right: universal health care, quality government day care, and paid parental leave are all waved around as reasons for us to partake in the Scandinavian lovefest. And it's totally valid because those are all areas in which American lags behind.

However, it's really important to remember that no culture is perfect and we've got to continue to think critically about what we see happen around the world. In that vein, Sweden has sent us a big reminder of that with a really racist debacle going down. As covered at Colorlines:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Oh Self-Love!

Ok, I can admit it. I made that title line a little suggestive to catch your attention. Did it work? Great! But bad news...the subject of this blog is actually self-esteem. Sorry, to have to break it to you this way. I hope you'll stick around.

Anyhoo, I've been thinking a lot lately about truly loving yourself and being comfortable in your own skin. 

Truth is, accomplishing this task is much easier said than done. Everywhere we look we're told we're not good enough. Women especially feel this pressure as the images we see of female bodies in the media are so often distorted and photoshopped beyond recognition and touted as "perfection." So trust me when I say, I know that it's not easy to get to a place where you do feel comfortable being you, you love who you are, and you're totally happy just existing. It's not something that can come naturally when the dominant voices remind you that you're too fat or too ugly or too dark or you're body isn't good enough or that it's just wrong.

However, against all odds, some of us do find the ability to love ourselves--or at the very least to accept who we are. I've been thinking lately about a really positive outcome of getting to this point: Loving yourself really does grant the ability to love others. You've probably heard a million times that you have to "love yourself first to love others." It's become a cliche, but when you break it down, it does kind of make sense. I'm not going to talk about romantic love here (but I do think there is that element to it.) Rather I'm talking about loving others in the context of not viewing anyone with hate, contempt, jealousy, or as a threat. 
When I think about my current life, I see many big differences between who I am now and who I was 3-10 years ago. One that stands out the most is that I just don't feel threatened by other people now like I used to. You see, I had internalized the message which told me I wasn't good enough. When I met someone (usually a girl) who was drop dead gorgeous, thin, charismatic, or just plain awesome, a piece of me hated her right off the bat because of my own low self-esteem. I perceived her as a threat instead of a potential friend, by no fault of her own.

Like I said, my judgement passed on other girls was a symptom of believing that I was really inferior. I thought that girls like this wouldn't like me and that I had nothing in common with them. Basically, by assuming that stereotypically attractive women and I couldn't be friends, I bought into the narrative that big girls aren't worthy and that hot girls are bitches. And this was all still happening after I began identifying as a feminist and thinking critically about these very issues. My beliefs and judgments were guided subconsciously by persistently low self-esteem. I didn't really know it, but I couldn't be open to friendships and connections until I loved me.

Fortunately, I feel that I have arrived to a place where I can say I am comfortable and proud of who I am; emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. I am, of course, a daily work in progress and I falter and fuck up. But part of loving me means that I accept these mistakes and challenge myself to be better.

As a result, I feel I am much more open and friendly to women who I might have otherwise viewed as a threat. The socially ingrained tendency to be catty and pick apart other women's looks and behaviors started to wear away. Because of this, I was able to form some friendships that I might not otherwise have been open to. When I stopped being threatened by someone really cool and attractive, I gave people the opportunity to show me who they actually are. My comfort with me is often mirrored by other people's comfort with who they are and everyone's true colors emerge. 

I'll be honest, meeting new people does not come naturally to me. While I am an extrovert who craves the attention and energy of socialization, I thrive most when I am with people that I trust. I will always have a level of social anxiety when I meet new people, but accepting myself has helped this improve leagues for me and granted me the possibility to much more easily meet people where they are not keep other women at arm's distance. Sure sometimes the new people I meet actually do suck, but I let them prove that to me instead of making unfair judgments.

This is all pretty touchy-feely for me, which isn't exactly in character, so I'll go ahead and wrap this up. But I guess what I'm saying is that loving yourself is great not only because it makes you feel so much better but also because it allows some pretty cool people into your life.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mommy Wars: Divided We Fall

Sheesh. I feel like I was living under a rock the past day. While everyone is blowing up at Hilary's Rosen's comments about Ann Romney, I was under deadline for a big grant at work so I didn't have time to learn what was said, let alone get outraged. Anyhoo, the internet has caught me up, and thusly, here I am.

In case you're like me, the quick and dirty summary is this: Democratic strategist, Hilary Rosen, said that Ann Romney has "never worked a day in her life" and Ann Romney lashed back on twitter. People got outraged and defended Ann Romney (including the president). Talk turned to the topic of "mommy wars." Rosen apologized.

My reactions to this topic are so mixed, but what I keep coming back to is that it's simply not helpful for women to tear each other down.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Who Are All These Bitches on TV?

Have you heard about the new shows "Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23" and "GCB?" There's two things they have in common. They are news shows on ABC and they have "bitch" in the title.

