Thursday, November 29, 2012

Homophobia as a Punishment?

So this was going around Tumblr today:
[Image description: two older teen boys sitting in chairs holding hands and covering their faces in shame with the other hand. Other teens stand around, staring, laughing, and/or on their phones. Caption reads: "These two guys at my school got into a fight after 1st hour and they were either to get suspended for 9 days or sit in the school courtyard holding hands all day during class. You can see what they decided."]

While Buzzfeed is selling this as the way to "achieve world peace," I'm not so sure that this is a positive thing. One of the people I follow, riotrite, explained how this actually displays homophobia. He said,
Do you think the people standing around them weren’t calling them faggots the whole day? What do you think a young queer person would think walking past that? Because what I would think is “my school thinks being publicly humiliated for holding another boy’s hand is an appropriate and hilarious punishment, and that means they do not give the tiniest of shits about me.”
I couldn't agree more. This isn't just a cute little punishment, it's sending a message of shame and ridicule surrounding two guys holding hands. It's made that act a punishment. I remember a few teachers in high school who would joke about using this punishment on field trips. When boys were acting out, they would threaten to make them hold hands with their buddy. But seeing as that was 10+ years ago, I had really hope that things would change...apparently they haven't.

This might be a good time to plug one of my favorite nonprofits, GLSEN, because they are an organizaiotn working to make things better for queer students. As they say at their site, GLSEN "strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression." And by the way, between now and Saturday, they are up to for voting to possibly win $1M from the Chase Giving Community. Check them out, and if you get a chance, vote for them!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Willow Smith's Hair as a Lesson to Us All

You have, no doubt, heard about Willow Smith's hair lately. It's been all over the feminist blogosphere because Jada Pinkett Smith wrote an amazing response to the criticism that she "let" Willow do her hair any way that she would like. Among the many amazing things she said, she wrote,
This is a world where women,girls are constantly reminded that they don’t belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power or self determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit and her mind are HER domain.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Working on Anti-Racism

I've read a couple of really great things about how anti-racism isn't a state of being, but an active process. I wanted to take a second talk about this.

The first is by Lesley Kinzel, who I admire greatly and I've written about several times. She tweeted,
I don't call myself "a feminist" for the same reason I don't call myself "an anti-racist": these are things I WORK AT, not things I AM.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Here is a very short list of stuff I'm extremely thankful for...

  • A job that lets me exercise my basic belief that girls matter. 
  • An online community of supportive feminists who educate me daily.
  • Hilarious, compassionate friends.
  • A city full of fun, vibrant activities.
  • Family--that's a complicated one for me, but I am thankful for them. Especially my in-laws, who have embraced me as their own.
  • The ability and means to express myself through writing.
  • My kitten babies. 
  • The ability to exercise my right to vote (something my great grandmother couldn't do!)
  • Excellent feminist books this year from writers like Jessica Valenti and Lesley Kinzel.
  • Gabby Douglas' smile and her talent reigniting my excitement for Olympic gymnastics.
  • A second Obama term.
  • OPI nail polish bringing color into my life daily.
  • And most of all, a supportive, loving partner who brings so much creativity and laughter into my life. 
I hope you all have a lovely holiday!

Monday, November 19, 2012

10 Steps to a Fat Shame Free Thanksgiving

[Content note: fat shame, body/food policing]

Hello, hello. As you probably know, Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the US. The good news is that it's a time to enjoy seeing friends and family and be reflective about all the wonderful things you have in your life. The bad news is that it's riddled with myths, it kicks off the most consumerist time of the year, and it involves a whole lot o' fat shaming and food policing.

It can be really hard for those of us who are fat positive and body accepting to get through this time. If you need a little help, check out this guide to surviving the holidays in a fat shaming environment. And for the fat shamers themselves, here are 10 quick and easy steps to being a good person at your turkey day this week (and any other time, really.)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

No, Taylor Swift. No.

I've been mentally composing this blog for forever and now I'm finally trying to piece it together. Hm. How do I say this?

Y'all...Taylor Swift is the worst.

Whelp. There it is. That's my thesis and let me now back it up.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Texas' Secession?

With the passing of Obama's reelection, a petition for Texas' secession has gained some steam. It seems like everyone is talking about it, and not always in productive ways. I'd like to examine a few things and hopefully set the record straight.

First and foremost this petition is being blown way out of proportion. Jessica Luther (@scatx) has been explaining what 80,000 people here in Texas really means. As she has tweeted, it's just equivalent 1/4 of the Houston suburbs. Over 25 million Texans have NOT signed the petition. It's being used as another chance to mock the south and pin all of the ills of society on "those" backward people.

Let me make this abundantly clear: You don't get special liberal brownie points for putting down Texas. Time and time again it feels like urban and northern liberals try to feel better about themselves by disparaging people who live in the south or rural areas. It's annoying and insulting and as pointed out by Monica.Is.Liberal on Twitter, this attitude ignores the enormous work that it takes to be a liberal activist in Texas. In a series of tweets, she said:
Also I am sick & tired of ppl acting like Austin is the only place in TX w/liberals. We fight hard in other counties too. Joke all you want. It is easier to be a liberal in a state like WA than TX. We fight daily for representation. So yeah fall back. I've knocked on doors, made calls, registered voters, donated money, entered data all in Ft Worth TX. So kiss off on the shit talking. We did have Ann Richards as our Governor. Yes the evangelicals have taken over but we are fighting back. I've lost relationships with family members because I push the progressive/liberal/dem agenda in TX. What have you given up? I've worked side by side folks who work full time & donated 20+ hours a week on campaigns. Yeah we have liberals in TX & we kick ass. and you know what? our state is beautiful absolutely beautiful. I am not ashamed of my state just some of the folks that live here. 
Monica is right. When people make all these dismissive jokes about "those fools down in Texas," they're ignoring people like her; people who spend their daily lives speaking out against injustice, racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. It's simply true that the real test of progressive politics is known through activism, not sitting back and writing mocking tweets and Facebook posts.

