Friday, January 30, 2009

Funny Friday

Those dinosaurs are right, friends:

No ladies on the moon. How sexist.

Edit: Eeh, sorry how it doesn't fit! Try the link!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Your Comments Here"

Some of you may remember the incident at the Yale Women's Center where male students stood outside the Center with a sign saying, "We love Yale sluts" while chanting "dick dick dick" - apparently something they meant as a joke. When the school found the group not guilty of intimation and harassment, I wrote about my own experience and the less blatant, yet still present, sexism at Yale Divinity School.

A group of feminists and graphic artists have taken all the comments left on Yale Daily News articles about the incident and made an incredibly powerful poster that they put up around campus last week:

Reading the comments on this poster brought me to tears. The virulent words, hate and general disrespect for the Women's Center and by proxy, all women, makes me sick to my stomach. The supposed anonymity of the internet brings out the worst in people - or maybe the truth in people, but that they're too ashamed to say to someone's face.

To those people who don't think that sexism is pervasive through our culture, read the poster.

Here's a larger image in case you want to fully experience the poster.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I'm Annoyed: "Are you ok?" and "Smile more!"

In the middle of a post on Red Eye at Shameless Magazine's blog, I was struck by this paragraph:
The exact same dialogue that Lisa and Jackson have could’ve been filmed in way that made it seem romantic. But in Red Eye, Lisa is visibly uncomfortable with Jackson’s advances. She’s suspicious of him from the outset because he’s just too nice. Like her dad, he keeps on asking her if she’s all right, as if she doesn’t really know how she feels. How many women have been in that situation before?
One of my biggest pet peeves is the question "Are you ok?" sometimes followed by "Are you sure? You don't look fine." I'm not quite exactly sure why it bugs me so much, but I'm beginning to think that like most of my issues with society, the roots lie in our culture's patriarchy.

Most often, I'm asked if I'm ok when I'm just sitting, doing nothing or reading or watching tv or just being in the world. However, I think it's because I'm not actively smiling, as if the presence of a smile on my face would show that I am, indeed, all right. I'm sick of the idea that I have to actively present myself as happy all the time. Most of the time, I'm in a good mood - my default state of mind is generally a good one. It just annoys the crap out of me that people assume I'm not ok or that something's wrong when I'm merely sitting without a joyful expression on my face.

People have written before about how society expects women to look pretty all the time, and at the very least pleasant, which is why women, in particular, are expected to walk around with a smile all the time. I've had people walk past my desk at work and tell me to smile more, as if my natural face expression isn't good enough.

I'll admit - there are times when people have asked me if I'm ok and I haven't been and I've only admitted it a few times. However, I also think that my pissed off, expressionless face is a result of internalized sexism because I don't want to appear overly emotional - society expects women to be hysterical, emotional saps who can't be practical and I distanced myself from that image.

It just annoys me that I have to defend and explain myself and my mood if I'm not wearing a grin all the time.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Was There: Washington D.C. January 20th 2009

I was in Washington D.C. for the inauguration, and I can happily and honestly say that all the cliches are true. The world has been changed for the better, even if it is just in small ways.

My uncle works for a painter's union in Chicago, so he received several tickets to the inauguration ceremony. He didn't decide to go until Friday, so when he arrived on Saturday night, he called me to ask if I wanted his extra tickets. Two of my friends and I roadtripped to D.C. on Sunday, arriving around Monday morning at 6am.

We spent the day exploring the mall, walking around the endless vendors selling Obama t-shirts, and screaming in the crowd of MSNBC. (We totally got on TV. You can try to find me in the crowd here.) Unfortunately, it was during Chris Matthews, but getting on TV is getting on TV. Also, Chris Matthews looks old in real life.

We rode the Metro a lot on Monday, and the atmosphere was unbelievable. People smiled at you. Gave up their seats. A few guys even offered me a shot of Jack Daniels. People sang on the subway. People talked to each other about themselves, politics, and even race.

Tuesday morning we woke up early and walked to the Mall. We had silver tickets, which were the farthest from the Capitol. We stood in a line (which was more like a mass of people) for about five hours. The security was almost nonexistent. My friend was asked once, about a mile from the mall if she had any guns. Other than that there was no police presence in our section. The mass of people we were in all had tickets, but we weren't being let it. About fifteen minutes before the inauguration started, we began to get panic-y. We squeezed our way through the crowd and jumped over a barrier. We got into the mall grounds without even showing our ticket.