You know, there's something really different feeling about the way Bitch Magazine uses the "B word" and the way that these shows are doing it. While Bitch Magazine feels revolutionary and reclaimatory, the stuff ABC is peddling feels tried and borderline offensive.

Like really? We're still calling women bitches? And it's so routine that it's in the title of television shows now?


Thank You, Daria Morgendorffer

Dear Daria,

Hey there. I can't believe it's taken me this long to thank you for being exactly who you are.

Let me back up--when I started watching your show in 1997, I was 13 and I couldn't have related more to your plights as a smart, sarcastic teenager in suburban hell. Of course, your sarcasticness hit heights to which I could only dream, but the fact remains that I could relate to you in a way which I couldn't relate to many other characters on TV.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ashley Judd = BAMF

If you haven't heard about Ashley Judd's smack down on the media for making a frenzy about her "puffy face" then you are missing out. Check it:
If this conversation about me is going to be had, I will do my part to insist that it is a feminist one, because it has been misogynistic from the start. Who makes the fantastic leap from being sick, or gaining some weight over the winter, to a conclusion of plastic surgery? Our culture, that’s who. The insanity has to stop, because as focused on me as it appears to have been, it is about all girls and women. In fact, it’s about boys and men, too, who are equally objectified and ridiculed, according to heteronormative definitions of masculinity that deny the full and dynamic range of their personhood. It affects each and every one of us, in multiple and nefarious ways: our self-image, how we show up in our relationships and at work, our sense of our worth, value, and potential as human beings. Join in—and help change—the Conversation.
Yes, yes, yes. Y'all a mainstream celebrity just wrote the words "feminist" and "heteronormative" and "misogynistic." And people are listening (I hope.)

I've written about Ashley Judd before. While her activism isn't always perfect, I have to applaud her for throwing this smack down at the way the media continuously hates on women's looks. I mean, this is the exact reason that I write curriculum for girls that asks them to take a critical look at the messages we are being sent. All too often, those messages are screaming over and over You're not good enough. You'll never be good enough. How can little girls focus on growing up healthy and strong, finding fulfilling career paths, and positive personal relationships when someone, at every turn is cutting down their looks and the looks of other women? It becomes all too much.

So how refreshing to have someone call this shit out. Directly. Using her own voice and feminist words. Unafraid, unapologetic. A big fuck you. A much needed fuck you, in deed.

Monday, April 9, 2012

This Is Why I Care: Trolls and Victim Blaming

Last week marks the one year anniversary of the original SlutWalk in Toronto. So how appropriate that my posts on Austin's local SlutWalk last summer received some heavy trolling this weekend. A commenter named "Peter" left me a ridiculously ignorant, rambling tirade about how he believes that female virginity is so wonderful and important.

Yawn. Eye roll. What an original thought. No one has EVER said that before.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

GTFO, Tucker Max

I recently learned that known asshole, scumbag, and misogynist, Tucker Max lives in my lovely city of Austin, Texas. A piece of my soul died.

If you'd like evidence of why I think he's so horrible, you can follow what Jill at Feministe is covering about his attempt to donate $500,000 to Planned Parenthood here in Texas, which was rejected by the organization, here and here.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Body Snarking is Never OK Actually. Not Even on Facebook.

Maybe I should quit Facebook.

I think it's something we've all considered time to time. Who doesn't have a racist uncle on Facebook? Or an asshole friend from high school? Or a Tea Party cousin? My typical tactic is to unsubscribe and hide all that annoying, hateful, ignorant shit from my eyes. And I expect that people who hate feminism do the same to me. I don't bother unfriending because what if morbid curiosity takes over and I want to creep on their profile later?

So I just hide, hide, hide.

But lately I have been receiving such a deluge of annoying horribleness that I feel like I can't even keep up. Today, it was photo being shared of a very large girl in a very small pair of shorts. It's being passed around with the sole purpose of mocking her. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Case for a Proactive Life

Every now and then I write a little about things that are not so super feminist but more a glimpse into my life and how I view things.

And often those topics are on the negative side of things--like how I struggle with stress, obligation, and over-thanking. But today I just wanted to take a moment to get out a few other things I've been thinking about when it comes to generally creating a better life for one's self.

Basically what I think it all boils down to is proactivity. Being proactive is a lesson that I think everyone could stand to learn, but particularly women. I went ahead and looked up the dictionary definition of proactive to make my point. It means, "acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes." This stands in contrast to being reactive or passive. In the case of reaction, you are simply responding to something that has already occurred. And with passivity, you are just letting things occur.

It should be pretty clearly by now why I think women in particular should embrace proactivity, but just in case, here's the deal. Often women and girls are socialized to take a back seat in their own lives. We are taught to defer decision making onto our male counterparts. We are taught that we are the ones who are rescued. We are taught to not worry our pretty little heads with concerns like politics or money management. However, the truth is that each of us only have our selves to rely on, so to be proactive is, to use a cliche, to take control of your own destiny; to place a high enough value on your own happiness and future that you make the calls.