Listen...it is incredibly important to acknowledge the truth behind the petition. There are problems here, which is why work like Monica's is so needed and so important. As the Huffington Post piece states, much of the backlash to a second Obama term is racially motivated.

However, the South in general and Texas in specific are hardly isolated areas of racism and/or ignorance. It doesn't matter how progressive or populated a region is, our country has race problems and other hate issues, across the board. It feels to me that many northern, urban, educated liberals want to ignore that fact and make it a "them" problem. That's the easy way out. It's much harder to actually work to make change in your own back yards.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Quick Note on the Election

I didn't write much about the election. And I haven't even acknowledged it is over...

I feel kind of remiss about that, but I was deep in post-event-recovery-mode at the time. So now I have a minute to actually acknowledge the fact that BARACK OBAMA GOT A SECOND TERM AND I AM SO THANKFUL AND HAPPY ABOUT THAT.

There are few things that are really amazing about this election...like this, for example. (Click for larger image.) It's quite amazing.
Image from Think Progress

When you add in the results of the gay marriage votes in three stages and marijuana legalization initiatives in others, it was an election which shows many victories for progressive politics. Much to be thankful about. 

BUT I am saddened there are still no African American senators. I'm also deeply saddened to see this:

Seriously, white dudes? Get it together. Thank goodness for universal suffrage. Shock surprise that white men keep voting for the party that puts the lives and interests of white men first.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Texas is Reminding Me I'm Just a Baby Vessel Again

So I saw a commercial three times this afternoon for Texas' latest health initiative. It's called "Someday Starts Now" and it's all about how I should be taking care of myself because I plan on being pregnant someday.

Not that I should take care of myself for me. Nope. It's about the future baby.

I wish I could find the commercial online, because it is deeply annoying to me, but all I have is the website. Here's the text from the women's page:
Healthy choices now mean a healthy life later.
Maybe you’re planning for a baby someday. Or maybe you don’t see children in your future. Either way, as a woman, it’s important to focus on your health now. The information and advice here can help you be as healthy and well prepared as possible — for whatever is down the road.
Did you catch that? The site is pretending to be about health for women generally, but it really boils down to the fact that you might someday be a fetus cooker, so get that baby vessel in shape, you silly womern!

At first glace I thought, hey, maybe the site isn't so bad because it at least offers a page for men too. Except when I clicked through, I realized the page for men is actually for real expecting fathers...check it:
Be a great dad before your baby is even born.
Your partner is pregnant. But this isn’t just happening to her. The truth is that everything you do over the next 40 weeks matters a lot to your baby. Stay informed and stay involved throughout her pregnancy, and you’ll be giving your child a great chance at a strong and healthy start in life.
Oh hey, heterosexism! And not only that, but the idea of the overall purpose of the site is that ALL women are pre-pregnant, but men use this resource when there is an actual pregnancy involved. It's annoying and insulting and takes a reductionist view of women.

Ok, this isn't the worst thing Texas has done to women, I get that. But, you know...I might not be so sensitive and annoyed by this initiative if this wasn't such a deeply anti-choice state all around.

I might think that this was a helpful resource for people who want babies, if it felt like the state was supporting us in our ability to actually CHOOSE when to reproduce. But instead, I live in a state where things like the women's health program are in constant jeopardy, family planning services are almost always under attack, every conceivable obstacle to abortion has been put in place, and daily life reminds me that I'm just a baby vessel.

To put it simply: It's all annoying the shit out of me. So forgive me if I don't get warm fuzzies at this new program.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Intersectionalism 101

"My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit!" -Flavia Dzodan

I quote this a lot. To me, intersectionality is inherent to feminism. I remember sitting in one of my first poli sci classes as a brand new undergrad and a professor gave me my first concept of intersectionality. (She later told us she was a feminist but I didn't know it yet.) She said, "I like to use an analogy to start discussions about oppression. I think oppression is like carrying a weight. Some people walk around without any, making their travel easier. Others walk around with several weights. For me, I'm a woman...add a weight. And I'm black, add a weight. I can't navigate this world without these oppressions influencing me. It means a lot of things. For example, when people find out I'm a single mom the welfare queen stereotype comes to mind."

Monday, November 5, 2012

We've Got to Talk About Enthusiastic Consent

Hello, hello! I survived my event. We registered almost 1400 people and I ran my ass off all day Saturday. Yesterday and today I turned to self care. So far this week I've enjoyed a mani/pedi, sleep, a massage, and some of the best food in Austin. All in all, I'm doing pretty great.

My event gave me a blog idea. One of the things it provides is information for teen girls and their parents about how to have healthy conversations about sexuality. This got my wheels turning and I began to think about how we so rarely talk to teens about enthusiastic consent. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What I'm Reading: Beth Ditto

There's a slim to nil chance that I'll have time to write anything of substance this week. But on Sunday I will have free time again, so hopefully I'll be back to my regular blogging schedule next week.

In the meantime, I wanted to make sure I pointed everyone to the fabulous piece on Beth Ditto in the Advocate. In it, she discusses poverty, her sexuality, health issues, and abuse survivorship.
Ditto says being a feminist and understanding the cycles of abuse that women go through, it wouldn’t “be any good for me to harbor those resentments toward my mother when she in fact was a victim of it herself. She did the best that she could. I think when I put all of that into perspective it becomes really easy for me to just forgive.”
Ditto's doing press because her book is coming out, and if I wasn't already before, I'm now thoroughly convinced to buy it.

Seriously...go check it out, now.
Ditto, from the Advocate piece