After the nightmare of the morning was over, however, the inauguration was beautiful. We couldn't see properly, of course, but after getting on each other's backs and looking through our binoculars we were able to make out Barack's shape.

The ceremony was fairly indescribable. During Rick Warren's prayer, most people around me nodded their heads in reverence, but many people (including myself) didn't. However, everyone respected each others' choices. As Arthera began to sing, my eyes did fill with tears, and many people around me began to openly weep.

The tears continued for most people through Biden's oath, the beautiful John William's arrangement, and Mr. Obama's oath. An electricity went through the crowd as Barack finished his oath. Yes We Did. I looked around the crowd and found most people meeting my eyes. We smiled at each other, shocked, ecstatic, and proud. We all truly had helped to change this country. And we will continue to.

During my time in Washington I realized that Obama's presidency isn't really about him. He will surely disappoint us. Maybe he already has. However, we won't disappoint each other. We can't afford to. Obama's presidency is about us, citizens of America and the world, and the change we, not our elected leaders, will bring about it. It is symbolic of our willingness to begin working again for our nation, through service and most importantly conversation. Obama has ignited a spark in so many people from so many different backgrounds. It is our job to keep that spark alive, to fan it into a flame, and to morph it into a fire to burn for America. For peace. For hope. For love. For people of all colors. For women. For men. For people of all genders. For people of all sexual orientations. For people of all kinds.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

No more torture!

My heart swelled when I read this:
A second executive order [by President Barack Obama] will formally ban torture by requiring the Army field manual be used as the guide for terror interrogations, essentially ending the Bush administration's CIA program of enhanced interrogation methods.
Then I had to stop and think - I'm getting excited over the fact that torture will be now, again, illegal. The brutalization of bodies for information (and possibly fun) is returning to the dark, illegal place where it used to live before President Bush, VP Cheney and Karl Rove.

And then I get a little sad for the fact that I'm excited we're respecting human rights.

Torture is a moral issue and wrong. If there's anything that gets as close to clear-cut cases of right and wrong, this is it.

Gene Robinson prayer silenced by HBO

Just in case you missed this with all the inaugural hullabaloo (love that word), the prayer given by Gene Robinson, the first gay Episcopalian bishop, at the "We Are One" concert on Sunday wasn't aired by HBO. Instead, they started broadcasting 5 minutes later with trumpets and the seating of the Obamas and the Bidens. Rachel Maddow does a really good job of covering the whole issue, so I'll just let her explain it:

So what was the dreaded gay prayer? Oh, I've seen video and read the text, and let me tell you - gayness everywhere.
O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and

Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine
respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s
God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. (We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us,) and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.


Bishop Gene Robinson
“We Are One” Inaugural Event
Jan 19, 2009

What a horrible, gay prayer.

How hypocritical that at an event titled "We Are One," a prayer by the first openly gay bishop isn't aired like the rest of the concert. Beyonce is one, but not Gene Robinson.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

39 hours, 47 minutes, 7 seconds

I first added a "Bush: time left in office" countdown application to my Firefox browser shortly after beginning to use Firefox... I think that was in 2005 or 2006. The number of days left in office was still high, years off. But it was reassuring to see the number drop day by day, steadily. Last week the application changed to an hourly countdown.

Right now, Bush has 39 hours, 47 minutes and 7 seconds still left as president.

A new day is on the horizon... it's almost here!

Does anyone have any exciting plans for inauguration?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bush and "Sanctity of Human Life Day"

What are you trying to do, President Bush?

Anger as many people as possible before you leave the White House?
I didn't think you could sink any further, but apparently, I was wrong.

Read the article for yourself.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Stay Classy, Meghan McCain

Unlike her father or the rest of the Republican party, Meghan McCain is classy. When asked about Sarah Palin, she responded, "Sarah Palin is the only part of the campaign I won't comment on publically."

No matter how she feels in private, Meghan McCain isn't taking her public platform to blame Sarah Palin for failure to elect. Personally, I think that says a lot about her.

I've also really respected Meghan for this post about Bristol Palin on her blog:
The first political convention I ever attended was when my mom was pregnant with me in 1984 and the Republican Party nominated Ronald Reagan for a second term as President. I have been on political stages and in campaigns since before I could walk or talk. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that it is difficult to establish your identity and independence as the son or daughter of a politician. When I was 14 years old, a reporter questioned my father about me having a hypothetical abortion, had I been pregnant at 14. This reporter's question single-handedly changed my life. This story comes up in almost every profile written about me and in almost every interview. It's a rough go being the son or daughter of a politician. I have not known Bristol Palin very long, but there is a certain kinship I feel to her as I do other political daughters such as Chelsea Clinton, Jenna and Barbara Bush and Mary Cheney. You can't fully understand it unless you have lived it. So I just wanted to let it be known that I support Bristol and the entire Palin family.
Stay (actually) classy, Meghan McCain.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Marriage certificates don't make families

This is one practical reason why marriage equality is important: Lesbian couple loses appeal in health club discrimination case. Amy and Sarah Monson were not able to sign up under a family member with a health club because they were not married.

Amy and Sarah Monson have been together for seven years and are raising a daughter together. They co-own a business, have joint finances, and had a commitment ceremony in 2002. They have drafted estate plans for themselves and their daughter, and Sarah changed her last name to Monson.

The Rochester Athletic Club had a policy that only married couples could apply for a family membership package. The courts have said that since unmarried heterosexual couples also cannot get the discounted membership the policy does not constitute discrimination based on sexual orientation. But the Monsons contend that since they don’t have the option to marry, they should not be compared with unmarried heterosexual couples who have the option to marry.

It doesn't matter how they view themselves, how they live together as a family, or anything like that. The Monsons, while not bound in marriage through civil law, are family. Pieces of paper don't decide what's family and what's not - in my opinion, love is what makes a family.

The Rochester Athletic Club is just hiding prejudice behind their own self-imposed rule of marriage as the qualifying aspect of what signals a family. In addition, they're also discriminating against all non-traditional forms of family that aren't bound by marriage. For example, the Tanner family in Full House wouldn't be able to get the family membership from the athletic club because two of the members aren't joined through marriage.

Essentially, because these women cannot marry, they're being legally discriminated against. Nice work, Minnesota.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

My friend, the (secret) feminist

Last night I was up until 4 a.m. talking with a good friend of mine who lives in my suite at school. She has been friends with me through my feminist transformation and is now taking a Gender and Women's Studies class in order to fill her diversity credit.

We watched Mulan last night because neither of us had any work to do, and I found myself pointing out all the gender stereotypes in the movie (even though Mulan is by no means the worst in this arena). I apologized to my friend for possibly annoying her, and she told me that she had never thought about this movie that way before. We had a brief discussion about movies as agents of socialization and how the Disney princess movies often promote sexist ideas, and she decided she might give a presentation in her class about these movies.

It was nice to see her make sense of something relating to feminism and find it interesting.

Later, we went to my room and had a long talk that evolved into body image issues. I talked a lot, as this is my pet cause as a feminist, and I realized how difficult it is to pinpoint the specific causes for these issues within specific people, and how hard it is to change one's thinking once these ideas manifest themselves.

My friend also had a lot to say about these things, and in a lot of ways we are similar. We both have issues with our bodies, and we both know that some of the things we say/think are based on falsely held ideas and are often not fair. But we can't seem to change the way we think. We are both victims of female oppression in a society that holds beauty as a marker for success and worth above all other measures, and the marker is set unbelievably high.

The only difference between my friend and I when it comes to issues of women's rights and certain invisible oppressions is that I identify as a feminist and my friend does not. She said that she does not think of herself as a feminist because she's not "active about it" in the sense that I am with this blog.

Well, dear friend, I want you to know that you are a feminist. If you don't want to call yourself one, that's fine, but your ideas and beliefs when it comes to women's rights make you a feminist.

EDIT: I just checked my e-mail, and saw this article. Apparently, losing weight is so important that people might want to start creating false memories about bad experiences with fatty foods so they won't crave those foods.
"Although it's not ethical to create false memories in people, making an association between eating a fattening food and getting ill may be beneficial," says Elke Geraerts, a psychologist from St. Andrews and lead author on one of the studies. "People may avoid those foods in the future."
It's not ethical, but hell, if I can lose weight, sign me up!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Food and feminism

I like cooking. At different points in time, it's been implied that as a feminist, I shouldn't like cooking.

Once I suggested to some new friends that later in the week, we take a study break and I would cook pizza for everyone (a family recipe, quite good). One friend said to me, "I didn't think you would like cooking." He knew that I identify as feminist and to him, that meant that I wouldn't like making food.

Feminism isn't about not liking cooking or vacuuming or taking care of kids. It's about not being expected to like and/or do things based on gender. As a feminist, I can do whatever I please and I can like whatever I please, including anything that is "women's work" (whatever that means). Likewise, feminism allows men to enjoy whatever they like, regardless of traditional gender roles.

I've got some great examples for this - my brother and sister-in-law both love cooking and experimenting with food. She doesn't feel like she has to cook dinner every night and he likes just throwing a bunch of different spices in the pan and seeing what comes out. Neither are bound by what they feel they should do and actually spend a lot of time cooking together.

I'd probably like cooking a lot less if I had to make a meal for multiple people every day. I'm privileged enough to be able to spend a couple hours cooking for leisure, as opposed to necessity, or cooking what I like and experimenting with things, as opposed to the same 10 dishes in rotation. I'm also not terribly limited by budget; I can spend money on fresh vegetables and fruit as opposed to the cheaper, easier junk food.

Anyway, today I made chili and applesauce. They smell delicious. And I'm still a feminist.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Bret Michaels and Modern "Love"

I am not the only person who writes for this blog who cannot stand Bret Michaels and his show Rock of Love on VH1.

I admit that I watched the first season of Rock of Love. I was intrigued. Bret Michaels is the lead singer of the band Poison. I like Poison. So I watched as this man tried to find love. I quickly became disappointed with Michaels' contradictions.

Michaels' said he was looking for love (which I don't believe one can find on reality T.V.), and at the very same time he made no effort to hide his "rock star" (AKA sleeping with lots of women, drinking, partying, etc.) lifestyle.

He really began to disgust me when he would say that he was looking for a woman with a good head on her shoulders, someone with substance, and then the first thing he would compliment the women on were their "smokin' hot" bodies. It was like he was saying that even if a woman had a great mind, the most important thing (and thusly, the first aspect of her person that is complimented) is her body and her appearance.

Now in its third season, Michaels' seems to be dropping (slightly) the idea that he's looking for a woman with a good head on her shoulders. Now with Rock of Love Bus, it is more obvious than ever that he's just looking for someone to fit his lifestyle...or someone to party and sleep with.

I was most upset with the messed up message about love that Bret Michaels' sent through this show. He made it clear that he was looking for love and that love = having raunchy sex with as many women as possible.

The idea that sex = love is problematic especially for younger people who are likely watching the apparently popular show. Sex does have emotional consequences, and if young people go into a relationship thinking that sex = love, they are likely to dive into sex that their relationship might not be prepared to deal with. And that can lead to other problems with relationships down the road.

Frankly, after seeing this garbage on T.V., coupled with the enormous sex taboo in this country, I am worried. Maybe I'm being pessimistic when I say this, but I don't think people really understand how to have meaningful relationships. Even girls in grade school are trying to be "sexy" to get attention from the boys their age. This idea that sex is the answer to everything in a relationship is messed up, and Bret Michaels' is being irresponsible, and so is VH1 for airing trash that promotes this idea three seasons in a row.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

My Feminist New Year's Resolution

I don't usually make resolutions, but this year I decided on one.

The inspiration for it came from a tattoo I found on Flickr that said "delete the adjectives." It was inspired by a quote in Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird that said, "Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I'd have the facts."

So my resolution this year is to try to delete the adjectives, especially when it comes to negative ones about my body. I will try to stop thinking of myself as a "fat" girl with "puffy" eyes and "huge" thighs.

I hope that by deleting these negative modifiers I will be able to focus more on things I hope to accomplish and do so with a better outlook on myself and my life.

Bride Wars - Because every woman desires marriage so she can free her inner crazy beotch

Just saw the trailer for the movie Bride Wars, and here are some reasons I will not be seeing it.

1) Seemed to make a huge deal out of marriage. Marriage, apparently, is totally worth trying to make your best friend miserable over. Sounds like a pretty special deal, even though many people in this country either choose not to marry or legally cannot marry.

2) The "Bride-zilla" stereotype. Where brides-to-be can't help but be super-bitchy because it's their day to be given away to their husband, damn it, and it has to be exactly the way they want it! How can my BFF have her wedding on the same day as mine!? Ah!

3) The just plain catty woman stereotype. Could someone please explain to me the appeal of watching a movie full of two friends trying to coerce each other into changing their wedding dates through humiliation?

4) "Your wedding will be huge. Just like your ass at prom." Yep. Because all women can relate to (and find hiiiilarious) low-blows about a female's body. Nice touch.

Okay, so I guess I'm judging the film only be a two minute trailer, but I am firm in my resolve to not see this movie.

I know films have always been a form of escape from everyday life, and for the most part they cater to the wants of those who pay to see them. For me, the worrisome question becomes this: Why do people seem to want to watch women be cruel to each other or be objectified and needlessly sexualized in movies?